Many marketers have made a fortune promoting products online using free traffic sources for affiliate marketing — and there’s still plenty of room to do the same. But it’s not as simple as sharing an affiliate link and watching the conversions roll in.
To succeed, it’s important to know your audience and where they spend time online. By creating high-quality content and sharing it in the right places, you can build a community interested in what you have to say. This takes commitment, budget, and a solid strategy.
We’ll help you pick your traffic source and take a closer look at the 11 best sources to drive visitors to your affiliate links.
What Exactly is a Free Traffic Source?
A free traffic source refers to any method of attracting visitors to your website without paying for ads. It includes organic search, social media, email, and community forums.
In marketing, traffic sources are used to attract visitors to your main online asset or website, where all your marketing activities are centered.
And the same is true for affiliate marketing.
It’s better to send visitors to a page you control where you can educate them more about the products you promote and their benefits, and only then push for the sale. As an old affiliate marketing saying goes, if you want to boost your conversion rate, send traffic to the dream, not the offer.
Promoting your website (or newsletter) instead of affiliate links is an important strategy also for another, more practical reason.
Most platforms that you can leverage as free traffic sources generate revenue by showing ads to people, and they’ll do whatever they can to keep users inside them as much as possible — restricting the sharing of external links or reducing the visibility of posts containing them.
Growing a free traffic source takes effort, but the benefits can be significant:
It’s cost-effective: it requires only time and consistency but no advertising budget, which means more profit on your affiliate sales.
It’s long-lasting: it may take a while to see results using free traffic, but when it finally kicks in, it’s usually there to stay. Free organic traffic is not a result of an advertising campaign, and for this reason, it will last for a longer time.
It helps build authority and trust: when you focus on growing a free traffic source over time, you engage with a community of people. This will increase your visibility and authority and, ultimately, your brand. Which usually means more conversions.
How To Choose The Best Free Traffic Source For Affiliate Marketing
With so many effective free traffic sources available, it’s important to choose wisely. Don’t spread yourself thin by working with too many at once. Instead, start with one well-suited to your affiliate marketing niche, goals, and target audience, and dominate it before adding more.
Understanding how each one works is key to making the right choice. After all, different platforms serve distinct purposes and may be more effective at specific stages of the customer journey. We’ll cover the details of each traffic source, but ultimately, the decision is yours.
To make an informed decision, consider the following questions while evaluating each traffic source:
Audience size: How large is the audience reached by the traffic source? Evaluate this against your goals.
Demographics: What are the demographics of this audience? Are they a good fit for your target audience?
User intent: Why do people use this traffic source, and what do they expect from it? Does this align with your content and offer?
Content requirements: What type of content works best on the platform? Can you create this content effectively?
Rules and guidelines: Are there any specific rules or guidelines you need to adhere to?
Visibility opportunities: What do you need to do to gain visibility on the platform and share your links and affiliate links? Evaluate the effort required against your goals.
11 Best Free Traffic Sources for Affiliate Marketing
When driving visitors to your website, here are the 11 best free traffic sources for affiliate marketing:
Each of these traffic sources has its advantages and disadvantages. Some may resonate better with you, your niche, and your target audience while others may require more creativity and effort to leverage their power.
Remember that no one traffic source is better than the others. All of them can bring excellent results when used correctly.
Audience Size: 4.3 billion monthly active users
Audience Type: Everyone
Content: Text + Video
Affiliate Links: Anywhere you want in your content
Organic traffic is the undisputed number one method for generating affiliate marketing traffic. 78.3% of affiliate marketers use SEO as a primary traffic source, according to our affiliate marketing stats page. And with 3.5 billion searches per day and 53.3% of all website traffic coming from organic search, search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for building a long-lasting affiliate business.
Generating web traffic through SEO takes much more than writing and publishing content — you need to rank. If you’re looking to master this as a free traffic source, check out our SEO tips for affiliate marketing.
Organic search traffic should be your main focus to grow your niche website but beware that it will take a lot of work and time to get targeted traffic.
