Before jumping into starting an affiliate marketing business, learn all that's involved in making it a success. More importantly, if you decide to pursue an affiliate marketing business, or want to add affiliate marketing to an existing business, understand that it's not fast, automatic, nor without effort. Like all home businesses, ​you need a plan and daily involvement to make money with an online affiliate marketing.
After you link all your accounts, use their Retirement Planning calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. Definitely run your numbers to see how you’re doing. I’ve been using Personal Capital since 2012 and have seen my net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.
I think you should add major sports league before you add classical music as one of these high paying jobs. It’s similar, people don’t do music/sports for money! But people do it for the love of it AND the money it brings at the very very top of the industry! In sports it is millions of $, in the case of symphony orchestra, it is 100k+. I work in the industry and it is misleading to list it along with other jobs in your post.
That is a good point. Unfortunately some people don’t “know how to be rich”. A financially literate person(Warren Buffet, Carl Icahn, Bill Gates, etc.) can turn $1 million into $1 billion by living within their means and only spending substantial amounts on productive assets, whereas others will blow it on anything they see and end up more in debt than they started(think MC Hammer.)
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I’d like to present another alternative to engineering, for those who don’t find that appealing: become an airline pilot. The major airlines are facing a tremendous shortage of pilots in the coming decade and for most that is due to the huge looming wave of mandatory retirements. That means not only will there be incredible demand for new pilots, but those who get hired in the next few years will move up the seniority lists very fast and enjoy the commensurate benefits of seniority (higher pay, more days off, more vacation, etc) far sooner than those of us who entered the industry twenty years ago. And life at a major airline can be pretty good. Nearly every major airline captain these days is making north of $200k, and some of the more senior bring in closer to $300k. And that is without a requirement for an advanced degree; a four-year degree from any accredited institution gets you in the door.

Hands down I’d say the best thing you can do is research 1 primary keyword, craft an enticing article title that includes your keyword (though it doesn’t have to be an exact match), spend time writing your search engine snippets (SEO titles/meta descriptions), and by far the most important is making your content as VALUABLE as possible through videos, nice graphics, table of contents, bold/colors/styling, etc. Small things like keyword density barely matter.

1. I’m no longer a solopreneur. If I was a solopreneur who netted $5K from a website I ran on my own, that would be pretty darn good. But I don’t do everything myself. Instead, I run a company that has a lot of expenses. My team manages a number of blogs, and I pay six team members each month, as well as dozens of writers who contribute to our blogs, plus a tech-support team. That $5K goes into company revenue, not directly into my pocket.
When one of our readers at The Write Life buys Chris Guillebeau’s $58 Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing through our link, for example, we earn $29. When James Chartrand’s Damn Fine Words course sells for $1,599 through our site, we earn $200. Lots of creators offer affiliate programs for their products; the key is finding products that appeal to your audience, so you readers want to purchase them.
The quest for six figures gets even more complicated when you consider the ways in which our country tends to vilify any individual with a big income. Let’s look at Scrooge. Whether we’re talking about the original Dickens character or the McDuck cartoon version, one thing is abundantly clear: Rich people are misers who think little of others without divine intervention. News headlines describing real-life millionaires aren’t much more generous. But net worth doesn’t dictate self-worth. No one should apologize for seeking wealth.
Ahmad, Great post and great information. I have some more specific questions for you relating to my personal company and how affiliate programs can tie into it. Is there a chance we could talk sometime soon? I think you may have the answers to several of my questions on whether affiliate marketing is what I am looking for or not. And if it’s not what I am looking for I think you can direct me in the direction I need to go.
If you are in this camp then Glen has done an amazing post on keyword research which is a really good place for you to start. The important thing to take note of there is the last part of the article that talks about things you are passionate about. Picking a niche or keyword set based solely on the idea of making quick cash is a really good way to lose interest.

Determination and a positive attitude can bring so many rewards. A lot of people don’t need 100k to live comfortably or to be happy, especially if they don’t live in a big city, but I think it’s a great career goal for city dwellers. Getting good grades and going to a strong school are definitely a leg up to a big salary. If I’m interviewing someone and they didn’t write their GPA down on their resume I always ask what it was – if they had bad grades in school from goofing off and partying why should I believe they would be any different in the work place? I want to hire people that are responsible, driven, efficient, and performed well in college.
Perhaps my dry humor blurs my message, but I don’t consider myself to be burned out. I think that would be an insult to everyone working more hours than me with perhaps less pay. Not to mention those in actual physically demanding jobs. I have extra energy to burn and am making moves to explore working in the banking side of things. Acquisition and merger activity is expected to pick up with smaller oil companies struggling.

