Can You Really Make Money with Affiliate Marketing in 2024?

Brittany Sawyer Brittany Sawyer
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If you’re thinking about getting started with affiliate marketing, you may ask yourself: “Is affiliate marketing worth it?” While the idea of making passive income while you’re traveling, hanging out with friends, or even sleeping may sound appealing, it’s understandable that you want to know if this dream job is worth the hassle before jumping in head first.

Reasons Why Affiliate Marketing Is Worth It

While most successful affiliate marketers would certainly tell you that affiliate marketing is worth your time and energy, building a profitable affiliate marketing business requires an investment of time, determination, and hard work. In this post, we’ll outline the lucrative benefits of affiliate marketing, tips for building an affiliate marketing business, and the pros and cons of the affiliate marketing industry to help you determine if affiliate marketing is worth it for you.

Why Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?

An affiliate marketer is someone who promotes products or services from a particular seller and gets paid a percentage of the seller’s revenue (a commission) when someone uses their affiliate link to make a purchase. If you’re interested in utilizing affiliate marketing to generate an additional income stream for your travel blog or business — you’re in good company!

In 2022, affiliate marketing had a market value of over $17 billion. In fact, 16% of all online orders in the United States came from affiliate marketing — totaling about $8.2 billion in spending. If being a part of this rapidly growing industry isn’t enticing enough, joining affiliate programs is also worth it for travel creators because of the following benefits.

Low-Risk Way to Generate Income

Unlike many businesses, you don’t need a large sum of cash to invest in order to get started with affiliate marketing — you can join almost any affiliate platform, including Travelpayouts, for free. Usually, the only cost associated with affiliate marketing is paying someone to build and maintain a website for you. That’s it! If you want to reduce your financial risk, you can get started by using free social media or email marketing platforms for your affiliate business.

Since starting an affiliate marketing business doesn’t cost much upfront, you’ll reap the financial rewards more quickly, making affiliate marketing worth it. Plus, you aren’t in a binding contract with any one business or affiliate program when you become an affiliate marketer. As a travel blogger, you can become an affiliate for multiple businesses, like Booking.com, GetYourGuide, and Viator, on one platform, like Travelpayouts, or become an affiliate for several companies on various platforms, like ShareASale, AWIN, CJ Affiliate, to see which products and services resonate best with your audience.

A screenshot of the Travelpayouts program page featuring WayAway and a menu to search for other affiliate programs.
When you join Travelpayouts, you can choose from 100+ affiliate programs, offering everything from hotels and rental cars to tours and travel insurance!

No Need to Create a Product

Usually, starting a business requires creating a product — which also requires buying materials, keeping products in stock, handling shipping, and dealing with customer service requests and complaints. These demands make it challenging to step away from your business — let alone make money in your sleep, as you can with affiliate marketing!

When you begin working in the affiliate marketing industry, you don’t have to create and maintain your product or handle customer service. Instead, you have the opportunity to promote other businesses products and services and, by doing so, reap the financial rewards. Not to mention, affiliate marketing hardly requires any business-related costs, unlike the cost of goods and employee labor you would have to account for in a product-based business. Aside from taxes, your earnings from affiliate marketing are pure profit.

Affiliate Marketing Is Scalable

Many people become affiliate marketers to make a little extra cash for their families with no vision to build an extensive affiliate marketing business — and that’s great! One of the tremendous benefits of affiliate marketing is that you can make your business as big or as small as you want it to be, depending on the time and effort you are willing to put into it.

However, even if you start small, it’s easy to scale your affiliate marketing business quickly. Aside from driving traffic to your affiliate links through your social media platforms, email list, and website, you can use marketing techniques, such as paid advertising and SEO, to get more traffic to your website and, therefore, get more clicks on your affiliate links. Brittany from Travel by Brit says, “Slow and steady wins the race. As your website grows and more people visit, you have a higher likelihood of them clicking on your links to make a purchase.”

Lots of Earning Potential

When you become an affiliate marketer, you enter an industry with unlimited earning potential. Unlike a traditional job that places a cap on your salary, affiliate marketers can make more money each month by creating more content that resonates with their audience. Several travel bloggers and content creators, like Megan & Aram from Virginia Travel Tips and Maggie & Michael from The World Was Here First, earn a full-time salary from affiliate marketing!

