How to Start Affiliate Marketing with No Money: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

Money is tight, and we could all use some more cash right now. In this blog, find out how to start affiliate marketing with no money and earn extra income.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing with No Money: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners
How to Start Affiliate Marketing with No Money: A Step-by-Step Guide For Beginners

In 2023, the price of eggs was raised by 59.9%. Let me just repeat that one more time: the cost of eggs has risen by 59.9%. It is a sad state of affairs when the egging of a house actually raises the value of the property.

The current economic climate is harsh. The cost of living has become astronomical, and a trip to the local supermarket is likely to lead to you taking out a second mortgage.

A chart that showcases the growth of different food types.


Let’s face it: our wages are simply no longer enough. We could all use some extra cash. But the real question is, how can we go about getting it?

Let me introduce you to affiliate marketing, a surefire and simple means for entrepreneurs to make money online. In this blog, we will delve head-first into this side hustle and discover how you can start earning a passive income with no investment whatsoever.

How does affiliate marketing work?

It is time to become an online matchmaker. No, not the romantic kind. I am afraid that our nearest and dearest will need to discover love on their own. Instead, as an affiliate, we are connecting the hearts of potential customers with the product of their dreams.

A woman dressed in red firing a toy bow and arrow with a heart at the end.


The aim of this marketing strategy is for influencers, bloggers, or vloggers to promote products or services. It is believed that over 83% of marketers harness this medium to raise brand awareness and boost conversions.

In exchange for this organic reach, affiliate marketing programs offer commission rates when their target audience performs certain desirable actions.

This can include the following conversions:

  • Sales
  • Leads
  • Clicks
  • Impressions
  • Installs
  • Renewals
An infographic that show how affiliate marketing work.


How can a business accurately track the sources of these conversions? Call us selfish, but we do not want to have to share our hard-earned commissions with someone else.

Do not fret; most brands offer unique affiliate links, which, when clicked, indicate the channel that the consumer has come from.

This screenshot shows the anatomy of an affiliate link.


How much money can an affiliate make?

Look, let’s not beat around the bush; the real reason we are all here is all about the cash. So, let’s cut to the chase: how much moolah can your affiliate marketing efforts make?

Tom Cruise screaming 'show me the money' into a phone in the film Jerry McGuire.


Commissions come in four forms:

  1. Percentages: Commissions based on percentages are calculated as a portion of the total sale amount. In the affiliate marketing business, percentages can vary between 5% to 50%.
  2. Flat-rate: With flat-rate commissions, affiliates earn a fixed amount for each specific action a consumer performs.
  3. Combined: Some commission structures combine both percentages and flat rates. For instance, an affiliate marketer could receive a 10% commission with an additional flat-rate bonus of $25.
  4. Tiered: Tiered commissions involve different commission rates for achieving various levels of performance or sales targets.
An infographic that shows the four different types of commission.


There are numerous factors that affect the amount of earnings an affiliate could receive from an online business venture, including:

  • Pricing: The price of the products or services being promoted can significantly impact earnings.
  • Industry: Some industries have higher commission rates due to increased competition and demand.
  • Marketing skills: An increased knowledge of marketing strategies, such as search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, and paid advertising, can make conversions more obtainable.
  • Audience size: The size and engagement level of the affiliate's audience can influence the number of available potential customers.
  • Seasonal trends: Commissions may vary throughout the year due to seasonal trends and buying patterns.
  • Brand reputation: Promoting products or services from reputable brands with high-quality offerings can lead to higher conversions and commissions.
  • Competitive landscape: The level of competition among affiliates in the same niche can affect commission rates and earnings potential.
A chart that shows the average commission and conversion rates of different niches.


Take a look at the table below to see what income an affiliate marketer could take home.


Income per month


$100 to $500


$1,000 to $10,000


$10,000 to $100,000

A step-by-step guide for creating an affiliate business model

Are you ready to start earning the big bucks? Then look no further than this simple step-by-step guide that will transform you into an affiliate all-star in no time.

