12 Game-Changing Affiliate Marketing Statistics You Should Know

Last Update: January 11, 2020

Affiliate marketing can be downright confusing. There are so many competing theories and scammers. It can be difficult to see whether it's a legitimate marketing strategy for merchants, or an income source for affiliates.

These affiliate marketing stats can show you that it's not just viable, but it's booming. When comparing affiliate marketing with other strategies for acquiring customers like outbound sales, billboards, direct mail, or promotional products, it's experiencing a massive insurgence of interest from merchants and new affiliates, and these stats show why.

If you're serious about being in one of the toughest but most rewarding career fields of our time, then these stats should take you on a roller coaster and pull back the veil to reveal a bit of what it takes.

Stats About the Affiliate Marketing Industry

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular passive income channels for big and small businesses. (Source: Podia)

As a result, affiliates are seeing great incomes! Independent affiliate marketers are making more than $700,000/mo. The large incomes don't mean it's the majority. In fact, stats show that 95% of affiliate marketers fail. (Source: Entrepreneurs Unstuck)

Look at this table and notice the site ages...Now with growing competition and more sophisticated algorithms, these numbers are still possible, but the work ethic has to be congruent to the goal.(Source: StartaMomBlog)

Based on the chart (above), you can see that most 1 year blogs are in the $0 to $1500 range. The 2 year blogs go up to $22,000 (most commonly in the $2k to $7k range though) and at WA, we have an anomaly story that made $100,000+ in one week.The $10,000 and up blogs are mostly more than 3 years old. In the business world, 3 years to reach these income levels is great!

What we don't know based on this is the amount of work, skills, team size, sacrifice, expenses and profits! So, don't go off wishing for results like this without knowing the full picture: skills, team size, sacrifice, expenses, work, and profits. It's a fragmented story.

For more income reports from our own WAer's, check out this post here.

Affiliate marketing mirrors the traditional sales industry. We get paid commissions when potential customers take action. We experience incremental increase after consistent effort invested into the business. Our main service is to influence the buying decision of potential buyers to achieve their goals and get results for our affiliate partners.

There are similarities, but unlike the traditional salesperson, we can:

  • Avoid cold calling and door-knocking
  • Use tutorials and non-gimmicky methods to make a sale
  • Grow an audience that's interested in a topic we are
  • Work with multiple companies at once
  • Work from anywhere in the world
  • Have independence (rather than the traditional corporate oversight)
  • and, Have uncapped income potential

Who wouldn't want a career like that? It's got awesome perks, but you have to fight to get them. There's no handouts in affiliate marketing. You don't work, you don't eat. Hahaha.

Common Misconceptions about Affiliate Marketing

"Aspiring affiliates" come in thinking it's an "easy out" and falsely assume they'll be able to match incomes of people who have been in the industry much longer than they have by being lazy, mediocre content creators, who are selfish, and only focused on their futures. It seems oddly common for people to walk into affiliate marketing with false perceptions.

I still can't figure out why the perceptions are so disproportionate. The same person that is currently working a income-capped job (with much less earning potential than they reveal their dreams have), jumps online and expects their skills to translate into hundreds of thousands without any additional skills or effort. It's quite common and kinda weird.

I had false perceptions too. I believe it's because of all of the scammers out there who are desperate to give false hope so we'll buy something.

It doesn't work like that. Some people report not earning their first $1 until 4 years into their journey! It can happen.

Affiliate marketing income isn't automatic. Affiliate earnings can range quite a bit! Some factors that play into affiliate marketing income include:

  • Work ethic
  • Ability to focus and prioritize
  • Ability to manage personal life and make room for professional tasks
  • Skills
  • Amount of personal responsibility and ability to manage it
  • Level of empathy for their audience
  • Amount of competition
  • Ability to stick out
  • Savviness with numbers and strategy
  • Ability to keep up with supply and demand
  • Passion
  • Using the right tools
  • Startup budget
  • Amount of support
  • and other factors play into how much income you make in affiliate marketing

Most of the facts aren't "natural". They can be built and improved habitually, but you have to be willing to put one foot before the other every day, enjoy your journey, and don't focus 100% on destinations.

Affiliate marketers are business owners!

There's no boss telling you what to do and there's no security blanket that says "this is the minimum paycheck you can get if you do this, this, and that. Owning a business is a big risk. We can make a big income and we can make nothing. It's 100% up to our effort.

As business owners, we lower the unemployment rates and make sure families have a stable way to care for themselves, and we can use affiliate marketing as the business model to get us there.

We get taxed like business owners. We're held to the same accounting standards. We can be sued like other businesses, and we have to think in terms of profit, loss, growth, and satisfaction of market demands.

