How Much Does It Cost To Start Affiliate Marketing?

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How much money is needed to run an affiliate business?

Is it true you need to spend money (hundreds of dollars) to make money as an affiliate?

The answer to the second question is both yes and no. But before getting there we should start from the beginning and take a closer look at how affiliate marketing works and if you can make money with it.
Affiliate marketing is a multi-billion dollar industry and there are no signs it is going to slow down in the coming years. On the contrary, it is expected to grow significantly in the years to come. It is something everyone can try and success depends entirely on you.

Starting an affiliate marketing business is a simple process. All you need is 7 things. Take a look at my post The 7 Things You Need To Start An Affiliate Marketing Business to find out how you can easily start your own affiliate site.

More people are shopping online than ever before and there are thousands of products/services you can promote as an affiliate. Regardless of your niche finding products to promote will not be a problem. The main reason why affiliate marketing is such a successful business model is that most people nowadays don’t buy something online without doing their research first.

That’s where you come in! People search online for product reviews and content that will help them make the best choice.
how much money you need to start affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is simply the process of promoting someone else’s product or service. Every time you make a sale you earn a commission. And it works.

Now let’s take a closer about how much money it will cost you to start an affiliate business.

Affiliate Marketing Startup Costs

In order to make money with affiliate marketing you need visitors (traffic). You can’t sell anything if no one is clicking on your affiliate links. You can get traffic for free (organic) or by paying for it (ads). Obviously, if you choose to use paid traffic sources as your primary source of traffic you will need a much bigger budget.

But except for traffic you also need to figure out how to convert your visitors into customers. You don’t necessarily have to spend money to learn how to do that but creating an effective sales funnel is important. Every successful affiliate marketer has its own and it’s one of those things you can only learn by doing.

The beauty of affiliate marketing is that it can be done for free. You don’t have to spend any money to start an affiliate business. Most affiliate programs are free to join and there are plenty of website builders where you can build a website for free.

Affiliate marketing can also be done without building a website. But I don’t recommend going down that road. I also don’t recommend starting your business for free. Just because you can do it for free doesn’t mean you should. In my opinion, this is not the best way to get started with affiliate marketing.

costs to start an affiliate marketing business

If you want to do affiliate marketing the right way and make money you should invest some money in it. You won’t make it as an affiliate marketer treating your business like a hobby. To succeed you must approach it like a business.

Let’s take a look at some basic things you will need to set up your business and how much they will cost you.

The Essentials

There are only 2 things you need to invest in when starting an affiliate marketing business. And they won’t cost you much. Only a few dollars per month. After all, there is no need to spend a lot of money at the beginning since it will not make much of a difference anyway. You can always invest more at a later point once you start earning money.

1. Hosting

Web hosting is vital and although it can be found online for free I suggest spending some money on it and getting the hosting your business deserves. Free hosting providers may sound like a good idea at first (because they cost nothing) but is not. They always come with certain restrictions and pretty soon that will become an extra problem for you and your business.

You can avoid all that by investing a few dollars per month and purchasing a reliable hosting service. I am not talking about spending a fortune every month. For just $4 -8 per month, you can buy a good hosting package. Don’t go for the cheapest one though because that is not always the best choice.

Also, be aware of the low prices many web hosting providers offer only for the first year or two. After the initial period ends the price can increase significantly. Always look for the total cost of the service and any extra fees.

Here is a list of some of the most well-known web hosting providers:

  • Bluehost
  • SiteGround
  • HostGator
  • Hostinger
  • Namecheap
  • DreamHost
  • GoDaddy

I suggest using WordPress for building your website. That is what I use and it is the most popular CMS (Content Management System). And it is free.

2. Domain Name

If you want to establish a reputable brand you will need a domain name. Affiliate marketing is all about developing a trustworthy relationship with your audience. People who trust you are more likely to buy from you. Buying a domain name is like acquiring your own digital property. After all, you can’t build a brand on a free subdomain.

