How can I start affiliate marketing with no money? This is a question that must have crossed your mind a lot of times. We’ve got you covered with our no BS guide.
The only real difficulty with starting with no money is competing with well established industry giants. However, choosing a less competitive niche might solve this problem.
Starting affiliate marketing without money is not as difficult as you might think. There are many free platforms you can leverage to promote your affiliate offers. You just have to work smart.
So, let's get right to it.
Things to consider before marketing platform
When launching your affiliate marketing career or side hustle, you should:
Choose an Affiliate Network
This is a no brainer.
If you're looking to start affiliate marketing, the first step is to select an affiliate network. There's a number of them out there.
Your choice of an affiliate network should be a calculated one.You can join niche-specific or more general ones.
If you'd like to go niche-specific, you might want to find out which networks, influencers in your genre are using.
You can also make your selection based on the commission rates an affiliate network offers, and the minimum payout.
Another thing to look at is cookie duration. The cookie duration is the time it takes from when a consumer clicks your affiliate link to when he actually buys a product on the site or in some cases, adds an item to cart. A longer duration is better. Most affiliate networks offer a cookie duration of 14 - 45 days.
Some of the prominent affiliate networks you can choose from are ShareASale, AWIN, Amazon associates, CJ affiliate, Rakuten, Avangate affiliate network, ClickBank, FlexOffers, Peerfly, Walmart affiliates, eBay partner networks, and many others.
There's no restriction here, as you can choose more than one network as you get the hang of it.
Select Your Niche
This is another crucial aspect of affiliate marketing.
You can choose a niche-specific affiliate network right off the bat. However, if you've gone with a more general network, you still need to choose a niche.
This is exactly where you should avoid being a jack of all trades.
That said, you shouldn’t overly narrow down your selection. For example, you can go into star wars clothing, rather than just T-shirts.
You can also operate multiple niches with multiple platforms.
Once you have your network and niche figured out, it's time to promote your links. This is usually where you'll need to spend some cash in getting a domain, hosting, and all the other expenses that come with creating a website.
However, we'll be showing you a few platforms you can leverage to start your affiliate marketing career with no money at all.
6 Ways To Start Affiliate Marketing With No Money
YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world, second only to Google. Hours of videos are uploaded to it every minute. With over 1 billion members, the sheer volume of searches is mind boggling, and you can tap into all of these resources at no cost.
Getting Started With YouTube
How can you get started with affiliate marketing on YouTube?
YouTube is a platform mainly for uploading videos.
You can create relevant videos and attach your affiliate links, through which you can earn commission for sales.
You can create tutorials, reviews, sponsorship videos, guides, how tos, and much more. Whichever you use, just include a relevant affiliate link in your description.
As far as niches go, you can create content for just about any category—think fitness, tech, SEO, travel, or any topic you are comfortable promoting in the long run.
Due to its tremendous reach, you can easily combine affiliate marketing with serious content creation.
For example, Arun Maini has a YouTube channel, Mrwhosetheboss, where he performs high quality tech reviews. He frequently attaches amazon affiliate links and links to video sponsors to them.
Android Authority is another channel that mainly reviews smartphones and other tech. Their videos are of high quality, and thus, help them make money, without spamming.
When it comes to the video format to use, there are many options. However, some are more successful than others.
- More often than not, a potential customer looking for some information or clarity on a product will search for a review of that product or a comparison with similar options.
Product reviews and comparisons are often searched. Making videos on them is a good way to both provide helpful content and earn commission.
- Another excellent video format is "how to” guides. It involves showing your viewers how to use a particular product.
There's a lot of room for flexibility here, depending on the type of product. If you've found a tweak, a hack, or another helpful way to use a product, you can create a video on it. You can even feature more than one related products.
- You can also take advantage of "best of" or roundup videos. Here, you want to take a list of the best products for a particular task and review them. For example, best smartphones under $200 or best keyword research tools.
