Affiliate marketing has been one of the most popular ways for even non-tech savvy individuals to make money online for many years now. Nothing has changed in this respect.
There are many ways for affiliates to make money. While most use a website or multiple websites to help them earn revenue, this isn’t actually necessary. There are ways to succeed at online affiliate marketing without a website.
There’s no denying that having a website comes with many advantages. Especially when it comes to affiliate marketing. That being said, if you’re looking for ways to expand your outreach or need to get started right away, then there are other options.
While it’s almost always best to eventually move to using a site in addition to these various strategies, if you really need to get started without your own website then read on for everything you need to know!
Understanding Affiliate Marketing Strategy
There’s plenty of work that goes into building a successful affiliate sales funnel long before the first sale ever takes place.
Understanding how affiliate marketing works and the strategies and mindsets you need to succeed is crucial. Learn the crucial foundational information inside and out, and you’ll thrive. Try shortcuts to skip all that, you’re likely to fall flat on your face.
Understanding good marketing strategy is all the more important without a website. A good website can overcome some flaws. If you’re diving into affiliate marketing without a website, then your understanding of good marketing needs to be that much more on point. At least if you want the best chance of success.
Three Pillars of Affiliate Marketing
There are many different tricks, tips, and strategies to pick up along the way. Don’t ignore these, they all have value. Especially if they help you improve your bottom line. After all, you didn’t get interested in learning how to promote products as an affiliate to not make any sales.
The three main things you need to focus on for affiliate marketing are: traffic, trust, and conversion rates.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or someone with experience, it never hurts to come back to those three points. Without them, you are going to struggle.
This is a no-brainer.
Traffic is life when it comes to affiliate marketing. If you have zero visitors, you can’t make a sale. Pretty simple.
Getting traffic, driving traffic, getting the right kind of traffic – that takes skill and work.
To some extent affiliate marketing is a numbers game. You get enough traffic and at some point you’ll make a sale even if you’re mediocre at online marketing. If you’re average skill or better as an affiliate marketer, you can make some decent money. Depending on the amount of views, of course.
This is one of the major reasons that many affiliates choose to go with a website. This gives them an online space they can control and drive traffic to.
This opens up other strategies. Quora doesn’t accept affiliate links, but they can be a massive traffic driver. That makes Quora a resource for affiliate marketing if you can drive traffic from there to your website.
Understanding the importance of traffic will help you stay the course when you are working to get those affiliate qualifying sales without driving traffic to a static website.
Groups of YouTube videos that get massive amounts of traffic can be used to make affiliate conversions. As can any place where you’re allowed to put a link to earn money via affiliate sales.
How much traffic can you get to the links? How much of that traffic will be quality traffic? These are important questions because they play a huge part in whether you succeed or fail no matter what your specific affiliate strategies are.
Nobody clicks on spammy links anymore, because no one trusts spammers. Spam emails, messages, and links have been problems for two decades now. But if your best friend sends you a link you’ll click it if you actually are sure it’s from them. You’re likely to click on an Amazon link to a fishing rod if a professional angler recommends it. Why? Trust.
Building trust can be difficult in the most ideal of situations, which is why you should think of trust as a synonym to “providing value.” Whether it’s by being a participating member of forums known for delivering incredible posts, creating outstanding YouTube videos that get massive amounts of traffic, or creating incredible Pins on Pinterest that get thousands of people paying attention, value is the name of the game.
If you bring value to whatever you’re doing, you will earn trust. Only links from trusted sources get clicked. Skipping this step is a good way to end up with a lot of work with nothing to show for it.
Quite possibly with a few bans along the way for spamming.
Make sure you don’t fall into that trap. If you want to make money promoting products of any kind you must build trust and avoid getting labeled as a spammer.
Traffic and trust together are the basis for a good conversion rate. The conversion rate is simply what percentage of clicks buy. This can vary based on niche, traffic source, cost of the item, online rankings, and a variety of other factors.
This is important to track on everything because it can give you a wealth of information that teaches you how to be more effective.
Does forum traffic convert better than social media?
Do Amazon products convert twice as well as links from smaller more independent sources? Do YouTube videos get less clicks but a much higher conversion rate?
This information can help to paint a picture of what is working well and what is just causing you to waste time.
The key is to look at how the data focuses on the big picture. This tells you what programs, items, and methods work best. At that point when you have your winners you can then make small changes or alterations to see what makes a difference. Sometimes really small changes can move a conversion rate from 6% to 8%, or a similar amount.
Keep in mind that the rates vary. Generally, websites have some of the higher conversion rates because it is easier to build the right funnel for converting sales. You have control over every part of your site, how it’s set up, and how you can link.
Still, even when using forums, online classified ads, marketing to an email list, YouTube videos, or other resources for affiliate marketing, you want to keep track of numbers.
Learn what you can do to get the most out of each link. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your online traffic. Conversion rates can tell you a lot.
