Affiliate Marketing in 2020. A Shrinking or Growing Opportunity?

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Whenever you start anything "new" there is a level of natural apprehension takes place. If you are new to the online business world or affiliate marketing, then you are likely questioning whether or not it works. In fact, many people think affiliate marketing is something new.

Because of these misunderstandings and unwarranted fears about the industry, I wanted to offer some clarity on the common questions, and some clarity on the industry as a whole.

But first I want to start with my story.

My Start in Affiliate Marketing and Why it Matters

For those of you that have not visited my profile to read my story, I got my start in affiliate marketing back in 2002 (see picture below, from just prior to me starting out lol). At the time, I didn't really have much experience with affiliate marketing nor did I have access to a platform like Wealthy Affiliate to inform and help me with affiliate marketing. Instead, I had to learn the fundamentals of affiliate marketing, how it worked, and the revenue model on my own.

I also had to build websites, from scratch. I had to create hyper links in HTML, and I had to learn how to use Adobe Photoshop to create my own, albeit very UGLY, website templates. It wasn't the prettiest, but I was able to fumble my way through the technical elements.

In all reality, the actual process of affiliate marketing and how it worked, wasn't that complex. The same way I teach affiliate marketing today, was the same way it worked and people were succeeding with it back then. In its simplest form, affiliate marketing is the process of connecting a "customer" with a "product", often times a product that they already know they want, or are researching.

The affiliate is the entity in between the product and customer. Nothing more complex than that. Your role as an affiliate is to inform and help & inform people, that is unchanged.

Say someone is looking for information on how to solve a problem they are having. You, as an affiliate marketer, can create content about the problem, the solution, and make a product/service recommendation that is closely relevant to (or is) the solution.

Say someone is looking to a product/service review? You, as an affiliate marketer, can provide them with insights into the very product/service, offering a comprehensive review and then either making a recommendation to purchase, or making recommendations to superior and more cost-efficient alternatives.

I could go on and on with examples, but they would all fit nicely into the ROLE of an affiliate marketer being that as a problem solver & helper.

The minute you try to make it more complex than this, is usually when you are going to go into information overload.

Has Affiliate Competition Gotten Worse Since 2002?

Some people new to affiliate marketing like to set themselves up for an "excuse" if they fail. They say there surely is too much competition these days, more people are online, more people are attempting to build business, and more people can actually create something of substance because of improvements in technology.

All of these are true, and I would not argue those.

But at the same time all of these things have happened, the marketplace for affiliate marketing has also grown.

In 2002, there weren't a lot of affiliate programs. People around me and that I told I was becoming an "affiliate marketer" certainly reacted with a blank stare as well. It wasn't nearly as prominent and if anything, the opportunity within the affiliate world was fractional as to what it is now.

But the funny thing was, I felt as though there was so much opportunity that I would never have time to take advantage of all the affiliate opportunities. That was the case, and I never did.

I moved between several industries in my first 3 years though (prior to starting Wealthy Affiliate with Carson). From the health niches, from hosting, voice over IP, and even pharmaceuticals (prior to their being so much red tape in that industry). The opportunities were everywhere, but there wasn't enough hours in the day for me to tackle them all.

It's still like this. Only you have a larger audience of buyers online now. 4 billion people. You also have over 550 MILLION products/services that you can promote as an affiliate marketer, something that continues to grow at an hourly rate. If you had told me back then about today's opportunity, I would have been blown away.

Affiliate marketing is here to stay, and there has never been a better time to get involved.

The Ingrained Function of Affiliate Marketing in OUR Lives

Affiliate marketing, whether we know it or not, has become an ingrained part of our day to day lives. Every search we do online, every purchase we make, all the social media services we are part of, and how we find out solutions to our problems are deeply connected to the affiliate marketing industry.

Affiliate marketers, are authorities of the various industries out there. They are authority bloggers, they are experts, and they are credible sources of information. They are YOU and this is exactly what our focus is with our education here at Wealthy Affiliate, to teach you how to become a presence and a long term brand in your industry.

To do this, you help people. You solve their problems. You interact and engage with them. You make product/service recommendations to them. Affiliate marketing is just one of the potential monetization methods on your website, but it is also one of the most lucrative. You can literally promote any product/service in the world to your audience, and get paid for it...often times at a ratio more than the net profit of the merchant (the owner of the affiliate program).

We go online to buy, there is likely an affiliate connected to that sale.

Affiliate Marketing is THE Focus of All Major Online Corporations.

You have likely read the doom and gloom on the news about retailers suffering. Many of the staple stores of our early childhood are going out of business. We have seen Sears, Toys R Us, Brookstone, Rockport, Nine West, Payless Shoe Company, Diesel, Gymboree, Claires, Forever 21 and MANY others file for bankruptcy in just the last few years in what some would deem as the retail apocalypse.

Below is a chart outlining some bankruptcies from the past few years.


