The 10 Years Question: How Long Does It Take To Be Successful?

Last Update: February 20, 2018

Image: Daily view from my office. Not a beach, but better than a cubicle!

The question of how long it takes to earn money online and how much you can make comes up A LOT. Standard answers are "it takes time" and "you earn according to hard you work". These are true, but for some, they are not satisfying answers.

The core of what people want to know is if learning online marketing, specifically learning what Wealthy Affiliate has to teach is worth their time. Hey, no one wants to waste time on something that doesn't produce results, right?

So I want to try to break down this topic in a logical way that shows no matter how you slice it, learning affiliate marketing is worth your time and being a Wealthy Affiliate member is worth your money.

The Training Simply Works

People are getting results. Wealthy Affiliate members are making money. It doesn't matter what percentage or what unique qualities they have. The point is that the training works for anyone that applies it to their business. If it's not working, start asking why, and there will be an answer.

I wrote a post recently about success stories I've collected during just the past few months: Quiet Results Are Happening... Those are all focused on people earning money in niches NOT promote Wealthy Affiliate or the "make money online" niche.

There are members that have been here for 10 years and counting!

You Are Learning A Practical Skill

Even if you make $0 from affiliate marketing, you are still learning a marketable skill that can be used to start your own business or work for someone else's. By the end of your training here, you'll be able to:

  • build a beautiful Wordpress website
  • do minor troubleshooting of plugins, themes
  • do healthy, long term SEO
  • get pages of a website ranked in Google
  • write an article for a website/blog
  • create social media business pages
  • run a social media marketing campaign
  • research niches and find low competition pockets in competitive markets
  • understand basic marketing concepts

These skills are extremely valuable in the world of business! They can be used to:

  • help local businesses get ranked in Google
  • create websites and business pages for local businesses
  • freelance write articles for other marketers or bloggers
  • do an SEO audit and improve the SEO of a website
  • create consulting services on how to run a results-driven social media campaign
  • help a business improve their sales funnel
  • build and flip websites

...and probably a bunch of other things. For many of you, this is also just a beginning point! There are thousands of resources out there that also focus on important topics like email marketing, landing page optimization, and more.

The main point I want to make here is that online marketing is not just for weirdos that can't survive in a 9-5 and want to work from home. It's a legitimate, in-demand skill that can be used to allow you to freelance services, start your own business, or be an useful part of a team.

You Are On The Ground Floor

There's always a 'gloom and doom' person around that says all the money's been taken and there's no more opportunities online. This is simply false. Perhaps you saw Kyle's recent post about 500 million new opportunities being created every single day: 500 Million New Opportunities Per Day: That's Messed Up Dude...

I'll take it a step further!

In the US and Western World, most people have the internet. MOST. Actually, only 73% of Americans own a computer with a broadband connection. So that's tens of millions of people that don't even have internet access in the US yet, that will get internet access in the next few years.

Over 50% of people have bought more than one thing online in their lifetime. That's a lot. But it means there's about 50% of people that have NOT purchased more than one item online, that will begin to make more and more online purchases in the coming years.

KIDS. How many of them have credit cards now versus how many will get them pretty soon? A LOT. My grandparents would never order anything online. The next generation of kids will order EVERYTHING through the internet. That's a whole generation of people that will be buying online that you can look forward to selling to!

TECHNOLOGY. Right now, to buy something online, you have to sit down on your computer or phone and browse Amazon. But as technology changes, it will be easier and easier to buy online. If you start learning the basics now, you'll be able to grow with these changes and grow your business to take advantage of new technology that comes out.

THE WORLD. Don't forget, there's a whole world out there. There are entire countries with very little computer and internet access, let alone a thriving ecommerce scene. As technology gets cheaper, and the internet becomes more important, more countries will get online, and start shopping. There are literally BILLIONS of people that are not shopping online right now that will start shopping in the coming decades.

There are going to be MORE opportunities to make money online in the future, not less. Learning the basics now means you'll be in a better position to take advantage of these opportunities!

The 10 Years Question

Wealthy Affiliate has been around for more than 10 years: 10 Years of Evolution. The Best is Yet to Come.

One of my favorite questions to ask people who want to join WA is the "10 year question". When they ask me how long it takes to see results, or how many people actually succeed, I pose this question to them:

If you made $0 online for the next 10 years, but then at the end of the decade finally started making enough money to run a business from your computer would it be worth it?

Only you can answer this question, but most people say yes. Of course! If I could work hard for 10 years and enjoy another 10, 20, 30, 40+ years of working from home and being my own boss?! Yes, it would be worth it!

