If you’re wondering how to start affiliate marketing with no money then it absolutely can be done.
In fact, it’s how most affiliate marketers begin online, including me.
While you’ll get traction faster if you have some money to invest, some of the strategies I’m gonna teach you in this article can bring results within the first few months (possibly even within your first month) if you put the work in.
If you’re starting with no money then you also need to have realistic expectations.
While many affiliates earn a healthy income, some have been able to generate life-changing money in just a few short years. However, if you’re just getting started then it’s gonna take some time for you to learn a few important skills.
With that being said, here in this beginners guide, I’m gonna teach you the fastest and most effective ways to launch an affiliate business with no money, (number 2 is my favorite).
– Choose a niche (see below)
– Choose good affiliate products (see below)
– Build a sales funnel (free option here)
– Drive traffic using platforms like Google, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, and more
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Affiliate Marketing With No Money Overview
When it comes to making money with affiliate marketing, the aim of the game is to put the right products in front of the right people and get them to click your affiliate link.
And to do this you need to be able to tap into a traffic source. Fortunately, there are several good ones out there that you can use. There are free organic traffic sources, and others will cost you money.
For example, if you have a budget behind you then it’s easy to pay for ads to send people to affiliate offers. This is a fast way to make money as an affiliate.
However, if you have no money then you will need to rely on using organic traffic like Google, YouTube, and a few other social media platforms.
Don’t worry, it’s not necessary to use paid ads to build your affiliate business. Even after 8 years as an affiliate marketer myself, I still prefer to use free traffic sources over paid ads.
Although it’s not free, there is an excellent affiliate marketing fast-start training program that you can take for just $7. It teaches you everything you need to know to start making high-ticket affiliate sales in just 3 days.
Starting Affiliate Marketing With Zero Money Up Front
Using any of the free platforms I recommend below, you can send people directly to products via your referral link. And since almost every affiliate program out there is free to join, this shouldn’t cost you any money.
If you’re consistent with your content strategy then you will make some money doing this.
However, if you are serious about your affiliate business, and want to scale up to the point where you are making job-replacing, or even life-changing income, then you should also focus on building an audience and email list at the same time.
You can then continue to market to your list for months or even years to come.
To do this you’ll need 3 things:
- A lead magnet
- A landing page
- An email autoresponder
If you want to take this next step then I’m going to tell you how you can do it with a few software tools that you can use completely free later in this article.
“Amateurs focus on front-end sales, professionals focus on the back-end”
Getting Started With Affiliate Marketing
Before I get into the 5 different methods to start affiliate marketing for free, there are a few preliminary steps you need to take.
Choose a Niche For Affiliate Marketing
Make sure you choose a niche that is popular, profitable, and one that you have enough interest in to be able to produce content on the topic on a regular basis.
Content marketing will be at the heart of your online business, and you’ll need to be able to constantly find new content ideas. So the more familiar you are with the niche, the better.
You don’t need to be an expert in the niche. In fact, you can take the stance of ‘the learner’, and make a large part of your content strategy about showing people what you’ve been learning.
Choose The Right Products
Make sure you choose a product(s) that will pay you a decent commission. If you’re promoting products that only pay you a few dollars then you’ll struggle to make money with affiliate marketing.
Personally, I recommend avoiding the Amazon Associates program because they pay such small commissions, and only give you a 24-hour cookie life.
As an Amazon affiliate, you’re gonna have to make a lot of sales every month to make good money.
Instead, choose high-paying affiliate programs that will pay you at least a few hundred dollars per sale. This way even just a few sales per month can make a big difference.
The next thing you need to do is bring the traffic to your offers. Below are 5 ways you can bring the traffic for free.
Related Article: How hard is affiliate marketing?
5 Ways To Start Making Money As An Affiliate With No Money
Here are 5 effective ways to build an affiliate business with no money. Methods 4 and 5 are not passive strategies as they require you to constantly be active in order to keep making sales.
Methods 1, 2, and 3 can be passive strategies since they rely on a search engine algorithm.
This means you put in the work on the front end to create content, which will continue to receive traffic for years to come.
