Want to jump straight in? Click here to learn how to start affiliate marketing for free.
Affiliate Marketing is one of the most lucrative ways to make money online. It has been that way since the late 1990’s when Amazon introduced the Internet’s very first Affiliate Program: Amazon Associates.
Affiliate Marketing blew up ever since then and is more popular today than ever before.
The common misconception in the Affiliate Marketing space is: you NEED to invest money to make Affiliate Marketing work.
Sure, investing money can potentially save you a lot of time & effort promoting your website.
But, if you’re in a pinch and can’t invest money, for now, you CAN start affiliate marketing for free and scale it up later when you have enough money to invest.
So, how to start affiliate marketing for free?
There are three effective ways to start Affiliate Marketing for free:
- Start a free blog where you review & promote your Affiliate Products.
- Start a YouTube channel where you review & promote your Affiliate Products.
- Create free landing pages where you can collect the email ids of interested people and promote your Affiliate Products through Email Marketing.
Before getting into the nuts & bolts of the above-mentioned methods, let’s understand how exactly Affiliate Marketing works.
Let’s dive in.
How Affiliate Marketing Works
To understand how Affiliate Marketing works, you must know what exactly Affiliate Marketing is.
Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income put’s it nicely:
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting another company’s product (or service). You find a product, promote it to others, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.
Want a practical example?
Here you go:
This Unicorn Plushy would be a fantastic gift for a kid. For this Christmas, I think you should gift this to you a kid you know.
To do so, click on the button below (Affiliate Link).
When you buy the plushy using my affiliate link, I’ll earn a small commission with no extra cost to you 🙂
I didn’t manufacture the plushy (product). I’m just helping out the manufacturer by promoting it in my blog so that, when someone buys it, the merchant pays me money for promoting their product.
And that’s how Affiliate Marketing works.
This is how the Affiliate Marketing process looks like:
Easy enough, right?
Now that you understand how Affiliate Marketing works, it’s time to learn the actual methods that can be used to start Affiliate Marketing for free.
Affiliate Disclosure: The content below may contain a few affiliate links which means: when you buy something using the links down here, I will earn a commission that will help me buy a cup of coffee, which I promise I will drink while making more awesome content like this one, for you. And P.S: It won’t cost you any extra money.
Method #1: Start A Free Blog
Blogging is the go-to method for most people who wants to try their hand at Affiliate Marketing.
And there’s a good reason behind that.
You see, people nowadays rarely buy a product right after they see an advertisement online.
When was the last time you bought something right after you saw an ad, without searching the review of the product online?
I bet almost never.
Believe it or not, people love to be sold. They want someone to justify their buying action.
Mind you, I’m saying People love to be sold out but hate being manipulated.
That said, selling something only works well if you genuinely recommend the product that you’re promoting.
So, this is where Blogging (& YouTube) excels.
When you write a detailed review of the product you’re promoting, people are more likely to trust you and buy the product, using your affiliate links.
The process of Affiliate Marketing on a Blog looks like this:
- You start a Blog.
- You write helpful posts where you promote your Affiliate Products by adding your Affiliate links inside those posts.
- Whenever someone buys that product using your Affiliate link, you earn a commission.
Alright, how do I start a free blog?
There are about a dozen blogging platforms out there that allows starting a free blog.
I recommend Blogger.
But Vignesh, I heard Medium is better… I heard LinkedIn is really a good choice…
I agree. There are a few platforms better than Blogger.
They’re really not the best option for Affiliate Marketing.
Besides, if you start blogging on Blogger, you can move your site to WordPress (A Paid Platform) easily when you have money to invest.
If you’re okay with investing a few bucks (~$40/Year only), here’s a detailed guide on ‘How to start a WordPress blog, promote it and monetize it’
How To Start A WordPress Blog [Definitive Guide]
Click here to learn how to start a WordPress Blog, promote it & monetize it using Affiliate Marketing.
Okay. Moving on…
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start a blog on Blogger:
Starting A Blog on Blogger
Creating a Blogger blog is easy. It’ll only take 5 minutes.
1. Visit Blogger.com and click “Create Your Blog”.
2. Sign in with your Google account.
3. Now, you have to choose a name for your blog and click “Next”.
4. Choose your domain name. A domain name is what people enter in Google to visit your website (For example: actualhuslteaffiliate.blogspot.com). Click “Next” when you’re done.
5. Now, you have to choose the author name you want your blog readers to see. You can use your real name or go with a pen name. Click “Finish”.
