Adult Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: A Basic Guide for Getting Started in 2023
There are lots of ways to make money in the adult industry. If you’re not shy about getting in front of the camera you can work as a model, or if you have a lot of money to invest you can start your own adult business and compete with the big companies yourself. For everyone else, there’s adult affiliate marketing.
This guide is intended for beginners, so we’re going to assume you know very little about adult affiliate marketing and start with the basics.
What is adult affiliate marketing?
Adult industry products and services are in-demand. Whether it’s live cam sites, adult videos and films, sexy dating services or adult retail products like novelties or lingerie, there are quite a few proven money makers in adult.
Adult affiliates are individuals who want to make money selling adult products or services, but without all the hassle and expense of building the products or services themselves.
How do you do that?
Many of the companies who produce all these offerings have setup adult affiliate programs. These programs provide online marketers – such as yourself – with the tools and support they need to make sales. It’s your job to go find the potential customers and show them to an offer – at which point it’s the job of the company you’re working with to close the sale and pay you a commission.
Why not just start your own company and keep all the money?
This is of course an option. If you have some money to invest, you can even work with an experienced adult business broker to buy a business that’s already established.
Starting from scratch though isn’t a modest proposal anymore. The established adult companies at the top of our industry have invested many millions of dollars into building their websites and brands and maintaining their dominant positions. That’s a lot for any one person to compete against.
For most people the better option isn’t to beat them but to join them. Despite all their resources, these companies are always happy to work with ethical affiliates who can think of clever ways to get attention for their brands. And they’re willing to reward you handsomely for your success.
Think of it as something similar to ‘gig economy’ work; you’ll get to set your own hours and you’ll also be able to laser-focus on just the marketing side of the game. You can earn big commissions, and you won’t have any of the expenses of website servers, coding and IT staff, billing fees, customer support or filling a big adult website with compelling content and updating it every day to keep customers coming back.
Is there a downside to being an affiliate?
While you won’t have to spend a lot of money to get started, you will have to invest some of your time. And at first you probably won’t get a lot of results.
Adult affiliate marketing is like fishing, a game for the patient. While you won’t be building expensive adult destinations, you will be building up marketing assets like email lists, website landing pages and blog posts. There are plenty of different ways to market and we’ll get into all of them later, but until you’ve built up a lot of these assets over time you won’t have enough ‘hooks in the water’ so to speak to generate significant revenue.
You can spend as much or little time as you want of course, but the more you spend the faster you’ll get to your destination. Which is recurring revenue that continues to pay out for a long time.
Step 1: Choose what you want to sell
Your first step is to do a little research and determine what you want to sell. Your main options will generally fall into a few different categories: live webcams, dating sites, retail products and adult paysites. Beyond these main revenue categories you will have some other options like adult video games, mobile-optimized adult content and adult business services. We have a general overview of common adult verticals for further reading on this topic.
We’ve created the YNOT Directory, which has listings for affiliate programs in all of these categories. Browse through the listings for services that interest you, then click the link under the “Business Website Address” heading to visit that program’s site and learn more about it.
When browsing programs, you’ll want to pay attention to what the program offers by way of payouts. Most programs will offer some kind of revenue sharing arrangement, which usually is your best choice. For affiliates looking for large one-time payments at the expense of long term revenue, those payouts are also pretty common.
In addition to programs that let you sell just that one company’s offerings, there are also offer networks available that provide you with one central program from which to sell services from a variety of different companies.
Step 2: Choosing your first marketing channel(s)
Once you have an idea what you want to promote first, you’ll need to put your affiliate marketing plan in place. You have a lot of different options for promoting your chosen services, but you need to narrow it down to one or two for starts.
You can start blogs, build small niche websites, buy traffic, work social media sites, build email lists or any combination of these things. You can build up a YouTube channel, market through Tik Tok or start a podcast. You really do have a lot of channel options as an adult affiliate.
You can also use the above channels with the ultimate goal of building an email list, then marketing primarily to that. We cover that in more detail below.
Step 3: Create content relating to the products and services you’re promoting
Now it’s time to get some ‘hooks in the water,’ and you do that by creating content that promotes the products or services you’ve chosen to sell.
