Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It In 2024? [3 Pros & 3 Cons of an Affiliate Business]

Popular perception of affiliate marketing typically falls into two camps:

  1. The people who think affiliate marketing is a path to quick riches.
  2. The ones who think it’s a total scam.

Of course, the reality is in between those two extremes!

As one of the most popular affiliate marketplaces in the world, ClickBank has actual data from affiliate marketing businesses to share, which you can use to decide if this is your best path to success. Because the truth is, affiliate marketing may not be ideal for everyone. 

Today, we’re going to explore a few reasons why affiliate marketing is worthwhile, and a few reasons why it may not be. But more importantly, we’re taking a look at whether affiliate marketing is worth it for you!

What Do Affiliate Marketers Make?

A big part of “whether affiliate marketing is worth it” is the income potential. This is also one of the first questions that most people ask about.

So, how much can affiliate marketers make? (And how much do they actually make?)

Obviously, a vast majority of affiliates make nothing (or almost nothing). But this is because it takes time and experience to develop a workable strategy that can generate a positive ROI – and we see a lot of ClickBank signups who don’t stick with it long enough to see their efforts pay off.

In addition, many aspiring affiliates tend to bounce between multiple traffic channels and affiliate niches, in an attempt to find the “shortcut.”

But as you might have guessed, there’s no such thing!

Every affiliate marketing tactic takes work and real know-how to succeed with. Even if you find some kind of shortcut today, it’ll only work for a little while before the competition gets wise to your tactic and makes it more difficult again.

Actual Affiliate Incomes

But what about the top 10-20% affiliates who stick with it?

They can make hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars per year, as just one person or a small team.

At ClickBank, we have hundreds of Platinum clients who make a minimum of $250K on our platform alone – and our Diamond clients make $5M per year through ClickBank!

But that’s just our OWN data…

A few years ago, the affiliate marketing forum STM ran a survey asking affiliate marketers how much they made in a year. In their responses, 20% of affiliate marketers said they made an average of $20,000 that year. However, 19.8% of top-tier marketers also crossed $1M in incomes, while the top 5% of marketers made $2M within a year.

So, the potential is there for serious success. But what does it really take – and is it worth it for you? Here are the biggest pros and cons of affiliate marketing.

3 Pros of Affiliate Marketing

1) Start with zero capital and no experience 

Many people want to start a business. What stands between them and entrepreneurship is a lack of capital and a lack of experience. Fortunately, affiliate marketing can be a great place to learn the ropes!

First and foremost, you do NOT need a huge amount of capital to start your affiliate journey. In fact, there are many ways to start an affiliate marketing business with no money!

With that said, if you can afford to invest some capital upfront, your affiliate marketing business will gain momentum more quickly than if you stick with the free route. By adopting a few software tools and sprinkling in some paid ads, you can get where you’re going sooner!

You also don’t need a ton of experience to promote someone else’s offer – especially compared to creating your own product from scratch. As long as you’re in the right niche, know how to market, and truly believe in the product, it can be sold. 

There are two reasons why the low barrier to entry for affiliate marketing is so important:

  1. You get more out of the time and money invested in your business.
  2. Online marketing efforts can compound over time, giving higher overall returns.

So, with the right affiliate network, offer, and investment, you can start your online affiliate business in no time!

2) Enjoy a ton of room to scale

One of the greatest things about affiliate marketing is that the sky is the limit! You can scale in all kinds of niches, traffic sources, and even with individual products!

Once you develop online marketing skills, find a program that works, and bring home commissions, you should be able to apply your approach to new products and niches. And with ClickBank, many products feature sky-high commissions of 50%, 70%, or even higher!

ClickBank HopLink generator
ClickBank HopLink generator

Additionally, all of the primary traffic sources for affiliates – including paid ads, email lists, SEO blogging, and social media – are scalable. That means you do the same tasks or activities, but reach a bigger and bigger audience (and subsequently make more money). 

For example, with a YouTube channel, it’s basically the same amount of work to create and upload a single video to an audience of 3 subscribers or 3 million. But that same amount of work will yield a higher ROI, thanks to the law of compounding returns!

