Online Business - options, tips & other

Is Affiliate Marketing passive income?

When trying to work within the principles of Tim Ferris’s 4 Hour Work Week, I decided to analyze different online business models and evaluate the amount of time I expect it would take to start each business and then maintain it as a passive income producing steam.

Can you work four hours a week?

The Four Hour Work Week.

I recently wrote a blog post, the Four-Hour-Work-Week can you do this? 

In this post, I outlined my take from the book by Tim Ferris and what I learned together with the steps I am taking to attempt to find a life that this book envisions.

I’m sure that working fewer hours and having plenty of leisure time is something we would all enjoy. 

Is it really possible?

What is Affiliate Marketing?

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Simply put, affiliate marketing is when you (the Advertiser) sends a potential customer to another Business which has an affiliate program.

This Business could be a bricks and mortar shop, an online shop, a website, a sales page or maybe software or other membership sites which charge a fee.

The Advertiser receives a commission for the referral or sale.

What are the different types of affiliate marketing programs?

Business affiliate offers are different from program to program.

When you sign up to a program you will sign an agreement and the commissions are outlined in this agreement. You also agree to terms and conditions which the affiliate company requires, which usually includes things like agreeing to act in an ethical manner, and where and how you can promote the offer.

Sometimes this is through the Business itself and sometimes it is through a third-party management system (Affiliate Manager).

Some of the variations in payment schemes I have found are as follows:

  • Pay per Click. This is usually just an advertising measure. The potential customer clicks on a banner or link within your website and is sent to another website for further information.
  • Pay per lead. This usually means that if you send a qualified potential customer, they will pay whether a purchase is made, or not. This Business pays for the referral of a qualified customer. This is one who can take advantage of the offer and is in a location the Business can support.
  • Pay per purchase. This is usually a one time % when a link is clicked, the customer is sent to an offer, and a purchase made. The percentage paid is very wide-ranging, depending on the product or service offered.
  • Pay per purchase at later date. Sometimes this offer is extended as there is a cookie placed on the customer’s computer, or phone and is tracked. If a customer returns to the purchase offer within a certain time frame, through a search engine and not another affiliate link, then the commission will still be paid out to owner of the last clicked affiliate link.

What is an affiliate marketing cookie’s duration?

Each Business or Affiliate Manager will have a period of time in which they will have a cookie placed on a potential customer’s computer or phone.

Affiliate Marketing Cookie Duration

This does vary and can be removed if the potential customer deletes their cookies.

However, most people don’t do this very often, if at all.

Sometimes this cookie is for the immediate duration of the lead. Usually, however, this is extended for a certain period of time.

It could be as little as a day or two. There are Businesses, as well as Affiliate Managers who often extend this cookie to a month or more.

Sometimes, this cookie is extended indefinitely, or until that person returns to the offer through another affiliate link. If the person comes through a Google (or similar search engine) search, or sometimes through a company link, the last referred affiliate Advertiser will still get the credit.

I must stress that this does not always happen as many Affiliate Managers do not have a lifetime cookie.

Two Businesses that I know of in the Affiliate Marketing niche who have a lifetime cookie are Wealthy Affiliate and Click funnels.

Wealthy Affiliate, which I wrote a post about,What is Wealthy Affiliate about – this may shock you, is one affiliate program which offers a lifetime cookie. If the customer signs up to the paid membership, then the Advertiser gets a recurring commission.

Click funnels is the other. As this is also a membership site, as your referral continues to use the software and pays the monthly fee, you will receive a recurring affiliate commission. They have a wonderful Affiliate Marketing Boot camp. You can find out more about Click funnels in my post, Email marketing always learning.

There are many Businesses with recurring affiliate commissions. When a membership is monthly or yearly this is often the case. These are the best Businesses to promote as the customer usually joins because they have a need for the product and therefore continues to use the product.

I have mentioned these two because I am currently a member of Wealthy Affiliate and this blog is hosted by them. They are a training and hosting website and provide all the hosting I require. I can later add my membership site with a forum through Wealthy Affiliate, so I know my membership will be ongoing.

I have tested Click funnels and when I begin my email campaign, I will again return to Click funnels to provide the software I will need. I plan to load my information booklet within Click funnels for easy forwarding to my email subscribers.

I am currently revisiting the free Affiliate Boot camp provided by Click funnels as I know that there is so much that I missed the first time around.

Is Affiliate Marketing a passive income source?

Is Affiliate Marketing passive income?

The advantage of affiliate marketing is that you can have a link in your website, email list, social media site or even within someone else’s website (with permission).

As long as you remain an Advertiser and the product remains available your link will always be able to be found.

Therefore, I believe it definitely could be considered passive. It is only the cookie that may have a time factor, not the link itself.

Is Affiliate Marketing set and forget?

There are times when a Business changes their site, page, or updates the offer and for this reason, you still need to work on your business and check your link is working and the information you have provided is accurate.

You do need to continue to do some work on earlier potential income sources.

This is not a time-consuming activity however, it should form part of your business plan and be carried out every few months. There is a WordPress plugin that will track broken links, but you must ensure that the information contained in your blog, website, email or sales page remains correct

What do I need to do to keep making money?

