Earning $10,000/Mo in Affiliate Marketing: 10 Things I Learned during My Year-Long Quest

I’ve been dibbling and dabbling in affiliate marketing since 2008. And I’ve done ok for not knowing squat; just being honest. Proof? One month, I earned $900 in one day. I won’t say that was when the bug hit me, but I definitely thought, “Hmmm, there’s something to this affiliate marketing thing. Maybe I can earn $10k/month from home doing this.

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

How I Earned $900 in One Day in Affiliate Marketing

I was an affiliate for a product one of my sisters created. It was an ebook on foreclosures. Remember how hot that niche was back in 2008, 2009, 2010? As I recount in the free ebook you receive when you subscribe, because it was a hot niche and I was my sister’s only affiliate, I made some really good money during those years.

But my success was somewhat of a fluke. I realized I got lucky – with a hot product and an amazing opportunity (being my sister’s only affiliate). That was unlikely to ever happen again, so I decided to get serious about affiliate marketing in 2017, which is why I took the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing ecourse in December of 2016.

What I had been doing – for years – wasn’t yielding the results I wanted. I’ve been chasing the $10,000 per month mark just in affiliate marketing income for a few years now. And, I failed miserably at achieving it – until 2017. This leads me to the guts of this post.

What I Learned Trying to Earn $10,000/Month from Home in Affiliate MarketingEarning $10,000/Month in AFfiliate Marketing: 10 Lessons I Learned On My Journey

I’ve learned some hard lessons chasing that “Make $10,000 per month from home” (doing one thing) goal. Following are the top 10. I hope they help you reach this milestone.

1. Invest in Knowledge

Affiliate marketing is a broad niche. There is so much to learn that it’s mind-boggling. I mean, literally “eyes glaze over, I don’t know what to do next, I want my mommy” head-spinning stuff!

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mean it’s hard. I just mean that there’s sooooo much to learn. That’s why I finally decided to break down and admit that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. After all, I’d had success before. I’m a Type-A personality dammit! When I set a goal, I usually achieve it.

When I decided I wanted to run my first full marathon (26.2 miles in case you didn’t know) – at 40 years old no less – I did it.

When I decided I wanted to pick up and move from the states to work from a Caribbean island (Jamaica), I did it.

When I wanted to make a full-time living as a freelance, online writer, I did it.

When I set a goal to upload 50 ebooks to Amazon in one year, I did it.

So my thinking was, “WTH! Why can’t I crack this affiliate marketing nut?” I’ve have some $100, $200 and even some $300 and $400 days, but they’ve never been consistent.

That’s when I knew I needed to do something different. So I invested in the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing ecourse. It opened doors I didn’t even know were there.

The best part of that course is the private Facebook group. Any time you have ANY question about affiliate marketing, you can just pop in, ask it and usually within a few minutes have detailed answers to your question(s).
It’s like having an on-call affiliate marketing coach at your beck and call. And I didn’t even realize this when I purchased the course. What goes on in that group is life-changing.

Why this course? You can read my in-depth review of it here for some insights. But the main thing was, Michelle, the course creator, earns over $100,000 – per month as an affiliate marketer. She’s been doing this for years and only started blogging in 2011, not even monetizing her blog until 2013. So for me, this was huge!

I was like, “If she can earn over $100,000 per month, surely I can learn enough to get to the $10,000 per month mark.”

Investing in that course was, hands down, the #1 thing I did to make inroads into my $10,000 per month affiliate markeitng earnings goal.

2. Sort What You Learn

As I said, in the Making Sense of Affiliate MarketingFacebook group, a lot of knowledge is dispensed. This can either get you very discouraged, or make you very encouraged.

One way not to get discouraged is NOT to compare yourself to others. Not every success story should or will be yours simply because the knowledge dispensed may not be applicable to your affiliate marketing business. So you have to, in essence, learn how to sort trough the treasure trove of info you find in that group – or any info you run across in your research about affiliate marketing for that matter.

