How soon can you make money with affiliate marketing? Part 1

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Ah, the eternal question. (Okay, one of many.) You probably already know that there is no specific answer. If we all knew from the get-go that it would take 4 months, 1 week and 6 days to get to $50 per day, or 1 year, 3 months, and 2 days to get to $100 a day, it would be easier to proceed, wouldn't it? You'd know exactly what to expect and when. Just punch the formula into your calculator and away you go.

Of course, then some people wouldn't enter the field at all because they couldn't imagine working steadily at it for that long. And that's fine. The last thing the Internet marketing field needs is more people who are in it for a quick buck without that inconvenient little problem of having to *gulp* WORK for it.


But for those who are willing to put in the effort, knowing the time frame would really help them to plan everything out, confident in the knowledge that when that golden hour arrives, their bank balance will reach the anticipated level.

Unfortunately, that isn't the case. The time it takes is dependent on so many factors that it's hard to even ballpark a time frame. I have online acquaintances who have been affiliate marketing for 5 years and are still struggling to make $10 a day. I know others who started making really good money within 6 months.

What are some of the variables that create this huge disparity? We're going to take a look at 6 today and 6 more in the next post. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, and you may be able to think of other influential factors, but here are some possibilities (in no particular order):

1) The particular technique or form of affiliate marketing used
2) The niche(s) chosen
3) Comfort level with technical aspects of working online
4) Natural ability (writing, selling, designing)
5) Amount of work outsourced
6) Extent of monetary investment

Let's take a deeper look at these issues.

1) The particular technique or form of affiliate marketing used

Obviously, some forms of Internet marketing are generally more profitable than others. Even within the more narrow scope of affiliate marketing, there are many different approaches you could take. When you figure in the fact that Person A could be far better or worse than Person B at the same thing, it becomes clear that the particular combination of you + your chosen method will most certainly affect the time it will take to make money.

2) The niche(s) chosen

Once a beginner comes to realize what a niche really is, his or her next question is usually, How do I know if a niche is good or not? Long-time marketers could probably tell from experience or with just a quick look at the numbers whether something is worth pursuing, but it's tougher for newbies. Much of it is trial and error, sometimes even for the "oldies." So Person A might understand the niche concept or the numbers a little more clearly than Person B and therefore start making money faster. Plus, trends change, and what's a great niche today may be as stinky as a wet Saint Bernard next month.

3) Comfort level with technical aspects of working online

Most people who aren't comfortable using a computer probably wouldn't have the desire to get into online marketing, but many who do have that desire have only a very basic understanding of how to navigate on the web, send and reply to e-mails, or even find their way around their own operating system in order to manage their files. That's perfectly okay, and it's that kind of person who would especially benefit from an affiliate marketing beginner course (yes, of course I mean the one I wrote; I am a marketer, after all).

But if you're under say, 30, you probably grew up using computers and are likely able to absorb and apply new information more easily than someone who grew up playing stickball outside rather than Monkeyball inside. The steps involved in creating a web site may feel more natural to younger people (or even older ones who are not intimidated by technology). In fact, you may already know how to build a site, and it's just the marketing part that you need to learn. Clearly, one's computer ability will affect to some extent how quickly their online business gets built.

4) Natural ability (writing, selling, designing)

If writing comes easily to you or you enjoy it, your site will be done sooner, and it will probably be a better site. There is a lot of writing involved in this pursuit. If you have good people skills, even in the relative anonymity of cyberspace, you will probably be able to sell more. If you have an eye for design and can either create an attractive site or at least choose a decent premade template, it will probably succeed sooner. I mean, there are forms of Internet marketing where ugly sites may do better than beautiful ones (sites that rely primarily on Google AdSense, for one), but for the most part, people will buy more readily from a professional-looking site than one that appears to have been created by Richard Simmons and Lady GaGa. After a drinking spree and three nights with no sleep.

You say you feel deficient in these areas? That brings us to #5.

5) Amount of work outsourced

If you lack inborn talent in those areas, you may want to outsource some of the work to others who are better and faster at it. This may speed things up a bit. If you prefer to do everything yourself despite not having well honed skills, it will require a good schedule and some effort, but it can certainly be done. Maybe you are perfectly capable of doing the various tasks involved but can't due to time constraints, or maybe you have the skills and the time. Either way, it will have an effect.

6) Extent of monetary investment

Do you have to spend money to make money? In the real world, the answer is often yes. In affiliate marketing, that's not always true. But it stands to reason that if you are able to invest in better tools (or contracted workers or training) initially in order to get the ball rolling, the ball will likely roll faster.

For instance, you can get a very solid start in AM with a monetary output totaling only about $6 a month (for a domain name and hosting)—that's if you are able to assimilate and apply the plethora of free information on the Internet about how to do it. (AM can also be done at no cost whatsoever, but in my opinion, it's much harder. Others may disagree.) If you feel, however, that you need some step-by-step help and are confused about all the conflicting information out there, you may want to invest in some affiliate marketing training (there I go again*). That may raise the cost to around $9 a month, which is still very affordable for most people.

There are thousands of other programs and tools available, some of which would definitely help you do things faster. However, the case could also be made that having too many tools will actually slow you down because your attention may be diverted from the basics while you go off on unnecessary tangents. I can see how that might happen. Yet in some cases, a little extra investment, such as a quality WordPress theme or keyword tool, may make the difference between seeing results within 4 months or not until you've been at it for 8 months. Or it may not.

*Just so you don't get the wrong idea: I am happy to help newbies who prefer to learn on their own, too. I don't insist that a beginner has to have my course to succeed. That would be arrogant. True, but arrogant.

I'm kidding!

You've probably gotten the point that many, many things play into the time frame for making money online, but I'm going to flog this subject some more in my next post, because some of the most important factors lie ahead. Stay tuned!

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Lisa February 1, 2010 at 9:30 am

I myself as a newbie started with Google Adwords keyword tool for finding keywords and niches, as it was recommended by many persons on blogs&forums and found out they weren’t lieing.
Now i use iSpionage, which is more advanced and can return more complex results, unlike free tools, and more than this, it helps me identify new niched much faster and better. There are also many other tools like this on the Internet, no doubt about it, but this doesn’t mean your course to succeed, i think you are doing a great job and helping a lot the beginners. Thanks Laura!

Laura February 1, 2010 at 10:38 am

Thanks for pointing out the additional resource, Lisa!

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