March 23, 2019

Does Affiliate Marketing Online Work? The Truth Revealed

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In the spirit of full transparency, know that this post answering does affiliate marketing online work contains affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. In fact, you may receive a discount or some money for free! Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

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You probably agree that most people dream of making money whilst they sleep. 

And most people struggle to find ways of creating passive income without investing large sums of money. However, affiliate marketing has generated a passive income stream for thousands of people. Plus, it is possible to get started without needing any money

This post will answer the question “does affiliate marketing online work?” and help you decide if it’s a good fit for you.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income possibly has the best definition of what affiliate marketing is:

Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.

If you’re like me then you probably will find this diagram super helpful…

WA Affiliate Marketing 4 step Process

STOP! Now study that again. When you understand this diagram, affiliate marketing really starts to make sense.

Here are the 4 main roles in affiliate marketing as defined by Neil Patel:


This is the person or company that creates the product. 

It could be an online course or a physical product such as a child’s toy or super cool hoverboards!


This is an individual or company that is also known as the publisher.

They will normally receive a commission of anything between 4-75% for each sale made through their special link. 


The customer, or consumer, is what makes affiliate marketing go ’round. 

Without sales, there would be no commission or any products being sold. If you have ever bought anything then you were a consumer at that time, hence we are all consumers!

The Network: 

A network works as the “middle-man” between the merchant and the affiliate.

It is possible to set up a direct revenue share with someone that created a product. But almost all affiliate marketing online will be through a network such as ClickBank or Commission Junction. 

Master Blogging goes into a lot more detail about the terminology in affiliate marketing too.

Does Affiliate Marketing Online Work in 2019?

Does Pamela Anderson have trouble seeing her belly button?

The more you read each word in this post, the more you realise that companies and individuals who have created products want to get their babies in front of as many people as possible. 

Let me ask you this…

Would you rather pay someone else 0% of $100 profits… or 50% of $1,000 profit?

Simply put affiliate marketing is a win-win. 

The owner of the product doesn’t have to do all the marketing or advertising themselves. And the person recommending the product (the affiliate marketer) doesn’t have to spend all their time creating products. 

Benefits for the Merchant:

  • Cost-effective
  • Better ROI as you only pay when sales have been made (no upfront cost to advertising)
  • Increases traffic to your website
  • Can be tracked and analysed (see the success of each affiliate)
  • Save time as you don’t have to market it yourself
  • Instant results
  • Long lasting results

Benefits for an Affiliate:

  • You don’t have to spend ages creating products
  • There is no cost to marketing it (use your own channels i.e. social media/ website/ email)
  • No limits to how much you can earn
  • If you create a “funnel” that works you can scale it quickly by paying for traffic
  • Possible to make money for free
  • Builds relationships with the merchant

There are literally thousands of income reports that exist now. If you’re still doubting whether affiliate marketing can genuinely work then see for yourself…

Real Life Examples:

There are loads of really impressive ones like Pat and Michelle who have been in this game a lot longer. But just take a look at the success of people starting out with affiliate marketing in more recent years!

How I Made Over $1,500,000 in 2018 – Michelle-Schroeder Gardner who started in 2011

$213,000 Month November 2017 – Pat Flynn who started in 2007

How I Made My First $25,000 From Blogging July 2018 – The She Approach started in September 2016

How I Made $3,878 in 3 months of blogging part time – Gathering Dreams – started in 2017

What do you think?

Does affiliate marketing online work even in 2019?

Is Affiliate Marketing Online Easy?

Is the Pope Jewish?

You’re smart enough to know that nothing worthwhile in life is easy. 

Just because it’s not easy does it mean it’s not worth doing?

However, there are really only a couple of things you will need to do to be successful with affiliate marketing:

  1. Review products (Youtube channel or a website aka blog)
  2. Build an audience (you can be successful using a social media channel but an email list has been proven to be far better)

So let’s break it down a bit eh?

1. Review Products

This doesn’t mean all you will do is leave reviews on products. 

In fact, it’s highly recommended that you do not do that! 

But product reviews are proven to be a great way to make affiliate sales. Just think about it for a minute… if someone helps you understand what a product does and why you need a product, do you think you’re more or less likely to buy it? 

Also, if someone finds your website by typing in “GoPro Hero 7 Review” do you think they may already be interested in buying a GoPro? You will be attracting the right people to your website. 