And continuous traffic = continuous potential to keep making sales!
Method 1: Blog For Free On Medium
Blogging is a great way to make money with affiliate marketing.
If you want to use a blog for affiliate marketing, but you don’t have money, then you can use a free blogging platform called Medium.
You can open an account and start blogging straight away. The downside of using Medium is that you don’t own your blog, Medium does.
However, the upsides are that you can add affiliate links in your posts, your articles will have the potential to get quick traffic from other Medium users, and your posts can also rank in search engines like Google.
If you like the idea of blogging, but you have absolutely 0 money, then Medium is a great place to start.
Step 1: Open an account with Medium
Step 2: Research the type of content your ideal audience will like to consume. You can use a free keyword research tool called UberSuggest to help you find keywords.
If you’re using a free UberSuggest account then you’ll be limited on the number of keywords that it will show you, but it’s a good place to start.
Another free keyword research tool you can use is called answerthepublic.com.
Simply enter your seed keyword, click ‘enter’, and then sort through all the long-tail keywords the tools bring back for you.
Step 3: Choose a topic you would like to write about from your keyword list.
Search Google for your keyword and take a look at the articles appearing on page 1. This will give you ideas of what you need to include in your article.
Don’t copy other people’s articles, but you can use them for inspiration to guide your own writing.
Look to see if you can improve on their content in any way. Perhaps they’ve missed one or two important points. You may also be able to expand on what they’ve written to make a better article.
Check their content length by copy/pasting their content into wordcounter.net, and aim to write a similar length article.
Step 4: Write your first blog post! Don’t just write crap for the sake of it. Always strive to post valuable content. In the long run, you will make more sales from higher-quality articles.
Don’t only write articles with commercial intent, but also aim to provide value through informational content too. You can link your articles together through internal linking so readers can easily find your other posts.
Step 5: Make sure your article has good SEO (search engine optimization). If you’re new to SEO then take a look at this beginner’s guide to SEO here.
Step 6: Add your promotional links to your content, and publish!
Step 7: Repeat steps 2-6 over and over again. Aim to publish at least 1 blog post per week, but preferably more if you can.
As a content creator, writing blog posts is time-consuming. But as your affiliate revenue grows you can put your content creation on autopilot by outsourcing this task to places like Fiverr here.
Method 2: Create Videos On YouTube
Affiliate marketing on YouTube is a great way to build a passive income online and an excellent source of organic traffic.
I love this platform because it’s completely free to use, it’s a solid way to build an online presence, and even new channels have the potential for videos to go viral.
YouTube generally has higher-converting traffic than some of the other methods in this article, so it’s well worth your time.
By creating helpful content on YouTube, and directing people to click your affiliate link in the video’s description, you can get good traction here and potentially make a lot of affiliate sales.
Step 1: Open a YouTube account
Step 2: Research your competitors on YouTube to see what they’re making videos about.
Go to their channel and sort by ‘most popular. This will show you which of their videos are receiving the most amount of views.
Watch some of the videos to see how you can improve on them. Perhaps they missed out on important info that you can talk about.
Step 3: Make a list of all the videos you can make.
A great place to start is by creating product review videos and then leaving your promotional link in the description. However, if you want to build an audience that trusts you then don’t just create videos with commercial intent.
Some other types of content you can create include:
- How to videos
- Case studies
- Your experiences
- Comparison videos (commercial)
- Best X for Y (commercial)
Make sure each piece of content offers value.
Step 4: Choose a topic and shoot your first video. During your video, let your audience know that you have a link to the product in the description.
Step 5: Upload your video to YouTube, add your affiliate link in the description and hit publish!
Step 6: Aim to publish around 1 video per week.
Although it’s not free, the Affiliate Secrets 3.0 course teaches an in-depth process of using YouTube for affiliate marketing.
Method 3: Use Pinterest
Pinterest is another social network that allows you to send people directly to affiliate offers via your pins.
While Pinterest is a great social media channel for affiliates, you’re only really gonna have success if you choose a niche that does well on the platform. If that’s the case, then this platform can work great for you.
Step 1: Create a Pinterest business account.
