Affiliate marketing is a well-known online money-making strategy that has made thousands of affiliate marketers wealthy.
And while it is a lucrative business opportunity, it requires proper planning and approach so that you can fully benefit from it.
There are some things you will have to spend money on and others that are not entirely essential to put your money into, but it takes an experienced person to know what is useful and important, and what you can do without so that you maximize the profits.
If you are wondering how much it costs to do affiliate marketing, you are going to get your question answered in detail here since I will be covering this topic at length.
The Factors Influencing Affiliate Marketing Costs
Before I get to the factors, there are 2 main types of costs involved with affiliate marketing. There is the initial set up cost and the running cost.
The initial set up cost is the amount of money you will have to spend to start your affiliate marketing business. If you are going to run a website, your initial cost may include the cost of buying a domain, a website theme, and website hosting services.
The running cost is the amount of money needed to keep the affiliate business running smoothly every month or year.
Now, the initial set up costs can vary with what you are willing to start with. If you want to start small, which I highly recommend, then you won’t have a high initial set up cost.
But if you are the type that likes to start on a high note, which is also okay, you may want to set aside a bit more money.
When it comes to the running cost, this also depends on the resources you will be using.
In the same example of working with an affiliate marketing website, you may have to keep paying for the hosting services, website optimization services, and the other services you will be outsourcing.
In general, affiliate marketing is unique and quite different for every affiliate in terms of the expenses each of them paid for to get started and those that they pay to keep their businesses operating at optimal levels.
There are people who start out with virtually nothing, some start with a couple of dollars, others a few hundred dollars, and even others, a few thousand dollars.
Why the difference?
The cost depends on many factors and how everyone works around them as they start their affiliate marketing journey.
The running costs are there for every affiliate business out there but they also vary from one affiliate to the other going by what they are working with.
Here are the factors that determine the amount of money you are going to spend as you get started and as you keep growing and building out your affiliate marketing dream.
1. Your marketing platform – As I said in my beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing, there are different platforms you can use to promote affiliate products. Many people use websites and blogs while others use social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube as well as search engine advertisements like Google and Bing ads.
Now a person who is going to use a website may not spend as much as a person who will run ads with Google or Bing. The ads person will likely pay a higher amount than the website person.
Also, if you decide to build a YouTube channel, you are not going to spend exactly the same as the person who blogs.
The figures are going to be very different.
2. Skills and experience – The level of skills you have, also goes a long way in saving you most of the costs involved with affiliate marketing. If you are starting out with zero knowledge and experience, you are likely going to spend more than a skilled person who is starting their second affiliate site.
You will need to learn how to do affiliate marketing in order to succeed at it and this will cost you, especially if you want it to be a full-time job for you. Personally, I had to invest in an affiliate marketing course so that I would learn how to market products the right way and get the kind of results I wanted.
Many people will say that you can learn everything from YouTube videos or forums but I can assure you that there are tiny but essential details that these sources won’t offer you. So you need to consider investing in a good course which will add to the total costs.
3. Quality of business you desire to have – As with all the industries out there, there are those people who do a really good job and run high-quality companies that people love and trust. There are also those individuals who just do it without minding quality that much.
The same thing happens in affiliate marketing.
If you are looking to build a high-quality business in this space that will stand out, there is a chance you are going to spend a bit more in resources compared to someone who is just doing it averagely.
And the extra effort is definitely going to be worth in the long run.
Think about a company like Apple which makes Macs and iPhones and how it compares to a competitor that you know can’t measure up to the company’s standards.
It is obvious that Apple really spends a lot on its resources than its competitors, and it gives the company the extra edge.
If you want to succeed in affiliate marketing too, you need to spare a good amount of money on good resources such as better photos or videos of the products you promote if you are using websites and social media.
Doing that requires you to cough up a few extra dollars than the average affiliate.
However, this is in running the actual business, not in the beginning phase.
You can begin with nothing and gradually build it as you spend a little bit here on some better resources and there on a few other services.
But to keep the quality at its peak, you will need more money.
4. The amount of personal effort you will put into the business – This factor goes hand in hand with the knowledge and skills you have in the craft. If you are a well-skilled affiliate and you decide to handle most of the needed tasks by yourself, you won’t be using much of your money.
But if you don’t have the skills and experience, you may have to learn and then put them to action on your own. In such a case, you will only pay for learning the skills.
If you decide to hire experts to work on the various demanding tasks such as publishing content, marketing your platform, and your products, you are going to have to pay them and that will cost you more.
