Can you become a millionaire from blogging and affiliate marketing?

Piggy bank on the beach

Yes, you can.  While in the beginning it’s hard to make money from blogging, once you crack the code, scaling to becoming a millionaire isn’t all that hard.  With a working system, it’s a matter of rinse, repeat and patience.

Before I get into the details, it’s important to define “millionaire blogger” or “millionaire affiliate marketer” because it can mean different things to different people.

What do you mean by millionaire blogger?

Here are a variety of definitions of a millionaire blogger / affiliate marketer.

  • $1 million+ net worth:  This would be the poorest definition of millionaire blogger because it takes into account the value of the blogger’s Web assets.
  • $1 million+ net annual income:  This is the second poorest definition.
  • $1 million+ net monthly income: This definition is verging onto becoming rich.  That’s $12 million plus per year.  That’s a lot of money.
  • $1 million+ in cash:  I’m not one to have $1 million in cash lying around. I’d rather put it to work but I get the cash mindset. I’m sure there are plenty of folks with $1 million plus sitting in a bank account.

What’s my definition of a millionaire blogger?

Generally, net worth is the value of all assets which would take into account the value of a blogger’s web assets.  This is a far cry from a blogger earning $1 million per month or even $1 million per year.

It doesn’t take all that much for a website to be valued at $1 million dollars.  A site with with $30,000 monthly net income is worth $1 million.  That’s $360,000 per year.

For the rest of this article, I’m going with the net worth definition.  I’ll step you through a variety of scenarios to how a blogger or affiliate marketer can become a millionaire with a blog or multiple blogs.

The following scenarios assume that a website earning $30,000 net income per month makes the owner of that website a millionaire.  That’s actually fairly conservative because a site earning $30,000 per month that sells for $1 million sells for a 33x net monthly income multiple. That’s pretty low.

What does it take to get a blog to $30,000 per month?

It varies tremendously depending on how it’s monetized and which niche it’s in.  Fundamentally, you need a website that gets traffic and makes money.

Here are some realistic scenarios:

Affiliate marketing site

Affiliate marketing sites, when done well, should earn $75 per 1,000 visitors.  Some do far better but a decent affiliate marketing site should earn that much.  That means in order to earn $30,000 per month, the site needs 400,000 monthly visitors.

A more nuanced way to make revenue projections with affiliate marketing sites is to figure out what you’re promoting and how many sales per month you need to earn each month to hit whatever your monthly revenue goal (in this case our goal is $30,000 per month).

For example, if you promote a product that costs $300 and pays a 10% affiliate commission, that’s $30 per sale. You need to sell 1,000 per month to earn $30,000 per month.  If you can convert 1% of visitors to buyers, that means you need 100,000 monthly visitors.  With this conversion mindset approach, you’ll probably do a better job with conversion rate optimization (CRO) that incorporates high converting pages and an email sequence.

Consider this scenario; one of my faves in the affiliate marketing world and that is recurring commissions. There are products/merchants who pay recurring commissions.  These are products with a monthly or annual cost.  The most common is software which requires customers to pay every month or annually.  Many software merchants pay affiliates a percentage of all recurring costs to the customers they refer.

I don’t earn any recurring commissions with my portfolio sites because I focus on ad revenue but I do earn some decent recurring commissions with Fat Stacks.  Let’s play out the recurring commission scenario to $30,000 per month.

  • Product cost: $50 per month
  • Commission: 20% which is $10 per month per referral.
  • Average client curation: 18 months (on average customers stay with the software for 18 months aka churn rate).

With a churn rate, it gets complicated calculating how many sales are needed to consistently earn $30,000 per month.  But to hit $30,000 without taking into account churn rate requires successfully referring 3,000 customers.  Once you do that, if you don’t refer another customer, you’ll earn $30,ooo per month for 18 months.  Usually, if you can build up a referral list to 3,000, chances are you’re referring customers faster than the churn rate so your monthly income should continuously grow.

While recurring commission products can be a great way to build up a good revenue stream, keep in mind it needs to convert.  There are plenty of such merchants and products out there but they don’t convert for all audiences.  You’re best of focusing on promoting products that convert well… and if it so happens that one or some of those products pay recurring commissions, then that’s a big, big bonus for you.

Display ad site

Across my portfolio of sites, I average about $30 per 1,000 visitors with Mediavine.  Some sites earn $43. Some earn under $15. Most earn around $30.

