Is Affiliate Marketing Dead?

by Mohammed May 10, 2021
is affiliate marketing dead

As long as businesses are using digital marketing to grow, affiliate marketing isn’t going anywhere. So, the short and sweet answer to the question “Is affiliate marketing dead” is NO! It’s far from dead.

Research tells us that affiliate marketing spending is going to reach $8.2 Billion by 2022 in the US alone.

And, 85% of online buyers turn to Google before making a purchase decision.

This allows affiliates to help prospects make buying decisions while generating commissions for themselves.

So, if you are wondering “Is affiliate marketing dead?”, the trend suggests that the affiliate marketing industry is continuously growing.

Let’s get into the details now.


Is Affiliate Marketing Dead in 2021?

Affiliate marketing has been on the path of growth since the beginning. And, the trend doesn’t suggest it’s going anywhere in the future either.

So, no, affiliate marketing isn’t dead in 2021 and will keep growing thanks to the ever-increasing digitization of businesses.

It’s an effective marketing strategy for businesses. With affiliate marketing, they don’t need to spend their marketing budget; they just have to give a tiny part of the sales to affiliates. Affiliate marketers do all the heavy lifting for them.

However, while affiliate marketing isn’t dead in 2021, it has certainly been evolving over the past few years.

Let’s look at the ways affiliate marketing has changed over time.


Increased Competition

As more and more people get attracted to the idea of remote earning, affiliate marketing is becoming quite popular.

So, with more marketers joining as affiliates, the industry is getting a little competitive.

Here is a search trend of “Affiliate marketing” in Google Trends for a year.

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So, with increasing competition, it may become a little overwhelming for new affiliates to be as effective as the pros. And, the techniques that used to work aren’t that effective now.


Increased Barrier to Entry

As more and more people jump on the bandwagon, affiliate networks and businesses have increased the barrier to entry into their affiliate programs.

For instance, most of the affiliate programs now require affiliates to have an active blog with a decent amount of traffic.

But, not all impose that restriction. You can also sell their products and earn healthy commissions through mediums other than a blog/website (more on this later).

So, is affiliate marketing dead in 2021?

There are a few reasons to think that affiliate marketing is evolving. To some extent, it’s getting a little difficult for new affiliates.

However, the market is still growing at a good pace. Businesses don’t shy away from affiliate marketing because they don’t exhaust their resources for it.

So, affiliate marketing is not dead in 2021. It has been a growing industry in the past and will keep on growing in the near future as well.


Is Affiliate Marketing Still Profitable?

Yes, affiliate marketing is still profitable and will continue to be profitable.

However, there were a few recent changes made to one of the most popular affiliate programs “Amazon Associates” that made people wonder if it’s still profitable.

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Let’s see what changes the eCommerce giant made to its affiliate program.


Changes to Amazon Associate

The reason why Amazon associates program deserves separate mention is that it’s certainly the most popular affiliate program out there.

Why? Because it’s probably the most popular eCommerce giant. So, when there are more customers, there is more opportunity for affiliates to make commissions.

On April 21st 2020, Amazon reduced affiliate commission on most of its categories. This left many existing affiliates wondering whether it’s still worth the effort or not.

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This also led to hesitations in the minds of marketers who were about to jump into affiliate marketing with Amazon.

However, Amazon associates is still a highly profitable program. Many affiliates are still making good money with it.

And, you don’t have only one platform to offer your services as an affiliate marketer. You can join a plethora of platforms that pay handsome amounts in affiliate commissions.

Let’s discuss other profitable affiliate marketing platforms.



Clickbank affiliate program is one of the most popular and profitable programs out there. With thousands of products to sell, affiliate marketers won’t have a problem finding the right product to promote.

Another good thing is, you don’t need a website to promote Clickbank products and earn commissions. You can get started without a website.

However, having a website keeps you credible and maximizes your reach, which is great for expanding an affiliate business.


CJ Affiliate

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CJ affiliate, formerly known as Commission Junction, is an affiliate marketing network that connects merchants and affiliates.

While with Amazon Associates you can only sell Amazon’s products, CJ connects you with thousands of large and small businesses.

You can partner up with any business of your choice and liking and start making healthy commissions. Another reason to think affiliate marketing is still profitable in 2021.