6. That’s it. Now you’ll be taken to your Blogger Dashboard. It looks like this:
Now you just have to click on “+ New Post” in the menu and can start writing your first blog post immediately.
As simple as that.
If you have noticed, I have included an Affiliate Disclosure in this post:
So, make sure you add one in your blog posts if you’re promoting affiliate products.
You might have noticed that your blog’s domain address looks something like “abcxyz.blogspot.com”.
That’s the free domain address provided to you by Blogger.
If you feel that the domain looks ugly or unprofessional, you can buy a custom domain (like abc.com, abc.us) from a Domain Registrar and connect it with Blogger.
I recommend you buy the domain from Namecheap. It costs less than $9/year (which is cheaper than every other popular Domain Registrar) and they provide free WHOIS privacy protection (other Domain Registrars charge around an extra $3/year for WHOIS privacy protection).
If you have bought a custom domain from a Domain Registrar, this is how you connect the custom domain with Blogger:
How To Connect Custom Domain With Blogger
Watch this step-by-step video on how to add custom domain to Blogger:
Now that you have a blog, it’s time to find the products you want to promote and get their affiliate links so that you can start writing reviews of those products in your blog and add your affiliate links there.
Here’s a detailed guide on how to use Blogger for Affiliate Marketing:
How To Use Blogger For Affiliate Marketing
Click here to learn how to sign up for an Affiliate Network and start Affiliate Marketing on your Blogger blog.
You can keep on reading to learn what are the other methods used to start Affiliate Marketing for free, if you want.
Or you can click here to skip to the section – ‘How to find affiliate products to promote’
Method #2: Start A YouTube Channel
YouTube needs no introduction.
Everyone and their mother uses YouTube nowadays.
YouTube is second only to Google, as the most popular Search Engine.
With more than 2 billion Monthly Active Users (MAU), YouTube is the second most used social platform:
In fact, YouTube’s Monthly Active Users has been consistently growing each year:
So, YouTube is definitely one of the best platforms to take advantage of when you’re starting out with Affiliate Marketing.
Listen, you don’t have to be Stephen King to write a blog, but if you think writing is not your cup of tea, maybe you’ll do great on YouTube.
YouTube is totally free. The process of Affiliate Marketing on YouTube looks like this:
- You start a YouTube channel.
- Upload videos of you reviewing and promoting your Affiliate Products.
- Add your Affiliate links in the description of your videos.
- Whenever someone buys the product you’re promoting through your affiliate links, you earn a commission.
So, make sure you let your viewers know that the links in the description are affiiate links, if you’re promoting affiliate products.
So, now that you understand the basics of how to use YouTube for Affiliate Marketing, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of finding and promoting the Affiliate products.
You can keep on reading to learn the 3rd and final method used to start Affiliate Marketing for free, if you want.
Or you can click here to skip to the section – ‘How to find affiliate products to promote’
Method #3: Create Free Landing Pages
Before explaining this method, let me warn you:
Why is it not as effective as the previous method?
To understand that, you should first know what are landing pages:
A landing page is a standalone web page, that acts as a bridge between your audience and the Affiliate Product’s website where you can collect your interested audience’s email and other information.
A landing page is where a user “lands” after they click on a link in an email, or ads from Facebook, Google, or similar places on the web.
How Landing Pages Work
To make things clear, let me explain this with an example:
Here, I have searched “How to lose weight in 7 days” in Google:
Notice that there’s a link claiming that they are providing free weight loss treatment.
So, I clicked it.
Now, it took me to this landing page where I am supposed to enter my information to access the free training:
Notice that it says that I can find out more about weight loss treatment if I submit my information.
And so, after I submit my information, I got redirected to the product’s landing page where I can find the free weight loss treatment (a free ebook or a free video course) provided by the vendor.
Now the catch is, the free training only covers a small portion of the full training which costs $99.
So, now it was my time to decide: Should I buy the full training for $99?
Well… I’m not a fool to buy a $99 worth of training that I haven’t even heard about 2 minutes ago. So, I didn’t buy it.
Would I have bought the training if I have read a good review about it in a blog post?
Would I have bought the training if I have watched a great review about it on a YouTube channel?
Hmm… probably, yeah.
So, this landing page method sucks then?
Nope. Not at all.
You remember when I submitted my contact details in the landing page right after I clicked the link?
