Does Affiliate Marketing Cost Money?

This article may contain *affiliate links. Please see our affiliate disclosure for more details

Last Updated on

Today I wanted to try and tackle the question of whether or not you can truly do affiliate marketing for free.

Does Affiliate Marketing Cost Money? Affiliate marketing is inherently free. The affiliate programs are free to join, you can post your affiliate links just about anywhere and there are free places to post your content that can include affiliate links.

But it is not that simple.

Affiliate marketing is free in theory but you are probably going to have to spend some money to make the most of your affiliate marketing business. Still, all things considered, it is one of the cheapest ways to build your own online business.

There are a great many opportunities to spend a little money to make learning and building an affiliate marketing business much easier.

Let’s take a look at the free and some paid aspects of affiliate marketing.


The True Cost Of Affiliate Marketing

image showing SEO and marketing connections written in red marker.

Affiliate Marketing Is Free

There is no cost to affiliate marketing. At its base level, there is no cost to affiliate marketing. Signing up for affiliate programs is free. If they aren’t free then you shouldn’t sign up for them.

Writing the content that you were going to use to promote the products that your affiliate programs are selling is free as long as you write the articles or create the content yourself.

Finding places to post that content is also free. There are plenty of places that you can find that will allow you to post your content completely free of charge.

In that content, you can typically place your affiliate links and generate a good amount of money and sometimes a full career level income from a free place to post your content.

The most popular example of this is probably YouTube, which will get into a little bit later, but creating a channel on YouTube is completely free. 

Let us take a little deeper look at the free aspects of affiliate marketing.

Picking A Niche Is Free

Picking a niche to write about or create videos about is completely free. It takes a little bit of time and you need to do a bit of research about that Niche but choosing the niche doesn’t cost you anything.

Now you can hire people to choose a niche for you. There are plenty of places, like Fiverr, that offer services that can do the research and develop a niche strategy for your website.

But you don’t have to pay anybody. Take a little bit of time, find a niche that you’re comfortable with, and start creating content within that niche. You are well on your way to creating an income through affiliate marketing completely for free.

Content Creation Is Free

Creating content for affiliate marketing is completely free as well. It simply requires that you sit down and create the content. It’s as simple as that.

If you were creating a blog then you need to sit down and write a blog post on whatever schedule you decide.

Maybe you’re going to write one blog post each day for an entire year. 365 articles.

Maybe you’re going to publish once a week so you need to come up with 52 topics in your Niche to create content around.

Then it’s simply a matter of placing your affiliate links in that content and posting the content to wherever you decided that you want to place your content.

There you have it you have just created your own online business using affiliate marketing and done it completely for free,  as long as the place that you’ve decided to publish your content is free as well.

smartphone with social media icons on the display

It is not that easy obviously but the foundation has been laid. Now you just need affiliate programs and traffic to click your links.

Some great Free Places To Publish Your Content And Affiliate Links Include:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Medium
  • Youtube
  • Cinnamon
  • Vimeo
  • Free Blogs
  • Coil
  • Quora

Each one of these has its own specific rules and regs for the use of affiliate link so be sure to check out their terms of service so you don’t run afoul of their rules. But they are free to join and post content on.

If you want to create videos there is an inherent cost for the equipment. You can use you phone but technically that is not free so you can put an asterisk next to the video creation as you will need to have the equipment already.

Affiliate Programs Are Free

I have spoken a couple of times about affiliate links Without Really explaining what they are. But this is another aspect of affiliate marketing that is completely free. You need to go out and find affiliate programs for your Niche.

You need to sign up to these appellate Philly programs and they will give you an affiliate link that you can place within your content and when people click on that link and buy something you get a commission for it.

Philly marketing is simple. You promote a product and if they pry that product you get a commission.

That is affiliate marketing in a nutshell.

Getting people to your affiliate links and having them click on it and then buy something is where the difficulty really comes from.

But the overall idea behind affiliate marketing is so simple and elegant that it really is a wonder that more people don’t give it a try.

There are thousands upon thousands of affiliate programs to choose from. Any nits you can think of probably has dozens of affiliate program ready to be dropped into your content and monetize.

You can check out the top 10 lists of affiliate programs that we have on this website. I lost count of how many articles we have in specific niches that have dozens upon dozens of affiliate programs that we have to whittle down to 10 or 12 or whatever number we’re going for at the time.

