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18 Affiliate Marketers Reveal How Long It Took to Get Their First Sale & How They Did It

This past December, I took an affiliate marketing course. Even though I’ve been doing affiliate marketing since 2008, I took it because I was astounded that the developer/teacher was still in her 20s and had managed to start a blog that earns over $100,000 — per MONTH — consistently. Yeah, you read that right; it’s not a typo.

How Did You Get Your First Affiliate Sale?

Initially, I asked 10 affiliate marketers to share how they got their first affiliate sale and how long it took. That made up the first 10 contributions. THEN, because …

I had so much fun putting this post together (and learning some things) that I decided to make it an “evergreen” post. Adding to it over time, I’d love to get at least 100 contributions. Click here to share your story — and drive traffic to your site/blog.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

My Affiliate Marketing Earnings

As stated above, I’ve been doing affiliate marketing for years and although I’ve had some good days — $100, $200, $300 and even a $900 day — I could scarcely wrap my brain around the figures she was earning. So I said to myself, “If she can earn over $100,000 per month as an affiliate marketer, I need to know what’s she’s doing!

Without hesitation (after some research), I bought her course. As an aside, I’m not one of those people who buys any and every thing that comes down the pike. I’ve bought enough online products that DIDN’T work that it takes a lot for me to shell out money. I’m pretty good at figuring out stuff, but the more I researched Michelle, the more impressed I was by her and her course.

And I wasn’t disappointed. I learned a ton. The Pinterest strategy alone was worth the price of the course in my opinion. Also, she has a private, affiliate mastermind Facebook group that is chock full of information from the over 1,300 participants there (as of this writing).

This was a bonus I didn’t even realize came with the course that’s been worth its weight in gold. It was to this group that I posted the following message about a week ago. I wrote:

I want to do an “inspirational” post to help newbies see that affiliate marketing is a long-range game plan, not a “get rich quick” scheme. Looking for those willing to share how long it took to get the first affiliate sale and a bit of insight into how you did it.

Of course, your name and your website/blog link will be included. You can share it here, or email me.

Following are the responses I received, along with my contribution.

10 18 Affiliate Marketers Recall How They Got Their First Sale

1. BecomingWellThy.com, by blogger Lauren Wittry

Hi Yuwanda!

I started my blog last year, with my first “real” launch in September [2016]. I made my first affiliate that month – $13.51 through Share A Sale.

I have been documenting my progress ever since, and you can tell it’s progressive but slow moving. And I am ok with that, I know it takes time!

This month I had my biggest affiliate month to date – $301.72! Post about it publishing tomorrow.

I used Michelle’s class and another course, but my real advice would be to look for every opportunity in your niche, don’t be super sell-y and gain trust in your readers! And always look for ways to add links to your posts.

2. TheFlooringGirl.com, by blogger Debbie Gartner

I originally started my blog for my flooring business 5.5 years ago. I built it over time, and it did very well.  I never even thought about monetizing it until I reached the 4.5 yr mark. That’s when I first heard about the concept.

I started with Amazon.  I recommended complementary products to my hardwood flooring business (e.g. hardwood floor cleaners, felt pads, etc.). Because I already had a lot of traffic, I earned $100 my first month (January 2016).  I was thrilled.

Then, it gradually grew month by month.  But, it was gradual and I was hoping it would accelerate much faster. The highest I was getting was a bit over $300. Then, Thanksgiving weekend, I made a shift. I added some ads and I then started to write some more articles and articles that were more geared to affiliate products.

In December 2016, I earned a bit over $1,100. In January 2017, it was almost $1,500; and Feb 2017 (a shorter month), should be between $1,300-$1,400.

3. Crowdworknews.com, by blogger Sireesha Narumanchi

Hello Yuwanda,

Thanks for the opportunity to contribute.

I made my first affiliate income in the third month of blogging and most of it was from affiliate marketing. Though the amount was small ($310), I learnt a lot from it.

One thing that I learned was promotion is the biggest part of monetizing especially for affiliate marketing. Promotion and networking were the biggest reasons for my first affiliate income. Whether it is from affiliates, ads or any other ways, making money from blog takes time and requires a lot of testing and implementing strategies.