This is what happened the next day:
I got an email from this one person (The Affiliate Marketer who got my email address from the landing page he set up), explaining briefly the benefits I would get from that training I skipped on.
This continued for the next 3 days. I got a mail each day explaining why it’s such a good training.
And in his last email, he gave me a 10% discount on the original price of the training.
Since he explained me how the weight loss training will be helpful for me and also offered me a discounted price, I ended up buying the training.
See why Affiliate Marketers love landing pages?
Landing pages help Affiliate Marketers collect the interested people’s contact details, so that they can contact them later to pitch the product once again.
Now that you understand how landing pages work, it’s time to learn why this method is not as effective as starting a blog or starting a YouTube channel.
Why Landing Pages Are Less Effective Compared to A Blog or A YouTube Channel
Just to make it clear, landing pages are an excellent way to do Affiliate Marketing IF you’re willing to invest money on ad campaigns.
But since this guide is all about starting Affiliate Marketing for free, I’m sorry to say, landing pages are not as effective as the previous methods when you’re not investing money.
Because, It’s EXTREMELY hard to drive traffic to your landing pages.
When you have a blog, there’s a chance you get traffic to your posts from Google search results.
Similarly, when you have a YouTube channel, there’s a chance you get traffic to your videos from YouTube search results.
But how do you get traffic to a landing page?
And no, despite what some “SEO Gurus” may say, trying to rank a landing page on Google is incredibly hard and is a pain in the neck.
So, what’s the only reasonable option left? – Paid Ads.
That’s what all the professional Affiliate Marketers do. They drive traffic to their landing page by running ad campaigns.
But driving traffic to your landing page for free? That’s a tedious task.
So, the bottom line is:
When landing pages are used as an Affiliate Marketing strategy without investing money in ads, it takes a lot of extra time & effort to drive traffic to your landing page.
Alright. Now you know why I prefer the first 2 methods to this one. But if you absolutely can’t start/maintain a blog or a YouTube channel, here’s how you create free landing pages:
How To Create Free Landing Pages
There are a few free landing pages out there. But most of them don’t come with an integrated email marketing service (for the free plan), a few others were just no good.
The one I found notably good is ConvertKit.
It’s basically an Email Service Provider (ESP) that comes with Unlimited landing pages in their free plan.
That’s amazing for a newbie who is getting started with Affiliate Marketing.
There are 2 limitations though (It’s a free plan after all):
- Free plan only offers up to 1000 subscribers.
- Automated funnels & sequences are not available in free plan.
But, the features you get for a free plan from ConvertKit far outweigh the limitations.
Besides, by the time you have nearly 1000 contacts in your email list, you will be making enough money from email marketing, to upgrade to one of ConvertKit’s paid plans.
So, here’s how you create a landing page to promote your Affiliate products:
1. Click here to browse through and select a landing page design of your choice.
2. Now, start editing the landing page as you want and once you’re done, click “Save”.
3. You’ll be prompted with a pop-up asking you to create an account. Enter your details and click “Create Account”.
And that’s it!
You have successfully created your first landing page.
4. To see your landing page URL, click on the “Share” tab on the top menu and copy the URL.
5. Now, you can share this URL on any platform you want. When the link is clicked by someone, it will take them to your landing page.
As I explained before, the idea is, when someone “lands” on your landing page, you collect their email and redirect them to the product page.
In my case, when someone fills in their email and clicks the green “Subscribe” button, they should be redirected to the sales page of the product I’m promoting.
More often than not, people submit fake email address in landing pages.
So, to avoid that, you should use double opt-in field in your landing page.
The good news is, ConvertKit does this by default. So, you don’t have to change anything.
For example, when someone submits their email in my landing page, this is what happens:
As you can see, it says that they have to confirm their email to proceed further. They will get an email like this:
When they click on the “Confirm your subscription” button, they’ll be redirected to this page:
But, as an Affiliate Marketer, you want to redirect your audience to the product’s sales page once they have confirmed their email.
To do that, go back to your landing page editor and select “Settings” from the top menu. You’ll see a pop-up screen like this:
Here, select the “Incentive” tab, enter the URL you want to redirect your audience to (after email confirmation) and click “Save”.
Now, whenever someone confirms their email, they will be redirected to the URL you have added.
Custom Domain With Landing Pages
There’s still this one small detail worth mentioning:
See the landing page URL?
Doesn’t look so professional, does it?
Now, this is not necessary. But, If you want a professional looking landing page, you have to use a custom domain for your landing page.
