Ok, so you’ve heard how profitable affiliate marketing is. Can I start affiliate marketing for free?

Your boss is doing it. Your former college buddies are doing it. Heck, maybe even your junkie neighbor down the street is doing it.

And it’s no wonder everyone is jumping on this popular way to make passive income online.

Just check out the stats and see if they don’t blow your mind:

  • 80% of brands have affiliate programs.
  • Over 73% of merchants are satisfied with the revenue they generate through affiliate marketing. (Fetch Profits)
  • Affiliate marketing is a billion-dollar industry. (Statista)
  • Affiliate marketing is responsible for 16% of global eCommerce sales. (Fetch Profits)

“All great,” you might be thinking. “But I don’t have the cash to invest right now. Can I start affiliate marketing for free?”

If this is you, you’ve come to the right place.

In this lesson, we take a deep dive into how to start affiliate marketing with no money.

Ready?

Let’s go!

How to Start Affiliate Marketing for Free: 3 Proven Steps for Success

If you’ve done your research, you’ve probably heard of the big names in affiliate marketing.

You know, people like Pat Flynn, who gets 80% of his income through affiliate marketing.

Or Zac Johnson, who earns six figures a year without a single product of his own.

You’ve probably also noticed, however, that all these people have one thing in common: they own a website and blog.

The problem is, these cost money (not much, but you get the point).

If you’re in a place where even the idea of a $3/month web hosting plan is sending sweat trickling down your brow, read on below to find out how to start affiliate marketing for free. (As in, zero cents free.)

Step 1: Grow a Following on Facebook

Here’s great news: Facebook is totally free!

But you already knew that.

Something you didn’t know: Facebook is a powerful platform you can use to start affiliate marketing without a website or a single cent in investment.

Follow these five steps to get there.

1. Select Your Niche

If you want success as an affiliate marketer, you need to remember this:

Affiliate marketing isn’t about spammy ads or sleazy marketing tactics.

It’s about selling stuff you trust to people who trust you.

So before doing anything, you need to select a niche.

Are you going for beauty products? Dog food? Home improvements?

Take time to sift through your ideas and choose one that resonates with you. Remember, the more specific you are, the better.

When selecting your niche, you also want to pick one you have substantial knowledge on.

For instance, SmartBlogger CEO Jon Morrow is known for his cutting-edge advice on blogging.

On his site, he promotes affiliate products that are closely tied to his expertise.

Start Affiliate Marketing for Free

Source: smartblogger.com

2. Create a Facebook Page

Now that you have your niche, it’s time to grow your audience.

You can do this by creating your own Facebook page.

Simply click the “Pages” option on the left side of your Facebook homepage. Select “Create New Page.”

Start Affiliate Marketing for Free

Source: Facebook

After this, you can set up your page any way you want!

Remember, adding in a profile picture, cover photo, and description related to your niche will help your audience find you.

Here’s an example of a great page for dog lovers.

Start Affiliate Marketing for Free Facebook

Source: Facebook

3. Create a Facebook Group

Notice the blue button on the page in the screenshot above? 

Yup, this page has a group too.

Start Affiliate Marketing for Free Facebook group

Source: Facebook

Creating a new group is similar to creating a page.

Simply click “Groups” in the left side of your Facebook home page and select “Create New Group.” 

Upload your photos, write your description, set your group rules, and you’re done!

4. Engage in Other Groups

One rule about social media to keep in mind:

It’s all about connection.

There may be people out there who view it as a giant sleaze marketing machine…

…but it’s not that.

Which means, you need to do your part.

Don’t worry, though. It’s totally free. (Time consuming, but free.)

Here’s how:

Go on the “search” tab of Facebook and type in your keyword.

For instance, “Golden Retrievers.”

Source: Facebook

Join as many groups as you want. Remember to read their rules and regulations and stick closely to them.

Once you’ve been accepted in a group, it’s time to build those connections.

Engage, engage, engage.

Answer people’s questions. Comment on posts. Create your own helpful content.

Also, be sure your personal Facebook page is optimized to resonate with your niche. That way, when people inside the group get curious about you, they’ll check you out and recognize you’re an influencer in your space.

5. Post Valuable Content on Social

Ok, so the truth is, you won’t build a strong following overnight.

You’ll need to engage with people in groups and pages for some time before you start getting noticed. Your audience needs to trust your advice and expertise before they start joining your group.

But once you have thousands of members in your group and page, it’s time to start posting.

If you think you can spam them with your affiliate links day and night, stop right there.

Go slow.

Offer advice, stories, and entertaining content.

Make people love you.

Only then do you start promoting your affiliate links. (As a way to help your audience find the best products and services, of course.)

Here’s a cool example:

Source: Facebook

Step 2: Become a YouTube Influencer

Not a fan of Facebook?

Here’s how to start affiliate marketing with no money as a YouTube influencer.

1. Start with a Niche

As with Facebook, you’ll need to start with your niche.

Pick something that interests you. Remember, don’t be vague. Reviewing Star Wars toys will do much better than reviewing toys in general.