Driving YouTube Traffic
How can I start affiliate marketing with no money? The answer is simple - driving traffic to the youtube video that you have created.
You can use the following steps to have the best shot at ranking:
- One way is to rank in YouTube's organic search engine results pages (SERPs). Think keyword research (most important), titles, descriptions, tags, and more.
- Another important factor is subscribers. If you watch almost any YouTube video, you can see the presenter asking you to hit, click, or smash that subscribe button and the notification or bell icon. The reason is simple. The more your subscribers, the greater the potential traffic to your videos.
- You can also explore other methods of increasing followers by directing viewers to your YouTube channel from other social platforms.
Pros of YouTube
Affiliate marketing on YouTube has a lot of advantages.
- There's a massive audience to tap into.
- Other than highly competitive niches like tech, fashion, gaming and some others, there's also a relatively lower competition in a lot of niches.
- Your SEO efforts are safe in the long run, as YouTube's ranking algorithm is relatively stable, unlike some other social sites.
- There's the subscriber system that allows you to build a loyal following, if you have quality content.
- You can choose from a wide range of niches, and sometimes, the SEO can be really easy too.
Cons of YouTube
- On the other hand, the biggest challenge is content creation. You need to make engaging and relevant content.
- You can also experience niche specific difficulties, as some niches will require more time to put videos together.
Overall, is YouTube a good platform for affiliate marketing? Yes.
2. Forum posts
Marketing in forums is another excellent way to make money. Members are usually tech savvy experts in their fields, many of whom don't mind buying online.
Selecting a Forum
Because of the savvy nature of the audience, forum marketing can be a strong return on investment strategy.
So, how can you take advantage of it?
First, you need to find the right community for your niche because not every forum out there is good for you. Make sure you find forums that sufficiently cover your niche.
A good way to do this is to google "your niche" + forum. While you will come across a lot of them, you can narrow the options down with the number of members (at least 1000) and posts (about 10000).
You might also want to make sure that at least 10 high quality posts are sent daily.
Setting Up Your Profile
Once you find a good forum, you can set up your profile. When asked to sign the user agreement, do read it to find out their rules and regulations.
You want to check if users are allowed to add links to posts, promote their businesses, post commercial messages, and communicate with other members in this regard.
You also want to know the new user restrictions and veteran user benefits.
Set up your profile to represent your brand and add your contact details for potential customers to reach you. Also, take advantage of linking to your social pages, if that is allowed.
Getting started with forums
Once your profile is ready, send an introductory post to the community. Tell them how you want to contribute as well as learn from the platform.
Sales shouldn't be the first thing. You might even risk getting banned if you’re too pushy. Even if you’re not banned, you won’t really get any sales since people will not trust you.
Start by contributing to the community. Get a feel of the forum by reading posts and watching interactions of members, especially in your niche.
Watch out for questions related to your products. Use them as opportunities to create that wow factor with stunning answers. You can also link to credible sources of information. Just ensure to be amongst the first few persons to answer.
Leave out the sales pitches, for now. Answer questions objectively and build yourself as an expert in your field. Before long, members will start asking for your recommendations. That's the right time to showcase your products.
Avoid engaging in arguments at all costs. Do your business and stay away from religious and politics based topics.
Use emojis to indicate sarcasm. You don't want to be misinterpreted.
Once you've gained the members' respect, you can be more aggressive in your sales pitches.
This is a general approach. It is advisable to study the forum you choose and proceed accordingly.
Pros of forums
- Niche-specific topics bring in a large pool of the relevant audience that you can easily tap into.
- Customers seek you out, as they seek niche-specific answers to questions.
Cons of forums
- You need to establish authority before driving sales pitches, which can take some time.
- Your integrity could be attacked by competitors who like to play dirty.
How can I start affiliate marketing with no money? Heard of Pinterest? No?
Pinterest is a must use tool. You can use it to boost traffic on your site, build your email list and of course, make money.
At a time, using affiliate links was banned on the platform due to a lot of spammy content. However, with improved algorithms to combat spammers, that ban has been lifted.