For example, a lot of the affiliate marketers in Michelle’s group are personal finance bloggers. Those kinds of blogs are much easier to monetize than mine, which is about how to make money writing (eg, freelance writing, self-publishing, blogging, etc.).

Hence, a lot of the opportunities that can skyrocket blog earnings available to personal finance bloggers won’t be available to me. So when I see advice about how to increase earnings by X, or that this affiliate program is great for bloggers, the first question that goes through my mind is, “Is this applicable to my niche?

If it’s not, I dismiss it. But if it is, I dig in to learn more, which brings me to my next tip.

How to Make Money BloggingIn this in-depth post, you’ll learn:

**Why niche is important;
**5 high-profit niches and sub-niches;
**11 free ways to start getting traffic to a brand-new blog;
**The truth about how many page views you need to monetize a blog;
**6 time-tested ways to monetize a blog;
**The #1 thing you must know to make money blogging;
**Whether or not you should create your own products and services;
**The pros and cons of starting your own affiliate program; and


3. Know What to Implement

I think every blogger under the planet is guilty of this – reading and researching, but not implementing. I think the reason is, there is so much great info out there that it causes paralysis analysis. What should you do first? Why? What’s the best way to get started? Will you be missing out on Y by doing X?

Again, another “I want my mommy!” moment.

So what I did was stop the paralysis analysis. I focused on implementing when I came across something that resonated, or that I knew would take my affiliate earnings to the next level.

For example, one of the things I learned from the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing ecourse is that once your blog reaches a certain traffic level (eg, 25,000 page views per month), you can apply to ad networks like Mediavine. Why is this important?

Well, they’re like Google AdSense in that they’ll place ads on your site that you can earn from. Only, you can earn a lot more than what Google pays.

I was like, “What?! So this is how some bloggers start earning $2,000, $3,000, or $5,000 per month or more just six months after starting to blog.”

When I learned that, the first thing I did was set up Google Analytics on my blog. Why? So I could see exactly what my traffic was and where it was coming from. That way, when I reached the magic traffic mark, I could apply to an ad network. This brings me to my next tip.

4. Know When to Implement

As I said above, it can be hard to know what to do first because there is sooooo much info out there. So you must prioritize, and the question I ask myself that helps me to prioritize is, “How will this help me reach my earnings goal?

The answer helps me clarify where I am and where I’m trying to go. For example, two things I did in 2017 was install Google Analytics on my site, as mentioned above, and I also hired a part-time Content Manager (who will start in January 2018).

I installed Google Analytics first because in order to increase traffic, I needed to know where my traffic was coming from. This was the most important thing because not only does Google Analytics tell me where my site traffic is coming from, it tells me which pages are the most popular on my site, how much traffic the site is getting overall, how many pages each visitor is accessing on average, and a host of other factors.

All of this info can be used to create even more engaging content.

I hired a part-time Content Manager to help me proofread posts, create graphics for them and upload and schedule them in WordPress. This saves me time.

But see how installing Google Analytics was the most important task? While my business has progressed to the point where hiring a Content Manager is critical, if I didn’t know what kind of content my readers are interested in (which Google Analytics tells me), having someone help me proof and upload it is kinda pointless, no?

So prioritize the things you want to implement. And asking the “How will this help me reach my earnings goal?” question will help you see where you are in your affiliate marketing business at any given time. Obviously, what you need to do – and when – will change as your affiliate marketing business grows. And it will grow because you make the right moves at the right time.

5. Invest in the Right Tools at the Right Time

You can’t make real money in affiliate marketing without spending money. You just can’t. Yeah, you can luck up and make a few dollars (some good money) here and there. But it won’t be consistent. For years, I did it that way, and I believe that’s why my earnings stagnated too.

