Affiliate Marketing is dead

by 170 comments
Hi,
Just wanted to share my journey of affiliate marketing and how it has changed.
I started my affiliate marketing venture 13 years ago in 2004. It was not planned, I started my hobby website about graphic designing and quickly learned that money could be made through advertising.

First I tried Google adsense, but the revenue was low. Later joined a few programs under CJ and was impressed by the high percentage of commission. After trying few promotional pages on my existing website and getting impressive rewards. I quickly started developing dedicated niche websites. The income started to grow as my websites were gaining positions on search engines. After 4 years of starting this business, I reached the peak income, I was making over $30,000 per month in profit with over 100 websites.

After 2008, it all went downhill. Merchants I was working with started to reduce commission and cookie duration. Some highly converting merchants even closed their programs. I now get 30% of what I used to get because of reduced commissions and cookie duration. There is not a single store that hasn't reduced commission and cookie duration. This is just merchant side, the other end "search engines" is another story. 2008 is the year search engines started targeting affiliates. Your website could be penalized just for having an affiliate link. A lot of my websites were targeted.

I started to adapt and kept myself in business until now. Every year, the profit margin is narrowing, and I expect to go out of business soon as hosting and domain cost will exceed commissions. I made just $700 profit last month which was shopping season.

All the people I know who were doing affiliate marketing full time have moved on to other businesses or day jobs. Even my beloved affiliate community Abestweb which I joined in 2005 and where I was a moderator has closed down last year.

Overall I have made about $2 million from affiliate marketing, and since I started this business when I was just 18 and never did anything else, Finding a new line of work will be challenging.
Thankfully, I didn't blow it all and invested some money which turned good rewards. I can stay unemployed for the rest of my life if I choose to.

I don't think affiliate marketing is completely dead, but its extremely difficult now and not worth the effort as the rewards will be minimal because of low commissions industry wide and organic rankings are now dominated by big players. You can make more money flipping burgers at McDonalds than wasting your time at affiliate marketing.
#main internet marketing discussion forum #affiliate #dead #marketing
  • Profile picture of the author rknuppel
    I think this really depends on the niche you are in. It's certainly not like it was in the "good ole days" but there is still money to be made in certain areas online. Thanks for your input!
  • Profile picture of the author gamblerscompendium
    Your niche perhaps. But I disagree you can make more money from a day job
  • Profile picture of the author DIABL0
    I disagree. I promote PPL (pay per lead...lead generation) offers and there is tons of money to be made/is being made. I have also been doing it for 16 years and the ROI isn't as high as it was when I first started, but what is. You need to adapt or as others have said, maybe it is your niche.
    • Profile picture of the author yeoww1978
      how to do PPL ?
    • Profile picture of the author Rory King
      I've just started with pls mate do u do ok from it?
    • Profile picture of the author Karl Karrlander
      Originally Posted by DIABL0 View Post

      I disagree. I promote PPL (pay per lead...lead generation) offers and there is tons of money to be made/is being made. I have also been doing it for 16 years and the ROI isn't as high as it was when I first started, but what is. You need to adapt or as others have said, maybe it is your niche.
      Agreed, I'm too in the PPL business and it's still alive and kicking as far as I'm concerned.
  • Profile picture of the author phenomix
    Dead? Tell that to Pat Flynn.
    • Profile picture of the author NicolasDevDes
      Originally Posted by phenomix View Post

      Dead? Tell that to Pat Flynn.
      Exactly man!
    • Profile picture of the author hammadsaeed
      Originally Posted by phenomix View Post

      Dead? Tell that to Pat Flynn.
      Yes plz tell him
    • Profile picture of the author HostPython
      Thank you everyone for your replies, I didn't expect such strong response. I've read every reply and its packed with some good advise.

      I think I chose wrong title for my post as I never implied that AM is dead in my post. I said that its now more difficult to make big money in this business. The title was more of a rant than fact. Of course AM can never die as long as there are online stores and buyers.

