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Making Affiliate Income Without a Big Audience

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Service-Based Business

Making Affiliate Income Without a Big Audience

Anyone can make money promoting other people’s (or another company’s) products. It’s called affiliate marketing: you take a product you love (ideally, you’re using it yourself, or maybe it’s a course you’ve taken in the past) and you share it with others… then if they end up purchasing it, you make a commission. 

These days, you can add an affiliate marketing or referral system to about any type of product: eBooks, courses, physical products, etc. 

Making Money With Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate commissions can be anything between tiny and up to 50% of a product; for some businesses, affiliate sales are their primary source of income. 

Those businesses often have a big audience - tens of thousands (or more) subscribers to their email list, followers on social media, huge traffic to their website… 

And when they teach us "small people" how to do affiliate marketing, their first premise is often that you can’t start making passive income with affiliate products unless you’ve got an audience (a big email list, lots of followers on social, etc) to start with. 

When you have that audience, the company whose products you promote will give you all the help you need. For instance many course owners will provide their affiliates with promotional banners, swipe copy for your emails and social media posts, they might even make an appearance on your podcast or Facebook Live… 

When you don’t have that audience, things are just different. 

Does that mean you can’t make an affiliate income if you don’t have lots of followers?

No, it doesn’t - I’m the living proof, and I’ll share my “secrets” in this article. 

No Audience, No Affiliate Income? Not Quite.

Sure, if you’ve got hundreds of thousands of followers, it’ll be much easier for you to make money through referrals… and you’ll make a lot MORE of it. 

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You have to start somewhere! So don’t let the lack of an audience put you off.

1. It starts With a Great Product

I’m all for making passive income by referring to other people’s products - however, I’m also a big fan of integrity and authenticity. That’s my first “secret”: I would never recommend a product I don’t believe in myself. 

This way, I’m able to explain to people exactly why I think the product is awesome and why I think it could help them too - whether it’s a kitchen utensil (on my hobby blog), a book, or an online course. 

If you're just getting started with affiliate marketing, here's your first assignment: make a list of all the tools you use, courses you’ve taken, memberships you’re in, books you’ve read etc - that could be interesting to your audience as well. Yes, even if that audience is only 10 people, and you’re related to half of them. 

Then try and find out if you can be an affiliate for it. For online courses and memberships, you’d contact the creator; in other cases, look at specialised (online or offline) stores - or at Amazon

Amazon is the first platform most people will use to make affiliate income; they sell just about anything, and people all around the world use it to buy quickly & easily. 

There's just one caveat: if you sign up for Amazon, you've got to use it. If you can't get anyone to click your links in the first couple of months, Amazon will kick you out of their affiliate program.

2. Go Broad or Go Deep?

The way we get taught to do affiliate marketing is to “go broad”: email as many people as you can, get a lot of traffic to your website, so getting people to click your link (and ultimately buy something) is a game of numbers. 

The alternative (and the way I started out) is to talk to people individually. 

  • You can flat out ask clients or peers to use your affiliate link. Many affiliate links offer a discount to the person using it as well; there's no shame in saying "hey, if you want to sign up for the same email service provider I've been using for years, use my affiliate link - it will get you 10% off the first year".
  • Tell 1:1 clients or people you meet online about a product, a course, a book you’ve read - and add that you’re an affiliate. They might come back to you and actually ask for your link.
  • If you’ve got an audience (big or small), you can be upfront with them and ask them to support you by using your affiliate links. 

Always, always disclose that you could make money if people buy through you (it's required by law). The beauty of using affiliate links is it won't cost them extra to use them. On the contrary; in some cases, using your affiliate link will give them some discount or bonus as well. 

3. You Don’t Need To Need To Sell From The Get-go

When you’ve taken an amazing online course and you want to recommend it to others, it doesn’t mean you have to wait until the cart opens for that course so you can “hard sell” it. 

In most cases, your affiliate link will be valid for several weeks or even months. This means you can tell people all about their amazing freebie that’s up for grabs (a lead magnet to the mailing list) or about the workshop or webinar that this person is running ahead of their course launch. If they end up buying when the course opens for enrolments, you could still get that commission. 


  • In some cases, the “last link clicked” will be valid. So if people signed up to the mailing list through your affiliate link but click someone else’s affiliate link before making the purchase, they could get assigned to that other person (so the other person will get the commission).
  • In other cases, “first link clicked” is what counts. If people signed up to the mailing list through you and end up buying (even weeks or months later), you’ll get the money. 

If you want to be sure, ask the seller which option they have set up. Most would have "last link clicked" as a default.

4. Earning An Income Even If Someone Doesn’t Buy…

This is similar to the above; most online stores might not keep your affiliate link active and valid for weeks or months, but it will usually stay on for at least a day. 

Let’s take Amazon: if someone clicks your affiliate link and ends up not buying the product you linked to, it doesn’t mean you can’t make money from it. 

If that same person goes onto Amazon a day later and ends up buying something completely different, you’ll get an affiliate commission on that sale. 

5. You Never Know Who Might Be Interested

If you don’t try, you won’t succeed. It’s as simple as that. 

The art of using affiliate links in your copy lies in grabbing people’s attention and making it irresistible for them to click the link. By speaking to their needs and desires, to what they want right now. In that aspect, selling affiliate products to a smaller and more targeted audience (or to individual people) is easier than trying to sell to the masses! 

You never know what your followers or business friends need right now, or if they’d be interested in what you’re selling; putting a link out will rarely hurt you or your reputation (not if it’s a product you really believe in, and if you can present it in a way that makes sense to them). And best case scenario - you’ll make a sale. 

How To Promote Products If you Don’t Have a Following

If you have a website, create a “link page” on there. You could include links to tools you use, or courses you've been in. Any type of link that you would like to share with the people that happen to come on to your site. 

If you have a blog on your website, make sure to add affiliate links to your blog posts. This could be to books related to the subject, to products people can buy, to lead magnets leading to a course or other type of program. 

For higher-paying affiliate products, you can even create a post specifically about that product - so you can refer to that same post again and again. 

Once you’ve written this, don’t forget to share with others, promote on social, and get it out there! 

Send your links to existing clients or prospective ones; promote them on social media, give them to anyone who may be interested. 

Again, always disclose that the links are affiliate links. This way, people clicking on them know that if they make a purchase through your link,  you are earning a commission for referring them. You also need to make sure they know you’re referring them because it’s a product you love and you feel comfortable promoting. If that’s not the case - just don't sell it to them. 

Want to get custom advice on how to make your affiliate marketing strategy work? Schedule a one-on-one call with me and I’ll be happy to brainstorm with you! As usual, this call is absolutely free and there are no strings attached. What are you waiting for? 

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