5 steps to start affiliate marketing with no money

So you want to start affiliate marketing with no money 🤷‍♂️?

This guide shows the exact steps you can take today to start with affiliate marketing without spending a single dime. If you put in the effort, this could turn into a nice side income that could eventually become your cashcow 🐄💰.

Here are the five steps to get started with affiliate marketing with no money:

  1. Pick a niche that has potential
  2. Set up a free website as a flagship
  3. Set up your socials to get followers and traffic
  4. Set up your autoresponder to capture leads
  5. Apply to affiliate programs to monetize your website

Watch the full walkthrough in the video below!

This blogpost is also fully covered in the video below for your ease 😄.

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1. Pick a niche that has potential

Picking a niche is the first step and an important one for multiple reasons:

  • It should have potential (low competition, high volume, ways to monetize)
  • You’ll spend a lot of time working on it, so it helps to have some interest in the topic
  • This can eventually become your main passive income asset, so the more affinity with the subject the better
  • If you just want some quick cash and potentially sell the business after a while, then that’s of course fine as well

Check our blogpost on 21 profitable niches to get an idea of niches you could go after. This should spark some ideas already. If you’re still struggling to find an angle or topic, use the following image to pick something you like:

We can tell from personal experiences that going after an animal niche is very easy to start with. To give you an idea why this is an easy niche:

  • People are crazy in love with their pets, so there is huge demand
  • People buy all kinds of things for their pets, so it’s easy to monetize with affiliate marketing
  • People love to like and share pictures of (their own) pets, so it’s easy to get some initial traction on your channels

For this guide, we’re going to pick German Shepherd Dogs as our niche example.

2. Setup your free website

Unfortunately, you can rarely send people directly to affiliate offers from social media, forums or other places. So we need a landing page or mini-website in between to send to people to.

Luckily, there are a lot of 100% FREE options to consider:

While these are 100% for free, we would definitely recommend spending as little as $20/year to get your own domain and webhosting. Hostgator is very cheap and can set you up within hours. When your business will grow, you may eventually want to be a bit more flexible and build your own brand, rather than using a subdomain on WordPress for example. Anyway, that’s up to you.

Content creation the easy way

Now it is time to set up your pages and create some content. There are two options to choose from:

  1. Build five pages that consist of 800 words each (here’s an example)
  2. Create one masterpiece of 4.000 words (here’s an example)

Wait, is it possible to get traffic and make money with a one-paged website? Yes it is! Read our blogpost on our one-paged affiliate site + SEO case study.

With our German Shepherd Dogs niche, we’re going to setup five pages of 800 words each:

  1. General info (our homepage)
  2. Dog names (low key, easy to share)
  3. Dog toys (informational + easy to monetize with affiliate programs)
  4. Dog benches (high ticket + easy to monetize with affiliate programs)
  5. Dog training (recurring service + easy to monetize with affiliate programs)

The way to create content fast is to start Googling the topics you are going to write about. Collect information from each of the top 10 rankings pages and create your own version that is the best of all pages combined. Don’t copy, just rewrite. Improve it.

Make sure to have some nice formatting in place. Here’s a super simple template we often use on affiliate pages to showcase top 10 product lists:

3. Setup your socials to get followers and traffic

Now you’ve chosen your niche and you’ve setup your website, it’s time to utilize social media to get some initial traffic. The easiest way to start is by creating a fanpage on Facebook and an account on Instagram.

Facebook fanpage

Starting with Facebook, go to this page to create your fanpage and choose the following settings:

  • Page-type: Community or public figure
  • Page name: I love {your niche here}
  • Category: Website
  • Description: This fanpage is for people who love {your niche here}! Daily uploads of the funniest and most entertaining {your niche here}. Share your own pictures to and connect with other {your niche here} lovers.