Some things to consider would be ensuring that the links still work. As products change, sometimes the website you are linked to can change the URL and if you have it within social media or another website you may not get notifications if the link is broken.

This could cause you to lose potential customers as well as cause issues within the host website. For this reason, I tend to like links to be directed from a third-party website to my own website, and finally to the affiliate product. The broken link tracker plugin will track the broken link and it can be acted on quickly. The downside is that you can’t always easily track the link from the third-party website to your own.

In order to ensure fresh content is always provided, this means updating your own website regularly and performing general maintenance tasks like checking for broken links as mentioned above.

Like all websites, you will need to spend quite a lot of time getting them up and running and continually producing good quality content so that the search engines will promote your website when a search is conducted.

This means that either you need to continue to find different ways to write about the same product or find a range of products to promote. As the internet moves on and times change, your product range may need to change as well.

Initially, I would expect that I would need to spend at least 4 hours getting everything in place including product research, keyword research, writing content around different keywords whilst keeping the content unique, producing photos or graphics to promote the website page or post to social media and other advertising mediums.

It is possible that you could write two different blog posts, with unique content and have one saved ready to post at a scheduled date. This could make preparation time more effective and reduce the hours spent preparing posts.

How quickly can I work fewer hours?

It is possible, I believe to finally work fewer hours. It would take a while, but I do believe it is possible with Affiliate Marketing.

However, this would be once you have educated yourself on what affiliate marketing is and where to find products to promote. You would need to have a good website that is attracting plenty of traffic.

Traffic and good content is what could lead to potential customers clicking on your affiliate links, and if they purchase, provide you with a commission.

To get a website noticed by the search engines, I believe that you need to add content at least 3 days a week.

I have only posted once or twice a month and found that the search engines pretty much ignore my website. Even if I type in my blog post title in full, I have not found my post in the first couple of pages. I know from experience that it is not easy. Affiliate marketing is not a get rich quick scheme. It is long, slow and you need to be very thorough with your information and marketing methods.

As I am currently on my six-week summer break, I have started spending around 6 hours a day getting posts together ready and have started posting every 2 to 3 days in an attempt to attract the attention of the search engines.

I will attempt to have content ready to roll out when my offline business required more of my time and spare time becomes more difficult to find.

I am trying to start a campaign of producing the content and marketing it through social media in an attempt to get some traffic and comments. Although some posts will have affiliate links, I am trying to get information and readers at this point.

Can I build an email list from my affiliate sales page?

Build an email list with Affiliate Marketing

I will also be working on an information booklet so that I can capture email addresses whilst offering helpful information.

I trust that this will lead to an email list of people looking for the information I have that I can later use to promote my membership site and any other sites that I find helpful.

I could work on a passive income through email marketing.

Where to from here?

I believe that ongoing, I will need to post at least twice a week to maintain my integrity with the search engines.

I will also need to continue to find new products to promote and spend time actually marketing myself and my posts through social media. I feel that the time spent doing this is certainly likely to exceed 4 hours a week in the near future.

However, by producing content in advance and releasing it gradually I can see where this could turn into 50 hours one week, and 4 hours for the following 3 or 4 weeks. I find this acceptable and would consider this, once established, to be a suitable candidate for a 4 Hour Work Week lifestyle.

It is also possible to outsource content research and writers although a certain amount of time would need to be spent ensuring that the content was unique and accurate. I do have a little hesitation in outsourcing content research.

I hope that you found this information helpful and that you will have a look at both Wealthy Affiliate and Click funnels as each will be able to help you move forward.

These blog posts again are

What is Wealthy Affiliate all about – this may shock you.

Email Marketing, always learning.

If you like this post, please like and share on social media and should you have any questions, please leave a comment in the comments box below.


12 thoughts on “Is Affiliate Marketing passive income?

  1. Thank you Kerry Ann for your thoughtful presentation on Affiliate Marketing . I couln´t help feeling, by reading your post, that affiliate marketing is much simpler.
    An affiliate marketer sells products online on a commission basis. The marketer, though, is not responsible for delivery or shipping of the products. The products are promoted through the affiliate’s website, or blog, which includes a link to the product’s sales page. When a visitor clicks on the link it’s tracked through the affiliate’s “cookie.” The affiliate is given credit for the sale and paid.
    All you have to do is find products that offer an affiliate program. Check companies that list product owners with affiliate programs such as, Neverblue. Com, or Commission Junction. has an affiliate program as well. Service providers. such as web hosts autoresponders distribution firms and review sites of consumer, professional and business products are other alternatives.
    Another very important thing is to verify the reliability of the owner for payment. Also check the return rate and customer reviews. You donñt want to offer a product that has a high return rate and bad customer reviews.
    Another key element is to determine how the affiliate is paid. It is directly by the product owner. There is a possibility- however slim-that you will not get paid. Third parties like Commission Junction automatically pay the affiliate when the sale is made without the input of the product owner
    Set up a method to receive payments. Some affiliate programs pay through direct deposit, echecks, hard copy checks or through a money transfer service firm like Pay, Google checkout, or Money Bookers.
    Complete the affiliate application and submit. You may have to have an established web site in the niche of the affiliate product to be accepted. Other programs don´t require anything more than agreeing tp their terms. You might have to be located in the United states to qualify. States that charge sales tax on internet purchases may not be approved by some affiliate programs.
    Promote your affiliate link by setting up a website or blog that promotes the product. Drive traffic to the website through building backlinks, article distribution, participation on relevant forums and discussion groups. Other methods include social bookmarking, Tweeter, Facebook and Pinterest.
    You may have mentioned some or all of these points, but were not all straight forward to me.

