Is Affiliate Marketing A Waste Of Time? Beginner’s Guide

When I started affiliate marketing several years ago, I felt frustrated by not getting instant results. I made no money in my first two months, which felt like a loss on my end. So is affiliate marketing a waste of time?

No, it’s not because even though it’s one of the best ways to make money online, it takes significant time and effort to see results.

It’s something to be consistent with through regular content creation. Along with that, knowing where to distribute your content through the right channels helps as well. That includes an email list and social media pages.

In this article, I will briefly discuss why affiliate marketing is still an effective method to build an online business. Also, I will lay out five reasons why affiliate marketing is worth your effort and time.

Note: We may include products or services that will be helpful to our readers. This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please review the affiliate disclosure page.
  1. Is Affiliate Marketing A Waste Of Time In 2023?
  2. You Need To Learn How It Works
  3. You Need To Provide Value Before Receiving Money
  4. You Can Make Money Through Free Methods
  5. There Are Plenty Of Affiliate Programs To Join
  6. You’re Working To NOT Earn Today- But In The Future
Is affiliate marketing a waste of time? This post will go over some reasons why affiliate marketing is worth your time.

Is affiliate marketing a waste of time in 2023?

Going forward, affiliate marketing continues to be increasing in popularity. The numbers keep going up. 

Here are some statistics to put out there:

  • Affiliate marketing spending will be around $13 billion in 2023- up from $8.2 billion in 2022
  • The internet marketing industry value is $17 billion in 2023
  • 80% of brands have affiliate programs
  • 83% of marketers use affiliate marketing to raise brand awareness
  • Blogs and review sites are the biggest places for affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is still relevant and continues to be leveraged by businesses. It will continue to be around for a long time.

Is affiliate marketing a waste of time?

No, it’s not a waste of time. Besides being one of the best ways to get started with making money online, it requires a lot of time and effort to see results.

That can come through regular content creation and distribution through the proper channels. These include email lists, social media, and search results.

Is affiliate marketing a waste of time? This graph lays out five reasons why affiliate marketing is not a waste of time.

Reasons why affiliate marketing is not a waste of time

You need to learn how it works

Learning anything new takes time to master. Acquiring a rare, specialized skill can be valuable and pay off dearly. 

If that’s copywriting or learning how to edit professional videos, those can be worthwhile to master over time. Learning how to do it the right way is key to seeing actual results.

Let’s bring up content marketing, for instance. Instead of just posting links on a website or social media, there’s a lot more that needs to be put in to see the results.

If that’s interacting with users or having high engagement on a platform, that can help with getting more users to your website. There’s much more to it than people might think because it takes time and effort to do it correctly.

My start

When I started building a website and learned affiliate marketing, I thought just posting links on the website would be good enough. 

Little did I find out later that I was dead wrong. Posting links is not enough, and I knew I had to do it the right way to get traffic to my website.

It’s certainly not easy, and I learned it the hard way back then. But now, I know what works well and what does not. 

You need to provide value before receiving money

A key part of doing business is by helping others. That is, helping others solve their problems.

For any business, it’s all about solving problems for your customers. Your job is to provide the solution to someone’s problem. 

If you create content that’s helpful and well-received, you’ve done your job effectively. That can be through an article on your website, a video, or something you share on your social media pages.

Is affiliate marketing a waste of time? Providing value should be first and foremost.

It’s good to not say up front: “I got a wonderful product that will instantly solve your problem. Please try it out, thanks!”

Saying something such as that will not be enough. You need to elaborate and explain why it will help solve their problem. That’s where providing the value component comes in.

A relevant article from

Read next on “Why Providing Value Is Important: 3 Reasons For Business“, to learn about applying value in any business.

You can make money through free methods

When you’re just starting out, it’s best to use free methods to get traffic to your website. Especially for beginners, I don’t recommend using paid methods when starting out.

Some methods include pay-per-click, social media ads, or even paying for landing pages. These methods can work, but you can end up wasting a lot of money if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Is affiliate marketing a waste of time? It's best to use free methods to acquire website traffic when starting out.

Going off the first point, it’s best to learn how to acquire organic traffic first. Once you know how to do that, it’ll give you a better understanding of what works or not. 

Not only that- if you make revenue through organic traffic, you can put some money aside to make a little budget for ad spending. So make money first through free traffic, then put some aside for paid traffic.

