Building a profitable affiliate business is usually associated with gathering a substantial amount of followers.
However, that’s definitely not the case…
There are numerous approaches that can take you to affiliate success even if you don’t have a single follower – and in this article, I’ll share with you the five best ones.
Let’s get started.
Can I Do Affiliate Marketing Without Followers?
Yes, you can do affiliate marketing even if you have no followers simply by figuring out alternative ways to get the affiliate products or services you promote in front of potential buyers. Truth is, there are tons of affiliate marketers who make six or seven-figure incomes without having a single follower.
How to Do Affiliate Marketing Without Followers
First, the fact that you currently have no follower base doesn’t mean you can’t develop one.
Almost all affiliate marketers who’ve achieved success on social media started from scratch, without any followers.
Therefore, if you’d like to establish a successful affiliate business on social media, don’t let your lack of followers hold you back – just start gathering some.
This can be done by leveraging social media content marketing. That’s creating and publishing content relevant to your chosen social media platform(s) such as images, videos, stories, text-based posts, carousels, etc.
According to statistics, social media platforms are being used by 59% of the world’s population for an average of 2.5 hours daily. On top of that, they’re completely free to join and use. This means that social media can be a potent and reliable ally in your journey to achieving affiliate success.
If you’d rather not get involved with social media and followers, you can always shift your attention to other promotional methods, such as:
- Paid Ads
- Online Communities
- Email Marketing
However, don’t expect that any of these methods will involve less or easier work… While each of them requires its own set of skills, all of them demand the investment of time, effort, and possibly money to generate substantial returns.
Let’s take a closer look.
Doing affiliate marketing on a blog is your next-best alternative to social media.
A blog (short for “weblog”) is a website that consists of regularly published content in the form of articles (aka blog posts) that might come in various shapes and sizes, such as:
- Product Reviews
- Case Studies
- Personal Stories
- & more
For example, what you’re reading right now is a blog post tutorial on doing affiliate marketing with no followers.
Based on statistics, blogging is currently being used as the main marketing channel by over 79% of all affiliate marketers, and for good reasons…
- Passive income potential
- You call the odds
- Higher credibility & authority
- Increased conversion rates
- Diverse monetization
- Better exit potential
- Takes more time and effort to gain traction
- Requires a small upfront monetary investment (for hosting & domain registration)
With almost 2.5 billion active users globally, YouTube is currently considered among the best marketing channels for all kinds of promotional activities, including those associated with affiliate marketing.
While YouTube does involve followers (aka subscribers), the platform’s built-in search engine & personalization algorithms can enable your video content to reach audiences beyond your immediate subscriber base, thus reducing the reliance on having a large follower count for success.
- Second most populated social network after Facebook
- Second most used search engine after Google
- Popular across all generations
- Additional monetization options (e.g., ads, partner program, etc.)
- Video converts a lot better than other content types
- Not that suited for introverts
- Success hinges on making a consistent effort over a long timeframe
- Susceptible to policy shifts that may arise
- Might involve upfront costs for resources like equipment, editing tools, etc.
3. Paid Ads
This approach involves paying money for placing ads on third-party digital platforms.
Paid ads can be broken down into multiple different categories, such as:
- Display Ads: Banners, texts, or images placed on other websites
- Paid Search Ads: Displayed on search engines like Google & Yahoo
- Social Media Ads: Served on websites like Facebook & Instagram
- Instream Ads: Video promotions shown before or during video streaming
- Solo Ads: Email campaigns delivered to the email subscribers of other marketers
Keep in mind that some platforms (e.g., Google, Facebook, etc.) may have policies that prohibit direct linking from ads to affiliate links. In such a case, you’ll need to point your ads to a regular page you own which can, in turn, contain your affiliate links.
- Instant feedback & results
- Easier scalability & adaptability
- More accurate audience targeting
- Requires continuous monetary investment
- Could result in financial losses, especially for beginners
- Susceptible to policy shifts that can negatively impact your campaigns
- Ad blockers can limit the visibility of your ads
4. Online Communities
Another compelling alternative to doing affiliate marketing without followers is leveraging online communities like discussion forums, social media groups, Q&A platforms, etc.
Online communities tend to be populated mostly by individuals truly interested in their subject matter. For example, a community around yoga will naturally attract people who have a genuine interest in yoga. This means that promoting products or services relevant to a community’s theme will likely yield exceptional conversion rates.
However, achieving affiliate success using online communities involves a specific process… You can’t just start jumping from one community to another, randomly spamming affiliate promotions. Nowadays, most communities have no tolerance for spammers who care about nothing but making a quick sale.
Instead, focus on fitting in naturally and creating authentic connections with other community members by joining ongoing discussions, answering questions, sharing valuable insights, and providing solutions to problems.
That’ll boost your credibility, increase the likelihood of your promotions being viewed as trustworthy, and minimize your chances of getting kicked out due to spam.
- No financial investment required
- High conversion rates
- Networking opportunities
- Targeted audiences
- Spam can damage your reputation
- Limited control over policy shifts
- Dependency on the community’s performance
- Community members typically hate affiliates
5. Email Marketing
Despite its old origins, email marketing is still considered the Holy Grail of affiliate conversions driving an average ROI of 3600% (source).
That’s because, unlike other marketing channels, email marketing enables you to conveniently deliver content directly into your audience’s inbox whenever you want.
Here’s a brief overview of how email marketing works:
- Join an email marketing platform
- Create lead magnet (e.g., report, guide, ebook, etc.)
- Build a squeeze page
- Offer free access to the lead magnet in exchange for users’ emails
- Set up automated email sequences
- Launch promotional email campaigns
- Ability to create automated workflows
- Hefty returns on investment
- Direct communication with your audience
- Personalization potential
- More pricey compared to other methods
- Kinda complicated to set up
- Risk of being labeled as a spammer
- High channel saturation
Tips for Affiliate Success With No Followers
1. Deliver Value
Delivering value and affiliate success go hand in hand.
