Is Affiliate Marketing Dead in 2021? Or Is It Still Worth It?

Is Affiliate Marketing Dead

Affiliate marketing has had its ups and downs for the past year and a half. From Amazon’s slash on commissions, to Google’s recent update dealing with commercial content on affiliate sites, it’s been quite the ride.

So does that mean affiliate marketing is dead?

Is it not a viable business model anymore?

Let’s find out.

To Put It Bluntly

We don’t think affiliate marketing is dead. Quite the contrary, all the recent developments could have actually opened more doors than they closed. Sure, Amazon slashed commissions. But this paved the way for marketers to find better affiliate programs for their platforms. And yes, the recent Google update may have affected some sites for the worse.

But they also helped other sites. It boosted traffic, and even revenue, for one of our sites. And it’s done the same for a lot of our students.

That doesn’t mean affiliate marketing is a risk-free venture, or that it can’t lose popularity for some people. But it’s still a worthy monetization method in 2021.

Why Are People Hesitant About Affiliate Marketing?

Regardless of what we say, there are still a lot of people online hesitant about affiliate marketing, especially if it’s for monetizing a blog. Things like Google updates, seasonality of some topics, or the fluctuation of income makes people stray away from affiliate marketing.

Let’s tackle these problems.

Google Algorithm Updates

Google updates can be a scary thing, especially for people that rely solely on the income for their authority sites. You see disheartening graphs about huge traffic tanks on online forums or groups, so of course you’ll get anxious about your own site.

What if that happens to you?

Can you rely on affiliate marketing through organic traffic if a Google update is all it takes to shut your business down?

Like a lot of things in business, it’s still a gamble to some extent. But yes, affiliate marketing is still reliable, even if Google updates sometimes hurt websites. Because while you can’t see the technical changes Google makes to their algorithm, you can always ensure you’re in their good graces. 

If you play by Google’s rules, and optimize your site to actually serve an audience, you can decrease the chances of an update hurting your site. At the end of the day, Google wants quality content on their SERP. Content that people actually enjoy. If you deliver that consistently, it’s very unlikely you’ll get hurt in the long run.

Let’s talk about the most recent update for example. 

It targeted product reviews, with the purpose of promoting insightful analysis and original research. Sure, while it’s purpose isn’t to penalize any website, it may have hurt some websites, but just because competition was doing better, and climbed on the SERP as a result of the update.

A lot of people speculate about what it did. Some say Google fights vigorously against all types of commercial articles. Others claim it hit websites that focused too heavily on commercial content, instead of informational one as well.

But at the end of the day, our websites weren’t hurt. And if you played by Google’s rules from the beginning, chances are yours weren’t hit either. If you have always focused on providing valuable content – in this case, honest, in-depth reviews of products you actually tried – Google is likely to have noticed that.

Sure, there is some risk involved

Updates can tank a website, even if it seemingly plays by the rules.

But risk is an inherent part of business. And that’s why a diversification of income sources is recommended. Risk, however, doesn’t mean affiliate marketing is dead.

Commissions Tanking

As a beginner affiliate, it may feel like your business is at the mercy of the big players in the niche. When Amazon decided to slash commissions last year, there was nothing small sites could do about it. And if your main source of income was Amazon, it might’ve felt pretty bad.

But affiliate marketers are not at the mercy of merchants.

Quite the contrary. Amazon doesn’t have a monopoly on affiliate programs. You have dozens, even hundreds of valuable programs in all niches. In fact, if that’s something you’re interested in, feel free to check our list of the best affiliate programs.

With all of these options on the market, you can always find valuable products to promote. Not to mention, if you can drive in consistent traffic to merchants, you can always negotiate commissions individually.

Why Is Affiliate Marketing Worth it?

So affiliate marketing isn’t dead. In fact, if you strive to provide valuable content to your audience, you can expect to thrive regardless of Google updates or commissions changes from big companies like Amazon.

But is it worth going through all the trouble?

We think it is.

For starters, it’s a good monetization system. As an authority site owner just starting out in the scene, developing your own product can be pretty difficult. You’ll need to:

  • Research the market for a demand to fill
  • Create the actual product
  • Have a good sales system in place
  • Worry about storage and distribution
  • Set-up a customer support system

And plenty of other things that come along with the launch of a new product. It’s an expensive undertaking. Affiliate marketing makes it much easier for you. The only thing you need to worry about is getting traffic. This way, you can focus on growing your brand, creating content, and link building, while also making enough money to warrant your effort.

Not to mention, opting for affiliate marketing monetization doesn’t limit your growth through other means. You can still use ads on your site, and if you have the budget for it, you can always create your own products.

Lastly, affiliate marketing is a huge help when researching a niche. Sure, it won’t be enough to show you that a topic has potential. You still need keyword research, and some brainstorming for a domain name and branding. But finding affiliate offers, as well as successful affiliate sites in that niche, means there is room for growth in it.

How Can You Get Started With Affiliate Marketing?

If you found this article, chances are that you want to get into affiliate marketing, but were afraid it’s not really worth it anymore. If our arguments convinced you affiliate marketing isn’t dead, but rather thriving, here’s how you can get started with it.

Our experience is mainly in doing affiliate marketing for our authority sites. So we won’t be able to tell you that much about leveraging affiliate campaigns on social media, Youtube, or Twitch. 

However, the principles apply anywhere.

Because the first thing you need is a platform that offers valuable content. Whether that’s a website reviewing products in your niche, or a Youtube channel discussing the latest trends in your market, you need to start with a platform.

Then, you need to attract an audience around that platform. For an authority site, you’ll need to write valuable articles based on keyword research, and then start a link building campaign.

Lastly, you’ll need to find an affiliate program that works for you, and sign-up to start promoting products.

Throughout all of this, online tools are key to help you succeed. That’s why we suggest you take a look at our list of the best online marketing tools.

In Conclusion

Affiliate marketing is certainly not dead. And as long as you create truly valuable content, that genuinely helps your audience, you can expect to stay in Google’s good graces and keep growing in the blogosphere.

Sure, there is some risk involved. Like there is risk involved in any business. But in our opinion, it’s not a deal breaker. Do you agree?

Gael Breton

Gael Breton is one half of the Authority Hacker Duo. Together with his business partner Mark, they teach people how to grow and build profitable businesses by field testing the latest and greatest techniques and turning them into practical, implementable ideas!

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