The short answer is: NO!
I have never come across an affiliate marketeer who is making a significant income from it and is willing to share this proof with me.
Been 4+ years in the hunt and I know my fair share of affiliate marketeers.
I have personally been banned from forums like www.warriorforum.com because I specifically challenged all those so called gurus who were selling their work for $97, or $47 or $27 (and made $100,000s from it), to show me proof.
The only proof I wanted was either a video recording of them entering their PayPal account or Bank Account statement that was showing the same.
Never got it.
I suggested many other options/alternatives to them to validate their wild income claims, only to get booted time and time again. yes, I tried under various IDs, etc.
Is there income from affiliate marketing - sure there is. Is it enough for people to make the wild claims they do - to sustain a large living of it - NO! That is a pure scam (in my opinion) and I refuse to budge from my stance, unless shown otherwise (i.e. proven wrong).
Affiliate marketing benefits the company whose product/service you are selling.
Let me repeat that again, affiliate marketing benefits the company you are promoting --- not you!
Simple. 1000s of people sign up and promote their products in the hopes of making an income. If 1000s of people are actually promoting the product, then the products would be flying off the shelves - the sad reality of it is - they are not (in majority of the cases).
If you promote say a product from Amazon, the cookie is only valid for 24-hours! Now lets say you have 50,000 visitors a month, realistically, 100-150 or so will click in (I say this from experience and from having seen many high-traffic blogs, who do affiliate marketing). Out of this 100-150 clicks, they usually have 1-3 sales per month. That's it.
Those who claim that their cookie is valid for 45 days (good!), but what about the product? Either it is crap (a fact easily verified by the percentage of the income you would be getting back from the sale price), or the mere fact that 10,000+ people are promoting it. The chances of you making a sale is slim to none.
The amount of money you spend in promoting the blog and promoting the product, does not do justice to the income made. Many people will tell you of how to go about making 100s of sites with micro-niches, etc. and you will be raking in the money. Please go ahead and try and prove me wrong. I would love to see to the contrary.
Like I cited, affiliate income is there, but not enough to make a significant living from it. Most of the Long Sales Letters you will see, with screen shots of crazy income accumulated over a 24-hour period, etc. are all fake. 100% fake. Why is it that only in this industry (Internet Marketing / Affiliate Marketing) do you see those LONG winded sales letters and when you try to leave the page, a message pops up asking you (convincing you for the last time) not to walk away from this lucrative opportunity.
I have seen so called gurus on Warrior Forum go bankrupt and absolutely broke. I keep bringing Warrior Forum again and again, because it is highlighted as the mecca for internet and affiliate marketing. The people who really are making money are those who are selling their products and services. A person who makes a product for say amazing SEO plugin for WordPress is making money. The affiliates are not. For example, Thesis WordPress theme by DIY Themes is surely making money, their affiliates are "sooooooo" many (emphasis supplied), that the entire market is chopped up and distributed amongst the 1000s of affiliates and what each gets in turn, are a few $100 at best (if at all).
Its a numbers game for those starting out, and the odds are stacked against you. Why on earth would a person who has discovered a way or promotes a secret recipe of making $10,000s a month, share it with you for a few measly US$?
Answer - because that is the fraternity con.
All the other gurus would back each other and the novices like you and me, those who lie in bed all day, dreaming of how we could go online and make a very decent income and quit our jobs and take the vacations, get conned by these so called gurus, and money from our wallet (you will notice) will flow to 'them' be it in shape of SEO tactics, SEM, back links acquisitions, webpages setup, landing pages sales, mentorships, classes, plug-ins, robots, automated techniques, mailing list magic, 100% sure copy writing services, more secret recipes, analytical tools, more courses, e-books, more reading, the infamous "try harder, don't give up now" or "shampoo-wash-rinse-repeat" mantras that are constantly pounded into your subliminal mind.
