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You’ve probably heard from famous YouTubers or bloggers that affiliate marketing changed their lives.
Well, they have thousands of social media followers. So it’s natural that they can make a living from it, right?
Having a large follower base certainly helps, but don’t forget they started without an audience too.
You might think that you can’t do the same.
But that’s not the case.
I’ll teach you exactly how.
So, if you want to learn how to do affiliate marketing without followers.
Follow these steps.
How To Do Affiliate Marketing Without Followers in 10 Steps
You can do affiliate marketing without followers with these steps:
1) Learn the Basics of Affiliate Marketing
Have you ever bought something a social media influencer was promoting?
If so, then you’ve already come across affiliate marketing, and probably didn’t even realize it.
Affiliate marketing is a pay-per-sale approach that rewards affiliates for every sale they make by recommending products or services.
So if you bought a product through a link provided by that influencer, then it is possible that he/she is an affiliate and got paid a commission.
In this business model, there are four main players:
Merchants are the suppliers of a product/service. Merchants set up an affiliate program as one of the methods to drive traffic and increase sales.
Basically, merchants get a free advertisement of their product/services if affiliates promote it on their respective platforms.
And they pocket the cash when a consumer buys their products.
As I mentioned, the social media influencer who recommended a product to you is highly likely an affiliate. And if you set up your own affiliate platform, you would be an affiliate too.
Affiliate marketers or publishers promote merchants’ products on their respective platforms. Affiliates earn a commission on each sale that comes from their promotion.
In fact, Pat Flynn earns about $145,000 per month through his affiliate marketing efforts. So, affiliate marketing is a win-win for both merchants and affiliates.
In some cases, there is a middleman between a merchant and affiliates called affiliate networks.
It’s usually a website where many merchants store and manage products they want to promote through affiliate marketing.
You must register on the network as an affiliate to participate in the various programs.
Think of it like Tinder for affiliates and merchants.
These platforms make it easy for you to connect to various merchants with one account rather than having to register for each individually.
Here are some of the popular affiliate networks that you can sign up with:
Consumers are the audience or followers of an affiliate marketer. They are the end-users who click on a unique affiliate link and make a purchase.
A good example would be you.
When the social media influencer (the affiliate partner) recommends a product, you (the consumer) click on the affiliate link and buy it.
In this scenario, the affiliate earned money because of your purchase.
2) Find a Niche
Now that you know what an affiliate marketer does and how they make money, it’s time to find a niche.
Successful affiliate marketers choose a niche and specialize in it.
It’s easier to target your efforts on a specific product or market than trying to be an expert in everything.
By choosing a niche, you’ll be able to:
But how do you find your niche?
There are three ways to do it:
First, consider what interests you and what you know best.
Ask yourself these few questions:
Second, think about what your audience wants or needs.
If you find a gap in the market no one else fills, you might have found a golden opportunity.
Third, consider your chances of making an affiliate income from this niche.
Perform market research and determine if there is a demand for a product or service. If there is, then you can consider whether there is enough room for another player in the market.
If you still can’t decide on your niche, here are some of the most profitable niches in the affiliate marketing industry:
3) Decide Which Platform To Use
So you finally found a niche.
Now the hard part is over, right? Not quite.
You might think that starting a blog is the only way to promote affiliate products. But here are all the popular platforms you can use:
An affiliate marketing blog is the most popular and effective way to promote affiliate products. When you have an affiliate site, you build authority and credibility in your niche.
Some affiliate programs require you to have an affiliate website/blog to ensure that you are serious about promoting their products.
However, building traffic and authority on your affiliate website takes time. You may need to fork out some cash too.
You can use the free plans with free domain names offered by blogging platforms, but these have limited functionality.
If you lack the resources to create a website, you can still promote affiliate products on free platforms like social media.
YouTube is the second-largest search engine after Google. So it is the best free platform to promote affiliate links.
But where do you promote affiliate links?
The description box has a 5,000-character limit, which is perfect for promoting affiliate links and inserting call-to-actions.
So instead of just some random description, write something useful and relevant to your audience.
Add some keywords related to the product you are promoting as people might be searching for them.
More and more businesses are now using TikTok to promote their products. It’s a growing social media marketing platform, attracting more daily users.
