There’s a lot of skepticism in the affiliate marketing community about how many people are actually successful out there. I can certainly appreciate why that is, too. Anyone would be skeptical if they looked around and noticed the only people making money in affiliate marketing were the people selling tools to help newbie affiliate marketers get into the game.
Combine this with the fact that so many people are stingy with their information and techniques for fear of having their niche stolen and their profits undercut, and you can see why it happens.
Sometimes, you need a good refresher about how successful actual people can be. People who post about their success, people who try to help others become successful, people who don’t care about their niche being undercut because they know they’re the best at what they do. I’ve tracked down case studies from five of these successful marketers, and that’s what I’m bringing to you today.
Don’t feel like you’re being played just because you haven’t gotten a foothold yet. Affiliate marketing takes time, to establish yourself, to build an audience, to create content, and all the rest.
Darren is one of the most prominent affiliate marketers around, precisely because he’s always open with his history, his techniques, and his success. This post is from 2013, so he’s had three more years to rack up his success, but even then it was impressive. In 2013, it was the 10th year he had been working affiliate marketing with Amazon, and he had racked up nearly half a million dollars.
Now, $42,000 a year isn’t all that impressive, all things considered. That’s not quite the whole story, though. His earnings only really started to shoot up in 2008 or so. It’s more accurate to say that he started out making a pittance, and that in recent years he has hovered around $80,000 per year. That’s a respectable haul, and all from running a handful of websites, one of which is geared specifically towards helping bloggers reach their own success with affiliate marketing.
What’s impressive is that Darren isn’t even one of the top tier Amazon Affiliates. His experience is actually rather typical of the people who put a lot of time and effort into getting serious with affiliate marketing. There are, no doubt, much more successful affiliates.
The meat of Darren’s post is about why he chose to use Amazon for his affiliate marketing, despite all of the perfectly valid criticisms out there. Amazon commissions are small, sure, and a lot of Amazon products are cheap, so success often relies on big ticket niches – which are packed – or volume, which takes a long time to build. However, he points out:
You can read the rest of his post above for a bunch of tips on becoming an Amazon affiliate success. Some of the tips are pretty common, like “get more traffic,” but that doesn’t change how valuable Darren’s site is as a whole. You can also listen to a more recent post about his success – showing he topped the $500K threshold – with this podcast post.
David is a UK marketer and SEO expert who has been working in the industry for 15 years. He shares his methods and tips for how to create and grow a marketing site, based on his own experiences. The blog he uses for a case study went from freshly created to making just under $4,000 a month, in the span of six months. That’s remarkably fast, and stands as a testament to David’s skill as an affiliate marketer.
The meat of the post is his month by month playbook and recounting of how his site grew. The first month was all about creating and setting up the site, as well as how he chose a product and how he decided to monetize it. This highlights the sheer amount of work he put into research and content to fill his site. He dug deep into reviews for his chosen product and he wrote deep reviews stretching into the 2,500-word range. Month 1, he had just over 800 visitors and made $115.
Month 2, he made a blog to accompany his site, and he talks about how he created content, how he linked things together, and how he worked on link building. Through content and links, he boosted up to 2,200 visitors and $391 in sales. Month 3, he further expanded the blog, and his traffic continued to rise, as did his profits.
All of this shows how much work goes into running a site. His total time breakdown for the first four months reaches 234 hours of effort, creating content, researching products, building the site, and earning links. Combining this with the holiday season, his affiliate site shot up, where it has stayed since.
David’s study is a case where white hat effort can grow a site very quickly, but it does rely a little on timing, as well as a lot of research in picking the right niche. His post doesn’t go too deep into it, but you can find more about picking a niche in a post we wrote a few days ago. There’s also a ton of information on it out there on other sites, like David’s, Darren’s, and others.
