Making Starter Cash as an Affiliate

A problem I see a lot of new affiliates run into is cash flow. They read some blog posts or hear their friends talk about affiliate marketing and how great it is, get all psyched up, and then realize that it’s not free. They may even have saved up $100 to spend on a campaign only to lose it in a day or two and be back at square one. So how much money should you save up to run your first affiliate campaigns, and how do you get that money in the first place?

How much do I need?

As I’ve said many times before, campaigns will usually have a much higher failure rate than success rate. It’s just the way it goes, your friend may be making $500/day promoting dating offers while you lose $500/day trying to do the same. From the get go, you need to prepare to run more than one campaign.

I would say a range of 3-5 offers is a good starting point. Pick one campaign that you think will perform well with search traffic. Pick another that might work with social. Test out PPV on another. Pick one that you just think you’ll do a good job selling.

As far as cash goes, I would spend no less than $200 on each campaign (traffic alone, not factoring in any design/coding costs…do that yourself!). This will give you a decent sampling enough to see if there’s at least potential in the offer. Remember that if you lose money on the $200 you spent, that does not mean the campaign is a bust. For instance if you spend $200 and make $100, that shows decent potential in the offer. Work on getting your ad CTR up and optimizing your landing page, and that offer can easily be flipped around and profiting.

Now we know that we need $600-$1,000 minimum to run a solid test, it’s time to find a money tree to pluck the bills from.

Note: most of these things will require you to learn a new skill. Making money online isn’t always easy and can take a ton of work (especially in the beginning), so I don’t want to see any tears about having to learn Photoshop.

Method #1: Web Design

Web design is a great way to make money, but also probably takes the most skill out of any of these “free” methods. You have to be somewhat creative to make unique custom pages for people.

One type of way to make money designing is by designing landing pages for other affiliates. I’ve seen some pretty crappy looking pages selling for $40-50, or in $100 packages with a bunch of other crappy pages. Learn how to make pages that blow these types out of the water, sell them for the same price, and you’ll have your $1k in a month.

If you get good enough, you can branch out from simple landing pages and design full custom websites for people. It’s possible to make 5x the amount of starter cash you need from designing 1 site for a business. I pay one of the design firms I use $80/hr for their work, and it’s worth every penny.

Another way is by making skins for Wordpess and selling them on sites like

My favorite way: find local businesses around you that have crappy websites. In 30 minutes I guarantee you that you’ll find at least 10-15 really, REALLY bad pages. Like 1995 AOL flashing text all over again bad, it’s crazy how outdated some businesses are when it comes to the web. Approach these companies and say you’ll design them a much more modern site, explain to them you’ll set up a “content management system” for them to easily change things, and that you’ll set up free SEO to boost their sites ranking. What you really do: grab one of the really nice WordPress themes from ThemeForest, customize it to add in the businesses logo/content, and then add a couple SEO plugins. They’ll most likely be blown away at how nice the site looks and should be willing to shell out at least $300-500 to you, sometimes more.

Method #2: Coding

Coding may take you a bit longer to learn, but takes less skill than design. If you plan on being an affiliate in the first place though, coding and design are two things I would strongly recommend learning.

Companies and individuals need coders all the time to fix problems and code sites up for them, whore yourself out on oDesk and make that money.

Method #3: SEO

Search Engine Optimization is a way to run affiliate campaigns for free. Instead of paying for fast, guaranteed traffic, you rank organically and get clicks for free.

SEO generally takes a little bit to learn and then traffic to your site grows slowly, but it’s free and beggars can’t be choosers. You can create regular affiliate landing pages to rank, or go the autoblog route and make hundreds of worthless blogs that make you $1/day from Adsense. I’m not an SEO expert though so unfortunately I can’t really give any pointers.

Kris Jones’ SEO Blueprint would be a decent place to start, or there’s unlimited amounts of free information on the mighty Google just waiting to be found.