      But personally, I think its no longer worth the effort to work more and earn less with mounting problems facing this business model. As you grow older, you want to progress, not retreat. Since I've extensive SEO and marketing skills, I think starting my own store will be right option. That way I can choose my own percentage per product and lifetime cookies that don't require tracking. Of course it will present with different harder challenges, but in the end I will have a brand with returning customers and I could be truly my own boss.
  • Profile picture of the author PBScott
    [DELETED]
  • Profile picture of the author nicheblogger75
    All I know is I started building my list in 2010, and the bigger my list gets the more money in affiliate commissions I make. I see a steady sales increase every year. About 3 years ago the growth slowed, as it did for most.

    Still, my bottom line improves a little every year. I need to add more leads to my list now than before to hit higher sales, but that's just the way it is.

    List building in the niche I'm in has simply becoming a numbers game. So, you just adapt and overcome. I constantly discover new ways to add leads to my list and go for it. As long as email marketing exists I'll NEVER get a day job. I'm 42 now so I doubt I'll ever work a day job ever again.

    As far as Affiliate Marketing being dead?

    Not even close...
    • Profile picture of the author revjoe
      Amen to that.
    • Profile picture of the author Valuable Solos
      [DELETED]
    • Profile picture of the author AffiliatePrograms
      Originally Posted by nicheblogger75 View Post

      All I know is I started building my list in 2010, and the bigger my list gets the more money in affiliate commissions I make. I see a steady sales increase every year. About 3 years ago the growth slowed, as it did for most.

      Still, my bottom line improves a little every year. I need to add more leads to my list now than before to hit higher sales, but that's just the way it is.

      List building in the niche I'm in has simply becoming a numbers game. So, you just adapt and overcome. I constantly discover new ways to add leads to my list and go for it. As long as email marketing exists I'll NEVER get a day job. I'm 42 now so I doubt I'll ever work a day job ever again.

      As far as Affiliate Marketing being dead?

      Not even close...
      What are your 3 - 5 best methods for list building?
  • Profile picture of the author avemfly619619
    [DELETED]
  • Profile picture of the author Ricky Parker
    I don't think they flip burgers at McD's. I believe they put them in some sort of magic box and they come out all cooked in shit.
    • Profile picture of the author Tesslady
      [DELETED]
    • Profile picture of the author Tesslady
      Affiliate Marketing? Dead? Not a lot of people would be willing to enter this field if it was dead! There are tons of money in Affiliate Marketing! But you have to be picky with the niche you're going to enter in. Unless you can turn a dead or dormant niche alive and kicking...
  • Profile picture of the author Alex Leizerovich
    Frankly I think its pretty hard to make serious income with aff marketing now.
    It can be a nice model for newbies to gain some experience.
    But these days it's hard to call it a serious and legit business.
    For people that have all this experience it's better to take it and build your own funnel and products.
    Doesn't even have to be in the mmo niche cause its a crappy niche.
    Teach real businesses with real products and services how to market their stuff better.
    Sure it takes more time but it's a more serious model.
    • Profile picture of the author nicheblogger75
      Originally Posted by Alex Leizerovich View Post

      Frankly I think its pretty hard to make serious income with aff marketing now.
      It can be a nice model for newbies to gain some experience.
      But these days it's hard to call it a serious and legit business.
      For people that have all this experience it's better to take it and build your own funnel and products.
      Doesn't even have to be in the mmo niche cause its a crappy niche.
      Teach real businesses with real products and services how to market their stuff better.
      Sure it takes more time but it's a more serious model.
      I don't agree at all.

      I definitely don't think MMO is a "crappy" niche, either. It's an absolutely MONSTER niche that THOUSANDS of marketers are making an absolute killing in. MMO gets a bad rap because it's the niche that is filled with the most bad actors and for lack of a better word, sleazeballs. That does not mean, however, that everyone in the MMO niche is like that or the niche itself is bad. Some people have done the wrong thing with that niche and it's been given a bad reputation.

