Is Affiliate Marketing Dead? (5 Reasons it’s Alive & Well) [2024]

is affiliate marketing dead featured

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase something through the links below, I will receive a commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Is affiliate marketing dead? Rumors of its demise may be greatly exaggerated.

While the landscape has shifted, affiliate marketing has evolved to not only survive but thrive in today’s online economy.

Affiliate marketing has been transforming itself since its beginnings in 1989, adapting to new technologies and trends. The strategies that worked even 5 years ago may not work today, but new best practices have emerged to connect content creators with relevant products – and commissions.

In this article, we’ll explore 5 reasons why affiliate marketing is an attractive income stream for beginners in 2023 and beyond.

Why Do Some Think Affiliate Marketing Is Dead?

Affiliate marketing has faced its fair share of challenges that have led some to question its viability. However, obituaries for affiliate marketing may be premature.

Let’s explore a few of the major reasons contributing to this perception of affiliate marketing.

Increased Competition

The barriers to entering affiliate marketing have lowered over time thanks to user-friendly tools like WordPress. This means you face fierce competition from armies of bloggers and websites all vying for the same limited audiences and profits.

Major publications like Forbes and The New York Times have further crowded the space with affiliate hubs featured on their high authority domains.

forbes advisor affiliate hub example best credit cards post

However, while the sheer volume of marketers appears daunting, opportunity still exists for those able to identify and serve niche audiences that may be overlooked by the major players.

The internet remains a big place, and creative marketers can leverage targeted content and differentiated value propositions to carve out profitable spaces despite the perception of saturation.

Committed and strategic affiliates understand that increased competition is the cost of doing business online.

By staying nimble and appealing to specific underserved segments, you can still build a sustainable affiliate marketing business even in a crowded landscape.

The key is to see opportunities where others only see overwhelming competition.

Stricter Regulations

Evolving regulations like GDPR and CCPA have undoubtedly imposed stricter guidelines around consumer data privacy and use in marketing.

Staying on top of compliance with the nuances of these policies can feel daunting to affiliate marketers seeking to collect and utilize user data.

However, forward-thinking affiliates view the increased oversight not as a deterrent but as validation. These new rules signal authorities are taking concrete steps to lend greater legitimacy to the affiliate industry by weeding out bad actors in favor of those committed to transparency and ethics.

While stricter requirements present new hurdles in the short term, they ultimately distinguish the players positioned for long-term success.

In essence, evolving regulation closes the door on scams and opens the door wider for legitimate strategies.

Savvy affiliates see opportunity amidst the change.

Brands Are Super Selective

In the affiliate marketing world, brand partner programs face no shortage of creators vying to promote their products. An explosion of content creators over the last decade means brands big and small are flooded with affiliate applications.

All of this interest has forced advertisers to implement stricter screening requirements and only form partnerships with marketers who have extensive track records demonstrating substantial value.

Unfortunately, this presents obstacles for newcomers and smaller-scale affiliates who understandably struggle to meet the increasing benchmark requirements of elite brands.

While they may offer decent content and engaged users, new affiliates often lack the minimum sales thresholds, email list sizes, web traffic metrics, follower counts and marketing budget spend levels to catch the eye of selective brand programs.

Learn More…

Just starting out? Check out my guide on how to start affiliate marketing with no followers

Changes to Amazon’s Affiliate Program

If you’ve been following affiliate marketing news lately, you may have seen panicked headlines about Amazon gutting affiliate commissions.

Changes like Amazon cutting affiliate rates up to 50% in certain categories have some claiming that affiliate marketing’s best days are behind it.

amazon associates revised rate card
Amazon Associates Commission Rate Card

Rather than signaling the death of affiliate marketing, Amazon’s lack of concern for affiliate marketers means smart affiliates should learn to diversify earnings across multiple streams.

Google Can Tank Traffic Overnight

Imagine waking up to discover your affiliate site’s traffic has plummeted due to a Google algorithm update.

Google’s search engine algorithm changes frequently and can dramatically impact your website’s search rankings.

google search console affiliate blog traffic decrease
One of my affiliate blogs got smashed by Google in a recent update 🤷‍♂️

These fluctuations can be challenging to predict and adapt to, and for some, it means waves of traffic and income can dry up almost without warning.

This unpredictability in what is often an affiliate’s primary traffic source feeds into concerns about the sustainability of affiliate marketing as a long-term business strategy.

5 Reasons Why Affiliate Marketing Isn’t Dead

Affiliate marketing is far from dead, as the basic model has stood the test of time and continues to deliver value for both merchants and publishers.