The website named in the subheading there is little more than an odd product aggregator, with a focus towards interesting, often expensive, amusing stuff. I’ve seen everything from drones to pajamas, and let me tell you; it’s always tempting. Looking at their front page right now, I see things like color changing showerheads, the Playboy Mansion that recently went up for sale, a magic wand TV remote, and a dolphin-shaped speedboat. Needless to say, the selection of products on the site runs the entire spectrum of price ranges.
The site has grown immensely popular as one of the first of its kind, though its design has been mimicked endlessly in the years since it reached success. It’s estimated that, as of the time of the post I linked above, it was making an estimated $20,000 per month from Amazon affiliate sales alone, along with more from, eBay partner sales and referrals to a whole host of other sites, like ThinkGeek and Wicked Lasers.
The post I linked isn’t a direct post from the owner of the site. It’s a case study performed from the outside, so you have a better idea of how objective it is. The founder of TIWIB struggled with failed ventures before he hit upon the formula he used for the site, taking existing product affiliate pages and adding infinite scrolling, better images, and careful product selection.
The case study goes on to tell you what you can learn from the site, and how you might be able to mimic its success with a drilled down niche version of the same concept. Niche affiliate sites are typically less lucrative but easier to start than broad category sites like TIWIB, and that’s okay.
TIWIB receives millions of visitors every year and is still a very lucrative site, so you can learn a lot from watching how it works and mimicking its success.
This post is very much like Darren’s post in the first section. So why do I include it? It proves to you that Darren is not a random outlier, he is – as he says – in the middle of the road. Chris’s websites combined to earn him over $45,000 annually, and would be making him more if he hadn’t sold one of his best sites for six figures.
Chris only really uses his success as a framing device for the post itself, which goes into great detail about how to get started with affiliate marketing. You can visit the post for the tips in full, but I’ll summarize them here.
Once again, we see that Amazon can be a great, lucrative place to be. However, pretty much all affiliate marketing advice works with other affiliates as well. It doesn’t matter if you’re promoting web hosting, selling products on eBay, or selling digital services for some app company; it’s all the same information.
Hieu is a marketer from Vietnam, and while his case isn’t as impressive as the others on this list, it shows the viability of a different sort of affiliate marketing business model. Specifically, what he did was build an affiliate site and then sell it for a sizable profit.
We’ve already seen how much work it is to set up and establish an affiliate site. It’s also a lot of work to maintain, but many newbie affiliate marketers believe that it’s the startup that’s the hardest part. As a consequence, they look out for affiliate marketers selling their sites, and they buy. Oh, do they buy.
Hieu’s business model isn’t designed to set up 1-2 sites and push them until they’re powerhouses he can live off of indefinitely. Rather, he builds sites and makes them moderate successes, something like a proof of concept. The site he sold in this case study took nine months to reach a monthly income level of $1,600, at which point he sold it for about 10x that amount.
There are two things to take away from this success story. The first is that, if you enjoy building sites, doing the research, and establishing the start of a business, you can still make a profit without having to maintain the site. You can simply sell it for a good chunk of change, then start over and do it all again. The second takeaway is that if you’re on the other side of the coin – perfectly capable and willing to maintain and improve a site, but incapable or unwilling to build it from scratch – you can just buy a site and go from there.
The post is an interview with Hieu, and it goes over the strategies he uses to build and rank his sites. Be aware that he does use some gray and black hat strategies, so your results may vary if you’re trying to follow in his footsteps. The post is over a year old, so some of those techniques may be more heavily penalized now than they used to be.
So there you have it; five successful affiliate marketers and the techniques they used to achieve that success. By following their guides, you too can be one of the people on a list like this someday.
Growtraffic.com is the leading pop-under traffic network.
Get thousands of targeted visitors for wholesale prices.
Thanks for mentioning me in the blog. I’m actually doing a bit better than that now from my websites but I also run some other companies as well. Currently have about 6 decent sized income streams that all add up pretty well. It’s been a lot of fun over the last several years trying new things 🙂
Excellent post, I really enjoyed it. Keep it up!