Ranking content on Google requires time, especially if your website is new. And in some competitive markets and niches, only a few well-established and high-quality affiliate websites can compete for the most profitable keywords.
Even when you get traffic, you could lose it to a competitor or due to Google’s constant changes and algorithm updates.
Nevertheless, SEO is still the number one free traffic source for affiliate marketing.
The reason is simple. People turn to search engines when they’re looking for specific information. And with SEO, you can give users the right type of content for any search intent, whether informational, commercial, or transactional, and accompany them throughout their entire customer journey.
But with AI developments on the horizon, it’s smart to consider other platforms that can boost your brand trust and awareness and drive affiliate marketing traffic.
Audience Size: 445 million monthly active users
Audience Type: 60% of Pinterest users are women and have high income
Content: Photos, Videos
Affiliate Links: Bio, Every pin
Pinterest is a bit underrated in the affiliate marketing community because it has a smaller audience than social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Nevertheless, it’s incredibly powerful for affiliate marketing, especially in highly visual niches.
Unlike other social networks where users go just to be entertained, Pinterest is about finding inspiration and saving it in Pins. Millions come to Pinterest to plan new projects and discover products, using it as a search engine.
A quick look at Etsy’s traffic sources clarifies how close Pinterest and product discovery are. Out of the 450M monthly traffic that Etsy receives, 6.40% comes from social networks.
Pinterest is the main traffic source, representing 35.61% of all social traffic.
Each Pin on Pinterest can be linked to an article on your affiliate site or directly to the advertiser’s website.
And unlike many other social platforms, Pinterest doesn’t bury pins that take traffic off-site. This is affiliate marketing heaven.
The only downside, however, is that people looking for inspiration are usually not ready to buy. And to engage your audience on the platform and convince them to take the next step, you’ll have to offer more than standard product images downloaded from the advertiser’s website.
Your focus should still be on growing a quality and appealing Pinterest profile first and only after using Pins as a gateway to drive traffic and affiliate sales.
Growing your Pinterest profile will require effort, but, as you can see, a modest number of followers can still result in a decent amount of views.
And, maintaining Pinterest boards doesn’t require the same commitment needed to grow an Instagram page or TikTok account, nor a high level of engagement with the community.
If you’re well on track with your SEO strategy, consider looking into Pinterest as your second traffic source. There may be some new affiliate sales waiting for you.
Audience Size: 2.5 billion monthly active users
Audience Type: It’s used by people of all demographics across all countries.
Content: Videos, Short video
Affiliate Links: Description
YouTube is both the second-largest social network and the second-largest search engine in the world. This makes it a powerful platform for affiliate marketing.
When it comes to products, unlike other social media platforms, users often turn to YouTube when they know they want to buy something and are looking for more detailed information and reviews. This is the perfect time to reach your target audience as an affiliate marketer.
However, YouTube can be intimidating. A good camera and mic, the right light, video editing skills, and a powerful script are just some of the ingredients needed to engage an audience on YouTube.
And even with the right content, the competition can be tough. But this can play to your advantage if you consistently create quality YouTube videos following a good content strategy because only a few people are willing to invest the time and knowledge required to grow a YouTube channel.
As an affiliate marketer and niche site owner, you can use YouTube to complement the content on your website — a natural extension of your affiliate website and SEO strategy.
- Publish detailed video reviews
- Compare products
- Answer the most common questions people have
- Unbox interesting products
- Share relevant information for your niche
YouTube is friendly when sharing affiliate links: almost every video has some in the description, and you can even add them as an overlay on your videos.
A whole generation prefers to watch videos instead of reading articles, but it’s a demanding audience that is difficult to please.
Consider YouTube when you’re ready to invest to become a real authority in your space.
Audience Size: 1 billion monthly active users
Audience Type: There aren’t just young people on TikTok! You’ll also reach plenty of people between 30 and 49 years on the platform.
Content: Short vertical videos
Affiliate Links: One link in the bio (services like Linktree to have more)
TikTok emerged as a game-changing social media platform, disrupting the industry and forcing other social networks to adopt short videos to keep up with user preferences.