The point is affiliate programs are everywhere and they are the best way to monetize your passive income website and build an affiliate marketing business.

a web of light lines depicted the internet
Traffic On The Internet Is A Web Of Movement

Getting Traffic To Your Affiliate Links Can Be Free

Getting traffic to your affiliate links is the crown jewel of affiliate marketing. Once you figure this out you were going to make a good amount of money no matter what and it’s you’re in. If you can get the traffic then you can get the money.

And there are plenty of free places to get traffic from. Every aspect of this section of the article has focused on free places to get whatever you need for your affiliate marketing business.

It just so happens that the best places to get traffic for your affiliate marketing content is free.  Whether you are creating a YouTube channel specifically to drive traffic to your blog. YouTube is free to join.

If you were using search engines like Google or Bing to drive traffic to your blog then you don’t need to pay a cent for that. Using organic traffic from Google and Bing is completely free.

It takes time. You have to write content that ranks in the search engines high enough to generate traffic but it is free.

And it is the best traffic that you are ever going to find because they are specifically searching for the type of content that you are writing.

When you are content shows up in the search engine it’s there because the algorithm to determine that it is relevant to the search queries that people are putting in.

You can use places like Twitter or Pinterest or Instagram to generate traffic for your blog. And you can enter link each of these places to generate content in one place pass it on to the next and then back again and ultimately create your own little ecosystem that your business needs to thrive.

If you post a pin on Pinterest for example.  That pain is going to have a link to your blog. People are going to look at that pin and say that the topic that the pin represents is interesting on the click on that pan. 

That is going to send them to your blog where you were going to have a good well-thought-out post that expands on the topic that was so interesting on the Pinterest pin.

In that written content you are going to have links to not only your affiliate programs that you’re promoting but also other posts on your website and links back to Pinterest.

When you get it all figured out you’ll also have videos that you’ve created embedded in your content that take the audience to YouTube where there’s another chance for them to click on your affiliate links.

What you end up with is an interconnected web of various different pieces of content that build on one another and send and receive your audience members from all of your other content.

Every single one of those places that you are putting content on is completely free. Pinterest is free to join. YouTube is free to join. You can find places to write a blog that is free to join.

It seems so simple it’s a wonder that everybody isn’t doing it. But the ultimate truth behind it is that it is not simple at all.

When you create your YouTube channel nobody is going to see that channel when it is first started.

You need to spend a lot of time energy and most importantly be consistent with your content creation in order to generate the types of content you need to create an audience that will ultimately start using your feelings and bringing in the type of income that you want.

The common theme with all of these free places to drop your content is that they take time to build up. 

You’re not going to wade into Pinterest and just automatically have a phone you have to carefully build up your followers and make sure that your pins on Pinterest are visible in order to generate the traffic you’re going to need.

Building An Entire Affiliate Marketing Business For Free?

You can absolutely build an entire affiliate marketing business completely for free. If you just want to use YouTube by itself and create videos in your Niche then you can do that completely for free.

If you want to use Pinterest and create pins and images that go directly to your affiliate programs and you can do that. Pinterest will allow you in some cases to use the affiliate links directly.

So why don’t more people do this?

Well, YouTube is pretty intimidating. A lot of people don’t want to be on screen and the competition is incredibly Fierce and just about all niches.

The same is true of Pinterest in terms of the competition.

It is not easy to get the traffic to your blog, youtube channel or Pinterest profile or any other place to put your content.

Investing a little money can help but it is not a way to circumvent all the hard work you will need to put into your business.

smartphone with youtube symbol on it
YouTube Is A Great Free Resource For Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing Costs Money

So while it can be done for free it might not be the most efficient way to do it. Think of it this way. You’re building an affiliate marketing business. With the emphasis on business.

No one starts a business completely free. You’re going to need to pick and choose where you want to spend your money in order to create the affiliate marketing business that you want.

A couple of the common places that really require a little bit of investment our web hosting and buying a domain name. 

There are free blogs and other places where you can post your written content but you really want your own branded domain and that’s going to cost you a little bit of money.

Webhosting For Your Affiliate Marketing Business

One of the first places that you’re going to want to spend money on your affiliate marketing business is finding a web hosting for a website.

As I mentioned in the free section it is completely possible to do affiliate marketing without your own website but having that branded location that you own is a very important part of a successful affiliate marketing business.

Google can shut your YouTube channel down whenever they want. Same with Pinterest if they decide to throw you off the platform,, they can do so.

When you have your own website you have something that you own and that people can’t take away from you. Now you can get deindexed from search engines and run into rules and regulations that Google might set. 

But your website doesn’t go away. So there are still other ways to drive traffic besides the search engines.

the point here is that spending the money to buy your own web hosting is a great idea if you are serious about building an affiliate marketing business.

