I actively started to monetize my blog about 6 months ago. I remember I had some really GREAT days and some really CRAPPY days.
Blogging is a test of patience, especially if you're blogging for profit.
Every Sunday at noon, I'd completely break down. I'd let the tears stream as I curled in bed under the covers with my PJ's on in my not-so-comfortable bed thinking to myself, "CRAP, is this EVER going to work?"
I kid you not - the same routine happened, like clockwork, every Sunday at noon for about 6 weeks.
But I kept going, though. I didn't make money right away but I kept moving forward, pushing through even when there was ZERO sign of progress.
My boyfriend and I would joke that the minute I earned my first commission from an affiliate link, we'd drop everything and go celebrate with a drink. I seriously used to dream about 'that day'.
And waited some more.
And then waited a bit more, and more, and more, and more.... and more.
Until finally it happened. Just like that.
I was sitting in the bathroom (doing what you do when you sit in the bathroom - sorry if that's TMI but I'm being honest here) and that's when it happened. An email came through that informed me I'd made just about $80. Just like that! Easy!
The best part? I got that email on a Sunday at noon.
Interestingly enough, I didn't celebrate. I should have, but I didn't.
Instead, I opened my computer, journaled for a few minutes about that day, my feelings and the experience (promising myself never to forget it) and then I started working. Like REALLY working.
My first affiliate commission wasn't only sweet, but it was motivating. It kicked me into high gear and I began rolling. More content, better content, quicker content.
Anyone working on creating a passive income stream through affiliate marketing knows that affiliate marketing isn't really all that passive, especially not in the beginning. It takes time, effort, and dedication.
But, the virtual sweat, tears and stress all become worth it when you open your email in the morning to see how much you earned last night while you were sleeping, out to dinner celebrating Grandma's birthday, at the gym, or on the beach in Florida.
So, this post is for all of those beginners just starting out who are wondering if it will ever work out for them. We ALL started at the beginning and there IS a nice, bright light at the end of the long tunnel... and that first affiliate sale is WORTH IT.
Don't believe me? No worries. Take the word of these 19 bloggers, many of whom are students in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
I asked them to travel back in time to the day they earned that very first affiliate commission and describe that feeling of victory.
Here's what they had to say about their first affiliate sales:
#1 BRENDAN BURNS
Visit the website: AdventureDaze.com
When I first learned I made an affiliate sale, I was so excited because it was from a fellow traveler who connected with me on Instagram. She was from New Zealand and told me how inspired she was by my blog to start her own as she was embarking upon a year long round the world trip. I still have that very first sale email hanging up in my apartment in New York City. It is a great reminder for how I've been able to use my story and my blog as a way to help people achieve their goals.
First affiliate sale: Bluehost Web Hosting - $65
Current affiliate earnings: Around $500 per month
Brendan is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: I still have that very first sale email hanging up in my apartment in NYC - @adventuredazing
#2 TIFFANY GRIFFIN
Visit the website: BeautifulDawnDesigns.net
When I made my first affiliate commission, I remember feeling ecstatic. I was jumping up and down and doing a celebration dance with my dog. I didn't earn much, but that didn't matter. Knowing that I had made my first affiliate sale was one of the best feelings!
First affiliate sale: PicMonkey - around $5.00
Current affiliate earnings: Around $2,000 per month
Tiffany is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: I was jumping up and down doing a celebration dance - @_TiffanyGriffin
#3 CARRIE WILLARD
Visit the website: CarrieWillard.com
14 years ago, I was blogging a little and doing direct sales. I decided to host a "business moms expo" in my community to showcase my business as well as make a little money inviting other people to participate. It was a smashing success and I hosted another. To save time (I was inundated with emails and phone calls!), I created a 3 page website to answer questions from participants and attendees. I knew people made money from affiliate marketing, so I threw a couple of links on that site on a "resources" page - things I knew would appeal to people in direct sales or who were looking for a business opportunity to start from home. Lo and behold, after the expo was over, I logged in and discovered that I had made some money from those links! I had almost forgotten about them. It was a life-changing moment. I went on to create a few websites and made money from affiliate products. At one point, I was supporting my family as a single mom.
Carrie is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: It was a life changing moment #AffiliateMarketing - @carrielwillard
#4 DEBBIE GARTNER
Visit the website: TheFlooringGirl.com
My first month was January 2016 and I earned $100.57 on Amazon Associates. I was away in Mexico and was so excited when I found out I was earning anything...I would check the stats each day. I was so pleasantly surprised and thought, "This is the start of something great."
My first affiliate sales were for items that were complementary to my blog/business. I sold hardwood flooring and I was promoting items like hardwood floor cleaner, felt pads, doggis socks...things my customers always asked me about.
First affiliate sale: Amazon Associates - around $100.57
Current affiliate earnings: One year later, Debbie has earned $1,490
Debbie is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: I thought, "This is the start of something great." - @DebbieGartner
#5 KAMIKA SMITH
Visit the website: thekaysaga.com
I felt overwhelmed when I received my first affiliate sale. I had been working so hard and the moment that I saw my first commission, I knew my hard work had paid off. I was so surprised!