We have to invest in our businesses like they're real businesses. Stats show that 77% of small businesses in the US rely on founders’ personal funds to launch and stay afloat. (Source: Lendio)

A McDonalds franchise may cost $200,000+ to purchase, but as affiliate marketers, we can start a business with an investment of $359. I don't think you can get a startup business for that cheap even if you're starting a lawn care business! Hahaha. Lawn mowers cost more than that nowadays. Wealthy Affiliate has made starting an affiliate marketing business a steal!

Small businesses are jumping into the online space with their own products and services. 66% of small business owners are juggling more than three hats: sales, marketing, and their trade. More and more local businesses are learning about the importance of internet marketing, and investing their time and money to adopt the strategies.

With many people coming into online business looking for a way to work less and make more, and with offline business owners coming online with a willingness to work nights and weekends to keep the hustle going, will they outpace you in this online space? Stats show that 80% of small business owners are willing to work nights and weekends to keep their businesses going. Will you be willing to keep up?

According to InternetLiveStats, there were 3.5 million blog posts published today, so far and the number is contiuously going up. Where does yours stack up? Top 1%, bottom 1%, or any published at all?

There is a bigger picture. It's not 100% about being "good".The competition is getting more fierce. Don't get too comfortable. If we want to have solid incomes and fulfilled dreams, we'll have to STEP UP THE PACE, and work like real small business owners. We have to take pride in what we're doing and concern ourselves with high quality, customer service, and a genuine heart to serve--these are competitive advantages.

Can you Make Money if Affiliate Marketing is a Side Hustle?

Many people start here at Wealthy Affiliate while they have:

  • Jobs
  • Parents to care for
  • Children to care for
  • and so many obligations, they can only work their business as a side hustle

Stats show that this is 100% okay. According to Bankrate, side hustlers are majorly profiting. I'm guessing the scarcity of only having a little time makes side hustlers more productive than people who feel they have alot. As a result, stats show side hustlers earning an average between $686 and $8,232 annually.

Not bad for a few hours on the nights and weekends (especially if your doing something you love).

Wowee! This just shows that you shouldn't give up on your dream because you're busy. If others are making their side hustles work, you're affiliate marketing side hustle can work too!

The Internet isn't a Safe Haven for Poor Work Ethic

We have to make a "constant". Grocery stores that are successful reliably provide food. Lawn care companies who are successful reliably provide lawn care services. What's your constant? What can your audience rely on you for?

We need to show people that hospitality isn't just for hotels and restaurants. We can make websites that make people feel welcome, heard, and solve their problems.

There are dreams and there's reality. Are you willing to outwork, outthink, and outstrategize your competition? Are you willing to invest the same work ethic (or more) than those who are earning what you want? These are questions most affiliates should think about when they're formulating their goals.

Can you Find the Right Affiliate Partner?

If you've ever wondered whether you'll be able to find an affiliate partner for your niche, then it should be a relief to know that 81% of brands actively use affiliate marketing. Some of them are called "referral programs" or "partner programs", but affiliate marketing is a viable way for businesses of all sizes to acquire customers. (Source: BigCommerce)

More and more brands are opening up to affiliate marketing because the brands using affiliate marketing are stating things like "new customers that came from affiliates accounted for 45% of orders in the last quarter of 2017" (Source: Acceleration Partners)

When is the Right Time to Jump into Email Marketing?

If you're wondering when to jump into email, these email marketing stats should clear some things up for you. Email marketing drives 184% more sales than social media. (Source: Campaign Monitor)

But, just because email drives sales doesn't mean you should jump into it too early. Wait until the right time to start your email marketing.

Stats show that you want to send between 5 and 19 emails per month. Less emails makes your list go cold and more emails can be annoying, so you want to be somewhere in the middle. (Source: Omnisend)

And, it's not enough to simply email. You also need to segment, split test, and experiment, which takes time! Mailchimp says segmentation is the way to boost your open rates and click-thru-rates. In fact, you can boost your open rate by 14.31% or higher and your open rate by 100.95%.

You don't want to send out emails no one opens or responds to, right? Did you realize, it's not automatic to get results from email marketing?

It's not. It takes SEO,social media, or ads to get people to your site, then building lead magnets (possibly more than once) to see what will get visitors to exchange their email with you, then you have to give value via email sufficient enough to build trust, and you have to segment our audience so you can keep the emails customized and personal.

If you're not getting much traffic, and you're already feeling a constraint with your current content calendar, is adding email marketing really a good idea? First nail down your traffic generation strategy, get vey efficient, decide which tasks get you the highest return, and double down if you need to, then once you're getting steady traffic, decide when you can add an addition 5-19 emails/month to your workload.