      I've been in the niche since 2007 and I've done and am still doing extremely well at it. If you work it ethically not only will you will do well, but you will be able to stay in the niche for as long as you want. Rip off artists and con men get outed pretty quick and they don't last very long in the niche at all.

      Also, it's simply not true that you must have your own products.

      I think you need to have extremely good list building funnels, but as long as you are constantly increasing your list size then you will always be able to do extremely well in the MMO niche.

      I make 95% of my money from affiliate sales.

      I'm more than happy to let someone else toil over creating a product for weeks and then I wake up in the morning, spend about 15 minutes crafting a well written email, send it out, then make money all day while I pretty much just do whatever I feel like.

      Call me lazy if you want. Wouldn't bother me one bit.

      The funniest thing is that I have been using the SAME EXACT FORMULA for the past 10 years and yet I log onto this forum almost every day and read threads about how doing this is harder and that's harder and this is dead and that's dead, etc, etc, etc.

      Nothing has changed. The formula stays the same. And it goes a little something like this:

      Create an awesome lead magnet and set up an effective funnel. Drive targeted traffic to the funnel. Build a list of prospects who want what you're selling. Mail out affiliate products that help them solve their problems or achieve their goals. Wake up in the morning and find out you made $200 while you were sleeping.

      You want to know what I think has changed? I think the people have changed, not the business.

      For instance, five years ago this forum was absolutely packed with super successful affiliate marketers and product creators and list builders and there was loads of amazing information available here for free (and it still is, if people would learn how to use the "search" function). Today, not so much. Just the same old people asking the same old questions OVER AND OVER AND OVER!

      You want to know what's changed? The people. They don't want to work. They don't want to sit in front of their computer for 12-14 hours a day 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

      Well GUESS WHAT? That's what it takes to be a successful affiliate marketer.

      That's what I did, and that's what the up and comers of today are doing. And THAT'S why they are succeeding and most of the newcomers here are not.

      It doesn't happen in a week or a month, or maybe not even a year.

      It took me almost three years of incredibly long hours of boring work and thousands of dollars in failed experiments before I found success. I was simply NOT willing to fail. That was not even a possibility in my mind. I simply HAD to succeed. I wanted it SO bad.

      Yes, it's not as easy as it was a few years back. I'll admit that. However, that doesn't mean it doesn't work.

      It simply means that people need to work HARDER than before!
    • Profile picture of the author Click Series
      Banned
      [DELETED]
  • Profile picture of the author avemfly619619
    [DELETED]
  • Profile picture of the author Samfakroon
    Here is my Take, if you are an advertiser and you can Build Value then Affiliate Marketing Is alive more than ever Before - I have been in Aff marketing for 7 years Now.

    Especially if you are selling High Ticket Products 10k 25k then you are in for a treat what u used to make in a month can be Made in a day.

    Now The other Way to a 7 8 figure business is Ecom, nothing Beats Ecom if you know what you are doing Best month for me and My student I thought was December when people had Money well I am now realising this month could be even better in Ecom.
    • Profile picture of the author AffiliatePrograms
      Originally Posted by Samfakroon View Post

      Here is my Take, if you are an advertiser and you can Build Value then Affiliate Marketing Is alive more than ever Before - I have been in Aff marketing for 7 years Now.

      Especially if you are selling High Ticket Products 10k 25k then you are in for a treat what u used to make in a month can be Made in a day.

      Now The other Way to a 7 8 figure business is Ecom, nothing Beats Ecom if you know what you are doing Best month for me and My student I thought was December when people had Money well I am now realising this month could be even better in Ecom.
      What is "Ecom"? Do you mean that as just an abbreviation for "ecommerce"? If so, all affiliate marketing is about ecommerce and I don't see any other "Ecom" in search that looks promising.
  • Profile picture of the author Project Sniper
    Originally Posted by HostPython View Post

    Hi,
    Just wanted to share my journey of affiliate marketing and how it has changed.
    I started my affiliate marketing venture 13 years ago in 2004. It was not planned, I started my hobby website about graphic designing and quickly learned that money could be made through advertising.

