Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase something through the links below, I will receive a commission at no cost to you. Learn more.
- Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products. It’s a great business model for beginners with no money.
- Choose a niche, find affiliate programs related to it, and decide on a free traffic source like blogging, YouTube, social media, or forums.
- Build a basic affiliate funnel with a lead magnet, landing page, and email autoresponder to convert visitors into buyers. Tools like Systeme.io make this easy.
- Promote affiliate links relentlessly through your content and traffic sources. It takes grit and perseverance, but you can succeed without spending money.
Have you ever wanted to start an online business but didn’t have the upfront capital?
Affiliate marketing may be your solution.
But is it really possible to start affiliate marketing with no money? The short answer is yes.
This post will walk through a 5-step system to launch your affiliate marketing business from scratch without spending a dime.
You’ll learn how to choose a niche, find affiliate programs, build an audience, and drive targeted traffic to offers. By the end, you’ll have an action plan to start earning commissions online, even with no funds.
Read on to begin your affiliate marketing journey!
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
If you are reading this article, I’m assuming that you have a pretty good knowledge of how affiliate marketing works, but for those who don’t….here’s a brief primer.
Affiliate marketing relies on a simple revenue-sharing model.
As an affiliate marketer, you promote products or services using a unique affiliate link the merchant provides. When someone clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, the merchant pays you an agreed-upon commission.
Commissions vary based on the merchant but are often a percentage of the sale price.
Rates depend on the product’s profit margins, so digital products command the highest commission rates as they have higher profit margins than physical products.
Affiliate links allow merchants only to pay affiliates when a sale is made, making it a low-risk way to increase sales.
For affiliates, it provides a potentially lucrative revenue stream without having to create or sell their own products.
It’s a win-win arrangement when done properly.
The key to success as an affiliate is driving targeted, high-intent traffic to merchant offers and promoting products that match the intent of your audience well.
With hard work and persistence, affiliate marketing can become a significant source of online income.
Is it REALLY Possible to Start Affiliate Marketing with NO Money?
While having a budget to spend on advertising and promotion can be helpful, it is entirely possible to launch an affiliate marketing business without any upfront monetary investment.
Affiliate marketing comes down to providing value and making connections, neither of which requires any money.
So don’t let a lack of capital deter you! It is possible to get started as an affiliate marketer without spending a dime.
The key is leveraging free traffic channels, putting in time and effort to create content and build an audience, and relentlessly promoting relevant offers to those who will find them valuable.
With determination and grit, you can get your first sales and establish proof of concept for your business before spending any money.
Consistent effort over time is far more important than an initial budget when launching this type of business.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing with No Money
Starting an affiliate marketing business with no money may sound daunting, but it is entirely achievable with the right strategic approach.
The following steps will help you launch your affiliate marketing business even if you have zero startup capital.
1. Pick a Niche
The first step is to determine what niche you want to focus on. This could be based on your existing hobbies and passions or an industry you want to learn more about.
CHOOSING A PROFITABLE NICHE
My advice is to start out by selecting a broad niche from this list below unless you are a true expert in a specific hobby niche:
- Health (Exercise, Weight Loss, Wellness)
- Wealth (Make Money Online, Investing, Business)
- Relationships (Marriage, Dating, Sex)
Once you have chosen your broad niche, it’s time to pick a more narrow sub-niche.
Picking a narrow sub-niche makes it easier to identify and target relevant affiliate programs and create content that resonates with a specific audience.
For example, if you choose the broad niche of “health,” you may want to narrow it down further to something like “healthy meal plans”.
Get specific to stand out in your niche.
Spend time researching potential affiliate programs, products, and services within your niche.
The niche should also have enough search volume and online interest to drive consistent traffic.
2. Choose an Affiliate Offer
Once you have selected a specific niche, the next step is to find the right affiliate offers to promote.
Your first stop should be visiting individual merchants and networks like ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, ClickBank, Impact, and others.
Look for programs related to your niche that offer attractive commission rates on digital or physical products.
Some factors to consider when evaluating programs include average order value, conversion rate, cookie duration, payment threshold, and commission structure.
For example, recurring commissions on subscription services can create reliable long-term income.
AVOID THIS BEGINNER MISTAKE
Beginner affiliate marketers will often start by promoting many popular niche offers. Instead, you should focus on finding one core offer to build your initial content around.
Becoming an approved affiliate for your desired programs usually involves completing an online application and agreeing to the program’s terms and conditions.
3. Decide on a Traffic Channel
Choosing the right platform to drive traffic to your affiliate content is crucial for success. As a beginner with no budget, it’s smart to leverage free organic traffic channels to start.
Consider your unique skills and interests when selecting a traffic source (i.e. if you are camera shy you probably shouldn’t go all in on YouTube).
Start a Blog
I’ll get this out of the way first…
Starting a blog is one of the most powerful ways to promote affiliate products, however, it is the one platform on this list that will cost you some money.
At the minimum, you will need to purchase hosting for your new blog which will cost about $50–100 per year.
I’ve made high six figures as a blogger and still recommend it as a viable traffic channel for anyone who is just starting out in affiliate marketing.
Once you have your blog up and running, you should publish in-depth posts reviewing affiliate products and providing tips related to your niche.
Don’t have the time to write content? AI tools like KoalaWriter can help quickly (and cheaply) fill your blog with niche-specific content.
Blogging requires dedication (and a little bit of money) as you build organic search traffic over time, but can become a sustainable long-term source of commissions.
Launch a YouTube Channel
In my opinion, launching a YouTube channel is the second-best way to drive traffic to affiliate offers.
Setting up a YouTube channel is completely free, whereas blogging does come with some associated startup costs (hosting, theme, plugins, etc.)
