I’m going to keep this post short and focus on the 10 most important affiliate marketing pros and cons (5 on each side) that you need to know before you start in this business (or if you’re already in it).
What this list of affiliate marketing pros and cons is based off:
- It’s based off my 17 years in the business. See my income page for details.
- It’s also based off my many personal successes and failures in this business.
- It’s also based off the countless people I’ve spoken to and helped who were either getting started, or in this business and the results (or lack of) that I’ve seen from them.
And based off all that history and experience:
Here are the 10 most important affiliate marketing pros and cons for you to know:
First the pros:
- It is a legitimate business.
- Yes, you can make a lot of money (no limit).
- You can make the affiliate business off your passion.
- You can do affiliate marketing full time.
- You can do it from just about anywhere in the world.
Now for the cons:
- Most of the ways to do affiliate marketing are not easy (or work).
- It’s a business you’ll likely fail at (unless you have help).
- It takes a lot of work despite what you hear.
- It takes a lot of time to make it work (if you do it the right way).
- You are very likely to encounter scams and lose money.
Let’s examine the detailed pros of affiliate marketing first:
1) It is a legitimate business:
Or should I say it *can* be a legitimate business if you know what that actually looks like. Generally speaking, an ethical and honest affiliate business looks like this:
You create a website on a niche topic that you love and can provide good answers to for other people (say it’s an outdoor niche). You do your best to provide honest content, not holding anything back, not being deceptive or anything. You just provide great information and people who visit your site love to read your content and take your advise.
The money from such an affiliate business will come from you recommending products to people on the same site and because people will trust you, they’ll buy it. This can really be a very rewarding scenario (but it’s rare).
2) You truly can make a lot of money with it:
When you ask people how much they would love to make with this business (or in general), most people are either shooting for the stars wanting to make millions, while others are content with a passive income that helps them get by and live comfortably.
What I’ve learned is that when you begin this business, aim for the getting by level first, because it’s much more realistic to reach that point and from that experience, grow your business further and that will allow you to shoot for the stars and make the income people dream about (6, 7 figures).
For the present moment in my life, I am making a passive income in affiliate marketing and am using everything I have learned over my time in it to rinse and repeat the same formula to scale the income further.
A lot of people make the mistake of looking for the biggest hacks or cheats to get right to the top of the mountain and this is a mistake because there are necessary steps you need to climb first before getting there and the method I’m sharing with you is much more realistic to accomplish that goal with.
3) You can build the affiliate business off your passion:
To illustrate this properly, let’s take “normal” jobs people have. If you ask 100 of them how many of them love that job, there’s a good chance that about 80% of them will say no.
With affiliate marketing, there’s a much higher chance of people starting a business in this realm on something that they’ll actually love and it also happens to corresponding with how they should be doing it in the first place.
Like I said in pro 1, make the affiliate business in a niche you love and that will make the process not only legitimate and honest, but also rewarding. Check out some of my articles like this one on evergreen niches or this one on high ticket niches to get the right examples of what’s possible.
4) You can do it full time (I’m proof):
It takes time to get to this point, but if you follow the right progression, it’s totally possible. When I began, I had to focus on college at the time and this at the same time and thankfully, because I had some saved up money (and had family help), I was able to build up my income to then go at it alone, full time.
But I do often have people ask me about replacing their income with affiliate marketing and my answer is that they should never rely on this from the get go and if they have a job or a prospective job option, to focus on that first, make affiliate marketing your side thing until it actually becomes a stable/passive income, and to then switch over to it if they want. This is a much safer (and recommended) approach.
5) You can do affiliate marketing almost anywhere:
Whether I’m traveling somewhere, staying at home or doing this on my phone, it’s possible on all levels and while you do need a laptop/computer and internet connection to it, basic management of the business once it’s running well can be handled on your phone.
Now let’s examine the cons of affiliate marketing:
1) Most of the available options don’t work or make you lose money:
Let me take the most common options to give you some context:
Blogging: It’s good but requires tons of writing work, about a year to make it work and no guarantees it will. See more info on blogging and affiliate marketing.
YouTube: It’s also good, but requires you get comfortable with speaking/showing yourself, creating good content and time. See more on YouTube affiliate marketing here.
Paid ads: In this case I’m talking about pay per click affiliate marketing. It’s good and is extremely profitable, but also extremely easy to lose money with. Many people go broke relying on this when they don’t know how to properly use it. I’ve made six figures through paid ads, but I’ve also gone broke with them too (numerous times).
Solo ads: In my opinion, solo ads are one of the biggest mirages and lies in the affiliate marketing business. You pay for traffic and then hope people will buy from you, but this often ends up being a scam and you lose money.
2) You’ll likely fail (unless you have good guidance):
Unfortunately, most people who get into affiliate marketing chase riches and most programs and gurus who teach it don’t exactly have your best interests at heart. This mix creates a very bad combination of people seeking shortcuts and not willing to work hard and fake online gurus making bad programs that steer people into dead ends.
When I look at why most people fail at affiliate marketing, it’s because of these 2 things:
- Lazy people who want to get rich quick.
- Blind trust in anyone who promises you big riches in affiliate marketing if you pay them big money.
These are 2 of many other affiliate marketing mistakes people make, but for this context, focus on those.
How do you avoid it? Good question:
I would suggest watching my Wealthy Affiliate review here so you can understand the proper framing and mindset before you get into the business and to keep that as your focus so you are less likely to fall for those 2 mistakes. The better you do this, the better your odds will be of success.
3) You do have to put in a lot of work (and learn a lot) to succeed:
You need to do the following:
- Learn the legit way to do affiliate marketing.
- Apply the legit training and gain that experience and this takes a lot of work.
If you read the first con point above, I mentioned the 5 most common methods that people use and what’s required to succeed. What you also need to know is that each one will require education, experience and practice to make it happen.
If you’re ready to do that properly, then start with Wealthy Affiliate here and I can promise you that you’ll be on the right path.
4) It takes time (a lot of it in most cases):
It’s just the truth. Whether it be blogging which takes about a year to paid ads, which are technically fast, that still requires you experience and learn the method, then apply it and see what you’re doing right/wrong to make adjustments.
This all takes time, but the good news is that by applying and learning, you are improving your rate of success, so while most beginners will take about a year to make it work for them, the more you learn, the faster you’ll actually get results through that learning.
In the beginning for me, when I began blogging, it would take me hours to complete even 1 article of content. Today, it’s usually 30 minutes if not less. That’s progress that comes from practice, application and repetition.
5) You are going to encounter many scams and risk losing a lot of money:
There are many false promises, fake gurus and bad training in the affiliate marketing realm. Though it happens rarely, I do get critics from time to time telling me I promote Wealthy Affiliate too much and don’t give other programs enough chances.
Well if they studied my history and knew that I reviewed about 200 programs to this day, they’d know why I’m so cynical about most programs and so adamant about Wealthy Affiliate.
The general rules I apply to good programs and telling them apart from the bad are this:
- The less a program tells you and the more it flashes money, generally the worse it is.
- The more open and transparent a program is and the less is costs, the better it is.
And there you have it, the 10 most common affiliate marketing pros and cons:
Above all else, my job on this website is to guide people to get success in it. Whether it be through my coaching or through Wealthy Affiliate, if you’re serious about succeeding at affiliate marketing, at least now you know a bit more about the risks and rewards it carries and while of course, I can list a ton more pros and cons, these 10 will really encapsulate the business pretty well and I hope you feel more comfortable with these facts I just shared with you.
If you have any questions about affiliate marketing, whether it be on these pros and cons and/or how to get started, let me know.