The short answer: yes, you can be successful at affiliate marketing without social media.
There are loads of affiliate marketers who are doing great without having a single social media follower. The truth is that social media is just one of many ways via which you can earn affiliate sales.
In this article I’ll show you the most common ways to become a successful affiliate marketer without having a social media following at all.
3 ways to be successful with affiliate marketing without a social media following
1. Get traffic organically (SEO)
The most obvious way to earn money through affiliate marketing without social media is via organic search traffic.
Admittedly, it’s a long and strenuous process to rank for competitive, affiliate-friendly keywords (such as “best lawnmower”), but going this route has a few distinct advantages:
- You don’t need to be an “influencer” to get organic traffic. Everybody can publish helpful, informative content and get it ranking high in search engines like Google.
- The traffic you haul in is free. As opposed to paid traffic, you bank the entirety of your affiliate commissions without having to account for direct marketing costs.
- Once the traffic is there, it’s there. Granted, you’ll need to keep your website up-to-date and relevant. But if you do this, you can keep receiving organic traffic with a relatively small effort.
- If you rely on organic search traffic, you don’t need to build your affiliate business around a persona. Your site and your content can be pretty generic. The advantage of this is that down the line you’ll be able to sell your affiliate business much easier than if you’re a social media influencer. After all, the value of the business sits purely in the content, not in the person behind it.
To get organic search traffic, you’ll obviously need a website. I built all my websites with WordPress. WordPress is free, easy to use and extremely versatile. All you need to do is pick a hosting provider, register a domain name, install WordPress, and you’re good to go.
Then it’s time to start writing. Here are a few successful content formats for affiliate marketing:
- Product roundups. This type of article compares a handful (or more) products side-by-side. They often look something like this: “best sound system for your house”. This is an easy format to get started with, since you don’t have to dive very deep in any of the products to make an article like this.
- Product review. Zooms in one specific product. Highlights pros and cons, discusses the benefits and in detail describes the product.
- How-to guides. Explains how to do a certain thing, like setting up a website from scratch. You can then add affiliate links at relevant moments throughout the article, for instance setting up web hosting.
To make affiliate marketing work while relying on organic search isn’t easy. I recommend you study some resources like this website first before you get going or check out YouTube channels on affiliate marketing.
However, while not every person can turn themselves into a social media influencer, everybody can write informative content which answers a search query. Hence, becoming a successful affiliate marketer by relying on search traffic is within reach of anyone who’s willing to put in the work.
2. Buy traffic (SEM or paid social media traffic)
Getting organic traffic from lucrative keywords can take a long time. We’re talking months or in some cases years here. If you don’t want to wait this long, you can always buy traffic to your affiliate site.
Now, this is easier said than done. While you can instantly buy traffic through, say, Google Ads, making these campaigns profitable is another thing. In fact, this strategy will only work if you promote high-ticket affiliate products and have managed to strike a unique deal with the manufacturer, to get higher affiliate commissions.
Let’s say you’re promoting €50 keyboards which people can purchase through Amazon. Amazon’s commission rates are only a few percentage points these days. So, a €50 keyboard will only give you a couple of euros of commission per sale at most. Once you start buying traffic to your site, you’ll quickly find out that the economics don’t make sense.
There are some highly successful affiliate marketers that earn their money primarily through paid traffic, however. If you promote the right product at the right commission rate with the right paid traffic campaigns, this can be a highly lucrative route.
3. Built an email list
At the end of the day, there’s no way to be in closer contact as an online marketer to your audience than by having an email list. You can build up your email list through your affiliate website and can earn affiliate commissions with it both directly and indirectly.
You can earn affiliate income with it directly by placing affiliate links in your emails. You can earn affiliate income indirectly by directing your readers from your email list to your website.
Both ways are an incredibly powerful way to boost your affiliate income significantly. Hence, if you’re starting a new affiliate website, strongly consider building an email list from day 1. The email marketing tool I recommend for this is AWeber.
In this article I’ve discussed 3 ways in which you can become a successful affiliate marketer without relying on a social media audience.
Many affiliate marketers fly completely under the radar and couldn’t be further removed from being a massive social media influencer.
To learn more about how to start an affiliate website from scratch, check out my affiliate marketing beginners guide. It contains everything you need to get going – from selecting a niche, picking an affiliate program, setting up a website and writing content.