Affiliate Marketing has been touted as a way to make money fast – without the bother of needing your own product. It’s indeed possible to make money with affiliate marketing, and there are a few rare affiliate programs where the money, IF earned, appears quickly. However, they are the exception rather than the rule. More often than not, the money appears after a significant time lag.
At Clickbank, for example, the number one affiliate program for downloadable products, the money is sent out two weeks after the end of each accounting period of which there used to be two per month, though they have just been changed to every other week. Most of the others have similar rules, with some taking even longer, up to “the beginning of the month after the month after the month during which the purchase was made.”
In addition, most programs also have minimums that have to be reached before you get anything at all. Of course if you have earned just pennies, the delay won’t make much of a difference. Clickbank has an additional rule for new accounts, which can cause significant delays.
They require that payments have to be made with several different credit cards, including at least one Mastercard and one Visa. Since most people pay with PayPal, it can take a while until those conditions are met and the money finally arrives. That’s not mentioned anywhere in the assorted affiliate marketing literature. Even MyHelpHub.com, which somebody had touted as a much faster-paying program, doesn’t pay more quickly. Maybe they used to, but by the time I got to them, they had clearly adjusted to market conventions.
A few affiliate programs do pay more quickly, but those have turned out to be extremely competitive. I had been counting on my one quick-pay affiliate program to deliver fast cashflow so I could pay my bills, yet it took months until I made my first sale in spite of making it the main focus of all my advertising campaigns. It may pay fast in theory, but nothing, even it gets paid really quickly, is still nothing at all.
My guess: there are so many people trying to sell this particular marketer’s products that the market is basically saturated.
So affiliate programs may be legit and potentially lucrative money makers, but the money from your efforts won’t be showing up in your bank account nearly as quickly as your funds will get depleted if you buy all their products to make sure they’re worthy of your investment in time and elbow grease, or if you advertise your affiliate links by way of PPC.
If money is tight, don’t count on the affiliate money to bail you out when the Amex bill is due. It won’t be there yet, if it will even arrive at all. Being a good affiliate marketer can be costly, and if you don’t watch out, it can land you in a financial jam.
Not that this lag-time in pay-out is necessarily a problem for everybody. If you have deep pockets, you probably won’t care. And if you’re generally the thrifty type, you may actually welcome the fact that you weren’t able to spend the money. Still, it’s good to know how long these things take, and to plan for a long wait. And people shouldn’t have to search for the fine print to find out.
The other part they don’t tell you about affiliate income is how darn hard it is to make any of it at all. I’ve been advertising in EzineArticles, on my webpage (not the most-trafficked site, admittedly, but still), in ads, and to my budding list. Earnings so far: Utterly unimpressive.
What to do? Plan for the lag in time until the money starts rolling in. Once it does, and you’re getting regular sales, it will work as advertised, with money coming in every other week or so (for each affiliate network). At that point you won’t really care how long it’s been since you’ve actually earned the money. Until then, mind the old saying – don’t count your chickens till they’re hatched.
In fact, if you’d like to hedge your bets, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, to stay with the metaphor. For starters, go with several different affiliate programs. And then, do something else entirely:
Why not create your own product? Either from private label products, or from scratch. You can sell your products directly through PayPal or your own shopping cart system, and if you have PayPal’s ATM card, you can get the money just as soon as it hits your PayPal account, which is the minute you’ve made the sale. Pretty cool!
So if you want fast, sell your own products. If you want a no-fuss stream of income, albeit not a rapid-fire one, pick a few great products and tell everybody and their friends about them. The best approach: combines the two, which allows you to have the best of both worlds.