You’re looking over your monthly bills, and suddenly it hits you. You’re deep in debt. You can’t afford to keep this up. You desperately want to pay off your credit cards and loans and get back to some semblance of normal.
I’ve been there. Done that.
It’s maddening. It’s scary.
One day you hear about the wonderful world of affiliate marketing and the money that can be made there. “Aha! There it is,” you tell yourself. “The answer to my debt problem!”
Hold the phone.
Affiliate marketing is a way to make money. But if you’re deep in debt, take a step back.
When I tried to build my business while deep in debt, I did make money. But I also sunk myself deeper into debt. I looked at the balance I owed and my available credit. I considered the price of an ad here and a tool there. Hosting, ads, tools, boosts, subscriptions. They all add up.
I was quickly eating through my available balance.
My bills were barely getting paid. Even then… sometimes they weren’t.
Was I making any progress on my debt? Sure, for a minute or two. But then I’d eat up my available credit.
Maybe this won’t happen to you.
Maybe it won’t. Maybe you’re better with your money than I was. Perhaps you have a better handle on your credit situation than I did. But if you’re like me, you don’t. You see affiliate marketing as a way out of debt. Maybe you have to spend a few hundred – or thousand – dollars you don’t have to make money that you don’t have.
That’s the mindset I had.
I figured, “Sure, I owe more than I can pay right now, but if I can just…. then I’ll be able to pay it all off.” Awesome. Neat. Coolio.
But I hadn’t taken into account the fact that success isn’t instant. I panicked.
Not seeing the success for which I had longed, I shelled out for even more expensive tools and programs and guides and tutorials and – no. It goes on and on.
But it could.
This is a cautionary tale. If you’re desperately looking for a way out of debt, and you’re thinking about affiliate marketing as an income stream, this is a very real risk for you.
“I’ll be fine,” you tell yourself. “I know how to handle my money,” you think. I thought those things too. I was “fine” too. That went well, didn’t it?
“I’m not you. You don’t know me.”
You’re right. You’re not, and I don’t. But I do know human nature. I know what it’s like to feel trapped by debt, and I understand the tendency to try to dig your way out of the hole that is debt. I know how it feels to think you’ll be out of debt after placing one more ad or buying one more guide. If you value my opinion at all, please read what follows.
Avoid paid affiliate marketing until you’re out of debt
That sentence probably hit you like a load of bricks. Yes I’m very serious. No I’m not kidding.
Affiliate marketing usually requires time and money. If you’re in debt, you don’t have money. You have debt. If you have a job, stick with it. Do the best you can there. Impress your boss. Go for that bonus. Pay down your debt.
If you can, meet with a financial planner and develop a plan to get out of debt with the income you have.
But maybe you won’t listen to me.
Don’t fund your affiliate marketing with credit
If you ignore my advice and do decide to get into marketing, please please please do not use your available credit to fund your business. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones who can start making big commissions from the start. But the odds are against you. The cold, harsh reality is success takes time.
- It takes time to build a list.
- It takes time to write content.
- It takes time to get eyes on your offer.
- It takes money.
If you must get into affiliate marketing while in debt, set aside a portion of your direct job earnings. Set a budget and do not go beyond your limit. If you buy ads, spend only what you can afford and no more. If you can’t buy it without credit or failing to pay your other bills, you can’t afford it. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll just pay it off. You don’t have to fill in the pit if you don’t dig it.
If you do spend money on affiliate marketing, be very careful what you buy. Before you buy, read reviews. Don’t buy an ad unless you’re confident you can get a good return on your investment. Never buy a product unless you’re sure it’s worth the investment. Never pay for a service unless you really need it.
Everywhere you look there is something grabbing for your hard earned money.
Stick to free methods
Some things have no free substitute. However, there are ways to promote affiliate products at no cost. These methods are usually slow and time consuming, but they are out there.
But even then, if you’re going to do this right, you still need a few tools that can’t be duplicated for free. If you make a few sales with a free method, then you can invest in these tools. But, again, please do not use credit – money that you do not have.
The bottom line
Look, affiliate marketing and internet marketing as a whole is fun. It can be a great income source, but that’s not a guarantee. Please understand that.
If you’re in debt, please don’t throw your eggs in the basket of affiliate marketing.
Debt is serious. It’s debilitating. It’s terrifying.
Can you make money with affiliate marketing? Yes. Is it a guaranteed way out of debt? No. And that’s what I’m trying to get you to understand.
The best way out of debt is a decent day job, a plan, and a resolve to pay it off. Don’t dig yourself deeper into debt by spending money you don’t have to build a business. Get yourself on better financial footing first. Save yourself the added stress and pain of the debt. Start from a more secure financial footing, and you’ll be less desperate and have a far better mindset.
Maybe you don’t believe me. Maybe you do. If you’ve ever valued anything I’ve said, please hear me here.
For more articles about debt and managing your budget, please check out my other site, BudgetPlaybook.com.