3) Get to break-even (and profitable) sooner

In traditional businesses, the amount of time it takes to make money is long.

Before you even think of drawing a paycheck from your business, you need to come up with competitive products/services, a business plan, financing, and more. Tackling this to-do list can take forever, pushing out when you’re able to make any real money.

One big reason why affiliate marketing is at an all-time high is how fast you can see real income through an affiliate marketing campaign. Since you’re promoting third-party products, more than half of the work is already done by the time you show up!

They’ll often even provide a tools or resources page for affiliates, so you don’t even have to start from scratch coming up with copy or creative for your campaigns.

Affiliate tools page example
Affiliate tools page example

But more importantly, you save all of the time and money you would have needed to develop and test a new product from scratch. These resources can instead be directed towards online marketing, audience building, and impactful content creation. If your bread-and-butter is marketing, you can skip straight to promoting and scaling proven offers to start making profits quickly.

And ClickBank’s education platform, Spark by ClickBank, is a step-by-step affiliate education program designed to help you start your affiliate business, promote great offers, find the traffic channel that’s best for you, and make that all-important first sale.

So, is affiliate marketing worth it? For pro marketers, the answer will almost always be a resounding YES!

If you’re new to marketing, however, there may have some drawbacks to be aware of.

3 Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Even though we have seen people from different backgrounds start affiliate marketing from scratch and make their dreams come true, it is not the right path for everyone.

Let’s learn some crucial cons to see if this business is meant for you!

1) Less control over the end product or payment

Lack of control is one of the biggest reasons why affiliate marketing is frowned upon by some entrepreneurs and brands.

If you only promote other people’s products, you give away control over product quality, customer support, and branding – in effect, your whole job is simply to send traffic to an offer. Independent affiliates may have a tough time navigating this challenge.

On top of that, lack of control over payment is a big reason why some people view affiliate marketing as risky. Many times, the money that gets collected doesn’t go through you first. So, even if you generated a successful sale, you only get paid if the sale was tracked and the merchant eventually pays you.

Thankfully, ClickBank’s marketplace removes this risk for affiliates! Because we’re actually the merchant on recordwe take all the guesswork out of the equation, ensuring you get paid on time, every time for every sale.

2) Vulnerable to changes in online marketing algorithms

Affiliates specializing in only one affiliate marketing tactic puts their entire online business in jeopardy. Online marketing algorithms like Facebook and Google tend to change overnight. This means that your online business can stop being viable just as fast.

Online marketing algorithm
Online marketing algorithm

One of the tips followed by online marketing experts is to learn to sell through multiple channels to keep up with these uncertainties. Check out 7 examples in our affiliate link strategy guide.

Apart from that, selling your own product/service under a brand has real advantages that an affiliate doesn’t enjoy. Traditionally, the affiliate marketing business is more transactional in nature, meaning someone buys through your link once and then never thinks about you again.

One of the advantages of selling your own product or service is that you can build brand equity at the same time. Although this is starting to change, many affiliates haven’t built brands, but focused on strategies like Facebook Ads or affiliate blogs that involve sending cold traffic to an offer.

But with a rise in informed buying, we’re seeing many more store owners, marketers, and business owners investing heavily into building trustworthy brands. Businesses built on brand and reputation can weather algorithm changes much more effectively.

3) Plenty of competition

Like everything in life, big rewards also mean big competition.

The allure of a big payday from affiliate marketing is strong. That’s why so many people attempt to do affiliate marketing – which means you’re not the only one trying to make money online.

But contrary to popular belief, every affiliate has the potential to make big bucks. The affiliate marketing industry is growing at an impressive rate, more than doubling in size since 2015. This makes all time and efforts put in affiliate marketing worth it!

Still, there’s a catch…

The only way affiliate marketing can be worth it for you is if you’re constantly learning and optimizing your marketing skills. This expertise can help you beat your competition, earn bigger paychecks, and rise into the top-tier affiliate marketing circle that earns millions of dollars every year!

The Verdict: Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It?

Our verdict is yes – with one major caveat!