1. Discover your perfect marketing niche

The world of affiliate marketing can seem incredibly overwhelming at first glance, with countless branching niches begging to be explored, including:

  • Health and wellness
  • Technology
  • Travel
  • Fashion
  • Sports
  • Finance
  • Interior design
  • Gaming
  • Food
  • Pets
A diagram that shows all the different types of niches.


Choosing the right niche is a critical decision for anyone looking to succeed in affiliate marketing. The niche you select can significantly impact your ability to attract an audience, generate conversions, and maximize your earnings.

Here are our top tips for selecting the perfect niche for your affiliate campaign:

  • Follow your heart: Trust us, trying to write content about a niche that is as dull as dishwater can feel like an absolute chore. So, it is crucial to select a topic that interests you, as this enthusiasm will shine through into your content.
  • Consider your expertise: We admire the enthusiasm, but diving headfirst into writing about medicine without the necessary expertise could end in disaster. We strongly recommend sticking to topics that you are familiar with for now, as this will allow you to create valuable content.
  • Competition analysis: Do you want to talk about video games and movies? So do thousands of others. That is not to say it is impossible to make your mark in this niche, but the competition is fierce, and it is hard to stand out. When selecting a niche, take a look around and gauge the competitive landscape. Do you think you are up to the fight?
  • Market research: Look, we all have different interests and hobbies. That is fine, but it is highly unlikely that your interest in underwater pumpkin carving is going to translate to dollar signs. It is crucial to conduct thorough market research to understand the profitability of any potential niche.
A group of scuba divers carving pumpkins at the bottom of the ocean with fish swimming around them.


Alright, folks, we know you must be itching to know the best niches to generate money. Thankfully, the team at AM Navigator has us covered; they have compiled a list of the top 550 affiliate programs and categorized them into niches.

It is estimated that 71.1% of these programs fit into ten distinct categories; check them out in the below table:





Apparel, accessories, and footwear


Sports and outdoors

Recreation, fitness, sports apparel, and fan merchandise


Health and beauty

Supplements, health-related products, weight loss, and skincare



Air, hotels, and car rentals, 


Home and garden

Home furnishings, décor, kitchen, gardening, and home improvement


Computer and electronics

Computers, peripherals, and ink


Education and training

Textbook rentals, and educated-related software



Supplies, office furniture, and marketing tools


Financial and insurance

Checks, credit-related services, loans, insurance, and ID protection


High-end and luxury stores


An infographic that shows the top 10 affiliate niches.


2. Finding your dream affiliate program

Congratulations! You have found your perfect niche; now it is time to find your ideal affiliate program. Easy, right? Well, with over 11,400 programs in the US alone, this simple task starts to seem a tad more daunting.

So, how do we find the right affiliate program for you? Here are the top sources to check when looking for that perfect program:

  1. Search engines: It may seem obvious, but the best place to start searching is a search engine. Go figure. Start using keywords related to your niche and include the term "affiliate program" or "affiliate marketing." For example, if you are in the fitness niche, you can search for "fitness affiliate programs."
  2. Affiliate marketing websites and blogs: Look, we hate to break the bad news, but affiliate marketing involves a lot of learning. As a new affiliate, you should be constantly learning everything and anything about an industry. Start following affiliate websites and blogs for the latest know-how. They also provide reviews, recommendations, and updates on the best affiliate programs.
  3. Affiliate networks: An affiliate network is a platform that acts as a middleman connecting affiliates with merchants. It is important to constantly check reputable networks, such as: ClickBank, ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, Rakuten Advertising, and Amazon Associates.
A screenshot of the main affiliate network's logos.