But people quit in weeks, months, or even after a year because they didn't get the results they wanted.

So instead, they choose to "try" making money online for 3 months, then keep doing their same job for another 10, 20, 30, 40+ years.

Now, I'm not saying it's going to take 10 years to actually reach your goals! That's just an extreme example to make the point that quitting early is selling yourself short. I think most "success" stories working from home generally see pretty good results in the first couple years, if not quicker. Some people even start generating $1,000's within the first few months.

So what if I said that you had to work 12 hour days for 3 years, but then after that you would own a six-figure business and could set your own hours. Would you do it then? A lot of people also say yes! Trading some short-term hard work in the beginning for awesome, long term payoff at the end is good tradeoff.

Your story is going to be your story. I just wanted to put the timeline into perspective and make the point that no matter how you slice it, learning about online marketing and building an online business is worth your time.

What About The Cost?! It's Only $3590

Let's look at a worst case scenario: You spend 10 years inside Wealthy Affiliate and never make a dime. That's $359 x 10 years for $3,590 for 10 years of membership. Many people spend that on a vacation every year. Some online marketing education products sell for more than that as their first payment!

What percentage of your income is that? If you make $40k per year, that's $400,000 you would make over 10 years.

$3590/$400000 = 0.9%

From a numbers perspective, you're taking on less than 1% risk of your income over a 10 year period for a very good chance of success in some way. You might not have a million dollar business or retire on your own island, but I'd be willing to be you have enough income to work from home and support yourself.

Remember, this isn't Vegas gambling. You're getting an EDUCATION. Your'e getting webinars, hosting, training updates, troubleshooting support, and live chat with successful online marketers. You're not just dumping cash and hoping for returns.

Affiliate businesses make money, and will continue to do so. You just have to figure out if you are willing to dedicate enough time and energy to get a piece of the action for yourself.

Looking forward to an awesome, productive, and profitable years ahead!

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randallpaul Premium
Thanks Nathaniell, since I run an offline business I have very limited time to get anything done with my online project so EVERYTHING is sloooooooowwwwww. This article is a great encouragement and I feel the same way 100%. Even though I have made a little online in the past it was just enough to know that one day in the future I will replace my source of income from a labor intensive physical business to the online world eventually.
Thanks for all your training and encouragement!!
Good article Nathaniell. Regarding your point about not earning a cent after 10 years but being happy that you'd acquired all the necessary skills to run your own company. In all honesty, I'd be pretty hacked off and disappointed with myself. If you couldn't make a cent in 10 years of affiliate marketing, starting your own business probably isn't the best move in my opinion. But I take your point that it's an extreme example. I'm looking forward to starting and excited at the future prospects.
Dashnow Premium
Awesome information and food for thought!
laurenjean Premium
Brilliant post, Nathaniell! I have bookmarked a bunch of your excellent posts today. Love how you cross-reference them. You have a great perspective and yes, I understand that comes with time and hard work. Well done on your success.
MarvH Premium
Thanks Nathaniell, you made some great points. Good to remember when inviting someone to join WA.
carthik-wa Premium
A very motivational post, indicating that with patience and perseverance, one can achieve their goals..
NatNiches Premium
I just found this post and.... it definitely puts things into perspective. I think after a few months the novelty wears off for people - especially if they presumed it would be easy. But it is crazy to think people then go back to their 9-5 for good...I guess many actually lose the faith that it will ever be possible and don't think they can do it.
Simowatto Premium
wow if there was any doubts starting to build after 16 months they have just dissipated. Thank for a post that put things well into perspective for me
TechniSmart Premium
Those figures should confirm we are in the right place at the right time.

Thanks Nathanell.

See you @ the Top!

