How I Made 6-Figures in Affiliate Marketing in a Year

Jenna Kutcher 

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January 30, 2019


I’m diving deep into the world of selling other people’s stuff! We talk so much about building up your own business, but what would it look like if you could earn an income from selling someone else’s product or service that you love? I’m sharing my top three tips to rock affiliate sales and how I made over 6-figures in one year just from promoting a few things that I really love a lot. This episode is a game changer if you’re not sure what you want to create or sell but you’re really hoping to start generating some income.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

The formal definition is: a marketing arrangement by which an online retailer pays a commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals. Basically, its when you refer people to a product or service and get a commission if they purchase because of you. There are a few different types of affiliate marketing, like sharing a link to something you love that will give you money if someone purchases. Even multi-level marketing businesses could be categorized as affiliate marketing. So if you sell essential oils or work out supplements or skincare products, and every time someone purchases through you, you get paid, then you’re technically in affiliate marketing! Pat Flynn teaches a lot about affiliate marketing and he narrowed down three main types of affiliate marketing: Unattached, related, and involved affiliate marketing.

Unattached affiliate marketing

This is a pay per click type affiliate strategy. Basically you place clickable ads in front of someone either through Google AdWords or paid Facebook Ads and if someone clicks through and purchases, you get a commission. This method can be an attractive way to enter affiliate marketing because you don’t need a large scope of influence or tons of personal experience to bring in that extra income. However, you aren’t really creating any sort of relationship with the purchaser so while it might bring in revenue it’s not a true long term strategy where you’re really serving people intentionally.

Related affiliate marketing

This form of affiliate marketing is when you have some sort of presence online, whether through a blog, a podcast, videos, or whatever — and you have affiliate links to products related to your niche, but they’re for products you don’t actually use. Placing affiliate links on your site that are related to your niche is a great strategy to earn extra income. Whether it’s in the sidebar in banner form, or in a text link at the bottom of your blog post, because you have a website and some authority, people will trust you and your decision to place the ad on your site. This can be a great method if you already have some sort of online audience, though you do need to drive traffic to the place where these ads are hosted to make any sort of income.

Involved Affiliate Marketing

Involved affiliate marketing is where you’ve used a product or service, truly believe in it, and personally recommend it to your audience. Not in a banner ad or somewhere that says “recommended resources,” but within your content, as part of your life and strategy for whatever it is you’re talking about. The product almost becomes something people “have to have,” because it’s part of the process. It’s your involvement and experience with the product that makes that offer so attractive.

Affiliate Marketing Works for Anyone

Think about it, how often do you recommend things like: restaurants, software, hotels, products you love, clothing shops etc? If you find yourself always telling others about things you love, then basically marketing was made for you! With it, you’d be getting a percentage of the referrals you’re sending to your favorite things! A lot of people do affiliate marketing as a sort of side hustle or as a way to bring in additional income, but I also know some people who make a great living doing this. The opportunities are endless and if you’ve never been sure about what you want to create to sell or you don’t feel like developing a brand new product or trying to break into a saturated market but you truly love something, then affiliate marketing could be a great opportunity for you.

My Affiliate Marketing Style

I don’t do a ton of affiliate marketing. The truth is: I have so many offers and products that I’ve created myself, so affiliate marketing is secondary for me to selling my own content, courses, and products. However, there are some things that I can’t offer or don’t want to offer on my own, but things I use and love, and those are the things I choose to do affiliate sales for. I have about 5 affiliate offers that I share with my audience throughout the year and in 2018 I made over 100k just from sharing these 5 products that I love. I share things from HelloFresh (which we really, really love) to Honeybook, the invoicing and client management system I’ve used for YEARS, all the way to the all-natural skincare, Primally Pure that changed my life. I’m SUPER selective about who and what I will affiliate for because I am highly protective of my audience and what I put my name behind so I choose to affiliate for less things but with more intention.

Tip 1: Be Careful in Your Selection

The biggest thing to note is that there is a level of responsibility with affiliate marketing. Choose what you’re selling and sharing VERY carefully. You want to choose something you’re naturally passionate about, you enjoy talking about, and you’ve used and experienced first hand. I would absolutely not want to affiliate for something that I didn’t love because it would feel so awkward and out of alignment. A lot of times people are more turned on by the potential income that they choose a product that doesn’t really make sense and then they feel like or become sleazy sales people. I recommend having personal experience with the product, really testing it out and asking yourself: do I want my name attached to this?

The more that you have an experience you can talk about, that you love, that really speaks to the offer, the more people will care about it and connect to it. If you’re in it for the money, people will know that but if it truly was life changing for you or helped solve a problem for you or simply has brought you more joy, then it will come across so much more authentically and feel like you’re serving people and not selling at them.

Tip 2: Make a Plan

If you’re serious about turning affiliate marketing into a side hustle or a full time gig, then you want to treat it like a job and really create a plan around how you will market this and share about it. My biggest tip here is to focus on building a true brand and not just a “business” around it. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is that they sign up and all of a sudden, from out of the blue, their entire feed turns into a big sales pitch for a product that they’ve never even talked about in the past and they are sliding into DMs and reaching out to friends and family and that person from high school ten years ago and trying to sell something. Have you ever been totally turned off by someone doing this? I thought so. I’ve had to ignore phone calls from people trying to sell me insurance, had to leave group messages on Facebook about sales on skincare, had to decline the weird requests of people just needing a “sampler” or a model because I know what I’m about to get roped into and it feels icky and totally inauthentic.

