Saltar al contenido

How To Start Affiliate Marketing With No Money (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

marzo 8, 2024
How To Start Affiliate Marketing With No Money (2024 Beginner’s Guide)

Want to learn how to start affiliate marketing with no money? You’re in the right place.

In this beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing, we’ll show you how anyone can become a successful affiliate marketer, even if you’re starting with literally no funds whatsoever. 

First, we’ll talk about what affiliate marketing is, how it works, and the benefits it offers. Then, we’ll share a step-by-step walkthrough of the initial steps you’ll need to do to get started.

After that, we’ll share 9 ways to do affiliate marketing for free. Zero investment needed.

And finally, we’ll share a couple of bonus tips for ways you can drive even better results with a little spending, in case you want to reinvest some of your earnings. 

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing arrangement in which a company pays its affiliate partners (that’s you) to promote its products or services.

It works like this:

  1. A retailer creates an affiliate program
  2. You sign up for that affiliate program and get access to special, unique links that point to the company’s product pages
  3. You promote the company’s products/services by sharing those links with your audience. In doing so, you drive targeted traffic to the company’s website.
  4. When a customer clicks one of your links, a cookie is stored on their computer for a set duration of time (e.g. 30 days), which tells the company that you referred them. This is called the cookie window.
  5. If that customer goes on to purchase the product/service from the company within the cookie window, you’ll be paid a commission. Commission rates vary from program to program, but are typically around 10%-20% of the sale.

The benefits of affiliate marketing

There are lots of benefits to becoming an affiliate marketer. Here are some of the main ones:

  • High earning potential. The global affiliate marketing industry is estimated to reach a market size of over $27 billion by 2027. So naturally, there’s a lot of money on the table if you know what you’re doing. The average affiliate marketer makes over $54,000/year, and the top performers make millions.
  • Potential for passive income. Affiliate marketing takes a lot of work at the start. But once you’ve built your audience and got a steady stream of traffic coming in, it can become a completely passive income source. At that point, you can take a step back and just collect your paychecks every month.
  • Scalability. Once you’re making a good amount of money from one affiliate marketing venture, you can scale up your operations, sign up for more programs, and promote more products to increase your revenues.
  • It’s easy to do. There are fewer headaches involved in affiliate marketing compared to running your own business. The retailers you partner with do all the hard stuff like creating the product and managing the business. All you do is promote their products and collect your paycheck.
  • Low barrier to entry. You don’t necessarily need any money whatsoever to start affiliate marketing. And if you do want to invest in your success, as little as 50 bucks will get you on the right path.
  • Low risk. Because the only thing you really have to invest in affiliate marketing is your own time, it’s very low-risk. If it doesn’t work out, you can stop where you’re at and you won’t have lost anything.

Getting started

Before you can start promoting affiliate products and earning commissions, there are a few preliminary steps to take first. Here’s what you need to do.

Step 1: Choose a niche

The first step is to choose what niche you want to focus on. 

Ideally, the niche you choose should meet three criteria:

  1. It should be something you’re interested in or knowledgeable about
  2. It should be easy to find affiliate programs offering high commission rates in your niche
  3. You should be able to promote products in your niche effectively

Obviously, if you already have an existing audience, you should choose a niche that aligns with that audience. For example, if you’re an influencer in the fitness space, you’re going to want to focus on affiliate programs involving health and fitness products. That’s a no-brainer.

But if you’re starting from scratch, you can really go down any route you choose. That said, here are some niches we’d recommend:

  • SaaS (software as a service). Affiliate programs in which you promote SaaS products tend to pay big commissions (often up to 50%). The reason for this is that businesses that sell digital products like software have low overheads and high margins, so they can afford to invest more heavily in marketing.
  • Finance. Again, this is another niche where you’ll find plenty of opportunities to earn high commission rates, particularly if you promote things like crypto exchanges, banking products, credit cards, personal finance tools, etc. 
  • Health & fitness. This is a big market with lots of interesting products to promote. You might sell gym equipment, supplements, fitness clothes, personal training services, memberships, or anything else. 

Step 2: Sign up for an affiliate program

Once you know what niche you want to focus on, the next step is to find an affiliate program worth signing up for in your niche.