Brand-new affiliates with decent website traffic can earn up to $1,000 per month, and seasoned affiliates with a consistent following can earn up to $100,000 per month from affiliate marketing. Your income solely depends on the time you invest in your affiliate marketing business and your marketing strategy. For example, you’ll earn more when you promote high-ticket items with high commission rates.

A screenshot of the Virginia Travel Tips website homepage featuring a gorgeous sunset behind the tagline “your guide to all things Virginia … and the places we love nearby.”
Megan & Aram make $60,000 per month from affiliate marketing and ad revenue on Virginia Travel Tips, pictured above, and three other websites.

Low-Entry Barrier

One of the most enticing benefits of affiliate marketing is that it’s straightforward to start earning money with this business model. You don’t need any experience, a degree, a ton of free time, or even a website (although if you have these things — that’s even better!).

All you need to get started with affiliate marketing is a niche that interests you, an internet connection, and a medium to share your recommendations, like a YouTube channel, Instagram account, or email list. Una from Wandernity says, “If you start a blog as a side hustle or just share content on social media, it might take an hour or two of your week. You can also go all in and produce content consistently daily, allowing you to earn more money in less time. It depends on your goals.”

How to Make Affiliate Marketing Worth It

As you can see, affiliate marketing has several lucrative benefits. It’s a low-risk way to generate income, has a high earning potential, and, as we mentioned earlier, is incredibly easy to start doing — all you need is a smartphone or computer, a reliable internet connection, and the sheer will and determination to make your affiliate business a consistent source of income.

However, while starting with affiliate programs may be a fast, easy process, being a successful affiliate marketer takes significant time and hard work. That said, you can ensure your affiliate marketing journey is worth the valuable time, energy, and effort you invest into promoting each program by following these guidelines:

Create Content People Will Love

Bill Gates once said that “content is king,” — meaning creating unique, high-quality, and relevant content is one of the best methods for businesses to be successful online. As a professional in the affiliate marketing industry — this concept couldn’t ring more true!

It’s essential to start creating content for your audience (with no strings attached) before you begin placing affiliate links in your content. If you can be the person to answer a question your audience has with creative, helpful, engaging, and detailed content, you will quickly build brand awareness, trust, and authority in the eyes of your audience. When your audience sees you as trustworthy and already trusts your opinions, they will be much more likely to click on an affiliate link and purchase a product or service you recommend down the road — leading to more affiliate sales for you.

When you get started with affiliate marketing, make sure to choose affiliate platforms suited for the platform you’re using to create content. For example, if you’re planning to start on Instagram, check out this list of the best affiliate programs for Instagram to use as a travel blogger or content creator.

A screenshot of the top ten travel affiliate programs for Instagram, featuring a table showing the commission, cookie lifetime, promo tools, and how to join WayAway, Viator, Rentalcars.com, and GetYourGuide.
WayAway, Viator, Rentalcars.com, and GetYourGuide are just a few of the best travel affiliate programs you can find on Travelpayouts to promote on Instagram.

Promote Products You Have Used

While it’s not a requirement to be a customer of every product you promote to make money with affiliate marketing, it’s helpful to have used the products once or at least to have a deep knowledge of the products you promote, how they work, and how they can make someone’s life better.

When you’re passionate about the product or service you are promoting, it’s easy to dive into the product’s unique benefits, advantages, and details. If you have an engaged audience, this will increase their interest in the product or service and increase the clicks on your affiliate link. Plus, if you’re inexperienced or indifferent about a product you are promoting — your audience will be able to tell. At the very least, research before promoting a product or service, and never promote something you haven’t or wouldn’t use yourself.

Grow Your Audience First

While it’s possible to start affiliate marketing from scratch, it’s easier to make money from affiliate marketing quickly if you already have an engaged audience of people who read, look forward to, and engage with your content. It’s beneficial if people view you as a trusted expert in your niche — so if you want to promote travel products, like hotels, tours, and rental cars, your audience should view you as an expert in the travel industry.

