Can affiliate marketing make you rich in 2021?

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We can all agree the last 12 months have been strange for everyone. 

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No matter whether it’s been positive or negative, it probably hasn’t gone down the path you were expecting. 

2020 made many people realize that an alternative income stream may be the best way to secure themselves financially. If you’re one of the large amounts of people who have found this past year mentally and financially draining, you’re probably searching for a quick and painless solution to your monetary worries. So, can affiliate marketing make you rich in 2021? 

Here we’ll answer that question, while also exploring how to make money with affiliate marketing, the financial outlays of affiliate marketing, metrics of success and some tips for beginners. 

Can affiliate marketing make you rich? 

The short answer to ‘can affiliate marketing make you rich?’ is of course, yes. However, what is most important to remember is that affiliate marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. What we mean by this is yes, affiliate marketing can make you rich, but it almost certainly won’t happen overnight.  

Those known as ‘super affiliates’ often spend years crafting their process and getting to know their audience intimately to be able to earn themselves six-figure salaries from affiliate marketing. It’s a long game.  

It’s also vitally important to think about what you consider as ‘rich’? Rich can mean many things to different people facing different circumstances. To make affiliate marketing your sole source of income can take a very long time. However, if you would like to earn a passive income on the side of your normal job, if you are a full-time homemaker or student hoping to create a supplementary money source, or if you’d like to boost your bank account while you sleep, then affiliate marketing could be right for you. 

How to make money with affiliate marketing 

Join an affiliate network 

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to make money with affiliate marketing. It can be a bit of a trial and error process when you are first starting out; this is why one of the most important things you can do is join an experienced global affiliate network, such as Awin.

Consistency is key 

The best and most authentic approach to make money with affiliate marketing is to build an audience around a niche you are passionate about or interested in. Some find creating content consistently draining, but this is vital to provide value to your growing audience. By consistently creating relevant and interesting content for this audience, you will build rapport and eventually, trust. 

Trust is a must 

As with any relationship, trust is something that takes time to build. This is where you will need to be patient and consistent in your approach. People typically don’t like to feel they are being ‘sold to.’ So although you will need to disclose your partnership agreements, your audience wants to feel like any products you promote are still an authentic recommendation. 

This is where the consistency in your content becomes vital. Paid partnerships should be part of your content but not the entirety of it. Provide your audience content you think will interest them, with no strings attached. Then when you do have branded or partnership content, it’s perceived to come from a place of authenticity and will make them more inclined to make a purchase. 

Find good partnerships 

Once you have established a trusting audience you should consider who you partner with. After all, this reflects on your brand and will impact the way your audience perceives you. If your content is based around hair products, promoting a food subscription service might be a bit of a stretch. Look to find partnerships that work with your brand and will be helpful and relevant to your audience. 

Main costs related to affiliate marketing 

There can be costs related to affiliate marketing and you should factor these into your financial decision-making process if you’re hoping to make profits in the industry. There are sometimes minimal fees required to join affiliate networks. For example, all new publishers joining Awin need to pay a $5 compliance fee which is immediately reimbursed to you once you reach your first payment threshold. This minimizes the risk of unethical activity in the network, by ensuring all active publishers are real people and not bots or spam. 

Maintaining a blog or website does have initial and ongoing fees, including purchasing domain names, hosting and sometimes an SSL certificate if your host doesn’t provide this. We always recommend having an SSL on your blog or website to ensure the security of both your information and that of your audience. This also builds trust. 

Depending on which approach you choose to take with your affiliate marketing, you may need to financially consider the cost of paid advertising. This can become the main financial cost with affiliate marketing depending on whether you choose to take an organic or paid approach.  

Using paid advertising isn’t essential as a publisher and many don’t choose to take it, but it certainly has its benefits in the industry. Paid reach and engagement can expose your content to a wider audience at a faster rate, but you can’t pay for trust, which is essential. If you choose to go down this route, you should factor the cost of it into your planning process to work out your true ROI. 

