Successful affiliate marketing does not have to cost a fortune. In fact, attracting an audience can be done for free, as long as you’re willing to be patient. Most people are aware of blogging and the many site builders that are available for free. What you may not know, is the vast array of free traffic sources that you can use as an affiliate marketer to gain more more visitors.
Once you increase your traffic, you can begin promoting an array of products and services that are in line with your niche. You will need to market these products differently depending on the sources you are using to generate traffic.
It’s important that you understand the fundamentals of affiliate marketing before you start promoting products and services to your audience. This will help you increase conversions through your marketing campaigns.
Take a look at this list to learn more ways to increase traffic to your affiliate site for free. I recommend having a website so that you have a designated place to where you send your traffic.
I can’t write an article about free traffic sources without talking about search engine optimization. If you’ve been in the game for any time at all, you already know how crucial it is to harness the power of search engines if you want organic traffic.
Take a look at Labrador Training HQ, for example:
Labrador Training HQ is able to generate over $30K per month from leveraging organic Google traffic and monetizing it with affiliate marketing offers.
Keywords have proven to be one of the most important ranking factors out there. Keywords are how search engines categorize your work and determine if it is valuable to a specific audience. If you haven’t already, it’s crucial that you start conducting keyword research for your site.
It would be impossible to cover every ranking factor that Google accounts for. However, one often overlooked factor is topical authority. Topical authority is demonstrated by creating a significant amount of in-depth content related to a very specific niche.
In other words, if you center your site around one niche topic and make great content, Google sees this as far more valuable than, say, only getting backlinks.
To make this work in your favor as an affiliate marketer, make sure your blog is truly focused on the niche that you’re promoting. That also means choosing affiliate products that fall into the niche you’ve chosen.
When we talk about free traffic, Reddit might not be the most obvious choice, but it is a powerful engine that can drive visitors to your affiliate website.
The cool thing about Reddit is that people often use it as a place to get recommendations and advice from other redditors.
By adding links to your website in the comments you can drive consistent targeted traffic to your affiliate offers. For this to be effective, you must add comments that add value to the user so that it doesn’t look spammy.
How to use Reddit as a free traffic source
Take a look at how I used Ahrefs to filter Reddit.com by “top pages” and added a parameter to only include results with the keyword “VPN.”
Notice all the pages that come up, which are currently generating substantial amounts of traffic from Google.
As a marketer, the first thing that comes to mind is how to use these pages to drive traffic back to my site.
If I do a quick Google search for “best VPN Reddit,” the page that shows up in the first position generates over 17K monthly visitors with a traffic value of $79K dollars.
Now, if we take a closer look at that page, you will see that the first comments are loaded with links that drive traffic directly to an affiliate website that recommends the “best VPNs.”
This Reddit page probably generates over $30K dollars per month from affiliate commissions.
Sounds easy right? Well, it can be if you find the right pages with the right keywords and enough traffic to make money.
I can pull up hundreds of examples of Reddit pages that have cloaked affiliate links hidden in the comments, or drive traffic to a website that is nothing more than a landing page for affiliate offers.
Any platform that uses highly specific categories is going to be your best friend as an affiliate marketer.
You can become an active member of any given subreddit and share your content. Now, keep in mind, each subreddit has its own rules and may have restrictions on things such as YouTube videos, so make sure to read through the guidelines.
Collaborating with other content creators in your niche is a great way to bring visitors to your site. As we already know, when it comes to affiliate marketing, it’s all about the right audience.
Guest posting is not only free, it’s a win-win for both you and the person you’re collaborating with. It expands your reach to a wider audience while providing another blogger with quality content.
For example, this post you are reading now is a guest post, and I have included a link to my website in order to improve the value of this article.
How to get started with guest posting
If you’re interested in guest blogging, here’s how you can get started for free:
- Research blogs within your niche or similar niches that post quality content
- Email them or use their contact form to find out if they accept guest posts
- Once you hear back from the site you can send them your pitch
- If your pitch is approved, you can submit your guest post
You may find that once you start making more connections in your field, exchanging guest posts becomes more natural.
As always, focus on networking and making connections to increase these opportunities.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, that couldn’t be more accurate. Pinterest is an image sharing website that categorizes compelling images into several distinct categories.
I could probably write an entire article about how valuable Pinterest can be for businesses or affiliate marketers.
According to Hootsuite, Pinterest is the third-largest social network in the U.S. But Pinterest is as much a search engine as it is a social network. Think of it as the Google of images.
Some very popular categories are fashion, home decor, fitness, gardening, and travel, just to name a few.
Now, the cool thing about Pinterest is that you can upload an image attached to a URL. That means, whenever someone clicks on that image, they are redirected to the attached website.
If you’re using compelling images and your article falls into a Pinterest category, it’s a great (and free) way to reach a wide audience.
Let’s take a look at a website called The View from Great Island. According to SimilarWeb, this website generates around 650K monthly visitors, 26% of which is generated using social platforms and 90% of that is generated from Pinterest alone.
I think it’s safe to say that this site generates thousands of monthly visits from leveraging the power of Pinterest.
If you’re an affiliate marketer on a budget, the idea of starting a YouTube channel can seem out of reach. Fortunately, you don’t have to invest in any expensive filming set up right away.
YouTube is one of my favorite ways to generate free traffic because all you need is a phone, and you can actually use your phone camera to get a YouTube channel off the ground.
YouTube is great for affiliate marketers for several reasons. I wrote an entire article about how to do YouTube affiliate marketing with little to no money.
Aside from being low- to no-cost, it also gives you the opportunity for your videos to get indexed on Google. This will get you some of that sweet Google traffic, as well as organic YouTube traffic.
If you’re creating helpful tutorials, guides, or reviews, your video may appear in relevant Google search results, which gives you more exposure.