First affiliate sale: Ultimate Bundles Conquer Your Clutter Super Bundle - around $11.99
Current affiliate earnings: Kamika is on track to earn $300 this month in affiliate commission after starting her blog in July 2016.
Kamika is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: I knew my hard work had paid off. I was so surprised! - @thekaysaga1
#6 KRYSTAL MILLER
Visit the website: healthyhappythriftyfamily.com
I was completely shocked when I earned my first affiliate income. After blogging for a few months, I still had no idea what I was doing in regards to my affiliate accounts.
My first commission was from Amazon. Someone bought something that was completely unrelated to my link, and it was less than $1 in commission!
First affiliate sale: Amazon Associates - less than $1
Current affiliate earnings: Krystal earns around $50-$100 per month
Krystal is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: I was completely shocked when I earned my first affiliate income - @hhtfamilyblog
#7 CHANTEL ARNETT
Visit the website: chantelarnett.com
When I got my first affiliate commission, I was super excited because it was also the first income of any kind from my blog. I was also relieved, because I had been somewhat nervous about emailing my list to tell them about SiteGround's Black Friday special, even though it was a great deal! I was worried that I was going to get a bunch of unsubscribes, which was the last thing l wanted since I was also working hard on growing my email list.
In the end, I thought about whether the offer was something my list would genuinely be interested in hearing about and decided that it would be. I also remember being surprised that not only did one of my subscribers sign up for hosting using my affiliate link, she even replied to my email to say thank you and to let me know that she had signed up for three years!
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: I was super excited... it was the first income of any kind from my blog - @chantel_arnett
#8 CARLIE DAYLE
Visit the website: aCajuninCalie.com
As a relatively new blogger, I didn't expect to earn any affiliate income for a long time. So, imagine my surprise when I opened my ShareaSale account to find A SALE a few months after inserting my first affiliate links! I blog mostly about travel, but, as an amateur photographer, I've also included a few posts on improving photography skills. With so much travel content on the site, I expected the first sale to be for a travel-related service or product. I was thrilled to learn that it was a photography-related link that converted. It was incredibly empowering to see that I had gained enough trust to convert a sale, especially considering it was for a product that isn't the primary focus of the blog. Getting that first $9 sale spurred me to learn more about affiliate marketing, blogging, and content marketing. As my traffic picks up, I expect my earnings to increase in the coming months.
First affiliate sale: ShareaSale - $9.00
Current affiliate earnings: Carlie earns about $20 per month
Carlie is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: It was incredibly empowering... I had gained enough trust to convert a sale - @acajunincali
#9 EMILY MCGEE
Visit the website: myadaptablecareer.com
It was so gratifying to earn that first affiliate commission. I felt like all my hard work was finally starting to pay off! I told my husband and mom, and then I emailed my blogging BFF because I knew she would "get it" in a way that my family couldn't.
My first commission was $8.70 from ConvertKit. One of my blog readers did a free month trial of CK, and then bought a plan. Even more exciting, as long as she keeps using ConvertKit, I keep getting a commission!
I've only been earning through affiliate marketing for 2 months while I focused on building my blogging foundation and creating my first e-course. But this month has been even better than last. After adding an affiliate link to my most popular post, I've made about $30 this month. It's small by many people's standards, but I'm still happy to get the ball rolling on affiliate income.
First affiliate sale: ConvertKit - $8.70 (recurring each month!)
Current affiliate earnings: Around $30 per month (she's only 2 months in!)
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: It felt like all my hard work was finally starting to pay off - @MyAdaptCareer
#10 JO AND LEISA
Visit the website: joeleisa.com
JO and LEISA
We are twins Jo and Leisa who hail from sunny Jamaica. We are frugal lifestyle bloggers at www.joleisa.com and we now live in England.
Our first affiliate income came to us as an absolute shock! It was New Year's Eve and we both sat down to review our first year of blogging and to make focused projections for the new year. At the end of our session, we decided to complete reading through the last bits of a blogging course we had been doing. I was bemoaning the fact that we had maybe signed up as affiliates too early (before completing the course), hence why we hadn't done well. Then Leisa asked, "How do you know we haven't made any money? Have you checked?" So I checked and found that we had made one affiliate sale of the course and earned $199! We were beyond shocked and excited and texted our friends in our small mastermind group to tell them. Since then, we have been focused on monetizing and can't wait to see what the future holds.
First affiliate sale: Elite Blog Academy - $199
Current affiliate earnings: Jo and Leisa have earned £60 pounds since signing up for the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing three weeks ago
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: Our first affiliate commission came to us as a complete shock! - @creedjoleisa
Visit the website: whenthebracescomeoff.com
I earned my first affiliate comission literally a day after applying some techniques I had learned from the course. The feeling was like nothing else. We as bloggers work SO hard, everyday to share our voice and eventually make a living from it. You know the feeling when you realize your long time dream is finally coming true? Ya, that's how it felt. Amazing!
My affiliate commission came from Amazon. I love their program. By the end of the day I had made 5 sales, earning about $6.00. I know that's not much, but making those sales inspired a certain confidence in myself that I didn't know I had.