Step 2: Create a few boards on different topics in your niche. Aim for around 20 boards.
Step 3: Create multiple graphics for your pins using Canva.
In Canva they have a Pinterest image template you can use so you’ll be creating the right size image. The free version of Canva will have lots of images and templates for you to use, but if you still need more images then you can get some more free ones from pixabay.com.
Step 4: Also pin other people’s stuff to your boards to fill them out.
Step 5: Upload a Pinterest image you just created and add your referral link in the description. Make sure the affiliate product you are promoting is relevant to your niche, and also relevant to the pin.
Step 6: Upload more pins.
Step 7: Continue re-pinning your pins with the different graphics you created.
Step 6: Aim to post a minimum of 5 pins per day, and a maximum of 10.
Method 4: Network On Facebook
This is a very effective affiliate marketing strategy that a lot of beginners start with. However, it is getting kinda saturated if you want to work in the MMO (make money online) space.
Having said that, it still works if you do it right, and there is also a huge opportunity with this method in other niches too.
This method relies on using a personal Facebook profile (not a business page) to build an audience of people.
Step 1: Create a Facebook page
Step 2: Join Facebook groups in your niche
Step 3: Post helpful niche-related content on your own Facebook profile on a daily basis (minimum once per day, ideally more if you can). Make sure that each piece of content offers value.
Step 4: Post a few product-related posts to your own profile (post at a minimum a 3:1 ratio of value to commercial posts, however, more value posts and less commercial is recommended in order to build trust)
Step 5: Constantly look to add people to your friend’s list on a daily basis (around 50 per day is a good number to aim for – you can add up to 5,000, which is a great sized audience)
Step 6: Post helpful info (not selling anything) in the Facebook groups that you’ve joined, and also answer people’s questions to help them out and build trust
Step 7: Build relationships with the group members, start private conversations to and be as helpful as possible
Step 8: Sales come from either people visiting your Facebook profile and reading your monetized posts or via direct recommendation through Facebook messenger once you’ve built up trust and rapport (always offer value first and then recommend a suitable product once the time is right).
Related Article: How to do affiliate marketing without a social media following
Method 5: Use TikTok
For this method, you’ll need to link your TikTok profile to a landing page, not directly to an affiliate link. (See below for free landing page software).
TikTok has only been around since 2017, but it’s gained massive popularity due to its ability to generate millions of views from a single video, quickly. Because of this, TikTok has quickly become one of the best social media channels for making money.
Thousands of marketers have taken advantage of this and now use it to drive huge amounts of traffic to affiliate products super-fast.
It works like Instagram where users take pictures and share them with their followers. The difference here though is that instead of sharing photos, people share short 15-60 second video clips.
When I first heard about TikTok I thought it was just for kids, but that’s not the case.
In the beginning, TikTok mainly attracted teens who wanted to post dance videos. But now, over 4 years later, the platform has people of all ages, and loads of them are making a lot of money with it too in all kinds of niches.
I even heard of people promoting real estate deals that have resulted in thousands of dollars in sales, so don’t underestimate this platform.
Step 1: Open a free TikTok account and choose a name for your channel that represents what you’re all about. Write a short call to action (CTA) in your channel description with a link to your landing page
Step 2: Take a look at other people who are using the platform and who are also creating content in your niche. Analyze their most popular videos to see what kind of content is working for them
Step 3: Brainstorm as many content ideas as possible that you can create videos on. With TikTok, you’ll want to post videos frequently (ideally once per day, but at least 4-To 5 videos per week) so it’s important to have as many video ideas as possible that you can dip into
Step 4: Create your video and post it. Make sure to leave a call to action in each of your videos to encourage people to click your landing page link in your channel description. Repeat.
TikTok Course For $1.00
Although it’s not free (it costs $1.00), there’s is an awesome TikTok course called 15 Second Free Leads. It shows you how to get thousands of free leads via TikTok with simple 15-second videos.
Although it’s not free (it costs $1.00), here is a good TikTok course that shows you how to get thousands of free leads via TikTok with simple 15-second videos.
Bonus Strategy – Start YOUR OWN Blog (completely owned by you) For Free!