It’s not hard to see why videos on TikTok give viewers a sense of authenticity.
So it’s the best social media platform to promote affiliate products.
But did you know that TikTok also has an affiliate program?
If you’re already a TikTok user, you can earn money by promoting products within your videos.
You can also talk directly to your target audience through forum marketing.
There are many online forums where your target audience is already asking questions.
Here are some of them:
Forumns don’t usually allow you to post affiliate links directly.
You’ll need to be more nuanced.
You have to feed the user’s curiosity and offer helpful information to entice users to click through an external link. That link should then lead to some type of content that offers value or your affiliate landing page.
Other platforms you can use for affiliate marketing are the following:
Each of these platforms requires a different type of content.
So, think about which type of content you wish to create. Then, find the best platform for it.
4) Understand How Search Engines Work
Once you decide which platform to use, it’s time to understand how consumers find your content.
Every affiliate sale starts with a search query, especially for blogs and YouTube.
These search queries contain keywords that search engines use to match a user’s query with relevant results.
We’ll dive into these keywords and how you can use them later in the article.
So, how do search engines work?
Search engines work by crawling the Internet and looking for content. When a search engine bot finds a page, it reads through the content and stores it in its index.
And if a user performs a search, the search engine looks through its index and displays relevant results.
So optimizing your content for search engines makes it easy for users to find it. And increases the likelihood of them clicking on your link, which might lead to a sale. It’s a numbers game.
This process is called search engine optimization or SEO.
So when you type the query: how to start affiliate marketing without followers. The keyword is ‘how to start affiliate marketing without followers’ or anything related to it.
Then, search engines will display the most relevant content to that query. And that query might have led you to this article.
If your content is on the top results, you can expect a lot of visitors—and eventually more affiliate sales.
Isn’t that exciting?
5) Focus on Organic Traffic Than Paid Traffic
As a beginner affiliate, I recommend focusing more on organic traffic rather than paid traffic.
Organic traffic is free and continues to drive traffic for as long as your content is relevant. While paid traffic campaign can be expensive and only lasts for a short period of time.
You can recognize immediately if the content is organic or paid.
Look at this search query on YouTube and Google for the best project management software for solopreneurs.
As a user, you’re more likely to skip the paid traffic, right?
Don’t be shy to admit it because I do too.
That’s because paid traffic doesn’t feel as natural as organic traffic.
Building trust with your audience and search engines is the best way to increase your conversion rate as an affiliate marketer.
6) Learn the Importance of Keywords
As I mentioned, search queries contain keywords that search engines use to find relevant content.
What do you think will happen if you create content based on these keywords or queries?
That’s right. Your content will show up on the results page and start receiving traffic.
They can greatly influence whether you will be a successful affiliate marketer or not.
So if you don’t have a proper keyword strategy, you’ll lose a lot of potential affiliate sales.
Before that, you must first learn the different types of keywords.
Informational keywords can provide you with hundreds or thousands of visitors per month. People use these types of keywords if they are looking for information.
Some examples of informational keywords are the following:
Although informational keywords can increase traffic, they don’t convert well. It’s because its primary purpose is to inform and not to sell.
But, what’s the point of them if they don’t generate any revenue for you?
Informational keywords are helpful for building brand awareness in your niche. You can build authority and credibility by providing valuable content to your audience.
If consumers find your content helpful, then there is a high chance that they will also try out the products you recommend.
Navigational keywords have the intent to look for a web page or a physical place. Navigational searches sometimes feature a well-established brand or company.
Some examples of navigational keywords are the following:
Commercial keywords reveal a consumer’s intention about a product. They can either search to buy or educate themselves before purchasing.
Some examples of commercial keywords are the following:
As you may have observed, commercial keywords can vary from a review of one product, a comparison between two products, or a list of the best products in a particular category.
Since these keywords reveal an intention to buy or educate, they can convert or provide an opportunity to convert into sales.
Transactional keywords have the highest potential to convert into a sale. These keywords are often used for paid traffic campaigns.
Some examples of transactional keywords are the following:
These types of searches can happen after a consumer has already educated herself/himself about a product. And is now ready to buy.