But once I started to invest in the right tools for my business, my earnings started to increase. And the wonderful thing about affiliate marketing is, the tools we need don’t cost a lot compared to many other kinds of businesses, where it can cost thousands just to get off the ground.

Following are some of the most important tools I suggest every new affiliate marketer start with, in order of importance.

Web Hosting: You need your own, independently hosted website. No freebie sites like blogger or Wix. If you’re serious about making money in affiliate marketing and don’t want to spend the $3 to $10 per month it costs to get a professionally hosted site, don’t start this biz. You’re not serious enough about it yet.

Following are three web hosting companies I use and/or recommend: HostGator (here’s why). I also have some sites hosted with Bluehost. And many rave about A2 Hosting.

Domain Name: Choose wisely, and here’s why you shouldn’t register it with your host company.

List Management Company: Start building your email list from day one. It’s the foundation of every successful affiliate marketer’s business.

Tailwind: If you want to start getting traffic to a new blog, Pinterest is one of the fastest, easiest ways to do it. This is a Pinterest scheduling tool that will help you automate the pinning process, so you free up time to spend on other things (eg, writing and promoting content).

Click here to get started with Tailwind for free.

Boardbooster: This is another Pinterest pinning tool. Some only use this or Tailwind, but most successful Pinterest users use both – Tailwind to schedule the content of other bloggers, and Boardbooster to schedule their own content.

The most valuable thing about Boardbooster is the looping feature. Looping is an ingenious feature that helps you levrage traffic from Pinterest. How? It automatically re-pin pins. When you loop pins, Boardbooster will repin your oldest pins to the same board they’re already on. And, it even goes a step further. It removes duplicates; deleting whichever of the two pins that has less engagement (the original or the re-pinned pin).

This keeps your boards clean and free of duplicates (which a lot of board owners don’t like, for obvious reasons).

Get a free month of Boardbooster when you subscribe via this, my affiliate link.

Keyword research tool: One of the most common complaints I hear in the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Facebook group is “I wish I’d started doing SEO when I first started my blog.”

I’m a SEO writer by trade, so I know the importance of SEO. Writing blog posts without knowing SEO is like driving without a map. Sure, you’ll arrive at a destination – eventually – but will it be where you wanted to go?

If you’re serious about making money in affiliate marketing – especially earing five figures or more per month – you need to learn how to effectively do keyword research.

Keyword research tools can be expensive. Sure, you can use Google’s Keyword Research Tool, but since it started reporting data in ranges instead of specifics, it’s practically useless in my opinion.

FYI, here’s one affordable, highly effective keyword research tool you can invest in.

What Is SEO?

In case you don’t know, here’s what it is, and why it’s important for you to know it as an affiliate marketer.

6. Get a Cache of Products

I’ve read where some affiliate marketers advise promoting hundreds of products, and some others say only promote a few. There is no right or wrong answer by the way. Again, every affiliate marketer’s business is different. So, harking back to Tip #2 here, sort through the advice. Does it work for you? Your niche? The way you do business?

Affiliate Marketing Advice for Newbies: How to Beat Procrastination & Build a High-Earning Blog

I belong to about 20 affiliate programs, but there are a cache of about 6 or 7 that I promote heavily. It’s because they offer a plethora of benefits for my readers (my target market); I use them and/or the product developers are well-known and trusted online; and they are a natural fit with some of my own products, making it easy to cross-promote.

You can’t just throw up a link in affiliate marketing and make money. It takes time to effectively promote a product. So for me, I keep my main cache of products and services small because my time is limited, and I spend the bulk of my time promoting my own products.

Note: Here are the products and services I use and promote the most.

7. Write Foundational Content

Once you find products you like that will benefit your entire audience (eg, web hosting, list management service), write pillar posts for them. The reason is, this is evergreen content that provides answers many of your prospective buyers will want to know.

Following are three examples of this kind of content.