The good thing is that registering a domain name won’t cost you much. On average a domain name costs between $10 to $20 per year or even less. That also depends on the web hosting provider you will choose. Some will offer you a domain name for free as part of their hosting package.

Buying your own domain name is a must if you want to build a successful affiliate marketing business. For more information and useful tips about how to choose the best domain name for your website take a look at this post “14 Tips For Choosing A Great Domain Name“.

And that’s all you need to start an affiliate website. The next step is adding content (costs nothing) and affiliate links (also free) to your website. So we are talking about an initial budget of $60 ($4 per month for hosting & $10 for a domain name) for your first year. And for that amount of money, you can have a business online.

The Optional Expenses Of Running An Affiliate Marketing Website

Although a domain name and website hosting are all you need to start an affiliate marketing business you could also spend a few extra dollars to expedite results. You don’t want to wait forever to make a profit.

Succeeding or not as an affiliate marketer depends heavily on the quality of the content you publish. Creating content (blog posts, videos, etc) can be done for free and there is no need to spend extra money on it. But affiliate marketing is not only about building a website and publishing content.

There is more to it. Luckily there are tools and methods you can use to grow your business faster. They don’t have to cost you a fortune though. Making money with affiliate marketing doesn’t depend so much on the amount of money you are willing to spend but on how you spend them.

Keyword Tools

Publishing one blog post after the other is a good way to drive more traffic to your website. But on its own is not enough. You need to create content that people are actually searching online for. Your posts might be great but if they are not what the people in your niche are looking for then it is not going to help you make any sales.

keyword research tool cost

You could avoid all that by investing some money on a keyword tool. Keyword research is the key if you want to increase your organic traffic. There are free keyword research tools you can use like AnswerThePublic, Google Trends, Google’s “People Also Ask”, Google AdWords, Ubersuggest to name a few.

But there also tools for advanced keyword research that are well worth the money they charge. Tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, SpyFu, Jaaxy offer plenty of metrics and analytic reports that can help you develop your SEO strategy.

Paid Traffic Sources

Content marketing and SEO work. There is no doubt about that. But you need to invest a considerable amount of time into your sites to produce the content required. Increasing your organic traffic takes more time compared to using paid ads.

If you want to see results right away and start getting visitors immediately you will have to spend money on ads. Paid ads though are not cheap or easy. You need to know what you are doing or you could end up losing your money. There is no guarantee that you will earn your money back.

Don’t expect to make $1,000s by investing $200-300 on paid traffic. It doesn’t work like that. Many beginners believe that’s all it takes to succeed but they soon discover that things are not that simple. Also, one thing you need to keep in mind is that with paid traffic you will lose some money at first. That is the only way to learn how to create successful campaigns and gain the necessary experience.

Social media ads (Facebook ads, Pinterest ads, YouTube ads, etc) and PPC & PPV advertising are the best paid traffic sources to increase your sales. In my opinion, Facebook ads are a good way to start experimenting with paid ads. They don’t cost much and are easy to create. If you want to try Google AdWords you need to have a minimum of $500 to spend otherwise your results will not be that good.

Email Marketing

I am sure you have heard the phrase “the money is in the list”. It is very popular in the world of Internet Marketing and many bloggers and marketers will tell you this is what you should be doing if you want to earn money with affiliate marketing. In other words,you need to build an email list.

email marketing cost

Although some marketers may disagree with that phrase there is no doubt email marketing is an important marketing tool. To send emails you will need to spend some money on an email marketing service provider.

Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Constant Contact
  • AWeber
  • ConvertKit
  • Mailchimp
  • MailerLite

Prices vary but on average this will cost you an extra $20 to $30 per month.

Affiliate Marketing Course

No one was born an affiliate marketer and although there is plenty of information about affiliate marketing online for free you might need some professional help. No legit training course can guarantee your success (that depends on you) but it can show you how to build an affiliate site and how affiliate marketing works.