Financial metrics you should use consider to measure the success of your affiliate marketing campaign 


Return on investment. This is the big one. ROI means calculating what it has cost you to run an affiliate marketing campaign (the input) compared to how much money you have made (the output). Even if you have run your entire campaign organically, without spending money on clicks, reach or engagement there may still be costs associated with being a publisher that you should factor in. 

For example, if you have spent significant time creating content— whether that be blogs, photos, image editing, banners, videos, adverts of any kind— this should be considered input to you. If you have gone as far as to pay for services to assist you in creating this content, that also needs to be factored in. 

Cost Per Click 

If you have chosen to run ads you should be assessing your CPC. What are you paying to have someone click on that ad? If what you are being paid per sale is not more than this cost, you’re running at a loss. 

Cost Per Sale 

You may have managed to get someone to click through on your ad or affiliate link, but did they make that final purchase? Assessing your CPS is very important. If the advertiser you are working with is only paying you on final conversions, your efforts and funds may have been wasted. If they are paying on influence, however, looking at the CPC may be sufficient. 

High-ticket items 

Some publishers tend to shy away from promoting higher-priced items. Consider the affiliate payment rate from the advertiser and how many lower-cost items you may have to make a sale on to garner the same income. You could find that selling fewer more expensive products could be the key to success for you.  

Tips to make money with affiliate marketing for beginners 

Form a plan 

Just the thought of this can be overwhelming to some, but it really doesn’t need to be. Break it down into: 

  • What you want to talk about 
  • Who you want to talk to  
  • What are their interests 
  • What types of content will you create and on what platforms 
  • Search for advertisers 
  • Understand the data 

Choose a niche 

Selecting a niche is possibly the most vital step for beginners. Do not overlook this and simply go for whatever is the biggest trend of the moment. No matter how successful you are in the first place, trends fade and with them so will your income, if you aren’t careful.  

Always select a niche topic to create content around that interests and excites you. It needs to be something you don’t think you can get bored with continually talking about; after all, that is what you will be doing, one way or another. 

Don’t be afraid to be very niche about your topic. Some people think that choosing a broader topic will give them more opportunity for success, but more often than not the opposite occurs. Broad often equates to vague and dilutes your audience base. Trust us, no matter what you select, there will always be an audience for it.  

Having said this, whether that audience will spend money on your niche is a separate consideration. This is where you may need to do some further research as to the viability of your chosen niche.  

Choose a platform 

The next tip is to choose a platform you feel comfortable with. If you aren’t comfortable in front of a camera, a video-based platform like TikTok or YouTube may not work for you.  

You also don’t have to be on every platform. Again, this is unnecessarily spreading yourself thin. You need to be able to place outgoing affiliate links within your content so having your own website (albeit a very simple one) and one or two social media platforms that work well. 

You can, of course, do affiliate marketing without your own affiliate website, but this certainly helps simplify the process.  

Take time to build your audience 

As previously mentioned, you want to build a trusting relationship with your audience. This takes time and isn’t something you can rush. Yes, you can choose to use paid advertising for greater reach and engagement but the connection with your audience is what will lead them to purchase via your affiliate links and in turn, make you money. Don’t gloss over this step. Get to know them, interact and engage authentically. The better you know your audience the easier it is to sell to them. 

Do your research and understand the data 

When you begin with an affiliate network like Awin the sheer amount of data available to you can be overwhelming. Take your time to understand the terminology and where the data is drawn from. There is plenty of information available to help you on this journey. 

Making large sums of money from people online will require you to be able to assess data, sometimes in minute detail. Working out where your audience is coming into and potentially where they’re falling out your sales funnel will help you continually tweak the process. Eventually, this will create a well-oiled machine that is far more efficient at making you money. 

A final note 

Can affiliate marketing make you rich in 2021? As you can hopefully see, the answer is yes, but only if you have an established audience. If not, set your goals to being ‘rich’ in the future but building and nurturing a solid foundation for success right now. 

Affiliate marketing is a long game and, as with anyone looking to get rich quick, sadly you find they more often than not fall short. Continuous income and success take work and time. Put some thought into the initial stages of affiliate marketing and you can set yourself up comfortable for huge conversions toward the future. 

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