    First I tried Google adsense, but the revenue was low. Later joined a few programs under CJ and was impressed by the high percentage of commission. After trying few promotional pages on my existing website and getting impressive rewards. I quickly started developing dedicated niche websites. The income started to grow as my websites were gaining positions on search engines. After 4 years of starting this business, I reached the peak income, I was making over $30,000 per month in profit with over 100 websites.

    After 2008, it all went downhill. Merchants I was working with started to reduce commission and cookie duration. Some highly converting merchants even closed their programs. I now get 30% of what I used to get because of reduced commissions and cookie duration. There is not a single store that hasn't reduced commission and cookie duration. This is just merchant side, the other end "search engines" is another story. 2008 is the year search engines started targeting affiliates. Your website could be penalized just for having an affiliate link. A lot of my websites were targeted.

    I started to adapt and kept myself in business until now. Every year, the profit margin is narrowing, and I expect to go out of business soon as hosting and domain cost will exceed commissions. I made just $700 profit last month which was shopping season.

    All the people I know who were doing affiliate marketing full time have moved on to other businesses or day jobs. Even my beloved affiliate community Abestweb which I joined in 2005 and where I was a moderator has closed down last year.

    Overall I have made about $2 million from affiliate marketing, and since I started this business when I was just 18 and never did anything else, Finding a new line of work will be challenging.
    Thankfully, I didn't blow it all and invested some money which turned good rewards. I can stay unemployed for the rest of my life if I choose to.

    I don't think affiliate marketing is completely dead, but its extremely difficult now and not worth the effort as the rewards will be minimal because of low commissions industry wide and organic rankings are now dominated by big players. You can make more money flipping burgers at McDonalds than wasting your time at affiliate marketing.


    you're just used to the easy old days, you're an old timer...nowadays more management is involved..I guess, if you wanna complain about it..SEO has never changed, just a sweep and the way sites are made and distributed these days....don't put allot of thought into it..you shouldn't be filling up your money sites with affiliates links to begin with anyways if you're not sure you're gonna rank..that's what gets you hit..the project isn't worth it until it ranks and sticks..why put so much work into uncertainty.
  • Profile picture of the author Splatterfox
    Originally Posted by HostPython View Post

    Hi,
    Just wanted to share my journey of affiliate marketing and how it has changed.
    I started my affiliate marketing venture 13 years ago in 2004. It was not planned, I started my hobby website about graphic designing and quickly learned that money could be made through advertising.

    First I tried Google adsense, but the revenue was low. Later joined a few programs under CJ and was impressed by the high percentage of commission. After trying few promotional pages on my existing website and getting impressive rewards. I quickly started developing dedicated niche websites. The income started to grow as my websites were gaining positions on search engines. After 4 years of starting this business, I reached the peak income, I was making over $30,000 per month in profit with over 100 websites.

    After 2008, it all went downhill. Merchants I was working with started to reduce commission and cookie duration. Some highly converting merchants even closed their programs. I now get 30% of what I used to get because of reduced commissions and cookie duration. There is not a single store that hasn't reduced commission and cookie duration. This is just merchant side, the other end "search engines" is another story. 2008 is the year search engines started targeting affiliates. Your website could be penalized just for having an affiliate link. A lot of my websites were targeted.

    I started to adapt and kept myself in business until now. Every year, the profit margin is narrowing, and I expect to go out of business soon as hosting and domain cost will exceed commissions. I made just $700 profit last month which was shopping season.

    All the people I know who were doing affiliate marketing full time have moved on to other businesses or day jobs. Even my beloved affiliate community Abestweb which I joined in 2005 and where I was a moderator has closed down last year.

    Overall I have made about $2 million from affiliate marketing, and since I started this business when I was just 18 and never did anything else, Finding a new line of work will be challenging.
    Thankfully, I didn't blow it all and invested some money which turned good rewards. I can stay unemployed for the rest of my life if I choose to.