If one affiliate marketer is getting 1% sales and another 12%, you probably don’t need any more information to know which one has their dream life versus which one is struggling.
Importance of Choosing a Good Niche
This is a big one to make money with your online content. If you’re trying to sell a $5,000 item without a website, you had better have a great strategy and some serious sales chops. That is a hard sale to make in the best of times.
Every niche also has language that people in the niche will understand. Hunters know how fellow hunters talk. Anglers know how other fishermen will talk.
When someone is trying to sell you something in an area you know, hearing that familiar jargon creates trust. Not hearing any of it creates distance and suspicion. It is also very easy to tell the difference between someone writing passionately about a topic and someone writing like a robot.
Choose niches that you know well, that you are passionate about, or that you’re willing to learn about. This makes it easier for you to add value. Adding value and building authority will make it much more likely that you can convert visitors into sales.
YouTube Affiliate Marketing
There are a lot of people making good money as affiliates on YouTube.
Who needs a website when you can harness the traffic of the world’s second largest search engine?
Whether a popular YouTuber or a niche blogger, you have a chance to get some serious sales. After all, the search engines love to put video content from YouTube towards the top of any search results.
The way the majority of internet marketers on YouTube get these sales is by putting affiliate links in the description, and then pointing out those links in the video.
Asking for support can be a great way to have viewers who were interested in buying something you were talking about buy from your affiliate link. They get what they want, you get a cut. Everybody wins!
YouTube affiliate marketing is an excellent way to take advantage of a heavy traffic platform and to use the trust and following you’ve gained from producing great video content to also push some affiliate sales.
You must be able to create good video content. Whether those videos promote products related to your affiliate program, or you make money by driving traffic to a sales page, YouTube can be a powerful tool for making money without a website.
Email marketing is big with online marketers because even after two decades it still is often one of the most effective options out there. Getting someone’s email address isn’t as easy as it used to be. If you want a real email that someone is actually going to be responsive to, you need to build trust.
Take care of that email list. Don’t spam them. Cultivate even more trust and when you do promote an affiliate product chances are you will get a strong response.
The potential is at least there.
Getting that email list can be done through a variety of means.
Regardless of how you go about doing it you need to make sure that you protect that list. Don’t spam them. Don’t take them for granted. Providing emails with extremely high value is crucial to keeping them engaged.
This can be challenging, but it will reward you in the short and long-term if you pull it off.
Social media offers a wide array of opportunities, and not just for name recognition and branding. There are certain social media platforms that are actually very friendly to affiliate marketing. The key here is to pay attention to the rules that each individual site has in place.
On some social media websites affiliate marketing is completely banned.
Quora is a prime example of this.
Pinterest banned affiliate links in 2015 but reversed that decision in fall of 2019. So, you can do Pinterest affiliate marketing.
TikTok doesn’t forbid it, per se, but as of this writing there is nowhere to post a link which means by default you’re going to be hard pressed to use it for direct affiliate marketing.
On the other hand, Facebook allows you to promote affiliate links with a few exceptions.
Those mostly revolve around how affiliate ads can be displayed (no direct message spamming or spamming on other people’s Facebook pages), and there are certain ad networks that are allowed on Facebook while others are banned.
LinkedIn is a social media platform that absolutely allows affiliate marketing. The ability to create content on LinkedIn blogs for everyone with a personal account gives you that many more ways to get discovered by friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike.
Show your expertise, write something interesting, and maybe you’ll get some clicks on those affiliate links once you’ve provided enough value.
The re-opening of Pinterest to affiliate links gives even more opportunities for affiliate marketing without a website.
Almost all social media can be used for indirect affiliate marketing by driving traffic to another location where you can set up for affiliate marketing and then profit from there.
Understanding what is allowed on each platform, and what isn’t, is crucial so you know where you should put your attention on social media versus what places simply don’t meet your specific needs.
Online forums have some potential for getting major affiliate marketing sales without your own website. However, this comes with a huge caveat!
While there are plenty of opportunities here, you need to do it the right way. Online forums are notorious for attracting spammers. Any serious forum with good traffic and a solid community is going to be quick to ban anyone who seems even the remote bit spammy.
So how do you get affiliate sales on an online forum if they all look at links suspiciously?
By only sharing links in forums where you have been a contributing member long enough to be recognized as part of the community. There is no fly by night strategy for online forums where you just go and start dropping links.
That is spamming.
No one is going to buy from those links and you will likely not only get your account banned, but your IP address, as well.
This can work as a strategy. You need to be careful not to spam and do it the right way. Even then, this isn’t nearly as effective as it was years ago. This only works when you’re part of a community. If you’re looking for a quick link placement and cash out, this isn’t the strategy to try it with.
Does PPC Affiliate Marketing Still Work?
