How Long Does It Take to Make Money Selling Online?

How Long Does It Take to Make Money Selling Online?

Before we get too deep into answering that question, lets look at the types of online income:

  1. Active Income – Selling products or services
  2. Passive Income – Affiliate income (or advertising)

Active Income – Selling Products or services

If you want to sell products, or your services online, you are probably looking at venues such as eBay, Amazon, Etsy, or your own website (including Shopify).  We will look at these first.

Almost all major online shopping site have some type of payment delay:

eBay – eBay’s payment delay for new sellers comes in two forms, selling restrictions and payment delays.  Restrictions on new sellers usually last three months.

eBay will place limits on your account, or on particular categories and items until you, the seller, confirm certain information or establish a positive selling history. These limits help ensure a safer experience for eBay buyers.

New Sellers, have a limit on sold items, gross merchandise volume, and active items for sale for the first 90-days. If an item sells, it counts toward the limit, but if a listing ends without selling, it no longer counts toward your limit.

Sellers can request a higher account limit. You do this by confirming your seller information, linking your new account to an established account, or contacting eBay support.

When you reach a selling limit, eBay gives you an option to request an increase to the amount you can list. eBay often looks at your selling activity and may grant higher limits on your account if they see continuous good performance.

If you exceed the amount you can list in a month, you need to reduce active listings to reach the limit.

Here are the limits:

  • 10 Active Items at any one time
  • Sales, whichever comes first:
  • 10 Sold Items Per Month
  • GMV (total sales) Limit of $500 Month

Increasing Your limits:  You can ask seller support to increase your limits after 30 to 45 days.  Here are the things they look for

  • Feedback from buyers – you need at least 10 positive feedbacks and an average 4.8 DSR score
  • eBay Money Back Guarantee requests, or PayPal Purchase Protection cases with buyers, need to be in good standing or resolved
  • No Feedbacks that question product authenticity
  • Good history of following eBay policies
  • Positive account standing

If you have had a buyer account on eBay for a few years, eBay will be more likely to remove your limits sooner.


OK – lets look at Amazon:

Amazon does not have any public limits on the number of items a new seller (less than 60 days) may sell, but they do have secret limits on velocity – the number of items you sell per week.

If you exceed the secret amount, Amazon will put your orders in “pending status” and will release them as soon as you fall below their pre-set limit (Which they will never reveal to you).

Amazon also has payment holds.  Amazon normally pays sellers every two weeks.  But expect you first payment to take slightly over 6 weeks.  The reason is, Amazon offers a very liberal return/refund guarantee, and they want to get through that until they give you your first payment.

There is nothing you can do about the payment hold, but the more products you have and sell through FBA, the higher the secret velocity limit will be.

The other reason Amazon may hold individual product sale payments include:

  1. Awaiting order delivery
    2. A-to-z Guarantee claims (not resolved or too many)
    3. Chargebacks

Amazon may also suspend your payments for:

  • Seller performance
  • Account review

Now, let’s consider selling from your own website.

The big delay here will be caused by the various search engines, Google, Bing and Yahoo.  The simple fact is, it can take weeks (or in some cases, several months) before the search engines can find and start indexing your site into search results.  In general, the narrower your niche, the faster this will happen.

After you start making sales, it is up to your credit card processor how long they hold your funds and how often they pay you.

Passive income – Affiliate marketing or advertising.

The other popular way to make money online is from Affiliate Marketing or Advertising banners.

Let me deal with advertising first.  Unless you have a website that gets over 200,000 unique visitors a month – forget it.  The amount of revenue you will get from any one banner is minuscule – typically less than $25 per month.  You would have to cover your website with banners to earn any serious money.  So, let’s look at affiliate marketing:

In order to make any money from affiliate marketing you need one of three things: 1) A newsletter or mailing list of loyal subscribers, or 2), a website or blog on a topic of interest that gets relevant traffic, or 3) A social media group on a specific topic with at least a few thousand followers.

Before we get into details, lets look at a few best practices related to affiliate marketing:

  • Never recommend a product you would not buy or use yourself
  • Never recommend a product based on the affiliate income (I have a few products I recommend and endorse where my total affiliate income is less than $10 a month)
  • Never recommend a product you would not encourage your mother, brother or sister to buy if it were something of interest to them.
  • Only recommend products or services that relate to the content of your site or your readers
  • Always check out the seller or producer of any product (or service) you recommend
  • Always disclose to your followers/readers that you may make a profit from products you recommend

Newsletter – In my case, I publish a free newsletter for eBay and Amazon sellers.  I have approximately 40,000 subscribers.  Because I give away tons of high-quality free information, my readers are very loyal and tend to follow my recommendations as long as they relate to eBay or Amazon sellers.

That is hard to do with a mailing list if all you do is recommend products.  That is why I recommend the newsletter format.  It doesn’t matter if your newsletter is about making money, travel, food, quilting, or fly fishing.  If you give your readers good quality, on-topic, free information, then they will take your recommendations.

Website or Blog

In my book, How to Make Money with The Amazon Affiliate Program, I go into great detail about setting up blogs or websites to generate affiliate income on Amazon, but the same advice also works well for almost any niche product that can be linked to many affiliate programs besides Amazon.

The key to creating a successful website or blog, is creating a niche about a topic that people will search for.  In general, the narrower the niche, the better.  The reason is that recent changes on Google have made it very difficult for small new websites to be found.  However, that may not always be true.

A Niche is Key

Even if your product line is highly niche, it is still possible to be found on the web.  Consider this example:  If you sell a variety of gourmet foods, or you sell a highly competitive product such as tea or coffee, then the online competition from shopping sites is so strong it would be very difficult to come up on the first few pages of search results.

However, if you were highly specialized such as, instead of covering a variety of gourmet foods, you only wrote about dried Chili Peppers, that would be a very narrow niche and your chances of making the first page of search results goes way up.  Whenever anyone searches the term Chili peppers, your site will most likely come up well in search.

If you do set up a website or blog and develop a following, then look at setting up a newsletter.

Affiliate Marketing with Social Media

There are two ways to use affiliate marketing with social media.

  1. If you have a large following or group, then you can recommend affiliate products to your readers (members) directly.
  2. If your followers (or group) is limited, then you can use social media to drive people to your blog, website or newsletter.

So back to the original question: How long does it take to make money online?

It all depends on which of the above methods you choose.  If you want to sell on eBay and/or Amazon, you should realistically plan on waiting at least 60-days, and perhaps as many as 90-days before you see any serious amounts of money.  You can make some small amounts of money sooner –but a substantial income will take a bit longer.  Setting up an eCommerce website may be faster, if you hit upon the right niche.

As for affiliate marketing, you may be able to see some serious amounts within 30-days or so, but realistically, my experience has been that my affiliate income took a while to become steady, eventually it became quite a bit of income.

The best advice I can give you is take your time and do it correctly.  An investment in patience will pay hugh dividends in the long term.  It took my wife and I about three years to hit $100,000 per year income, but then it started climbing from there.  Our income took a huge hit in the recession of 2008 to 2010, but even then it managed to stay in the six-figure range.  We never became millionaires, but we are completely debt-free and own our homes and cars.


My printed training manual, The Complete Amazon Marketing System, starts with the basics and then go into the advanced techniques to build a long-term business.


  1. How can I learn more about your EBay Marketing System ?

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