Is Affiliate Marketing Hard? Read This Before Starting!

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Jordan Alexo

You’ve probably bumped into ‘affiliate marketing’ more than a few times. It’s everywhere, right? But here’s the million-dollar question: Is affiliate marketing truly hard?

Well, the answer isn’t as straightforward as a simple yes or no. Now, why is it hard? It’s not just about pasting links and waiting.

You have to understand your audience, provide valuable content and be patient. Most people don’t give enough time to see results, and that’s where the challenge lies.

In this guide, you’ll learn the ins and outs, the pros and cons, and the strategies that work. No fluff, just actionable insights to help you succeed with affiliate marketing. Ready to roll?

Key Takeaways

  1. Affiliate Marketing: More Than Just Links: It’s not about randomly pasting affiliate links everywhere. It’s about understanding your audience, delivering valuable content, and having the patience to see results. Most people quit too soon, and that’s why they don’t see success.

  2. The Dual Nature of Affiliate Marketing: Starting is easy. You only need to sign up, grab your links, and you’re set. But the real grind? Building an audience that trusts you and clicks on your affiliate links consistently. It’s about showing up, tweaking, learning, and growing. All this requires a good dose of patience.

  3. Know Your Audience and Deliver: It’s not just about promoting products. You must promote the right products. So, find products that connect with your brand, create top-notch content around them, and place those affiliate links strategically. Remember to always prioritize providing value. The commissions? They’ll follow.

  4. The Real MVPs of Affiliate Marketing: Ever heard of Pat Flynn, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, or John Chow? These are the rockstars of affiliate marketing. They started from scratch and are now raking in big bucks, all thanks to their dedication, strategies, and genuine connection with their audience.

  5. Making Affiliate Marketing Works: Know your audience inside out. Always prioritize delivering value. Stay consistent, diversify your platforms, and build genuine trust. And remember, it’s not just about starting; it’s about continuously improving, adapting, and growing.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

an image showing how affiliate marketing works.

Affiliate marketing, in a few words, is promoting someone else’s product and earning a commission when someone buys through your referral link.

You’re essentially a middleman. You don’t own the product, you don’t handle customer service, but you do get a piece of the pie when you make a sale. Sweet deal, right?

But wait, there’s more. Not to be confused with network marketing (a whole different ball game), affiliate marketing is all about leveraging your online presence.

Whether it’s a blog, a YouTube channel, or even your Instagram stories, it’s about strategically placing those affiliate links where your audience hangs out.

And here’s a tip: You don’t want just to slap links left and right. Instead, it’s about promoting products that are relevant to your audience.

So, if you have a blog about “Keto Diet” recipes, promoting affiliate products about gardening wouldn’t make sense.


Find products that align with your brand, create killer content around them, and place those affiliate links where they make sense. And remember, it’s all about delivering value first. The commissions? They’ll follow.

Is Affiliate Marketing Hard or Easy?

man on laptop working on his digital affiliate business

Before digging deeper, let’s address the elephant in the room. So you’re wondering: “Is affiliate marketing hard or is it a walk in the park?”

Here’s the real deal: It’s both. Yep, you heard me right.

The Easy Part

Getting started is a breeze. Sign up for an affiliate program, grab your links, and you’re off to the races. The tools, platforms, and resources available today? They’ve made the entry smoother than a fresh jar of peanut butter.

Writing a blog post or YouTube video reviewing a product you love and mentioning your affiliate link is relatively straightforward.

The Hard Part

The hard part is building an audience that buys through your affiliate links consistently.

This requires consistency. Persistence. Adaptability. See, it’s not just about setting up; it’s about showing up, day in and day out. It’s about tweaking, learning, and growing.

Rinse and repeat the same process month after month without seeing much results. Few clicks, minimal sales, and the temptation to give up can be strong.

If you can handle that, eventually, you’ll start getting some results. Meaning a sale here and there. Then it starts building up until you have a full-blown online business.

The problem is most people don’t have the patience and give up before they see any results. That is why people often say, “Affiliate marketing is dead” or “That it’s too hard!”


The Kaizen principle applies here. In other words, with every challenge comes an opportunity to learn and level up. Every “failure” is just feedback in disguise. And every hurdle? It’s a stepping stone to your next big win.