And this platform can be a great source of free traffic if you understand how to leverage it.
To be successful on TikTok, engagement is key. You have only a few seconds to capture users’ attention and must keep it high throughout each video. This applies whether you’re entertaining your audience or promoting products for your affiliate site as an affiliate marketer.
So it’s not without its challenges. But if you get it right, TikTok will reward you with a huge amount of free organic traffic, unlike that of any other social media platform.
And some affiliate marketers are already making a good profit out of it!
Look at the channel “stuffyouactuallyneed”, a collection of products found on Amazon!
One of the limitations when it comes to affiliate marketing on TikTok and product promotion is that it only allows one link in the bio and no links on individual posts. And unfortunately, most people busy scrolling between one video and the next won’t even make an effort to check your profile and links, especially if you don’t tell them to do so.
The link in bio isn’t immediately available to anyone. To activate it, you’ll need to switch to a Business Account. It’s free and straightforward; you can find the option inside your account settings.
TikTok is not an easy traffic source to master. It requires great, engaging videos, regular posts, daily LIVEs, and comment responses to engage. Only invest in TikTok when you have what it takes to succeed.
Email is still a powerful traffic source for affiliate marketing, despite the many alternatives. As the oldest online channel available, it’s considered one of the most effective ways to reach users and potential customers.
If you’re not already collecting email addresses and using your list to increase affiliate sales, focus on this immediately.
Craft a great lead magnet, a free compelling resource (like a training, guide, template, or checklist) people will want to access and promote it across your website and social channels.
But remember: nowadays, people subscribe to your list only if they believe the content you share will provide value and help them achieve their goals.
There are two main ways to use your email list for affiliate marketing:
- Nurture your subscribers to increase your authority, share valuable information and tips, send updates about your niche and business and drive traffic to your website.
- Send commercial emails to your list using email templates provided by advertisers (DEM).
The first strategy will help you get long-term traffic and conversions, while the latter can potentially drive short-term and immediate results.
If you’re serious about your marketing efforts, nurture your list and provide it with as much value as possible.
Here are some tips to get the most out of emails:
- Never buy an email list, instead focus on growing it
- Segment your list to send valuable and personalized messages
- Offer real value to your readers, or they’ll unsubscribe quickly
- Share a few commercial emails, and make sure they’re in target with your audience
- Work on improving your open rate by testing different subject lines
- Review your email campaign metrics and KPIs to better understand your subscribers and how your list is performing
Remember, email marketing has strict regulations that vary by country. Make sure you comply with them to avoid legal issues.
👉 Read more: How to Build an Email List for Affiliate Marketing
Audience Size: 2 billion monthly active users
Audience Type: A young audience between 18 and 34 years old.
Content: Photos, Short vertical videos
Affiliate Links: One link in the bio (services like Linktree to have more)
When Instagram came out in 2010, it was considered a revolution for Millennials and Gen Z, making Facebook look old-fashioned. And while it was originally purely photo-based, Instagram now prioritizes videos, stories, and reels.
Today Instagram is one of the largest social networks, and a powerful free traffic source for affiliate marketers.
Most users browse Instagram for entertainment, yet the platform is still great for discovering new products and getting recommendations from people you admire and follow. Understanding this is key.
Affiliate products are everywhere on Instagram, but you won’t have great success with an anonymous profile of a niche website sharing product recommendations.
It’s about trust. Before you can expect your community to respond to your affiliate links and get traffic, you need to establish an authentic rapport with your audience. You can do this by showing real product reviews in Reels and responding to commenters.
Once you’ve cultivated an engaged community, the best way of driving conversions is by using stories to push a specific product: that’s the perfect spot to place your affiliate links or coupon codes.
Alternatively, you can use a service like Linktree to share multiple links and coupon codes because Instagram only allows you to insert a single link in your bio. Because, as with most social networks, they want to keep users inside their platform and not send them to your properties.
As a niche site owner, building a community on Instagram may not bring many direct sales but can be used to increase your brand value and site credibility.