There are plenty of legit affiliate marketing training courses online that can teach you the do’s and don’ts of affiliate marketing. You will definitely need some help down the road either with technical stuff like how to use WordPress and Google Analytics or how to create content that sells.

But you don’t (and shouldn’t) have to spend a fortune on a training course. There are courses designed for beginners that cost less than $100 and can teach you how to build a profitable affiliate business. I recommend Wealthy Affiliate (read my review here). There is no other affiliate marketing course offering so much for only $49 per month.

What You Don’t Need

There are also a few things you should avoid doing. You do not need to waste your money buying things that will not help you make sales. Some marketers may try to convince you that the following 3 things are necessary and that without them you will never make any money.

Ignore them. Here are 3 things you should not spend money on:

1. Online Gurus

You don’t need to follow an online marketing guru on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube to become a successful affiliate marketer. You don’t need to buy their overpriced online courses to build an affiliate website. You don’t need to blindly do what they say and buy what they tell you to buy through their affiliate links. You don’t need to “worship” them or try to become like them.

spend your money on fake online gurus

Most of the gurus you see in the MMO (Make Money Online) niche are fake. At least in my opinion. Almost all fake gurus use the same methods to target people looking to make money online. They try to dazzle you by telling you how successful they are, how happy they are, how expensive their cars are, and similar nonsense like that.

They all seem to have the same backstory too. They used to be broke, worked dead-end jobs, they were miserable but they managed to leave all that behind by discovering how to make a lot of money online. Then they tell you they want to help you achieve your dreams and the best way to do that is by signing up for their online course.

You don’t need any of that. There are Internet marketing experts you should follow such as Brian Dean (founder of Backlinko) and Neil Patel among others, but you should stay away from the ones who are constantly promoting their “success story” on social media. Remember if it sounds too good to be true then don’t spend money on it.

2. A $1,000 Affiliate Marketing Course

If you are a beginner you don’t need to spend that much money on an affiliate course. Not because they are all scams but because you don’t have to. If you know nothing about affiliate marketing and have no prior experience in online marketing there is no way to be 100% sure that affiliate marketing is the right thing for you.

Before you spend $1,000 on a course you should make sure you understand how affiliate marketing works and that you can do what it takes to succeed. If you don’t like creating content or building niche websites for example then perhaps you should reconsider it.

There are courses that cost $1,000 or more and their training material is great but I would not recommend them to a beginner. You should first gain some experience as an affiliate marketer and then if you have the budget you can try one. But if you are just getting started with affiliate marketing you should look for a less expensive one.

That way you minimize the risk if you regret it later or if you decide that this is not the right course for you.

#Tip: Before buying any affiliate marketing course read this post first “Affiliate Marketing Courses – Myths & Lies

3. Don’t Lose Any Sleep Over It

Don’t spend money you can’t afford to in your effort to build a profitable affiliate marketing business. Many marketers will tell you to buy this or that online course otherwise your business will fail. There is no need to do that.

Create a budget and stick to it. There is no need to overspend on your affiliate business. Don’t spend large amounts of money right from the start hoping that you will earn your money back at some point in the future.

Don’t waste your money on expensive courses that promise you big affiliate commissions. This may sound like a good opportunity at first but soon you will find yourself trapped trying to promote an online course to earn your money back.

Affiliate marketing is one of the cheapest online business models that you can start with very little money. There is no need to overcomplicate things and don’t spend money you don’t have. Be patient.


It is never too late to build an affiliate marketing business. It is something everyone can try and costs almost nothing to get started with.

It’s okay to have doubts if affiliate marketing is still worthwhile but that shouldn’t stop you. Online commerce is expanding and more and more people are shopping online every day. That means you can make money with affiliate marketing. All you have to do is try.

Now you know how much it costs to build an affiliate marketing business. I hope that this post can inspire you to start an affiliate website.