Done! You have your own fanpage now. Start filling in some information and uploading your profile picture and cover photos. We recommend going with a puppy or other cute picture of your chosen niche as a profile picture. The cover photo can basically be anything. Here’s what ours looks like:

Setting up your first 30 posts

In order to get some traction to your fan page, you need to have some engaging posts for a longer period of time.

How?

By reverse-engineering other successful fan pages.

Chances are that there are other fan pages about the same niche you want to go after. Don’t worry, that’s actually a good sign! Plus, we can utilize their posts in order to find content we can repost or repurpose.

Type in your chosen niche in Facebook’s search bar and hit enter. Look for either groups or pages with a big following, as it will make it easier to find good content:

Make sure you join some groups and follow some pages yourself to get an idea of the posts that get a lot of engagement. Click on one of the results start browsing the pages. You’ll often find lots of good posts you can replicate or repost. For example, the fanpage below uses captions, memes or just cute posts:

CUTE posts

Caption this posts

Meme posts

Once you get an idea of the kind of posts you could replicate, it’s time to collect the content. The easiest way to do this, is to get the following Chrome plugins:

Once you have found a fanpage, click on ‘Photos’ and on the ‘Timeline photos’ album. In our example we can instantly download 7.271 photos!

Make sure to also download a lot of videos by repeating this process from the video section, as videos often outperform photos in terms of engagement nowadays. Look at these numbers, these videos get millions of views! Definitely worth reposting on your own fanpage for some extra virality and engagement:

Now some of you may argue that this method a bit shady, which is true. If you are uncomfortable doing this you could also use Google Image Search for your niche, filter on creative commons (reusing allowed) and you are good to go. Try to find a way to scrape all those images. Pro tip: ask your fans to post pictures/videos of their dogs in the comments to get featured on your page, to get lots of comtent you can use.

Once you’ve collected some photos and videos you like and want to repost, here is the post template we are going to use:

  1. Description or comment on the photo/video
  2. Call-to-action or phychological trigger
  3. URL to your website (optional)

Here’s a list of call-to-action templates you can use:

  • Caption this by commenting below 👇!
  • Tag a friend who has to see this 😂!
  • How many like for this ____ ❤️?
  • Do you love ____? Share if you agree 🥰!
  • Post a picture of your ____ below !

Here’s a list of phychological triggers you can use:

  • You won’t believe what happened 🙈
  • ____ will make you ____😢
  • This is why ____ are the best in the world 😍!
  • Top __ things about ____ 🐶
  • First ____. What happens next is hilarious 😂

Need more? Check out this blogpost by Buzzsumo, where they analyzed 100 million headlines + examples. Here are some of our personal examples that worked really well:

Put your website URL (or use a URL shortener) in your social post every now and then (1 in 5 times) to not make it look spammy. This is going to result in quite a nice traffic stream once your following grows.

Now you know what and how to post, let’s setup a content calender that sets you up for the coming month. Go to Publishing tools on Facebook. Here we can upload and schedule posts for the coming month.

In order to do so, click on Create and select the Photo/Video option. When you’ve uploaded your media and created your post, Click on Schedule. Select a date and a timestamp and click Schedule again.

To give you some guidance in when and how often to post, here’s a daily content calendar we like using:

Stick to this weekly setup to have a variation of posts during the week. Images and videos, with and without your website. Make sure to test different time-slots. Eventually Facebook will provide insight into what timeslots work best for your audience so you can adjust accordingly.

It may take some time to upload all the posts, but once you’re done with the first 30, you are all set for the month! Having all posts on auto-pilot and driving traffic to your website. You can even upload more content or have less posts a week to set yourself up for a longer period of time.

Repeat this process to have a continous flow of daily content. Aim to have at least one post per day to keep the momentum going and you will soon have your first 1.000 followers.

To make sure people follow you, click on the likes, comments or shares and Invite people to like your page and continue to grow your page:

4. Set up your autoresponder to capture leads

We’ll never know how long Facebook or even Instagram are going to survive before the next ‘big thing’ or social platform will take over.