That means in order to earn $30,000 per month, this type of site needs 1 million monthly visitors.

Hybrid affiliate marketing and display ad site

A hybrid should hit $45 per 1,000 visitors which means the site needs around 666,000 monthly visitors.

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND, the above figures are very general.  These are ballpark numbers and it’s a big ballpark.

How many articles are needed to reach $30,000 per month?

This varies by SEO strategy.

Some bloggers publish fewer articles and work to getting plenty of traffic to each article.

Other bloggers, like myself, publish more articles with the goal of getting lots of traffic by publishing lots of content.

Some bloggers do both methods.

Here are a couple of scenarios:

  1. Fewer articles with more traffic per article:  A good goal to work toward here is averaging 1,200 visitors per article per month.  When achieved, an affiliate marketing blog earning $75 per 1,000 visitors needs only 333 published articles.  My guess is that some bloggers who are really good at ranking competitive keywords can achieve this with far fewer articles… maybe as low as 100.
  2. More articles but less traffic per article: This is my MO. My goal is to average 300 visitors per article.  That means if I need 1 million visitors per month, I need 3,333 published articles.  That might seem like a lot but keep in mind, once you get a site earning $20K per month or more, you have a healthy monthly budget for new content.  You can easily publish 100+ articles per month.  This way it snowballs pretty fast.  You can crank up to 3,500 published articles in a couple of years.

How long does it take to get a blog earning $30,000 per month?

It’s not going to happen fast.  If you think this is a piece of cake that you can achieve in a few months, think again.  I suppose some folks have hit it big fast (I think the guy who invented and sold Wordle did), but the reality is getting any blog or affiliate website to $30,000 per month will take at the very least 3 years.  Three years would be very, very impressive even for an experienced blogger.  Five years is more likely and that would be an impressive result.

Five to ten years is a realistic timeline to grow a blog, whether monetized with affiliate links, display ads or both to $30,000 per month.  That would require consistent work.  At some point along the way, you’d be earning enough to hire help which could speed it up.  You’d have to persevere during the lean years (years one to three).  But if you adopt a proven strategy, avoid shortcuts that can tank your site and consistently work at it, hitting $30,000 per month in five to ten years is within reach.

A simpler way to approach this

Because there are several approaches to growing a blog to $30,000 per month, what you want to figure out is how many articles you need (along with any off-site SEO you do to rank competitive keywords) per 100,000 visitors.

If you’re gunning for 1,500 visitors per article per month (which is high), you need only 66 articles per 100,000 visitors.

If you’re gunning for 300 visitors per month (because you go after much lower competition keywords), you need 333 published articles per 100,000 visitors.

It gets easier to figure out once you have traffic and revenue

Every site is different and you won’t really know how to project traffic and revenue until you have traffic and revenue.

For example, I have a site that earns $43 RPM and gets 500 visitors per day.  It’s earned $40 to $50 RPM consistently. That means I can reasonably rely on a $40 to $45 RPM when estimating potential revenue from traffic growth.

Keep in mind, especially if you’re fairly new, that ad RPMs and affiliate earnings can fluctuate throughout the year.  If you promote beach footwear, you can earn a lot in Spring and Summer but not so much in winter.  Display ads typically earn poorly in January, heat up a bit into Summer, slow through Summer then crank up to annual highs September through mid-December.  That means RPM numbers now (April 2022) are likely not peaking for the year.

A million bucks isn’t what it used to be

A million bucks used to mean financially secure. It doesn’t mean that in many parts of the world anymore.  It certainly doesn’t mean that where I live in Vancouver.  Property prices are high. Cost of living generally is high.  Taxes are high.  There is no way, even if I had $1 million invested in a decently performing fund that I could retire now.  Not a chance.

I’m not a personal finance person at all but let’s say you buy into the 4% rule which states if you can live off 4% of your total investments (i.e. withdraw up to 4% each year to live on), you can retire now.  I guess the reasoning behind it is if you consume only 4% per year, a reasonably well-invested portfolio will earn enough above the 4% to reinvest and grow sufficiently for increasing costs of living (i.e. inflation).

4% of $1 million is $40,000 per year.  That won’t do it where I live but that’s largely due to my choosing to live in an expensive area.  I could live anywhere. There are towns in Canada and US where one could easily raise a family on $40,000 per year.  While there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for unexpected large expenses, it’s doable with a frugal lifestyle.  You certainly aren’t living the high life.  So it’s my choice that I can’t retire on $1 million.

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