Method #4: Fiverr Whoring

If you’re really desperate and want to make that $1,000 five bucks at a time, create an account on Fiverr and start posting things you’ll do for $5. I actually use this site quite a bit for mediocre work at slave-labor prices. Some of the users there will have 50 jobs in their queue, so you know they’re making money.

Check out the site, look at what people are doing for $5 and then check out how many orders are in they’re queue. If it’s hot, you should be able to make $1k slowly but surely.

Method #5: Blogging

Blogging is a great free way to make money. As with most of the other methods it takes some time to see the bucks roll in but, if you’re looking for fast money that’s going to be affiliate marketing…and you can’t afford that yet.

Blog about whatever you’re passionate about (as long as it’s not 18th century rocking chairs…but hey maybe there’s a market for that). Whatever topic you choose, become really involved in every social media outlet there is in that community. Join forums and post on them. Join twitter and tweet/reply to other people with similar interests.

After you have a few hundred readers, it’ll be time to sell some ad space and start pushing affiliate links in your posts/reviews.

Method #6: Write Articles

There’s always people looking to have somebody write articles for their SEO sites. I see article writing services published all the time in the Buy/Sell/Trade section of forums. Thanks to Google, it’s pretty easy to learn enough about any topic someone wants you to write about. Most of the time they’re just using them to boost their sites ranking and don’t even really care about your level of expertise on the subject.

Method #7: Craigslist/Ebay Flipping

Simple tactic: Find a [Red Bike] on Amazon or Overstock for $75. List the [Red Bike] on eBay or Craigslist for $100. “Sell” the [bike] and then just buy it on Amazon and enter the Ebay persons address into the “Shipping Address” section.

I think I remember someone who used to do this all the time with watches. Not sure how well it works any more, but might be something to play around with.

Method #8: Create “Turnkey” Websites

Go to Flippa and search “turnkey”. You’ll see a bunch of crappy looking sites that people are selling for $100-1,000. Believe it or not, people buy these sites.

People will take a WordPress theme and just plug in an RSS feed along with the Amazon affiliate program and it will autopost different things on sale. The sites are pretty useless, but people out there think “It’s automatic and I’ll make money, automatically!” so they don’t really think twice before swiping their card.

Other people write an eBook, create a sales page for it, and then sell that as a “turnkey” Clickbank product.

Method #9: Make a Website

Remember that sites like Facebook started in a dorm room and virtually for free. Come up with a good idea of your own, fork over $10 for a domain, bust your ass getting a basic design up and coded yourself, and then promote the idea wherever you can.

Method #10: Credit Card?

Credit cards are probably the easiest way to solve cash flow issues, but can easily be the deadliest. Make sure that you’re going to be able to find some way to make back $1,000 if you lose it all and charge it to your Amex. Find a street corner and get to work.

I didn’t really go too in depth about any of the methods here (maybe another post for that), but I just wanted to get some ideas out there on ways to make money without having to spend money. There are other ways out there to really scrape for some cash, but the list above should give you a pretty good start.


  1. July 27, 2011

    It would be very difficult for someone who works a day job to learn most of these. I was fortunate to learn the basics of web design and code back in high school in my free time. It took me hours on end to learn how to set things up correctly.
    For the working person, I’d recommend setting aside a portion of their income to utilize for their online ventures.

  2. July 27, 2011

    You’ve pretty much covered all of the basics here. Some methods might be a little bit complicated for beginners however others such as article writing can be started by almost anyone.

  3. August 2, 2011

    i read this article. one most beautiful thing in this article is the language is quiet easy and can be understood easily.

  4. August 15, 2011

    Great Post! I def like the method #4 using fiveer to bring you that extra income, people don’t really think about it..$5 DOLLAR for you to do something that you love could go a long way

  5. August 16, 2011

    It took me roughly one month of being jobless to figure out coding and web design. I definitely think it could be done with ease if you’re persistent ; patience is an understatement.