You can build an online audience using different tools and methods. The most common are email marketing, social media channels (Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, etc.), and search traffic from your own website. Some affiliate marketers focus on promoting affiliate products or services on one of these platforms, but those who are most successful tend to engage their audience on a few (if not all) of the different types of platforms.

If you already have a website and would love to give the organic search traffic to your website a boost, head over to the Travelpayouts Academy to learn the “ins and outs” of search engine optimization (SEO) with a free course.

A screenshot of the “Boost Travel Affiliate Revenue Using SEO” in the Travelpayouts Academy featuring information about the course, what you will learn, and the course expert, Sharon Gourlay.
Learn how to boost travel affiliate income using SEO by enrolling in this free course about SEO in the Travelpayouts Academy.

Build an Email List

You may wonder if building an email list is even worth your time — isn’t social media where it’s at these days, anyway?

While social media marketing may be growing in popularity, studies have shown that email marketing is still the most effective marketing media channel and outranks social media, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click advertising. Email marketing is the best way to make money with affiliate marketing, but you can’t get started selling affiliate products and services via email if you don’t have an email list to send them to.

Before you get started with affiliate marketing, it’s wise to build a newsletter your subscribers will love to read. It’s helpful to create a freebie to share with your audience, like a free packing checklist, that they’ll receive when they sign-up for your email list. At first, don’t try to sell them anything — just send valuable, entertaining, consistent content to their inbox. Then, when your email subscriber base is large enough (and they are actively consuming your content), you can begin to include affiliate links in your emails.

Track How Well Your Campaigns Perform

If you want to ensure affiliate marketing is worth your time, it’s essential to keep track of your affiliate links to see how well they are performing. Typically, affiliate marketers track link clicks, link conversion rate, cost per click, earnings per click, and similar metrics.

When you track how specific affiliate programs, products, services, and links perform with your audience, you can tweak your content strategy and campaign goals to resonate with your audience, so you can make more money with affiliate marketing.

A screenshot of the Travelpayouts dashboard featuring impressions, clicks, pending payments, canceled payments, and final payments from GetYourGuide, Booking.com, GoCity, Tripadvisor, Viator, and other platforms.
When you join Travelpayouts, you’ll have access to a dashboard, just like this, that allows you to track the effectiveness of your affiliate links and sources of revenue.

Pros & Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Now that we’ve take a look at reasons why affiliate marketing is worth it, let’s review what we’ve already discussed in this post. Here’s a list of the pros and cons of affiliate marketing:

Pros of Affiliate Marketing

  • You can build a profitable business without launching a product or service.
  • You don’t have to worry about packaging, shipping, customer service, and other logistical elements of running a business.
  • You can create an additional stream of income by using your current website, social media channels, email list, etc.
  • Affiliate marketing doesn’t require a high cost of entry, so it’s easy, affordable, and relatively risk-free to get started in the affiliate marketing industry.
  • Affiliate marketing can be done from anywhere, including your couch or a tropical beach, as long as you have a smartphone, computer, and a reliable internet connection, so it’s a great career path for anyone, from stay-at-home parents to digital nomads.
  • It’s easy to scale your affiliate marketing business using paid ads, SEO, and other marketing techniques.

Cons of Affiliate Marketing

  • As an affiliate marketer, you’ll always promote someone else’s product instead of your own product.
  • You have no control if a company you work with as an affiliate partner decides to change or discontinue a product or service, even if it impacts your income.
  • Building a large, engaged audience who trusts you enough to buy the products you recommend with your affiliate links can take a long time.
  • As an affiliate marketer, you will compete with websites and companies with higher domain authorities and audiences than you, such as Forbes, Buzzfeed, and the New York Times.
A screenshot of an article on Buzzfeed called “Just 39 Super Practical Gifts To Give To Your Dad.”
Even big companies, like Buzzfeed, use affiliate links, as you can see in the disclaimer on this list of “Just 39 Super Practical Gifts To Give To Your Dad.” This makes the competition among many affiliate products and services steep.

How to Decide If Affiliate Marketing Is for You

After learning more about the benefits of affiliate marketing, tips for being a successful affiliate marketer, and the pros and cons, there’s just one question left to answer: Is affiliate marketing worth it for you? Below, you’ll find a checklist to help you decide if becoming an affiliate marketer is worth your time and effort — or maybe, it may help you decide that affiliate marketing isn’t the right business strategy for you right now.