Transactional keywords tend to feature words related to purchasing, such as ‘buy’ or ‘for sale.’
7) Perform Keyword Research
Keyword research is the process of finding keywords that can help you generate a lot of traffic to your site. Your goal is to find low-competition keywords with high search volume.
You can do this by using tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and UberSuggest. If you don’t have a budget for these software, there are other free methods available.
I’ll let you in on some of the best practices to find keywords for affiliate sites.
Using Keyword Research Tools
Tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and UberSuggest can help you find the right keywords to use in your affiliate sites.
Let’s use Ahrefs as an example and use the keyword ‘affiliate marketing business‘.
Using the Keyword Explorer, you can see all the information about the keyword, including the search volume and competition level. You can also change the platform from Google to YouTube to Bing and others.
If the competition is too high, you can take a look at the Keyword Ideas section for other related keywords and variations.
You can also spy on your competitors’ keywords and see which keywords they’re using and how much traffic they receive from these keywords.
This is a great way to find niche ideas that aren’t saturated yet.
If you don’t have the budget for a paid tool, there are free keyword research tools available like:
Using Google’s Auto Suggest Feature
You may have noticed that when you type in some words on Google’s search bar, it will show you a list of suggestions that are related to your search.
These suggestions are based on the popular searches that people have done in the past. It means that a lot of people are searching for the same thing and that there is a demand for it.
Let’s use the keyword “profitable affiliate marketing business” as an example.
You can see that Google has suggested some related keywords, right?
This Auto Suggest feature of Google is free and easy to use. Of course, YouTube has this feature, too, as well as other social media platforms.
Using Google’s People Also Ask Section
Another helpful feature of Google is the People Also Ask section.
As you can see, it shows related questions that people have been asking about your research topic.
By Competitor Research
Even without a tool, you can spy on your competitors by visiting their affiliate websites, YouTube channels, or social media sites.
Check what their offers are, what kind of content they’re sharing, and how their audience is responding.
There are more methods to perform keyword research, so there is no excuse not to do it. The more you know about your audience, the better you can serve them.
8) Look for Affiliate Products and Programs
Once you have a keyword strategy, you can start looking for affiliate products and programs to promote.
You can find these through the following methods:
Find a Merchant’s Company Website
If you want to promote a specific product or service, you can go directly to a merchant’s website and sign up for their affiliate program.
For example, you can sign up directly for Content at Scale’s affiliate program and start promoting their product to your audience.
I have observed that the commission is higher on this method than through affiliate networks.
So if you want to earn more passive affiliate income, this is a good option.
Join Affiliate Networks
As I mentioned, these networks are the middleman between affiliates and merchants.
They will provide you with a wide range of affiliate products, programs to promote, and tools that can help you track your sales, reporting, and payment.
You should join an affiliate network if you want to manage all programs in one place.
Check Your Competitors’ Affiliate Partners
It is a good idea to check what affiliate programs your competitors are using.
This will allow you to see which products or services are popular since your competitors promote them. Then, you can decide if it is worth joining those same programs yourself.
9) Create Content That Offers Value
After all these painstaking steps, you now have to create high-quality content that offers value to readers.
How do you do this?
I know it can be tempting to earn money as soon as possible. But I encourage you to look at the long-term benefits of providing high-quality content to your readers.
The main goal is to build a consistent following and earn their trust. The affiliate income will surely follow.
10) Build a Community
While you are consistently creating high-quality content, it is also helpful to build a community around your niche. This will help you build a loyal following and increase social proof.
You can do this by:
Building an Email List
Having your own email list lets you send email marketing campaigns to your subscribers and keep them updated on new content. It also allows you to pitch products directly to your potential buyers.
Interacting With Your Audience
Wouldn’t you feel happy if the social media influencer you follow interacted with you?
So make your audience feel the same way too.
Interact with your audience, reply to their comments, and ask for feedback. Engaging with them lets you discover what kind of content they want from you in the future—a win-win situation.
Why Should You Start Affiliate Marketing?
Many affiliate marketers earn thousands of dollars a month, and you can do it too.
At this point, you might be thinking, “Affiliate marketing sounds too good to be true.” But it’s not. A business built on recommendations can be extremely profitable and legitimate.
