Can I start affiliate marketing with no money?

Considering starting or joining an affiliate marketing scheme, but don’t have a budget? Find out how you can begin with no money.

Affiliate marketing has become one of the forefront of digital marketing models. It’s a cost-effective way for companies to expand their online reach, drive targeted traffic, and boost sales and affiliates to start engaging in entrepreneurship. 

However, despite these advantages, many are doubtful and hesitant about affiliate marketing. One of their concerns is whether they can begin without substantial financial resources. Let’s figure this out here.

What’s affiliate marketing? 

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing model where businesses partner with affiliates to promote their products or services through tracked links. It’s essentially acting as a bridge between the product seller and the consumers with the power of recommendation.

There are three key participants in affiliate marketing: (1) the merchant or business, (2) the affiliate, and (3) the customer. The merchant is the entity that owns the product or service, which is then promoted by an affiliate in exchange for a commission. 

Affiliates sign up for an affiliate program offered by a business or merchant. This program provides them with a unique affiliate ID and tracking links that they can use in their promotions, which can be in the form of creating content, writing reviews, making videos, or sharing affiliate links on social media.

Finally, when a customer or user clicks on the affiliate link and takes the desired action (such as making a purchase), the affiliate is credited for that conversion. Their commissions are based on a predefined commission structure, which can be a percentage of the sale amount, a fixed amount per sale, or other agreed-upon terms. 

How does it benefit affiliates? 

Affiliate marketing provides a low-cost entry into entrepreneurship. It enables affiliates to start an online business without the need for product creation, inventory management, or customer support. 

It’s also flexible. It can apply to a wide range of niches and industries. In other words, affiliates can choose products or services that align with their interests or expertise, allowing a genuine and authentic promotional approach. 

On top of all, it offers an opportunity to earn passive income. Once set up, it can continue to generate income over time with minimal ongoing effort. They can earn commissions on referred sales or leads even when they’re not actively engaged in promotional activities. 

Can affiliates start affiliate marketing at no cost? 

Affiliates can start affiliate marketing for free. They can use blogging platforms like, Blogger, or Medium to create content and promote affiliate products. While having your domain is recommended in the long run, these platforms allow you to start without cost. 

If you wish to start your domain without capital, consider alternative financing. They come in different forms, such as online loans. Suppose you’re considering getting from a particular lender, like CashNetUSA, but are also looking for another option. Lucky for you, there are tons of loans like CashNetUSA out there. You just have to do your research and shop around.

Aside from loans, you can gather funds from crowdfunding platforms, angel investors, and venture capital firms. Either way, they offer more accessible and flexible solutions tailored to the unique needs of new entrepreneurs, typically regardless of borrowers’ current credit standing and cash flow.

Moreover, many affiliate programs are free to join. Among the biggest and most popular are Amazon Associates, ClickBank, CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction), ShareASale, Rakuten Marketing (formerly LinkShare), FlexOffers, and Shopify Affiliate Program, to name a few. 

Note that while joining these affiliate programs is free, affiliates should review the terms and conditions of each program to understand the commission structure, payment policies, and any specific requirements for participation. Additionally, compliance with the rules and guidelines of each program is essential for a successful and sustainable affiliate marketing partnership.

What are the benefits to companies?

Affiliate marketing allows businesses to tap into affiliates’ expertise and unique audiences. It increases brand visibility and exposure across various online channels, leading to potential customer acquisition. 

Additionally, the performance-based nature of affiliate marketing is cost-effective. Companies only pay affiliates for actual sales, leads, or desired actions, making it a highly efficient and measurable form of advertising.

Can companies start affiliate marketing at no cost? 

Like affiliates, companies can also initiate affiliate marketing without a significant upfront investment. The most common way is through their social media accounts. They can share affiliate links on company social media accounts and encourage followers to participate in the affiliate program. 

They can use their existing customer base as well. For example, they can start a referral program encouraging existing customers to refer friends, family, or colleagues to your products or services. Then, they can offer incentives such as discounts, exclusive promotions, or loyalty points for each successful referral.

Another way is to establish an in-house affiliate program. Companies can directly manage relationships with affiliates through tracking software and payment systems without the need for third-party networks. 

They can also take advantage of employee advocacy. Companies can encourage their employees to become affiliates and promote their products or services in exchange for bonuses. It improves not only a company’s online presence but also its relationships with its employees. 

You don’t need financial investment for affiliate marketing

While financial investment can certainly expedite the process, it’s not a mandatory ticket to the affiliate marketing arena. The key is to begin with extensive research, strategic planning, and a dedicated approach to creating valuable content.