You want to make sure that you’re using your personal stories and experiences here and really bringing each post back to your own experiences and your why in order to really show people that you’re a human who has an experience and you can be trusted. People will far more believe you and will be more likely to trust you if you continue to share YOU. Sure, there are probably a lot of other people out there selling something similar, but no one has your story. Just because you’re now selling something don’t forget the power of your story to change and transform.

Tip 3: Go Above and Beyond

One of the biggest ways I’ve found success is not just in pushing the products but in making them a true Jenna Kutcher experience for my people. From recording videos on how I personally use the products to creating separate landing pages where I share my favorite things, tips for success, even offer an extra freebie download of something valuable that will make my people enjoy the product even more. It’s not just about pushing sales but in sharing an experience and you can do that a lot easier when you really dive into affiliate marketing with strategy and intention! For me, I took a few hours one day and made a landing page on my own website with each product that I am affiliate for. I took time to share my own story, to create a list of things I loved about it, and to talk about the promo code or opportunity for my people.

I wanted to treat it almost as though I was making a sales page so that people could really decipher if they were the right fit for the product and if they were looking for a solution to a problem they may be facing. Not only are these pages branded to my business, but they also help share the things I love in a way that is true to me and not just a generic “Click here to save XYZ”. It helps educate, set up the sale, and share experiences in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise and heck, it only took me a few hours to set up, yet it’s yielding me daily results! If you’re curious about what I’m talking about or want to see it for yourself in action, head to jennakutcher.com/primallypure and you can see how I created my own page that shares why I switched to all natural skincare, my 5 favorite products, along with a specific coupon code for my people.

Authentic Affiliate Marketing Strategies

  • Tell a personal story about your experience with the product: make it a testimonial of sorts but don’t ONLY focus on the features, paint a before and after photo that can inspire people even if they don’t buy from you.
  • Use things like Instagram Stories to share about something you are affiliating for and if you have the swipe up feature, swipe up to your link or direct people to the link in your profile.
  • Create a Facebook Ad where you’re sharing the opportunity with others and make sure it helps people decipher if they are a good fit or not for purchase.
  • Write a blog post or article and make the affiliate be a part of it or a piece of the solution and then use your link there.
  • Make a freebie or an opt in that is related to the product and give it away to your followers if they subscribe to your newsletter, then serve them well via emails and offer them the chance to purchase from you.

Affiliate marketing can be huge for so, so many reasons but mostly because you are given this opportunity to create cash flow sharing things that you already love. I absolutely love about the possibility of affiliate marketing because there are just some things in life that you’ll always keep talking about and sharing that you likely would never create on your own and so the power to earn income from simply recommending things you love? It’s pretty darn cool.

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  1. Anne says:

    You sparked a lot over creative juices. Thanks! You quickly mentioned the Contract Shop – YES!!! Finally, someone doing this! I felt like the thought processes I’ve had but lacked some solutions for the hurdle to get through some legal part just blew up like a firework show in my brain. THANKS!! You rock for as you say “Be a Server” with all of you knowledge and willingness to share insight. Enjoy the snuggles on this FRIGID day up here – unless you’re at the beach. If that’s the case – whew! you lucky goose getting away at the right time.

  2. Angie says:

    Loved this podcast. Every time I listen to you I think *I CAN do this!!!* Thank you so much <3

  3. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this episode on Affiliate Marketing, Jenna! I’m the founder of LaunchYourAffiliateProgram (dot) com and can attest that the info shared in your podcast was so on point and accurate. I loved the 5 tips you had for sharing out affiliate links and really loved how you emphasized only promoting affiliate links where you are absolutely passionate about the product!

    Such a great episode {as usual!}

  4. Sarah Walton says:

    LOVE this! This is the first podcast I have heard of yours and I can’t wait to listen to more!! Thank you!

  5. […] can read in more detail about the different types of affiliate marketing and it’s benefits here. Affiliate marketing is great for photographers if you focus on products that you already use and […]

  6. […] Jenna Kutcher reported that she earned 6-figures from affiliate marketing in 2018. She’s the host of the mega-popular Goal Digger Podcast, but the cool thing is that affiliate marketing isn’t even the main way her podcast generates income. Jenna only shares five affiliate offers with her audience over the course of a year. […]

  7. Tracy Smith says:

    I have listened to all of your affiliate episodes AND done a bit of research …. but still have one big questions: if a company does NOT have an affiliate program and you are trying to come up with a proposal or system that works for both – how do you get a cut? I totally understand the ‘provide a link so my readers get 10% off’ but where do I fit in? Is it typical that readers are getting 10% but then teh affiliate is getting an additional 10% of all of the revenue traffic that they bring? what are reasonable percentages? I have a few companies that I adore that I want to approach, but want to be fair to all involved 🙂 THANK YOU

  8. […] This content was originally published here. […]

  9. melissa mayo says:

    Thank you for always being so generous and sharing your knowledge. You are a super star mamma


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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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