Is Affiliate Marketing Worth The Time and Effort?

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Time and Effort Feature Image

So you've started an affiliate marketing business, posted some links and articles on social media, maybe even built your own website. But no one is clicking on your affiliate links.

No one is liking your posts.

Is This Affiliate Marketing Thing Really Worth The Time And Effort?

A really interesting thing happened during the few days I was putting this article together. My oldest daughter (10 years old) has really jumped on the DIY trend. She gets all these Do It Yourself ideas from YouTube, and decided it would be a great idea to make Christmas gifts for everyone.

You might be wondering how this relates to whether or not affiliate marketing is worth your time and effort, but I promise… the story is relevant.

So, for her younger sister's gift, she settled on a DIY winter hat (a toque here in Canada 😀), with pom-pom ears, big googly eyes, a nose and a mouth.

On YouTube, the DIY expert took maybe 5 minutes to make it. She made the perfect pom-poms from a ball of yarn, sewed on the nose and glued the eyes and mouth. It was simple. The magic of editing.

In real life however, my daughter spent hours. First, the ears wouldn't match. One was round, the other not so much. She had difficulty sewing them on straight. The mouth came out lopsided. It wasn't as easy as YouTube made it out to be.

She was devastated.

“It's a waste” she said, “I spent an entire afternoon… for nothing!” She was so excited to make this hat for her sister, so to see her feeling defeated broke my heart. I understood her frustration… but I didn't see a little girl who wasted an afternoon for “nothing”.

What I saw was my daughter learning how to make her sister a winter hat.

She didn't give up, but I'll come back to that in a moment (pic at the end of the article).

First, let's talk about what my daughter's experience has to do with affiliate marketing.

Spending Your Time and Effort For Nothing

Have you put in hours, weeks, maybe even months of effort, only to have no one read your articles, no one click on your Ads?

It doesn't matter what business you're in, or what project you're working on (affiliate marketing or otherwise), there's always that lingering question. Is this for nothing.

It can get frustrating.

Online marketing falls into that category. It takes time and effort, and you want that energy to produce results. Not right away necessarily. But at some point in the future.

Affiliate marketing, in particular, is relatively new to people. And, it's a mystery to most. It “sounds” a little like network marketing, or Multi-Level Marketing (but it is NOT).

Also, it's an “online” business, which to many (my wife included) doesn't seem like a REAL business.

But it is real, and depending on what your goals are… IT IS worth your time and effort

Let me tell you why.

A Few Questions…

If you can answer yes to just a few of the following questions, then your efforts and time invested into your affiliate marketing business are worth it.

Of course, it may not be for everyone. But, neither is being a doctor or a mechanical engineer. And yet, a doctor or engineer would say their time and effort was worth it.

So, here are the questions…

  • Are you motivated?
  • Do you want freedom and mobility in your life?
  • Are you frustrated with your current career or job?
  • Do you have a good work ethic and a desire to succeed?
  • Does the idea of passive income (earning while you sleep) excite you?
  • Do you have the discipline to see projects through to the end?
  • Are you willing to do what it takes to live the life you want?
  • Are you teachable?
  • Can you invest time now, for financial reward later?
  • Do you need more out of life than a regular job can offer?

Before we discuss affiliate marketing specifically, are you suited to an entrepreneurial path? You may not be able to give a definitive YES or NO answer to all the questions above, but most likely, you know which way you're leaning.

Since you are here reading this, it's probably safe to assume you're either dissatisfied with your situation, worried about your financial stability, or your current income doesn't satisfy your goals.

What about going back to school?

Maybe you haven't decided on a career yet. Or perhaps you're lost, not knowing what to do, jumping from job to job. Going back to school may be a consideration, and there's nothing wrong with that path. I went back to school in my late 30's, and I don't regret a second of it. In fact, I miss it. But there is a significant cost (and there won't always be a job waiting for you at the end)

I began searching for ways to earn a living online while I was in school because our economy was falling apart. There were very few jobs in my industry when I finished… despite all the “experts” who were certain it would be a career in high demand. The experts were wrong.

So a formal education is also no guarantee of success. That doesn't mean it's a waste of time. It's the right decision for some people, just as affiliate marketing is right for some people.

The question isn't whether or not affiliate marketing is worth the time and effort. Ask guys like Pat Quinn or Neil Patel who earn 7 figure incomes from affiliate marketing if it's worth it and they will definitely say yes.

The question is whether or not it's worth it for you.

What If It Doesn't Work?

Becoming an affiliate marketer is more than getting results. There's a bigger picture many new affiliate marketers don't see. They don't value the actual skills they are learning in the process. They are only thinking of the money.