So, the more skilled you are, and the more tasks you take on by yourself, the lower the amount of money you will have to pay.
5. The resources you will work with – There are countless resources out there that improve the performance of your affiliate business and increase the profits. Some of these are paid and others are free.
Most of the paid resources have the highest value to your business and they improve it in a huge way.
If you go for many of the paid resources, it will definitely cost you more in expenses than the one who uses a few of them or the one who chooses to work only with the free ones.
For instance, when it comes to a website that uses paid plugins to run the site flawlessly, the owner of the site will spend more than the owner who only works with free website plugins of lower value which handle the same tasks.
6. Your vision for the affiliate business – The vision you have for affiliate marketing also plays a key role in determining the amount of cash you are going to direct towards it.
If you see the opportunity as a long term thing where you can create a reliable income stream out of it and be making money with it for many years to come, you will want to invest more in it so that you can build a solid foundation for the business that will help it stand and succeed for the coming years.
However, if you see it only as a short term side hustle that will help you make a few hundred or thousand dollars to them get into another business opportunity, then you won’t allocate much of your financial resources on it.
Resources You Need When Doing Affiliate Marketing (Based on Your Platform)
As I earlier said, every platform out there for doing affiliate marketing is different from the others. The resources you will need to make one platform work are not the same for another platform.
Let’s take a deep look into the various platform options and the resources required to get started with each and keep them going smoothly.
* Affiliate websites – When you are building an affiliate website, the resources you should get to begin with include a domain name, a website theme, and website hosting service. These are the initially required things to make an entry into the affiliate site or blogging world.
After that, the other tasks you will have to do are writing content, develop the website technically, optimize the content and the website using Search Engine Optimization for better rankings and make sure the website is at its best performance so that you can see good results.
You may also need some plugins such as Yoast SEO for search engine optimization, XML sitemaps to help with getting your content ranked and other tools you find fit.
* YouTube channel – The good thing about building a YouTube channel is that it is cheaper than a website since you just need to have a YouTube account, which takes a few minutes to get.
Then, go to the top right corner of your account and create your channel in seconds, which is all cost-free.
When you channel is up and running, you will now be posting videos and working towards getting more subscribers. And to do this, you will require a good camera or smartphone for taking the videos, and to promote the channel as much as you can so that many people know about it.
Tools you may need as you run the channel include TubeBuddy for optimizing the performance of your channel, VidIQ for helping with the analytics, and Camtasia for screen recording and video editing.
* Instagram and Facebook – If you choose to work with Facebook and Instagram, you won’t need a lot of resources to start. Creating an account with these platforms is the first step and it is absolutely free.
When that is done, you will then be working to post quality content (either photos or videos) in your niche that your followers will find interesting and do as best as you can to increase your followers who will be getting your affiliate promotions.
Later on, you might choose to become an influencer and advertise other companies’ products as sponsored content. That makes extra income on top of your main affiliate marketing work.
Tools you may use to build your profile include Pixaloop for animating your photos, Later app for scheduling your stories as well as your post updates and Finteza for creating a sales funnel specifically for Instagram success.
* Podcasts – A podcast is more like an audio or video-based channel where you can interact with like-minded people within a given niche. For you to step foot into this area, you will need to sign up with a podcasting hosting website such as Podbean, Captivate, or Buzzsprout.
Running the podcast may require different tools based on your personal needs and desires. Some of the popular podcasting tools include audio recording and editing softwares and good quality microphones.
Stereo headphones such as the Sony ZX Series might be a good investment when interviewing your guests. Also, pop filters that prevent the recording of noises that are made by your mouth when speaking near a microphone will help you have high-quality podcasts.
* PPC Advertising – This part involves affiliate marketing with search engines and social media advertising. Making your entrance with search engine ads, you will need a landing page (which could be a one-page website) and affiliate links. You will also have to create an ads account with the search engines you will be advertising with.
As for social media ads, you will also have to own an account with Instagram, Facebook, or the social media you will be working with and a landing page for people to take action on.
With these in place, your next job will be increasing the exposure and presence of your ads. Tools that can help with that include Ad Badger for managing PPC campaigns on Amazon, PPC Protect that protects and prevents click fraud, AdEsperesso for optimizing and managing your campaigns on Google AdWords, Facebook, and Instagram not to mention Optmyzr which is an intelligent PPC tool for managing your campaigns.
The Cost You Pay For The Tools And Resources
Now that you have a good idea of the tools and resources you ought to have to begin your affiliate promotions and to keep them running well, let’s see how much you are going to spend on them based on the platform you will be using.
