Mike, that sounds like an easy question but it isn't one with a simple answer.
First of all, different people have different opinions of what "real" is. So possibly the best thing is for a person to have a particular eventual goal in mind. To them that would be "real." Another person could easily have a different amount in mind.
The city or country in which a person lives might even have something to do with what they consider to be "real" money.
As much as I hate to say it, luck also often plays a role in all of this. Putting in the time and hard work are the most important, but if someone hits some unexpected good luck, things can move a lot quicker.
It can depend on how much effort is being put into it. Some people put a lot more time and effort in than others. All things being equal, those people have the potential to advance quicker.
The merchants you are promoting could also play a factor as well as finding the ones that perform best for you. Some people come up with the right combination sooner than others.
I am sure you wanted a specific amount of time, but that really isn't possible since the time can vary depending on so many factors. Some people are willing to wait longer than others while far too many people give up too soon because they thought it was going to be easier and much quicker than it often really is.
A person should set goals. It might be best to have an eventual goal but to reach that eventual goal by having several smaller goals and take it one step at a time.
Someone might start with a goal of $10 a month. When they reach that their next target might be $25 a month. On it goes until they reach their eventual target, and this is going to vary from person to person.
The key to it is to give it your best shot, set goals and be patient.
It really does depend on lots of things including your current skillset. If you don't know how to build sites, do SEO or PPC or market and aren't good at copywriting and have no common sense - well it could take forever to make a dime.
A large majority of affiliates make 0-200 a month. For some of them 200 is a lot to make on the side and they are happy. You could make 200 a month failry quickly if you take the right steps and already have a good foundation of web skills.
Many affiliates consider 5,000 - 10,000 a month "real money". It can take awhile to get that level depending on lots of factors like the ones we've mentioned above.
Sometimes you get a little frustrated working and working and not seeing any return on your time investment and you wonder if you are doing the right things. You have followed all the rules, dotted all the i's and cross all the t's and you wait but nothing happens.
then you hear that little voice telling you its not going to work, so just quit.
But another voice say, keep going...So you follow that voice still hoping, but even then you are still not sure about how things will work out.
Making money seems to be for the other guy and not for you.
But, then here comes that word of encouragement just when you needed it...to keep the fire burning.
so thanks guys. Your comments are much appreciated.
Attention: "role based name" email prefixes such as support, webmaster, info, contact, forum, service, affiliate, admin, traffic, partners, marketing, etc., for our member accounts are not permitted. They are acceptable for a vendor listing, but not for the member email. This is due to bulk email processors scrubbing them for delivery due to extremely high bounce rates. Please apply for membership using a personalized email prefix. Something like firstname.lastname@example.org.
If we discover you signed up with a role based name we will give you only one message to change it. After 3 days your account will be removed if the email is not changed.