Passive income is a dream for many people. What’s not to love about it? The idea is that you can put in all the work once and then keep profiting from it forever! That’s very appealing. But is it a reality that you can make passive income from affiliate marketing?

Unfortunately, the industry suffers from YouTubers with clickbaity thumbnails featuring big numbers and flames. Often, (you’ll be shocked to hear) they have an online course or ebook they want you to buy! Sometimes they make it feel easier to do than it is. But it is genuinely possible to have a level of passive income from affiliate marketing. Most people will fail though.

If you’re wondering how to make passive income from affiliate marketing then you need to start by considering these factors and applying them to your business decisions to increase your chances of success.

Factor 1 – Do the merchants you’re promoting pay lifetime earnings?

Some affiliate programs pay their publisher’s earnings for the lifespan of the customer. So if you refer a customer once, you will get paid for the lifetime of that customer. Affpinions has a whole list of these affiliate programs that pay lifetime earnings.

Ideally, you need to join programs that pay lifetime earnings, or at least for many years. This will increase your chances of having passive income. The problem with this is that most programs don’t pay lifetime earnings. This means you’re limited on which niches you can operate in.

Also consider cookie length, some programs have lifetime cookies that can mean sales role in many years. But be aware that it’s unlikely to happen much.

Factor 2 – How easy is it to setup and how much investment do you have to make?

Imagine you had a long-term passive income from an affiliate project of $2,000 per year. That sounds like a nice little earner for no extra work. But if it took you years to reach that point and you had to spend $40,000 in marketing and development to reach that point then it’s not a great return! These numbers are just plucked out of the air to give you an example, but it’s how you have to think about it.

The same rule applies to the working hours you put in. If you spend approximately 1,000 hours on something (that’s only 3 hours per day for a year) and then stop, it’s going to need to bring in passive income for a while to make it worth your time.

It’s impossible to truly calculate these numbers when you get started on a new project. But when working out the scope of the project at least have a little think about these things.

In the world of social media it’s not going to work! The timeframes are so short. You can upload to Instagram or Facebook and your post is buried within days or even hours. For some publisher types it just isn’t going to be possible to create a passive income.

It can be tough for YouTubers too. Eventually, if you stop uploading and your videos don’t get picked up by the YouTube algorithm then your view count will be very low and so will your income. If you do get lucky and the algorithm loves your video for years then it’ll make you some nice passive income for years.

Publisher types such as owning a website have a bigger chance of providing you with a passive income for years. Even then, if you’re a beginner it will be tough to build up a high-quality website in a short amount of time. But long-term most people can do it.

Factor 4 – Is your content evergeen/timeless?

If you do setup a website and start writing content along the lines of “best PRODUCT TYPE in CURRENT YEAR” linking to Amazon products then it’s going to be out of date by the time the next year comes around. What is the best product will inevitably change over time as well. It’s content that will last a while but it’s not fully evergreen.

You will need to really focus heavily on evergreen content if you wish to get traffic to your website for many years to come. If you’re not familiar with the topic, take a look at the content from Brian Dean at Backlinko, it’s very informative.

Factor 5 – What other work will be required long-term?

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll create truly 100% passive income that requires zero work. You’ll at least need to log in to your accounts with affiliate networks and count your earnings! As well as do your accounting.

Try and picture the long-term of what your business idea is for creating passive income. Once you’ve got it into that passive state, what maintenance would it require?


Creating a new business is always risky. And that’s true whether you’re trying to build long-term income or not! Start off with trying to have it as secondary income on the side. Make smart decisions and you can potentially build it up from there. It’s never easy and takes time but it can be rewarding. If you’re a beginner then give yourself plenty of time to learn and hopefully achieve your dreams.

We hope this list of important factors that affect your chance of achieving affiliate marketing passive income has been helpful.

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