But how could this be, if they all of these companies had an online presence? They have online stores that you can shop at and buy their merchandise.

That is correct, but the problem is they haven't taken the "online first" or "online only" approach that many of the thriving retailers have taken. The successful and well run companies have been investing a great sum of money into their online divisions, and affiliate marketing.

You don't have to look further than Amazon, they are by far the biggest retailer in the world and they run strictly an online operation. They have been investing and have understood the power of affiliate marketing since their inception, and they continue to advance their Amazon Associates (affiliate program) technology, offering, and resources.

Love or hate the actual cookie and commission structure of Amazon, it is indisputable that a key reason they have been consistently growing their brand and revenue over the past 10 years is because of their affiliate program and investment in their online platform.

Look through the Affiliate Programs tab here at WA, you will find some really awesome affiliate opportunities and companies that are taking the "affiliate marketing first" approach to their online marketing. Companies can have 10,000's, and in some cases, millions of marketers promoting their products/services on a performance basis. Gone are the days of relying on an in house, salaried marketing force to sell products. That simply doesn't work online, and in the new 2020 world retail economy.

If you want to be a big fish, you invest in your affiliate program and you invest in your online retail platforms. According to a recent Awin Report, it was reported that the global annual investment is worth more than $13 BILLION annually now and this number is only continuing to grow. This is good news for affiliate marketers and is a business opportunity and model that will continue to become a more prominent fixture for many years to come.

The Idea of Opportunity Dilution

Is the opportunity fading though? I mean, it is getting more and more competitive right?

Yes, and no. The opportunity is growing, and there are more people getting involved. But MORE people doing something, doesn't mean more competition. In particular when most of them are doing it right.

You should be thankful that so many people these days are going in the direction of "funnels". This is being presented like some sort of new form of marketing, but "email marketing" (all this is) has been around for many years. It certainly is not the starting point of any business, but it can be a very important aspect of your business as you build an audience (as you can collect email addresses).

You are Building a Business. Treat it like one.

OK, so now that you can relax on the idea of affiliate marketing somehow vanishing (which there is NO CHANCE of happening) you can focus on building a business. That is what you are doing, and although affiliate marketing is likely going to be one of the core revenue models that you leverage within your online business, you are establishing yourself as a brand and authority in your niche.

If you want to succeed at a high rate and establish a long term and sustainable source of income online, you are going to need to invest your time, energy and personal resources into building an actual business. There has never been a more cost-efficient time to build a business (in particular with what you have access to here within the Wealthy Affiliate Premium membership), and there has never been more opportunity online.

The affiliate marketing space is going to continue to grow through 2020 and far beyond. We are going to remain on the bleeding edge of this industry and continue teaching you what works and provide you with all the tools, services, training, and support you need to create a thriving affiliate marketing business.

Treat your affiliate marketing ventures like a REAL business, and that is exactly what it will become.

So I want to hand over the floor to you now. First, have I put your mind at ease when it comes to the affiliate marketing space? Second, what excites you the most about the affiliate marketing industry in the year(s) ahead now that you have read this? And if you have any questions or personal insights into the affiliate marketing space, I would love to hear it.

I look forward to hearing your feedback and I can't wait to see what you all achieve in the affiliate marketing space in 2019, 2020 and beyond!

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Recent Comments


Well stated Kyle.

The training you have put together here is perfect to help us succeed. The main takeaway in this business is that the work must be done first before success can be achieved.

Like doing the tasks to make our website an authority site. There is no going around that to do this at least 100 quality articles must be published. And the thrust of these articles must make the reader feel valued and that it was worth their time reading it all.

In that vein I carry on writing and publishing. Not as fast as I should do. But I am making strides.

The skill is in how one makes that connection with the right customers and keeping them engaged so that they make a buying decision and click through, in my case to WA.

Thanks for all you do Kyle.



I never doubted the impact of affiliate marketing. Before coming to WA, I had considered another program but it did not use affiliate marketing in the same way. I was much more impressed by the WA method.

I am not one to get excited about something until it works and begins to show its worth. Right now, I am still in the learning stage and am only part way through the training. But I have faith in WA and the system, so that is what sustains me.

I know that if I do the right things, fix my problems and keep at it, my program will succeed. So I save my excitement for the future which, as your post explains, is very bright indeed.

Hiya, Kyle,
I can't ever imagine starting Affiliate Marketing without Wealthy Affiliate. So it is amazing to see how far you and Carson have progressed.... You look well young :)

(I am writing this now and an email has just come in with a recurring Affiliate commision from you guys.. Haha. That makes me feel good lol. )

Anyways getting back to your post. With so many possibilities nowadays it's a no brainer to step into Affiliate marketing. It amazes me how many people don't even know about it. The people I talk to and mention Affiliate Marketing they look at me as if to say ''What you talking about'' lol.

You know what the best thing is if I fail at one niche I have a zillion other directions I could take. If I just look at the Affiliate Program section I get tons of ideas.