Rakuten Marketing

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Rakuten Marketing is another popular and profitable affiliate network that connects affiliates with big guns like Walmart and Best Buy.

There are a few other small merchants as well on the platform. However, it doesn’t offer a huge network of merchants.

If you want to explore a platform with a lot of options, CJ Affiliate and ShareASale would be more suitable for you.

There are many other options as well. But, these were the most popular ones in the market. Some other profitable affiliate networks include:

    • eBay partner network
    • Walmart affiliates
    • Peerfly
    • FlexOffers
    • Avangate affiliate network

Which Affiliate Program Should You Choose?

The good thing is, you don’t have to choose one affiliate program. You can work on as many platforms as you can.

A few things that can keep you away from an affiliate program include:

    • High minimum payout
    • Unavailable payment method
    • Low commission rates
    • Inability to focus on multiple of them

If you are thinking of signing up for an affiliate program, you can go with as many as possible. Browse every network and find out which one/ones you like the most.

So, there should be no doubt in your mind that affiliate marketing is still quite profitable. And, as long as businesses grow online, affiliate marketers with effective strategies up their sleeves can earn big bucks.


Is Affiliate Marketing Easy?

Affiliate marketing is neither easy nor difficult. The level of difficulty depends on how you approach it.

Mainly, factors like the choice of your affiliate niche, marketing channel (website or otherwise), and the quality of your content make it easy or difficult.

If you have put in the effort to filter out the niche that isn’t too competitive and is popular as well, the rest of the work becomes easier.

Moreover, the channel you’re trying to market your products on will also determine the effectiveness. While it would be quite difficult to get sales without a proper channel, a well-thought-out blog can make an affiliate marketer’s life easy.

WordPress is probably the easiest platform to create any type of blog.

What Do You Need to be an Affiliate MarketerSource:


That said, affiliate marketers’ work isn’t that easy. The primary requirement of success in this industry is smart work, patience, and the right strategies.

And, if you are working to get your blog popular on the search engine result pages, it could take a while.

All in all, if you are targeting a low-competition niche with fair search volume and a long enough keyword list, it’s not that tricky.

Whereas, if you end up selecting a niche that’s already too competitive or doesn’t have enough search volume, your journey won’t be easy.


What is the Best Affiliate Marketing Program for Beginners?

One major holdup a beginner faces is selecting the right affiliate program to promote. After all, there is no lack of them in the market.

Pick the wrong one and you’ll have to press the restart button after months of hard work.

As a beginner, it’s important to select a platform that is popular and easy to promote.


Amazon Associates



Amazon Associates program is one of the oldest and probably the most popular one out there.

And, as Amazon is an eCommerce giant and has gigantic product lines, there are a lot of options for beginner affiliates to choose from.

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Even if you haven’t bought anything from the platform, you can be its successful affiliate. You can select any product of your liking and start promoting it right away.

One major reason why I’m recommending this program for beginner marketers is that it’s probably the easiest to work on.

Moreover, Amazon is a popular brand. People don’t doubt their service normally. It has built a strong reputation of trust and reliability between consumers.

So, when you are promoting Amazon’s products, it’s highly unlikely that they’d think twice before going through with the purchase.

For me, the best thing about Amazon is its customer service. The platform’s major focus is on delivering top-notch customer service and it is quite successful in that.

That’s why customers don’t hesitate to come back again. Amazon is the go-to choice for most online shoppers when it comes to repeat purchases.

And, people don’t hesitate to recommend it to their peers as well.

However, it’s important to mention that the platform has reduced its commission rates recently. And, you can’t say for sure that they won’t do that again in the future.

That said, it’s the ideal platform for people who want to get their hands dirty in affiliate marketing. The only hurdle would be the lack of hard work and right strategies and picking the wrong niche.


How can I succeed in Affiliate Marketing?

The affiliate marketing landscape can be quite competitive thanks to the unprecedented growth in online business.

But, you can still do well if you follow the right strategies.

Let’s discuss those strategies.


Choose a Low competition Niche

To me, choosing the right niche for affiliate marketing is the most important part of it.