Thanks again,
Sireesha

4. LiveFrugaLee.com, by blogger Danny Lee

Hi Yuwanda,

Here is my contribution for your post:

It took me about 3 months to get my first affiliate sale. I had started with a free wordpress.com blog (livefrugalee.wordpress.com), but I decided I wanted to get a self-hosted site to look more professional and to take wordpress out of my domain name.

I wrote a post about it after I finally made the move, and someone who was contemplating the same thing asked me about my decision. I explained why I opted for self-hosting, shared my experience with bluehost, and offered an affiliate link. A few days later, he used my affiliate link to sign up. That was my first affiliate conversion.

I also wrote a post about my experiences driving for Uber and Lyft as a side hustle, and provided detailed information about my earnings. I got a good amount of organic traffic, and a guy emailed me about the current Lyft referral bonus at the time, which was $750 for him and $1000 for me if he completed a certain number of rides with 30 days.

A 4-Figure Affiliate Commission!

I tried to be as helpful and informative as I could, and he ended up signing up and getting the bonus. That was my first 4-figure ($1,000) affiliate sale.

Thanks!
Danny

5. BreakingTheOnePercent.com, by blogger Jeff Proctor

Hi Yuwanda!

I saw your post in Michelle’s group and thought I would shoot you an email.

I’ve been blogging for about two years, but I didn’t start actively pursuing affiliate marketing until about 6 months ago. Since I already knew a lot of the basics of blogging, my results are likely better than someone brand new- I’ve gone from $0 in affiliate income to over $7,000 per month in 6 months.

My two biggest pieces of advice to new affiliate marketers would be:

  1. You Won’t Get Anywhere Without Traffic: I would aim for at least 10,000 monthly page views per month before focusing on monetizing your audience. Until you reach that point, traffic needs to be your top priority!
  1. To Get More Traffic, Focus Exclusively on Mastering ONE Social Media: When I tried to be everywhere all at once, I wasn’t getting anywhere. It wasn’t until I went all-in on Pinterest and focused 100% on “figuring it out” that I started to generate high volume traffic from social media.

The last thing I would say to new affiliate marketers is that self awareness is SO important. It’s easy to get caught in the routine of doing what you think is working, when it’s actually not working. Always be looking at what others are doing in your niche, always be reevaluating your game plan, always be thinking about new ways to hit your audience.

I hope this works! Thanks for the opportunity!

6. LadiesMakeMoney.com, by blogger Divine Mwimba

I took a course on Affiliate marketing back in April of 2016. I did a lot of research and educating.

I then started a new blog Ladies Make Money Online in November of 2017 as a way to teach other ladies how to make money online. My first affiliate sale was in December of 2016. They are still not huge. Only $86.

7. CarrieWillard.com, by blogger Carrie Willard

My story!

14 years ago, I was blogging a little and doing direct sales offline. I decided to host a “business moms expo” in my community to showcase my business as well as make a little money inviting other people to participate. It was a smashing success and I hosted another.

To save time on the second expo, since I was inundated with emails and phone calls before and after the first event, I created a 3-page website to answer questions from participants and attendees.

I knew people made money from affiliate marketing, so I threw a couple of links on that site on a “resources” page – things I knew would appeal to people in direct sales or who were looking for a business opportunity to start from home.

Lo and behold, after the expo was over, I logged in and discovered that I had made some money from those links! I had almost forgotten about them. It was a life-changing moment. I went on to create a few websites that made money from affiliate products. At one point I was supporting my family as a single mom.

8. EdenFried.com, by blogger Eden Fried

Hi Yuwanda,

Great to connect with you 🙂 I’d LOVE to contribute to your post if you’re still accepting people!! Let me know if you need anything else from me. I also would love to share this on social media when it’s live!

It took me about 3 months to make my first affiliate sale. I remember the day and time exactly… it felt like pure joy! A lot of people say that affiliate marketing is too hard and too competitive but, despite those ramblings, I went for it anyway and I’m so glad I did. Those first 90 days were tough and filled with grunt work.