This is something a lot of people don’t know about yet. You can use software called Systeme to build a blog for free.
The only thing you’ll need to pay for is a domain name, which you can get for around $10 (use Namecheap). Apart from that, you will be able to build a fully-functional affiliate blog for free hosted by Systeme.
You’ll also be able to build landing pages, sales funnels, a membership site, run email automation to build your list, and even sell your own products with a free Systeme account.
Once you open your free account, navigate to the ‘Blogs’ tab. Here you’ll be able to get started straight away building your blog.
If you haven’t built a blog before, then watch the video below to show you how to build your first blog with Systeme.
Once your site is set up, follow the strategy outlined above in method one.
The only difference is you’ll publish your blog posts to your Systeme site instead of on the Medium platform.
Taking It To The Next Level – Build An Audience & Email List For Free
If you want to take it to the next level so you can build job-replacing or even life-changing passive income then you should also build an email list.
With a list, you can use a pre-written email series to build trust with your audience, offer them helpful info, and, of course, promote products that will help them.
This is one of the most important marketing techniques that you can learn.
Not building a list at the beginning of my affiliate journey was one of the biggest mistakes I made when I first got started.
Back then there were no marketing tools to do this for free. Fortunately, now there are.
Here’s an image of what this system will look like once you have it set up.
The bridge page step is optional but highly recommended. You can build your affiliate bridge page for free with this software here.
Once a lead enters their email address and clicks the ‘submit’ button, you can instantly redirect them to a bridge page.
An affiliate bridge page usually consists of a headline, a short video (around 1min) of you introducing a special offer, and a button to purchase the offer.
Using a bridge page is an effective way to increase your affiliate revenue at the first instance your subscriber joins your list.
Over time, your subscribers will receive emails from you with helpful info, tips, and products that can help them. And you will make more affiliate commissions on any product they purchase in the future via your emails.
3 Things You Need To Build a List
1. Lead Magnet
2. A landing page, or affiliate bridge page funnel
3. Email marketing software
Free Email Marketing Software
There are several great email marketing tools that you can use to build your email list for free.
A lot of email marketing companies like MailChimp and ActiveCampaign are not friendly towards affiliates.
Fortunately, though, there are a few affiliate-friendly platforms out there that you can use.
I recommend using either Aweber or GetResponse. These are 2 of the biggest players in the industry. They understand affiliate marketing so they won’t shut you down for adding an affiliate link in your emails.
Both Aweber and GetResponse allow you to build your email list up to 500 subscribers for free before you need to shift over to a paid plan.
Free Landing Page & Sales Funnel Builder WITH Email Autoresponder
Another option is to use a free software platform called Systeme.
On this platform, you can build your email list up to 2,000 subscribers on the free plan. You can also use the software to build a funnel, a landing page, and a blog, all for free.
Basically, you get access to the following on the free plan:
- Email autoresponder
- Sales funnel builder
- Landing page builder
- Website builder
- Membership site builder
To make things even easier for you, and save you the headache of building your own funnel, I’m going to give you access to my affiliate bridge page funnel template for free.
How To Access My Free Affiliate Bridge Page Funnel
To use my template, first, open your free Systeme account by clicking the button above. Then, follow the instructions below.
1. log in to your free Systeme account in the Chrome browser
2. Open this article in a separate Chrome window
3. Click the button below to pull my affiliate bridge page funnel into your Systeme account
>>FREE AFFILIATE BRIDGE PAGE TEMPLATE COMING SOON!<<
Once the template is in your account you can edit it to look and say whatever you like.
If you need to create more affiliate funnels in the future, then you can easily duplicate your funnel inside the Systeme app, and then edit it as needed.
There are lots more tools out there that you can use for free. For more info, check out my list of free affiliate marketing tools here.
So, that just leaves lead magnets.
A lead magnet is a free gift you offer to your audience in order to entice them to sign up to your email list.
There are loads of things you can give away for free as a lead magnet, many of which you can create yourself in very little time.
Here’s a list of great lead magnet ideas.
Affiliate Marketing With No Money FAQ’s
Here are the most common questions people ask me about getting started as an affiliate with no money:
Can you become rich as an affiliate?