I am currently 24 and have above a 100k salary, but fall within the category of a financier. I work at a company that invests debt and equity into medium sized businesses. I also invest in equities on the side while managing my blog. I think I followed the post well, other than the fact that I didn’t go into engineering. I had to work very hard, get very good grades and develop my analysis skills to get where I am today. I love reading sites like this to continue to learn ways to boost my income and to hear from other like-minded individuals!


I come from a quite unsuccessful background of web design/SEO. I blogged because I knew it was good for SEO, but my articles never had a purpose regarding monetization. I finally took a leap of faith and dropped my clients to figure out blogging/affiliate marketing. I was good at website speed optimization and knew hosting was the #1 factor. Looking for the best, I saw SiteGround was rated #1 in multiple Facebook polls and had a great reputation with generous affiliate commissions. So I wrote detailed tutorials on website speed… how to configure WordPress cache plugins, hosting reviews, and other speed-related topics. Usually near the end of a post I would say “Oh, and here’s why you should switch to SiteGround” with evidence on why they’re the best… Facebook polls, Tweets, load time improvements, etc. That’s when things got good. I’ve been broke my whole life and it’s my calling to show people how do this.
I think there are two basic ways to get to 100K. First is to plan a career that offers jobs that pay 100K as FS talks about above. The second is to follow a passion that can lead to 100K due to your skill or making a good business out of the passion. (So, the passion job is not typically a 100K job – but you find a way or you follow it to a direction that leads to that income).
Amazon Associates – for pretty much anything sold on Amazon. If you have links to your books on your website (and you should do!), this is a good way to start with affiliate marketing and you will receive a little bit extra if people shop through your link, as well as a percentage of other products that people buy within a 24 hour period. You can use your existing Amazon account and then find your books, copy the special link and then use that on your site. You can also use a site like Booklinker.net or Books2Read.com to create one link that works for all stores and contains affiliate links.
I’m a senior in college. My major is Risk Management and insurance. I plan on getting an MBA in strategic mgmt/Finance from a top 20 business school OR an MSHA from a top 5 MSHA school like Michigan(1) or UAB(2). I hope to start making a least 120K right out of grad school. I understand you can be a hospital administrator or even CEO with an MSHA. Which career looks more promising when you factor in the cost of grad school?
Smart tips, Elna! That’s exactly what I did with BoardBooster – I created a post that showed people (with screen shots etc) exactly how I was using it to increase my Pinterest engagement. In my opinion, that’s one of the best ways to create affiliate sales – not only are you providing something that’s truly helpful to your readers, you’re showing them exactly how it works.
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There are a limited number of scholarships available for flight students but I wouldn’t count on those; competition is fierce and there are very few awarded. Anyone starting now and taking the civilian path to a flying job needs to be prepared to make a hefty initial investment. There’s really no getting around that, but as you said there loans are certainly an option. Also, for those with prior military service, the GI Bill can be used for flight training. Hope this helps.
The functional role people need to understand IT, but if they could code at the level of the technical role people, they would be doing that instead. You have the right idea – business analyst or QA. Go to college job fairs, even though you have already graduated and talk to the recruiters. Show the recruiters you have an analytical mind; dress sharp; have good examples of learning something new, recently.
A wise man once told me…, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.!” Networking is important, but how do you know, you are networking with appropriate people that want to see you make the same six ball park figures that they do, you then become competition, and unless they are frequently throwing you under the bus. I don’t really see networking as the great ideal, education is important but whose to say you might not be educated in a particular area, to keep what you have worked so hard for, I see this article as a hit and miss, and unless you can stay “Motivated” which can be extremely difficult in some cases, What’s the real obstacle. I know this is possible, but I don’t think anywhere as much information that is needed. How ever if anyone has any idea of any jobs that a twenty-two year old can become employed in a short space of time and make $100,000-$250,000.00 please allow me to know.