Therefore, it’s smart to start collecting e-mail adresses too, so you’re not fully relient on social channels, but can also e-mail your community affiliate offers every now and then. Adding an additional revenue stream to your tactics!

The following auto reponders are free to start with:

We recommend Mailchimp as it is really user-friendly and allows the most contacts to save initially. Sign up with mailchimp and Create a new Audience / List:

Fill in the required fields and settings. Next, you want to able to capture leads on your website. In order to do so, create a subscription form. Go to Create and click on Subscription Form:

Copy and paste the form code once you are ready and place it somewhere on your website to start capturing leads!

Make sure to put it somewhere on your website above the fold, so your signup rate increases. Ours is simply in the sidebar, not the best spot but it works pretty well:

Or simply create a new dedicated page solely for collecting subscribers. For example on yourdomain.com/join. On that page, name all the benefits they can expect when subscribing. We have used the following example in the past to solely drive subscribers (sorry for the Dutch):

In our example, this would be something like:

Join the exclusive German Shepherd Dog lovers club (IT IS FREE)!

  • Receive tips and tricks about:
    • Training your shepherd (puppy raising, on- and off-leash, house-training, when with other dogs, rewarding good behaviour)
    • The best German Shepherd dog food resources
    • Fun products and treats for your dog
  • Exclusive content from our blog
  • Access to members-only giveaways
  • Take part in meet-ups and connect with other GSD lovers!

Now use your domain or your landinge page URL yourdomain.com/join in your social posts to start collecting subscribers ✉️.

5. Apply to affiliate programs to monetize your website

You’re almost ready to start earning money! The final step is to apply to relevant affiliate programs so you can start making money from your website and fanpages.

Here are the most programs to sign-up for:

In this guide, we’re going to sign for Amazon Associates and Clickbank.

Amazon Associates

Go to the Amazon Associates page and sign up filling in all required fields. Once signed up, you can basically sell anything on your website from Amazon. In our example we created pages about Dog food and Dog benches. Let’s find some items to sell for this.

Go to amazon.com and search for ‘dog toys’. Scroll a bit down and look for recommendations by Amazon itself or items that have a lot of 4+ star reviews. You can even check their blog to get some inspiration for your own content:

Next, when you’re logged in into Amazon, an extra affiliate bar will appear. Click on Text and Full link to get the link you need to promote this product. That’s it!

Clickbank

Once you signup for Clickbank, complete your profile and click on Affiliate marketplace:

In our example, we created a page about dog training. Let’s see if we can promote a nice affiliate offer for that on the Clickbank marketplace.

Search for ‘dog training’ in the search bar and sort the results on Gravity (a performance metric from Clickbank):

Multiple offers appear you can promote! In this example, we would recommend promoting Doggy Dans Online Dog Trainer program. Not only do you get $67.31 commission per sale, but also a chance on recurring commissions of $64.21 on average 🤑! 

This offer has been around for years, making it a very good and trust worthy offer to promote. Always check what you are promoting first, as you only get a few chances to sell stuff to your audience. Don’t screw it up, add value!

Click on the offer and apply for the affiliate program. Once you get approved, you will often get access to all kinds of promotional materials. From text links to social posts to e-mail swipes and banners.

Don’t put them directly on social media (or try to sneaky redirect) as you risk to lose your account. Instead, start making money by putting those links into your website content or e-mail campaigns 😉.

Easy.

Final thoughts

There you have it. A full guide to start affiliate marketing with no money!

We personally use this method succesfully in the Netherlands, as you can read in our other blogposts too. But to give you an idea of the potential, what started as a Shepherd Dog Facebook fanpage a few years ago, now results in a nice little passive online side business:

  • 11.053 likes
  • 28.601 monthly websites visitors
  • 2.643 e-mail subscriptions
  • $835/month revenue from affiliate offers on auto-pilot
  • $xx.xxx extra from drop shipping and merchandize campaigns

Will you be our next success story 😄? Share your journey or questions below 👇!

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