The days when affiliate marketers could build an income by indiscriminately spamming their promotions are long gone. Nowadays, the only way to build a profitable and long-lasting affiliate business is by shifting your mindset from promoting to ensuring that you deliver as much value as possible.
Value can come in many shapes and sizes, such as:
- Resource Saving
- Social Interaction
To give you an example, an awesome picture can provide entertainment and social interactions while a how-to video can offer guidance to solving a specific issue.
Prioritizing value will increase your trustworthiness, set you apart from competitors, foster customer loyalty, generate more repeat business, and ultimately, skyrocket your affiliate sales.
2. Invest in High-Quality Training
According to this report published in 2016 by AffStat, what holds most affiliate marketers back from growing their income is a lack of proper training.
If you venture into affiliate marketing without guidance you’ll have to spend a lot more time and effort figuring things out on your own. On top of that, you’ll be much more likely to get outpaced by competitors smart enough to invest in equipping themselves with proven and up-to-date knowledge.
The best, and probably only, way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is by investing in high-quality training.
3. Pick Your Channel Wisely
Selecting the right marketing channel for your affiliate promotions is pivotal to maximizing your chances of success.
This decision boils down to two main factors:
- Your target audience. The channels you use for your marketing efforts should align with your audience’s preferred spaces. That’ll boost your message’s visibility and effectiveness.
- The products you promote. Focusing on channels that align with the characteristics of the products you promote will significantly increase your leads and conversions. For example, things like food, travel, and pastries will probably perform a lot better if promoted on image-centric platforms like Instagram and Pinterest compared to LinkedIn.
Affiliate marketing FAQs
Affiliate marketing is an online business model that involves promoting products or services created and distributed by third-party online merchants in exchange for getting paid a commission for each sale you refer.
In layman’s terms, affiliate marketing is the process of being compensated for helping businesses sell to more customers.
Here’s a bird’s eye view of how affiliate marketing works.
- You join a merchant’s affiliate program
- The merchant gives you a unique affiliate link that points to their e-shop
- You promote your unique affiliate link online (blog, forums, social media, paid ads, etc.)
- Every time someone clicks on your unique affiliate link and makes a purchase on the merchant’s e-shop, the merchant pays you a commission
There are thousands of successful affiliate marketers all around the world. Some of the most well-known ones are:
- Pat Flynn
- Matt Diggity
- Matthew Woodward
- Doug Cunnington
- & more
You can check out a roundup of my 17 favorite examples of affiliate success and their backstories right here.
- Billion-dollar industry
- Very low startup & operational expenses
- Huge income potential
- Flexible & versatile
- Passive income
- Simple to implement
- No technical background
- No customer support
- No physical setup
Affiliate marketers can be divided into five main income groups:
- Total beginners: $0 – $20,000 per year
- Low-level affiliates: $20,000 – $50,000 per year
- Intermediate affiliates: $50,000 – $100,000 per year
- High-level affiliates: $100,000 – $500,000 per year
- Super affiliates: $500,000+ per year
Some of the factors that influence how much you earn as an affiliate marketer include:
- target niche
- available resources
- previous experience
- marketing efforts
- & overall mindset
Here’s a rough income growth timeline of a typical affiliate marketing business:
- months (0-3): no earnings
- months (3-6): first affiliate sale
- months (6-12): $100-$500 monthly
- months (12-18): $1000 monthly
- months (18-24): $3000+ monthly
This timeline isn’t a guarantee of future performance but rather a mere approximation of the income growth of an average affiliate business. Your own timeline could be shorter or longer than projected.
Over the years, I’ve seen aspiring affiliates striking a gold vein just a few months into the industry. On the other hand, I personally know people who’ve been struggling to grow their affiliate revenue to $1000 per month for several years.
Affiliate marketing is one of the most affordable money-making models out there.
Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to get started as an affiliate marketer along with their associated costs:
- web hosting & domain name: $2.95/month (Bluehost)
- keyword research tool: $49/month (Jaaxy)
- expert guidance: $49/month (Wealthy Affiliate)
- email autoresponder: Free for up to 1000 subs (MailerLite)
Please note that on top of expert guidance, Wealthy Affiliate also provides free access to hosting and a keyword research tool so you don’t have to purchase them separately.
The process of getting started with affiliate marketing can be broken down into the following four simple steps:
- Pick a niche
- Launch a blog
- Build an audience
- Promote affiliate products
No, you don’t.
Affiliate marketing is very simple to get started with by virtually anyone regardless of age, education, background, available capital, tech-savviness, professional network, etc.
In fact, most 6-figure affiliate marketers were no more experienced than you currently are when they first ventured into the affiliate marketing industry.
Nonetheless, being knowledgeable in fields like marketing, sales, content production, business management, etc., could help you reach your financial goals somewhat faster.
Affiliate marketing can be done even if you have no followers. Many of the most successful affiliate marketers started without having a following.
All you have to do is either start gathering followers from scratch by leveraging social media content marketing or explore alternative marketing methods, such as:
- Paid ads
- Online Communities
- Email Marketing
Each of these approaches has its pros and cons, but reaching success requires time, effort, and possibly some financial investment regardless of which one you implement.
To maximize your chances of reaching affiliate success, make sure to focus on delivering as much value as possible, invest in high-quality training, and zero in on marketing channels aligned with your target audience and promoted products.
Do you have any questions or need further help getting started with affiliate marketing?
Leave a comment below or drop me a line and I’ll do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.
Harry – Founder & Jack of All Trades at dearboss-iquit.com