I spent much of my time curating quality content and promoting it on social media. Honestly, I still spend a lot of time doing those tough tasks, but now I’ve built a strong foundation and the sales are coming in consistently. These days, I make around $500 in passive affiliate sales each month, in addition to my other blog revenue! I can’t complain. The long haul was worth it.

9. FITnancials.com, by blogger Alexis Schroeder

It took 2 days for me to get my first affiliate sale, although my first sale was through Amazon, which is probably the easiest way to get into affiliate marketing for a blog at any level.

It came naturally as I was talking about products I love and simply included a link with what I was talking about.

10. InkwellEditorial.com, by blogger Yuwanda Black

My first affiliate sale was somewhat of a family affair and it only took a few days at most. It was in December 2008. One of my sisters wrote a book on foreclosure cleaning. If you remember, foreclosures were big in the news from 2007 to about 2011/2012. The collapse of the financial — and hence, housing — industry flooded the market with foreclosures.

My sister started a business cleaning foreclosures in the Atlanta area. Because she still had a full-time job when she first started and I worked from home, I agreed to answer the phone for her. Well lo and behold, she was getting so many calls — many of them about how to start this type of business.

I told her to write a book and self-publish it. I’d been doing self-publishing since 2002 and knew that it would be a big seller based on the calls I was getting. After some hemming and hawing, she finally wrote the book and allowed me to be an affiliate for it.

I was her only affiliate — and made my first sale from her ebook.

How I Did It

I sold the book in several ways, eg:

Article Marketing: Back then, this was a huge form of marketing, especially from an SEO perspective. Nowadays article marketing is not advised, especially for search engine optimization purposes, but you know what is? Guest posting.

It’s all content marketing, but guest posting is the new-fangled version of article marketing.

Created a minisite: I created a website just for my sister’s ebooks and drove traffic to it from my article marketing efforts.

Published a blog: I blogged about foreclosures in general, and put my sister’s ebooks (she went on to write several others in that niche) on it.

Over the years, I’ve earned tens of thousands of dollars off of my sister’s products. We even co-authored one book together on the subject. And to this day, I still earn from her products. In fact, as I write this post today, I’ve earned almost $100 in affiliate commissions from her product line. That’s almost a decade later in case you missed it.

This has been my most successful affiliate relationship to date. As you can see, I went “all in” with it — ie, creating websites and blogs and writing articles on/about it.

The lesson: If you find a “hot product,” market the heck out of it!

I have several streams of income — freelance writing; self-publishing; ecourse development and affiliate marketing. My goal is to get a cache of 8 or 10 products that sell well like this, and to earn $10,000 per month — just in affiliate income — by year’s end.

That is why I took Michelle’s course. I knew that if I wanted to increase my affiliate earnings substantially, I needed to do something drastic. And when I saw her success, I said to myself, “If she can earn over $100,000 per month, surely I can do a tenth of that.

Right now, I’m focused not so much on sales, but on building traffic and then monetizing it. I hope to have all the fundamentals — eg, “bread and butter” affiliate products, tutorials, Pinterest on auto pilot, and a predictable blogging schedule, down by April or May.

Once that’s done, I plan to look for a few sponsors; get the affiliate marketing program for my latest e-course up and going; then kick my blogging into high gear in August/September in time to capitalize on the busy season come fall.

11. TheSheApproach.com, by blogger Ana

I ran across Ana’s post when I went on a search for more bloggers to contribute to this post. I emailed her asking to contribute, and she wrote back telling me to “Feel free to extract any bits of my blog post about it.” So that’s just what I did, as Ana had answered the questions I posed in her post.

On how long it took her to get that first sale — how about less than 2 days. She wrote: “Did it take 24 hours to make my affiliate sale? No. It took about 30 [hours].” The sale was of the ebook, How to Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours Using Pinterest.

As stated above, it took her 30 hours to make her first sale, and she did it by “devouring the ebook; taking three pages worth of notes, creating her own Pinterest strategy and implementing it right away.”

Publisher Note: Thanks Ana for letting me share your story here.

FYI, one of the things I loved the most about the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing e-course is the Pinterest strategy, as I discuss in my review. It really, really does work, as Ana’s success underscores.