  1. Company websites: We all have that one brand we wish we could work for. Whether that is McDonald's or Apple, there is an 80% chance the company has an affiliate program. So, check out that dream brand’s website now and look for an "Affiliates" or "Partner with Us" link in their footer or navigation menu.
  2. Social media and forums: There are hundreds of devoted online affiliate marketing communities providing invaluable recommendations and insights about programs. Check out different Facebook groups and forums, AffiliateFix and Warrior Forum are great places to start.
  3. Affiliate directories: If only there was a list of brands that were looking for affiliates to drive organic traffic towards their site. Wouldn’t that be handy? Oh wait, there are countless affiliate program directories, such as AffPrograms and Affilorama, that categorize and list various affiliate programs, making it easier to discover opportunities.
A screenshot of the affiliate program for Apple.


Let's cut to the chase – you are here for recommendations on high-paying affiliate programs for beginners. Check out the table below for all the juicy details.



Affiliate commissions 


Graphic design

  • $26 for each subscriber who signs up for the Canva Pro plan.

  • 80% for the first two months of a monthly membership.

  •  One-off commission of 25% for an annual membership.


Content marketing

  • $200 for every new subscription.

  • $10 for every new trial.

  • $0.01 for every new sign-up.

Amazon Associates


  • 10% in commission for each qualifying affiliate sale.

Liquid Web

Web hosting

  • 150% commission, ranging from $150 to $7,000. 

eBay Partner Network


  • 1% to 4% commission, depending on the category

A screenshot of the Liquid Web affiliate page that states 'it pays to refer clients to us'.


After compiling a list of promising affiliate programs, the challenge is to narrow it down to the best one. But how do we do that? Here are our top four tips to make that final difficult decision:

  1. Read reviews and testimonials: When it comes to assessing the quality of an affiliate program, who better to turn to than the seasoned affiliates themselves? Take a moment to dive into reviews and testimonials from these industry veterans. They are the true barometers of a program's trustworthiness and quality.
  2. Contact program managers: Are you still scratching your head about certain aspects of an affiliate program? Head straight to the source and contact the program manager or support team. These helpful individuals should be able to answer all your queries and clear up any confusion.
  3. Be a neat freak: When comparing programs, remember to be organized. Keep the chaos at bay by avoiding scattered notes and burying important information. Instead, create a spreadsheet where you can store and compare all the essential information about the various affiliate programs that you have found.
  4. Scour the terms and conditions: Ah, terms and conditions – the ultimate snooze-fest. Look, we know no one wants to read them, but in this case, it is essential. Make sure to focus on information about commission rates, cookie durations, payment methods, and restrictions.
An old woman reading a terms and conditions document stating 'who reads the goddamn terms and conditions?'


3. Building an online presence

To be a successful affiliate marketer, it is essential to have an army of engaged and enthusiastic followers willing to purchase products.

In the world of affiliate marketing, there are three main categories of influencers, which can be seen in the table.

Type of influencer

Number of followers






1,000,000 >

An infographic that details the three different types of social media influencers.


You can cancel the singing and acting lessons; we are not aiming for the dizzying heights of celebrity fame. Instead, let us set our sights on the more achievable micro-influencer status. In fact, 85.8% of affiliate marketers on social media have less than 10,000 followers.

But how exactly do we reach this level of influence? The first step is selecting the perfect marketing channel for your affiliate business. Thankfully, there are tons of free platforms to explore, including:

  • Social media platforms such as: TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, X, and Instagram
  • Blogs
  • Forums, such as Quora and Reddit
  • YouTube channel
  • Affiliate website
  • Podcasts
  • Email marketing
An infographic that displays information about the different social media marketing platforms.


Considering the multitude of available channels, you might be wondering how to make the right choice. Here are our top three considerations to think about when making this decision:

  1. Content type: Some niches are better suited for specific content types. For instance, niches that rely heavily on visuals may find success on platforms like Instagram or Pinterest. In contrast, tech-related content could thrive on YouTube or in a blog format.
  2. Competitors: Research your competitors and see where they are most active. This not only identifies industry norms but also reveals potential gaps and opportunities.
  3. Audience: Understand where your target audience spends most of their time online. Are they primarily on social media, forums, or niche-specific websites?
A chart that details the most used social media platforms as of July 2023.