You don't want to cut corners on the content that brings people to your site, but it doesn't make sense to spend lots of time writing 5-19 emails/mo when:

1)Your list isn't big

2)You're list isn't growing fast because you don't have much traffic

Closing Comments

Some people want you to buy funnels software, shopping cart software, and other things that serve their own interest. Instead, make sure you stay focused on the path that will give you the highest returns, and don't acquire unnecessary overhead expenses. There will come a time where you'll be able to stack strategies, stack revenue, and compound your skills into a booming business, but the "Jack of all trades" becomes a master of none 99.9% of the time!

You can have success in affiliate marketing, but it's all about rolling up your sleeves and carving a place where you can solve problems for users online.

What are your thoughts on this? Which statistics stick out most to you? Do you have more stats to add? Leave your comments, questions, and feedback below.

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PLuh1 Premium
Excellent article.
The shown income stats were what I expected.
What I noticed, and that is true with all sales strategies, people respond differently also based on their origin. For example I unsubscribe when I get 3 emails a week, it annoys me. I don't need to be exposed to a product ca. 12 times before I buy, twice is enough to make up my mind. Everyone is different and that makes it so difficult to tailor a strategy.
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TDomena Premium
Thanks! I agree that origin can play a part. I also agree that if the emails are pitches, then you don’t want to do that too often.

I think if you email on the high end or closer to 19, then something like 80% has to be nurturing emails where you’re simply giving free value. Otherwise, there will be a high unsubscribe rate.

Great point!
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PLuh1 Premium
Hm, I have to really think hard what to write in an email landing page. I was always more an infomercial person than a commercial one. Sigh.
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TDomena Premium
That shouldn’t be a problem. Buyers online are looking for relatability and authenticity so just make sure you have that.
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SondraM Premium
Excellent post and set of statistics. I most liked your comment/reminder that the internet is not a safe haven for those with a poor work ethic.

I will be honest, most people do not realize how easy their JOB was until they start working for themselves.

Tiffany, I hope that you have an awesome and productive week.
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TDomena Premium
I agree! Running a business isn’t the “easy route”. I hope you have an awesome week also!
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Zarina Premium
So true! It took me good 2 years to start taking things seriously (actually I was kinda “pushed” after the surgery but still... if only I was more persistent, consistent and true to my path since the beginning!)
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TDomena Premium
It’s something for each of us to adjust to. The first year is usually a wash because of skill, skepticism, or work ethic, but it still usually proves the concept works because at some point we earn a commission.
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DaveSw Premium
I think that online marketing, in general, is much more complex than what many vendors would want you to know, and they deliberately lowball what it takes to have success in their pitches to prospects.

The reason for this is to sell their tiny piece or element to people who may not realize that all the moving parts have to work together and have a single focus to have much success.

There are no magic tools or push button profits, etc.unfortunately.

You have to create a grand plan or overall plan and have every piece of content that you create and publish anywhere address the master plan.

Until you learn how it all works together for your business (and this will be different for each person/entrepreneur) you likely will not have as much success as you could be having.

However, the points that you mention are all components and need to be addressed over time by every online marketer. There are no shortcuts.

Can you do everything at once? Of course not.

It starts with that good plan, execution of that plan, with adjustments as indicated through a regular review and corrections to your action(s). That is work, no easy way out...

But...

This is the true value of what you have here with Wealthy Affiliate, all the training and features, and the community. You can start with the general steps and drill down over time, one thing at a time.

All the additional tools that are not here can be obtained as you learn more about the business and need them. Without having the basics in place, these tools will not help you.

I think what many members may be missing out on are the next-level components (after a website and content) to have more success faster and grow their business faster.

Over and above a website and content these things should be right at the top of everyone's "To-Do" list IMO. What I suggest is a combination of automation tools as indicated and learning yet more skills (and yes, more work too)...

(1) Building a subscriber list is one of the top things to do after getting the website and a decent amount of content published (and creating a schedule for regular new content that will be published).

- To do this, you will need to create a reason for people to provide you their name and email (a lead magnet, i.e. something they would be willing to pay for).

- Once you have them on your list, you must have a plan to warm them up and turn them into buyers of whatever you are promoting.

- This is going to require more training and tools, not necessarily a lot of money (there are free versions of the tools needed). What to write? What to provide in your emails to get them opened (i.e. the content and the copy as in HOW you write the title, body, etc.)?

- You are leveraging your efforts over just publishing content in blog posts and this can turn a one-time visitor and never seen again person into true customers that you can sell to again and again.

