Want to start earning a commission through your blog or as an added revenue stream for your business? Keep reading and find out how to start affiliate marketing with no money! That’s right, earn a commission without spending a dime.
It’s easy to scroll the ‘gram and see your favorite influencers sharing their latest shopping haul and designer finds and feel discouraged.
It seems, that in order to earn a commission sharing your favorite items, you have to ready and willing to spend a pretty big chunk of your life savings to share the latest and greatest.
In fact, you can start earning commissions through affiliate marketing without having to initially spend a dime.
How? Keep reading.
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This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links (at no extra cost to you). All the products recommended are ones that I use, use with clients, or have used in the past. You can read my full disclosure statement here.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when you’re acting as an “affiliate” of a particular brand or product that you promote to your followers or friends.
When you become an affiliate partner, you’re given a unique tracking link that you can use to share products.
When someone clicks your unique link and makes a purchase, you earn a commission straight from the retailer, and at no extra cost to the person doing the purchasing.
Different affiliate programs offer different commission rates, but affiliate marketing is a great (and can be a very lucrative) way to earn money outside your typical 9 to 5.
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How Does Affiliate Marketing Differ From Sponsored Posts?
Affiliate marketing is different from sponsored content, in that you can share links freely at any time and if purchases are made, you’ll receive a commission.
Accepting sponsored posts means that you have a contract with a specific brand that highlights the deliverables (what you’ll post and how you’ll post) in exchange for a negotiated rate.
Ensure your website is legally protected and download the Affiliate Disclosure Template
How to Start Affiliate Marketing (With No Money)
It’s a myth that you have to buy a lot of expensive things to become an influencer or dip your toe into affiliate marketing waters. In fact, you can get started right now with what you have.
It’s also a myth that you have to be a blogger to do this. There are plenty of business sites that also take advantage of affiliate marketing as a way to boost their revenue.
Being able to partner with other businesses, or utilize affiliate links for products that you use, but don’t sell, is a great way to build trust with your audience, and also boost sales.
Obviously being as authentic as you can, and only sharing products you genuinely recommend is the best way to build a reputation as an influencer or affiliate marketer. Sharing a product just for the sake of the sale, and not caring about the quality, will not get you far.
But, you don’t have to be Richie Rich to start earning money right away from affiliate marketing.
There are two main methods to start affiliate marketing without spending money:
Share Products You Already Use and Love
The first method for how to start affiliate marketing with no money spent would be to share the products you already have, that you’re already using, and that you already love.
Chances are, unless it’s a vintage item, most places are still going to carry that same item, or an updated version.
Which means you can share the product, and then find affiliate links for similar items. This is even a great tip for when you share something brand new: being able to find similar items (with different price points) will provide more shopping options for your followers, and a higher chance of those links being clicked and converted to sales.
Share Deals With Your Followers
The second option for affiliate marketing without spending any money up front would be to spend time each day online looking for deals, and then sharing those deals with your followers.
You know when you’re mindlessly watching Instagram stories and you see your favorite influencer sharing a deal from her favorite store – with an image straight from the website? (Quick pause, always research affiliate rules before sharing any images that don’t belong to you).
That’s exactly what I’m talking about. You can keep an eye on popular stores and daily deals and share those deals (along with affiliate links) on your blog or social media channels.
And all it cost you was your time.
Affiliate Marketing Without a Website
Is it possible to start affiliate marketing without a website?
The answer is actually…
You can start sharing affiliate links and products you love even if you don’t have a website yet (because let’s be honest, starting a self-hosted website does cost money, and if you’re not ready for that commitment, that’s okay! Although I do highly encourage you to add “start a website” to your to-do list!)
Linking affiliate products can easily be done on social media, including Facebook and Instagram. It’s especially simple now that Instagram has removed the 10k follower rule for sharing the clickable links in your stories – meaning anyone can share a link now in Instagram stories which will take someone directly to that website.