  6. August 22, 2011

    Great article. If newbs can learn some of the techie stuff such as web design & SEO, this newly learned skill can help them with their AM campaigns

  7. August 23, 2011

    nice post thanks for the share…I think blogging is the best thing to do as a newbie marketer

  8. August 24, 2011

    I’ve tried so many time to work with affiliate marketing and i allways fail.. It’s not really because of conversions or anything, the main problem i have is i never score good in google, and therefor i neve get that targeted traffic.. I don’t have the money to pay for advertising, and just recently my google adsense acount was banned…

  9. August 25, 2011

    good article I started a blog because I got inspired to start making money online a year ago but decided to focus more on learning web development and now have recreated my way of thinking when it comes to making money online and created a brand new blog to document my online endeavors…would definitely recommend investing in some good programming books.

  10. September 4, 2011

    I find method # 7 very interesting but does it really work. I mean wouldn’t the buyer ultimately know the Amazon price and will realize how he has been ripped off and hate you and decide never to do business with you again.

  11. September 20, 2011

    This is a good lists,

    Some people may not have the money to get started,
    but by making sacrifices and learning new techniques
    success is possible!

    No one said internet marketing was easy or a 1-click solution!

  12. September 21, 2011

    Lol- Find a street corner and get to work.

    Fiverr is a super easy way to whore out for a quick hundred bucks. People will line up to pay you to do things with video.

    Of course, if you strike out with your PPC then you are going to be spending a lot of time shooting videos to pay for your next test.

  13. September 22, 2011

    I am currently using only fiverr and I am pretty happy with this great project :)

  14. September 29, 2011

    Make a good advertising campaign is like an art work, both difficult and easy. Once you get inspired, then the next step will be easier. but this is a business, then all things must be well prepared. Advertising materials, including its several variations, landing page and of course the products that we will promote. Selection of products is the first important thing, choose the wrong product will make things difficult.

  15. October 8, 2011

    Nice piece of article you got. You just inspired me not to give up love to see your next write up thanks.

  16. These are some good ideas for ways to make some money, I had not thought of the Craigslist flipping.

  17. This is very interesting! I’d love to give your list a try. Thanks for sharing.

  18. November 17, 2011

    Great post!!! You post is really very valuable for new affiliates.

  19. December 1, 2011

    Affiliate marketing is no longer an easy or quick win. Getting hits to a site is a uphill battle, you must create valuable content.

  20. December 14, 2011

    One thing that I realize a lot of starter affiliates make, myself included, is that they blow this money and think a campaign, or offer, is a total flop. They want to see conversions, not a bunch of clicks with no conversions. Many starting affiliates won’t take the time to analyze the data further than just seeing NO conversions. For instance, there are tools out there that provide a better understanding of how consumers react to your landing page and what part of the page gets the most focus. Or maybe your ad copy gets more clicks during a specific point in the day than any other time.

    It’s more than just saying “damn, no conversions, on to the next campaign.” As stated, there will be more failure than successful campaigns, however, those “failure” campaigns will yield data that will be useful against future campaigns or shaping up a winning campaign.

    How would someone know when an offer is a failure? There’s no definite answer, best response is to use their “consumer judgement” to make that call.

  21. January 22, 2012

    A really nice post! And I must say – an especially beneficial one for newbies like me, who are just relying on more and more informative posts like these to get acquainted well enough with the various facets of internet marketing. Thanks a lot.

  22. January 25, 2012

    Thanks for sharing this great post with us! Keep it up dude!!!!

  23. February 27, 2012

    I love free methods of generating traffic hence money….Method 3, 5 and 6 are very effective if done with utmost care.

  24. April 4, 2012

    Blogging is definitely the most effective way for an affiliate to make their first money without spending money. It’s also best for an affiliate to learn as much as possible before getting started. It is more to affiliate marketing than most people realize and it does take patience and work before seeing the first few dollars.

  25. April 22, 2012

    i have seen in flippa lot of sites are not sell after the conplete of bidding process.So they again listed that for sell.Basically the top bidder for any turnkey project (web site/blog) are not able to provide that kind of amount or sometimes they are fake just come and bidding for kidding purpose.

  26. April 29, 2012

    I think this is the first time i heard about Fiverr Whoring. Interesting things people do to make money!

Leave a Comment