If you are ready to start your affiliate marketing business take a look at the training course below.

Signing up is free. Only an email is required.

Thanks for reading! Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below. If you like this post please share it with your social media followers.


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12 Responses

  1. Beesean says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful and truly foundational article on affiliate marketing that I think should serve as an introductory guide into all that affiliate marketing entails as or is very informative and expository. The beauty of affiliate marketing is that is a very profitable business where you are your own boss and in control of your activities. 

    • Nikos says:

      Thank you Beesean for your comment. Affiliate marketing is a great business model and initial costs are almost zero. It’s one of those things you need to try. 

  2. Justin says:

    Affiliate marketing is without doubt a really nice means of making money and I have to say I like all I have seen here. I have been really close to getting into affiliate marketing and I really like what I have seen here so far. Going into a business without any problem of capital is really nice. All to gain and nothing to lose. 

  3. AmbFmk says:

    I love what I just read. This is great. Hope to implement this. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Diane says:

    The question of how much does it cost to start affiliate marketing might be second only to the question of how quickly can I make money at affiliate marketing. You have offered a very sound response to the cost factor and even touched on the time factor. I would add that finding a good program, such as Wealthy Affiliate (you mention them and have a link to a review–thank you for including that!) can actually save you money and time. Such a complete program includes hosting and a dynamic keyword search tool (Jaaxy) as well as training and a community to help. All that helps to save some of the blunders that beginners usually face.

    Thanks for a good article that everyone considering affiliate marketing should read.

  5. Sofia Matias says:

    Hello and thanks for posting this.

    It is a truly informative and inspirational post about affiliate marketing, who doesn’t want to give it a try after this post?

    One thing that should be added, is that Wealthy Affiliate not only provides for training, they also give web hosting for $49/month. And they have one of the fastest technical support services I’ve ever experienced. Hehe maybe I should start earning some money promoting WA, but this is just a fact statement from someone using the platform.

    I truly wished I had found WA before starting my website on another web service provider, so maybe would be good to mention it for affiliate marketing newbies.

    Best Regards and stay safe,


    • Nikos says:

      Hello Sofia,

      I agree with you. WA support is one of the best i have ever come across. It is a great place to learn & build an affiliate business. 

      Thank you for your comment. 

  6. Joyce Easton says:

    Thank you so much for these articles about how much does it cost to start affiliate marketing? This is a very helpful guide to those who want to start an affiliate marketing business. As a lot of scam around social media right now. With your kind help here stated step by step how to start building a profitable marketing business online, fewer people spending on much money to building their website, only they have to follow all your recommendation. This is a great motivation and reminders, as a website owner, now I knew I can make money with my affiliate marketing business, only need to be patient and believe in it and work to it. Thank you and good luck to more coming articles.


  7. Marsha Pearson says:

    There are easily a thousand ways to spin your wheels and lose money trying to get strated quickly with affiliate marketing. But you are right, it can cost you practically nothing to get started – if you have the right patience, determination and the desire to work at it little by little to build it. Affiliate marketing is a business and, when done right, pays well in the long run.

  8. Rob Sturdy says:

    Yes, I agree that you have to put money into a business to make the business work.  And it is the same with an online business.  But I like how you proved that it does not take a ton of money to get started. I really like how you have shown a few different affiliate programs to join and the 7 things you need to start an affiliate marketing business.  A niche, a website, an affiliate program are great to have.  But you mentioned “content” and that is where it is really at.

    Thanks for sharing your article and the 7 things needed to get started.


  9. JJ says:

    I started an online business and was more taken up with trying to sell my products and was feeling disappointed when the income wasn’t where I expected. Then I heard about the power of affiliate marketing. I appreciate all the points you have set out in this article. I also clicked the link and looked over the 7 steps, and I am thinking that my niche is not as lucrative as I had hoped. I am going to start a brand new business, even while the other one plods along. I will be using your steps. Thank you very much for your guidance.

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