How Long It REALLY Takes To Make Money Online

Last Update: June 22, 2018

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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cbarnes1 Premium
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.
hopet Premium
This is interesting and very encouraging,keeping all things into perspective. Thanks for the great article
JosonInc Premium
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 !

RAFStuart Premium
The time frame is what I would have expected and am building towards.
AngieKitts Premium
Thanks for the post.