    1. Thank you for your comment Enrique. You are correct with your comment that affiliate marketing is not easy and requires a lot of research. Every online business requires research and hard work.
      My post did not detail all of this, as I was looking at the viewpoint of whether Affiliate Marketing could be considered a passive income source candidate for the 4 hour work week, rather than pointing out all the steps that an affiliate marketer would need to take into consideration when choosing products to promote. That is a completely different matter, as is business structure, SEO, advertising and promotion.
      I have been reviewing different online business structures to see if I thought I could turn them into a possible candidate for a 4 hour work week.
      I have also looked at blogging and whether it could be considered a candidate for the 4 hour work week. You can see that post Is blogging a passive income source?

  2. Dear Kerry,

    Thanks a lot for the in-depth and detailed post. I got great insights from your post.

    I will have to go back to it a few times in order to grasp all of that information. You definitely have done your research. 

    I have the Tim Ferris’s 4 Hour Work Week eBook on my computer but yet to read it. After reading your post I am determined to read it.

    I am a fan of Affiliate Marketing because “Affiliate Marketing has made Businesses Millions & Ordinary People Millionaires.” ~ Bo Bennett

    The information you shared on this post is Gold and For sure Affiliate Marketing is a passive income.

    Yes I do agree with you in the initial part itself its not possible to work 4 hours a week. In the beginning we need to invest a lot of time and gradually when the business start growing we can minimize the working hours by outsourcing and going for tools which can reduce our efforts.

    Wishing you great success!


    1. Hi Paul, thank you for your kind words. I am so pleased that you found the information worthwhile.

      I hope you will take a moment to read the Four Hour Work Week. It is certainly thought-provoking.

      Wishing you all the best in your online adventure

  3. Thanks for the very insightful and informative article. I find the information extremely useful for people like me who are just starting out. I did spend quite some time going through articles from different websites just to get a clear picture of how affiliate marketing works and yours sums it up pretty nicely. I wish I came across your post earlier. That would have saved me a ton of hours of research. What would you say is the average time before someone makes a sale or even make this a full time income?

    1. Hi Joe, Glad you enjoyed my post.
      Unfortunately, no one is able to make a guess at the average time before someone makes a sale, if at all. Any business you start takes time, effort, marketing and so much more. You first need to find a customer who likes your product or service and convince them that your offer can solve their problem.

  4. Wonderful article. I can say from experience that affiliate marketing can definately be passive income in time. I am also a member of WA and for me the biggest thing is doing keyword research which by the way they have a wonderful tool for that called Jaxxy it is great. I only post my an article on average 1 per month and have been ranked on the first page a couple times for different keywords,it did take about 3 months. The other I am looking at is clickfunnels also. 

    1. Thank you Cathy. I hear of people like yourself who are making money from Affiliate Marketing and it gives me the inspiration to continue with my journey. I agree that Jaaxy is a wonderful research tool.
      It has a free keyword tool option available to Wealthy Affiliate starter members. With a premium Wealthy Affiliate membership, there are many extra features including site rank which I use to see when my keywords finally make it to the top of the search engines.

      Jaaxy can be a tool for all Affiliate Marketers and has its own Affiliate program. This is my affiliate link, if any readers are interested in checking it out. Jaaxy

  5. I have been hearing things about affiliate marketing for the past few months. I understand that this is a growing business nowadays. I really wanted to learn about affiliate marketing and this article had all the information I needed to know about affiliate marketing. Thank you so much for explaining what it is and what do we need to start in affiliate marketing.

    1. Thank you Sujandar. I am very pleased that you were able to benefit from my article. I hope this will guide you in building a successful business.

  6. Thanks for your explanation of affiliate marketing concepts.  I came across the cookie duration question not long ago, and was not clear on what it meant.  It now makes sense after reading the explanation you offer.  It’s nice to know that there some businesses that offer cookies that last for an indefinite time.  

    I’m still not convinced that I’d be able to do this business in four hours per week, but I don’t know; maybe with a bit more experience…?

    1. Hi Hugo. Cookie duration is often something that is glossed over by people promoting Affiliate Marketing.

      The longer the duration of the cookie, the better for the Advertiser. Not everyone has the funds to make a decision and purchase immediately. Advertisers need to continue to promote so that these potential customers don’t forget where the information came from.

      With extended cookie duration, if they bookmark the Business product page the cookie is still there. The potential customer doesn’t need to revisit our original link. I think this is wonderful as I know I have bookmarked in the past when I found useful information.

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