Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It? 10 Truths Revealed

Affiliate marketing isn't a get-rich-quick scheme — it takes time and effort to yield results, so it's normal to wonder if this business model deserves your attention and commitment.

To help you decide if it's for you, this guide answers the million-dollar question: "Is affiliate marketing worth it?"

What you will learn

  • Key facts and stats about the current affiliate marketing landscape and the opportunities it offers
  • How much affiliate marketers earn, and what you can expect
  • What it takes to become a successful affiliate marketer
  • Signs that this business model might not suit your needs and goals

Is affiliate marketing worth it?

The short answer to this question is a resounding "Yes!" If you play your cards right, affiliate marketing is undoubtedly worth all the effort you put into it.

Don't take our word for it — have a look at some cold facts:

1. The affiliate marketing industry keeps booming

The global affiliate marketing industry is expected to exceed $27 billion by 2027, up from $15.7 billion in 2021.

This is a massive increase in only a few years, so there are more than enough opportunities for fresh publishers and influencers.

If you need more proof of the ever-growing popularity of affiliate marketing, try entering the term in Google Trends.

You'll see that it's seen a steady rise over the past five years, and it doesn't seem like this will change anytime soon.

2. Affiliate marketing spend is increasing

Over 80% of businesses use affiliate marketing, pouring billions of dollars into their programs.

In 2022, affiliate marketing spending reached its all-time high of $8.2 billion, continuing a positive trend that's lasted for over a decade.

This confirms that there's a lot of money to be made in affiliate marketing. Speaking of which...

3. Countless affiliate marketers have achieved outstanding success

Affiliate marketing has made many people rich beyond their imagination.

Take Matt Diggity as an example.

His content creation and SEO prowess paired with affiliate knowledge allowed him to launch several successful businesses and amass a mind-blowing net worth of $3 million!

Like many successful affiliate marketers, he branched out of direct product promotion and created additional income streams, from a YouTube channel to courses for aspiring affiliates.

Matt is far from the only person who found the secret to affiliate marketing success.

Zac Johnson, Shawn Collins, and Pat Flynn are among the marketers that every aspiring publisher should know about — they've been in the game for years and have run numerous successful affiliate websites.

Of course, these are all positive extremes that publishers dream about.

Earning millions from your affiliate efforts might seem too far-fetched right now, so let's look at the more realistic figures.

What is the success rate of affiliate marketers?

According to a recent survey by the Influencer Marketing Hub, over 33% of affiliate marketers earn more than $10,000 per year. This goes to show that making a decent side income from your website is more than possible.

And if you're in the top 16.8%, you can expect upwards of $50,000.

Everyone's definition of success is different, but these figures are pretty encouraging.

And the best part is that your affiliate website can reach a point where this income is largely passive.

You get more time to work on your business instead of in it, which can lead to exponential growth.

Countless product opportunities and scalability make affiliate marketing worth committing to. Still, this doesn't mean it's for everyone.

When is affiliate marketing worth it?

The affiliate marketing space is highly competitive, so it takes time, perseverance, and a specific skill set to rise above the crowd and ensure your efforts don't go to waste. Affiliate marketing is worth it when you:

Are passionate about your niche

As an affiliate marketer, you'll spend a lot of time researching your chosen product and promoting it through numerous efforts.

You won't see success overnight, so you must pick a niche you care about to avoid losing motivation halfway.

The hard truth is that building your affiliate marketing business won't always feel fun and enjoyable.

Many folks get disappointed when they don't achieve their goals exactly when planned and end up quitting.

If you genuinely enjoy the process and care about your product, you can avoid this and stick it out during the tough times.

With this in mind, don't choose a product only because you've seen lots of success stories about it.

Pick something you're interested in, even if it may seem boring to everyone around you.

From industrial tools to dog anxiety jackets, countless micro-niches can pay off handsomely.

Such products might seem unappealing to most people, but this doesn't matter if you are passionate about them.

This can even be an upside as you won't have as much competition, so climbing your niche will be much easier.

Have personal experience with your affiliate products

Hands-on experience with the product you're promoting gives you a massive advantage over competitors who don't use it.

Without it, the best you can do is recycle the information other affiliates have provided, which makes it incredibly hard to position yourself well in your niche.

The whole reason affiliate marketing is so popular is that people want honest recommendations, which you can only give if you've tested the product yourself.

This gives you a chance to pick up on the things others might have missed and become a trusted source of information.