If you decide to do so, I recommend you buy the domain from Namecheap. It costs less than $9/year (which is cheaper than every other popular Domain Registrar) and they provide free WHOIS privacy protection (other Domain Registrars charge around an extra $3/year for WHOIS privacy protection).
If you bought a domain, check out this guide on ‘How to use a custom domain for landing pages‘ by ConvertKit. They have explained it clearly.
Alright. Summing up…
These are the 2 important reasons why you should consider using landing pages:
- Adding affiliate links directly inside some of the platforms is against their terms & conditions. (Example: Quora)
- With a landing page, you can collect the email addresses of the people that are interested in buying the product, which you can use later to promote your affiliate product through email marketing.
Now that you know all the 3 effective methods used to start Affiliate Marketing for free, let’s see how to find the Affiliate products to promote.
How To Find Affiliate Products To Promote
There are 2 ways you can find Affiliate Products to promote:
- Join in-house affiliate programs of the products you want to promote.
- Join an affiliate network where you can find many products to promote.
What is an In-House Affiliate Program
An In-house is an affiliate program managed by the company of the affiliate product itself, using just an affiliate software instead of an affiliate network. This program allows the merchant/company to have a relationship with affiliates and save money on network commissions.
For example, consider Canva (A Graphic Design Platform):
As you can see, they have their own Affiliate Program where interested people can join and promote Canva.
So, you don’t have to sign up for any Affiliate Network to start promoting products available in In-house affiliate programs.
To check if a product has an in-house affiliate program, just type this in google:
“The product you want to promote + affiliate”
For example, if you want to promote Canva, you type “Canva affiliate” in Google:
As you see, the very first result is the in-house affiliate program of Canva.
So, you just sign-up for the program, get the affiliate link, and start promoting it.
What is an Affiliate Network
An Affiliate Network acts an intermediary between the Company/Merchant and the Publisher (that’s you).
So, instead of joining multiple in-house affiliate programs, you can join one or more affiliate networks where you can find hundreds & thousands of products to promote.
It’s up to you. As a publisher (Affiliate), there’s not really much of an advantage of using one over the other.
So, join some Affiliate Networks. If you can’t find the product you want to promote in those networks, see if the product’s company has an in-house affiliate program.
Here are some of the popular Affiliate Networks:
Here’s an example of how to find a product to promote in CJ Affiliate:
In you CJ Affiliate dashboard, go to “Advertisers” tab. Here you will see the list of products you can promote.
You can either choose one from the list or you can type in what product you’re looking for in the “Keywords” box. Or, you can choose to see all the products under a specific category that are available to promote, by selecting the “Category” option.
After you find a good product to promote, you click on the green “Apply to Program” button next to the product.
Now, the product’s merchant will review your account and will let you know if you’re eligible to promote their product. The review process usually takes less than a day.
Got your affiliate links?
Let’s move to the next section.
How To Get Traffic To Your Affiliate Website For Free
Alright. Now you have a blog/a YouTube channel/a landing page and the Affiliate links to promote. Time to drive some traffic to your website.
There are several free platforms you can use to drive traffic to your Affiliate Website. I have listed a few of the most worthwhile platforms:
(The following list is not a ranking. Just a random order)
I’m a fan of Quora. It just works so well for promoting your website.
The ability to target a group of people who are interested in a specific topic makes it a great platform to drive free traffic to your website.
In fact, I’ve made a detailed guide on how to use Quora for Affiliate Marketing where I’ve talked about a secret method you can use to get tons of views for your Quora Answers. Read it here:
How To Use Quora For Affiliate Marketing
Click here to learn the secret method you can use to get ton of free traffic to your website using Quora Answers.
Pinterest is huge right now.
It can bring in tens of thousands of free traffic to your website if you do it the right way.
Pinterest even allows you to add your Affiliate links directly inside the platform, which has attracted many Affiliate marketers.
But, most affiliate marketers fail in Pinterest marketing because they approach it the wrong way.
You see, Pinterest is more of a Search Engine than a Social Media Platform.
So, if you do your research, follow Pinterest SEO, and pin consistently, I’m sure you’ll get huge traffic to your website every month from Pinterest.
This option is only for those who have chosen Method #1 (Blog) or Method #3 (Landing Page). If you have chosen Method #2 (YouTube), skip this section.
YouTube, hands down, is the best platform to drive free traffic to your blog/landing page.