If you are a beginner, you need to narrow down your niche. Targeting a broad topic won’t get you traffic, not for a long time, at least.

How do you choose low competition keywords?

By finding out long-tail keywords. Big brands don’t tend to target those.

For instance, if you want to work in kitchen utensils, focus on knives first. Later, when you have some authority on your topic, you can expand on other kitchen utensils.

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These keywords should have a good enough search volume as well. You don’t want to target a niche no one cares about, right?

An effective free tool for keyword research is Google Keyword Planner. You put your main keyword in the search bar, and it fetches you a laundry list of related keywords.

Not only that, but it also shows important metrics like the search volume and level of competition of respective keywords.

google keyword plannerSource:

Produce User- and SEO-friendly Content

Without content, how will you persuade your audience to buy your products? Valuable and high-quality content is the key to success when it comes to affiliate marketing.

It’s the content that can set you apart from the competition. Not only your prospects, but search engines also need high-quality content.

Your content should address the pain points or desires of your prospects. Keep your language simple and content format easy to digest.


Always Strive to Grow

Keep a constant tab on your progress. If you are using a website, tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics will help you keep on track.

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Make sure to make necessary changes to your strategy if need be. If a piece of content is not performing well, repurpose it and make it better.


Why Do Affiliate Marketers Fail?

Affiliate marketing may seem easy. After all, promoting products that have already established their place in the industry shouldn’t be difficult, right?

Well, it’s not that simple.

Let’s discuss some reasons why affiliate marketers fail.


Affiliates Don’t Know the Products

If you don’t know exactly what you are promoting, how you’d tell your audience that it’s the best fit for them?

Not knowing enough about the product you are promoting is a major reason why affiliate marketers can’t get enough sales.


Lack of Strategies

Not implementing the right marketing strategies is also the reason why most affiliate marketers fail.

Don’t get too hung up on this one though. Just have the right mindset. Never stop learning from your mistakes.

Even if you mess up initially, keep improving your strategies for the better. This takes us to the next reason.



It’s not uncommon to lose patience. Many businesses get shut down due to a lack of patience. Growing a sustainable affiliate marketing business takes time.

Many don’t understand that and get demotivated. If only they knew there was light at the end of the tunnel.


Choosing the Wrong Niche

This doesn’t get said enough. Keeping a realistic view of the industry is important. The reality is, it’s almost impossible to rank for highly competitive topics.

People that don’t realize that bite off more than they can chew. Taking on a broad niche will only get you so far in the beginning.


Can I Do Affiliate Marketing Without a Website?

Yes, you can do affiliate marketing without a website. But, is that as effective? Let’s dig in.



YouTube has taken over the internet by storm. It’s the most used platform after Google. As an affiliate, you can use that fact in your favor.

Create appealing videos about affiliate products and put your affiliate links under those videos. When someone buys something through those links, you get a commission.

You don’t need sophisticated equipment to be a YouTuber; just a decent mobile camera would suffice.





Medium is a content publishing platform where anyone can create a free account and start writing articles.

So, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of creating and managing a website, create useful content for search engine audiences and generate affiliate sales through Medium.

You will need to disclose that the links you inserted are your affiliate links.


Social Media

You can also promote your affiliate products on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Instagram doesn’t allow links in posts, so you’d have to redirect your audience to your bio.

You can create pages and groups on Facebook and talk about your affiliate products while educating your audience.

It’s important on social media to first build the audiencethat trusts you and then subtly pitch your offers. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time generating any affiliate sales.


Final Thoughts

Is affiliate marketing dead? Not at all. Has the dynamics of affiliate marketing changed over time? Yes.

Is it difficult to sell affiliate products and be mighty successful? Well, yes and no.

If you can follow the right strategies, it’s not tricky. But, if you don’t give weight to tried and tested methods, you’ll probably be going to learn them the hard way.

Keyword and niche research and content creation play vital roles in making your efforts successful. But, don’t get overwhelmed by them.

Try to do your best and start working without hesitation. Just keep a critical view of your progress and don’t shy away from adjusting your strategies when they don’t work.

Affiliate marketing has always been on the path to growth and research suggests similar trends in the future. So, not only affiliate marketing is not dead, but it’s one of the most lucrative online business models.

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