8. Learn How to Drive Traffic

One of the things I learned in the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing ecourse is how great Pinterest is at driving site traffic. I was blown away and immediately started investing time in using it. As an aside, I’ve had a Pinterewt account for years, but rarely used it until I learned about it’s effectiveness in driving traffic in Michelle’s course. But, I digress.

Traffic is the lifeblood of making money in affiliate marketing simply because more (targeted) site visitors usually mean more sales. Without traffic, practically nothing happens.

One thing I want to warn against here is tgat everybody has a “best” way to drive traffic. While there are tried-and-true things that do work, eg, guest posting, just because it worked for one blogger/affiliate marketer doesn’t mean it’s the best way for you to grow your site traffic.

One thing I can tell you though is – invest in learning how to do keyword research and how to write SEO content. These are musts for any long-range, traffic-generating blog marketing plan. Accept it and learn to do it from the start. You’ll be so happy you did.

4 Things You Need to Increase Your Site Traffic

Also, avoid anything that seems to be too good to be true. There are a lot of schemers and scammers in the SEO world. Avoid them like the plague or you could lose years of work if Google catches you and de-indexes your site(s).

Generating site traffic is not hard, but it does take time. So be patient – and consistent. If you:

(i) create informative content;
(ii) for a targeted audience;
(iii) consistently; and
(iv) market/promote that content …

You will grow your site’s traffic. I practically guarantee it.

9. Create Your Own Products

I earn most of my money as an affiliate marketer from products and services I create, eg, my ebooks and ecourses. You certainly don’t have to do this. There are many successful affiliate marketers who never do. But if it’s something that appeals to you, just know, it’s fun — and it can give you more control over your earnings.

I think the reason I earn more with my own products is: I know them better than anyone else, so can explain the benefits better; I’m passionate about them and that comes through when I write/talk about them; and I can create better marketing materials (eg, case studies).

FYI, Michelle, the creator of the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing ecourse, earned over $400,000 in one year from that course (yeah, it’s that good!). And it’s an evergreen course that she consistently updates.

So even if creating your own affiliate product is not on your radar now, just file that knowledge away for future use, ok?

10. Know What to Outsource

After I had success promoting my sister’s ebook on foreclosures, I set up my own affiliate program via e-Junkie for my own ebooks. I did ok with it, but shut it down (after three years) because I realized that the effort I was pouring into running it could be better spent in other ways, ie, creating new products.

Nowadays, I outsource my affiliate programs. I have one book on Clickbank that has done well there for years. For my ecourses, in April of 2017, I put them on Teachable. All of the back-end responsibilities are taken care of by them, eg, paying affiliates.

As a rule, I’d say look to outsource first. Why? Because there are so many duties you will have as an affiliate marketer. And if you keep taking on one more thing and one more thing and one more thing, before you know it, you won’t be doing anything very well because you’ll be exhausted as heck all the time.

You can’t do it all – and you shouldn’t even try. Even if you can’t afford to hire a full-or part time virtual assistant (VA), social media consultant, admin assistant, etc. now, just know, via sites like Fiverr, you can find amazing, affordable help for individual projects until you can get to that point.

I assume you’re attracted to affiliate marketing because you want to build an online business that is as hands-off as possible, right? If you get in the habit of outsourcing as much as possible right from the start, this mindset will become a natural part of how you operate.

It’s one I wished I’d cultivated much earlier. I’d be a lot further along with my affiliate marketing income goals, which brings me to that – my earnings.

My Affiliate Marketing Earnings

They’re still inconsistent. Some months, I earn $1,000 to $1,500; other months, it’s $100 to $200. Most of my earnings come from my ecourse sales. I have a couple of affiliates who hit it out of the park some months, so that’s why.

Looking at my numbers, you might conclude that I failed in my quest to earn $10,000 per month from home as an affiliate marketer. But I don’t consider this year a failure at all. One reason is, I have other income streams, so it wasn’t a “make or break” kinda thing.

