Websites consisting mostly of affiliate links have previously held a negative reputation for underdelivering quality content. In 2005 there were active changes made by Google, where certain websites were labeled as "thin affiliates". Such websites were either removed from Google's index or were relocated within the results page (i.e., moved from the top-most results to a lower position). To avoid this categorization, affiliate marketer webmasters must create quality content on their websites that distinguishes their work from the work of spammers or banner farms, which only contain links leading to merchant sites.
Another survey from VigLink offers a closer look at just how much income affiliate marketers are bringing in. According to the survey, 9% generated more than $50,000 in affiliate income in 2016. The majority, 65%, said they were making between 5% and 20% of their annual revenue from affiliate programs. The survey also showed a link between timeframe and revenues. Among the publishers with the largest revenues, 60% had been utilizing affiliate-marketing strategies for five years or more.
Affiliate marketing is often touted as a "get rich quick scheme" by shady sites offering pyramid schemes that promise quick cash for little effort. Make no mistake—successful affiliate marketers like Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income put in a lot of effort toward building an audience and creating quality content that will bring in sustainable passive income. Expect to do a lot of legwork up front—but if you play your cards right, you can build a solid source of revenue over time.