Affiliate websites or blogs
For starters, you are going to pay about $15 for a domain name, depending on the place you buy the domain.
You can always go through the well-known domain sellers such as NameCheap, GoDaddy, Wealthy Affiliate, HostGator and DreamHost, and compare the prices based on the features they come with and get what makes your best match.
Also, it is possible to start out with a free hosted domain name with website builders such as Wix and WordPress.
Here, you can get a domain that has your preferred name but with a “.wixsite.com” or “.wordpress.com” extension which shows you don’t own the domain.
I do encourage those who want to start here to do it as it helps you create your initial foundation with little expenses. You can always buy your domain name at a later stage when you are well set up and have the money to do so.
There is also the website theme.
You also have the option of going with free themes or paid ones.
Paid themes range from $20 to $100 depending on the features included. You can take a look at some examples from theme producers such as Elegant Themes, Themeforest, and Themify.
If you are on a budget, you can get a free theme and then buy one when you are well-established.
Every time I am building a website, I always work with a free theme until the website has started gaining a good amount of traffic then I upgrade to a paid theme.
But if you want to get a paid theme to avoid the upgrades when your website is receiving good traffic and people are used to your website design, and you have the financial ability, you can go ahead and do it.
It will keep the consistency of your website appearance for a long time which is a good thing.
Website hosting is something you will have to pay for when you go with a self-hosted domain name. Website hosting services allow you to have the website running well and this is a critical expense.
Hosting services also vary with the hosting company you settle for. You get to pay from a few cents to a few dollars per month or year. You can get it for as low as $0.05 monthly starting price to $20 and then get to pay the renewal cost.
The renewals cost for the second month is usually higher than what you paid for the first month. So make sure you consider the renewal price when looking for this service.
There is also an affiliate marketing course.
If you have the right affiliate marketing skills, you won’t need to spend anything here.
If you don’t have any prior knowledge or skills, you will want to get yourself a good course. There are free courses but they don’t offer much value (although you are free to try them out if you want).
A good course that you can benefit from ranges from $10 to $1000 going by the aspects you want to learn and the comprehensiveness of the actual course.
In Total – You can pay as much as $50 to $2000 as the starting cost to build a fully functional website with your own domain name, a paid theme, and hosting services.
If you are trying to start small, you can just start with a free website that a company’s extension like the Wix site example and a free theme, which will take away most of the expenses.
Going the budget-friendly route might see you started completely free or paying only a few dollars. Maybe not more than $50.
The running cost can be about $0 to $100 per month or more depending on the services you will be outsourcing.
For YouTube, you get to create your channel completely free.
Once you have the channel ready, give it a good name and decide the niche you will be in (which is all for free), you will only need to worry about the content.
With a good smartphone with a top-quality camera, you can take videos on it and upload them on your channel without spending a dime.
Your starting cost will be $0.
However, if you are looking long term and you want to invest well as early as possible so that you don’t have extra expenses down the road, you can get yourself a good camera and video equipment.
For travel vlogs, you can get the Sony RX100 Mark VII which goes for around $1000. For live-streaming, the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III can do the trick and it will only cost you $700.
You can also invest in video editing software or hire someone to do it for you. When you hire a video editor, you are looking at $20 or more per video edited. If you choose to get a software, you might get some for free or the paid for about $40 or more.
You can also put your money in analytics software, performance software, and other tools that you feel make your YouTube channel awesome.
All these will depend on you, the Youtuber, and they can be as many or few as you want.
In a Total – You can start with no investments at all and then buy the tools as you grow. If you have the money, you can buy the essential tools like the camera and a video editing software for a cost of a kit $2,000 and then buy the other tools like performance softwares when you get to a point when you need them.
Facebook and Instagram
You can also start out with Facebook and Instagram with nothing in terms of cost.
You just create your account and with your smartphone, you do the content creation.
But if you want to start on a high note, you can use the types of equipment that Youtubers use, as highlighted in the previous section.
The only exception would be the performance app for these platforms.
You can get image editing apps, content, and account management apps too for Android or iOS based on the type of phone you have.
As with others, some apps come free of charge and others you pay for. The cost goes from $5 a year to more than $100 per month based on your needs and expectations.
In Total – You can start and run an affiliate marketing business for free with these platforms if you don’t want to spend yet, or pay about $200 or more per month for all the cool apps to enhance your business.
With podcasts, the podcast hosting service, headphones, the audio, and video editing softwares, as well as the microphone, are the essential tools.