So, if you’re willing to improve, adapt and have patience continuously, affiliate marketing may one day become a five or six-figure income stream for you.

Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

You’re probably wondering, “Does this whole affiliate marketing thing even work?” I mean, it sounds great on paper, but can you really turn those links into cold, hard cash?

I always like to share a few successful affiliate marketers, such as:

1 – Pat Flynn

smart passive income website

The brain behind Smart Passive Income, Pat’s journey is inspirational. Starting off without a clue, he’s now an example for newbie affiliate marketers. He even shares his income reports online.

His blog, as the name suggests, is all about helping newbies build successful online businesses through passive income strategies.

2 – Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Making Sense Of Cents

Ever stumbled upon Making Sense of Cents? That’s Michelle’s blog. From being in debt to pulling in over $100,000 a month (yep, you read that right).

On her site, you can find valuable information on how she achieved such success and tips for aspiring affiliate marketers.

3 – John Chow

John Chow website

The dot-com mogul himself! John’s story is all about turning the odds in his favor. From zero to over $40,000 per month in just two years.

His blog shares valuable info about his journey and strategies for building a successful affiliate marketing business.

How Do You Make Affiliate Marketing Work?

Okay, so now you know affiliate marketing works. But what’s the common thing among these successful marketers? Let’s check:

 1. Know Your Audience: Understand their needs, pain points, and what makes them tick. Only then can you offer solutions that resonate.

2. Deliver Value, Always: Before thinking about commissions, think about how you can help. Solve a problem, answer a question, or simply entertain. Value first, sales second.

3. Stay Consistent: This isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Regularly update your content, engage with your audience, and stay on top of trends in your niche.

4. Diversify Your Platforms: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Spread out. A blog post here, a YouTube video there, maybe a tweet or two. The more touchpoints, the better.

5. Build Trust: This is the big one. Be transparent about your affiliations, and only promote products you truly believe in. Trust is hard to earn and easy to lose.


In a nutshell? Yes, affiliate marketing works. But it’s not a magic money tree. It’s a tool; like any tool, it’s all about how you use it. So, roll up those sleeves, and let’s get to work!

How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing?

Well, you’re here because you want to turn those affiliate links into a money-making machine. And guess what? I’m here to guide you through it. So, here’s what you can do:

1 – Niche Down

I can’t stress this enough. Don’t be a jack of all trades. Find your corner of the internet. Whether it’s vegan recipes, retro video games, or DIY crafts for cat lovers, find that sweet spot. The more specific, the better. Why?

Well, specificity means less competition and better chances of attracting people. And also, it’s easier for people to see you as an authority figure.

Because you don’t need to compete against top websites with thousands of backlinks and indexed pages that have been around for years.

Instead, you often have less authoritative websites trying to rank for the keywords in your niche.

2 – Content is King

But not just any content. Value-packed, audience-centric content. Think tutorials, how-to guides, product reviews, and personal experiences. And remember, it’s not about quantity; it’s about quality.

One killer blog post can drive more traffic than ten mediocre ones.

3 – SEO is Your Best Friend

Look, you can have the best content in the world, but what’s the point if no one sees it?

You want to find keywords with decent search volume and lower competition. Then optimize your content around those keywords.

4 – Keep Building

You don’t want a blog with only a few pages. Or a YouTube channel with only a couple of videos.

Instead, you want to have hundreds of pages of content. The more content you provide, the better. The more ways people can find your stuff and affiliate links.

So, don’t aspect a blog or YouTube channel with a few posts or videos to do the trick!

5 – Engage and Build a Community

Respond to comments, engage with your audience on social media, and maybe even start a newsletter. When people feel connected to you, they’re more likely to trust your recommendations.

You can build an opt-in page and offer a freebie to entice people to sign up. Then through your email newsletter, you promote relevant affiliate products and services.

6 – Always Be Testing

This is the fun part. Play around with different affiliate programs, test different promotional strategies, and see what sticks. Sometimes, a tiny tweak can lead to a significant boost in conversions.

Pros of Affiliate Marketing

But let’s chat about why affiliate marketing is such a hot topic online. Why are so many people jumping on this bandwagon? Let’s break down the perks:

  1. Low Entry Barrier: No need for a PhD or decades of experience. Heck, you even need a product. Just a passion, a platform, and a pinch of persistence.