The platform simply works like this: you recommend products for your followers to buy. When they do, you get your commission.
The simplest thing you can do is to create pins, upload them on the platform and directly include your affiliate links in them.
If you've been active on the platform, you can also edit previous pins, replacing the associated links with your affiliate links.
Whichever it is, just make sure you're adding a picture of the product in the pin. A text overlay giving a little information on the product is also great. This will make it more appealing to potential buyers.
You might also want to use mockups if you're promoting a non physical product.
Including relevant keywords in your pin descriptions helps them rank in Pinterest search results.
As part of Pinterest's policies, you should always disclose affiliate link inclusions on your pins.
Another thing you can do is make boards specially for affiliate products and design your pins there. This way, your followers know immediately that any pin on that board will take them directly to a purchase site.
While it's quite easy to create pins and incorporate your affiliate links, you should be careful about spamming.
Many consider Pinterest as a tool to earn passive income. You can easily take advantage of a Pinterest scheduler. These are tools that can help you manage your pins on the platform.
You can schedule things like when to pin, on what boards to pin, how many pins to pin, repins, and much more.
Tailwind is a good example.
More than Just a Sales Platform
Apart from selling, you can use Pinterest to boost traffic to your blog if you have powerful affiliate posts there. You can also grow your email lists. All you need is an email list provider, with some level of automation.
You should also try gaining followers on the platform, while following others, too.
Once you've pinned quite a lot, built a decent following, and established some level of authority, you might want to upscale by joining group boards.
When you join a group board, all your followers join automatically. So it's a great way to get more eyes on your pins.
It's always important to read a group board's description for their requirements before joining or applying to join if access is restricted.
- You can start promoting affiliate offers immediately.
- You can also drive traffic to your blog and email lists.
- Group boards make gaining followers easy.
- It's easy to spam links
- Boards are created by members, so the requirements for joining are not uniform.
Overall, Pinterest is a good place to start affiliate marketing with no money. Do it right and you could have one of the easiest and fastest sources to grow a decent following.
Unlike previously mentioned platforms where you can start making affiliate offers right off the bat, Instagram is more about building an audience first.
For that, you need to do basic stuff like niche selection and consistent posting with relevant hashtags. Instagram makes this quite easy.
Then, you can add your affiliate link in the descriptions. Ensure to create posts that target your links. For example, looking for the best phone under $200? Link in the description.”
You can also take advantage of live videos. It's a good way to build a relationship with your followers. You can discuss your products or demonstrate using them during the videos.
You can promote your affiliate offers with your Insta stories as well.
What if you have a small following? How do you make money with affiliate marketing on Instagram?
You can make use of shoutouts, but you might have to pay anything from a token to quite a substantial amount for that. So what's it about?
It's basically paying for a promotion on the page of a popular influencer.
You can create an image, incorporating an affiliate link in the caption or as a text overlay. The influencer posts it on their page and it has the potential to attract buyers to your products and followers to your page
There are many pages that offer shoutouts.
- Large pool of potential customers to tap into.
- Hashtags make it easy to build connections.
- Live videos can help build trust with your audience
- You need to build a decent following before promoting offers.
Looking for how to start affiliate marketing without money? Facebook is another great option.
For starters, it allows you to have up to 5000 friends. This translates to a huge earning potential.
To get started, create a Facebook profile (not a business page) if you don't already have one.
Once you've created your profile, you want to start building meaningful connections with people who are interested in your niche. But how do you find them?
You can do this by searching for groups that are relevant to your niche and joining them. The easiest ways to find such groups is to search them right in your Facebook search engine.
Join groups with a lot of members and a lot of discussions. Communicate with the members to establish some level of authority and start sending friend requests. You can befriend up to 100 people per day.
This is a good way to build up your friends list really fast.
Once you've achieved a reasonable amount, you need to make value-rich posts and engage with your audience through comments.