Of course, you’ve seen those review videos on Youtube right?

Well, you can also leave reviews on a website. 

Just think about it… when you’re considering to buy a product what do you do? 

BINGO… Google it! 

You are likely led straight to someone’s website (aka a blog!)

So the really successful affiliate marketers will have their own website. 

With today’s technology, building a website doesn’t have to be hard and can be done with a few clicks (no you don’t need to be able to code!) You can learn how to do this for free here “How to Build a Website the Easy Way“.

2. How to Build Your Audience. 

You will be able to collect email addresses much easier with your own website than anywhere else. This way you can provide value to your readers and then provide some sort of upgrade to help them… for free! Find out “Why do People Create Blogs? These 28 Bloggers Explain Their Story

The key here is to provide your email list with quality information regularly. 

You are not going to try and sell anything and everything to them. If you do your job right you will only attract people onto your email list that you can genuinely help. 

At the end of the day, that is what affiliate marketing is… 

Helping put a product in front of someone that would benefit from it!

Email marketing has been proven to be more successful than any other type of marketing. Just see some of the stats below…

An example of a content upgrade is an email course. 

You can provide your audience with some of your best knowledge about a topic that you have formed over weeks, months or years of hard work. This way you not only start to build a relationship with them as they can personally email you back with any questions, but you can genuinely start to really help them and build trust. 

The days of the hard selling are long gone (maybe they never really existed or worked!) The most successful businesses provide real value and trust with their customers. 

Finding the best online tools to set these systems up can be time-consuming and seem daunting, so find out how to “Save Hours of Time with these Resources

Is Affiliate Marketing Genuinely Passive Income?

A job as a waitress where you get paid $10 an hour is trading time for money.

You probably know that passive income is something that you put the time in once and it pays you again and again… use time today and reap the rewards in the future. 

However, it is important to understand that passive income is not something that you just put in a bit of work and never have to do anything to it again.

Yes, there are ways to earn passive income without having to do much work at all. But to do this you will need to invest money that you have already earnt. You can read more about this method in “The Ultimate Strategy to Earn Passive Income“.

4 Asset Classes for Passive Income

The four main asset classes that can earn you passive income are:

  1. Property (rent out houses)
  2. Stocks or bonds (dividends or the ultimate passive income strategy with index funds)
  3. Businesses (online or offline! Hint… affiliate marketing is an online business!)
  4. Commodities (owning oil rigs/ gold mines can earn passive income)

So you may have to keep an eye on your affiliate links and help them get in front of your audience i.e. improve SEO, build your email list, send emails or use social media to get eyes on your website.

Now I can almost hear your mind saying… “does affiliate marketing online work?” Just check out my podcast chat with Jeff and Ben from Dollarsprout who make over $240k a month (in May 2019) to find the answer.

The more you read this article the more you get excited at the possibility of putting work in today to keep paying you over and over again.

So imagine you are sitting on a beach with your family. 

The fresh sea air smells good. 

White sand between your toes. 

There are children laughing and playing, whilst you’re sitting with your partner sipping on a refreshing beverage. 

When you get up to go to the restroom you check your phone.

You see this…

(Image source: Top 5 SEO)

Imagine what your life would be like if you achieve this for a few hours of sitting on a beach…

What Affiliate Marketing Products do People Sell?

There are two main types of products that people would be an affiliate for:

  1. Physical 
  2. Digital

Typically, digital products would have higher commissions than physical products. Even often over 50% (yes, sometimes over half of the profit!)

The main reason for this is that there is no cost of replication from the creator of the product i.e. an online course only needs to be created once and can be easily sent to 5 people or 5 million people for the same “shipping” cost ($0).

If you want to see more affiliate products as examples then check out “Save Hours of Time with these Resources

Physical products can also work well for some affiliates. 

For example, if you type in “children’s toys reviews” into YouTube you can see Ryan Toys Review has over 18 million subscribers!!

Does Affiliate Marketing Online Work?

I won’t subject you to a video of his reviews here… they are painful to watch (but they obviously work!)

As Pat Flynn points out, affiliate marketers do much better when they test out a product and genuinely use the product themselves as they can relate to it. So they are the consumer!

This is called “involved affiliate marketing”.  

Maybe that’s why Ryan does so well!?

How do I Become an Affiliate Marketer Then?

