The Secret Earnings of 2,200 Affiliate Marketers Finally Exposed

Jay Clair
8 min readSep 6, 2023


Welcome to our deep dive into one of the most comprehensive studies on affiliate marketing to date. The team at Authority Hackers, known for their meticulous research and in-depth insights, recently conducted a survey that has garnered attention from affiliate marketers worldwide. Let’s unpack the significance of this survey and what it means for the industry.

A Groundbreaking Survey

Authority Hackers set out with an ambitious goal: to gather data from a vast pool of affiliate marketers and shed light on the current state of the industry. Their survey reached an impressive scale, with over 2,200 professional affiliate marketers participating. This isn’t just another survey; it’s a reflection of the collective voice of affiliate marketers from various niches and experience levels.

Who Took Part?

The survey wasn’t limited to seasoned pros. It reached out to over 100,000 active subscribers, capturing insights from:

  • Beginners: A surprising 44.5% had less than a year of experience.
  • Intermediate Marketers: 40% had between one and five years of experience.
  • Veterans: 16% boasted over six years in the affiliate marketing world.

This diverse respondent base ensures a well-rounded perspective, offering insights from those just starting out to those who’ve seen the industry evolve over the years.

Background of the Survey

When it comes to understanding the nuances of any industry, context is key. Authority Hackers didn’t just throw together a few questions and hope for the best. Their approach was systematic, targeted, and designed to capture the most accurate snapshot of the affiliate marketing landscape.

Reaching the Masses

The survey was strategically promoted to Authority Hackers’ vast audience of over 100,000 active subscribers. This ensured a broad spectrum of participants, from those just dipping their toes into affiliate marketing to seasoned professionals with multiple successful sites under their belts.

Diverse Experience Levels

One of the standout features of this survey is the diverse range of experience levels of the respondents. Let’s break it down:

  • Newbies on the Block: 44.5% of respondents were fresh faces with less than a year of experience. Their insights provide a glimpse into the challenges and opportunities newcomers face.
  • The Middle Ground: 40% had between one and five years of experience. This group has seen some trends come and go and has a good grasp of the evolving nature of affiliate marketing.
  • The Old Guard: 16% had over six years of experience. Their longevity in the industry offers a unique perspective, highlighting the strategies that stand the test of time and the adaptability required to stay relevant.

A Comprehensive Set of Questions

The survey wasn’t just about numbers. With 28 carefully crafted questions, Authority Hackers aimed to delve deep into the strategies, challenges, and successes of affiliate marketers. From earnings to algorithm updates, no stone was left unturned.

Affiliate Earnings Insights

One of the most anticipated aspects of the Authority Hackers’ survey was the revelation about earnings. How much are affiliate marketers really making? The results were both enlightening and encouraging, painting a picture of a thriving industry with opportunities at every turn.

The Average Earnings

Across the board, affiliate marketers reported an average monthly earning of a commendable $8,012. But as we delve deeper, it becomes evident that this average is influenced by various factors, most notably the niche.

Earnings by Niche

  • Travel: Bucking the trend and defying expectations, the travel niche stood out with a whopping average monthly earning of $18,915. Authority Hackers speculate that the myriad of high-paying affiliate programs in travel, coupled with the vast range of products and accessories travellers purchase, contribute to this impressive figure.
  • Education and E-learning: Coming in strong, this niche reported the second-highest earnings. The digital nature of products in this space, often with high commision rates due to zero production costs, makes it a lucrative field for affiliate marketers.
  • Beauty and Skincare: With an average monthly earning of $12,922, this niche showcased the potential of the vast range of products and the interconnectedness of skincare routines, offering ample opportunities for upselling.
  • Other Notable Niches: Finance, Tech, Health and Fitness, and Digital Marketing also reported robust earnings, further emphasising the diverse opportunities in affiliate marketing.

The Role of Expertise

Authority Hackers also touched upon an intriguing point: the balance between expertise and experience. In niches like health, Google might prioritise content from recognised experts. However, in areas like travel, personal experiences can be just as valuable, allowing individuals without formal qualifications to thrive.

Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash

The Impact of Experience on Earnings

Experience, as they say, is the best teacher. But in the world of affiliate marketing, does experience translate to higher earnings? Authority Hackers’ survey provides some compelling insights into this age-old debate.

Earnings for the Newbies

  • Less than a year: For those just starting out, the affiliate marketing journey begins with an average monthly earning of $636. While this might seem modest, it’s a promising start, especially considering the learning curve involved.

The Growth Phase

  • 1–2 years: As marketers find their footing and refine their strategies, earnings see a significant jump. With an average monthly income of $4,196, this phase showcases the potential rewards of persistence and continuous learning.

Reaping the Rewards

  • 3–10 years: With a deeper understanding of the industry’s intricacies, affiliate marketers in this bracket report monthly earnings ranging between $10,000 and $12,000. Their seasoned strategies and established presence contribute to these impressive figures.

The Elite Club

  • 10 years or more: The pinnacle of affiliate marketing success is represented by this group. With an astounding average monthly earning of $44,900, these veterans likely operate with larger teams and have fine-tuned their operations to perfection.

Team Dynamics and Earnings

It’s not just individual effort that plays a role. The survey revealed interesting correlations between team size and earnings:

  • High earners, especially those raking in between $250k to $500k per month, typically operate with teams of around 20 people.
  • On the other hand, solopreneurs or those in the initial stages often work alone, gradually expanding their teams as earnings increase.