Best sources for organic reach

In my experience, the best places to acquire organic traffic are Google and YouTube. By using search engine optimization (SEO), these two sources are the biggest ones for most of your organic traffic.

Keep in mind that Google is the most-used search engine on the internet. With most people finding their information through search, their first place to go is Google.

Also, YouTube is one to not ignore as well. YouTube is considered the second largest source of organic traffic behind Google. 

Along with that, YouTube is the largest video-sharing platform in the world, and the second-largest social media network (behind Instagram).

Is it worth to do affiliate marketing?

Yes, because there are more opportunities today than ever to take advantage of in the online space. Although it’s not easy to succeed overnight, it’s possible to be a thriving affiliate marketer by creating helpful, valuable content for users.

My results

I’ve seen amazing results by using Google and YouTube for organic reach. More so, what I’ve been doing with ranking content on Google works.

Most recently, I started getting into YouTube about three months ago. The channel has a long way to go, but it’s making progress. 

I will go over more about doing YouTube in future posts, including what I’ve done on what works the best.

A relevant article from

Read next on “How Can I Find Keywords For My Website? Free 5-Step Guide“, to learn how to find the best keywords on Google- for free. Learn the most effective approach to find user-generated content and rank on page one of Google.

There are plenty of affiliate programs to join

Some people don’t realize how many affiliate programs exist today. Currently, there are 11,400 affiliate programs in the United States alone. 

One affiliate network, Shaeasale, has around 5,594 programs (half of those are in the U.S.). More programs exist, even in other networks such as ClickBank, Commission Junction, and Rakuten Marketing.

With that, there are plenty of opportunities to join programs that can earn you revenue. Whatever niche you go into, it’s certain you can find affiliate programs to join and promote within your online business.

Are affiliate marketing programs a waste of time?

No, not at all. With more than 11,000 active programs in the US alone, it creates many opportunities to make money and grow an online business.

Not all programs can make you high commissions. But those programs with high-ticket commissions can earn you substantial revenue in the long run.

You’re working to earn NOT today- But in the future

Most people want to make money right now; however, it doesn’t work that way in business. As much as instant gratification is desired, it’s not easy achieving that in business.

When starting out in affiliate marketing, you need to ditch the idea of making money right away. Instead, it’s best to get in the mindset of building for the future.

Is affiliate marketing a waste of time? There are plenty of opportunities to join affiliate programs today.

Think about the long-term strategy- not short-term thinking

The work you put in today can pay off massively down the road. Sure, it’s hard to think like that if you’re looking to make money now. 

To be realistic, it may take a few years to see great results come in. Sticking to it for at least one-two years may be a long time, but it’s worth the wait.

So start thinking about what can happen in the long run. The dividends will not come right away, but they can be huge someday. 

Affiliate marketing is a long-term business- one that needs commitment and consistency to get the results you want. In essence, you’re building a great future for yourself and your business down the road.

Final Words

If you’re willing to do the work and make time, affiliate marketing is not a waste of time. The key point to take away is the following: It’s all about creating content that is helpful to others. 

Being consistent with it and sharing it is part of the process of building an online business. That’s how affiliate marketing works most of the time. 

If you’re a long-term thinker, this route is best suited for you. If you can put in the time now and wait to earn the rewards down the road, you’ll do very well in affiliate marketing.

Your Turn: Do you think affiliate marketing is a waste of time?

I would like to get your thoughts on this topic. Do you find affiliate marketing to be a great method of making money?

Have you tried affiliate marketing before, but not had much success? What do you think went wrong, or you may have done better?

Which of the reasons do you find affiliate marketing worth going into? Do you see the opportunities that exist with all of the programs and networks to take advantage of?

Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your responses, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.

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Eric is the owner and chief editor of 

He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. 

Eric is a firm believer in financial and time freedom, as he believes in financial independence and taking ownership of your time. 

“Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” 

In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. 

You can also connect with Eric via LinkedIn.

Self Photo 2019: Here's a picture at a building in downtown Chicago.

8 thoughts on “Is Affiliate Marketing A Waste Of Time? Beginner’s Guide”

  1. When I think of it the way you explain it, Eric, it sort of sounds like building a website through affiliate marketing is like a job interview. Where you actually have to demonstrate how to perform the job before the position is given to you. 

