How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Side Hustle in 2024 (What to Expect!)

Are you looking for the best way to make money online? Well, you’re in luck, because the answer is simple: affiliate marketing!

I recently took the time to research and rank a whopping 17 different ways to make money online. Many of them have serious money-making potential, but affiliate marketing provides the best opportunity for success while also requiring only a limited upfront investment and less risk.

If you want an option for a side hustle that can generate extra cash now, and eventually even replace your full-time income, then read on!

What is an Affiliate Marketing Side Hustle?

So, what exactly is an “affiliate marketing side hustle?”

Well, let’s take the term in two parts.

First, affiliate marketing is sort of like being a virtual matchmaker, connecting everyday people with awesome products that can solve a problem they have. Best of all, when those customers make a purchase through your unique affiliate link, you earn a nice commission (sometimes up to 75% of the purchase price here on ClickBank!).

Second, a side hustle is something you do to make money on the side while maintaining regular employment. Any activity earning you below a full-time income would count as a side hustle, from walking dogs to being an Uber driver to playing live gigs as musician.

In my case, I have an affiliate blog that currently makes me about $100 per month, so I know a thing or two about side hustles!

The question is, with so many ways to make money out there, why choose affiliate marketing? Let’s find out!

Why Affiliate Marketing?

There are a lot of reasons to go with affiliate marketing as your side hustle! Here are just a few:

1) It has a low barrier to entry. Unlike starting a traditional brick-and-mortar business or investing in expensive inventory for an ecommerce store, affiliate marketing requires minimal investment and has a low barrier to entry. As long as you have the skills, you can jump right in and start earning without breaking the bank.

2) It’s accessible to beginners. Affiliate marketing doesn’t demand extensive knowledge or expertise in a particular field. You don’t need to be a marketing whiz or have a fancy degree to succeed.

In fact, part of the magic lies in all the learning you’ll do. As you move forward on your affiliate marketing journey, you’ll acquire valuable skills and knowledge along the way. You’re actually getting paid to learn and grow!

Affiliate Marketing on Clickbank

Now, let’s briefly talk about ClickBank, because it’s the real deal for aspiring affiliate marketers.

With ClickBank, you gain access to a vast marketplace of products spanning 23 niches and dozens of subcategories. Whether you’re passionate about health and fitness, personal development, making money online, or a hobby like golf, you’ll find tons of quality products that will align with your interests and resonate with your potential audience!

Plus, ClickBank takes care of all the nitty-gritty details like payment processing and affiliate tracking, so you can focus on what truly matters: promoting awesome products and earning commissions.

We’ll cover more about the benefits of ClickBank in a bit. But for now, let’s dive into the 6 steps you need to start your very own affiliate marketing side hustle!

6 Steps to Start an Affiliate Marketing Side Hustle

When you first enter the world of affiliate marketing, it can feel overwhelming. That’s why I’ve broken it all down into the following 6 simple steps you can follow to turn your ambition into a tangible business.

1) Pick your niche.

Step one in any business is figuring out who you’re going to target and what problem your unique solution will solve. For affiliate marketing, this means defining your niche first.

When I talk about a “niche,” I mean a specific topic, area of interest, or audience. Think of it like finding a little corner of the online world where you can shine. As an email marketer, blogger, content creator, or media buyer, you can build your business around something you have knowledge and passion about.

Now, you might be wondering, “How on earth do I choose a niche?” Well, it’s a combination of what you like, what you know, and what the market wants.

From relationship advice to green products and personal finance to self-help, there’s something for everyone! It’s important to find a niche that you feel like you’ll want to stick with, because you may be working on this business for years and years!

The Big Three Niches

There are three major niches that will always be popular online: health, wealth, and relationships. These topics have wide appeal for almost everyone, and people will get our their wallets to pay for solutions to problems in any of those areas!

Of course, defining your niche is only half the battle – you also need to understand the audience you’ll be talking to. As the saying goes in marketing, if you’re talking to everyone, then you’re talking to no one.

So, to truly connect with your audience, get to know them inside and out. Ask yourself, who are they? What are their pain points, desires, and dreams? Where do they hang out online? What keeps them up at night?

Best of all, are you also your target audience? The better you understand the audience you’re going to share affiliate products with, the more effective your campaigns will be!

2) Choose affiliate products to promote.

Do you have a niche and audience in mind?

Great, now let’s get into selecting quality affiliate products to promote. Finding an affiliate offer that aligns with your niche and resonates with your audience doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s a combination of qualitative and quantitative factors.

Qualitative Product Factors

One of the key qualitative factors to consider when choosing affiliate products is relevance. It’s hard to define, but you can give it a gut check: Is a potential affiliate product closely related to your niche and aligned with your audience’s interests or pain points?

For example, if you’re all-in on women’s health, then you should focus on products that will appeal to that audience, such as Pelvic Floor Strong, Back to Life, or MenoRescue. You may be surprised how different it is marketing to another audience, even in the same niche – so stay true to the audience and niche you’ve chosen for the best chance of success.

