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How Much Does It Cost To Start Affiliate Marketing? (Realistic Breakdown)


Are you wanting to get started with Affiliate Marketing but wondering how much money do you need?

Affiliate Marketing cuts down on a lot of the costs associated with other businesses such as product creation, shipping, and customer service. In that sense, it has a low overhead cost and is one of the cheapest businesses you can start.

It does however have smaller expenses you need to consider so you are aware of the full picture and can be prepare to begin with the right foot.

It is also important to consider that there are many ways to do affiliate marketing and each one will have different costs so, in this article, I will cover how much money you need to get started with some of the most popular methods.

How Much Does It Cost To Start Affiliate Marketing?

Before we dive into the exact numbers of how much money you need to begin your affiliate marketing business, it is key that you understand how affiliate marketing works and what exactly is your job as an affiliate.

In the affiliate marketing process there are basically two players:

  • The merchants or companies who provide the products or services and take care of all the logistics and customer service.
  • The affiliate marketers (this would be you), whose main job is to send potential customers to the merchant’s site and get paid commissions on every sale generated through their links.

So what is your main job as an affiliate?

In this scenario, the merchant already has a business set up so your main job is to send them high-quality traffic.

And to do this, there are two main ways you can go about it:

Organic or free strategies

These strategies consist of creating valuabe content that attracts potential buyers on platforms like social media, Youtube, blogs, Facebook groups, etc.

The goal is to create content related to the offer that helps the audience with their needs and problems so you can then present the affiliate offers as part of the solution. This is what most bloggers, YouTubers, and content creators do.

Paid advertising

This other strategy uses paid ads in any platform that allows it such as Google, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Snapchat, Native Ads, etc. to get in front of potential buyers and get them interested in the affiliate product or service.

The costs of these strategies are very different since one involves a significant budget for ads and the other relies heavily on content creation which, when done by yourself will only cost you your time. But there are some costs that you’d need to consider regardless of the method that you choose.

Affiliate Marketing Basic Costs

As I mentioned, there is more than one way to do affiliate marketing so the costs will vary. However, here are some expenses that you ideally want to consider to start your affiliate marketing business.

1. Domain

Your domain name is the first step to start building a brand and establish it as an authority in the niche you have chosen. You can either go with your own name or create a separate brand if you rather remain behind the scenes.

In any case, building trust with your audience is key to improve your conversions and create a long-term successful business. Ultimately, people who know you and trust you will more likely check and buy anything that you recommend.

On average domains cost $10-$30 a year but some of the tools I’ll mention below will also offer you the first year of your domain for free.

2. Landing Page Builder

Regardless of the strategy you choose, it is recommended that you send your visitors first to an opt-in or bridge page before redirecting them to the merchant’s website.

This will allow you to “pre-sell” them on the offer, increase conversions and collect their email so you can follow up with them later.

In the image above, you can see a simplified graphic of how this process works. It is known that prospects need an average of 7 to 8 touchpoints before making a purchase so by following up via email, you are ensuring most of your sales and commissions.

Nowadays, there are dozens of drag-and-drop builders that allow anyone without any coding or design experience to create a simple landing page in minutes. You can expect to pay $90-$200 per month for a good landing page and funnel builder.

ClickFunnels is one of the most popular and costs $97 per month. It is also one of the easiest ones to use and integrate seamlessly with other tools you’ll need. Most of them offer a 14 day free trial so you can check them out before signing up.

3. Hosting

Hosting is an online service that allows you to create a website or landing page for your affiliate marketing business. Think of it as the place where the website “lives” on the internet.

When you use a drag-and-drop landing page builder like Clickfunnels, they also provide you with hosting. But, if you rather go the “cheap” route, you can go with a self-hosted website which might take more time to set up but can also save you some money.

A self-hosted website is also necessary if you plan on creating a blog and need more than a simple landing page.

If you use Bluehost, which is what I use and recommend for beginners, it will cost you $3.95 per month and they will give your domain for free for the first year. Bluehost is also the only hosting service that installs WordPress automatically on your site which will make your life easier.

4. Email Autoresponder

If you have been in the digital marketing space for a while, you have probably heard the phrase “the money is on the list” and as cliche as it sounds, it is equally true.

As an affiliate, you will be using platforms that are out of your control whether you are creating content on them or paying for ads. This means that there is always a small possibility of your accounts getting banned and losing your traffic source.

Even if you create your own blog or website, the algorithm can change and you can lose a big percentage of your visitors.

This is why it is key that you grow your email list and build a relationship with them. It is the only asset that no one can take away from you and the best way to guarantee your long-term success. Also, marketers make an average of $1-$5/month per subscriber so it is a profitable investment.

An email autoresponder like allows you to create automated email campaigns ahead of time and schedule them to go out to your subscribers when they sign up. This ways you can follow up with those that didn’t buy the first time and help convert them into buyers.

