The industry demand is clearly there. And people are using affiliate marketing to make a full-time income online with very low expenses.
Take the example of Adam Enfroy. In his first year blogging, he made $200k. $800k the next year, and most recently $1.5M in 2021. Of that $1.5M over $0.9M came from affiliate marketing.
Talk about a successful affiliate marketer! Read on to find out how you can replicate his success and how to start affiliate marketing with no money upfront.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the referral of potential customers to another company’s products or services and includes the earning of a commission for a sale of their offerings.
You are looking to buy a new vacuum but want to do some research online before committing to a purchase.
You google “best vacuum 2022” and click on the first link on a vacuum blog. There Krista Smith the vacuum expert recommends the Hoover 9,000 as the best value vacuum. Based on Krista’s research and expertise you decide to purchase the Hoover 9,000.
Now, Krista earns a % of the sale from Hoover because you used her affiliate link to make a purchase. It costs you nothing and you still found a great deal for a new vacuum.
This is affiliate marketing in a nutshell. Experts in a niche share their knowledge and help you make a purchase decision (or provide value in another way) and in return, you might make a purchase, earning them a commission. It’s an exchange of value where both parties win.
How you can start Affiliate Marketing with No Money.
You might be thinking “A business built on my own recommendations? Sounds too good to be true.” Luckily, that’s not the case! According to Glassdoor, the average affiliate marketer makes $59,000 a year.
Without any further ado, we will cover 5 steps on how to start affiliate marketing with no money so that you can achieve affiliate marketing success like Adam:
- Research and select a niche
- Determine your traffic source(s)
- Choose your affiliate programs
- Create valuable content for your audience
- Convert your traffic to email subscribers
1. Find niches that interest you and determine their potential.
You wouldn’t go to a car dealership for advice on how to get rid of your cough in the same way that you wouldn’t go to your doctor and ask them for advice on what car you should buy.
In order to provide valuable recommendations, you will need to develop expertise in a particular niche.
You can start via a few simple steps:
A) Make a list of topics that interest you
Some top topics include:
- Health: eating better, losing weight, managing stress
- Wealth: how to invest, how to make more money
- Career: interviewing, resume building, networking
- Hobbies: reading, writing, sewing, cooking
- Lifestyle: fashion, home decor, jewelry
- Home: real estate, renovations, DIY
- Tech: web hosting, e-commerce, coding
B) Check ahrefs for traffic potential using the top 10 SERP links
Via ahrefs free tools, you can get an idea of keyword and traffic potential using the “SERP checker”. This will give you the top 10 ranking pages for your topic. If they have no traffic try a few other versions of the keyword, and if still no success it might make more sense to try another niche
C) Assess profitability via Youtube ad CPM and online research
Try to use Youtube as a proxy for what people are buying and what has the highest profitability. For example, insurance, real estate, and e-commerce software have some of the highest ad rates for every 1,000 views your videos receive.
In addition to this, you can do additional research online to see what are some of the most popular blogs and what are their earnings. Many smaller blogging websites do annual reviews where they disclose their earnings, these can be great to get an idea if they are in a profitable niche.
D) Select a topic at the intersection of interest, traffic potential, and profitability
Shopify does a great job highlighting some of these popular topics and their profitability for affiliate marketing below:
2. Determine your traffic source(s).
You might be thinking “I don’t have an online following? How can I make money?”. Now is your chance to get started! Everyone with a huge social media presence had to start from 0 at one point. You are on equal footing with the giants in the industry.
Plus, you don’t need a huge following to make money – you just need the right audience.
You can start generating affiliate income at no upfront cost using some of the platforms below:
- TikTok: Short clips with an authentic feel, TikTok allows you to connect with your audience but discourages users from leaving the platform. You’re at the mercy of the algorithm but all it takes is one viral video to change the course of your business.
- Youtube: Audience of over 2 billion people, great for SEO. However Youtube is high competition and its challenging to produce high-quality content.
- Twitter: Establish yourself as an expert in your niche and drive warm traffic to your website. Difficult to scale at first, I recently wrote about how you can get those first 1000+ followers on twitter.
- Blog: my personal favorite, blogging. Give away value for free to attract traffic and clicks. Control your own story and content and optimize for SEO. Can be scaled to extremely high traffic and can’t be banned in the same way as on TikTok.
- Instagram: A highly visual platform with a younger audience. Great for certain niches, not for everyone. Easier to scale but difficult to generate meaningful engagement.
Let us know in the comments what works best for you.
3. Choose your affiliate programs.
You can choose to go independent via individual websites, or you can leverage affiliate networks.
By individually picking each company you want to work for you may be able to receive better terms or access to offers that you normally wouldn’t be able to get. On the other hand…
It’s time-consuming finding all of these affiliates. Instead of searching and applying for each program individually, you can use an aggregator called an affiliate network.
Our top choices include:
With 4000+ merchants and over 1,000,000 affiliates, ShareASale is the best starting point for a beginner in the industry.
The company provides additional resources and training for getting started and makes it easier for you to start making commissions online.
- CJ Affilaite
Partnering with big brands like GoPro, Overstock, J. Crew, and Overstock CJ’s generates approximately $15 billion via affiliate sales each year.
Similar to ShareASale they boast an impressive network and should be in the running for the affiliate networks that you partner with.
As a top 100 online retailer in North America, ClickBank has generated over $4 billion in commissions for its affiliate marketers.
They promote a diverse array of products and offer commission rates up to 90% of the value of the product or service sold.
If you’d like to learn more Dustin Howes, an affiliate marketing expert with 12+ years in the business, has a few great examples in his post about the best paying affiliate programs.
4. Create valuable content to gain trust and credibility.
As per the 80/20 rule, 20% of your content will create 80% of the value.
20% of your content should be how-to posts, expert advice, and industry insights which will help build trust with your audience. The remaining 80% of your content can include tool reviews and product recommendations which will drive affiliate sales.
That same 20% of content will establish you as an expert in your niche which will further build your credibility and authority ranking on google (critical to getting on that first page of search results).
Once you’ve settled on your niche and started creating valuable content it’s time that you begin to consider how to…
5. Convert your audience to email subscribers.
Email marketing generates an average of $42 for every $1 spent. A rule of thumb is that you can typically make $1 per subscriber per month.
The same holds true for affiliate marketing done via email. You can control your audience and leverage a platform with open rates of 21%. For comparison, most social media platforms boast engagement of 1-3% of a regular post.
By creating an email list in addition to your regular traffic source you are able to diversify your income and the tools you promote. Chances are you can re-purpose existing content and reach a different audience, helping you further grow your business.
When you gain 300 new readers the odds are that they didn’t see the old emails that you sent to your first 100 subscribers. Remember to continue to share various tools and products using your affiliate links as you grow your reach.
Affiliate marketing has no upfront investment. It’s an inexpensive and risk-free way to start your own side business and to start making money online.
Now that you are armed with the 5 steps on how to start affiliate marketing online with no money we would love to hear from you about how to implement these tips.
Please let us know how you started your affiliate management journey in the comments below.