Is Affiliate Marketing a Business?

People interested in earning a side income may take up a second job, invest their money in a cash flow asset, or start a business. Affiliate marketing is often referred to as one of the most effortless forms of earning upon set up, but which category does it fall in?

Affiliate marketing is a business as long as you own the page to refer potential customers to your affiliate products. It is similar to having your own promotion agency, except the work of employed promoters is done by discovery algorithms and digital content.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about affiliate marketing, including its pros and cons, the best affiliate marketing opportunities, and a checklist that helps you discover early on whether an affiliate marketing opportunity is worth it or not. Finally, you’ll learn how you can see your affiliate marketing business to potential investors.

Affiliate Marketing: A Brief Overview

Business consultants and marketing advisors used to rely on the local chamber of commerce to do “coalition marketing.” They would connect with accountants and IT service providers and offer a commission in exchange for referrals. This model was successful to a degree, but the main issue was the lack of tracking and accountability.

However, as corporations got into the referral-seeking business, the problem was soon fixed with tracking systems. With specific vouchers and other trackable codes, large companies could know whom to reward for sending a new customer.

Soon after, another development occurred in the referral marketing space: the introduction of trackable links combined with the power of cookies. Cookies allow webmasters to identify a user. 

That’s why you may not need to change your location on your Amazon account regardless of whether you log in from Utah or California. Session cookies are a type of cookie that keeps you logged into your account, so you don’t have to enter your username and password repeatedly.

By combining trackable links with cookies, businesses removed the need for voucher codes altogether. One could refer a potential customer to a website like Fiverr or Amazon, and the website cookie would register the affiliate’s contribution. 

Even if the customer doesn’t buy right away, there’s a period for which the cookie keeps track, and they could buy later on and still qualify as a referred purchase. This has led to the boom of affiliate marketing as every person with a laptop and the ability to get relevant traffic is now a potential business owner.

Related Post: How to choose a niche for affiliate marketing – 6 easy steps

Pros of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing has its advantages, and if any specific ones resonate with you, you should get involved sooner than later.

Be Your Own Boss

While someone else cuts your check, they are your customer, not your boss. You are a business-to-business establishment with other business owners as your customers. It might sound strange, but Amazon can be your customer.


Many people think business ownership automatically implies flexibility, but that’s not the case. Entrepreneurs (at least initially) are accountable to their customers and can’t decide their own timings till they have hired sufficiently. An affiliate marketer gets to choose when he works and how long he works.

Infinite Scalability

The best way to get rich is to scale your business. While other companies have hiring and firing costs alongside system-maintenance expenses that come with scaling, You can infinitely replicate and scale your affiliate marketing business at little to no extra cost.

Little to No HR Costs

Another issue with standard business ownership is having to deal with people. This includes workplace drama, trade secret confidentiality, cost of employee turnover, and other people management expenses. As an affiliate marketing business, you’ll have employees only if you choose to. It is possible to make good money as a solopreneur in this space.

Cons of Affiliate Marketing

As lucrative as affiliate marketing is, it is not the only way you can make money. Therefore, it has an opportunity cost. For instance, Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos spending their time doing affiliate marketing would be a bad deal as they would make less than they make elsewhere. Here are the factors to consider before deciding that affiliate marketing is the best use of your time.

Frontloaded in Effort-Requirement

At some point in your affiliate business’s life cycle, you might be making a hundred thousand dollars for every article you write. However, initially, you will be putting the same level of effort to make a few dollars. In other words, the returns come much later, yet you have to initially work as if you’re already making a good income.

False Opportunities

While businesses are your customers in this practice, they are also the judge of your performance. Imagine being a gold jewelry business and letting the customer take a handful of jewels without your knowledge and allowing them to declare the value of what they got. That’s the kind of trust you place in a business you choose to be affiliated with.

While commission per purchase is disclosed in the initial agreement, you don’t know if the business has made the sale or not. The best way to avoid getting scammed is to stick with reputable companies, especially publicly listed companies, as your partners. They have too much to lose by trying to nickel and dime their referrers.

No Guaranteed Pay

Finally, the greatest drawback of an affiliate marketing business is the same as owning any other business: you have no guaranteed income. You might make ten thousand dollars one month and barely cross two thousand the next. Many publishers use portfolio diversification tactics to add a steady, predictable income stream, but by its nature, it is a business, and there are no guarantees.

Related Post: What is high ticket affiliate marketing – is it different from low ticket?

How To Judge an Affiliate Marketing Opportunity

Let’s look at some of the factors you must insist on when looking for businesses to partner with. To be worth your time, a company must:

  • Have a wide enough variety of offerings for you to have the maximum choice in deciding your niche.
  • Be publicly traded or have revenue over $100 million.
  • Have a reputation-conscious CEO/Owner covered in the media.

The Best Affiliate Marketing Opportunities Right Now

Now that you know what to look for before deciding whether an opportunity is lucrative enough and secure enough for you let’s look at the best ones you can avail of today.

Fiverr Affiliates

With revenue north of $107 million, the company plans to go public. Unlikely to scam its affiliates, the business promises to pay per transaction in two different compensation structures. Cookie time is 30 days, which means that people you refer for the first time can purchase within thirty days of clicking the affiliate link, and you’ll still receive a commission. However, services are limited to business owners, artists, and solopreneurs.

Amazon Affiliates

Amazon is a publicly listed company with an extensive affiliate program. Its cookie time is only 24 hours, but unlike Fiverr, you can refer people who have already visited the store previously. You can also use an add-to-cart affiliate link, and if the product is added to your visitor’s cart, you get a commission if the purchase is made in 90 days.

How To Sell Your Affiliate Marketing Business

Finally, let’s go over the best way to cashout after setting up your affiliate marketing business: sell your website. Suppose you have at least one year of financial statements. In that case, you can get them audited and sell your website (or even a portfolio of blogs) for over a million dollars (provided they earn enough per month to justify the price tag. The top websites to sell your site on are:,, and

Final Thoughts

Affiliate marketing is a business where other businesses are your customers. You provide them with a referral service to earn your commission. Please ensure you work with reliable and reputable partners and be prepared to work a long time before seeing results.


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