12.  QCBlogger.com, by blogger Al Mamun

“I made my first affiliate sale after 363 days of blogging.” My thought when I read that quote from Al’s blog was, “Wow, talk about persistence!” This is EXACTLY why I wanted to write this post — to show that persistence and hard work does pay off.

In the linked-to post, Al details how he started his first blog in 2012. When that one didn’t go so well (he choice of niche didn’t pan out), he started another one in 2015. Within a few months of starting that, a family illness caused him to have to cease blogging for 6 months.

When that crisis ended, he started blogging again — and that’s why it took him almost a year to make his first affiliate sale, which was for a WordPress theme that he did a review for. His review landed in some top spots on Google and Bing.

FYI, that’s the power of knowing how to write properly SEO’d (search engine-optimized) content.

13.  ThePeachyRose.com, by blogger Dr. Kaitlyn Rose

Dr. Rose (PhD in pharmacy) had been blogging for two months before she got her first sale. She was about to give up when a sale came through — for a product she’d only been promoting for about 12 hours! By way of explanation, she wrote:

I started to see my hard work pay off in my second month of blogging when my [site] traffic started doubling in numbers. … but the unfortunate part was I still was not making any money.”

Dr. Rose wrote that she was about to give on in frustration, then, fortuitously, she ran across a pin that blared, “How To Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours Using Pinterest.” She clicked it out o fcuriousity, then found out what the “catch” was. The link was to a purchase page for a book by that name. Not wanting to make the purchase — after all ,she’s been blogging for a couple of months, but still ahdn’t made any money, she thought to herself “How’s this possible?”

Obviously intrigued, she made the purchase (the book was only $25), and following is what happened.

… when I saw that the ebook was only listed for $25, I thought the price was reasonable. “I purchased the ebook at 12:50 AM and my first transaction went through at 12:28 PM. (Barely less than 12 hours, but, hey, it counts!)”

What struck me about Dr. Rose’s experience was how affiliate marketing attracts everyone — from those with no degrees (but with strong work ethics), to those who are fully degreed (and pedigreed), but who want to do their own thing. Dr. Rose stated in that post that her mission was to earn what she earned as a pharmacist in a year — in one month in affilite marketing/blogging.

14.  TheDeadbeatStudent.com, by blogger Robert Piercy

Pastor Robert (yes, he’s a youth pastor in Arkansas), a total newbie to affiliate marketing until early 2017, got his first affiliate sale just over a month after starting. Using Dan Brock’s Deadbeat Super Affiliate system, Robert is investing his time building niche sites. He explains, writing:

I just made my first affiliate commission sale! … So I’m a little over a month into my affiliate empire building. … Right out of the gate I built 5 affiliate niche websites. … It’s been kinda tough getting that site to rank high enough to get Google traffic, but … After that, through talking with Dan, and through the direct access I get with Deadbeat University, I built 4 different sites around things that I like or am interested in.

So Robert’s on his way. He’s actively blogging about his journey, giving readers an blow-by-blow account of what he’s doing that’s working — and not working.

A Surefire Way to Make Money with Niche Blogs & Websites

FYI, building an authority niche blog is a great way to make money in affiliate marketing. One of the best ways to learn how to do this is via Authority Hacker.

The creators of the site founded a highly successful digital marketing (SEO)  agency in 2011, serving well-known clients like Macy’s, Tripadvisor, Atari and Evite.

They know what works online, and what doesn’t. They put that knowledge to use to build their own niche sites, giving you a front-row seat as they do so via in-depth case studies (like the one featured in the graphic here) that show you what’s working, why and how you can apply these principles to your own site.

15. Joleisa.com, by twin sister bloggers Jo and Leisa

It took these sisters a year to earn their first affiliate sale. Their earnings? $196.00 from selling an Elite Blog Academy course. As one described it:

“I literally screamed so loud that I shocked even myself! … It is hard to describe the feeling one gets when one makes the first money from blogging. … I have felt that feeling several times since then, but nothing compares to the first time when I actually did make some money from my blog. And this sale came less than one year after starting my blog!”

After giving up and feeling that it wasn’t possible to make money blogging, they hung in there. Learn more about how they landed that first affiliate sale here.