Show them that you're human, and you are interested in actually communicating with them. You can post once or multiple times per day.
For best results, don't include links on every post. For every 2-5 high quality posts you send, you can include an affiliate offer.
- The friends system makes the relationship with your potential customers more intimate.
- Possibility of building up to 5000 potential customers.
- Building connections is relatively easy.
- The search algorithm is subject to change and may destroy months of hard work.
- 5000 is a small number compared to, say YouTube, with an unlimited following.
- Contribute to a Website (SEO Strategy)
If you're thinking of starting affiliate marketing with no money, you should definitely consider contributing to websites.
There are many websites that act as platforms for people to publish content.
They do all the important background work required to keep the site running smooth. So, you need to do almost nothing in that regard.
Some of these sites include Medium and Reddit, where you can publish your content for free and drop your affiliate links.
Although, because there are very few restrictions with sites like this, it's entirely up to you to source customers and keep them.
Spam them with links and they'll go away. You need to be strategic and smart in your approach.
- It offers the feeling of marketing on your own website.
- All the site maintenance work is done for you.
- Like forums, these sites already have a huge reader base you can tap into.
- You can rank on Google's organic search results like any other site.
- Any technical issues with the site will affect you.
- You have no control over how the site behaves.
- It might be difficult to gain readers in a niche with already established industry giants.
Affiliate Marketing Tips
Once you've chosen a network, a niche, and a platform, you need to create a plan.
While some platforms have specific affiliate marketing strategies, as listed above, here are some general guidelines to follow, irrespective of the platform you use:
- Consistently Post Valuable Content
When it comes to affiliate marketing, it's not enough for you to simply put your link out there and expect people to buy your product. You have to give them something more, in order to draw them towards you.
A good way to drive sales is by creating useful content for your audience.
- Build Trust
Affiliate marketing is all about building trust in your brand.
Adopt the best possible methods, provide value to your audience and avoid any distasteful practices.
That way, you can build a following of loyal customers.
- Disclose Affiliate Relations
Most affiliate networks require you to disclose your affiliation with them in some way, and this is not necessarily a bad thing.
In fact, a lot of affiliate marketers leverage this as a tool to build trust with their customers. They use it to drive this feeling of "we keep no secrets and all our practices are open for you to see."
Once you declare this, you don't have to practice link cloaking.
You've been helping your customers and thus, they'll feel much obliged to buy using your links. You'll also be giving them a reason to trust and have more confidence in your brand.
- Join Affiliate Marketing Groups
There are a lot of affiliate marketing groups out there. Join the best ones you can find. Interact with the industry heavyweights and build relationships.
Get their tips, strategies, and best practices, and you could be well on your way to success.
- Promote Affiliate Offers
This is stating the obvious. If you're going to succeed in affiliate marketing, you need to push your affiliate marketing offers, but, the right way.
You can't spam people with links and expect to drive sales. You'll come across as desperate and highly unprofessional.
You need to provide value to your customers. As a starter, aim for 2–5 non-affiliated posts before making one with affiliate links.
- Enter a Niche You Love; Or Not
This one's a double edged sword. If what you love coincides with a successful niche you've chosen to work in, good. What if it doesn't then?
What if what you like is not even something sellable? You might just have to "fake it till you make it."
Your approach should be about 80% research and 20% sentiments. Surely, in that 80%, you should find what you love, or at least something you don't mind working with.
- Analyze and Adjust
Once you have everything set up and running, you want to perform regular checks to know if your strategy is working or not.
Metrics that you can use to measure success include followers/subscribers depending on your chosen platform, click-through rates/views, actual sales and revenue generated, and more.
If you're doing well, you may only need to make a few adjustments, or choose to expand further. Otherwise, you may have to go back to the drawing board.
There's a lot of money to be made from affiliate marketing, but you don't have to give into the notion of spending money to do so.
Most affiliate marketing giants today started without spending any money. Follow this guide and you could be well on your way to affiliate marketing success, too.