allisonhites Premium
This is a very motivating post. It really puts hard work into perspective.
myonlinebiz8 Premium
Found this excellent post Nathaniel. Wow, well said! -Leslie
Simowatto Premium
excellent post Nath' it made me realise a year is nothing, put it into perspective.
Wayne Wallace Premium
Great post, I especially agree with the part about the World. Look at what companies like Facebook and Google are doing to get more eyeballs on their platforms. We will soon have a few billion more people to talk to with simple fast text based websites that work well over low bandwidth connections.
RushingBee Premium
This is a fantastic post! You just put into words very clearly a feeling that I struggled to articulate for myself. Thank you. (And send me some of that pie, please!)
sinwm Premium
Awesome motivation. Brilliant post. You have brighten my day.
judym Premium
Magic words... figure it out. Thanks for a great post, I appreciate this. And I firmly believe that figuring out online marketing in whatever form works for you is the most important skill we can build now. Wishing you lots of success in 2016 and onwards!
Mark1957 Premium
A very inspirational blog Nathaniell.......inspiring in the way that makes you think that we are willing to do all sorts of things as time goes by yet are mostly not willing to dedicate a little time each day/week over a period of time in order to completely change their lives in the medium to long term.
Makes no sense to me that people would rather stick with what they hate and not take steps to take control of their own lives.
cena1975 Premium far I don't think there any training on building beautiful website in WA. Very good training on affiliate marketing I agree.
I learn to build nice looking website from Youtube.
Just from my personal view.
blubutterfly Premium
Thanks Nathaniell :)
JeffBoivin Premium
You are absolutly right. Thanks for sharing ! Best Regards, Jeff
AngelBcn Premium
Great post ! we need to be reminded that it is a long time journey :)
kvimont Premium
Very inspirational Nathaniell, thanks for taking the time to post this. To everyone's success here at Wealthy Affiliate.
swhittington Premium
Thankful for WA! I do Believe! Thanks for this!
BrokFTJFH Premium
Really good post Nathaniell and I really like the mindset that you lay out. It's hard to convenience someone that building an online business is a good idea unless you really look at it long term.

This is the reason I got involved with WA and building websites. I'm not looking for fast cash and really don't need extra money to live my life the way I do now.

But, my reasoning is I do have some free time that I'd like to monetize rather then spending it playing video games or wasting time.

I might as well consistently work on something that's going to make me money now and in the future.

I might not be making as much as I would have hoped for at this point, but I know that I'm making money and really just investing in my future and a completely different work life then I'm living now.

As you mentioned in your post, I've also been able to apply what I've learned here to the multiple small businesses I work for. Before WA they were only doing paid online advertising. After I started WA and applied what I learned, we've stopped paid advertising and are basically in the number one spot for every keyword associated with our business. (it's a small town, so it was pretty easy)

Thanks for sharing! This is a great post for someone who's just getting started or still thinking with a short term mindset.

nathaniell Premium
Good to hear you're killin it in your local area. Like a secret SEO weapon!
ricksr Premium
Looks like you hit a home run with this post.

Good job...keep blogging my friend!

Ericabried Premium
Excellent advice that makes total sense and was very timely for me.
TimMcKinlay Premium
Awesome motivation, pretty much exactly what I was needing to read right now. It puts things into perspective for me nicely. Thanks
SamiWilliams Premium
Excellent information and good motivation,
Marcus1978 Premium
Perfect timing, Nathaniell. I really needed to read this right now.
JewelCarol Premium
Awesome!! I love it, thanks very much Nathaniel. ;))
MarionBlack Premium
Brilliant post Nathaniell. I love your questions.
vinsoe Premium
Nice blog... thanks! Very inspiring!
EKautz Premium
Oh if I were only 20 again. :-)

Not only would I invest in the market earlier than I did but I'd invest in my future and my business also. Never too late to start though! and my daughter is only 9 and she's starting now. :-)

RonAlderman Premium
Great thoughts and statistics. Thanks for breaking this down. I am sure there are many here that are going to find useful information action in your past. I had not really thought about marketable skills. Updating my resume tomorrow.