    I don't think affiliate marketing is completely dead, but its extremely difficult now and not worth the effort as the rewards will be minimal because of low commissions industry wide and organic rankings are now dominated by big players. You can make more money flipping burgers at McDonalds than wasting your time at affiliate marketing.
    Affiliate marketing never was and never will be "dead" - it depends how you execute it.

    Sure, if you go for the mass only, hosting hundreds of websites with thin content, chances are that others surpass you and you get penalties here and there. I mean someone focusing solely on a certain niche will gain more traffic and a higher perceived value than someone who just operates in a niche besides 100 others with average effort and content (I just make assumptions here).

    Content is king, people look for value and entertainment and reward those who can give one (or both) to them by signing up to their lists, consuming their content and eventually buying products as well. Its definetly a tough job: providing a ton of free content, establishing a relationship with your audience, being helpful and seeing the whole thing as a longterm venture.

    I agree though, starting simple websites about common niches will take you nowhere with todays competition and customer demands.
  • Profile picture of the author ranjivkapoor
    Everything depends upon the niche you choose. Please make sure you go for some long tail keywords.
  • Profile picture of the author imhabibone
    it's true affiliate marketing is not like old days but its not dead. the system has been changed since then it's the monopoly of affiliate managers these are like pandas , penguins and hummingbirds for google algorithm. Affiliate marketing is dead how it can be possible it seems that economy has been crashed or companies no longer need any money or decreases there marketing funds. I think that it can't be possible.
    there must be a problem in your own side
  • Profile picture of the author EPoltrack77
    Affiliate marketing will never be dead. It is stronger and larger today than ever before in the history of earth...
    • Profile picture of the author Lại Thanh Tuấn
      Exactly that fellow, affiliate marketers never die. That it grows restless, it catches you must always innovative thinking and develop better myself.
  • Profile picture of the author Obstrepherous
    I know of someone making $70k a month promoting a niche (not going to say what it is).

    I do agree that it's only really the true SEO experts who are making very good amounts though.
  • Profile picture of the author garyl2k
    Sorry but this part concerned me the most about what you wrote "You can make more money flipping burgers at McDonalds than wasting your time at affiliate marketing" which is utter nonsense...

    You have said you have made $2 Million from Affiliate Marketing yet you can make more in McDonalds flipping burgers?

    The TRUTH is that affiliate marketing isn't dead, but maybe some of the old hat methods of driving traffic etc have? The idea people have stopped purchasing through others to earn commission is crazy, it is simply the way we reach people that has changed.

    In my opinion, the way the Internet has now grown, there has never been a better time for the SERIOUS people to take up Affiliate Marketing and to create a successful digital business!

    Long as you give VALUE to your clients then you will always do well, soon as you start creating rushed up websites giving nothing in return except the "Buy this now" attitude then yeah, affiliate marketing is dead!
  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    This thread is not asking "is affiliate marketing profitable"...it's giving a personal view of a busienss that was highly profitable and then changed. For the OP, the cash cow kicked the bucket BUT produced a lot of milk before that happened.

    I wonder how many saying "it isn't so" have earned $30k per month at ANY time. How many earned $2 million by age 30?

    Something seldom mentioned here is that no online method keeps working forever...or even long term. Product creators can be profitable for a long time on sales from a premium product....but at some point they will need to upgrade or create new products to keep money flowing. Running dozens or hundreds of micro niche affiliate sites used to be very profitable - but things change.

    Thankfully, I didn't blow it all and invested some money which turned good rewards. I can stay unemployed for the rest of my life if I choose to.
    That comment alone should tell you the OP ran a smart business. Yes, he could have adapted, built bigger lists, changed the way he conducted affiliate marketing. On the other hand, what's wrong with working 13 years and having earned enough to support yourself for life?????

    Isn't that one form of "passive income"???
  • Profile picture of the author Jonathan 2.0
    Originally Posted by HostPython View Post

    Re: Affiliate Marketing is dead
    Fact 1: While there are People, there will always be products.
    Fact 2. Where there are products, there will always be affiliate programs.
    Fact 3: If you are willing to put in the work, time, and effort you can make a good income with those affiliate programs.

    Jonathan

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