- You are going to need a landing page, that "Lead Magnet" I mentioned above, an autoresponder service, and at minimum, a set of emails (a campaign) to automatically be sent out once you have a subscriber.

- This gets the ball rolling, and from there you can build more campaigns as needed...As with any relationship, you need to work at it, so you will need to add in a planning calendar for this aspect of your business too...

- Because this is such an important factor in success (you do not want to put all your eggs into one basket, i.e. SEO traffic, social platform traffic, etc.) it should go right under the website and content in every plan IMO.

- These days on top of the emails you can send to people, there are so many other ways to create "touch opportunities" with your subscribers (and add more value). For instance:

a. Live Videocasts.
b. Podcasts.
c. Face to face meetings.
d. Recorded training.
e. Chatbots

and more...You can build lists for each and many will be on more than one list...All the better, your open rates for emails will go up, you will get more people watching your live casts, etc.

You are building a body of followers, and a brand, reputation, credibility, etc. All this makes it easier to promote things and earn commissions...

Note that so far we have a grand plan. Things to consider include the niche you will work in, who is in that market, what does the typical niche member look like, in regards to interests, problems, age, hobbies, what they buy, how much they earn, etc. plus how you will approach the market, how will you build the brand, and so much more...

We also have a content calendar so we make sure that everything we create and publish relates back to the grand plan. This makes it a lot easier to come up with ideas for your posts too, and you want to publish on a regular schedule...

Now you just added an email campaign calendar to your list of calendars so you always have fresh and interesting content for your subscribers...But, we are not done...

This leads me to the next item I would focus on...

(2) Establishing a social presence and building a social media marketing plan for the platforms you will focus on. You mention that in your article, I would like to add the following:

- Like it or not, these days people spend most of their time on one or the other social platforms. If you have created an avatar (part of your business plan) for your ideal prospect, you will know which platform they use.

- For your social accounts, if you have a plan to provide value, tips, entertainment, and more on a regular basis (just like publishing content for your website) over time you will gain an audience and be able to market your products to them.

- There are a lot of tools that will help you automate this, and they allow you to do more in the same or less amount of time. They make sense. I prefer life-time-deal tools over recurring charged tools.

- Using such tools, you can create and execute the next planning calendar or your business: the social media marketing portion that is going to help you add to traffic sources (at no cost) to your website and offers...

PLUS...

- Video and video platform(s) need to be a part of every online marketer's business plan. They are versatile, people like to watch them, YouTube itself (one suggested platform I would recommend for every marketer to use) is one, and there are a number of tools out there to help (and a lot of them are free or low cost).

There is more, but you get the idea. You have taken what started out as a simple website where you are working hard to create content for and get published to a full-blown online marketing operation. Your own operation too.

That is a good feeling and you are in control and know where you are and where you are going because you have planned things out. You have seen what works and what doesn't because you are measuring results and making changes based on the data.

Okay, let's assume that you have done all the above. Now you have a solid business in-place. You are covering content, have a great website, a solid social presence, and have many ways to touch your followers on a regular basis...

Sales are growing...So can you back off?

Nope, afraid not...Just as with any business, you need to develop a system that will give you a continuous stream of new people, means of generating more traffic, and building yet more new relationships with people.

That is how you scale the business from a 4 figure to a 5 or 6 figure business (it is possible and many people have done it)...Use more automation, outsource, and get advice (you do have limits on time and energy after all) as you grow...

Okay, now you are done and have reached the pinnacle of success, right?

Nope...

Once you are doing the scaling thing and have some success with the niche you are into, the next step to make sure that your business stays healthy is to look at expanding it horizontally...

Here is what I mean...

(3) Developing many streams of income from online activities makes sense. Affiliate marketing is great but as with any business segment, there is any number of things that can happen.

- Your affiliate marketing business can die even with the best of intentions...Better to hedge your bets (again)...

- There are many online marketing segments you can use to get this in place and depending on what you decide there will be a whole new set of things to learn.

- It could be publishing ebooks, drop shipping, teaching, coaching, services, creating your own digital products, etc.

- Quite naturally this step is way down the road after you have a solid business running as an affiliate marketer. As you say trying to do it all often means you do nothing well...

- Although there are some that advise you to stick to one thing, and I do see the sense in that, I will say that if you do that over the long-term and anything happens, your business will be devastated.

- I prefer to spread my risks in a calculated manner when the time is right. This means that if one area falls down a bit, the other areas can pick up the slack.

- This is a step that comes WAY down the road from where we started, which is right here on the Wealthy Affiliate platform...

I could go on and on here but it really does come down to mindset, effort, and consistency.

If you have the will and tenacity to succeed and put in the work (as with any business) to learn and implement what it takes, and also make corrections along the journey, you will succeed.