The email autoresponder does most of the work for you and helps you build a relationship with your list so they’ll be more likely to buy other affiliate offers you promote in the future.

The cost of an autoresponder is based on the number of subscribers that you have. Active Campaign is the one I use and recommend for affiliate marketers and they have plans starting from $9 a month for up to 500 subscribers. You can also get a 14-day free trial here.

Affiliate Marketing Optional Costs

Beside the basic expenses mentioned above, here are other optional costs that you might need to consider depending on your strategy and budget.

1. Keyword Research Tools

If you are going to start a blog or Youtube channel, keyword research is crucial to understanding what your target audience is looking for in these platforms. This way, you can create content based on their queries and optimize it so it can appear on search results.

There are free tools for keyword research, but they don’t give you nearly enough information compared to paid ones.

Ahrefs, starts at $99.95 a month and offers in-depth analytics, competitor’s reports, and more. If you organize your workflow, you can do your keyword research for a few months in advance so you only need to pay for a month’s fee every 3-4 months.

2. Video Creation Tools

If you want to create videos for platforms like Youtube, Instagram, or Tiktok, it is best that you start with your phone before investing in expensidve equipment.

This way you can make sure it is something you enjoy doing and can commit to it for the long run. Also, be Most smartphone have great csamera nowadays and the quality is good enough for any platforms.

Ultimately, the content and your message is much more important than the equipment you use. My TiTtok account has over 100k followers and still use my iPhone 8 for all videos.

That being said, down the road, there are some tools that are worth investing in.

2.1 Camera

I use the Panasonic Lumix GH5S which gives you pro performance and cinematic video. This camera offers one of the best video specs around giving you pro performance and cinematic video. At $1,829, it is not cheap but as I mentioned, this is something to invest down the road when you are already making money with your affiliate business.

2.2 Microphone

Once you start using a camera, you are also going to need a microphone. the Blue Yeti is a favorite among YouTubers and offers great sound quality and a ton of features for $129.

Alternatively, you could use a Lavelier system like the Sennheiser EW 112 which is one of the most flexible wireless microphone systems on the market and costs about $600.

3. Logo

If you are going to create a blog or website, you are going to need a logo. You could also use one if you want to create a brand instead of showing your face and create content anonymusly wheter that is via a blog, social media or Yotube Channel.

This can cost you anywhere between $5-10 by hiring a designer on Fiverr so is not something I’d recommend spending time doing yourself.

4. Outsourcing

As an affiliate marketer, you are a one-person operation but as your business gains some traction, you’ll realize there are a lot more tasks that you can handle comfortably. So, instead of trying to do it all and not doing anything at all, consider getting some help by outsourcing some of the more administrative work.

Nowadays you can find freelancers with expetise in anything from improving your website design, editing content, writing emails, etc.

Most solopreneurs also hire a virtual assistant as a first step to unload some of the work and focus on the tasks that move the needle, like content creation and networking.

You can find freelancers and virtual assistants on sites like Fiverr that will charge around $15 per hour/job depending on the specific task and their experience.

5. Paid ads

If you choose to go the paid ads route, then you definitely need a different budget to get started.

While every ads platform is different, they all take some time to learn and you need money to test and optimize your campaigns before seeing results.

If you are new to paid ads, you can expect to spend around $500 before seeing returns.

Additionally, you need to have some cashflow since, even if you are getting commissions, those won’t be paid until 30 days or more after so I’d calculate at least $2000 more for your first month. That comes down to $2500 to get started.

6. Education

I have place this item as optional because there’s free content available but education is the first step to getting started with Affiliate Marketing successfully.

Nowadays, you can find a lot of free and valuable resources out there but it can also be overwhelming to figure out who to listen to and trying to put all the pieces together by yourself.

That’s why investing in a course can help you save a lot of time and disappointments along with providing you with a clear blueprint to success.

There are lots of great affiliate marketing trainings out there depending on your budget and what type of strategy you want to follow. This 15-day challenge taught by 8-figure affiliate marketer David Sharpe has probably the best training for your money and costs only $7.

Ultimately, no training works unless you take action on what is taught so make sure to piut in the work and you’ll see the results.

Affiliate Marketing Costs Recap


  • Domain: $10-$30 a year (free first year with hosting)
  • Landing Page Builder: $97 a month (Clickfunnels)
  • Hosting: $3.95 a month (Bluehost)
  • Email Autoresponder: $9 a month (Active Campaign up to 500 subscribers)


Bottom Line

The costs of starting Affiliate Marketing will depend on the methods you choose to use as well as your own budget and what optional tools you can afford.

The great advantage of affiliate marketing is that You don’t need to invest a lot of money and can start a 6-figure affiliate business with just the ideal assets I mentioned above.

If you want to run paid ads to get traffic, you will need a bigger capital so this is an option for those with a higher budget and less time in their hands.

Want an 8-figure market to show you, step-by-step how to make money with affiliate marketing? CLICK HERE to join the 15-day challenge for beginners.


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