Being successful on Instagram requires time, and you’ll have to be very consistent. Growing an Instagram account from scratch using only organic strategies may be difficult to achieve.
If you’re up for the challenge, make sure to follow the platform’s advice for user success:
- Focus on vertical videos — photos won’t get you much visibility anymore
- Post everyday
- Share 5-6 stories per day, spread throughout the day
- Use the in-app video editor, not an external one
- Optimize the caption for search terms
- Don’t overuse hashtags, maximum 3 per post
- Engage with every single comment
Audience Size: 556 million monthly active users
Audience Type: 25-34 year olds are 38.5% of users, the biggest group
Content: Short messages (with videos, photos, gifs)
Affiliate Links: In your bio, in any tweet (as long as the links are safe)
When it comes to being part of the conversation, no platform beats Twitter. Users flock there for real-time updates on breaking news, hot takes, trending memes — even product recommendations.
But it’s not as simple as firing off a barrage of affiliate links.
Instead, your success on Twitter rests on your ability to tap into a large, like-minded audience and enhance your personal brand.
How? By actively joining conversations and providing insightful data that matter to your followers. The more engaging you are, the more likely people will visit your profile, see your pinned tweets, and explore your website for the information they value. And they’ll also pay attention to the (few and relevant) product recommendations you share.
To give more context to the information and recommendations you provide, use Twitter threads, a series of connected tweets posted in succession. But remember not to start your thread with a link; it would look spammy and the platform may penalize you giving less visibility to your tweets.
However, if you want to use Twitter to directly drive traffic from the platform to your online properties, you may be disappointed, as its algorithms are designed to keep users inside the app.
Tweets have a short lifespan, so be prepared to tweet a lot — at least twice per day — to be seen as a relevant source.
Audience Size: 310 million monthly active users
Audience Type: A well-educated audience with high income, 4 out of 5 of its 900 million members drive business decisions.
Content: Text, Images, Videos
Affiliate Links: Posts, Blogs, Newsletter
While it may seem like an unlikely platform for affiliate marketing, many people successfully use LinkedIn as a traffic source to drive affiliate sales.
However, not all niches will perform well on LinkedIn. The ones that do are great, though. For instance, if you are in the B2B, marketing, or tech niche, LinkedIn offers a stage to establish yourself as an expert in your field and provide product recommendations.
Focus all your energy on building your personal brand — this is how to unlock LinkedIn’s true power as a free traffic source.
Share articles, tips, and case studies.
While being perceived as an authority takes time and effort, the LinkedIn algorithm is arguably easier to master and use to your advantage than other social media sites. So if you’re consistent, share relevant content, and engage with the community, you’ll have a good chance to get great visibility in your niche.
If you want to crush it with affiliate marketing on LinkedIn, combine the traffic source with an email strategy.
Design a compelling lead magnet that appeals to your audience, promote it in your posts, and collect the email address of anyone interested in receiving it. And then keep promoting your newsletter with all LinkedIn posts you’ll share.
The end game here is to build a robust database of targeted leads, offering you more control over how you promote your website and affiliate offers over time.
Audience Size: 2.95 billion monthly active users
Audience Type: Facebook is still used across all ages, but its audience demographics vary greatly according to the country.
Content: Text, videos, photos, short videos
Affiliate Links: Posts
Millennials and Gen Z will tell you they moved away from Facebook long ago. The platform is supposedly dead, but not for the 3 billion users worldwide still engaging with it daily.
Facebook was the first social network to reach such a massive number of users, and affiliate marketers quickly jumped on board.
Today, its huge user base is both its strongest and weakest characteristic for affiliate marketing. While organic reach comes and goes following algorithm updates, using paid traffic and sponsored content is still the most effective way to start and grow Facebook pages and groups and drive traffic to a website.
Nevertheless, Facebook is a great free traffic source, especially when used to create your own community on Facebook Groups. This strategy works better for established brands, though, and requires time and resources to keep the community engaged and to moderate its users.