Note the content that you create will depend heavily on the choices you made in steps 1 and 2 above. For example, if you chose to start with a blog and you’re selling adult novelties, you might choose to create some ‘top 10 lists’ for starters, or product reviews. If you opted to work with a live cam site, you might choose to write model profiles or guides on how to get the most from your chosen cam site. If you’re going big with a podcast, you’ll want to setup landing pages where you can direct your listeners – landing pages that are easy to type in, and which then direct listeners to the sites you’re promoting.
So briefly, some content ideas to get you started: Top 10 lists, product or website reviews, profiles of popular models, galleries of free pictures, video previews of paysites, podcasts with interviews, adult gaming guides, funny viral videos for social media, landing pages. You can also go big and try to build a destination website. You’re limited only by your imagination here.
Step 4: Drive some traffic to your content
Once you have some content published online you’ve arrived at the trickiest part of the adult affiliate marketing game: how can you get people to view it? Or put in affiliate marketing terms, how can you drive traffic to your content?
Similar to previous steps, you have a number of options.
The cheapest way to get traffic is through search engines or through social media platforms. The former is ideal with adult affiliate marketing because adult content isn’t outright excluded from Google and other search listings, and traffic coming from SE sources are actively looking for something to occupy their attention.
If you decide to target search engines then you’ll want to understand some of the basics of search engine optimization, so you create your content in a way that’s friendly to Google or other search sites. Do some research on topics like keyword density and page rank, and make sure the content you author has value. A landing page full of marketing language won’t rank well in search engines, but a ‘top 10’ list or detailed product review may have more success.
Social media traffic can be valuable if properly farmed, but you need to have a good plan in place to make sure you don’t get banned from the platforms – and keep in mind that social media users are already highly distracted by these platforms, so it might be hard to divert their attention to what you’re promoting.
If you want instant results, you can buy traffic from a reputable adult traffic broker. The YNOT Directory has listings of companies that offer these services, and we also put together a list of our top recommended adult traffic networks. The downside with buying ads is obvious – you’ll have to spend some money – but the upside is you can get instant views for your content. This can be extremely valuable for testing purposes and, once optimized, can be extremely profitable as well.
Before we start gushing about email marketing, first a disclosure. We offer our own adult email marketing platform called YNOT Mail, so we’re not exactly unbiased here. But email marketing is the cornerstone of any great adult affiliate marketing plan because it offers some advantages that you just can’t get anywhere else.
Sometimes it takes repetition to get your message or brand to sink in with an audience. Advertising experts commonly tell buyers that it often takes six or seven times for a viewer to be exposed to a brand before it sticks.
If you’re buying traffic and NOT finding a way to engage that person repeatedly over time, you’re going to have a much lower rate of sales conversions. If you’re investing in search engine traffic and not turning those hard-won hits into long-term relationships, you’re wasting the spoils.
While you can sometimes get that repeat action on social media, by far the most reliable way to do that is through email marketing.
Plus, email campaigns done right will by far generate the best return on your investment, as research has shown again and again. Just make sure you’re following best practices for your adult email campaigns.
Email marketing is not a starting place though because you’ll need traffic from another source. So the key here is to drive traffic from the above sources to a specially designed landing page whose sole purpose is to build up your email lists.
Step 5: Measuring your results and making adjustments
Adult affiliate marketing is a dynamic process. You’re not going to build things and then forget about them – instead you’ll want to constantly monitor and analyze your results, make adjustments, re-analyze, make more adjustments, etc.
For outbound link tracking you have a number of tools available designed just for affiliates, such as LeadDyno. For understanding incoming and on-site traffic you can use tools like Clicky or Google Analytics – just note that while Google Analytics is free and provides a lot of useful information, we’re not a big fan of it since the company’s use of other peoples’ data is questionable.
Now you know the basics, so get started
We hope you found this guide a useful place to start for understanding adult affiliate marketing. While affiliates don’t see the instant results they once did in the earlier days of the internet, there’s a lot less competition now too so clever and determined affiliates can still make a lot of money once they get their system in place.
And even better, if you opt for ‘rev share’ payouts with affiliate programs (instead of large one-time payouts) you’ll generate recurring revenue that will keeps paying for a long time.