The most important factor in gaining an online presence is creating constant, engaging and high-quality content. This can come in many different forms, including:

  • Video content, including: YouTube videos, live streams, TikTok videos, and online challenges
  • Instagram posts and stories
  • Blog posts
  • Podcasts
  • Reviews
  • Infographics
  • Live streams
  • Tweets
  • Facebook posts
  • Pinterest Pins
  • LinkedIn posts
  • Snapchat stories

This is just the tip of the content iceberg, with many more different types available to use in your quest for an engaged following.

An infographic that displays the numerous different types of digital content.


Your social media channels will need to constantly be active to really build an online presence. But how many times will you need to upload fresh and valuable content? Check out the table below for an insight into an influencer's hectic work ethic.

Social media platform



3-5 times per week

Instagram stories

2 times per day


2-3 times per day


1-2 times per day


1-2 times per day


2-5 times per week


1 time per week 

We also highly recommend that new affiliates actively engage with their audience by responding to comments, messages, and questions. This interaction helps build a rapport with your followers and can lead to better conversion rates down the road.

Yeah, we admit, trying to build an online presence can start to feel like a full-time job. Which, if you have one already, can be a logistical nightmare. Fortunately, we have a powerful tool up our sleeves that can alleviate some of this load: SEO.

An infographic that state the what, why, and how of SEO.


This remarkable strategy involves optimizing your content for search engines so that your website features at the top of any relevant searches. With 75% of consumers never scrolling past the first page of search engines, this is a crucial step to boost free traffic toward your site and gain more followers.

There are countless techniques to achieve this, but we are going to keep things simple and focus on keyword research.

A definition of keyword research that states it is 'a research process used to find actual search terms that people employ to find products and services online.'


Keyword research is the process of identifying and selecting specific words and phrases that people commonly use when searching for information, products, or services on search engines.

When we include these in our content, search engines can better understand the relevance of our web pages to queries. This drastically improves our chances of ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

There are numerous different tools that can help you identify relevant keywords for your niche. Here are our top picks to get you started:

  1. SEMRush
  2. Ahrefs
  3. Google Keyword Planner
  4. Moz
  5. Answer The Public
  6. Google Trends
  7. Keyword Sheeter
  8. Keyword Surfer
  9. Ubersuggest
  10. SpyFu
A screenshot of the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool displaying keywords for shoes.


4. Promoting affiliate products with high-quality content

Now that we have built a respectable online presence, it is finally time to start promoting affiliate products. To do this, we will need a solid content strategy full to the brim with engaging and valuable content.

Here is our selection of three must-use content types when promoting products.

1. Product reviews

Did you know that 49% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends? Kerching!

We know you are most likely itching to give that hair curler a rave review even though you ended up with third-degree burns and now look like Two-Face from The Dark Knight.

An image of the burned face of Two-Face from The Dark Knight stating 'when you use those cheap curler for the first time.'


Look, we get it. Increasing conversions for this product is the name of the game, and showering it with praise might just be the ticket to make those sales roll in. But we recommend telling the unbiased and honest truth.

A GIF of Jack Nicholson shouting 'you can't handle the truth'.


Now, before you start a tirade like Jack Nicholson, we want to tell you that your followers demand the truth. This level of transparency fosters trust, and studies have revealed that 71% of users are more likely to make a purchase from a trusted source.

So, the facts make it clear: be truthful. Make sure to provide an unbiased analysis of the affiliate product, highlighting both its benefits and drawbacks.

2. Tutorials

Have you ever received a gift and found yourself flummoxed, wondering what on earth it could be used for?

The Dad from Schitt's Creek looking confused whilst reading documents asking 'what am I looking at?'