And the easiest way to do this is to go through an affiliate network. Affiliate networks are the middlemen that connect businesses with affiliate partners. 

The biggest networks contain thousands of affiliate programs from different brands in all sorts of niches. These are all listed on their site alongside details like each program’s commission rate, payout structure, cookie window duration, etc.

You can browse through them until you find one you like and sign up in a couple of clicks.


ShareASale is one of our go-to affiliate networks and it covers a huge number of niches, so that’s a good place to start. For more options, check out our roundup of the best affiliate platforms and networks.

Step 3. Pick a marketing channel

At this point, you should have already signed up for an affiliate program and grabbed your referral links.

Now, all you need to do is drive targeted traffic to those referral links to start earning.

There are lots of different channels you can drive traffic from, but it’s best to focus on just one at first.

That might be your website, blog, YouTube channel, podcast, social media, email list, etc.

The best way to promote affiliates is to start a blog that gets organic traffic from search engines, but there are some startup costs involved.

If you have zero money to invest whatsoever, social media is probably your best bet, as you only really need to invest your time. But you’ll still need to choose a specific social media platform (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc.). Some are better suited to certain types of affiliate promotions than others.

If you already have a big audience on a certain network, you’re going to want to focus on that. But if you’re building an audience from scratch, choose whichever platform that suits your skills, interests, and target customers. 

We’ll talk more about all the different affiliate marketing channels you might want to use next, and how to drive traffic on each of them for free.

How to start affiliate marketing with no money: 9 strategies

Here are 9 strategies/methods you can use to drive targeted traffic to your affiliate links for free.

1. Share promotional videos on TikTok

Share promotional videos on TikTokPin

TikTok is the fastest-growing social media network in the world, and it’s free to use. So naturally, it’s a great place to promote your affiliates. Gen-z are the biggest users of TikTok, so it’s particularly good for affiliate marketers who are promoting products aimed at younger consumers.

How to get started:

  1. Start by creating a TikTok business account (it needs to be a business account so that you can share links)
  2. Upload engaging short videos designed to attract viewers and grow your followers (don’t worry about promoting your affiliates yet). Use trending sounds and formats to maximize your reach.
  3. Once you have 1,000 followers, you’ll be able to add a link to your TikTok bio. Use a link-in-bio tool like Shorby to create a custom landing page to house all your affiliate links, then link to that page in your TikTok bio.
  4. Start sharing trending videos related to your affiliate products to subtly promote them. Be careful not to be overly salesy, and prioritize engagement.

2. Start a YouTube channel

Start a YouTube channelPin

YouTube is another great free channel for driving affiliate traffic. It won’t cost you anything to sign up and post videos to promote your affiliate products.

A great way to approach affiliate marketing on YouTube is to create a product review channel. 

The reason why product review channels work so well is that, if someone is searching for a video review of a product, it’s a strong signal of buyer intent. 

The viewers you’ll get are likely already considering buying the product you’re reviewing, so they’re much more likely to click your links, convert, and earn your commission compared to other types of traffic.

How to get started:

  • Sign up for a YouTube channel
  • Create your channel branding by uploading a banner, profile picture, etc.
  • Conduct keyword research to identify search terms related to your niche with high monthly search volumes and low competition. Focus on ‘review’, ‘alternatives’, ‘vs’, and ‘comparison’ keywords initially.
  • Create videos optimized around those keywords in which you discuss and promote your affiliate products
  • Make sure you add your affiliate links to the description
  • Start growing your subscribers and work on increasing the reach of your videos to get more eyes on your content

3. Grow an Instagram following

Another way to do affiliate marketing for free is to create an Instagram account and grow your following. Then, share promotional posts, Stories, and Reels with your audience to drive traffic.

How to get started:

  • Sign up for Instagram
  • Use a link-in-bio tool to create a landing page with all your affiliate links, then link to it from your Instagram bio.
  • Share engaging content regularly to grow your following
  • Engage with other users and tag your posts with popular hashtags to maximize your reach
  • Once you’ve grown your audience, start sharing posts promoting your affiliates, and always include a CTA in the caption inviting users to click the link in your bio.

4. Promote your affiliate offers on Facebook

Facebook is still the most popular social media platform in the world by number of monthly active users. So naturally, it’s another great place to start driving traffic to your affiliate offers for free.

