How Much Does It Cost to Start Affiliate Marketing

Thinking of monetizing your website, YouTube channel, Instagram page, or Facebook group? Affiliate marketing might be the way to go. This type of marketing lets you make money online by promoting products and services to your audience and getting a commission for every sale made through your unique affiliate link. For some, it started as a side hustle but quickly became a main source of income.

However, starting an affiliate business can cost anywhere from $0 to $350, depending on how you drive traffic to your offers. In this article, we’ll go over all the costs involved so you know exactly how much to set aside.

Keep in mind, whether you’re buying traffic or relying on your own, you’ll need to invest some money to make money with affiliate marketing. But with the right strategy, it can definitely be worth it. Let’s dive in!

What is the Cost of Affiliate Marketing?

While affiliate marketing can be started with a very small budget, it does cost some money. 

First, you might need to buy some traffic. If you’re not sure what paid traffic is all about, check out my guide on affiliate marketing traffic sources. Once you’ve got that down, you can join a reputable affiliate network and pick an offer to promote. Keep in mind that some networks have strict criteria for who they accept as affiliates, so you might get rejected a few times at first. But that’s okay! Use that time to do some market research instead.

Now, to launch your first campaign, you just need three things: an offer, a traffic source, and a budget for testing. The amount you’ll need to spend will depend on the offer you choose, but as a beginner, it’s best to stick with low-payout offers. High-payout offers might seem tempting because of the profit potential, but they can be tough to make money from without experience and a big budget.

We suggest starting with a low-payout offer, like surveys or sweepstakes. These are a great place to start because they’re low-cost, easy to run, and perfect for learning. Aim to test your campaign for 3-5 days, and set a daily budget of $100. This should be enough for most low-payout offers.

List of Expenses All Affiliates Need to Cover

Starting out as an affiliate marketer can be a little daunting, especially when it comes to budgeting. On average, you should expect to spend around $500 to get up and running. 

Keep in mind that some tools will require monthly payments, which means that you need to factor in reinvesting a portion of your earnings. 

Let’s take a closer look at the types of expenses you’ll need to cover as an affiliate.

1. Traffic

If you’re looking to monetize your organic traffic through classic affiliate marketing, then you won’t typically have to spend any money. However, if you’re into CPA marketing or creating landing pages to drive paid traffic, you’ll need to be smart about budgeting. On average, around $300 should be enough to get started, especially if you’re focusing on Tier 3 customers.

Advertisers often group customers into Tiers, based on their purchasing power and location. 

  • Tier 1 customers are in the most technologically advanced countries and are the most active buyers. 
  • Tier 2 customers have an average purchasing power and are less likely to buy.
  • Tier 3 customers are in developing countries where 4G/LTE is being introduced, but buyers are not yet active.

2. Tracking Tools

To measure the performance of your ads, you’ll need a tracking tool. Platforms like PropellerAds offer built-in trackers, but if you want more flexibility, you may need to invest in an independent tracker. These usually start at $29 per month. Make sure to try out a few demos before committing to one, and keep an eye out for promo codes that can help lower your costs.

3. Spy Tools

Spy tools can help you identify your competition and give you an idea of what kind of ad you need to create. These tools start at $47 and offer a range of features, such as keyword research and search page analysis. While there are free options available, they often come with limited functionality.

4. Landing Page Builder

Before purchasing a landing page builder, check if your CPA network provides ready-made landing pages. If not, you may need to spend around $10 on a decent builder. Make sure that you can download the landing pages so you don’t get locked into a particular vendor.

As an affiliate marketer, you will have to cover various expenses to run your business smoothly and effectively. Let’s take a look at the five types of expenses you should be aware of.

5. Translators

Reaching a new market shouldn’t be restricted by language barriers. Translator services are readily available on platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and other freelancing sites and can cost as low as $5 for a good deal. Other options include One Hour Translation, Gengo, and Protranslate.

6. Images and Creatives

Free stock images are tempting, but they often lack the uniqueness that paid platforms offer. Popular platforms like Shutterstock, DepositPhotos, and iStockphoto cost around $25 per month and provide a wide range of options.