Too many newbies make this mistake. They think they can avoid ALL online business start-up time and expenses by joining an affiliate program and using the free site they get as their main site. It's a mistake. The best affiliates in EVERY program have their own website where they bring ALL their traffic first. From a "home base" like this you are free to make personal recommendations, promote a variety of programs and earn income other ways such as advertising or selling your own products and services. Growing your own site is a major key to growing serious long-term affiliate income.
Great post, Penny! As you know – I am finishing up year 29 in education. I have two Master’s degree and a doctorate and I’ve never earned six figures. Had I stayed as a principal in the last five years, I would have made six figures. I’d likely be at around $120,000 right now. But I gave that up to go teach at the college level, not work 12 months a year, and have fun educating the next generation of teachers. Five years ago, I knew I was almost to FI because of this community (and that’s never making six figures and being a single mom for a number of years…)
Great article! So I was wondering if I could get your advice? I’ll be graduating college in about 3 years and I should have around $200k saved in mutual funds, I’ve considered getting my degree in accounting (although I want to become a physician once I have a solid amount of money saved) and I was planning on trying to go work for my family’s CPA firm. What’s a reasonable amount I can save at most so I can attain a million in mutual fund savings? Considering that it’ll gain roughly 10% a year
– Don’t get stuck in a rut. Meaning, if a job or opportunity has no more learning potential then get out and get a different orange to squeeze. Until your late 20’s or early 30’s, consider education, experience and opportunities the #1 form of payment. An environment that allows questioning the workings of an industry and one’s company with answers from higher up is a gold mine.
Ahmad, Great post and great information. I have some more specific questions for you relating to my personal company and how affiliate programs can tie into it. Is there a chance we could talk sometime soon? I think you may have the answers to several of my questions on whether affiliate marketing is what I am looking for or not. And if it’s not what I am looking for I think you can direct me in the direction I need to go.
Only about 20 percent of American households even break the six-figure mark, according to Census Bureau data. But while many Americans still see that number as a prized income, it doesn’t necessarily roll out the red carpet anymore. Due to the rising costs of food, energy, college tuition, health insurance and the growing “necessities” of a middle-class life, a $100,000 salary in some parts of the country covers little more than the essentials.
Once you’re financially stable, I hope you start giving back. It feels good and people like the idea of supporting a good cause (they will be more likely to click your affiliate link in your disclaimer). This also means you don’t have to use as many links in your content and risk getting a penalized. Last year I donated $3,000 to Red Cross At Hurricane Harvey.
But getting 1000 visitors to any given affiliate site meant I'd have to get about 10,000 visitors to my own site. If I could do that every week, I'd be doing OK for a small business site with a marketing budget close to zero. But I was already learning that it takes time and money to get 10,000 visitors a week. And let's see... for all my traffic generating efforts I would pull in a cool $180 a month? It didn't take a genius to figure out that it might not be worth the effort. I passed.
Can you make money with affiliate marketing? The short answer is yes, affiliate programs can earn a extra money and even a full-time income from home. The long answer is a little more complicated. Like any home income venture, success comes not so much from what you choose to do to make money, but whether or not you do what needs to be done correctly and consistently.
ShareASale offers pay-per-sale, pay-per-lead, and pay-per-click programs, with a minimum payout of $50. ShareASale is my favorite affiliate program network because of their large marketplace (they have tons of blogger-friendly affiliate programs) and the ease of use. If you want to make money through affiliate marketing, I highly recommend you give ShareASale a try.
I’ve seen college programs where they tell kids to “slow down” and take fewer credits to “ease in” to school and be successful. (My most recent job was college professor!) SURE – fewer credits, more years of college and a crapload more money for the school and debt for the student. There’s a difference between part-time (living at home, working, etc.) and slowing down (living on campus, taking at least 5-6 years to finish a degree).
Hi Jennifer, you could target people in the “get a better job” space. This is the prime market for your offer. There are plenty of high-authority blogs out there in this niche and if you can partner with some influencers, you can see some amazing results. That said, it’s not as easy a 123. Your affiliate offer needs to be amazing. Your website should be beautiful, and your need to have a strategy for reaching out to these people in your industry. You can’t just send them an email and expect them to sign up to your affiliate program.
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