How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Business in 2024: A Complete Guide

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Written by Enoch Omololu
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Affiliate marketing is an excellent way for entrepreneurs to make money online. It gives you the freedom to be your own boss and involves earning a commission from promoting or advertising affiliate products or services from affiliate marketing websites.

With affiliate marketing, anyone can get involved wherever they are worldwide, as long as they have an internet connection.

As an affiliate marketer, your potential earnings can be very lucrative. With the right strategies, you can make a steady income and even create a full-time career out of affiliate marketing.

This guide will walk you through the steps you need to take to get your business off the ground. We’ll also share tips on how to grow your affiliate marketing business and achieve success.

So, this guide is for you whether you’re just starting or looking to take your business to the next level!

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an online model that allows a product or service creator to partner with affiliates who market products or services in exchange for a commission on sales they generate.

Affiliates are paid based on their performance, making it a win-win situation for the merchant and the affiliate, as each party generates revenue by promoting the other’s products or services.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

An affiliate marketing business model revolves around the relationships between three primary parties:

  1. The Advertiser (also known as the retailer or brand, or merchant). The advertisers pay the affiliate to promote their products or services. The payment is often based on performance, such as cost per lead (CPL) or cost per sale (CPS), whichever was first agreed upon.
  1. The Affiliate (also known as the promoter or publisher). The affiliates drive leads and sales to their advertisers through promotions using their chosen platforms. They then earn a commission from their advertisers for each successful sale they make from promoting the advertiser’s product.
  1. The Customer. The customers are the ones who were driven by the affiliates to purchase the marketed products or services.

It is a referral system. When someone purchases something through an affiliate link, the merchant pays the referring affiliate a fee in exchange for potential customers being acquired.

Related: Here’s how to get paid by just clicking ads.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing With No Money

Affiliate marketing is a great way to start making money online. The best thing about it is that you can still get started in affiliate marketing without money to invest.

Below are five simple steps to get started in affiliate marketing for beginners without spending a cent.

Step 1: Pick Your Niche

Finding your niche is not only the first step in your affiliate marketing journey but also a critical step. Your niche is what your specialty is or where your expertise revolves.

One secret to picking your niche for a successful affiliate marketing business is choosing what you are passionate about. Pick the one you can enjoy learning and promote for a long time.

Here are some niches that you can choose from:

  • Technology
  • Health
  • Home and Lifestyle
  • Real Estate
  • Money
  • Hobbies
  • Relationships

Another thing to remember in picking your niche is that you don’t have to be unique. Choose an idea that already exists. An existing niche means that there is already a market for that.

Do not be discouraged by the competition in your chosen niche. Instead, find faults and errors in their executions and make them your strength for creating a better affiliate marketing strategy.

Step 2: Decide on a Platform

The most common platform for your affiliate marketing business is to produce a dedicated website to promote your products and build your niche. However, building a website can cost you a lot.

As an affiliate marketing beginner, you can start with your promotion through free online platforms. These platforms can be your initial source of audience and potential customers.

Social Media

Using social media for your affiliate marketing is a great start. It is free, and almost everyone has at least one social media account, so you will have several audiences and traffic.

You can create social media accounts for your niche and spend time building credibility so that you can drive more traffic. The best social media around the world are:

  • Facebook—The most prominent social media can get you the most significant reach. It is especially appealing to older adults. Facebook is great to use for feed posts which are very interactive among users.
  • Instagram—It is highly effective for visually presenting products and services. Generate high-quality photos and videos to post.
  • Youtube—To stand out on Youtube, you must have a high-quality video with amazing content. Google has recently updated its search pages to include Youtube videos as top searches. Therefore, Youtube is an excellent platform for organic searches.
  • Tiktok—Tiktok appeals primarily to young people or those who fancy short video content. Start a trend or participate in existing ones. Post more personal, raw, and experiential videos to generate traffic to your link.
  • LinkedIn—Try a more professional approach to affiliate marketing through LinkedIn and increase your connections.

Email List

Start with your contacts as your subscribers. Create individual emails and introduce your niche and promote your products.

Receiving emails gives people personal worth and value rather than just having read an ad or a shared post. It creates a deeper connection between you and your potential customers, which is a positive thing for an affiliate marketing business.

Examples of emails that you can send your contacts are:

  • News and announcements
  • New product and promo alerts
  • Digital Freebies
  • Updated industry reports

Forum-Based Sites

One great advantage of joining forum-based sites is that you can find people and audiences with interests similar to your niche.

You can also have many opportunities to communicate with them directly and read their thoughts through forum topics by starting a discussion or engaging in an existing one.

Two of the most used forum sites are Reddit and Quora. You can promote your products through these sites and build your niche exclusively for people with similar interests.