I know this business model sounds questionable at first, but everything is questionable if you don’t understand how it works.
Here are more reasons why you should give affiliate marketing a try:
What Are the 3 Main Types of Affiliate Marketing?
1) Unattached Affiliate Marketing
In this type of affiliate marketing, an affiliate is ‘unattached’ to the affiliate products.
This means that you have no connection, skills, or expertise as an affiliate in the products or services you are promoting.
The lack of connection can make it difficult to promote these products effectively and build trust with your audience.
2) Related Affiliate Marketing
If you have some type of relation to the niche you are promoting, you can consider it related to affiliate marketing.
Related affiliate marketing means that you create content about products you are familiar with but have never tried.
A finance analyst creating content about different banks.
I doubt a finance blogger has really tried all the banks he/she is making content about.
This type of marketing is more effective than unattached affiliate marketing because an affiliate has at least some sort of background in the niche.
3) Involved Affiliate Marketing
If you have a deep connection with the products you are promoting, then it is considered involved affiliate marketing.
For example: A veterinarian or a pet owner running an affiliate site and promoting pet supplies is an involved affiliate marketer.
So if a pet owner or a vet suggests products that they actually use on their pets or patients, it is much more likely that their audience will trust the recommendations.
People are more likely to trust someone who has firsthand experience with the product and can recommend it based on their experience.
How To Do Affiliate Marketing Without Followers (FAQs)
What Are the Top Affiliate Networks in 2023?
Here is a list of the top affiliate networks:
– CJ Affiliate
– Amazon Associates
– eBay Partner Network (EPN)
Do Affiliate Marketers Make Money?
Yes, affiliate marketers do make money. In fact, affiliate marketers are some of the top earners in the digital marketing space.
Some of the top affiliate marketers are the following:
– Pat Flynn
– Adam Enfroy
– Finch Sells
– Missy Ward
– Shawn Collins
– Zac Johnson
– Ian Fernando
What Is the Hardest Part of Affiliate Marketing?
The hardest part of affiliate marketing is the initial stages (where you are right now). You must learn everything from scratch, set up systems, and generate traffic.
This business does not guarantee overnight success. It takes time and a ton of effort to build a profitable affiliate marketing business.
Why Do People Fail in Affiliate Marketing?
People fail in affiliate marketing because they lack the patience, persistence, and effort to see through the initial stages to generate meaningful traffic to their platforms.
They also fail at providing value to their audience and instead focus solely on monetization.
But if you are in it for the long run, you will reap the benefits.
Can I Start Affiliate Marketing With No Money?
Yes, you can start affiliate marketing with no money. All you need is an internet connection and your phone or laptop.
Although most affiliate marketers you see run blogs to promote products, many find success with this business model purely on social media platforms.
Can I Start Affiliate Marketing Without a Website?
Yes, you can start affiliate marketing without a website. Contrary to popular belief, many successful affiliate marketers run their businesses solely on social media.
Can You Be Anonymous in Affiliate Marketing?
Yes, you can be anonymous in affiliate marketing, but it’s not advisable in the long-run.
Firstly, most affiliate programs require you to provide personal information such as your name, email address, and payment information to sign up and receive payments.
Secondly, while you may be able to keep some level of anonymity, disclosing false information or attempting to hide your identity entirely can violate the affiliate program’s terms of service and could lead to the termination of your account or legal consequences.
Lastly, getting your audience to trust your recommendations and make a purchase requires you to be fully transparent about your identity. Else, how would they know if you’re a credible source?
To Sum Up
Starting affiliate marketing can be overwhelming and may seem like a lot of work.
Don’t worry. I’m sure every affiliate marketer, including me, has gone through the same experience.
It’s just about getting past the initial fear and taking action.
I hope you found this guide useful and that it helps you start your affiliate marketing business.
Share this guide with others to help them get started as well.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave them below. I’d love to help out as much as I can!
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About the author
Brendan is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief at brendanaw.com™, where he helps others succeed in the creator economy. Before launching his blog, he was the marketing manager at various E-commerce, NFTs, Crypto, Marketing Consultancy, Finance, and E-sports companies. He now works on his family’s luxury lighting business in Cambodia while documenting his journey as a creator online.
Learn more about me.