There are plenty of places that you can find good relatively inexpensive web hosting. Personally, I use Bluehost(*affiliate link) for all my new websites. But with a little research, you can find some great alternatives if you choose to. 

Typically web hosting can be found for under $10  a month and many offers going lower than $5 and some even hitting two or three dollars a month.

 So it’s a good, relatively inexpensive investment to make in your affiliate marketing business.

busniess man pressing a screen full on icons
There Are A Lot Of Places To Post Your Content

Invest In A Domain

The domain is something that you were going to want to buy that really goes hand-in-hand with the web hosting. The domain is the URL of your webpage.

It is the address that people can find you at. Think of it as you would a regular address in the real world. Except for this address, you get to name and you get to tie it into your overall brand.

This is a great investment because it is the first exposure that people are going to have to your brand when they see your URL.

So you want to make it something memorable then you want to make it something interesting so the people can get back to it without having to search Google or Bing or anything like that.

Domains are typically around $15 a year for one that’s not currently occupied. If you were looking for specific domains that someone already owns then you can expect to pay a little bit of money.

In some cases, people pay millions of dollars for domains because there are that valuable to individual businesses.

Affiliate Training

Affiliate training is probably going to be the single biggest expenditure that you have when you are just starting out with your affiliate marketing business.

It is an optional aspect of learning affiliate marketing but it is probably the best investment that you were going to make. 

The reason for this is simply because it can save you time and headaches when you move forward with your affiliate marketing business. 

Learning from people who have been doing this for a long time and avoiding the pitfalls and mistakes that they made just by having them explain how to avoid them is invaluable.

There are dozens of places where you can learn affiliate marketing properly. Two of my favorites are Income Schools Project 24(*affiliate link) and the other is Franklin Hatchett’s Savage Affiliates(*affiliate link).

I’m a member of both of them and continue to use them to this day for a variety of reasons but especially for the great communities that are growing up around these products.

You can read my full reviews of these excellent affiliate training products in the following links.

And A head to head review if you are interested.

computer server blades with wires above them
Choose A Good Webhosting Service For Your Blog

Other Costs Of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is like any other business there are dozens if not hundreds of other places that you can spend money to make life a little bit easier or to get some valuable information on your competition for example. 

Keyword Tools

You can purchase a subscription to keyword tools or ranking tools that will help identify the keywords that you can use to help generate traffic to your blog. 

These are typically prohibitively expensive costing $30, $40, $50 or more per month just so that you can look up some keywords and find out what the competition is doing. 

I use Jaaxy for my keyword research when I do use a keyword tool, which is pretty infrequently at this point. Jaaxy is part of my Wealthy Affiliate subscription(read my review)

Whether it makes sense for your individual business or not really depends on the budget of that you have for your business.

Content Writing

Other places you can spend a little money to make life easier as an affiliate marketer is buying your content through writing services. There are dozens of places where you can pay someone else to write your content for you.

Once you get to a certain size you’re always going to want to outsource at least some of your content so that you can focus on more important things in your business.

Stock Photos

Another place where the investment in your affiliate marketing really makes sense is with buying stock photos for your articles.

You really need to have images in your articles these days because they make them look better and they help them ranked better in Google and Bing.

There are plenty of places to find free images.  the real problem with that is that the selection is sometimes a little bit weak for some more specific niches.

So ultimately you’re either going to have to take the photographs yourself or find a stock photograph business that you can buy the photos from.

This can get expensive depending on the types of photos that you need so make sure you have it budgeted in properly when you decide to purchase these images.


keyboard with social media icons as keys

Wrapping Things Up

That brings us to the end at our look at the cost of affiliate marketing. It is absolutely possible to do it for free although it is going to take a lot more work in a lot more time then if you invest a little bit of money into your affiliate marketing business.

The best advice I can give is only to spend what you can afford. Don’t go outside your budget to try and buy new products that are going to help you with affiliate marketing.

What I did when I started was use free resources as much as I could along with buying a web hosting subscription and the domain.

Then I took the earnings from my affiliate marketing business and fold them back into the business to increase the budget and start to be able to afford some of the other products like affiliate training and keyword tools and even a little bit of content outsourcing although  I still right about 95% of the content across all my website at this point.

 To craft yourself a budget figure out exactly what you can afford to put into this new business venture and then get started.

The biggest thing that’s going to hold you back from being successful at affiliate marketing is simply not taking action and starting it.

I wish you the best of luck and thank you for stopping by. As always have a wonderful day.