These are what you should have to own to get up on your feet and walk the podcasting path.
Podcast hosting services vary with the company offering them. For instance, Podbean hosting plans start from $0 to $99 per month, and the more you pay, the more the storage, bandwidth, and other great features you get.
As for the headphones, you can always use your regular headphones just for the setup and then buy better ones as you progress.
When it comes to the editing softwares, there are free and paid versions.
If you want an editor that really boosts the standard of your podcasts, then you will have to invest. The average cost goes from $30 to $80, more or less.
Then we have the most important tool that records your voice, the microphone.
You have the option of starting out with your mobile devices if you are really determined and don’t have enough cash to get yourself a good mic.
However, if you have the cash and you want to be a bit more generous to your soul, you can make the sound quality of podcasts fantastic at $100 or more for a durable mic.
Other types of equipment you might consider buying Include a microphone arm stand, a podcast course, a website, a mailing list, and social media marketing. These costs vary with the companies that offer the services, your personal needs, plan, and the number of provisions you want.
In Total – You can begin without paying for anything if you want. Then as you do more podcasts, you will put aside about $900 to $1000 for the upgrades. For running things, $70 to $150 per month for different services will be enough.
Advertising mainly requires a landing page and the advertising fee.
For the landing page, you can use a website with one-page. So this means you have to buy a domain name, get hosting, and get a theme, the costs for that would be $40 to $200. This is for the initial set up.
To keep the page running well, you will need to be paying for the hosting and domain name renewal, which is about $20 to $100 give or take.
Lucky you when it comes to the advertising fee because you do have some control there.
You are the one who gets to set the budget for the campaigns.
Since you are paying for every click, you may want to put more money up for the campaigns where you are targeting a huge audience.
The more the clicks you get, the more your money is spent.
So, do your calculations right.
With search engines, there is something called bidding where you offer a higher amount than your competitors to get the top position in search results.
You will have to pay more for the highest position if you are promoting a product that has got high competition.
You might even find yourself paying $1 for every click for a competitive product while you pay as low as $0.05 to $0.50 for other products.
As a matter of caution. It would be wise to start out with a budget of $50 or more. This may bring much better results for you.
You can also invest in a PPC marketing course that will have you pay $50 to $2,000 going by what you will be getting in return.
In Total – you will have to part with about $100 or more as you make your start. And to keep this going, you will want to spare an estimated $200 or more per month.
Where to Get Money For Resources When You Don’t Have it
While many people prefer to start with nothing and slowly invest in their affiliate businesses as they build them, some people prefer to get the money and buy the best resources to work with right off the bat.
And this is a good strategy too.
Let’s face it, we are all wired differently.
If you choose option 2 and have the money to do it, you’re sorted!
However, if you prefer to get great quality resources but you don’t have the money, don’t fret either.
You can earn it in a few weeks or months in many different ways.
There are countless methods of making money online.
If you are learned and certified in a given area of life, say coding, accounting, or even graphic design, you can decide to work on freelance jobs that offer opportunities you are well versed with.
Upwork and Fiverr are two great freelance websites to make money with your skills. You just create your account and start bidding on jobs.
You don’t have any specific skills? Don’t worry.
You can make money through online surveys and get-paid-to sites.
Get-paid-to sites are websites that pay you to take certain actions in exchange for money. You can be asked to download apps and games, and play them for cash.
You can also be told to watch a video or an ad or even use certain browsers to surf.
Swagbucks is a good example of such a site that you can take advantage of.
They won’t pay you much for most of the action but if you take lots of actions, you will increase the money you make and save the amount your need to get started with affiliate marketing within no time.
You can also do online writing and make money by writing articles for websites or even do academic writing.
It is up to you and what you feel comfortable with.
All this is to help you see how easily you can make your entrance with affiliate marketing.
The cost may be high but you also get ways to raise the money needed if you want to pay to do it.
In essence, affiliate marketing pretty much depends on what you as an affiliate want out of it, your budget and how much of your personal effort you are willing to invest.
Also, the level you are in affiliate marketing plays a role since every level of this craft comes with a number of different resources that require money.
However, if you are willing and determined, you can definitely cut most of these costs by doing many of the money demanding tasks yourself.
Affiliate marketing is very doable even when you have little initial investments.
So get started right away if that is what you want to do.
The rest will make out as you go. And in good time, you will know when to invest your money and when not to.
I hope this has helped give you some perspective on the scales.
If you need more help with this, feel free to drop a comment below and I will get back to you the soonest.