Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
A common belief is that founders need hefty sums to gain marketing results, but that is frequently not the case. Affiliate marketing — in which commissions are earned by others for promoting a company or driving a sale — is an affordable investment with a low-entry barrier, and one that’s open to brands of all kinds. It’s only true requirement is patience. It will not make you rich overnight: Instead, you must be ready to grow a product step-by-step, willing to search for opportunities the market has to offer and generate returns incrementally if you want to join this domain.
How to take advantage of affiliate marketing
The essentials of an effective affiliate-marketing partner program include finding those with the right traffic, developing an attractive offer for them and then providing them with the necessary tools — all of which require thorough research. Luckily, there is plenty of content on the web that explains each step in detail.
There are also straightforward and accessible tools that can help, such as Google Analytics, which enables you to create a system for tracking clicks and gauging partner sales. Another option is joining a trustworthy affiliate-marketing network (such as CJ, AWIN or Fiverr) that’s relevant for your business goals. For example, if you plan to enter the publishing business, you might opt for affiliate-marketing platforms such as the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program or Rakuten Advertising Affiliate Network. Or, if your business is looking to enter the travel industry, my company, Travelpayouts, is a solid option.
Such affiliate networks are often quite robust, and the best are both time-tested and popular among marketers, principally because they offer significant traffic volume and are easily accessible. Many of them do not charge onboarding fees, welcoming newcomers and helping them understand the field better. Others like CJ (Commission Junction LLC) have stricter policies, charging in their case a $5,000 connection fee and taking a deposit from the outset.
For the right sales tracking, you will also need to set up a website or mobile app. This usually takes several weeks. In good tracking systems, integration algorithms are highly advanced, which makes it easy to integrate small businesses. Such tracking and integration usually require minimal or modest investment from you.
How to help partners generate traffic and sales
But it is not just about integrating your platform. For affiliate marketing to truly succeed, you need to develop tools for partners to help them generate traffic and sales — a significant challenge in every respect. You can try and do it on your own, or you can take advantage of what the network has to offer: for example, a complete “toolbox” to form and generate links and create widgets.
We are no fans of platitudes, but it’s important to recognize that affiliate marketing is not just about increasing income. If you want to make the most out of it, you need to think outside the monetary box. For this brand of marketing, the key to success is teamwork and consistent attention; it is simply impossible to create a program and leave it to its own devices, hoping that one day it will turn into a cash cow.
Instead, you need to grow it one step at a time, reaching out to your partners and interacting with them recurrently. Think of it as a big family you are taking on vacation. Booking tickets and hotels is not enough: You also need to ensure that everyone has their things with them, feels well, takes the right plane, etc. So, to make sure that your partners back you up and want to cooperate productively, be ready to share your expertise and stats (seasonal sales, for example) and to launch various promos, which are the ultimate gear for generating traffic. This way, you’ll create bonds, hit targets faster and enjoy the adventure.
How To Start Affiliate Marketing with No Money in 2023
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
To start affiliate marketing without money, people often think you must become a blogger with a dedicated website — draining money and resources. Although it is helpful to have a blog when you can reinvest in your business and scale upward, it’s not essential. Affiliate marketing with no money means affiliate marketing with free traffic.
Tiktok doesn’t use follower count as a ranking signal, so you don’t need a million followers to make money as an affiliate. You just need to reach the right people. Here’s how to start affiliate marketing on TikTok.
Choose a niche affiliate program
To succeed in affiliate marketing on TikTok, focus on what people spend their disposable income on and stick to it. Once you provide hacks around these areas, you can influence people to purchase them using your link.
An example of this is the Shein Haul. Some categories you could consider include clothing, makeup, electronic gadgets, food, lifestyle and fashion. As a Tiktoker, you can simply start by showing off some items you got on Shein. Add links to the items, as people want to order any clothing they like during your try-on.
Hack your TikTok channel growth with emerging trends
At the core of TikTok genetic makeup are “trends.” The app is built around trends. To grow your TikTok reach and start affiliate marketing with no money on the platform, you have to begin to understand trends. Creatively tap into TikTok trends by:
- Using trending music and sounds; remember to use these sounds while they are still new, so your content gets the impressions while it’s still hot.
- Joining challenges, dances and mashups. Always bring in something new and unique to challenges. If possible, make a better and improved version so others can draw inspiration from yours.
- Take content clues from already viral videos and look out for patterns. What sounds, hashtags and captions did they use? What was captivating in the first few seconds, and how did people react in the comments?
- Initiate trends with your content and make it irresistible; mash-up popular sounds and switch up a current challenge. When you create videos with exciting sounds that are easy to replicate, it’s bound to go viral, as FOMO would want others to replicate
When your content finally goes viral, capitalize on the content that goes viral to build momentum in pushing traffic to your affiliate offer. How can you do this? Engage with every comment on your profile, welcome new followers and ask them what they want to see. This will skyrocket engagement with the viral video and increase its reach. Replicate this process in other videos.
Implement the product into your videos organically
People will scroll away if you sound like a robotic sales ad. To do affiliate marketing on TikTok, infuse your products organically by doing a storytime while using the product, adding it to your daily routine, sharing the product as a reply to a comment asking about it or doing a product review. Try to be as objective as possible.
Essentially, your priority should be to provide valuable information to your audience in an entertaining manner. Then strategically weave the affiliate product into the fun videos.
Promote like crazy
1. Linking affiliate products
Add your affiliate links in easily discoverable areas by:
- Using a popular hashtag if there are other similar affiliate products
- Including your affiliate link in your bio or through a bridge page
- Adding an affiliate URL in your content description
- Offer a coupon or your unique discount code in the comments
2. Build your other social platform audience
Redirect your generated traffic to build engagements and followers on your other platforms. Do this by customizing your profiles and adding a Youtube or Instagram link. Also, let your viewers know they can watch the full clip on Youtube (if you have one).
Starting affiliate marketing with no money means building an audience with a free traffic source — in this case, TikTok. Though TikTok does not restrict organic reach, unlike most social platforms, it still requires a great deal of consistency. Remain consistent in creating entertaining yet valuable content. When you finally start making money doing affiliate marketing on TikTok, invest in TikTok paid ads to scale even faster.
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