Affiliate marketers can create a variety of content that showcases products and services such as guides, reviews, comparisons, and unboxing videos. You can then add affiliate links in the description below.
As with any form of content marketing, you need to create high-quality content that sticks to a given niche.
Some of the most profitable YouTube niches are technology, beauty, fashion, gaming, fitness, and education.
Niche forums and groups
Here’s an example of how you can use forums to your advantage.
I recently published an article about a website builder called Beaver Builder. There is a Facebook group dedicated to this particular website builder with several thousand members.
Because this group is clearly interested in Beaver Builder, chances are they’d be interested in an article on this topic.
You can do the same with your own articles. Find groups and forums that are centered around your post and share it.
Keep in mind, it’s important to provide context when you post your article. Avoid just sharing a link with no explanation, otherwise, you appear spammy.
Since we went over guest posting, I think it’s appropriate to talk about expert roundups.
These are articles in which you are interviewing a selection of experts in your field. Usually, you pose a couple of questions to which the experts respond in a short quote.
Once the article is published, you can expect the experts to share the post with their audience after you’ve featured them in your post. They usually do this through their social media. So, don’t expect any backlinks from their websites. For link building purposes, you should submit your own insights to someone else’s roundup.
The more influential experts you manage to gather together, the more free traffic you might expect from their social channels. Your ability to attract those experts to share their insights depends largely on your website’s authority and traffic.
To create an expert roundup, you can follow similar steps to what we went over for guest blogging.
Reach out to similar blogs with an email asking if they would be interested in participating in an expert roundup.
Alternatively, you can use a platform like HARO, where you can post a query for the roundup and wait for people to send their pitches to you. Or if you’re a member of some relevant expert community on Slack or Facebook, for example, you could just post it there.
Once the article is complete, make sure to share it with all of the people who participated.
A question-and-answer website founded in 2019, Quora has 300 million active monthly users. What separates Quora from other similar social online communities is that it has a somewhat more professional user base.
Users who are 18 years and older spend more than twice as much time on Quora than LinkedIn. 54% of Quora users also report having an annual household income of over 100K, and they’re 37% more likely to be in a management position than the general adult population.
So, on top of better exposure, you have a good chance of getting your content in front of those with decision-making power. This makes Quora more attractive for businesses selling more valuable items, especially in B2B and SaaS.
To use Quora as a free traffic source, you need to have expertise in the topic categories, where you answer questions. But everyone is an expert in some topics, right? And ideally, you’ve chosen affiliate products in a niche that you’re specialized in.
It’s a gradual process of answering one question after another in as much detail as possible. But the time and effort you dedicate to the platform is rewarded with a great opportunity for both personal branding and building traffic.
How to build traffic on Quora
Posting direct affiliate links is not allowed on Quora. You will only get your account suspended, or in worst case, banned. However, it doesn’t mean you cannot promote your affiliate offers. You just have to do it indirectly.
Always make sure your answers are informative most of all. You may add a link back to a relevant article on your website that goes into more detail on the topic and contains your affiliate promotions. But this is only allowed if the linked content actually adds value to your answer.
Start by optimizing your Quora profile. Your profile bio appears on all the answers you write, so it helps with credibility if you include details that demonstrate your expertise in the topics. And you can add a link to your affiliate website to the summary section on your profile.
Next, you need to choose a relevant topic in your chosen niche. In the “Read” section, you see the most popular questions and answers on the topic. You can then find recently posted questions in the “Answer” section, and also look at the most viewed writers in that topic.
Once you’ve selected a few topics and started to answer some of the questions, you will notice a “Questions” section on the left side. There, other users can request your answers to their questions on a topic you’re specialized in. And Quora will also suggest relevant questions to you, based on your previous answers and the topics and spaces you follow on the platform.
Write for Medium
Medium is an online publication that offers abundant opportunities for bloggers. Just like with guest posting, writing for Medium offers you access to a wider audience.
Medium has a built-in audience already, so you can count on reaching a decent number of readers.
Here’s where traffic to your site comes in: you can add blog links to your post on Medium. You can also embed your YouTube videos into your Medium article.
Contributing to Medium is totally free and can be completed in a few simple steps:
- Write a relevant blog post.
- Wait for an editor to review and approve your work.
- Once approved, your post will be recommended to relevant Medium readers.
Medium doesn’t ban content with affiliate links. So, it’s possible for you to link directly to your affiliate offers on Medium.
You can also republish your existing content from your website by importing articles to your Medium account. Republished posts on Medium automatically have a link to the original article.
But just stuffing a bunch of affiliate links into your article and republishing it on Medium isn’t going to work. Only quality content will attract readers and claps, which Medium uses to measure what posts readers like. More claps also means better ranking for your content.
I would be neglecting my duty if I were to leave out social media from the list of free traffic sources. Social media is free and gives you access to a huge audience.
As long as you follow the correct guidelines, most social media sites allow users to promote affiliate products on their accounts. Instagram is one of the most popular options out there.
Learning the ins and outs of Instagram marketing deserves a post unto itself, but if you are willing to learn the ropes, it’s a great platform for affiliate marketers.
TikTok is the new kid on the block but it is making huge waves. While the Instagram algorithm is notoriously hard to crack, TikTok is a bit more forgiving.
My advice would be to strike while the iron is hot and make a TikTok account for your business.
You don’t need a big budget to gain traffic as an affiliate marketer. While there are certainly places where your money is well spent, attracting your target audience doesn’t have to be one of them. If you follow these tips and put in the time and effort, your traffic will begin to increase.
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Jon is a content marketing expert and founder of jontorres.com, a blog dedicated to teaching others about affiliate marketing and SEO. Jon writes about his experience in web-based entrepreneurship and digital marketing.