Great stuff!
Judy-B Premium
I'm a little discouraged today, but your post has brightened me up. I have already planned to go for another year with the Black Friday deal. So I too look forward to 2016 being productive and profitable. Thank you, Nathaniell. :)
Shawn Martin Premium
Great post as usual.
It is amazing how easy it is to give up and how hard it is to keep going, but the ones who do keep taking action will be the winners.
Frann12 Premium
You hit it out of the park with this post Nathaniell. Reading this post ignited a spark in me to continue and not give up. Thank you.
MikeSouness1 Premium
Now that's inspiring, great post!
ClareG Premium
Great post Nathaniel, thank you for that, very good perspective.
KatieMac Premium
Brilliant post and it really puts things into prospective thank you Nathaniell gives hope to all of us, I am not the fastest learner and if I am still around in 10years from now what a journey no matter what
EdwardLarry Premium
Nathaniell A very good blog, Seeing results is what makes me move forward, And hopefully start making money, If I could just get a 1 % of a billion people that are buying online. It will be worth my while, Thank you for sharing. I like your work.
Darwyn Premium
Hey Nathaniell, you have given everyone a great reality check on this one. Many people are looking for that quick buck, but like you say put the time and effort in now and you will receive your rewards. Very inspirational my man! Thanks for this. Bookmarked!
dickw Premium
Really strong Nathaniell. You write better and are more organized than a lot of college professors. Don't mean to insult you. This is a keeper and one that I will refer to more than once more. Thank you....Dick
nathaniell Premium
Haha. Thanks man! Just a habit from writing so many blogs and trying to keep people engaged.
LargoDi Premium
Very encouraging words. Thank you!
steveo5770 Premium
You make a good point about looking into the future. The majority of the population are baby boomers (at least in the U.S.) and many of them have nothing to do with the internet.
My mother still uses the Yellow
That segment of the population will eventually be replaced by people who couldn't imagine NOT using the internet. I still think of this internet marketing stuff as being on the "ground floor".
nathaniell Premium
It's amazing when you change your thinking from "i missed the boat" to "OMG this is still the early stages"
dickw Premium
Hey, watch it Buckaroo. Some of us ain't in the box yet!!! One itsy bitsy lol.
StefanC Premium
That's great Nathaniel!! Thanks for that!
EFors Premium
Thanks for sharing nathaniell, I am learning and learning, and sometimes I think is it worth it. But after reading your blog, the picture in my mind has changed, about beeing online marketer. It´s bookmarked. :))
Dmorrow Premium
Good points Nathaniel! I've said it from the start, and still will, the education here, alone, is worth the premium. When you add all the members who are so willing to help and share tips, etc and the friendships you form, WA is priceless!

HelenpDoyle Premium
Thanks Nathaniell. Bookmarked. I have been developing resumes for online work and this will help greatly.
gmegs Premium
Well said Nathaniel
... bookmarking for those who need a little inspiration!
olivingstone Premium
Thanks for a great post. Where can we find free SEO audit tools?
mjdimarco Premium
I like this
paulmabee Premium
Thanks Nathaniell. The longterm goals are what we need to keep in mind.I hear people complain about their site not making money after only a couple mths.Ive been 3 mths and not even online yet.Just don't have much time but I'm not quitting. I will plug along till I make it. Paul.
texasprinces Premium
Great perspective and article! I think I will even link to this Blog Post from my site. I totally agree with your points! Thanks for sharing!
sounds good!
But we have to paid every month 47$ for the premium , which is not little!
I if you have to wait almost a year or more as you say, then you have to subtract this huge amount of money?
nathaniell Premium
If you pay $47/month but learn how to make $1000+ per month is it worth it? Yes.

It will take time to reach that though. How long? It depends on you.

I paid $47/month for 6 months when I got started and only made $5. Was it a waste of money? No. Because I learned how to create an income eventually. What if I quit after 6 months and said, "This doesn't work. I'm spending money and making nothing!"

Even if you make $0, you still learn excellent, marketable skills that you can use to sell services online.
If it get something is really great problem is if you do not..
Always is talking about success but I have never seen anyone write without success.(surely is a lot of people with no success )?
nathaniell Premium
Those people just quit and leave silently. There are a few people that rant and then leave, but they are rare.
Loes Premium
Thanks Nathaniëll, that brought me here in the first place, to get an affordable education, and I am learning on a daily base, at the moment for free, because of the earnings I have on WA and my websites. And if I manage to stay alive, I am pretty good at that, I do it now for 55 years, I'll still be here over 10 years, and learning :)
magistudios Premium
" marketing is not just for weirdos that can't survive in a 9-5"

TanjaRita Premium
Thanks Nathaniell! I know I have no plans to give up, but I want to make sure I am heading in the right direction.

Jay, I watched your Live Niche case study classes and you made a comment something like if your website isn't bringing in any money after 2-3 months you might want to look at what you are doing.

This has scared me a bit as I didn't make a penny in the first 6 months. Now my site is almost 8 months old and I have made $13. Nothing like what the football snack helmets are bringing in!

So, while I am not going to give up, I am questioning if I should be doing things differently. I devote about 4-5 hours a day on my site (I only have one).

Any thoughts?
nathaniell Premium
Nothing wrong with questioning what you are doing! All businesses need to be looked at from time to time and reevaluated.

I recommend this training: And this training: And see if you can find any place to improve your overall site, funnel, or money pages.
TanjaRita Premium
Thanks Nathaniell, I will check those out (I think I may have already but will go through it again).
Luke Jr Premium
As far as I remember it took me 3 years before I started making a few hundred bucks a month with my blog. And it's getting better each year. I suppose in 2 years' time I should make at least a $1000 a month with it.
TanjaRita Premium
Thanks for sharing Luke! Glad to hear that you did not give up. My goal is to make about $4000 to $5000 a month. I would be completely happy with that!