Unlike other platforms in this list, driving traffic from YouTube might take more time & effort. But the end result will be absolutely worth it.
So, if you already have a blog/landing page, consider starting a YouTube channel from where you can send traffic to your website.
Similar to Quora. Most of the popular Q&A forums are great platforms to drive free traffic to your website.
Reddit has these things called “Subreddits”.
A subreddit is a forum dedicated to a specific topic on Reddit and each subreddit has a focus and for the most part, effectively maintains that focus.
For example, , the subreddit /r/linuxquestion (for questions, feedback, and help regarding common problems in Linux OS) would delete a post or link about a linux game, which belongs in /r/linux_gaming.
See how that might be confusing to a new Redditor? These are different subreddits, each with its own rules, moderators, and content theme.
So, like Quora, you can target people with similar interests and drive quality traffic to your website.
And… that’s it.
Those are the 4 best free platforms (In my opinion, anyway) you can use to drive traffic to your Affiliate website.
Sure, you can use Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn, or any other platform you like, to drive traffic, but I personally haven’t seen good results from those platforms. So, you may try and see if it works for your niche.
Alright. Now, let’s see what are some of the Drawbacks of starting Affiliate Marketing for free without investing in ads.
Drawbacks Of Starting Affiliate Marketing For Free
It’s not always sunshine and rainbows when it comes to Affiliate Marketing, especially when you’re doing it for free.
Umm… speaking of sunshine and rainbows, here’s the link again to buy that Cute Unicorn Plushy => Get The Unicorn Plushy.
Alright, moving on…
Below, I have listed out a few caveats to starting Affiliate Marketing for free.
Note that these drawbacks are not that big of a deal if you’re willing to put in a little extra effort & time. But worth mentioning, nonetheless.
1. Needs Extra Effort & Time
This is the most frustrating part of doing Affiliate Marketing for free. It just takes a LOT more effort & time to make that sale.
Getting traffic to your website will be a hassle, especially when you’re using Landing pages.
Unless you are able to rank on the first page of the search results by writing great content for your blog or making awesome videos for your YouTube channel, you should consistently promote your website in various platforms to get any traffic.
Note: Please don’t try to trick Google by following some black hat SEO techniques to rank your blog better, because trying to stay ahead of a multi-billion dollar company with near-infinite resources just… well… won’t work.
2. Limited Features
This doesn’t include YouTube, since you get all the features of YouTube for free.
But, if you’re starting a blog on Blogger, it has very limited features like:
- Fewer customization options
- You don’t own your blog content
- Your blog might get deleted if it violates Blogger’s content policy
- Fewer plugins/widgets compared to WordPress
- Looks unprofessional which makes it hard to create a brand
Likewise, free landing pages has limited features too:
- No Automated Funnels.
- Can only manage a small number of subscribers
- Unable to create custom audiences
- No Newsletter referral system
3. Looks Unprofessional
Again, this doesn’t include YouTube.
How many times have you trusted a website which doesn’t even have a custom domain?
I’m guessing never.
The websites you get for free looks unprofessional which potentially lowers the odds of you making a sale.
So, having at least a custom domain connected with your website, makes it look way more professional.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Affiliate referral links can be found in the Dashboard of your Affiliate In-house program or Affiliate Network. An affiliate link specific for a page you want can be created by pasting the page URL in the “Page URL” field and clicking “Generate URL”.
It depends on the product you’re promoting. Amazon’s affiliate commission payouts vary for different categories. Amazon has mentioned this on their Operating Agreement Support page. Read that to find complete information about the commissions.
Unfortunately, no. Almost none of the Affiliate programs consider a “self-referral” as a valid Affiliate sale. So, you won’t get any commission if you buy the product yourself using your affiliate link. Moreover, you may get banned from the Affiliate program.
Affiliate Marketing is extremely competitive these days.
You have to be ready to invest a few bucks to have skin in the game.
But, if you’re just starting out, going for the free methods first and learning the ins and outs of Affiliate Marketing is definitely a good idea.
I recommend you scale up your Affiliate marketing strategies as soon as you see some profit using these free methods. When you find something working nicely for you, invest some money on that strategy to see what return you’re getting.
Then, depending on your return on investment, plan your next step.
That’s how you learn in Affiliate Marketing.
So, now, I’d like to hear from you.
Which of the 3 free methods are you going choose? Are you going to start a blog? or maybe you like making YouTube videos?
Either way, let me know which method you’re going to start with, in the comments below.