First affiliate sale: Amazon Associates - around $6.00
Rina is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. She enrolled about two weeks ago and is already earning affiliate commissions.
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: the feeling when you realize your long-time dream is finally coming true - @WhenBraComesOff
#12 EDEN ASHLEY
Visit the website: mintnotion.com
Before I started monetizing my blog, it was a hobby-blog for the first couple of years and I didn't know much about affiliate marketing at the time. When I started learning more about affiliate marketing, I joined Amazon's affiliate program and made my first sale the next day. My first affiliate commission was small, but I was so excited because it was the beginning of a new chapter in my blogging journey.
First affiliate sale: Amazon Associates - around $0.20
Current affiliate earnings: Eden currently earns between $2,000 and $3,000 in affiliate sales each month!
Eden is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: It was the beginning of a new chapter - @MintNotion
#13 MEERA KOTHAND
Visit the website: MeeraKothand.com
I was extremely ecstatic about my first affiliate sale, although it was just $8.90. It came from the sale of a ConvertKit account. The notification came in through the night so I got my first taste of what it means to make money ‘while you’re sleeping’ without having to do any constant promotion or having your own product. I also believed in the product and have seen tremendous gains from using it in my own business. So I was happy to introduce it to my audience and have them love it as well.
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: I got my first taste of what it means to make money while you're sleeping - @MeeraKothand
#14 MARY ANN ROLLANO
Visit the website: lifeisbetterwithtea.com
MARY ANN ROLLANO
The first time I earned affiliate commissions was through Amazon Affiliates. It was only a few dollars but still it was money earned! That's an amazing feeling. I thought all I have to do now is multiply my visitors and I will multiply my affiliate income. That's very powerful. The great thing about Amazon Affiliates is that, as a new blogger, you can get right in the game. Another positive is that you earn not just on the specific affiliate link, but anything else the customer buys during that visit.
First affiliate sale: Amazon Associates - a few dollars
Current affiliate earnings: currently under $100 per month and growing!
Mary Ann is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: It was only a few dollars but still it was money earned - @Better_With_Tea
#15 JEFF PROCTOR
Visit the website: breakingtheonepercent.com
We made our first affiliate sale about 6 months ago. When I logged in and saw our commission, it was one of the most gratifying moments I've had since becoming an entrepreneur. Knowing that something I did created that dollar is an amazing feeling- almost like an endorphin rush. Once we figured out what worked and what lead to that commission, we started doing more of it. We doubled down on our strengths and our income grew exponentially.
The commission was from a market research company that pays affiliate for email signups. The commission was only $2.80 (that was all we earned that day), but as we produced more and more leads for them, our commission increased to $3.50 per email signup. Seeing as how we now generate over 1,000 leads a month for them, it really adds up!
First affiliate sale: Market Research Company - around $2.80
Current affiliate earnings: Jeff earned over $7,000 last month from affiliate marketing!
Jeff is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: It was an amazing feeling, almost like an endorphin rush -Jeff Proctor
#16 TYLER PHILBROOK
Visit the website: iamthefutureme.com
After trying and failing at so many things to make money online, making that first amount of money felt invigorating. It wasn't much - not even enough to cover the hosting for the site - but it was enough for me to know this was something that could work.
First affiliate sale: Lyft - $50
Current affiliate earnings: Tyler averages about $30 per month in affiliate sales, which pays for site maintenance.
Tyler is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: Making that first amount of money felt invigorating - @tjphilbrook
Visit the website: thebusinessref.com
When I received my first affiliate sale, I was overjoyed! All my hours of hard work writing various blog posts, sharing my material and growing my following finally had paid off and I couldn't believe it. I felt as though I could conquer the world and I was incredibly happy that someone out there cared enough about my blog to utilize my affiliate link.
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: I felt like I could conquer the world - @TheBusinessRef
#18 ALEXIS SCHROEDER
Visit the website: FITnancials.com
I had no idea that I could make money from recommending the products I already use regularly at home. It was a rewarding feeling to make money while I was sleeping and not have to put in too much work. Every blogger out there should be implementing affiliate marketing into their plan. Any niche is welcome in affiliate marketing, so it's a must!
I think the key to being successful at affiliate marketing is being 100% genuine and true to your readers. I would never recommend an item to my readers that I don't 100% believe in!
First affiliate sale: Amazon Associates - $100 for the first month
Current affiliate earnings: Alexis currently earns about $400 per month and she started in December 2016
Alexis is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: It was a rewarding feeling to make money while I was sleeping - @FITnancials
#19 ALLISON GREEN
Visit the website: eternalarrival.com
I was mostly just surprised when I made my first affiliate commission. It wasn’t much, but it made me realize that what I say actually does influence people’s decision-making in some small way. I hadn’t really thought of my blog in that way before, so it was kind of empowering!
First affiliate sale: Amazon Associates - $1.60
Current affiliate earnings: $10 per month - you have to start somewhere!
Allison is a student in the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
#MyFirstAffiliateSale: It was kind of empowering - @eternalarrival
Are you interested in learning how to make your very own affiliate sales? Join the FB group for bloggers.
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