Let me be clear… the money is important. Not only to live but ultimately, (for better or for worse) it's a measure of success in business.

We get into this to either earn a living or at least supplement our income. But a funny thing happens along the way. You get good at things that the vast majority of people know nothing about. Building websites for example, and understanding how to get them noticed.

Although the web is used by just about everyone, how to become part of it and use it for your financial benefit is a mystery to most.

So, it's more than just money. It's a skill.

When I research what people are searching for online about affiliate marketing, thousands are seeking how to become an affiliate marketer, how to get into affiliate marketing, how much money an affiliate marketer can make… and how fast.

But there is virtually no one searching for terms that would indicate they care about affiliate marketing as an education.

Affiliate Marketers Learn Skills That Every Business Needs. 

This is ultimately why your efforts are worth it. No matter what you do… what you learn is what really matters.

If you don't plan on working for someone else for the rest of your life, the following skills will be critical to your future.

These are just some of the things you will learn from affiliate marketing?

  1. How to make money online.
  2. What a niche is, and how to choose one (profitability, low competition, sustainability).
  3. How to buy a domain, purchase hosting and set up a website.
  4. The fundamentals of building out a website (pages, posts, images, comments, etc.)
  5. What SEO (search engine optimization) is and how to do it.
  6. What keyword research is and how to use it for content ideas.
  7. How to find the “low hanging fruit” that hasn’t been picked at (a low competition niche or keyword).
  8. Understand SERP's (search engine results page) and competition.
  9. How to create headlines that get clicked.
  10. How to craft engaging articles that provide value and convert people into customers.
  11. Traffic sources and what each type is looking for.
  12. How to add visual content to your site.
  13. How to use those visuals effectively.
  14. How to find and choose the right affiliate programs.
  15. How to add affiliate links to your site.
  16. How to create and submit sitemaps to Google and Bing.
  17. How to set up WebMaster Tools and Analytics accounts.
  18. How to use Google Analytics.
  19. How to create social media accounts.
  20. How to promote your website and content through social media.
  21. How to use paid advertising and create Ads.

So, is affiliate marketing worth the time and effort?

And this is just a short list of the things affiliate marketers learn in the process of building their business. Within each of those, there are more specialized skills to learn. For example, setting up social media accounts can be broken down into each network. How to use Facebook pages, how to market your brand on Twitter and so on.

Adding visuals, you will learn where to find them, how to optimize them, how to embed video and infographics onto your webpages.

You may learn how to work with freelancers and how to outsource things like content creation, web design and graphic creation.

You get the idea. The time you put into affiliate marketing is a legitimate education and one that makes you extremely valuable. Take another look at that list. How many business owners out there have those skills? Not many.

On a side note, notice I didn't say every affiliate marketer will be really good at ALL of these things. But, they will usually have a decent understanding, and access to resources for help when they need it.

Every Business Needs Customers, and That's What Affiliate Marketers Specialize In.

I have a few more questions.

  • Do you think the skills listed above are valuable for an entrepreneur to have?
  • Are they specific to affiliate marketing, or can they apply to any business that needs more customers?
  • Could you market and sell those skills to small businesses and professionals?
  • If you started your own business, would they be valuable to you?
  • Is learning them a waste of your time and effort?

An affiliate marketer has an incredibly powerful set of skills that every business needs. The one thing that business requires is customers, and today, simply being listed in the Yellow Pages isn't going to do it.

It's the mobile age. All of humanity's accumulated knowledge is in your pocket… including where the BEST, and nearest pizza can be found.

The most effective methods of marketing today are online… and that's great news for affiliate marketers.

They do more than blogging. Affiliate marketers are at the leading edge of online marketing… constantly looking for and finding ways to get eyeballs onto their websites, their social media pages and onto their email lists.

They're not only up on marketing trends… they are often the trend-setter.

How to Make Money Quick By Becoming a Doctor?

Time and Effort to become a doctor image

As you can probably guess, not many people are searching how to get rich quick as a doctor. Everyone knows becoming a doctor requires years of education.

In fact, everyone knows that whatever profession you're in, or whatever business you start… it's going to require some education. Not necessarily a “formal education”. But… whether it's school, mentorship or trial and error… skills and knowledge are required for just about every job, career or business.

So why is it that affiliate marketing (or any online business) is expected to bring in quick riches with little to no effort?

Because the web is a great place for people to sell get-rich-quick (with just one click) scams, giving a bad name to online business in general.

But, anything worth doing takes effort. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Scrolling your newsfeed on Facebook is easy (and just about everyone does it). Starting an online business is not.

But that's great news. Because you're learning something that not many people know how to do.

Did My Daughter Waste Her Afternoon for Nothing?

Getting back to my daughter's story… we all know the time and effort she spent trying to make her little sister a winter hat was not for nothing.

From handling a needle and thread to realizing things of value take longer than 5 minutes (as the DIY video made it seem)… the skills she learned that afternoon are incredibly important. In fact… had the hat turned out perfect the first time, her afternoon would have been LESS productive.

Fail Faster and Fail More Often

I can't remember where I heard it, or who said it… but fail faster and fail more often is far better than don't fail at all. Fear of failure will paralyze you.

So it was important that my daughter understood this. It's crucial that she realizes the person who makes a hundred ugly, misshapen hats will be far better at it than the person who doesn't make any hats at all.

It's absolutely critical she knows that her time and effort was not for nothing.

As an affiliate marketer, you will fail. Whether it's an article that never gets read or a niche that doesn’t make money… you will fail. But it's not for nothing.

In fact… it's only a failure if you learn nothing from it.

In my previous management careers (and now as a parent), I always told my employees to make mistakes. Of course… don't keep making the same mistakes over and over. But, there is no better teacher than a mistake.

How Much Money Can I Make and… How Long Will It Take?

Income Foundry How Much Money Can I Make Image

Of course, we can't ignore the money question. Even when we decide on a career and register for school, the money question is one we ask. It might even be the reason someone chooses not to go to school at all.

Either way, how much money and how long it will take to make… will always be a consideration when deciding on a job, career, investment, or a business start-up.

So it's only fair to ask the same question about affiliate marketing. And the answer would be… I don't know. No one knows. There are too many variables… just as there are in most businesses.

The answer depends on how hard you work, how much time you have, what niche you choose and how focused in one direction you remain. It will depend on who is teaching you (and whether or not you're willing to listen to them). There are programs out there that are way overpriced

If you join an online marketing training program, your success will also depend on which one. There are good training programs, bad ones and there are blatant scams.

My top recommendations are legitimate educational programs that won't make you rich overnight but will teach you how to start a real (and profitable) affiliate marketing business.

Success also depends on how many times you can get up, dust yourself off and do it again (with the benefit of new knowledge and experience).

Some people might take a year to see their first nickel. Others might do it in a few weeks.

One thing is for certain. There are many people who are earning a comfortable (if not excessive) income from affiliate marketing… and every one of them had to learn new things, deal with failures and conquer their fear and doubts.

I can't imagine many saying it wasn't worth it.

Final Thoughts…

I can't say for certain whether or not affiliate marketing will be worth it for YOU. If you want to learn, if you're an aspiring entrepreneur, if you like to spend your time doing something productive… It's absolutely worth it.

If you want more out of life, if you're looking for freedom from your job and to be more independent… It's worth it. As I've said, the skills you will learn will serve you well no matter what your future holds.

However, if you're content to go to the same job (day in/day out), and spend your evenings watching Netflix, it might not be worth it.

There are people spending years in school and ten (even hundreds) of thousands of dollars on their education. They don't do it for quick results and profitability. They do it to learn… and eventually use that knowledge to start a career.

If you decide to become an affiliate marketer, think of it as an education FIRST, and you can't go wrong.

One More Thing…

Christmas Hat image
My youngest on Christmas morning. She loves the hat her sister made for her.

On her third attempt, my daughter finally got that hat right. The ears look good, the mouth looks like a mouth and the eyes (hopefully) don't fall off. And she can't wait for her sister to unwrap it on Christmas morning.

Each attempt she learned something until she finally figured it out… and it was not a waste of her time.

If you have a question or comment, please leave it below, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you know anyone with a business or private practice that would benefit from effective online marketing?

If you found this article useful, or think it might be helpful for others… Please share. 


Suggested Reading  15 People Who Crushed Their Excuses, And Will Crush Yours Too!

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11 thoughts on “Is Affiliate Marketing Worth The Time and Effort?”

  1. Jay,

    I just happened to stumble across your article — a typical day filled with frustration from a lack of personal freedom and an unfulfilling workplace. I’m underappreciated and sickened watching others take credit for making them look like superstars. As a ‘typical’ Marketing professional, I should be able to set my schedule and enjoy what should be the peak earning years of my career — not the case! Overused and underpaid!

    Unfortunately, time is waning …if I don’t take action now — I never will!

    Your article was the right thing at the right time. I have longed to start an effective Affiliate Marketing career but have allowed fear of failure to block an attempt.

    You mentioned legitimate and effective Affiliate Marketing training programs — I’m wondering if you could share your insights. I apologize if these programs are something you currently offer, as I’m jumping back into my research phase to get rolling. For my age, I am very tech-savvy. I have a computer graphics background (daily marketing & graphics development), so potentially ‘more difficult skills’ for this journey may be readily accessible.

    Any insights you can offer would be appreciated. The intermingling of your daughter’s story was priceless. I am sure her sister absolutely loved her new and valuable hat.

    Sincere regards,

    • Hi Darren, sorry for the late reply. It’s been a busy start to the new year. Thanks for your kind words and for taking time out of your day to read and comment. There are many options and strategies to get started in affiliate marketing. Video and podcasting are popular ways to get started today, but it really depends on the right strategy for the right person. The way I started was by building niche websites and monetizing them using various methods (one of them affiliate marketing). For a quick introduction to that strategy, I recommend Wealthy Affiliate’s free starter membership. It’ll give you a good idea if that’s the right route for you.

      I can certainly relate to those frustration-filled days and unfulfilling workplaces. I’ve also worked at many great places to be fair, but like you, I was in need of my own personal freedom. Let me know if you have any other questions. And yes, the hat was well received 🙂


  2. Hey Jay,

    When I started my affiliate marketing career, I returned with nothing on my hand. I tried with many tactics and I could NOT earn anything.

    I quit affiliate marketing.

    But I knew that I missed something and I did not perform well.

    Again I started working with dedication and patience. I tried affiliate marketing with other perspectives.

    End of this, I started seeing money coming from Affiliate marketing.

    My view is, when you start seeming money generated from Affiliate Marketing, you NEVER QUIT it.

    Thanks for this opportunity to share my thoughts.

    • Thanks for sharing SaranSaro, that’s awesome you were able to persevere and come at it with new perspectives. I’d be interested to know what changes you made to finally make a difference, and I’m sure it would be helpful for others as well.

      In my case, there have been a lot of epiphanies and discoveries along the way, but what really changed things for me is learning that everyone is motivated by something, and our job to find out what that motivation is and help, rather than trying to “convince” someone what their motivation should be. A lot of new affiliate marketers are just trying to “sell” stuff to make money and they never stop to think about what their audience actually wants or needs. They only wonder why no one is clicking on their links/offers while overlooking the most obvious reason, which is that no one wants what they’re offering.

      Anyway, thanks again for sharing your experience and insight 🙂

  3. I too appreciate the way you brought This story together. You did a great job! (I’m really not yelling, my computer is hung on capitalization).

    I’m so glad your daughter didn’t give up on making the hat for her little sister. That’s something, in my opinion, today’s kids are lacking. to keep on trying even if they fail.

    We need to get out children more involved in real life situations. Instead of letting them exercise their fingers on video games.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Great job!


    • Thanks Nita, I appreciate the kind comments.
      Yes, I am proud of my daughter for it out. She was definitely frustrated with it, but in the end, it turned out to be a great teaching moment. Now, their fingers do get a little too much exercise on those games though. 😀 Actually, it’s not the games that bother me so much. At least they’re learning something or trying to solve a problem. It’s the Netflix I need to limit.
      Anyway, thanks for stopping by and again, I appreciate your comments.

  4. It’s a struggle but once you get you first taste of success. this is something i didn’t see in the blog post that I think is important. once you mke money you just can’t blow it on random things, you should take a certian percentage and re-invest it into you business to scale up!

    • Jason, so true. In fact, I can personally learn from your comment lol. Certainly there’s more to everyone’s story than we see here. We showcase our successes and often hide our failures (at least… the embarrassing ones, and the ones that are result of really stupid things we do). And I’ve done a lot of stupid things… thanks for reminding me 😀

      Seriously though, you are right. Success isn’t really a destination we reach. We should always keep thinking about (not dwelling on) the future and protecting what we have.

      Appreciate your perspective and thanks for stopping by,

  5. Great Article Jay. I’m glad your daughter figured out How to make the hat. I also appreciate the way you methodically approached some of the very same concerns that i have about affiliate marketing. I guess i just need to give it more time and Continue to educate myself to improve and grow. Keep it up, you Really helped me.

    • Thanks Jarvis,
      Yes, my daughter did finish that hat for her little sister. Christmas is only a few days a way, so I suspect my next lesson will be to my younger daughter… how to acknowledge and appreciate when your older sister does something nice for you. 😀
      I’m glad you found the article helpful. Like everything in life… affiliate marketing really is a journey, not a destination. I definitely understand the challenges and frustrations people have, and the time and effort invested may seem like too much if the monetary success doesn’t seem to follow.
      However, I really think the knowledge and skills acquired along the way are a significant reward themselves… and a foundation for success for anyone aspiring to do more with their life.
      Thanks for dropping by Jarvis, and I appreciate the kind words,