There's probably a bunch of eBooks on this but I'll try cover it briefly. I dabbled with free methods of affiliate marketing for a while until I eventually realized, yes, there's a lot of money to be made doing this BUT you'll most likely see results after months and months of your efforts. The great thing with paid advertising is that you can almost instantly get traffic to your campaigns/websites and see what works/doesn't work.
Anyway, let's consider you've made your decision and want to start with free stuff. Lucky for you, there are many options. In the recent years there's been a surge of social friendly websites which, in time have built a large community of people. Basically where there's people, there's money to be made. From YouTube to FaceBook to Twitter and even GumTree there's lot I see people making money. There's no one way to do this so my advice once again has to be general or it won't be applicable to some of the methods.
1) YouTube Marketing: For starters do this. Go on YouTube and type any product and the word 'review' next to it. e.g, 'JustCloud review' or 'GoPro review'. Most of the videos that will appear are by affiliates who 'review' the product and provide a link in the description box to send you to the merchant website that sells it. Now, if you BUY the product through that link, they get money. Pretty cool huh? This can be an option for you.
2) Approaching people on forums: This is a bit of a bold approach but you can go on reddit.com, find a community of people with a need and just personally inbox them an affiliate link to what they asked for! There are a lot of people just asking for information. Udemy.com offer paid courses on just about anything. Join their affiliate program and post people links to Udemy courses. Do this 100-200 times and see if you make any sales. None yet? Do it again 100 times :). It's all about quantity in this industry, quality comes later. Udemy pay out 50% per sale you make so if someone signs up for a course for $50, you make $25.
3) FaceBook Marketing: FaceBook is also pretty good. I'm sure you've at some point liked a page back in the day that now has 100s of thousands of followers. This FaceBook page has 100s and thousands of people all with a similar interest to which it can subtly market to. Many FaceBook Page owners will post something on their Fan page and link the reader to their website or another website where they have affiliate links or adsense set up. You can do the same but it may take you a while to get a decent sized following on your FaceBook page.
4) Gumtree & other free classifieds: There are a bunch of these type of websites that offer free advertising. Just type up an add and link people to an affiliate offer. It's really that simple. I've never done this before but can imagine it could work for some. I've heard people do 'pay-per-call campaigns' through this which definitely could work! Again, Maxbounty has some pay-per-call campaigns you could try out. Be careful though, not ALL offers allow this method of advertising. Make sure you check or you may find all your sales stripped right out of your account if they catch you breaching their rules.
5) eBay: Many people in the affiliate space understand that building email lists are the way to go. These can pay off HUGE down the track. The philosophy is to build a large list of people by getting them to give you their email in exchange for an ebook of some sort, (I'm sure you've seen this by now), and emailing them valuable information, every now and then making a sales pitch. For example imagine you start a blog on horse riding, (very much like this), and over the course of 8 months you build a list of 1500 people. Now if every once a week I send these 1,500 people a bulk newsletter with some new horse products where I get paid about $5 per sale and 5% of the people on my list buy, that would equal .05 x 1500 x $5 = $375. Now think of doing this every week and also the possibilities of the list expanding even larger in time! List building can be done in many ways. I've even seen people do it on eBay! They sell eBooks on eBay for peanuts and when a customer buys the eBook, the seller gets a PayPal address which is usually the persons main email address! The seller ads this to their list and can now market to them even more. It's the same reason clothing stores try get you to sign up to their 'special discount cards'. They really just want your email
6) Your own blog: Lastly, you can start your own blog or 'niche website' about something you love. Keep it alive by regularly posting and in time you'll be the go to guy/gal. Once you have this status you can recommend products and continuously market to them through email, your FaceBook page etc. It's a good method but will take a while to get a decent following. To give your website a kick started, write about 5 or 6 interesting articles about a certain topic and go find related forums. On these forums comment on peoples posts/threads with a link back to your website. Don't be to spammy though and go in with the intention to help people not to just make money. Trust me this is more fun when your providing value to others not yourself. You also have to like writing. It took me a while to realize this. This is probably the tenth blog I've started. All the other blogs failed because although I liked the subject I hated writing about it! I also felt like I HAD to write something which made me feel frustrated as some weeks I didn't feel like writing. This blog is different as it's mainly me to keep track of things. Any income generated is just a bonus.
Well there you go, 6 free to very low cost methods in 2013 that you can use to get you going in affiliate marketing. Now all that's left is for you to go do it! You'll never find and EXACT step by step guide to things like these so you have to just go learn certain elements of the art by yourself. Good luck and post below/email me if you need anything.