Q: Is affiliate marketing still profitable?
A: Affiliate marketing started back in 1994 when CDNow launched the first affiliate program, and ever since people have been wondering if they can still make money with it. The answer is and always has been yes.
The picture with this article is me at my first affiliate marketing job, which I started back in 1997. Prospective affiliates I pitched then were unsure and people new to the industry are still skeptical.
James Marciano, who founded Refer-It (my next affiliate marketing job), the first affiliate program directory back in the ’90s, said it best when he dubbed affiliate marketing a “recession-proof marketing channel.”
“When the economy tanks, the CEO cuts the marketing budget first. The sales budget doesn’t get cut. With these programs, you’re out there already making money for nothing,” continued Marciano.
We saw this play out when the dot com bubble burst, as well as in 2008 when the economy was in bad shape. Through it all affiliate marketing has persevered.
And you know how there are always articles around Christmas-time how the latest year had the highest sales in the history of E-commerce? Well, as E-Commerce grows, so does affiliate marketing and the opportunities around it. Virtually every big brand has an affiliate program, and they are commonplace with small and medium-sized businesses, too.
So, yes, it’s still profitable, but not for everybody. Lots of people want to be affiliates and they are lazy about it and don’t add any value to a transaction. Strive to provide a solution or solve a problem as an affiliate and keep at it and you can make money.