You’ve also got to look at the product’s quality and reputation. It’s important to do your due diligence, read reviews, and make sure the products you promote are top-notch. Along those lines, be sure to evaluate their sales page, look over any affiliate resources they provide, and maybe even contact a product’s vendor to see if they seem responsive.

Quantitative Product Factors

When it comes to numbers, the commission rate is a factor – but here are the most important numbers:

  • The average payout value (APV), or how much you keep per sale.
  • The earnings per click (EPC), or how much you earn per click on your affiliate link.
  • The conversion rate, or what percentage of hop clicks result in a sale.

When you choose affiliate products on ClickBank, you may also want to keep an eye on the gravity score. Look for products on the first few pages of the marketplace with a gravity score in the double or triple digits – this will ensure you’re promoting products that are actively converting for other affiliates!

3) Decide on a traffic channel.

When it comes to affiliate marketing, finding the right channel isn’t always easy. First, it needs to be where your audience spends time online, and second, you need your marketing efforts to effectively convert them into actual buyers.

Just like there are different roads to reach a destination, there are several different traffic channels that can get you visitors to your affiliate offers. Here are a few to consider, based on the most common types of affiliates we see on ClickBank!

SEO Blogging

Imagine planting a seed in your backyard and watering it regularly, then witnessing it grow into a beautiful tree. Organic traffic is similar!

One option is to create a website or blog optimized for search engines and publish helpful articles. Then, you can attract visitors who are actively searching for information related to your niche. It’s a long-term strategy that can yield amazing results!

Social Media Influencing

Becoming a social influencer is another fantastic organic traffic channel that will open up a wide audience (and may be the best way to reach younger people online, if that’s your demographic). Social media is still booming, especially platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok!

If you can engage with your audience by posting entertaining or informative content and provide a lot of value, you can convert that attention into traffic for your chosen affiliate offers. Social media is all about building relationships and creating buzz around your niche.

Paid Advertising

Paid media is like taking the express lane! Of course, the catch here is obvious: it’s not free or cheap to invest in paid ads on platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, YouTube Ads, or native ads to reach your audience and drive traffic to your affiliate offers.

However, you need to plan carefully, monitor regularly, and optimize your campaigns to get a good return on investment. When done right, your business will soar within a month or two, saving you a lot of time and money!

Email Marketing

Last but not least, there’s email marketing! This traffic channel is like having a direct line to your audience – no big tech companies or algorithms as intermediaries. If you can build an email list and nurture your subscribers with valuable content, you’ll be able to drive targeted traffic to your affiliate offers on a consistent basis.

It’s all about establishing trust, delivering value, and strategically promoting your affiliate products. The best part about email marketing is that it doesn’t cost you extra money (in fact, you can make great content with your usual income from your affiliate programs!) and is efficient.

4) Drive traffic through your affiliate links.

Okay, now’s the time for action. We’re going to drive some traffic!

To earn affiliate commissions, you need to get a lot of people clicking through your affiliate links. Remember, a 1-2% conversion rate is pretty decent, which means for every 100 clicks you get on your hoplinks, you’ll make 1 or 2 sales (if your marketing is dialed in).

We’ve already talked about different traffic channels, from blogs and social profiles to paid ads and email marketing. But how do you actually turn these channels into traffic generating machines?

Do The Thing… Then Rinse and Repeat!

In most cases, the so-called secret to affiliate success is just consistently doing “the thing” that the channel is known for. Send out emails to your email list, launch new paid ads on a paid ad platform, post new videos on YouTube, publish new blog posts on your website… You get the idea!

This isn’t always the “sexiest” step, because if we’re being perfectly honest, you may have to grind it out for a while before you start seeing results. The most successful affiliates do what they do incredibly well, yes, but they also do that thing over and over again (whether it’s refreshing creatives to test for their paid campaigns or posting brand-new clips to their TikTok every day).

The good news is, you can make this “rinse and repeat” process a whole lot more interesting if you focus on gathering data. Your results will only get better and better as you learn what works – and especially what makes your audience excited to click your affiliate links and make a purchase).

5) Optimize your affiliate marketing campaigns.

In the last step, I talked about doing more of whatever “the thing” is for your chosen traffic channel. That adds to the traffic side of the equation. But the other piece of the puzzle is the conversion side.

In other words, what percentage of the people in your affiliate marketing sales funnel are taking the next step, which is going to your bridge page. And from there, how many of those people are clicking your affiliate link, hitting the buy button, and checking out on the order form to actually purchase the product you’re promoting?

“Optimizing” is the art of improving your conversions at every step of the buyer’s journey. But how do you do it?


First things first: tracking is your best friend. Use tracking tools to know which traffic sources are driving the most conversions, which of your chosen products are actually seeing sales, and where you can optimize for better results.

If you have a landing page builder like ClickBank Accelerator, tracking is built-in – but depending on your traffic source, you may also want to set up Google Analytics or get a third-party tracker like RedTrack or Voluum to give you the most data possible!

Split Testing

Speaking of optimization, let’s add in split testing. By creating multiple versions of your ads, landing pages, or email subject lines and testing them against each other, you can identify the winning elements that drive the most conversions! It’s all about experimenting, analyzing the results, and refining your approach based on the data.

