by Jenna Kutcher
Tune in: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher
This is one of my very favorite topics that truly anyone with a following can pursue in order to make more money — without creating, packaging, shipping, or building a darn thing… Other than content. Affiliate marketing is one of THE best ways to start generating passive income and getting paid to share the things you already adore AND that you likely already share with your people because of said adoration.
It’s not about having thousands, tens of thousands, or millions-plus followers. It’s not about having any air of celebrity or a household name. It’s not even about whether you consider yourself an “influencer” or not. The KEY is that if you want to successfully affiliate with a brand and see success doing it, there NEEDS to be passion and authenticity behind who you choose to represent and partner with.
People have strong as heck BS meters, and they can tell when you’re sharing about something just to make a buck. It comes through, no matter how great your photos are or how clean your copy is. We’re going to dive a little deeper and get into some updated affiliate marketing topics for the new year and decade, because I’m constantly evolving and figuring out new ways to approach all marketing techniques, including affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing defined
Affiliate marketing is when you promote a certain product or service to your people and then you get a commission when they decide to buy from that brand. It’s pretty dang cool because for so many of us in this online world, it’s an extension of the offers we’re serving our people with, and it allows us to bring a fuller spectrum of goodies to our followers without having to create everything from scratch ourselves.
Affiliate marketing is awesome because I’d never formulate my own skincare or create a food subscription company, so it allows me to share and incentivizes me to share while also being a pretty killer way to make more income without having to make more things. You’re getting a cut to share stuff you love, the brand gets more eyes on their goods, and your audience is introduced to a new product or service thanks to their trusted comrade on the ol’ interwebs, which is you!
We spend so much of our time online posting things we love, things that have added value to our lives or helped us in some way or brought us more joy, or convenience, or efficiency — we naturally do that with out trying! And your people are listening AND following suit. You know this, right? Because you wouldn’t share it otherwise — you want to help your followers experience the same benefits you have by sharing the things you’re loving and living for! So why not get a cut of the sales in exchange for your raving plug?
THAT is the whole point of affiliate marketing and it’s something you can do whether you have a 100 followers or 10,000. Now before you start seeing dollar signs and getting overzealous, I don’t think you should just start trying to affiliate for every brand you’ve ever loved or used, or ones with a known high commission structure that’s tempting, but start with just one that you’ve used for a good while, something you love and trust, and that your ideal followers would also benefit from knowing about.
How YOU can get into it
A lot of brands out there have affiliate or referral programs set up because they want this sort of word-of-mouth marketing to continue flourishing for their growth. So my thinking is: there’s no harm in asking if you can be the one to promote their stuff. Heck so many brands have it built in as a part of their natural strategy from airBnb’s refer a friend code to Daily Harvest’s give $20 off smoothie code, most brands see the value in this type of consumer to consumer marketing that you might have codes waiting that you can share to see if this type of selling works for you.
If a company you love and want to promote has a program set up already, go through that process of applying to become an affiliate. And if they don’t have a formal program, still most brands, even smaller ones, might happily provide you a personalized link to share with your followers.
Just send them an email sharing your interest in becoming an affiliate for them and how their product has impacted you by using it, as well as why you think your audience could benefit from using it too.
How to diversify your affiliate marketing
Let’s say you’re interested in becoming an affiliate for two or three of your fav brands… Just like your investments and other streams of income, you want to try to diversify your affiliate plan as much as possible while still being certain the brands you partner with make complete sense for your audience.
What I mean by that is that you won’t want to partner with a brand that’s totally off-topic in regards to the content you normally share with your followers, and a good way to check this is by asking yourself if you wholeheartedly believe in the product itself. Like have you already been sharing it for free? Would you talk about it with zero incentive? Are you excited to share it or does it feel forced when you think about it?
For me, the answer needs to be a 100% yes in order for me to promote it as an affiliate. I can’t feel wishy washy about it and then feel good telling my audience they’d love it too, so it’s of utmost importance that you’re all in with all of your affiliates.
That confidence in a product will translate as you share it and show that you use, love, and trust a brand, so your people will be more inclined to do so, too. But try not to keep it to just one niche, EVEN if your own brand is super niche. For instance, I run an online marketing business, so even though you might expect me to only partner with tools and programs that digital entrepreneurs would want to use, I choose to share beyond that niche.
Diversify HOW you share about affiliates
Beyond just wanting to have a wide scope of types of brands you partner with, it’s important to diversify how you’re sharing about them. The key to capitalizing the most on your affiliate partnerships is to share often and share in a creative way. Your audience is likely changing and growing every week, so how can you serve your new and your existing followers with content that supports and helps them in every way?
For me this has looked like a wide array of affiliate marketing pushes, both large and small. For the digital course created by my biz coach Dean Graziosi, The Knowledge Business Blueprint, we went big.