A Note about Promoting Ecourses

The sisters wrote of promoting courses as an affiliate:

Deciding to become an affiliate for the course I was doing was a no brainer for me. It meant that I didn’t have to spend the time making up a course, but I could actually advertise other peoples’ courses on my site and make a profit doing so.

As a course developer and promoter, I can say that on the face of of it, promoting can be easier than developing one. The upside of development though, is that once it’s done, have to do is keep it updated and it can earn you money for years. That’s the case with my SEO copywriter training course, which I’ve been teaching (and earning from) since 2009.

Course development is a natural off-shoot of my freelance writing business, and happens to be something I enjoy immensely. So give it a shot ifyou haven’t tried it before “writing it off” (pun fully intended). 🙂

Earn $160 per Sale!

Here are the affiliate details on one of my courses. You can earn almost $160/sale ($159.60). Feel free to contact me with an questions, interview requests, podcast requests, etc. I’m here to help your promotional efforts in any way I can.

16. Meetahmad.com, by blogger Muhammad Ahmad

In January 2016, Muhammad tried affiliate marketing for the first time. And what do you know, he made his first affiliate sale that month — earning $27. How did he do it? By promoting a Udemy course using Facebook ads. After setting up his Facebook ads campaign, Muhammad wrote:

I went sleep and had a couple of bloggy dreams. 🙂 I woke up and got excited to see five sales in the analytics! Still the campaign was running, and I started hoping for better results… Udemy offered 10% commission per sale, so I made sales of 270$ to make 27$.

Facebook ads can be very cheap to run and extremely effective. I used them to promote my line of romance ebooks and saw steady sales. Until …

Getting Your Facebook Ad Account Suspended

Be careful though — because you can get your accound banned from “boosting” posts (ie, paying for ads). It happened to me. After a year and a half, I’ve recently petitioned them again to lift my suspension. It’s been about three days, still haven’t heard anything — just wanted to put that warning out there.

17. ChantelArnett.com, by blogger Chantel Arnett

Publisher Note: Chantel was one of the original bloggers (of the group of 10) who had responded to my request for contributors. I inadvertently overlooked her (very helpful!) contribution, so here it is now.  She wrote:

Hi, Yuwanda!

Here is my submission for your round-up blog post. Thanks for including me. 🙂

It didn’t take long at all [2 months] to get my first affiliate sale once I promoted a product, but…

I did a lot of things to be ready for that first “promotion”. Before I ever even considered promoting an affiliate product, I started a blog, started a Facebook group, started growing an email list, learned about ways to monetize a blog and about affiliate marketing in particular.

More importantly, I committed myself to engaging authentically with others. My goal was not to make money, it was to be of service to others. I answered questions in other Facebook groups, not just my own. On many occasions, I even researched on my own to find answers when I didn’t already know them.

Only after I had done all of these things did I feel comfortable promoting a product as an affiliate. At that point, I felt like I had a good understanding of what types of products my audience would be genuinely interested in and that I could recommend a product without appearing spammy or sales-y.

All of that to say, this is what the timeline looked liked for me personally:

  • Spring of 2016 – started my first blog.
  • Summer of 2016 – started my Facebook group “Blogging with a Smile.”
  • Fall of 2016 – changed my blog niche.
  • September 2016 – posted the first blog post on my new blog chantelarnett.com.
  • November 2016 – made my first affiliate sale in November when I emailed my list to tell them about SiteGround’s Black Friday sale.

Making money as an affiliate marketer is not a get-rich-quick scheme. But it can be a rewarding way to monetize your blog if you know your audience, understand their interests and needs, and develop a relationship with them by engaging in meaningful ways.

18. TwinsMommy.com, by blogger Elna Cain

It took freelance writer — and mom to twins — Elna Cain, just four months to start making money in affiliate marketing from her blog. She wrote:

I started this blog a year ago, and within four months of starting, I was making money. But, it wasn’t a lot (around $20). But that didn’t matter! I did it! I made an income with my blog, and I was happy with that. For the next couple of months, I made some money, but it never topped over $50.

Even though her earnings weren’t that much, it fired Elna up to put together a legitimate strategy for making money with affiliate markting from her blog. Once she did this, she saw an almost immediate increase in income — earning $200 a month after solidifying her plan.

