Imagine earning money without having to drive through rush hour traffic. Think of what it would be like to skip the high heel shoes and office politics. Picture yourself in the comfort of your own home or at a beach-side cafe earning money doing something you enjoy.
This is how I make my money. Ok, I’m usually not at the beach, but if I’m not traveling, you can find me in my comfy pants working from my apartment in Berlin.
I’ve been making money online through affiliate marketing for several years now. It started out slow, a few bucks here and there, but it wasn’t until a little over a year ago that I realized making money that way was a realistic goal. Now that affiliate marketing is a big chunk of my monthly income, I want to share with you how it can be done. Here’s why I love making money from affiliate marketing.
1. It’s not directly tied to time
At a salaried job, you’re expected to put in 40 hours a week. With some jobs, you might have to work extra at certain times of year, but you won’t get paid any extra. If you work an hourly job, the amount of money you earn is directly related to the number of hours you work.
With affiliate marketing, I still have to put in a lot of work. But my income is more a result of the quality of my work rather than the pure number of hours. And once my work is producing results, I can focus on other things without losing money.
2. It works even when I take time off
This goes hand-in-hand with #1. If I decide not to work today because I’m feeling sick, I’ll still get paid. I don’t have to call in sick. I can also choose to take vacation for a few days or a few weeks, and my income won’t drop.
Amazon is my biggest affiliate earner, and it brings in money whether I work on my sites today or do hourly VA work for my clients. On the weekends when I don’t work, I’m still earning money through Amazon affiliate sales.
In the winter, when it’s too cold and dark in Berlin and I convince Andy to hop on a plane with me, I don’t worry about money because my site is still doing well.
I can’t take off indefinitely. I still need to do some maintenance on the posts the earn money and make sure things are up to date. But a few days here and there, or even a few weeks in January, won’t affect my income.
3. I’m promoting things I like anyway
I don’t promote products or services I can’t stand behind. I get emails all the time from companies trying to convince me to join their affiliate programs, but if it’s something I wouldn’t use or recommend, or something that doesn’t fit with either of my sites, I won’t promote it.
Someone emailed me recently to join their fishing, camping, and trekking program. I do not do these types of activities. I don’t want to touch a fish. I don’t want to pee in the woods. So I’m not promoting their services.
I love traveling carry-on only, so I recommend luggage that will help you travel lighter.
If I’m going to tell you about all the things I enjoy and recommend anyway, I might as well use a link that earns me a little extra money to help pay the bills.
4. It allows me to be location independent
I cannot say this strongly enough: I am so glad I don’t work in an office anymore.
Most of the time, I work from home. Over the past year, Andy and I have slowly turned our guest room into an office so we have a more comfortable work space. But I do occasionally meet a friend at a cafe and work. And sometimes when I’m traveling, I work from a hotel room or a cafe or wherever there’s internet and a comfortable chair.
I like this flexibility.
I’m not tied to an office. I’m not even tied to a city or a country. Earning money through affiliate marketing means as long as I have internet, I can work. And like I said in reason #2, even I’m somewhere without internet for a little while, it will keep on ticking.
>>Want to know how much I earn from blogging? Check out my income reports.
5. I can make my own hours
If I can work anywhere, I can also work any time.
Anyone who knows me knows I am not a morning person. When I lived in Atlanta and worked at a soul-crushing insurance job, I set my alarm for 6:30am every day. Then I proceeded to hit the snooze button 3 or 4 or 17 times before finally crawling out of bed.
I hated it. My day started off badly before I even got to the job I didn’t want to do.
Now I usually set the alarm for 8:30, and I almost never hit snooze.
(Ok it’s Andy’s alarm, not mine. And sometimes I throw the blanket over my head and tell him I’ll get up in a little while.)
So I’m still slow to get myself moving in the morning, but it’s a much better start to my day. And since I start later, I often work until 7pm or so when Andy and I get up to make dinner.
Some days we go to the gym in the morning, so I don’t work until after lunch. Or we’ll go to the grocery store right after lunch or take a few hours in the afternoon to run errands that are unbearable on Saturdays. I’m writing this post at 9:30pm because yesterday I only worked for like 3 hours because I had a raging sinus headache and didn’t get out of bed until 11am.
I get to decide when I work and figure out the balance between work hours and non-work hours.
But there are a few things I don’t like about affiliate marketing…
1. It can be slow
Making money this way takes some patience. It won’t happen overnight. You have to write quality posts and work at getting other sites to link to them and share them. It takes time for your site to rank well and for Google to decide if your post is worth showing up higher in searches.
Last year I spent about 6 months writing posts on Travel Made Simple around certain destination topics. I really wanted to increase the money I earn from promoting tours because I think they’re great for new travelers, and even for experienced travelers, a good day tour or food tour can really make a trip better.
Now, 6 months after I stopped writing about those topics so heavily, they’re finally starting to pick up. A little. It’s a competitive area. I went from about $50 every 2 months to anywhere from $75 to $200 every month. Still not great, but it is moving.
The up side is when something does take off, it will more than make up for the time you put into it. As I mentioned earlier, Amazon is my biggest affiliate, and that’s due to half a dozen posts I wrote years ago. Now those posts pretty much carry my site.
So have a plan, learn, and be patient, and things should work out.
>>Learn how to start a blog. But also why I don’t really want you to start a travel blog.
2. The percentages are lower
Affiliate programs generally pay small percentages. I earn 7% on luggage purchased through Amazon. Some items are higher, many are lower. I’m in several programs that pay 4% or 5%, and some programs that pay a flat $14 fee. There are programs that pay better, but they are few and far between.
This means it becomes more about volume. If someone buys a $150 suitcase through my affiliate link, I earn $10.50. That’s great, but I need a lot of suitcases to add up to enough to buy groceries every month.
But after putting in the work, the volume goes up. When I started, I was lucky to earn $10 a month from Amazon. Now I earn anywhere from $700 to $1700 a month from Amazon, plus a few hundred more each month from a handful of other affiliate programs.
Despite the negatives, overall affiliate marketing is one of my favorite ways to earn money.
Learn how to earn money through affiliate marketing
Last fall I bought the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course (yes, that’s an affiliate link) to learn how to make money from affiliate marketing. I was already making a decent amount, but I knew I could do better. There had to be things I still didn’t know.
If Michelle, who runs the course, can earn $50,000 to $100,000 PER MONTH from affiliate marketing, she must know what she’s doing, right?
The course turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made for my blog. With just a few tips from her course, my affiliate income started to increase. I learned concrete steps to improve my affiliate income. No vague tips – it was all real advice I could put into practice.
There’s also a private Facebook group, which has been amazing for encouragement and bouncing ideas off each other. Michelle is really helpful whenever people have questions, and I’ve actually learned a lot from some of the other members as well.
For those of you who are new to affiliate marketing, this course will be even more helpful. I already knew some of the wonderful advice in the course, but only after months and months of trial and error. If I had learned those things earlier, I could’ve been making money from my blog a long time ago. But better late than never!
If you’re interested in taking your blog to the next level and learning how to earn money from affiliate marketing, check out the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course.
Have any questions about making money from affiliate marketing? Ask away!
You might also enjoy:
- How Much Money I Make Online: Income Report March 2017
- On Living a Non-Traditional Life
- How I Make Money Online and Travel Up to 4 Months a Year
- Non-Traditional Interviews: Full-Time Travel with a Dog