The best day I had for a lot of years was the day I met W.A. and went premium I have never looked back.

To think I run my own Businesses now. Well what can I say. I am chuffed to bits. Not bad If I say so for myself an absolute complete newbie to everything in Affiliate Marketing and building my own website. Not to mention the Local Marketing side I have learned too.

Affiliate marketing Rocks and so do you Kyle and Carson. Thank you for making my journey a good one without all the scams. I call Wealthy Affiliate my safe place to learn and work from. Everything I have here is at my fingertips and the answer to your post...

Yes my mind is at ease. I am enjoying every single moment of it.

Debs 😉👌🙌

Hi guys, I am just a novice in this online business game., so I should possible shut up and let you guys talk. But I want to share what I as a novice online marketer got out of Kyle's article, and then you can put m in my place later!

The article by Kyle make a lot of sense to me as online we are talking about more than 4 billion users a

day,and these numbers increases every day.

This seem to be one of the most important channels for business in the future, and If you're not here you will slowly disappear....

Because the businesses that invest in their online presence will build trust with their followers, and no business transactions are done without trust being part of the process.

The exemptions being the occasional impulse purchase....

The way I understand Kyle is that if WE build our BUSINESSES now, and provide quality content to our readers we will, over time, get the required authority that will lead to trust and thereby sales.

In other words we are in a marathon, not a sprint, and we need to keep at it relentlessly until we get sufficient traction to build trust and thereby generate sale from our websites.

And we have an advantage as we KNOW (well at least you guys know) what to do with respect to getting traffic, trust and sales. So let's use our advantage and make a lot of success stories for 2019 and beyond!

"You are Building a Business. Treat it like one."

The easy-entry of affiliate marketing opens up business for many people who otherwise would never have started a business - however because it truly is so easy-entry (and easy-exit) many people as you say never actually treat it like a real business. They just hop in, "try it" and then hop out.

You hit the nail on the head once again with your post & those that do indeed treat it like they would an "actual" business will undoubtedly see great success.

A fantastic blog. And you are absolutely right. Many businesses have never even heard about affiliate marketing. Nor the possibilities online. Or, maybe they did but thinking it's not worth spending time on it. I think it's about fear of success. They should be more focus on the possibilities out there. Get coaching from the next generation.

Especially in Norway there are people in the management who been there 30 years and more. Doing things they always did.

First off, I would like to thank you Kyle for this very insightful article. It is helpful to those of us who are new to this type of business, and I encourage you to keep up the good work that you are doing here at Wealthy Affiliate.

I for one am excited about the future of affiliate marketing. With a 250% plus annual growth in the number of people connecting to the internet, there is definitely reason for people to want to take advantage of this lucrative business.

The competition also has without a doubt grown over the years and it is only going to continue on this trend. This fact however should never be a deterring factor when chasing your dreams. I actually am all the more determined because of this, as it gives me the opportunity to become more innovative in my approach to my business. And just to add to this point, i would like encourage the WA community to never feel like they are fighting a loosing battle. You made it this far, so you can undoubtedly become a brand name in this industry.

I was thinking about Kodak today, they originated the photography niche so to speak and yet filed for chapter 11 in 2012.

That was a watershed event, they were iconic yet failed to grasp the need to have that online presence.

So many companies are exploring the affiliate marketing trail as a way to create sustained growth.

The mobile-first world that we are living in will continue to drive the affiliate marketing sphere.

We all search online to find the best deal or offer, we can even make that purchase while living our daily lives, and that product will turn up at the door.

Of all the online gateways affiliate marketing is the most legitimate, and moving forward definitely an industry worthwhile being involved in.

Never tire of hearing about WA history and bylines.

Thanks for sharing that Kyle.

Thankyou Kyle. clearly affiliate marketing is here to stay yes it may well be more competitive. but with all the support we have here at WA which wasn't available just a few short years ago makes it still possible to succeed in this industry. Thank heavens we don't have to do all the behind the curtain technical stuff because most people would not be here today if it wasn't for those innovators like Kyle and Carson making it possible.

You've said something very true, and it actually was my major stumbling block when I tried to think ahead when I wanted to plan success selling on line: ¿how can I build a website to my fit if I'm not a techy guy?

Affiliate Marketing is a blessing by solving that.

Thank you for pointing it out!


A great article. You definitely have dealt with affiliate marketing in a great detail. You made some lines on niche selection where I am still stuck. I don't know, why I cannot come out with bravity. I have to do something quick. Time cannot be wasted. I don't have any language to praise this article which has dealt with all its pros and cons and above all its acceptability in the present time. One thing is made clear that this trade needs rigorous action with strategic planning. I know that understanding is bit easier than implementing. I still don't know, how far I will be able to transform all these into reality being a fresher.
Anyhow, lot and lot of things to know and do. It will take time and that is what I have been thinking seriously.
My regards,

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