2. Select Your Keywords

If you want your audience to find you, you need to get into their minds and discover exactly what keywords they’ll use when they jump on YouTube.

Sound hard?

It’s not.

All you need to do is brainstorm keywords related to your niche. Then, type them into the YouTube search bar and check out what appears.

Here are the results for “Star Wars Toys.”

Source: YouTube

The search results will give you a sneak peek into your audience’s mind and tell you what kind of keywords they’ll use and what kind of content they want to consume.

3. Create Engaging Content for Your Viewers

Now that you’re all set up with your niche and keywords, it’s time to start recording those videos!

If you don’t have high-tech equipment like lighting and a camera, don’t worry. Some of the most famous YouTubers started out with only a webcam or smartphone.

The key to catching attention and skyrocketing those subscribers is content that stands out.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Don’t drag on with your intro. Ever finish a YouTube video with a 20-minute intro? (I guessed not.) As a good rule of thumb, keep your intros to three minutes or less.
  • Keep your audience hooked with hints. In the intro and during your video, keep dropping teasers about what’s coming. It’s a great idea to begin with telling your audience how your video will be structured, so they’re not left guessing. For instance, if you’re going to share five tips on losing belly fat in 10 days, tell them that at the start.
  • Wrap it up with a concrete conclusion. Chances are, your audience is watching your video for a reason. They want to learn something or to be entertained. To satisfy them, make sure they end your video with a feeling that they got what they came to you for.

Remember, things are going to seem slow at first.

YouTube watchers will trickle in, beginning with your mom and grandma.

But keep in mind that if you keep up a consistent schedule of at least two videos per week, and you create content that stands out online, you will eventually make it.

4. Promote Your Affiliate Links in Your Videos

10 years later…

…you now have a huge following on YouTube.

Now is the perfect time to sign up for those affiliate programs and start earning those commissions.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until you grow a huge following before sharing your affiliate links on YouTube.

However, some affiliate programs select partners who already have a large following. Growing your subscribers on YouTube is one way to show them you’re the one they want to work with.

Check out this example (Dan-O has 70,000 subscribers).

Source: YouTube

Step 3: Leverage Instagram

You may be thinking all social media platforms are equal…

…but they’re not.

Follow these 5 easy steps to leverage Instagram and start affiliate marketing with no money.

1. Niche, Niche, Niche

This can’t be stressed enough.

Choose a niche you’re passionate about.

Don’t post random photos of what you ate for breakfast or your favorite sweatpants.

Pick a theme and stick with it.

2. Spend Time on Your Bio

Your bio is like free ad space. In it, you can tell your audience why they should follow you.

Seriously, though.

Cut down on telling them about you.

Instead, tell them what they’ll get when they follow you.

Here’s a great example.

Source: Instagram

I mean, who wouldn’t want to “dominate social media” or get their first “10k followers”?

3. Post Valuable Content Consistently

Ask yourself, “What does my audience want to see?”

Then go ahead and post that.

If you’re not sure, don’t worry.

You can always spy on your competitors to gain ideas.

For instance, let’s say you’ve chosen “marketing” as your niche.

Type “marketing” in the search bar on Instagram. Then, visit the profiles you get as a result and check out what they post.

Here are some of Marketing Harry’s posts.

Source: Instagram

Want to know if they work?

Check out the engagements.

Since Harry’s posts get thousands of likes, you can assume the social media marketing audience loves them.

4. Use Relevant Hashtags

Want to get discovered on Instagram?

Go all out on those hashtags.

The great news is, you can use up to 30 hashtags in one post.

Remember, make them relevant to your content. Step into your audience’s head and imagine what they’ll be looking for.

Like this.

Source: Instagram

5. Promote Your Affiliate Links

Have a large following of thousands of people?

Now will be an amazing time to share your affiliate links with them.

Can you Start Affiliate Marketing for Free? (Yes, Definitely)

Sure, affiliate marketing is awesome.

Time and time again, success stories pop up in our feeds and make us dream of what’s possible.

The only question is, what if you don’t have the budget to get started?

If that’s true of you, you might be asking, “Can I start affiliate marketing for free?”

Great news: you can.

Sure, it’ll take a lot of hard work, consistency, and patience.

It’s not easy to stand out on social media, and you’ll need to produce a ton of stellar content before you start getting noticed.

But if you put your heart into it and stay determined to stick to it for a few years…

…you will see results.

Want a faster, easier way to do affiliate marketing? The truth is, it might not be FREE, but it’s super affordable. In fact, you can start up your own website for less than $60.

Yup! That’s all you need to build and host your own website and get the kind of success Pat Flynn or Zac Johnson enjoy.

And yeah, a lot of people think creating a website is hard. But it’s not. Check out this super simple guide on how to create a website for affiliate marketing step by step.

Or go through our FREE course on how to build a successful affiliate marketing business from scratch.

We can’t wait to see your success.

Image credits:

All screenshots taken by the author, 06/25/21