This is crucial for two reasons:

  • Most people trust recommendations over any form of marketing, and they want to hear unbiased opinions.
  • Experience is one of the main components of Google's E-E-A-T guidelines (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trust), so it's crucial for ranking high in search results.

Are an "expert" in your chosen niche

Expertise is a broad term and is no longer limited to your qualifications and line of work.

You don't need a Ph.D. or to work at the forefront of your industry to be a successful affiliate marketer — all it takes is an above-average knowledge of the product you're promoting.

To make affiliate marketing work, you must educate others and guide them through buying decisions. As long as you know more about your product than an average reader, you're golden.

You're probably not selling rockets or gene-editing tech, so there's no need to be a certified expert to promote products and land affiliate sales.

This ties back to building your affiliate marketing business around a product you personally use.

Nothing beats first-hand experience, and it's often enough to cement your credibility and position you as reputable and trustworthy.

Have an engaged audience

If you have a knack for drawing people in and holding their attention, you'll probably make an excellent affiliate marketer.

Perhaps you already have an established audience you'll use as the basis of a successful affiliate marketing business.

This is a significant advantage, as getting people to click on your affiliate link is much easier when there's an existing relationship.

Don't be discouraged if you still haven't built a following — doing it in advance helps, but it's not a necessity.

You can boost your reach and engagement through many tactics, most notably:

  • High-quality social media posts
  • Email marketing
  • Regular blogging

Have high commissions

To make affiliate marketing worth your efforts, your products and the affiliate program you roll into must offer high Earnings Per Click (EPC) and commissions.

The former is more important if you'll go with a Pay Per Click (PPC) model, but most programs will pay you when someone actually buys through your affiliate link.

As you saw earlier in this guide, affiliate marketing spend is massive — brands are willing to pay big bucks to their affiliate network, so don't waste time on products with low commissions.

There's no point in promoting a $40 product for a 5% commission.

You'd need to make thousands of sales each month to make a living, which would require tons of time and effort.

To avoid this, do your homework and find an affiliate marketing program that can make you a sizeable income.

Of course, you'll need to pick a profitable niche first, so find out what sells before making any commitments.

When is affiliate marketing not worth it

Despite its many benefits, the affiliate marketing business model doesn't meet everyone's goals.

It takes ongoing effort and long-term thinking to work, and not everyone can wait for the results. Affiliate marketing is not worth it if you:

Are in a rush

Many aspiring affiliate marketers place all their focus on compelling results while ignoring what it takes to achieve them.

Generating passive income through any venture is no easy feat and doesn't happen in a couple of weeks or months.

If you're looking to cash out quickly, you'll most likely be disappointed.

It's easy to see why this is the case when you dissect an average affiliate website. You'll see that it has many elements, including:

  • Lots of high-quality content
  • Various promotional efforts and channels
  • Sizeable website traffic
  • Outstanding SEO

Each of these components can take months to build, so you need to be patient and avoid the need for instant gratification.

Don't want to create content

Your affiliate product won't sell itself — you must spread the word through all kinds of content to generate leads and turn them into customers.

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing works if you can draw in organic traffic through different channels. Besides climbing Google's search results, you can let people find you by:

  • Being active on social media
  • Running a YouTube channel
  • Building your email list

You don't need to check all of these boxes — find what works for you and double down on it.

But no matter what channel you choose, you'll need to keep pushing out valuable content.

Doing so takes consistency and dedication, so be ready to roll up your sleeves if you want to make it as an affiliate marketer.

Want to promote questionable products

Before you start affiliate marketing, you must make sure your product isn't in a legal grey area.

Various industries like betting and casinos are still unregulated, so you might want to avoid them unless you're fully confident in what you're doing.

Sure, an affiliate program revolving around online betting might offer sky-high commissions.

But what good does this do if Google buries your content on page 10 in search results with no prospects of ranking higher?

Make no mistake — this does happen in many cases because search engines frown upon such unregulated and risky niches.

Products from unregulated industries are also hard (or even impossible) to promote through social media channels due to many restrictions and bans.

You might waste tons of energy trying to get around these limitations. It's much better to focus your efforts on a legitimate, useful affiliate product that won't put your business at risk.

Are in a dying industry

As industries evolve and get disrupted, some niches get kicked out and become obsolete.

The last thing you want to do is spend years building your online presence and creating content for a sinking ship.

Imagine being a Blockbuster affiliate at a time Netflix showed up.

Sadly, this happens to many affiliate marketers who don't follow industry trends or play the long game.