Yes! It can absolutely make you rich. In fact, some of the top earners in the world today were once struggling entrepreneurs who now earn life-changing money with affiliate marketing.
In order to earn a decent income, however, you need to build a target audience and learn how to build trust with potential customers. You should always strive to provide value before asking for anything in return.
This means providing high-quality content, or valuable information, which helps them solve problems or fulfill needs.
Is affiliate marketing easy?
No! If it was easy everyone would be doing it. The truth is, it takes time and effort to become a successful affiliate marketer. However, when you start getting results, things begin to change quickly and get easier as your skillset improves.
How much affiliate revenue can you earn through affiliate links?
The amount you can earn from affiliate marketing programs varies hugely. It depends a lot on the types of products you choose to promote. Some companies only pay a few dollars, or a small percentage per affiliate sale, whereas others can pay as much as 100% for the first sale in order to acquire a customer.
There are also high-paying programs out there that will pay you several thousand dollars per sale. If you’re an affiliate for products that pay you these kinds of numbers, then you can earn a considerable affiliate income for your efforts.
Having said that, a good general ballpark percentage for affiliate commissions can look like this:
- Physical products typically between 2 – 20% per sale
- Digital products typically between 30-50% per sale
There are several types of affiliate programs. Some will pay you per sale, however, there are also loads out there that pay per lead, and some will even pay you monthly or yearly recurring commissions.
Depending on the product it is also sometimes possible to negotiate higher commissions with your affiliate manager.
For a more detailed answer, read my article on how much money can you make as an affiliate marketer.
Who is the top affiliate marketer?
There are lots of highly successful affiliates out there (super affiliates). The majority of them stay out of the limelight so you’ll likely never hear of those people.
In the internet marketing space there are 5 highly successful affiliates that I like to follow because they share great advice (listed in no particular order):
- Spencer Mecham
- Matt Diggity
- Authority Hacker (Gael Bretton & Mark Webster)
- Liam James Kay
- Robby Blanchard
Can you do affiliate marketing without an audience?
You don’t necessarily need a huge audience if you want to succeed as an affiliate. There are a few ways you can promote other people’s products that do not rely on you building an email list or having a huge social presence.
A blog that does not collect email addresses is the most common method. In this way, the blogger will merely link to affiliate offers from blog posts. This method works, but it is nowhere near as effective as building a list and a target audience.
How many followers do I need for affiliate marketing?
It depends on your affiliate strategy. If you are only blogging then you don’t need any followers at all to make sales from your website.
If you are relying on social media then, yes, you will need to build an audience and attract followers. Having said that, you need surprisingly few followers to start making sales, you just need to find the right people and build trust with them.
If you are using YouTube then your subscriber count is not really a very important metric when it comes to selling affiliate products. However, what does matter on this platform is your video views and watch time.
Which website platform is best for affiliates?
If you want to build an affiliate website then WordPress is the best platform to use. WordPress is user-friendly and there are loads of things you can do with your site to make it faster, improve your conversion rates, etc.
A lot of this additional functionality comes through 3rd party plugins and scripts. If you’re using a different platform then you may not be able to add the same functions to your site.
Which Is The Best Affiliate Program?
There are loads of great affiliate marketing programs out there, some are run privately, while others are hosted on networks. Some of the best affiliate networks include ClickBank, Commission Junction (CJ Affiliate), ShareASale, Impact, PartnerStack, and Partnerize.
If you still have more questions then I recommend you take a look at my ultimate list of affiliate marketing questions and answers.
If you’re just starting out as an affiliate, it can be hard to know where to start to make money with affiliate marketing.
There are quite a few different strategies that you can try, but without guidance, it can be very difficult to know which one will be right for you.
Rather than overwhelm yourself with all the possibilities, I recommend you choose just one of the marketing channels above and stick to it for at least 3 months. These methods won’t make your new affiliate marketing business explode overnight, but they will get you started quickly without a budget behind you.
Starting out with no money takes time and patience, but at the end of the day, it’s how most of us also got started, so you’re in good company!
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