How Long It REALLY Takes To Make Money Online

Last Update: Jun 22, 2018

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Earning a full-time income online is a dream for so many people, but very few ever succeed at even making a single penny online. I'm not talking about selling an old table on eBay - I'm talking about a business. Something that grows into a legitimate, long-term, sustainable income, because that’s what you chose to do, deliberately.

Now, there are many ways to make money online. Can someone make money online in their first day? Sure, I suppose that’s possible. But let’s try to be a bit more realistic.

Setting The Right Expectations

Earning a full-time income is not quick, and it is not easy. Most of you already know this, but most people don't give a direct answer. I'm going to give you that. But before I do, let's put things into perspective first.

Think about any other small business you might want to start. For most small businesses, you need to take out substantial loans, put in your own life savings, quit your job, and risk just about everything. When do most small businesses start to profit? Around 2 or 3 years, if they even make it that far.

Now, let’s look at an affiliate marketing business. You can start a legitimate business part-time, work from anywhere, have flexible hours, you don’t have to risk your savings, you can keep your current job if you have one, learn as you go, you don’t have to go into debt, and you don’t need to hire any employees.

With all of those advantages in mind, how long should it take an affiliate marketing business to start profiting?

So many new affiliate marketers expect to start making money in just a few months, or even weeks! Having improper expectations of how long it will take to make money online is a recipe for failure. Once peoples financial expectations are not met, they give up and proclaim affiliate marketing doesn’t work.

So, how long does it REALLY take to earn a full-time living online?

I’ve been earning a full time income with affiliate marketing since 2011. While this is simply my own experience, it seems to be typical with other full-time affiliate marketers I know.

No matter what I’m really selling (with some exceptions), and assuming you follow the same methods I have (about 4 new high quality SEO & keyword focused articles per week - zero link building), this is what you can reasonably expect.

You will start having a chance at a sale after about 3 months. These will be random, sporadic, and will not provide you with a decent income, but it’s a start! These first sales are actually pretty exciting, because it will show you that this really IS possible. Now, this is not especially common. Most likely, after 3 months, you will still have no sales.

After about 6 months of consistent effort, the chance of earning $250+ per month greatly increases and things start to really pick up from here.

After about 12 months, a full time income fineally becomes POSSIBLE but a lot depends on your niche, how competitive your space is, the payout for your affiliate partnerships, keyword competition, content quality, additional traffic sources such as social media accounts, and a lot of other factors go into play. Most people at this point are not earning a full-time income yet, but commissions are increasing. After 12 months of consistent effort and adding high quality content to your site multiple times per week, you realistically have a chance of earning $1,000+ per month.

Things continue to snowball from there. The 12 to 18 month mark is a pretty important timeframe. This is when traffic and income can really start to snowball. Time to kick it into high gear and make that push for full-time income. Even if your site isn’t making money at this point, it’s still time to really hammer down. By now, you should have a lot of content, and your site starts to get authoritative.

From 18 to 24 months, you have a real shot at earning $3k+ per month.

Keep in mind, my site didn't start making money for 3 years! So if you're beyond these timeframes and you're still not making money, that doesn't mean you've failed. Even though it took that site so long to start making money, I earn a full time income from just that site alone now (psst! I monetize it with the WA affilaite program!). So don't give up!

Why It's Worth The Wait

I’m not one to flaunt how much money I make, but I will say that I have been earning a comfortable full-time income from affiliate marketing since 2011. I started in 2009, so it personally took me 2 years before I was able to quit my truck driving job and focus on my business full-time.

Over time, my income has continued to grow and diversify. I have 12 different affiliate partnerships and multiple income earning websites. My income has never been so secure.

Over the past 7 years, affiliate marketing has enabled me to become debt free, travel the United States in an RV, and I now live in a very expensive city, walking distance to the Ocean, in a very nice area and in a very nice luxury apartment, all because of affiliate marketing.

I’m not trying to brag here. I just think that many people could use an honest answer from those who have already “made it”. It might take you a couple of years. Heck, it could take you longer. I'm here to tell you that it's worth it. My life has never been better.

From the bottom of my heart, I want to encourage everyone to stick with it. Have patience. Keep going. Never give up. Dream. Visualize. Prioritise. Work smart. Failure is not an option.

Patience is by far the biggest barrier to entry in this business. Get past the point where most people quit, then push twice as hard. If you do that, success will be inevitable.