You can start a YouTube channel promoting digital products without spending any money. Just use free screen capture software like OBS Studio and do a walkthrough/review of the product.
Uploading affiliate product reviews, recommendations, and tutorial videos to YouTube is a great way to get your affiliate link in front of an interested audience.
There are 3 ways to get affiliate sales from free YouTube traffic:
- Place affiliate links in the video description
- Link to offers when responding to comments
- Add links to your website posts in the “end cards”
Even if you are camera shy, there are plenty of options for making videos without ever having to be on screen.
Leverage Social Media
Promoting affiliate links and related content on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and TikTok is another free way to generate affiliate commissions.
You don’t need any money to get started, and with billions of active users, there is loads of organic traffic flowing from these social media platforms.
Your social media profile bios provide valuable real estate for affiliate links. Use a tool like Linktree to add links to recommended products and affiliate content so visitors can easily click and purchase.
Making money from affiliate marketing on social media can be as simple as posting links directly to the products you are promoting.
Some ways that you can warm up the prospect on social media are:
- Describe your own results with the product
- Share positive testimonials
- Offer discount codes/links
- Offer bonuses for buying from your link
The key to having affiliate marketing success with social media as a traffic channel is to provide real value, entertainment, and useful information to followers.
NEVER spam your affiliate links!
Participate in Forums
Actively participating in communities like Reddit, Quora, and niche-specific forums is another way you can get affiliate sales without spending any of your own money.
The goal should be to provide helpful information and then organically recommend affiliate products that solve any problems the readers may have.
Make sure you do not spam or overly self-promote. Try to become a valued expert member of your communities.
4. Build a Basic Affiliate Funnel (with No Money)
An affiliate marketing funnel attracts visitors, converts them into leads, and eventually into customers making purchases through your affiliate links.
Below, I’m going to show you how to build a fully functioning affiliate marketing funnel for FREE👇
Create a Lead Magnet
A lead magnet is a free offer, such as a downloadable content asset, that you give away in exchange for a visitor’s email address.
Building an email list by offering a lead magnet is crucial for affiliate marketing success (especially when you have no money), as it allows you to continually market to subscribers who have already expressed interest.
Your lead magnet should provide a solution to the biggest problems your target audience has.
Consider making the lead magnet topic-specific rather than broad.
For example, instead of a general “Weight Loss Guide” create “10 Tips for Losing Belly Fat.”
The goal of any good lead magnet is to show the reader what they should do. The affiliate offer you are promoting should teach the person how to do it.
Next, determine the ideal format for delivering value to subscribers. This could be an ebook, checklist, cheatsheet, template, video course, or something else.
The lead magnet should be long enough to provide substantial information, but not so long that customers won’t be willing to read it.
Design the lead magnet to be visually appealing with engaging images, charts, sections, and graphics. This improves perceived value.
In your lead magnet, subtly promote affiliate offers, but focus mainly on providing excellent value.
Investing time into creating a high-quality lead magnet that convinces subscribers to buy from you later will pay dividends long-term.
Build a Landing Page
The next step in building out your affiliate marketing funnel is to create a landing page that incentivizes your audience to exchange their email address for your lead magnet.
There are plenty of landing page builders available, but I use Systeme.io to manage my affiliate landing pages (as well as build complete funnels and send email automation).
It’s free to get started and paid plans start at only $27 per month if you find yourself needing more advanced features and higher account limits in the future.
Thank You Page
Once someone enters their email in exchange for the lead magnet, you should forward them to a thank you page.
A typical thank you page will just inform the user to check their email for the free gift you promised them or give them a link to download their gift immediately.
But you don’t want typical results, so why would you use a typical marketing tactic?
Instead, you want to use as little real estate as possible to remind them to check their email and then presell them on the affiliate offer that can help them solve their problem.
If you aren’t camera shy, you can dramatically increase your CTR (clickthrough rate) by recording a short video (I use my iPhone) that sells subscribers on why they need to purchase the offer just around the corner on the next page.
But if you aren’t the type who likes to speak on camera, some well-written sales copy works fine as well.
Setup an Email Autoresponder
The next step is to send subscribers into a follow-up email automation sequence using your email marketing platform.
Setting up email automations provides a more passive, hands-off way to promote relevant affiliate offers to segments of your audience.
With autoresponders in place, targeted promotional emails are automatically sent to subscribers without you needing to manually write and send each message individually.
When someone opts in to receive my lead magnet I send an immediate thank you email to deliver their free gift, followed by a series of five daily emails promoting my affiliate offer.
Systeme.io has a free built-in email autoresponder and I suggest using it if you are starting affiliate marketing with no money.
Remarket to Subscribers
Now that you have built an affiliate funnel and started collecting emails, it’s time to continue making money from those subscribers.
This involves sending emails to your list to promote niche-specific offers other than the one you originally presented to them.
A good affiliate marketer can earn $1 per month on average from each of their email subscribers. A list of 1,000 engaged subscribers, for example, should generate at least $1000 per month.
There are a million and one strategies for how to build and grow a profitable email list, but at the bare minimum, make sure to send an email out to your list at least once per week offering them something they might be interested in buying.
5. Promote your A** Off
Relentlessly promoting your affiliate content and offers is required for success as an affiliate marketer.
While you might get some quick commissions when first starting out with affiliate marketing, it takes a lot of effort and perseverance to generate a consistent income over time.
This is especially true if you are starting your affiliate marketing business with no money. You will need to grind and promote even harder since you don’t have the luxury of simply buying more immediate results.
Just like any successful business, you will need to work every day until you reach your goals.
Never give up until you get to where you want to go.
You don’t have to let a lack of money stop you from pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams.
Affiliate marketing requires no money and can be done part-time.
If you’re willing to put in the effort, the strategies in this post will help you get started with affiliate marketing and achieve success.