The biggest thing you’ll want to keep in mind, no matter where you’re sharing your affiliate links, is that per FTC guidelines, you always need to disclose that the link you’re sharing is an affiliate link (meaning – you’re earning a commission if someone makes a purchase through that link. I’d also get into the habit of reminding your followers that even if they purchase through your link and therefore earn you a commission – it’s actually not costing them any extra).
You’ll always want to research the affiliate program through which you’re sharing links, as each program may have slightly different rules for where and how you can share and disclose affiliate links.
Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners
So now that you know affiliate marketing for beginners is definitely possible, it’s time to start applying to affiliate programs.
There are a ton of affiliate marketing programs out there, and some that are niche specific. But before diving into those, I recommend getting your feet wet with some of the more general affiliate programs, and learning as you go.
The best affiliate programs for beginners include:
Amazon is one of the biggest affiliate programs there is. While there are pros and cons of the Amazon Associates Affiliate program, it’s a great one to start with because almost anyone can apply and be approved.
Plus, Amazon has pretty much EVERYTHING. So you can find products to promote and link that fit virtually any niche.
One downside of promoting affiliate links through Amazon is that the commission rate is often really low (in fact, Amazon has one of the lowest commission rates for affiliate programs).
BUT. Click through rates on Amazon are high. Which means even if the payouts are low, if your volume is high enough, those commissions can, and will pay off.
It’s an especially great program to get started with as you’re learning, because it will help you get ready for some bigger programs that you can apply for with a little experience in your affiliate belt.
Ready to tackle Amazon Associates? Check out my FAVORITE Amazon Course (that I took, loved, and started earning a profit IMMEDIATELY by implementing these tips and tricks): Journey to the Center of Amazon.
Reward Style aka LTK
Reward Style, or LTK, is another well known affiliate program. Known mostly for sharing fashion and home finds, LTK is one of the more exclusive affiliate programs out there.
They’ve just recently (within the last year or so), opened up the requirements to allow more people to apply and join the LTK program.
LTK is a popular program because there are hundreds of brands that work with LTK, and commission payouts are often higher than Amazon. But, keep in mind, each brand that works with LTK has a different commission policy so not all rates will be the same.
Another bonus with LTK is that once you’re an approved affiliate/influencer, you also get your own profile within the LTK app, which means even more visibility on your brand, your products shared, and your affiliate links.
Want to apply to LTK? Send me a message and I can add you as a recommendation! Bonus: if LTK accepts you, we will both get a $25 bonus!
ShareaSale is another large affiliate marketing program that partners with hundreds of brands to provide affiliate marketing opportunities.
In order to be accepted into ShareaSale, just like with Amazon and LTK, you have to first apply.
The difference here, is that once accepted, you cannot just freely link to products. In order to obtain affiliate links for brands or products that partner with ShareaSale, you have to apply individually to each vendor and get approved.
ShopStyle Collective is another great affiliate program, but it’s a little different from the others in the way that it’s set up and the program you can apply for.
With ShopStyle Collective, there are two methods in which you can earn a comission:
ShopStyle Collective Standard Program
With the ShopStyle Collective Standard program, you earn via a pay-per-click method. Meaning you’ll earn a small amount every time someone clicks on one of your links, whether they purchase something or not. You don’t get paid for the sale, just the click.
But, the good news is that with the standard program through ShopStyle, your rate per click increase over time, making it a great affiliate program if you’re just starting out!
ShopStyle Collective Advanced Program
The ShopStyle Collective Advanced Program is just like the other affiliate programs, you’ll earn a commission on purchases made through shoppers who click your links and then checkout.
This is a great list. I learned a few new affiliate avenues to explore. Thank you!
Yay I’m so glad!!!
Thanks for your article.
I didn’t know about some of the affiliates you mention and I had no idea that Instagram had lowered the requirements. I thought you needed thousands and thousands of followers!
Good to learn about the changes.
They just changed it not that long ago! 🙂
William Scaggs says
Good information. Thank you
I hope it helps!