There are 2 main ways that people can become affiliates for different products:

  1. Affiliate networks
  2. Individual merchants (a company or an individual that produces the product)

Affiliate networks include:

  • Amazon Associates
  • ClickBank
  • Commission Junction

There are so many networks that you can use and if you want more information and specific networks you can use in your niche check out “How does Blogging Make Money?

Sometimes this is the only way to promote a product. This is the case if the merchant manages their affiliate program on that network.

Amazon Associates is a great one to get started with because you can become an affiliate of almost anything. However, the commission is typically quite small (around 4%) so the products you promote would need to be quite high-value items (or you’d need to sell a lot!)

Simply search for a product and add a link to the product to your website, social media channel or emails. 

does affiliate marketing online work?

If someone purchases through this link you will receive a commission.

Note that if they went on to buy something else you weren’t promoting on Amazon you may be rewarded a commission for that if they do so within 24 hours of clicking your link (this is because of these tasty “cookies” that your computer has… but we won’t go into that here)

If you’ve used a product that you particularly love and you can’t find a way that you can become an affiliate of it, you can personally reach out to the merchant (creator of the product).

It’s important to let them know how you will help them and how you will promote their product. 

Don’t panic though, chances are there will be a way already to become an affiliate of the product… especially if it is in digital form! 

It Sounds Like a Lot of Hard Work…

It’s important to realise it’s not easy.

This is where your “why” becomes so important. Find out “How to write a personal mission statement in 3 steps” to help you dive deeper into your “why”. 

These are some questions you really need to consider:

  1. Would you like to make money whilst you sleep?
  2. Would you like to be rewarded over and over again for the work that you put in today?
  3. Do you know what your ideal day looks like? Would affiliate marketing help you to live this life?

By working out your ideal day it’s possible to reverse engineer your life and work to fit that lifestyle. People are often a lot closer to living this perfect day every day than they may realise. Grant Sabatier talks more about this concept in our podcast “How to earn $50,000 in 4 days and reach financial freedom“. 

So does affiliate marketing online work?

As you absorb this information you’ll form the answer yourself.

Does Affiliate Marketing Online Work? Summary

The more you review this page the more you begin to find yourself excited at the opportunity and lifestyle that affiliate marketing online can give you. 

It 100% is not super easy to do and it definitely is NOT a get rich quick scheme. 

But it’s clear to see there are hundreds of people that use affiliate marketing to create a lifestyle that they want to live. 

Let me know in the comments below what your opinions are on affiliate marketing and pin this page so you can come back to it later.

Keep changing for the better,


P.S. If you are interested in making money through affiliate marketing to free up your time, get this free course to get you set up to start making passive income.

About the Author

Mike Beatty has built a passive income online whilst working as a full-time PE teacher without any marketing or technical experience. Learn more about how he's done it here.

Mike Beatty

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  1. Hello, I set up my website and very ready for links to put in. I read a lot of posts on Pinterest but a little bit scared to start ( maybe I don’ t trust myself a little) fill out the application.
    I like your post, it is easy to read and very understandable. If you give me any advice where to start I will appreciate a lot.

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      I would recommend two things to start…

      Check out my #1 recommendation to see what this program can offer you. I really is a step by step system to get you on the right track and the community is incredibly supportive, honest and real. Plus you can contact me personally about anything using this link.

      I would also highly recommend learning more about Pinterest. It’s a fantastic free traffic source and if used in line with the above-mentioned training (which will help your SEO tremendously) then you’ll have more free traffic to your site than you know what to do with! Get my free Pinterest course by clicking here.

      Hope that helps,


  2. Great information on what affiliate marketing is in general. It is complex, but this makes it seem much easier. Also, I’m glad that you included the fact that it does take time and effort. Many people think that it’s a get rich quick overnight kind of thing. That’s just not the case. Although when you get to the point where you have a constant income, you know your on the right path.

    Great encouragement and motivation for anyone who wants to make money start working for them through affiliate marketing.

    1. Thanks Justin,

      I really appreciate your comment. It 100% does take time and effort, but it can also be 100% passive income when it’s set up in the right way.

      As I always say… most people put time and effort into their full time job… but not many jobs provide passive income

      Food for thought


  3. Dear Mike
    Thank you very much for your fantastic website that shows the cheapest and most effective approach to start up your own business which can grow gradually.
    Kind regards,

Comments are closed.

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