The fact is, you need to be aware of how much work and effort you’ll have to put in to be successful as an online affiliate. Affiliate marketing is not as easy as some “gurus” or influencers claim it to be. It takes time, patience, and most importantly, true commitment to a lifetime of learning.

If you are self-motivated and driven, then you too can attain affiliate marketing success!

So, how do you start? Here’s a quick look at the steps.

How You Can Start Affiliate Marketing

To start a successful online marketing business, you need to get the right guidance, network with the top-tier marketing experts, and soak up knowledge as fast as a dry sponge!

Here are a few steps that can help you begin your affiliate marketing business, for free.

Step 1: Choose Your Affiliate Marketing Niche

Your affiliate marketing niche can be decided upon:

  • Your interests/hobbies
  • Your ideal target audience
  • Products/services that you resonate with
  • Your preferred marketing channel

Once you have decided your niche, the path becomes much clearer. To get detailed insights, read this article on how to choose the perfect affiliate marketing niche!

Step 2: Choose a Reliable Affiliate Program

There are hundreds of affiliate programs available out there! You need to choose an affiliate marketing program that checks off a majority of your list.

To choose the right affiliate program, you need to consider:

  • Products you want to market
  • Do you want to get paid per sale, per lead, or per click?
  • How much commission are they paying? 
  • What is their payment cycle?
  • Does the affiliate program belong to a trustworthy network?
  • Is the program meant for beginners?
  • Have any affiliates earned well through this program? What was their experience like?

Since ClickBank is designed with beginners in mind, it is easy and free to join! So, you’re basically beginning your affiliate marketing business with zero initial investment.

Step 3: Create a HopLink 

Once you’ve selected a suitable affiliate program, create a hoplink by hitting the “Promote” button on a product listing.

ClickBank marketplace product listing
ClickBank marketplace product listing

This is also known as an affiliate tracking link, a special link provided to each affiliates for every offer they promote. This allows the ClickBank marketplace to keep track of each purchase made through you, so that you get paid the commissions you’re owed. 

This is an important step because if you use a generic link, then even if you successfully make sales of a product, you won’t get paid commissions because it wasn’t tracked and recorded!

Step 4: Generate Traffic to Your Affiliate Link

“Traffic” is a term referring to the number of visitors on a website or webpage. If you want to sell the products showcased in your affiliate link, you need to first attract visitors. These visitors must also be targeted carefully! If your visitors are not interested in your products or can’t actually buy them, then that traffic becomes irrelevant.

So, to determine the right visitors to target, you must first get an understanding of who the product is made for. You can accurately target the right audience by considering their age, gender, occupation, marital status, location, pay scale, etc.

Based on this, you can generate the right traffic to your affiliate link and increase your chances of sale significantly! Check out our article on free traffic sources to get you started.

Step 5: Monitor Important Metrics

Once you start generating traffic, you need to optimize your strategy continuously to achieve the best ROI. You can only do this when you monitor your metrics and quantify your progress.

These metrics allow you to tweak your campaigns in such a way that you can magnify your reach, your traffic, and hence, your sales! Read more about the most important affiliate marketing metrics to track.

Step 6: Get Paid!

Once your campaigns start attracting more prospective buyers, the number of people who buy your products also goes up. Good affiliate programs usually pay more than $20 for each sale, which means you can soon start earning upwards of $100 in commissions as a beginner.

Make sure you read through all payment terms and take note of % of commissions on each product you plan to affiliate. You can ensure higher payments by also choosing high-commission products! 

Find Success with Spark

I’m sure that as a beginner, you have a whirlwind of questions forming in your mind. All these questions can be easily answered by affiliate marketing experts and top-tier marketers who have been successfully running this business for decades!

Fortunately, Spark – ClickBank’s education platform – is designed specifically for aspiring affiliates just like you!

Through the Spark program, you can learn everything affiliate marketing and find a fast track to affiliate success! Spark has courses that will help you get started with affiliate marketing, copywriting, Facebook Ads, email marketing, entrepreneurship, and much more. Spark students have collectively made $2.9M in commissions on ClickBank so far.

You can read a detailed Spark by ClickBank review to learn more about the platform!

Are you ready for affiliate marketing success?