The following reasons reflect why affiliate marketing is not only surviving but thriving in 2023.

Despite affiliate programs making cuts, interest in affiliate marketing as an income stream continues to rise. Look no further than Google Trends – searches for “affiliate marketing” have steadily climbed over the past five years.

affiliate marketing google trends
Affiliate Marketing has been trending up over the last few years

This uptick demonstrates that more digital marketers and entrepreneurs are exploring the potential for affiliate marketing as a viable revenue channel.

In particular, the combination of influencer and affiliate marketing has become a go-to monetization tactic for bloggers and YouTubers.

I feel like it’s hard to make a case for affiliate marketing being “dead” when engagement data and digital culture trends point to more interest and participation than ever before.

In such a fast-moving environment driven by creativity and innovation, it feels short-sighted to dismiss affiliate marketing as obsolete.

2. Global Affiliate Marketing Spending is Increasing

If we follow the money, it’s clear brands aren’t backing away from affiliate marketing anytime soon. In fact, global spending in this area is experiencing huge growth.

According to research from Influencer Marketing Hub, over $14.3 billion was spent on affiliate initiatives in 2023 alone. They project this spending will skyrocket to $15.7 billion by 2024 based on a healthy 10% compound annual growth rate.

These double-digit gains year-over-year reveal affiliate marketing’s continued viability.

Companies are voting with their budgets to expand successful affiliate collaborations, not abandon them. We can conclude they see outstanding ROI from these partnerships if they plan on increasing investments by close to 80% in under a decade.

For digital marketers and content creators, this data says the affiliate opportunities and resources will continue growing too. More campaigns mean more creative ways to get compensated for the influence you build.

So don’t rule out affiliate marketing quite yet – the hard numbers say this industry niche is just hitting its stride.

3. Affiliates’ Revenues are Increasing

Another clear sign of life in affiliate marketing – is the profits reported by participants. Surveys of affiliate marketers show average earnings exceed $8,000 annually.

my affiliate marketing earnings proof
My earnings from just one affiliate offer I promote!!!

Top affiliate earners easily clear six figures monthly, with some making over $500,000 per month on promotions. Figures like that don’t signal an industry running out of steam.

Between the success stories and the actual income statistics, evidence points to savvy affiliates earning healthy paydays.

Companies may adjust commission rates but overall opportunity isn’t dwindling – it continues expanding along with increases in online shopping and content marketing real estate to leverage.

Don’t prepare that affiliate marketing eulogy just yet. Big-time bloggers laughing all the way to the bank will tell you rumors of its demise are premature.

There’s still plenty of affiliate money to be made by those with influence and initiative.

4. Brands See Affiliate Marketing as Essential

If affiliate marketing were fading, you’d expect brands to pull back on these performance-based campaigns. But statistics say the opposite – over 80% of advertisers now leverage affiliates as part of their digital marketing mix.

They’ve clearly decided these affiliate partnerships deliver results that merit ongoing investment.

This widespread adoption happened because affiliates only get paid when they deliver actual sales, making it low risk and high reward.

With influencers willing to earn commissions promoting products, companies have responded positively.

The more brands devote budgets to affiliate partnerships for traffic, conversions and sales, the more opportunities affiliates see sprout up. It creates an ecosystem that feeds itself.

brand deal affiliate increase request
Brands frequently reach out seeking to secure more affiliate promotion

Influencers have the motivation to create content featuring products in exchange for commissions. And companies can scale growth in a measurable way by paying partners based purely on performance.

With so many major retailers and niche brands onboard, affiliate marketing occupies valuable real estate in the e-commerce landscape. Don’t expect it to diminish anytime soon – if anything, investments will intensify as companies aim to keep pace in an increasingly digital economy.

The returns affiliate marketing drives make it a staple, not a fad.

5. Little Guys Can Still Win Big in Affiliate Marketing

Some speculate that affiliate marketing now favors big publishers who dominate traffic. But just like the early pioneering days, scrappy individuals can still carve out niches and compete using smart strategies.

The barrier to entry remains low, which requires more hustle and grit than ever.

Modern affiliate marketing tools empower solopreneurs to punch above their weight class.

WordPress and drag-and-drop landing page builders like make it easy for anyone to launch blogs packed with monetized content.

If you want to go the paid route, advertising platforms feature advanced tracking, analytic dashboards, and intuitive campaign managers so first-timers can dive right in.

Most importantly, the pay-for-performance model gives small and mid-sized influencers leverage to land deals with relevant brands.