Yeah, we have all been there, and so have your target audience. Sometimes, an image and a brief description do not cut it. That is where tutorials come in, offering an in-depth guide on how to use a product and reap the many benefits it offers.

We recommend including the following elements in your tutorial to make sure it is a surefire hit:

  • Introduction: Start with a brief introduction to the product and its relevance to your audience.
  • Features and benefits: Highlight the product's key features and explain how they translate into benefits for users.
  • Step-by-step guide: If applicable, provide a detailed, well-organized step-by-step guide on how to use the product.
  • Use cases and scenarios: Share real-life use cases or scenarios where the product can be valuable.
  • Pain points: Identify common problems or pain points your audience faces and show how the product can solve them.
  • Visual aids: Incorporate visuals such as images, screenshots, diagrams, or videos to illustrate your points.
  • Tips and tricks: Offer hot tips, tricks, or shortcuts for using the product effectively.
  • FAQs: Anticipate and address frequently asked questions that potential users may have.


3. Email newsletters

Urgh, emails are so last year. Move over, Grandpa, and let the youth of today show you how it is done with social media.

An old man rubbing a mouse on his head trying to get a computer to work.


Now, wait one second, young whippersnapper. Yes, social media may be the bee's knees, but email marketing does still hold an important place in any affiliate marketing campaign.

In fact, there are over 347.3 billion emails sent every day, with an average open rate of 21.33%. That is a remarkable 74 billion emails that are seen by potential customers.

To kickstart your email marketing journey, it is important to create a simple form that allows users to easily subscribe to your email list.

A basic form to sign up to a newsletter by entering your email address.


Once this mailing list is established, it is time to hit send. Make sure the newsletter contains an abundance of valuable content, including:

  • Exclusive affiliate offers
  • Product recommendations and reviews
  • Educational content such as: articles, guides, and tutorials
  • FAQs
  • Tips and tricks
  • Updates
  • User-generated content, such as: testimonials, reviews, and success stories from satisfied customers
An infographic that shows the 11 elements of an epic email newsletter.


Top 5 tips for new affiliate marketers

We would like to impart you with some final nuggets of golden wisdom; here are our top 5 tips to remember when starting out in the world of affiliate marketing:

  1. Build a relationship: Think of affiliate marketing as trying to woo the person of your dreams. You wouldn't just scream, ‘Will you marry me?’ within the first five minutes of meeting them. No, you need to build up a relationship, secure their trust, and impress them before they commit to purchasing your product.
  2. Disclose your affiliate relationship: In affiliate marketing, honesty is truly the best policy. Always be transparent with your audience about your affiliate relationship. Include a clear and honest disclosure statement, such as "This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you."
  3. Avoid over-promotion: No one likes to feel harassed or hounded. So, do not overwhelm your audience with excessive affiliate promotions. Balance your content with non-promotional, valuable information to maintain trust.
  4. Patience and persistence: Look, no one said this would be an easy gig. Success in affiliate marketing takes time. So, remember to be patient and persistent. Trust us: if you keep creating valuable content and promoting products, you will secure those desired results over time.
  5. GrowthPanels: We may be biased here, but if you want to ensure that you are heading into a trustworthy partnership, always look for the GrowthPanels logo. Our service ensures a safe and secure transaction between affiliate and customer.
A screenshot of a GrowthPanel on a website asking users to perform tasks. for rewards.


Time to scale up

Once you have found your affiliate marketing groove, it is time to spread your wings and start to grow.

We suggest you start by diversifying your approach. Remember those intriguing niches we left untapped earlier? Well, it's high time we give them another look and explore their potential. Seek out new and lucrative affiliate programs within these niches to broaden your horizons and discover fresh avenues for success.

Remember, success in affiliate marketing requires patience, consistent effort, and a clear focus on delivering value to your audience. With dedication and strategic planning, your path to affiliate stardom can begin, even with no money.