When people think of affiliate marketing, they instantly believe it will cost hundreds of $'s to get started and that it's a really expensive way of trying to earn a passive income online, but that's not 100% true.
Today we will explore a fairly unknown way of how anyone can get started with affiliate marketing for free (or at least as free as humanly possible!).
As a word of brutal honesty, there is one section that will cost money, and that's the domain. You are always going to need a domain (unless you want to solely go down the Medium route), but don't despair, domains are not always that expensive!
Now, to get started you will need to grab yourself a few tools or platforms (for free of course) that will give you a head-start with affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing does not need to cost a lot of money to get started, and that's one of the reason so many people get into it.
By far the easiest, and cheapest form of marketing, is blogging.
Now, blogging can take time and effort, but is a great way of getting started in this world.
One of the reasons it takes so long is the fact that posts take time to rank, sometimes it can take months for blog posts to appear, depending on how competitive your keywords are or how many other people are trying to do the same.
Below are some sneaky ways of starting out with affiliate marketing.
Free Hosting - For Life
So one of the biggest costs for a new affiliate marketer, is the hosting and that's one of the main things that put people off.
Even with a decent, cheap hosting provider, it will still set you back $100 - $200 a year, per website and as I said, that's running on a cheap, but reliable hosting provider such as BlueHost.
But there is another way of getting hosting, for up to 2 websites (both running on the popular CMS WordPress) for free, it does require you to sign up to a site, but you don't have to add credit card details, just a name and an email.
Sneaky bonus, free training
The best part, is that this site also offers affiliate marketing training, on top of the 2 free website hosting slots.
So you get a double amount of awesome, for free.
Now, you can upgrade to their premium membership, but if you only need the hosting, then there is no need! (Though their content is pretty good)
Free Keyword Research Tools
So you have your platform to host your potential website, but now you need to understand what your niche is going to be.
There are a few free keyword research tools, though most of them suck to be fair.
The obvious one is Google keyword planner which allows you too start understanding different keywords and the different longtails that may come out of simple keywords.
The one thing it doesn't do, is analyse other sites, which I personally feel is massively needed if you want to succeed with running a blog, as it allows you to understand what other blogs are successfully ranking for, and allows you to make plans to rank as well!
The other keyword tool is Keywords Everywhere - It's a free plugin that works alongside your standard Google searches and is great as an alternative to google keyword planners. The good thing about it is that it also provides related keywords and other options that people search for.
You can see from the image that there are roughly 201k searches each month for Google Keyword Planner, and there are also 12k searches a month for 'keyword research tools' - Guess what my next post will be about!
If you are willing to spend a little per month, then you can pick up tools such as KeySearch. It allows you to analyse competitors, track your keyword rankings and also research potential short tail or long tail keywords. It does mean that you are spending around $15 - $20 a month for the privilege, so it might be one to look at after you start making some cash!
Free Website Builder
Congratulations, you have decided on a niche, or maybe a high level niche, such as Guitar Lessons. Now you need to get yourself the website set up and also a way of building awesome looking posts and pages.
This one goes without saying these days, WordPress actually comes with it's own builder, allowing a more drag and drop style builder to help make it easier to layout your pages and posts.
Now it is a little limited and it will never be as good as something like Thrive Architect or even Elementor. Personally I never got on with Elementor and found their plugin a little clunky, but you can get it for free (limited version).
As part of the WA program, they give you access too a program called SiteRubix, this essentially allows you to create the WordPress program, with a theme and some plugins installed already. This means you can get started with your affiliate marketing dream without having to worry about setting this whole thing up from scratch.
Free List Builder
You have hosting, you have a niche and now you have an awesome looking website, you want to capture emails as much as possible, because it allows you to get to know your audience. You can send them affiliate offers, new blog posts or even just some helpful YouTube videos.
A great plugin to use if you are trying to grab emails from blog visitors is Uptin (the one I use on here, as well as Thrive Leads).
It's free to install and set up, but you will need to plugin an auto-responder, and sadly good ones are not free.
The one I use to build my email lists is GetResponse, it starts from $15 a month for a start list (up to 1,000 email addresses).
Now Uptin allows you to create a number of different list building techniques, such as popups, boxes or even a doormat style list builder. All of which are great, plus it comes pre-built with different styles, images and colours.
You will need to have something to give away, such as a cheat sheet, a podcast or maybe a book to entice people onto your list.
While you are here, why not grab my 4 Step Affiliate Guide!
Free Images & Graphic Apps
You will be surprised how often you will need images or graphics to fill your website.
One of the best places to get stock photos is PixaBay. Hands down one of the best sites, you can get a lot of them for free, but you can also donate money to creators if you feel they deserve it (I encourage it!)
If you are looking for icons to fill your blog, then one of the most popular sites to visit is IconFinder, they offer hundreds of free icons, as well as paid ones.
Finally, if you are the arty type, or you are a dab hand with doing a few graphics, then I recommend checking Canva. They allow you to create social media logos, headers, ebook covers, coupons and so much more.
I use Canva on a daily basis to help create Instagram images for both my feed and my stories as I can quickly upload images with a pre-done watermark that look professional and clean. When people share my stories with friends it's easily to see that it has come from one of my accounts.
And that's it, you can easily set up a professional looking website, with free hosting and free builders without having to really spend much more than $10 for the domain name.
The easy to follow free training that you get as part of your hosting explains how to set up your site, research keywords and also how to expand.
James started The Online Student as a typical blog telling people about his struggles and woes with DropShipping, Amazon FBA and even Affiliate marketing. He then decided that blogging about it all would give people the skills, knowledge and apps to get up and running (while making a little extra on the side). After a few months he realised it was quite lucrative and decided to work his ass off making it a bit more than just a hobby!