Algorithm Updates: Boon or Bane?

In the ever-evolving world of SEO and affiliate marketing, algorithm updates are a constant. These updates can either propel a site to new heights or send it plummeting down the search rankings. Authority Hackers’ survey delved into this contentious topic, shedding light on how affiliate marketers have been impacted.

The General Sentiment

A significant 58.8% of respondents reported no negative impacts from search engine algorithm updates. This suggests that a majority of affiliate marketers either have strategies that are resilient to updates or quickly adapt to the changes.

The Flip Side

However, it’s not all rosy. 25.1% of participants felt the sting of these updates, experiencing negative impacts on their sites. This underscores the importance of staying updated with SEO best practises and being prepared for the ever-changing landscape.

The Lucky Few

Interestingly, 16.1% of respondents reported positive impacts from algorithm updates. These fortunate few either benefited from competitors being penalised or had content that was favoured by the new algorithms.

Adapting to the SEO Landscape

The survey’s findings highlight the importance of adaptability in SEO. Algorithm updates are a given, but how affiliate marketers respond to them can make all the difference. Authority Hackers emphasise the need for:

  • Continuous learning and staying updated with SEO news.
  • Regularly auditing and updating content.
  • Ensuring high-quality, expert-backed content, especially for YMYL (Your Money Your Life) topics.

Monetising Strategies: Beyond Affiliate Links

While affiliate marketing remains a dominant force in online monetization, the landscape is diverse, with multiple streams of income available to savvy marketers. Authority Hackers’ survey delved into the various monetizing strategies employed by affiliate marketers, particularly the use of ads.

Ads on Affiliate Sites: A Growing Trend

A significant revelation from the survey was the prevalence of ads on affiliate sites. But how does this trend vary across niches?

  • Beauty and Skincare: Leading the pack, 80.4% of sites in this niche use ads, capitalising on the vast range of products and the potential for high user engagement.
  • Digital Marketing: Close behind, 78% of sites in this niche also employ ads. Given the high RPM potential, this comes as no surprise.
  • Fashion: Interestingly, while the fashion niche didn’t perform as well in affiliate marketing, it showed better results with ads.
  • Parenting and Family: On the lower end, only 56% of sites in this niche use ads. The personal and intimate nature of content in this niche might play a role in this decision.

Striking the Right Balance

While ads can offer an additional revenue stream, it’s crucial to strike a balance. Overloading a site with ads can deter visitors and diminish the user experience. Authority Hackers emphasise:

  • The importance of user experience and site speed.
  • The potential for ads to complement affiliate links, not overshadow them.
  • The need to test and optimise ad placements for maximum revenue without compromising content quality.

The Future Outlook: Is Affiliate Marketing Still Viable?

In an ever-evolving digital landscape, the viability and longevity of affiliate marketing are topics of keen interest. Authority Hackers’ survey provides a pulse check on the industry’s sentiment, offering a glimpse into what affiliate marketers feel about the road ahead.

A Wave of Optimism

A heartening 83.1% of respondents expressed a positive outlook on the future of affiliate marketing. This optimism isn’t just limited to the veterans; it’s a sentiment echoed across different experience levels, suggesting a collective confidence in the industry’s potential.

Niche-Specific Outlooks

  • Digital Marketing: Leading the charge in optimism, a whopping 91.2% of respondents in this niche feel positive about the future. Given the ever-growing digital landscape, this confidence is well-founded.
  • Sustainability and Environment: An interesting revelation was the 100% optimism rate among respondents in this niche. Though the sample size might be smaller, it’s a testament to the growing importance of eco-consciousness and sustainable living.

Challenges and Opportunities

While the overall sentiment is positive, it’s essential to recognise the challenges that lie ahead:

  • Algorithm updates and the need for continuous adaptability.
  • The rise of new monetization strategies and platforms.
  • Evolving user behaviours and expectations.

However, with challenges come opportunities. Authority Hackers emphasise the potential for:

  • Diversifying income streams.
  • Tapping into emerging niches and trends.
  • Leveraging new technologies and platforms for affiliate marketing.

Conclusion: Reflecting on the Affiliate Marketing Landscape

As we wrap up our deep dive into Authority Hackers’ comprehensive survey, it’s evident that affiliate marketing remains a dynamic and promising field. From the diverse earnings across niches to the ever-evolving challenges posed by algorithm updates, the industry is a testament to adaptability and innovation.

Key Takeaways

  • Diverse Earnings: The potential for profitability varies across niches, with sectors like travel and education leading the charge.
  • The Role of Experience: While experience plays a pivotal role in earnings, the survey underscores the importance of continuous learning and adaptability at every stage.
  • Algorithm Updates: Staying updated and responsive to SEO changes is crucial. While some updates pose challenges, they also offer opportunities for growth and refinement.
  • Monetization Strategies: Beyond affiliate links, ads present a viable revenue stream. However, striking the right balance is key to ensuring an optimal user experience.
  • Future Outlook: The overwhelming optimism among affiliate marketers is a positive sign, pointing to a bright future for the industry.
  • What about you?

As we reflect on these insights, we invite you to share your thoughts and experiences. Whether you’re a seasoned affiliate marketer or just starting out, your perspective adds value to the conversation. Join the discussion in the comments below, and let’s continue to shape the future of affiliate marketing together!

Watch the full study video here:



Jay Clair

Head of Marketing at Bluesfest. SEO Nerd & Writer. About Me: Contrarian, rational optimist, curiosity is king.