Those with deep pockets, and I mean deep, who have the resources to buy 1000s of domains, lots of resources working for specialized micro-niche pages, and driving traffic to them, one way or the other, are making money. They have a wide spectrum of websites which is equally balanced with a wide spectrum of website traffic (very high traffic to very low traffic) and they average a very decent income. But they are not on these boards selling their secrets. They stay away from such crap and continue to focus on what works for them. They have the money to do very large scale buying of Adwords and other keywords to drive traffic to their website and keep you out on the periphery.
Every story you read about affiliate marketing, is like a cocaine story. There is a pusher in there, trying to promote or push their product or service to you, whilst at all time keeping you mesmerized by the promise of the big affiliate income source.
Its like when I was young and I read the "Emperor's New Clothes".... only a little boy could see that the Emperor riding on the horse was only in his undies...and if you continue to believe in this fable, that is all that you will have left.
Ask around for how many have been successful at affiliate marketing and what portion does it constitute of their overall income - the answer would be surprising for you - very little. Meagre in most cases.
Ask around to find someone who really made it - in affiliate marketing, and the answer is you won't find many. You will however find that most of them transition to some form of a product or service they sell to you, be it content writing, guru-ness teaching, learning the ropes, e-books, sales, etc. all to tell you how to make it in affiliate marketing world. Quite a contradiction.
The game is a loop.
This answer is not about being venomous at all. But it is about letting people know - think before you take the leap. The internet has simply exploded with the false pretense of fast money, cars, vacations, debt-free living, beaches, jewelry, fine wines, villas by the beach and city condos.... I think you know better.
There is no harm in learning affiliate marketing. Maybe you could be the one who makes it and proves me wrong. If so, I shall have a lot of respect for you. But do so with care. Most of what is taught - is freely available on the Internet. Freely! You just have to be patient, and clever in seeking out the material and putting it all together. I don't expect everyone to 'get it' - and this is what cons rely on, they hope you don't get it and then con their way into making sure you are on the long but sure path of getting it - which sadly never arrives. You will be flustered, frustrated, angry and feel violated once you discover how much money you have wasted on it. For good orders sake, don't put your hand into your savings or college funds, retirement fund.
The only people I know off, who are making money, but still I have not seen an income statement to that effect and hence I am very cautious, are the people who run very large mailing lists. When you have numbers in the 25,000+ readers in your mailing list, it is very well possible to make affiliate money off them. However, having said this, there are two caveats to the above statement.
Many readers feel 'cheated' if a link they clicked on in your list, somehow made you money (yes, crazy thought, but it is true).
You cannot continually keep pitching affiliate links to your readers, else they will deem the list to be a source of spam, and unsibscribe themselves from your list.
(Mailing) Lists are run like campaigns, spaced a few days apart. The income can be 'decent' provided the offering and the campaign was well thought of. However, I might add, it takes (months, if not years) to have such a list of so many people who opt-in, and the key point to note in lists is that they cater to a very specific vertical/niche. You can only market within that niche. Building such a huge list of subscribers takes a lot of money, so if the Question is can you make it - via lists, I would say, the jury is still out. I am 'convinced' it can be made, however, I have yet to see proof for the same. I don't know what the big deal is why people cannot share proof.
The affiliate marketing scam is equal in size if not greater in size to the Nigerian 401 scam. Yes, you really have a person willing to give you $ 1 Million. BS you say? Then how come you buy the same BS packaged in a different way, when someone tells you how you can make millions in affiliate marketing by buying their <insert product/service name here> for $X?
Stay in this niche long enough, and you will unknowingly transform from an affiliate marketeer to a provider of services or a product (mark my words!). Then you too shall be trying to find newbies the 5,000+ people who are logged in on Warrior Forum or other places like Digital Point, etc. and be making a comfortable living, in trying to sell 'stuff' to these people (mostly genuine stuff but equally balanced by a lot of fraudulently pre-packed BS). And the best part is the newbies are in millions! Millions! Imagine the possibility of duping them!
The subliminal advertising is so convincing, you will be drawn to it - the gravity of making money always will lure you. My advise, keep your wallet/money away! Do NOT go on the impulsive shopping spree. The 1 day only left, or a limited time offer. It just never ends.