Here’s how to start a blog that makes money.

Step 3: Join Affiliate Marketing Programs

Once you have built your audience, it is time to participate in affiliate marketing programs related to your niche. These programs let you promote products or services of businesses in exchange for commissions you will earn based on your generated sales or customers.

You have two options for joining affiliate marketing programs: direct and through marketplaces. When you already have target brands and businesses for your niche, you can check their website or contact them to sign up for any of their affiliate programs.

On the other hand, you can search through marketplaces for available businesses and brands offering affiliate programs related to your niche. Amazon’s affiliate marketing program is popular among beginners, and it is one of several you can join.

When looking for affiliate programs, look at more than just the brand or products. Consider important affiliate marketing factors such as product or service reliability, commission rate, and earnings per click (EPC) rates.

Step 4: Create High-Quality Content

Whatever platform you choose for your affiliate marketing business, it is essential to produce high-quality content.

High-quality content will help you build credibility and reputation in your chosen niche. It helps find potential customers and potential brand partners that will entrust you to promote their products and services.

Carefully plan and strategize on building your content. Create high-quality write-ups, photos, videos, emails, and forum topics to be uploaded on your chosen platforms at the right time.

Some of the types of content you can make are:

  • How-to Tutorials
  • Guidelines
  • Tips and Tricks
  • Product Reviews
  • Question and Answers

Step 5: Drive Traffic to Your Affiliate Links

The last step is to drive traffic to your affiliate links. You can do this by sharing your affiliate links through your preferred platforms.

Because you have already built credibility, reputation, and connection with your audience, you can share the affiliate link that will help you earn your commission by clicks, web views, or sales.

Related: Read how you can make money by advertising and posting ads.

Pros and Cons of an Affiliate Marketing Business

The best part about starting an affiliate marketing business is that it is low risk because you don’t need any money to get started. You can start building your business with no money out of pocket.

Another advantage of an affiliate marketing business is everybody benefits. The advertisers get their sales, you (the affiliate) get a commission, and the customers receive the products or services.

Lastly, you can generate passive income through affiliate marketing wherever you are in the world.

However, there are a few downsides to consider. First, seeing any results from your affiliate marketing efforts can take some time. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme, so you’ll need to be patient and put in the work.

Second, it’s important to remember that you’re building a business here, so you’ll need to invest time and effort into it to see success.

Overall, an affiliate marketing business is a great way to get started in online marketing without having to invest a lot of money upfront.

How to Make Money With Affiliate Marketing

You can earn money with affiliate marketing through affiliate marketing programs. These are agreements between a merchant and an affiliate in which the affiliate agrees to promote the merchant’s products or services in exchange for a commission on any sales they generate.

There are two types of affiliate marketing programs: Cost per sale (CPS) and cost per lead (CPL).

With CPS, you can only get paid if a sale is made. You will need to generate traffic to your site or blog and get people to click on your affiliate links. You’ll get a commission if they buy something from the merchant you’re promoting.

With CPL, on the other hand, you get paid for every lead that they generate, even if no sale is made. You will need to generate traffic to your site or blog and get people to fill out forms or sign up for newsletters or other offers from the merchant you’re promoting. If they do, you’ll get a commission.

Therefore, earning money with affiliate marketing depends on which of the two programs you use. It is also worth noting that some affiliate programs will give you a bonus if you generate a certain amount of sales or leads within a particular time.

If you plan on making this a full-time business, an affiliate marketing course could be a worthwhile investment.


Affiliate marketing can be a great way to make some extra money, and it is possible to start with it even without money. You can see some great results with a bit of hard work and perseverance.

Always research before starting any new project and focus on creating quality content for your platforms that your audience will love.





Can I start affiliate marketing for free?

Definitely! You can start by building your niche, audience, and credibility through free online platforms like social media and emails. Signing up for affiliate marketing programs in the marketplace is typically free.

How many followers do I need to be an affiliate marketer?

There is no specific number of followers to have for you to start your affiliate marketing. However, 5,000 -15,000 followers is an excellent number to succeed in the affiliate marketing business.

Is it hard to be successful in affiliate marketing?

Although affiliate marketing is generally a passive income generator, it still takes hard work, patience, and perseverance for you to succeed. Once you get the hang of it, you can earn a decent amount and become a successful affiliate marketer.

Who is the most successful affiliate marketer?

David Sharpe is a legend in affiliate marketing. He is one of the founders of Legendary Marketer, which is known to have generated USD 1 billion in sales.



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Gravatar for Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert who has a passion for helping others win with their finances. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has been writing about money management for over a decade. Enoch has been featured in several leading personal finance publications including MSN Money, The Globe and Mail, Wealthsimple, and the Financial Post.

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