The 7 Stages of Being an Affiliate Marketer

Written by Charles Ngo
Written by Charles Ngo

I’ve helped many affiliates go from super newbies to super affiliates.
I’ve noticed everyone tends to go through the same path in affiliate marketing. I’m going to break down all the stages in the super affiliate journey kinda like affiliate marketing for dummies 101.
The benefit is you can identify where you’re at on the spectrum, and see what the main challenges are at each level.
Don’t worry if your evolution is going slower than others. Your goal should be to be better than you were last year, and to keep getting better.
p.s. I was inspired by this article from that I read a few years back. Check it out if you want to see a different perspective on the same subject.

Stage 1: Clueless Newbie

You’ve just discovered the wonderful world of affiliate marketing. Maybe your friend told you about the industry, or maybe you discovered it through Google.
Right now you’re both clueless and skeptical because it seems too good to be true. People are talking about Shopify dropshipping, CPA marketing, native ads…
Yes you can make millions of dollar a year online, and still have the freedom to travel. The problem is every other multilevel marketing scheme and shitty warriorforum product makes the same promise.
Your #1 goal right now is to find a trusted source of information about affiliate marketing. Reading the wrong blogs or forums can set your progress back by years.
You should be going through the Start Here and Archives of and getting a membership at StackThatMoney.
The most important stage at this level is to avoid misinformation.

Stage 2: First Campaign

You’ve decided to give this affiliate marketing thing a shot.
You have a ton of challenges right now:

  • You have to learn the technical setup: Voluum, a Server, Pixels
  • You need a budget. We’re doing affiliate marketing using paid traffic. You need money to fund this.
  • You’re dealing with information overload.
  • You also have to get over your fear of losing money.

The fact that you’ve even launched a campaign says a lot about you!
Find a solid traffic source / vertical and dive in. Take my affiliate marketing course here for free to get started.
I’d say 95% of affiliates can’t make it from Stage 2 to Stage 3.

Stage 3; First Profit

It doesn’t matter if it’s $10 profit. Getting to this stage is an achievement.
Now you know the industry is real. Now you know that you’re capable of making this work.
Your main challenge right now is duplicating your results. Anyone can get a lucky campaign. The secret to being a super affiliate is having profitable campaigns over and over again.
You want to create profitable campaigns and work towards quitting your job.

Stage 4: Full Time Affiliate

$40,000-$100,000 profit a year
At this point you’ve done well enough to quit your job.
You’re probably feeling a little uneasy.
I suggest staying frugal.
Don’t go out and buy that BMW 3-series yet. If you start popping bottles on the weekends I’m gonna Liu Kang kick you.
Surprisingly, your biggest challenge now is to keep up with your work ethic. Not many people have the discipline to be able to work from themselves. And some people can’t handle the loneliness either.
Next is hopefully you have some skills right now rather than depending on luck. I’ve seen plenty of people become successful in this industry based on just luck. They’ll rip someone’s landing page and start making thousands a day.
But then issues happen: The vertical becomes Saturated, the Advertiser kicks you off the offer, or new changes to rules and regulations happen on your traffic sources. Bot traffic starts creeping in and you realize there’s a LOT of shit that needs to get done.
At this time you should realize that you’re the bottleneck in your operations. Are you launching campaigns yourself, talking to affiliate managers yourself, and handling everything yourself? That’s the problem you have to fix if you wanna go to the next level.

Stage 5: Above Average Affiliate Marketer

$100,000-$1 million profit a year
Above average affiliates are the guys who are have been an affiliate for at least a year, but they’ve never made that jump yet into super affiliate status.
Campaigns are up and down, and they’ve never scaled past that $10,000 profit a day mark.
You want to start thinking in terms of moats and competitive advantages. What separates you from every other affiliate out there?
At this point you should start building a real team. I’m not a fan of having $5 an hour virtual assistants who launch and run campaigns. You wanna hire people who can eventually add value, to your operations rather than just follow your orders.
Next is you want to start operating your company as if it’s a business.
You should also be thinking about how you can make more money while working less.

Stage 6: Super Affiliate

$1,000,000+ a year for two years straight
This is the 1% of the industry.
They have a team who handles their campaigns, while they spend their time on higher leverage activities like networking and strategy. They are experts at delegating and managing others.
They’ve completed mastered either a traffic source or a vertical.
Yes they experience ups and downs in their campaign, but they have enough skills that they’ll always make money in the industry if they want to.
At the super affiliate level you should also start looking at legal ways to minimize your taxes. (Talk to a professional)

Stage 7: Beyond Affiliate Marketing

This is where you take your skill sets and move beyond just being an affiliate. Hopefully on to bigger and better things.
I’ve always viewed affiliate marketing as just a cash business. You make a lot of money, have a kickass lifestyle, and develop invaluable skillsets along the way. But after a few years I noticed most people move on from the industry.
Why would guys move on to different things?

  • Boredom. Launching campaigns for several years does it boring.
  • Challenge. If you’re the kind of person who can become a super affiliate then you’re the kind who enjoys pushing themselves.
  • Building Assets. You’re not building anything long lasting with affiliate marketing campaigns. As affiliates get older, they do want more stability or at least something they can show to people.  
  • Money. I’d say the best affiliates can pull in $2 – 4 million profit a year. It is respectable but everyone knows there’s another level. I’ve seen some super affiliates build out $50 million + companies

What do most super affiliates do? Check out my article on the next steps.

Are You Stuck?

Sometimes an affiliate could be stuck at a stage for years.
You can break things down by thinking in terms of strategy and execution.
The best way to think of a better strategy is to get a new perspective. If you’re lucky, then a mentor’s the easiest way to break through. Another way is by going to a conference.
Next is to think in terms of your execution. How many campaigns can you launch, how fast can you implement, and how many campaigns can you maintain.
Want to succeed faster? Fail twice as fast.
How do you fail twice as fast? Teams and systems.

I’ll be waiting for you guys at the top.

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                The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

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