But the main reason is … 2017 was a huge learning curve. I went into the year thinking that I already knew a lot and that with a bit more knowledge, I’d be able to knock it out of the park. Boy was I wrong! I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Most Important Lesson I Learned as an Affiliate Marketer in 2017

What I learned was just how much I didn’t know. And I took steps to dig in and learn even more, and implement, and outsource, and create even more products.

I created two new evergreen ecourses in 2017: the one on romance writing and the one on how to create your first online course). I have at least one more coming up in 2018 (maybe two). This will help with future earnings.

I also got acquainted with some influential bloggers in my niche, which lead to increased earnings and online recognition for my site (and products). I guest posted on their blogs and interacted in their groups on FB. I plan to do more outreach like this next year to heighten awareness of my brand even more.

The bottom line: All of the strides I made this year take time to gel and start paying dividends. When I look back, what I realize is that what I did in 2017 was lay a foundation – and foundation I thought I already had in place.

Will I reach my “Make $10,000 per month from home as an affiliate marketer” goal in 2018? I’m definitely shooting for it, and will report back the same time a year from now to let you know how it all panned out.

What’s Your Affiliate Marketing Income Goal?

Do you have one? If not, you should. I’m a big believer in setting goals. Here’s why.

P.S.: How other affiliate marketers got their first sale & how long it took.

P.P.S.: Find Thousands of Money-Making Products & Services to Promote.

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    1. Wowee, Yuwanda! What a brilliant post, jam-packed with sooo much info! Thank you for sharing so much info, you gave more in your post than most people put in an e-book (and I didn’t even click on all your internal links). I have been meaning to buy Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing for a while. I just have some other course commitments to uphold first. So pleased I discovered you (on Pinterest by the way). I look forward to reading more of your posts.

      • Ahhhh, thank you Lauren. I do tend to “overshare.” There’s so much mis-information out there that I like to try to be as open and honest as I can so ppl really know what they’re in for. Glad you appreciated the post, and if you get a chance to take Michelle’s course, do so. It’s worth its weight in gold if you want to make a serious go of affiliate marketing.

        Hope the New Year has started off wonderfully for you, and continued success. 🙂

    2. Knowledge is the biggest thing in all type of marketing.

    3. Love this post Yuwanda! I mentioned a couple posts ago that I’m focusing heavily on affiliate marketing this coming year. I’ve had a website up for about 2 1/2 years, and I have a private affiliate relationship for a service with a very high commission – $5k to $10k (sometimes more) per sale.

      This is a unique situation, and I’ve made some sales, but it’s been sporadic. In 2018, I’m hoping to move from sporadic to consistent. Seems like this “Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing” course could help, I may have to pick that up. I am also looking to add some smaller ticket products to my site to help on the consistency side, so this course could have some answers for me.

      As always, thanks for the wealth of information Yuwanda! And Happy New Year!!

      • Happy New Year to you and the family too Paul.

        I do erember you saying you were getting more into affilaite marketing — I even remember when you asked me a few years about placing ads on BP for an affiliate program you were with / thinking about joining. Glad to hear you’re sticking with it.

        As for the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, I can’t recommend it enough — and again, it’s b/c of the FB group. It’s truly is like having an on-call affiliate marketing coach. I’ve learned TONS (there’s so much I didn’t know).

        Again, Happy New Year to you and the family. May it be your best year yet (spiritually and financially). 🙂

    4. Thank you for mentioning Mediavine in your post. We’re here to help publishers monetize through passive income. Hit us up at publishers@mediavine.com with any questions.

      • Jenny you guys are on my radar in 2018, believe me! Can’t wait. I want to do some things to my blog first so that when I do apply, it’ll be a win/win for both of us. FYI, if you guys want a guest post (even though I’m not a part of your network yet), I’d love to do one. As you can see from this post, I have A LOT of info to share. 🙂

        Here’s to a prosperous 2018.

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