How to get started:

  • Sign up for Facebook
  • Create a branded Facebook page
  • Start a Facebook group
  • Grow your Facebook Page’s audience by regularly sharing engaging, shareable content
  • Grow your Facebook group community
  • Join other groups and start networking to further grow your audience
  • Create and share posts around your affiliate product (e.g. reviews, how-to guides, etc.) to drive traffic to your links

5. Share your links on X (Twitter)

X (formerly Twitter) is especially well-suited to affiliate marketing as it’s one of the few platforms that lets you add links to your posts. Other platforms like Instagram and TikTok only let you add links to your bio.

Here’s how to use it to drive traffic to your affiliate links.

How to get started:

  • Create an X profile.
  • Grow your following by commenting on popular Tweets, following other accounts in your niche, re-sharing popular content in your niche, etc.
  • Once you have a decent number of followers, monetize by sharing posts about your affiliate offers including the link.

6. Drive traffic from Pinterest

Drive traffic from PinterestPin

Pinterest is a great place to promote affiliate products that have a lot of visual appeal. It’s a ‘visual discovery engine’ where users go to find inspiration and ideas, which is exactly the kind of traffic you want clicking your affiliate links.

How to get started: 

  • Sign up for a Pinterest for Business account (it’s free)
  • Create eye-catching pins (graphics) that showcase the products you’re promoting in their best light. You can use online graphic design tools like Visme for this
  • Upload your pins to Pinterest. Make sure you include some relevant keywords in the title and description to make it easier for users to discover
  • Repeat the process regularly to keep your pins visible

7. Drive traffic from Reddit

It’s a little harder to make affiliate marketing work on Reddit compared to other social media platforms, as most subreddits have strict guidelines about promotional/marketing content, and don’t often allow users to share affiliate links.

But if you can overcome that hurdle, the traffic you can drive from Reddit is some of the best around.

How to get started:

  • Create a Reddit account for free
  • Join some niche-relevant communities (subreddits that are likely to be full of people in your target market)
  • Engage in communities by leaving helpful comments and posts in the subreddit
  • Build your Reddit Karma by collecting upvotes 
  • Add your affiliate link to your Reddit profile
  • Subtly start promoting your affiliate links (or even better, links to valuable content that contain your affiliate links) in posts on the subreddit. 
  • Make sure you do this in a way that’s helpful and provides real value to the community, and try not to look like you’re doing affiliate marketing at all.

8. Submit guest posts

As I briefly mentioned earlier, the best way to do affiliate marketing is by creating your own blog and publishing blog posts optimized around valuable, niche-relevant keywords (like product reviews, buyer guides, etc.)

The only problem is that creating your own website costs money.

As a workaround, you can publish those blog posts to somebody else’s website instead, for free. This is called guest posting.

It’s important to note that some site owners or editors will not accept posts with affiliate links in them. Naturally, this will cut down on potential opportunities.

You could submit a post and hope they don’t notice the affiliate link or you can be upfront with them. I’d go with the latter. Honesty is always the best policy.

How to get started:

  • Search Google to find popular sites in your niche. You can use Google Search operators like this: “guest post”+”food”
  • Find the email addresses of key contacts on those sites (check the Contact Us page) and add them to a spreadsheet.
  • Reach out to all the contacts on your spreadsheet asking if they accept guest posts. Make sure you explain what’s in it for them (e.g. a well-written post about a topic their audience would appreciate, a keyword-optimized blog post that’ll drive traffic to their site, etc.)
  • If someone emails back confirming that they accept guest posts, pitch your idea to them and ask if you can write it. Make sure you clarify that it’s okay to include your affiliate link in the post.
  • Submit your post to the site for publishing.
  • Repeat the process with more blog posts targeting other relevant keywords.

Note: You can speed up the process and make managing everything easier with a blogger outreach tool like BuzzStream. You can even use it to send emails, track links, and manage responses, etc.

9. Start a free blog

I said a moment ago that, although the best way to start affiliate marketing is to create your own blog, that’s something you can’t do for free.

Well, that’s not technically true.

While starting your own blog usually means paying for web hosting and purchasing a domain name, there are a few sites that let you create a blog for free. 

The catch is your blog will be hosted on their domain, not yours, and you’ll have much less control.