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Recent Comments


A heartfelt thank you for this post Mike! You are right, some people make money quicker, but for many others, it is a much longer process - and it is appreciated that you are pointing that out!

And no, we will never think you are bragging, we know it is the result of hard work and everybody is allowed to enjoy the reward of their labor!

Thank you for sharing! This is a very inspiring post. Bookmarked too. ;-)

Sharlee (Chocolate IceCream)

Thank you for your kind words! :)

Thanks a lot for sharing your experience my friend, what a very good and inspiring post, just keep sharing and all the best.

Thanks for the great post. I like that you have included the work ethic (4x quality articles per week) that is involved alongside the timeline. Less work = longer time.

Most people only like to talk about their
success and hide their failures.

They make others believe that success
in an online business is easy. For the most
part they do this to sell their courses or
promote an affiliate offer.

You are different, I find your story
really inspiring.

Also, I really appreciate your honesty.

You said you have been making full-time
affiliate income from 2011, but you joined
WA in June 2016.

So you were successful even before using
WA training.

I agree that fundamentals of affiliate marketing
will never change.

Do you think that a beginner here at WA can
be successful like you, making full-time income
online only by following the online entrepreneur
certification(OEC) or bootcamp course and
Jays' training here at WA and nothing else?


Hi Midhun,

Thanks so much for the kind words and great question. My answer to you is both "yes" and "no" so I'll need to clarify.

Yes, I do believe a beginner here at WA can be successful and earn a full-time income by only following the training here at WA and nothing else. Just about everything you need to know is here.

However, as you dive further into your business, you'll find that there is just so much to learn and sometimes getting viewpoints from other sources is good, too.

I think you'll find that while WA offers the vast majority of what you need in order to grow your business, there will be times when you've got to head over to Google and do some independent research, too.

My advice is this... When you're just starting out, focus only on WA training and get any assistance you need from the community here. Don't get overwhelmed and bogged down with information overload. Stick with WA to learn how to do industry (keyword) research, set up your website, learn how to write search-friendly content, etc. Let WA lay the foundation of your business, and don't get distracted with all the other stuff out there.

After a while, though, you might start getting more advanced and need to learn very specific things that might not be available here at WA. By all means, you can go to other resources to find solutions.

Back when I first got started, I didn't even know WA existed. I stumbled upon another service (one I no longer recommend) and went through their training program. Fortunately, they were a lot like WA at the time. They boasted that they were NOT a get-rich-quick service and that it would take work, but they'd provide all the training I needed. This was so refreshing as I was sick of all the get-rich-quick scammers out there. Finally, some honesty!

I focused solely on that service for probably the first 6 months of building my first site before I sought help anywhere else. WA is 10x better than the training I had when I first started, so absolutely you can do just fine with the WA training. The community atmosphere here is nothing even close to what I got to have. I'd say it's even more advantageous now than ever before.

So anyway, the answer is "yes" you can succeed just by focusing on WA training. WA will teach you what you need to know and in the order you need to know it in. After some time, however, you will likely start doing some independent research on your own as well.

Does this answer your question? I hope it helped!


Mike! you are awesome and really helpful.

I didn't expect an answer this soon and
in detail like this.

Yes, it really answered my question.

Thank you so much, Mike!

I wish you 10x your monthly income
and success, you really deserve it.


Hello Mike, what a fantastic and very honest blog post, you have made some excellent points here. Congratulations on your success, which is due to your hard work, it's always a great pleasure to read and hear about other people's success stories!

Enjoy your day and may have even more success.


Good information.

I see a lot of people promoting how much money they make and how successful they are but when you dig in to find out their history you will see that it didn't happen overnight.

For many it took years but even so it is still worth it.

This is interesting and very encouraging,keeping all things into perspective. Thanks for the great article

Wow...finally, the kind of article I have been waiting for! Thanks Mike for this detailed layout of your experience in online business, the income that comes with it, the time that it takes to achieve certain milestones.

I am sure that this will encourage many of us to stick with it and persevere. Heck it is also a lot of fun !

Thanks again for this great post Mike !


The time frame is what I would have expected and am building towards.

Thanks for the post.

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Create Your Free Wealthy Affiliate Account Today!
4-Steps to Success Class
One Profit Ready Website
Market Research & Analysis Tools
Millionaire Mentorship
Core “Business Start Up” Training