Since its launch is a specific and considerably small period of time, we didn’t shy away from pushing it hard while it was in launch because I KNEW it could benefit so many of my followers and so I wanted to hit any potential pain points or objections they might have during that window and also encourage them why it could be a good fit for them.
I shared resources, success stories, Q+A opportunities, insider looks, access to Dean and Tony, student reviews, and all kinds of helpful info in all the places all the time during launch, from my podcast and blog to all social media platforms, email, Facebook groups, and paid ads. I wanted to paint the picture of what is possible, and how it could change their life, so I shared all the resources in all the places while the cart was open!
And I believe in this program so deeply that for the second year I even added my OWN bonuses if people were to sign up using my link. I created a private Facebook group to walk alongside and lead KBB students who signed up through my affiliate URL and committed to being a mentor for those students among other things.
Are you starting to understand how this all can work, not just for me, but for you too? It’s not enough to just share an affiliate link once and then call it a day. When it’s products and goodies that are actually useful to the masses and things you can’t get enough of, you need to share it as often and as creatively as possible.
Checklist for Sharing about Affiliates
1. Did you talk about your personal experience with the brand? Whether it’s a social media caption, a blog post, or something else, you always want to weave in your own experience with the product or service: how it’s helped or shaped you, how your life is better because of it, how you found it and fell in love with it. People fall in love with stories, not things, so tell yours again and again. Your personal experience will sing louder than any brand generated testimonial from a stranger.
2. Did you share the reason this thing even matters? Walk people through how it works, why it matters, and lead them to understand what could be possible for them if they chose to invest in it, too. If you ONLY share your story, people will think: That’s great, but why does it matter to me? Paint the picture of opportunity for others and what they could gain, earn, or experience by clicking purchase.
3. Did you share about it in an original way? Skip on any of the provided templates brand might send — or if you’re a part of a direct marketing company or MLM, it’s always, always, always better to hop into a free design hub like Canva and create your own simple and pretty graphics rather than using overtly branded graphics that don’t fit your own aesthetic. Use your own voice, vibe, and brand for the graphics, images, and words associated with the affiliate post. It should NOT read or look like an ad. This is about you sharing stuff you like in your own, unique way.
4. Can you throw in your own bonus? There’s always a little more intrigue when you can sweeten the deal with a personal bonus from you if possible. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy; in fact simple is better! It could be access to a freebie of yours, a 10 minute call with you, a repost on IG story if they mention you. Just something that fits for your people and gets them even more interested in the offer and ready to take action.
5. Are you sprinkling little hints to your dream affiliate brands in your other content? It’s always best to lead with breadcrumbs and share the stuff you love before you ever have the opportunity to make a cent from affiliate marketing, so share about using it before you ever monetize, talk about why you love it, and spread your passion before you ever go for profits. See if people enage with that content, if they are curious or excited about it! That will be a good gauge if it can become a successful avenue for you.
6. Is the offer custom? IF you can, a custom offer goes miles further than something quick or generic. Creating your own affiliate landing pages, email campaigns, dedicated blog posts and so on is super impactful and can paint the full picture of why it matters to you AND why it should matter to your audience.
Plus, the more branded to you, the more likely people will trust YOU not a company or product. After being an affiliate for a few brands and sharing some of my favorite things online, I began getting the same questions for certain things over and over: like “what was your favorite skincare again?” or “what was that software you use to host your courses?”
7. Do you have extra content to back up the cornerstone content? Create content that supports what you’re selling: blogs, podcasts, emails, social posts, Instagram stories, you get it, these drop small puzzle pieces and reminders to your people so they don’t feel like it’s a hard sell but an ongoing conversation. People need to trust your personal experience to take action and it’ll likely take multiple exposures for people to actually take action, so don’t just post once and judge results from that. Be in it for the long game.
The Big Picture
Whew, that was a lot but I hope it was super helpful. Now that you know my personal checklist for making the most of my affiliate partnerships and being sure the content I share to promote them fits my brand’s vibes AND my audience’s needs! It’s all about creating the potential and walking your people through what’s possible for them if they were to buy into the stuff you already love and can’t get enough of.
And the big bonus is that once you begin sharing and re-sharing your favs as an affiliate, people will start to see you as an expert in that thing. Like I never expected people to ask me literally on a daily basis what that amazing nontoxic skincare line that I love was and what products are my faves — but that happens now and I gladly get to share my Primally Pure addiction with the world so that they can feel great about what they use on their skin too!
It also creates this more well rounded version of you as a human, a professional, and for your brand because you’re an expert in the thing you offer AND in these products you partner with. And to me, well rounded people are more interesting people, and I know you’re alllll that and a bag of chips.
So put yourself out there, start making those connections with brands you’re a diehard for, and then begin sharing about them regularly, organically, and originally so your folks can see the magic you see in them! You’ll be bringing in those dolla bills in no time and spreading the gospel about all the soulmate-level brands in your life, and trust me when I say, it’s the best feeling.