Your options for creating a free blog include WordPress and Wix. But we’d recommend using Medium as it’s an authoritative domain that ranks well, so posts have a good chance of getting lots of traffic.

How to get started:

  • Sign up for a free Medium account.
  • Write posts/stories to be published on your Medium page (content must adhere to Medium’s guidelines and rules).
  • Include affiliate links in your posts, but try to be subtle about it. Medium doesn’t allow overt marketing and affiliate sales content.
  • Add an affiliate disclosure to your posts.
  • Optimize your posts around target keywords that potential buyers might search for (product reviews, tutorials, etc.)
  • Drive traffic to your Medium stories by sharing them on your socials.

How to start affiliate marketing with a little money

Before we wrap up, I want to share a few more affiliate marketing methods that require just a little bit of spending but allow you to get much more value out of your affiliate marketing efforts.

Don’t worry, we’re talking less than 50 bucks here—nothing that’ll break the bank.

Start a niche affiliate blog

Start a niche affiliate blogPin

This is hands-down the best way to do affiliate marketing.

The idea is to create your own WordPress website and use it to publish niche-relevant blog posts.

These blog posts should be optimized for search engine optimization (SEO) in order to give them the best chance of ranking for keywords that potential buyers might search for.

If you can get your blog posts to rank on Google, you can get thousands of organic visitors to your site every month. And if those visitors click the affiliate links in your post and make a purchase, you get paid.

The great thing about this method is that eventually, it becomes fairly passive. Once you’re ranking for a bunch of high-volume keywords, traffic will keep coming in. You don’t have to keep creating new posts like you would if you focused on social media.

How to get started:

  • Sign up for WordPress hosting. We’d recommend WPX Hosting as it has everything you need, offers excellent performance, and only costs $24.99 a month. However, on the more affordable end of the spectrum, try DreamHost instead.
  • Use WordPress (this will usually come pre-installed with your hosting package) to create your site. You can install a free theme for the WordPress theme library, and any plugins you need to get started.
  • Customize your site and create key pages like a home page, an about page, a contact page, a privacy policy, etc.
  • Conduct keyword research to find search terms potential buyers of your affiliate products might search for. Look for low-competition keywords that you think you can rank for.
  • Create blog posts around those keywords and post them to your site. Learn about SEO to optimize them and your website at large to improve your chances of ranking.
  • Continue to optimize your site for traffic and conversions to get more clicks to your affiliate links.

Run an email marketing campaign

Run an email marketing campaignPin

Once you have your affiliate blog, you can also use opt-in forms to start building an email list.

Then, you can regularly email your subscribers to notify them of new offers and discounts. This will help you to drive even more traffic to your affiliate links.

How to get started:

  • Sign up for an email marketing platform like MailerLite. They have an amazing free plan with lots of features and it supports up to 1,000 subscribers.
  • Create opt-in forms and publish them to your site.
  • Encourage people to sign up for your mailing list by creating a lead magnet
  • Use your email marketing software to create automated campaigns such as welcome sequences, etc. that nurture your subscribers and send them affiliate offers
  • Send out individual broadcasts as needed to promote new deals

A quick word about disclosure

Regardless of the platforms and tools you use for affiliate marketing, you need to disclose your use of these links.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re sharing offers on Reddit or including them in your email newsletter. You need to disclose the relationship and let your readers know that you may earn a commission.

Sure, some people will avoid clicking on your link once they know it’s an affiliate link. But you’ll earn more credibility and avoid the potential risk of platforms banning your accounts. And it’s also a legal requirement in certain parts of the world.

Final thoughts

Starting affiliate marketing is time consuming and requires patience, however, we’ve shown that you don’t need money to run a successful affiliate marketing business.

All you need is time and a solid strategy to drive traffic to your affiliate links.

But if you’re serious about affiliate marketing, I’d nonetheless recommend saving up to purchase web hosting. 

For the very small cost of a monthly subscription, it’ll make it significantly easier for you to drive traffic and earn commissions.

Related reading:

  • 13 Ways To Make Money From A Website (And How To Get Started)
  • How Do Influencers Make Money? The Complete Guide
  • How To Make Money On Instagram: 9 Ways To Profit

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. If you click on certain links we may make a commission.