What’s Your Affiliate Marketing Plan?

Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Lessons from These Affiliate Marketers

Niche: As you can see, you can earn money in almost any niche — if you get enough traffic and monetize your site.

Traffic: Speaking of traffic, focus on this after you decide on your niche, then monetize after you reach a certain level.

Plan to Win! Create a plan — a roadmap, if you will — for how you’re going to make money as an affiliate marketer. Like any other business, affiliate marekting requires this kind of attention to detail.

Time: It needn’t take years to start earning really good money. As long as you have traffic (which is why this should dominate your efforts in the beginning of your affiliate marketing career; that and growing your subscriber list), you can find a way to monetize it.

Note: My big traffic driver these days is Pinterest. Learn how I started getting thousands of page views per month to this blog using Pinterest in just 10 to 15 minutes per day, without using any social media automation tools.

Conclusion

I hope the insights shared here will help you see that affiliate marketing is a wonderful way to make a living online. But, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. And, if you accept that right from the start, you’ll be more patient with yourself and likely have success in the long run.

Whenever I get frustrated with some aspect of my affiliate marketing career, I always say to myself, “Think about where you’ll be a year from now if you keep at it.

Every new newsletter subscriber, Facebook group member, tutorial you complete, etc., gets you closer to whatever your affiliate marketing goals are. The small wins especially count because they are what keep you motivated.

It’s rare — especially in the beginning — that you’ll get a big affiliate sale every day (or even a little one). But finally figuring out that plugin, or going from 30 to 75 page views per day on Pinterest — those are the small wins that lead to big wins down the line.

So celebrate them with all the fervor you do the big wins, and before long, you’ll be bringing in the big bucks — and marveling that you make a living doing something you love, from anywhere you please. … And FYI, right now for me, that’s Jamaica! 🙂

P.S.: Don’t Forget to Share How You Got Your First Affiliate Sale.

This site is growing and gets pretty good link juice from search engines (eg, Google), so it’ll be a great backlink / traffic driver to your blog. Click here to share your story — and drive traffic to your site/blog. And thanks!

Read my in-depth review of Michelle’s course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

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    Comments

    1. Thank you so much for putting this together. There is so much valuable information that I’ll keep revisiting 🙂

    2. Thanks for featuring my story of my New Year’s Eve surprise affiliate income! So many persons have been inspired by it!
      All the very best Yuwanda.

    3. Thank you so much for featuring us. Affiliate Marketing is definitely the route to go.

      I would love to be earning a consistent income of $5000 per month by the end of this year! Is is doable? Oh yes it is.

      Divine
      http://www.ladiesmakemoney.com

    4. Hey Yuwanda,

      Eye-opening and inspiring post. Like most people online, I’ve long dreamed of earning money through affiliate sales. But where to start?

      There’s so much information out there (and a ton of it is sketchy) it can be overwhelming.

      So it’s helpful to hear how “real” people are forging ahead with this whole affiliate thing.

      I’m looking forward to following along with your affiliate marketing journey this year. Who knows? Maybe I’ll finally get into the game myself!
      T Paul Buzan recently posted…JAH 15: Kate Toon & Belinda Weaver On How To Become A Freelance CopywriterMy Profile

      • Do Paul! Affiliate marketing is awesome – and you’re right, it can be overwhelming b/c it can be hard to know who to trust, but it’s a wonderful way to make money online — esp when you’re promoting products/services you are proud of. Let me know if you have any questions. There’s a lot I don’t know … and a lot I do. For what I don’t know, I can find the answer for you.

        Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, and good luck if you decide to jump into the affiliate marketing waters. 🙂

    5. Yes, this is so inspiring to read, and you’re right, you can do this in virtually any niche. Thanks so much for including me and inspiring me. My goal is to reach $5,000/month by end of year and then double that the following year. We’ll see if it’s possible.

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    1. […] first affiliate income. I shared my experience along with 9 other bloggers at Inkwell Editorial: 10 Affiliate Marketers Reveal How Long It Took to Get Their First Sale & How They Did It (I’m #4 on the […]

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