If you’re running an authority site, a large and engaged Facebook page or group will definitely contribute to increasing your visibility, trust, and brand value, thus boosting your affiliate sales.
It still makes a lot of sense to include Facebook in an affiliate marketing strategy, but consider mixing organic reach and paid traffic to get the most out of it.
Audience Size: 300 million monthly active users
Audience Type: Quora users are well-educated, and a good percentage of them have an annual income of $100,000 or higher. On this traffic source, you’ll mostly find people aged 18 to 34.
Content: Questions, Answers, Posts
Affiliate Links: Bio, Answers, Posts
No one is paying much attention to Quora, which is a good reason to consider it.
While other platforms are oversaturated with affiliate marketers and affiliate offers, Quora may still offer plenty of unexplored traffic and conversion opportunities.
On Quora, users ask questions, and experts provide answers. Traffic and exposure will come from helping others by answering questions, regardless of whether people follow you.
This means even accounts with few followers can get visibility.
Your answers on Quora, as well as your profile bio, may contain a link to your website or newsletter, or direct affiliate links, generating some traffic to your online properties and offers.
But, since you can’t provide great value and help others if all you do is share affiliate links, there are fewer opportunities to drive people outside the platform if you don’t engage your audience
On Quora, as on Reddit and similar sites, you will get more visibility when users upvote your answer or comment — a clear signal that they found it useful and liked it.
Establishing yourself as a trustworthy authority by replying to questions will require time and effort. As an affiliate marketer, you may prefer to invest in other platforms with higher traffic volumes and more potential to convert it.
Audience Size: 430 million monthly active users
Audience Type: Most Reddit users are male and between 18 and 29 years. A good percentage of people between 30 and 49 with an income of more than 50K are also using the platform regularly.
Content: Posts, Comments
Affiliate Links: Comments (Only authorized accounts can post them directly)
Once, an affiliate program we were managing got hundreds of conversions overnight. It turned out they were all coming from Reddit. I remember people going around the office for days telling everyone they couldn’t understand why they hadn’t thought about working with Reddit before.
This happens with Reddit most of the time: no one thinks about using it as a traffic source.
One good reason may be that Reddit users tend to troll and make fun of each other, and winning their trust is pretty hard.
Nevertheless, Reddit is like a modern, searchable forum where people discuss any topic, including product reviews and opinions.
If you become a valuable member of any subreddit you join, follow the rules, and contribute genuinely to the community, you may have the opportunity to share a link to a post on your website or add a link to it in the comments you post. And get some good traffic and conversions.
However, Reddit doesn’t allow you to share affiliate links directly, and linking to an external site will be inappropriate in many of the comments you’ll post.
So once again, your best chance is to take advantage of Reddit indirectly. Give value to the community and get visibility to your profile, where you can strategically pin a post with a link to your website. Some people will follow it, and you’ll get the free traffic you’re looking for.
But there’s no shortcut in this case — you won’t be able to grow a Reddit presence by promoting affiliate offers or creating a stable source of Reddit traffic for your niche site. You have to personally engage in the conversation on the platform genuinely.
Wrapping Up: Drive Free Organic Traffic to Your Affiliate Site
As you’ve seen, with a good strategy and great content, there are many ways to promote your site and affiliate offers without relying on paid traffic sources.
They all work, and each free traffic source has allowed content creators and affiliate marketers to create and grow successful businesses.
But it’s not an easy journey.
The number one goal of social networks is keeping users active within their platforms, thus limiting the visibility of all posts that promote external links as much as possible.
To get traffic, you’ll first have to stand out from the crowd by offering great content to people. And ultimately becoming an authority in your niche if you want to get enough visibility for large volumes of traffic and conversions.
Therefore, despite everything, SEO is still the best way to drive traffic to your niche site and affiliate offers.
When done right, the volume of traffic and conversions you’ll receive from SEO has no comparison with any other free traffic sources.
Join our free training to learn the ins and outs of affiliate marketing, get a leg up on your competitors, and maximize your conversions and revenue.