When Google AdWords came out there was a small group of people who realized the potential and made some serious money. Gary Vaynerchuk actually talks about this quite a bit in his books and videos. One of his main regrets was not going all in digitally during those 2000-2001 golden years where words like wine only cost a nickel a click.
PPC arbitration has existed in some form for years.
It’s not a surprise to know it’s still around in very limited form.
That being said, this isn’t nearly as common as it once was. The key with this strategy is finding low cost advertising, and a high percentage converting product. Between the two you need a conversion percentage high enough that the affiliate commission you make is higher than the amount you spend.
For example: Suppose you are an affiliate for a program that pays $50 a sale. A click costs you fifty cents.
That means you need to make one sale per 100 clicks to break even. If you find an advertisement that sells two programs every 100 clicks, that means you’re spending $50 in advertising to make $100 in commission.
That would be a great PPC affiliate deal. This is a form of arbitrage, though it was much more common over a decade ago.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, the numbers don’t work out. At least not at low levels. The cost of advertising tends to be too high and commissions too low to make it work out. That’s what many people find out with PPC affiliate marketing.
There are some who make it work. Charles Ngo is one of the best examples out there of someone who still swears that this strategy can work. He’s very open about saying it requires a lot of hands-on experience, and the ability to lose a few thousand dollars while learning.
Charles is also of the opinion that it takes a large working budget to find successful campaigns and get this strategy to truly work at a full profitable rate.
Finding Additional Affiliate Opportunities
The internet is a constantly changing ecosystem and because of that there are always old opportunities fading away as new ones come into existence. People paying close attention know that Pinterest banned affiliate ads in 2015.
However, this incredibly popular picture-based social media website reversed that policy in fall of 2019. If you didn’t pay attention, that would be a big opportunity lost.
Another opportunity is with Medium.com affiliate marketing. An incredibly large website reaching many tens of millions of visitors a month, sometimes reaching over 100 million views in a month.
They allow open enrollment of writers and they also allow affiliate links in your content. For pure writers this is a great opportunity to create a place where they build authority and can possibly get an affiliate sale.
Those are just some of the many affiliate opportunities out there. There are always going to be new opportunities popping up. Just as there will be times when previous opportunities may close or go away. Anyone who used to write for eHow back around 2010 understands that.
If you’re going to attempt to make some serious income as an affiliate without a website, then you better be really good at spotting those opportunities. In that case you will need to cash in on every bit of potential opportunity if you want any chance of making money while affiliate marketing without a website.
Why You Should Still Consider Building a Website
Websites are not necessarily a must in order to build a good affiliate income. There are still very good reasons that you should consider building one anyway. One is control. Since you have your own online property (the website) you can set it up anyway you want. You can create articles that work as squeeze pages. Or you can create incredible long-form content and pepper those articles with links.
Mix and match a variety of different types of links to see what works best? Not a problem – you have control! You can easily test every single detail to boost the conversion rate. Websites allow you to collect email addresses, create authority more easily, and provide incredible amounts of value.
If you are capable of making a lot of affiliate sales without a website, chances are you would do even better with one. Having a website also allows for organic traffic. That means work you do months or years ago still has the ability to attract new viewers and that can lead to more sales.
This doesn’t even go into the fact that affiliate websites often sell for 30x to 40x their monthly earnings. That means if you build a website that makes even an incredibly modest $1,000 a month you can sell it for $30,000 to $40,000. There’s a reason they’re called web “properties.”
You can’t get that from an assortment of random links across the internet. That’s also a big payout. Imagine if the site made $2,000 a month or $3,000. Suddenly that one payout can be life-changing money.
Considering how cheap Bluehost hosting is, and how cheap domain names are, there really is no financial excuse for not creating your own website. Especially with programs like Income School’s Project 24, which can save you years of trial and error and bring you up to speed on what people are doing to earn money with affiliate websites right now.
If you still have doubts, just look at this report on Spencer’s Niche Site Project 4. This shows clearly how quickly a new affiliate site can go from idea to major monthly earner.
When you look at having control over your website, the steady monthly income, and the ability to sell a successful website for a large one-time payment, it’s pretty clear that the long-term goal should always be building a website. While success can be seen on at least the short-term without a site, it’s not the best strategy.
There’s a reason most successful affiliate marketers go this route. Creating quality affiliate marketing websites full of great content is an excellent way to get the positive attention of search engines. If you end up in the top search results for a lot of keywords then you are going to sell plenty of products with your excellent content.
There’s no question that the majority of major affiliates use the website model. Whether that’s a “true” affiliate site loaded with links to affiliate programs or a site that acts as a base for collecting a large email list to market to, there are many advantages to having a strong website. That being said, this article shows that’s not the only strategy out there.
While it makes more sense to build a website because of the number of opportunities this opens up, this article shows you do have other options. Even if you start without a website using these affiliate strategies, it’s hard to argue with moving to a website model for your long-term future. That being said, if you don’t have a site and want to start to promote affiliate links you do have options to start.
By Shane Dayton