When Affiliate Marketing Is Worth It

You Understand the Product You’re Promoting

As we mentioned earlier, you don’t need to be a customer of every product you promote (though it certainly helps). However, if you don’t have first-hand experience with a product or service, you need to be willing to do adequate research to develop a firm understanding of it, so you can explain the benefits, details, and value of the product or service to your audience.

If you’re willing to research and test the products you’re promoting — you’ll likely find that affiliate marketing is worth the time and effort.

You Have an Engaged Audience

If you start your affiliate marketing journey without an engaged audience, you can still be successful. However, it will likely take much longer to see any form of monetary reward, which may cause you to become discouraged quickly.

Becoming an affiliate marketer is ideal when you already have an engaged audience that trusts you and views you as an authority in your niche. These people are already ready to buy from you — they’re just waiting for you to recommend the perfect product or service!

You Can Find the Right Program for Your Audience

While it’s possible to become an affiliate marketer for any niche, it’s crucial to pay attention to the demand in your specific niche and how you can meet that demand.

For example, as a travel blogger or content creator, your audience may be looking for recommendations for travel insurance or luxury hotels before making a purchase for their upcoming vacation. If you can find an affiliate program that matches their need, such as Insubuy or Booking.com, you’ll be much more likely to generate affiliate income by recommending something they’re already looking for.

A screenshot of the Booking.com Affiliate Partner Program on Travelpayouts.
The Booking.com program is a great affiliate program to join if your audience is searching for reliable recommendations for hotels or resorts across the United States.

You’re Adding Value for Your Audience

While you can recommend a product once in a blog post and never recommend it again, it’s much better to be an affiliate marketer who is also an industry expert. By developing expertise on a product or topic, you become a trusted advisor who people look to for advice. This benefits you as an affiliate, but it also helps your audience by offering them valuable information.

When Affiliate Marketing Is Not Worth It

You Expect to Make Money Quickly

Affiliate marketing is not a “get rich quick” scheme. Though it’s easy to get started with affiliate marketing, it’s much more challenging to succeed at it. Affiliate marketing is a long game, and it often takes years before affiliate marketers see a sizable monthly income.

Usually, affiliate marketing begins as a side hustle, and after hard work and dedication, it may turn into a full-time job. While the potential for slow growth shouldn’t deter you from affiliate marketing, starting your journey with realistic expectations is essential.

You Don’t Want to Learn Something New

Affiliate marketing is an ever-changing industry — the strategies that were effective for affiliate marketers five years ago won’t be as effective today. As an affiliate marketer, you need to be a quick learner and eager to implement the latest affiliate marketing strategies.

Ideally, you should feel comfortable testing new techniques to see if they work and be able to pivot if the plan fails. If you want a predictable job that will always stay the same, affiliate marketing likely isn’t a good fit for you.

You Don’t Want to Put in the Effort

Here’s the bottom line: If you want to generate income as an affiliate marketer — you need to be willing to put in the effort. As an affiliate marketer, you must create helpful content for your audience, engage with your followers on social media, build an email list, and test products before recommending them — just to name a few items on the job description!

While affiliate marketing can have a high reward, it requires hard work and dedication. It may not be suitable for someone looking for a quick, easy income stream with an immediate payout.

Join Our Partnership Platform to Get Started on Your Affiliate Marketing Journey

So, what do you think — is affiliate marketing worth it? Hopefully, this post has helped you decide if joining affiliate programs is worthwhile for you!

As you can see, affiliate marketing can be a lucrative passive income stream that offers low overhead and minimal risk with the right combination of focus, determination, and hard work. All you need is a smartphone or computer, an internet connection, an engaged audience relying on your expertise, and a product or service that will solve a problem they’re facing — that’s it!

If you’re a travel blogger or content creator looking to start as an affiliate marketer, we hope you’ll join our partnership platform at travelpayouts.com. We offer exclusive access to 100+ travel affiliate programs for flights, hotels, car rentals, tours, activities, and other products and services your audience of travelers will want to buy in a heartbeat. Sign up today to get started earning!

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