BTW, Tiffany, I loved the post, I am a statistics nut and that link is really cool...

It graphically shows that the internet is still growing, there is still plenty of business for us all, and tells me to get busy and grab a piece of it for our own business!

Cheers!
Dave : )
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Dedo52 Premium
Great Post Dave (I mean "comment: )

I agree with all the things you've suggested apart from actually learning "all" the skills.
It's maybe best to get a handle on the skills (but focus on one mainly). For instance "selling". And then get others to do the other tasks.

If you're good at selling, you could exchange skills.
(just an idea). What do you think?

Cordially
Dedo
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DaveSw Premium
Hi, Dedo...

Most certainly I agree with you...I have always surrounded myself with experts in the field they are hired to do so I did not have to become an expert (not possible anyway hehe)!

As long as I have a rudimentary understanding of what the person is supposed to be doing and I can see what they actually are doing, this works.

In the military, there were times when I was in charge of 9 classes of supply (logistics) supporting hundreds of thousands of people...I did not have expertise in them all, only a few...

What I did was learn the basic key indicators of what the expectations were for each class of supply, then ask for the data and reports that would show me the status,

The experts did all the hard work. I provided cover and did the dance in briefings and etc. and only got involved as the situation dictated...

This same concept will work for your business I think!

Good point! Thanks!

Dave : )
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Dedo52 Premium
I knew there was a reason I follow you : )
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DaveSw Premium
Haha...Thanks mate! Cheers! : )
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JeffreyBrown Premium
AWESOME post--or informational training reply--Dave! Sorry about those Vikings yesterday!
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DaveSw Premium
Thanks, Jeffrey...They were beaten in all aspects of the game, the 49ers were really great...Still more to hope for though, I look forward to the Packer's getting beat tonight hehe! Cheers! Dave : )
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JeffreyBrown Premium
Me too, Dave, and I'm also concerned for my adopted team, The Chiefs!
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TDomena Premium
Great comment Dave! It’s a post of its own. I think in summary what were both saying is online business is about strategy and income stacking. You focus on one strategy and move onto the next when you can stabilize both.

There are tools and people that can help you leverage and scale into many things. When you’re starting, you have to master the fundamentals.
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DaveSw Premium
Exactly! : )
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roamy Premium
Great info only something I never really understood, these "top blogging mums" if you check their testimonials, it`s almost the same blogging mums that have the testimonials.
Why I`m I saying this, I don`t buy a product without checking for customer reviews or testimonials and I`ve come to realize it`s more or less the same faces.
Today I got an email from a "top mum blogger" I bought a product from and it`s common to see her name and product being mentioned by other mum bloggers on Facebook. On her email today, she`s promoting a product she just bought from another mum blogger(she didn`t say it`s from a mum blogger)
Fair enough we`re free to promote or buy courses if we need to improve, but, she`s trying to sell me a course about Pinterest because "she just bought it and it`s the best"blah, blah, blah. But if I go to FB or other social media, I`ll see her course being promoted by "top mommy bloggers"
Now coincidentally, I already bought the product she`s talking about, similar to the product I bought from her, you know what, her product is much better(in my opinion) than the product she thinks "I must have"
I`m not talking of B2B here, I don`t know what to call it.I call it "mommy bloggers top Products"
Still, I have really enjoyed reading your post, thanks so much for sharing.
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TDomena Premium
I hope you didn't think I was endorsing any product here in the post. It was 100% about the statistics and takeaways.

I know the mommy blogger community is a very tight one, but that wasn't a point I was trying to make here. I'm sure they support one another with testimonials and reviews. Most tight-knit communities do that.

Thanks for your feedback on the post.
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roamy Premium
Oh! that did not even occur to me, not for a second did I even think that you`re endorsing any product or any mommy blogger.
I was just mentioning what I`ve seen.
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TDomena Premium
Oh, okay! I couldn't tell for a second. Hahaha. Thanks for sharing.
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webjournal Premium
Wow this is the exact kind of information that is needed, especially for newbies who are wondering which methods and techniques really work for generating traffic and earning money. I like how you researched and detailed all the various ways that established bloggers and marketers are doing things and what is the realistic time frame for us to start seeing results from our efforts. Great job!
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TDomena Premium
It's exactly what I was looking for when I started out online. I wanted to know what realistic expectations were. I didn't necessarily want "overnight success", but it was painted as a possibility.

Once I discovered more avarages and where I stand skill-wise and congruent to the amount of work I'm willing to do, it gives a sense of peace and satisfaction. You can see what's "normal" and when you really stick out: in a good or bad way.
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