Affiliate connections hinge on delivering conversions more than website traffic figures. This -payment structure leaves plenty of pie for individuals willing to build authority and prove the ROI of their audiences to prospective merchant partners.

The affiliate space will continue to reward those scrappy and savvy enough to spot emerging opportunities and pivot to capitalize on them.

Much of the industry’s longevity ties directly to grassroots creators innovating – not just market leaders dictating trends. In that sense, affiliate marketing refuses to die because the opportunities for the small but mighty will never fade.

Is Affiliate Marketing Still Profitable?

Yes. Affiliate marketing is still profitable. I’m living proof!

The affiliates achieving the highest rewards today are those who diversify their traffic sources and combine multiple monetization models.

Relying solely on a single website’s commissions is very 2017.

Savvy affiliates are the ones who build follower bases across social media, use email marketing to nurture contacts, and incorporate sponsored content deals to synergize various income streams.

Doing so mitigates overreliance on any one platform. However this multi-channel strategy does demand consistency in providing value.

Earning viewer trust and loyalty becomes critical. That means positioning yourself as an authority who creates regular educational and entertaining content, not just shilling offers.

When done right, even subtle recommendations convert to sales because you hook audiences with authentic advice first.

Niching down strategically also boosts success odds by targeting buyers with specialized needs that you explicitly cater to.

For example, SAAS products generate bountiful affiliate commissions thanks to recurring subscription fees.

Amazon’s program scales easily too due to pure volume.

Align your content niche with high-converting affiliate offers for maximum payoff.

In the end, affiliate marketing profitability directly corresponds to your hustle at building a branded presence…plus your strategic approach in diversifying the ways you monetize it. This is an evergreen industry with ample room for newcomers ready to put in the work.

3 Reasons Why Most Affiliate Marketers Fail

Becoming a successful affiliate marketer is more complex than many beginners initially realize.

While visions of earning passive income may appear straightforward, most who try affiliate marketing struggle to turn profits quickly and give up altogether.

Before we look at the common mistakes beginners make, it helps to first understand that affiliate marketing can work well when done right. Just because many struggle does not make the entire business a scam.

1. Focusing on Earnings Over Audience Needs

Many beginners make the mistake of focusing primarily on affiliate payouts and potential earnings. They envision big windfall profits before even considering who their target audience is and what value they can provide.

This backward approach sets the stage for failure.

Without making real connections and understanding audience needs, affiliate links come across as spammy sales pitches.

New affiliates must first build relationships by consistently offering helpful advice and resources.

Identify reader pain points and knowledge gaps within your niche and aim to address them through blog posts, videos etc.

Once you establish yourself as a trusted authority that provides ongoing value, your occasional recommendations or offers will convert much more readily.

2. Neglecting Relationship Building

Hand-in-hand with focusing on earnings is a failure among unsuccessful affiliates to nurture relationships by providing consistent value.

Some perceive affiliate links as a shortcut to commissions that saves them the work of engagement. But today’s audiences see through inauthenticity – they’ll quickly recognize hard sales tactics and find somewhere else to buy from.

To drive conversions over the long term, regularly supply advice that speaks to target customers’ needs.

Whether posting tutorials on YouTube or sending out an informative email newsletter, come through with tangible help rather than merely pushing products. Consistent engagement proves you care about followers, not just making a quick buck.

Audiences trust affiliates who better their lives more than any sales pitch or link.

3. Lacking Crucial Marketing Fundamentals

Many new affiliates severely underestimate the effort involved in driving relevant traffic at scale to money sites.

Gaining organic visibility or implementing a strategic paid ad strategy both require significant upfront learning.

When the visitors and conversions fail to instantly appear, impatient marketers struggle to maintain momentum and give up too soon without acquiring core marketing competencies.

Successful conversion campaigns also rely on optimizing pages and calls to action for maximum impact, comprehensive sales funnels to nurture leads, solid copywriting skills, and ongoing metrics analysis.

Affiliates who gloss over developing skills across all facets inevitably hit roadblocks or plateau prematurely.

There are no shortcuts when aiming to build an affiliate business ready for long-term profitability. But those willing to continually sharpen their abilities can be wildly successful

Final Thoughts…

Affiliate marketing isn’t dead; it’s simply evolved.

Your success hinges on your willingness to learn the ropes and your ability to adapt quickly.

Remember, it’s not just about chasing profits but also about understanding your audience and meeting their needs.

With the right effort and strategic approach, you can still achieve significant earnings through affiliate marketing.

Stay focused, keep refining your tactics, and you’ll find that affiliate marketing is very much alive and well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *