Posted January 9, 2012 12:31 am by with 8 comments

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A friend of mine recently said she was disheartened by the promotion of the affiliate lifestyle as an easy way for anyone to make serious cash. She pointed out that most affiliates fall flat on their face making little to no money. This got me thinking…. is the affiliate dream real?

To answer this question, I decided to pick up the phone and fire up my email to reach out to a few successful affiliate marketers to get their thoughts on the reality of the affiliate dream.

Nick Reese

Nick Reese is the author of “How to Turn Traffic and Trust into Sales” and has been promoting affiliate offers since 2007. Nick is a powerful force in affiliate marketing and has made a ton of money promoting affiliate offers across a wide range of industries.

When I asked Nick if he thought the affiliate dream is real, he replied “This really depends on how the affiliate dream is defined. Replacing your income through affiliate marketing is definitely a reality however most people fail because they try replicate what other people are doing.”

Nick’s take is to be creative and find your own niche. If you’re just copying what other people are doing, you’re going to have a hard time quitting your day job.

Nick’s own journey to quitting his “day job” (an email marketing company he founded) took him 2 years. 2 years is far from “get rich quick” and Nick is a pretty sharp guy. When you’re ready to dip your toes into affiliate marketing, be prepared for a long hard fight.

To help you with this fight, Nick addressed what he felt was the biggest mistake affiliate marketers make “In a word. FEAR. Each of us has our own issues we have to overcome. Mine was fear of learning to code, fear of trying out new things, fear of failure, and fear to spend money to test an idea”.

Adam Riemer

Adam Riemer is an online marketer and the President of Adam Riemer Marketing, LLC. Adam has over 10 years of experience in running and managing affiliate campaigns and online marketing campaigns. Adam is a conference speaker on affiliate marketing at Pubcon and Affiliate Summit, among others.

Adam feels the affiliate dream is real commenting “Yes, they (affiliates) just have to be willing to learn, work hard and be realistic. Just because the site or ad is theirs does not mean it is the best. Listen to criticism and learn from it. Then put in years of hard work and learn from your failures.”

Adam is pointing out that to succeed, you must first fail. Failure helps you learn lessons and identify opportunities. Learning from these failures will help you adapt as you promote offers and grow your website.

Adam has some killer tips for avoiding pitfalls with your affiliate marketing campaigns. Adam warned against “Impatience and unrealistic expectations. Many of them (affiliates) throw up a banner farm and think it is value adding. Others will write 5 articles and wait for the money to come rolling in. A final common mistake is buying traffic and visitors through exchanges which is not real or targeted traffic. None of them realize how hard it is to build a site, build traffic and then work on your conversion rates until they give up and claim it doesn’t work”.

In short, Adam wants you to focus on the sale by targeting visitors with a high purchase intent. By building quality traffic, affiliates can get a better picture of the true ability of their offers to convert. Don’t be lulled by easy traffic at a cheap price. Focus on qualified traffic and optimize your offer pages from there.

Mike Kolb

Mike is a full time affiliate marketer and founder of a competitive shopping website.

Mike took an interesting road to promoting affiliate offers full time. Mike says “I actually started out as an advertiser which opened the door to affiliate marketing for me. As I started to promote my own product more and more myself, I took the experience, knowledge and relationships I gained and became an affiliate for other offers as well”.

Promoting a product through affiliate marketing for yourself or your employer is a great way to see inside the world of affiliate marketing and learn what works and what doesn’t. Gaining firsthand experience from the advertiser perspective can also give affiliates an edge up on their competition.

Mike was able to become a full time affiliate marketer just this year. When I asked Mike how he accomplished this feat, he responded “I would attribute my success to what makes majority of people successful…drive. There was a time I had a full time job, a small side business and at night I would work on affiliate marketing. This went on for over a year before I finally started to see some results”.

Seeing results involved overcoming his greatest challenge which he described as “Trial and error, it can be frustrating to continually build campaigns and never see results, it’s very easy to lose confidence and focus”.

When I asked what Mike thought about the reality of the affiliate dream for most people he cautioned “I wouldn’t say it’s possible for most people, there is only a certain amount of people that will make the sacrifice it takes to become successful in anything, including affiliate marketing. If you are one of
those few people, then it is absolutely a possibility”.

As with anything in life Mike learned that to be successful you must make sacrifices and work hard. If you can’t do either when promoting your affiliate offers, you’re going to limit your success.

So to answer the question, is the affiliate dream real?

Yes, it is. Nick, Adam and Mike all make nice livings off of their affiliate income. For them the dream is real every day.

For thousands of others the dream is not real. For them, the dream died on forgotten WordPress sites and lists of domain names registered after a “great idea for a website” briefly entertains their fancy.

In the end, the reality of the affiliate dream is relative to the size of your affiliate checks and the effort you put in to get there.

  • I think that affiliate marketing will greatly benefit your website – if you’ve got the right site to be an affiliate of in the first place. You don’t simply tie up with everyone.. I think people and even advertisers overlook the power of this online marketing tool and perhaps, one of the reason is that the ‘pay per performance’ model is not easily scalable. Just a thought.

    • It’s definitely a targeted game. Any site can’t promote any offer. If targeted, it’s scaleable enough for some advertisers to see 20% or more of revenue from affiliate offers 🙂 As for affiliates, scaleability tends to come more from diversification of offers and websites. Regardless what side of the fence you sit on, it all requires a lot of work!

      • I’ll agree with you David – it really requires a lot of work 😉

  • Diane

    What seems to be the most real is people making money under the premise of teaching people to make money.

    • There is some truth in that, but I’ve certainly cut huge checks to affiliates who don’t teach anyone anything about making money 🙂

  • This post is very optimistic. I’m just getting started with affiliate and hope the best.

    Maybe you could recommend me a quality affiliate website with good stuff for english as a second language teachers and students?

    Thank you very much!

  • Admiring the hard work you put into your site and in depth information
    you offer. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information.
    Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds
    to my Google account.

  • It is really true that affiliate marketing is not for everyone, just like not anyone can fit for any jobs. But I get a great encouragement from reading your article, to learn the rope and get knowledge takes time and necessary failures.