Focusing solely on your affiliate revenue potential when choosing a niche is narrow-sighted and risky.

Either pick an evergreen industry or learn a new skill that will keep paying off for decades to come. Some good examples of industries on the rise include:

  • Machine learning and AI
  • Renewable energy
  • Cybersecurity
  • Robotics and automation

If you're not willing to ride the wave of upcoming trends or stick to stable industries that won't disappear anytime soon, affiliate marketing may not be worth it.

Are in a low-paying niche

It's natural to assume that your affiliate success will directly reflect your online marketing efforts. The bad news is that this sometimes isn't the case.

If you don't choose a profitable product, much of your work will go down the drain, and you won't have a sustainable affiliate income.

This is where your passion might clash with profitability, so you'll need to find a balance.

For example, you might be a bookworm who adores reading and would make an outstanding book reviewer.

Add a referral link here and there, and you can make money doing what you love the most.

...Or can you?

Well, not if you choose to promote digital books on Amazon, as this is one of the platform's lowest-paying niches with a commission of only 3%.

This means you'd make 30 cents for a $10 book.

Even some modest side income would require thousands of sales, so it's highly unlikely you'd manage to live off your business alone.

This still doesn't mean you should ignore your interests and promote products only because they offer high commissions.

But you also shouldn't tie yourself to a niche that pays peanuts simply because you like a product.

Doing so would almost inevitably lead to burnout and make you drop out of affiliate marketing.

Pros and cons of affiliate marketing

To further help you decide if affiliate marketing is for you, let's compare the benefits of this business model to its shortcomings.


Little to no upfront investment — You don't need money to start affiliate marketing, especially if you already have a website.

Otherwise, you might face some costs for hosting and similar services.

These expenses are pretty negligible, though, so you can get started without the risk of losing huge amounts of money.

Countless opportunities — You can join lots of large affiliate networks like ClickBank and Amazon Associates, but you're not limited to them.

You can also find a brand in your target niche that runs its own affiliate program, but make sure commissions and other terms are worth your effort.

Passive income — Many publishers reach a point at which their affiliate marketing revenue is largely passive.

This doesn't happen straight away, but it's more than possible to turn your business into a well-oiled machine that keeps generating affiliate sales on autopilot.

Scalability — With each piece of content you publish, you reduce the long-term amount of work needed to make money.

Every additional affiliate link is a new opportunity to generate leads and land sales, which means you can expect exponential growth as your business gains traction

Low ongoing costs — Affiliate partners can promote products through countless channels, most of which are free.

Your only job is to keep creating content, which won't burn a hole in your pocket and affect your bottom line unless you hire a large team.

The main currency you're trading here is time, which you've got plenty of.


Fierce competition — The low entry barrier of affiliate marketing is a double-edged sword.

You're entering a game with millions of players, and most niches are pretty crowded. You'll need to put in quite a bit of work to stand out and build your audience.

No income guarantees — Like other performance-based ventures, affiliate marketing doesn't guarantee a return.

You may have to work for a while without any results, which discourages many publishers.

Lack of control — When you sign up for an affiliate program, you must play by the brand's rules.

If your campaigns and content aren't aligned with them, you might get booted from the program.

Key takeaways

  • Affiliate marketing keeps growing in popularity among both brands and publishers. Opportunities are virtually endless, so this business model is surely worth exploring.
  • To make affiliate marketing work, you must choose a product you're passionate about, preferably the one you personally use. This way, positioning yourself as an authority will be much easier.
  • Besides your interests, you must consider a niche's profitability to make sure you don't end up wasting time on a low-paying product and burn out. Look for evergreen products with high commissions.
  • Building an affiliate business takes time and effort, so don't expect overnight success. You must be patient and keep creating content consistently to set yourself apart. If you're not willing to wait, affiliate marketing may not be worth it.
  • Affiliate marketing is a low-cost way to generate a near-passive income, but there's tons of competition, and success isn't guaranteed. This venture is only suitable for you if you're comfortable with performance-based results.


Objectively speaking, affiliate marketing is worth committing to. Now that you know what it takes to build a thriving business, you can decide if it's the right option for you.

If you're passionate about content creation, it doesn't hurt to at least try. You can't lose much because you can get started without large investments, so all it takes is your time.

Affiliate marketing is flexible and can be done as a side hustle, so you can test the waters and see if it's worth sailing into.

Have you already dabbled in affiliate marketing? If so, and you have some tips or experiences to share, go ahead and tweet at us.

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