  2. Flexibility: Not feeling a product anymore? Swap out those links! Affiliate marketing lets you pivot as you please.

  3. Passive Income Potential: Do the work once, and if done right, watch the commissions roll in while you sleep. That blog post or video of yours can make money for years to come.

  4. Global Reach: The internet knows no bounds. With affiliate marketing, neither do you. Reach audiences from Tokyo to Timbuktu, all from the comfort of your couch.

  5. No Customer Hassles: Forget dealing with returns, complaints, or shipping nightmares. You’re the middleman, remember? You promote, they buy, you earn.

  6. Scalability: Start small, dream big. As you grow, refine, and expand, the sky’s the limit. Your earning potential? Only capped by your ambition and creativity.

Now, I won’t sugarcoat it. Every rose has its thorns. But when you weigh the pros, affiliate marketing sure does shine bright.

Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Let’s dive into the challenges so you’re not caught off guard:

  1. Time Investment: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your affiliate empire be. It takes time to build content, gain trust, and see those commissions roll in. Patience is key.

  2. Traffic Dependence: No traffic, no sales. It’s that simple. And driving consistent, quality traffic? That’s an art and science combined. It’s not just about numbers; it’s about attracting the right crowd.

  3. Competition: With low barriers to entry, everyone wants a piece of the pie. That means you’re up against both the big sharks and the small fish. For this reason, try to focus on a smaller niche at the beginning.

  4. Commission Fluctuations: Affiliate programs can change their terms, sometimes overnight. Today’s high-earning link might be tomorrow’s dud. Always be on your toes and diversify your affiliate partnerships.

  5. Lack of Control: You’re promoting someone else’s product. If they decide to pull it, change it, or if it dips in quality, it affects your credibility. Choose your affiliate partners wisely.

  6. Payment Delays: Some affiliate programs have long payment cycles. You might wait 30, 60, or even 90 days for your hard-earned cash. Budgeting and financial planning become crucial.

But hey, every business model has its challenges. The trick? Be prepared, stay adaptable, and always keep your audience’s best interests at heart. With the right mindset, these cons become mere hurdles, not roadblocks. Ready to tackle them head-on? Let’s power through!

Final Thoughts

So, we’ve uncovered some gems here. Yes, affiliate marketing is easy but hard. Easy becomes it’s essentially about grabbing some links and promoting products.

But the hard part comes with building an audience. Thus, you should expect months of hard work until you start seeing your first commissions.

If you can overcome that, you’ll have a successful affiliate marketing business. In case you have any questions leave them below.

Frequently Asked Questions

1 – What Is The Hardest Part Of Affiliate Marketing?

Well, there’s no denying it’s got its challenges. One of the biggies? Regulation. Especially in sectors like the retail forex industry, staying compliant with regulations like Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) is crucial.

It’s not just about ticking boxes; it’s about investing in tech and personnel and ensuring you’re on the right side of the law. And let’s not even get started on the fierce competition.

With the forex market being ultra-competitive, standing out and offering unique value becomes essential. It’s not just about promoting; it’s about understanding the market, your audience, and the products inside out. So, while affiliate marketing offers many opportunities, it’s not without its hurdles.

2 – Is Affiliate Marketing Stressful?

Let’s keep it real: affiliate marketing can be a rollercoaster. The fast-paced nature, and the pressure to hit targets, generate leads, and drive those sweet conversions can sometimes feel like a heavyweight. And if you’re not careful?

It can take a toll on your mental well-being, leading to burnout, decreased productivity, and even some pesky physical health issues. But it’s all about balance.

You must prioritize your mental health. So take care of yourself, set realistic goals, and remember to take those much-needed breaks. And when the going gets tough?

Techniques like deep breathing exercises, meditation, and good management can help a lot.

3 – How Long Will It Take To Learn Affiliate Marketing?

Well, the learning curve varies. Depending on the time and effort you’re willing to invest, you could grasp the basics in as little as a month. But mastering it and making money? That might take anywhere from six months to a year.

It’s like learning to play an instrument; you can pick up a tune quickly, but to truly play music? That requires practice, patience, and a whole lot of fine-tuning. So, while you can get the ball rolling quickly, remember that affiliate marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.

So, get in, stay curious, keep learning, and enjoy the journey. You’ll eventually start seeing some success.

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