Get Audience Feedback

One way to optimize your campaigns is by checking in with your audience. You can engage with potential buyers through email marketing, social media, or even live events to build trust and credibility. Ask for feedback, listen to their needs, and continuously improve your campaigns based on their insights.

Learn and Grow

Lastly, keep up-to-date with industry trends, practices, and tactics. Try out new affiliate products; check on what your competitors are doing; attend live events and network with other affiliates; and continue your education with an affiliate training program like Spark by ClickBank to optimize your results.

Ultimately, the more you know about how to be a successful affiliate for your chosen niche, audience, and traffic channel, the more optimized all your efforts will be!

6) Scale your business with affiliate products (and more!).

You can usually scale by just doing more of what you’ve been doing that’s getting results, but you may still need to change your approach if you plan to hire employees or freelancers, expand the number of products you promote, grow your audience, or create your own product!

Get Efficient and Productive

Of course, scaling your business isn’t just about growth; it’s also about efficiency. As your business expands, you can’t afford not to streamline workflows, automate tasks, and embrace technology that helps you work smarter, not harder. To scale your business, you need to maximize your productivity while specifically focusing on the high-value activities that drive your business forward.

Every step takes time, whether it’s gaining followers on social media or leveling up your income. Track your progress every month to monitor which affiliate offer is performing best – and don’t be afraid to test new offers regularly. In the end, better performance means a better income.

Scale with Spark

If you’re not sure about the knowledge or skills you need to scale your affiliate business from humble beginnings to side hustle and beyond, I encourage you to learn more about Spark by ClickBank. Spark is ClickBank’s official affiliate education platform, featuring courses, tools, and community that will help you level up faster!

Setting Expectations: The Time and Money Investment

No matter what the “gurus” say, affiliate marketing is not a guaranteed get-rich-quick scheme. It requires consistent effort, dedication, and continuous learning. Your affiliate marketer’s journey may start as a side hustle, but you need to treat it seriously if you want to see success.

You should also set realistic expectations on the time and money you’ll need to invest in your business. The potential for high ROI exists, but it’s important to know what it’ll take to get there – and to remember that success is built slowly over time, whether you go with organic traffic or paid traffic.

Here are a few quick tips for managing your time and money effectively as an affiliate.

  • Growing organic traffic typically takes longer because you’re relying on strategies like content marketing, SEO, and social media to attract visitors to your affiliate links. You need to have patience and be consistent so you can prove to the algorithms that your content should be shared.
  • On the other hand, if you decide to go for paid traffic, you have the potential to see faster results by leveraging platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or native ads. However, know that paid traffic comes with a cost: money. Always budget for how you’ll spend it, know when to cut a campaign that’s not working, and be prepared for the learning curve before you really know how to optimize your campaigns effectively.
  • When it comes to managing your time effectively as a new affiliate, organization is key. Treat your affiliate program as a full-fledged business (even if it’s only on the side) and dedicate regular time to its activities. Prioritize tasks that have the highest impact and schedule the time to do them – every day, if possible.
  • Affiliate marketing isn’t just about how much you earn today. When running a business, you want to manage it so it lasts for a long time. We all need a consistent income even when things get rough, right? Be strategic with where you invest your time and money, and be mindful of which tasks represent the greatest return on investment. As you gain experience and start generating income, you can reassess and adjust accordingly.

As you embark on your affiliate marketing journey, remember to provide value first and foremost! Serve your audience, build relationships, and refine your strategies based on data and insights that come from taking action.

Stay committed, be willing to adapt and grow, and don’t forget to celebrate your milestones along the way!

Affiliate Marketer Side Hustle Wrap-up

We’ve covered a lot of ground today! So, let’s do a quick recap of why ClickBank is the go-to platform for aspiring affiliate marketers who want to get their own side hustle off the ground!

ClickBank provides a wide range of products and niches to choose from. Whatever niche you’re considering, ClickBank has you covered! Our platform also handles all the accounting and tracking so you can focus on marketing without worrying about whether your numbers are accurate and when (or if) you’ll get paid!

As mentioned in the article, we outline the key steps to kick-starting your affiliate marketing journey. From selecting the right niche and finding high-converting products to building your online presence and driving traffic, we’ve got the road-map to guide you every step of the way.

So, if you’re ready to embark on an adventure that offers to lean on the marketing side with limitless earning potential, requires minimal investment, and allows you to learn and grow as you go, affiliate marketing is calling your name.

Head over to ClickBank, explore our marketplace, and get ready to take the first steps toward your side hustle success. Remember, the sky’s the limit, and we’re here cheering you on!

Lastly, don’t forget to learn more about Spark by ClickBank. Just like you wouldn’t wander into the wilderness without guidance or a compass, you shouldn’t dive headlong into affiliate marketing without help from proven experts, tools like a landing page builder, and a supportive community of fellow affiliates to help you get where you’re trying to go!

As a Spark student, you can access tutorials, traffic case studies, and expert tips that will empower you to become the successful affiliate marketer you want to be.

So, what are you waiting for? Start today and ignite your affiliate marketing side hustle with ClickBank! We wish you luck on your journey!