    From the standpoint of the website builder, this may seem like a major commitment without having any promise of a future payday, when you’ll be rewarded for all your hard work.

    The key is value because if you are providing valuable content then you can and should have confidence you will be paid for your work. 

    Sort of like the old Field of Dreams movie, “if you build it they will come…”

    • Hi Joseph,

      Your analogy is spot on- I like the process of getting a job. Building a website can feel like having a job interview, but at the same time, you still have to demonstrate your knowledge.

      There are things you need to learn first before seeing a website make money. Similar to a job interview, it’s your opportunity to showcase your talent and skills to get the job.

      The idea of working to get paid tomorrow is not appealing to many people. But thinking of the long-term picture, it’s well worth going down that path to success.

      Yes, value comes first and foremost. If you can provide value first, other factors such as commissions will naturally come later on.

      Thank you very much for sharing your wonderful insights- I cannot tell you how much I appreciate what you have to say.

  2. Hey Eric! Great article, you actually addressed a lot of questions that I had.  For instance, am I doing this right?!  

    I think Affiliate marketing has the potential to be a great source of income.  I do see now, that it does take a lot of time, and the more that you put into it the more you will get back from it.  

    I do know what it’s like to feel the desire to see instant gratification right now.  You want to reap the rewards of your hard work so far, but I’ve come to realize that it just takes time.

    Getting traffic to your websites is hard and I’m still trying to figure everything out.  

    I really appreciated your article.  Thank you for sharing.  

    • Hi Jenny,

      Affiliate marketing takes lots of time and effort to reap the rewards down the road. They may not come right away, but that’s part of the process.

      I agree with you on the point of putting more time into it now. Once you get into that habit, you’ll notice that you’ll get more back in return for your time.

      It’s not easy to achieve things such as traffic to your website. Anyone can do paid traffic, but acquiring organic traffic is a skill to learn and master over time.

      When you take the initiative to learn a skill such as SEO, you’re setting yourself up for success later on. If you can bring organic traffic to your website, that’ll make you even more valuable as well.

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts- I greatly appreciate them.

  3. Very well put together article with information for everyone. Thank you.  

    I have owned a Network Marketing business for over twenty-five years that pays me very well.  I realized about a year ago that I actually do much of my business as an affiliate marketer.  

    But, I had no real internet training. I found WA and now am concentrating on expanding my other business through this system.  

    Affiliate marketing in its many forms is definitely not a waste of time! I look forward to more of your posts!

    • Hi Phil,

      That’s good you have that knowledge as an affiliate marketer. The training offered at WA makes your situation even better.

      Yes, when you put the time and effort into doing the work, affiliate marketing can work. It can bring many dividends that you may be waiting for a long time. 

      As I’ve mentioned before, it can take months or years to see the payoffs come in. But it’s well worth waiting if you’re patient and persevere at it.

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts- they’re much appreciated.

  4. It is really obvious you have put a lot of work into your business. I like the fact that you focus not only on affiliate marketing in general (as well as Wealthy Affiliate) but also on mindset. 

    I appreciate your honesty about affiliate marketing. I have only been doing this for about 3 months, and it is frustrating at times- especially in the immediate gratification society. 

    I also like the way you have laid out your website and the way you highlight certain things in eye-grabbing colors. 

    I also like the way you are integrating your Youtube channel into your model. I need to do that more. 

    All-in-all, I think your website and content are very useful for someone interested in learning about Wealthy Affiliate without sugarcoating it. I hope you are seeing improvement in the financial rewards.

    • Hi Patrick,

      When you’re only doing something for a short period of time, it’s common to feel frustrated. When things are not going well on your end, it can be easy to throw your arms up and call it quits.

      It’s not easy these days, especially with a lot of people wanting quick solutions to their problems. That’s because it’s true that it takes time and effort to see all of your work pay off- no doubt.

      I appreciate your comments on what I’m doing in my business. What I’ve learned over the past few years mostly came from what I was taught at Wealthy Affiliate.

      Wealthy Affiliate is a great platform to learn affiliate marketing, especially for beginners. Their updated free starter account is much clearer and easy to understand.

      Anyone has the opportunity to start their own online business. It may take time and effort, but they can see their businesses succeed in the long run.

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. I greatly appreciate what you have to say- all the best in your online business ventures.


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