7. Training

Investing in training isn’t mandatory, but it can make a world of difference. High-quality affiliate marketing education can shorten your learning curve, reduce trial and error, and accelerate your progress, ultimately increasing your chances of success. It can cost anywhere from $50 to $997 per year. 

8. Outsourcing

As your business grows, you may find it challenging to manage everything on your own. Outsourcing some of your daily tasks, like website design, content editing, email creation, and social media management, to freelancers can help lighten the load.

9. Website Costs

If you don’t already have a website, you’ll need to budget for it. An average website costs around $200 upfront, with a maintenance cost of about $50 per month. 

Some of the website features and costs include a website domain ($12-$60 per year), hosting ($5-$40 per month), SSL certificate ($0-$200), website template or theme ($0-$200), apps and integrations ($0-$100), and SEO and marketing ($0-$90). 

You can create a website using a website builder, WordPress, or by hiring a web designer, but your choice will affect the overall cost.

3 Tips To Lower Your Business Expenses

1. Minimize Hosting Costs 

Learning about hosting can not only save you a few bucks but also give you a deeper understanding of your campaign’s technical side. So, it’s worth taking the time to educate yourself on the subject.

2. Opt for CPA Networks with Shorter Hold Times 

When you join a CPA network, you have to wait a certain amount of time before you can withdraw your earnings. To avoid delays in launching your next campaign, look for networks with the shortest holding periods.

3. Plan Ahead for Smooth Sailing 

Proper planning is key to improving your chances of success in affiliate marketing. Estimate your daily budget, keep the hold period in mind, and choose the best tools to ensure a smooth ride. For example, if your total budget for traffic is $300 for 10 days, then your daily budget shouldn’t exceed $30.

By following these tips, you can keep your expenses low and maximize your profits. Don’t let budget constraints hold you back from reaching your goals in affiliate marketing. With some smart planning and a little bit of effort, you can achieve financial success.


1. Do I need a website to do affiliate marketing?

Nope! You can totally do affiliate marketing without a website.

In fact, there are plenty of other ways you can promote your affiliate links, like through social media paid ads, YouTube, online communities, digital products, email marketing, etc.

If you want to go this route, you’ll need to join a CPA network or affiliate program and pick an offer to promote.

Is affiliate marketing the most profitable business model?

There are many legitimate online business models out there, but affiliate marketing is definitely one of the best. It has many advantages over other models like dropshipping, MLM, and Amazon FBA.

Is it difficult to make money with affiliate marketing?

Making money in any venture can be difficult, especially if it’s something new to you. Affiliate marketing is no different. Success in this field requires a learning curve and lots of trial and error, but it’s totally doable.

How can I start selling affiliate products as soon as possible?

If you’re eager to start making affiliate sales, you can follow these tips: choose a less crowded niche, use paid ads, promote in-demand products, invest in quality affiliate courses, and use email marketing.

Why do some affiliate marketers fail?

There are a few common reasons why affiliate marketers fail, like lack of proper guidance, promoting low-quality products, not tracking performance, using misleading creatives, and targeting over-competitive keywords.

Do I need to buy a course to make money in affiliate marketing?

You don’t need to buy an affiliate course to succeed, but having high-quality, structured guidance can certainly help. There are plenty of free resources online, like videos, blogs, podcasts, forums, etc. that can assist you.

Investing in a course can shorten your learning curve, reduce trial and error, speed up your progress, and increase your chances of meeting your financial goals. Check out our list of the best affiliate marketing courses

Final Words

There’s no set amount you need to be a successful affiliate marketer. It all comes down to how much you’re willing to invest in your business.

For example, you can find free tools or you can go all out and buy expensive ones. But as you progress, you may need to invest in more advanced tools that can help you earn more. It’s a never-ending cycle of costs and profits.

The biggest expense you’ll face is traffic, but how much you spend on it is completely up to your budget. Just remember, investing $100 in traffic and then quitting because you lost most of it is a surefire way to miss out on a great opportunity. 

Affiliate marketing takes time and effort, but if you put in the work, you’ll start to see results, and soon enough, you’ll be on your way to bigger profits.

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