Passive income is a catch phrase these days and while no income is entirely passive, the idea around having consistent income that doesn’t require a boatload of work is a crucial piece of building a truly sustainable business and life that gives you FREEDOM.
If finding more passive income or adding additional revenue streams to your life and business has been something you’ve thought about but creating something from scratch just feels too big or out of reach right now, I have the solution for ya, friend: affiliate marketing may very well be exactly what you’ve been searching for in your business.
While there are definitely a few downsides to the digital age we live in, there are SO MANY upsides to it, too: and one of those is the equal opportunity each and every one of us has to build connection and trust and to create community with people all across the world through the internet. When you have that, you can very well have an opportunity for a gold mine on your hands, too.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is NOT the same thing as influencer marketing and it’s also not the sale as an MLM or direct sales.
With influencer marketing, you’re usually going to see structures like being paid for a specific sponsored post, being given a flat fee for a product endorsement, or even receiving a free product in exchange for a mention of that product if you truly love and use it. You get paid once regardless of how effective the marketing is and the brand gets the results from your effort.
Now here’s the main difference between influencer marketing and affiliate marketing. With affiliate marketing, you’re getting a commission based on referring your friends and followers to a program, product, or service you’re really obsessed with.
The best part about affiliate marketing is that for the person purchasing, they usually get an exclusive offer, % off or a bonus item without paying a penny more, so you get to be the one who passes on the savings and in their purchasing through you, you will collect the commission.
Building an engaged audience
Before you write yourself off as not able to succeed at affiliate marketing, you must know that you DO NOT need tons and tons of followers to be successful and to drive results as an affiliate.
It’s not necessarily sharing with the masses but letting the people you love know about something you love. So whether you’re grassroots in texting your friends or sending them a code the old fashion way or you’re planning to do this digitally, it’s all about trust.
While you don’t need 10k to move the needle, you DO need a following that trusts you and that is engaged with you. They need to care about what you have to say.
If you’re starting from the ground floor, at zero followers, first things first — you’re not too late. I actually have an entire podcast episode about starting from square one with social media.
It’s important that you are a trusted person to go to when it comes to recommendations. Continually ask for your audience’s input and advice, communicate with them honestly and openly, make your feed a place where you talk about all of the things you love in order to support THEM.
When you do that, you’ll start creating an audience that is truly invested in you and what you stand for, and the affiliate marketing is just a bonus attached to that. Community online is real, and you’ll be amazed at what can happen when you create one.
It might not make you money for a while, but consistency works for a reason. Once you’ve built a following that you’re consistently talking to and growing with, it might be time to start thinking about affiliate marketing.
Do you find it easier to sell OTHER products to people?
A lot of times we apologetically sell our own things or we undervalue what we bring to the table, but for most of us… nothing stops us from waxing poetic to our besties about our favorite travel mug or the best new pair of jeans we just discovered. Does that sound like you?
If you find it easy or even fun to sell someone else’s products, that’s a great sign for having success with affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing sometimes feels easier and more approachable to us, because it often feels more natural to brag up something we didn’t create.
Plus, we get to convince people how life changing something is! It’s a great way to hone your selling slash serving skills and gain confidence while sharing something you love.
Are you competitive?
As an enneagram 3, an achiever, it’s natural for me to love to perform and compete and since most of entrepreneurship is just you against yourself, there’s a cool aspect that can be found in some affiliate programs that can bring out a different side of you.
If you like to be in community but also in competition, then affiliate marketing might be for you! Fun fact, a lot of affiliate programs have leaderboards and contests and during concentrated pushes there’s added incentives like shop value or free all-expenses paid trips or gift cards or more cash.
These contests are an excellent way to make some extra money while honoring that competitive spirit of yours. From Black Friday sales contests to monthly focused products to specific cart open and close periods, affiliate marketing is the perfect place to harness that inner competitive athlete and close some sales while you’re at it.
Are you not ready to create your own product?
If you’re anything like me, there are tons of products you own and services that you use that you’re OBSESSED with but would never ever dream of creating on your own.
Just because you love a product doesn’t mean you’re wanting to start an entirely new business to get in on the action. There are things I affiliate for that I will never create and have zero desire getting into, but my audience is aligned or interested in learning more about those things.
For instance, I love clean skincare. Love it. Non-toxic beauty, skin, and personal products are a massive part of my life, from my everyday makeup cabinet storage all the way to my fertility journey, and I love sharing about it because it has truuuly changed my life in so many ways.
But, there are few things that sound worse to me than somehow getting involved in creating a skincare brand, dealing with inventory, developing the actual products. It’s just not for me, personally. At all.
However, I love the marketing strategy behind sharing my passions and getting products I believe in out there, and affiliating with brands I love but don’t have a desire in competing with and the fact that I can share their products allows me to focus solely on the strategy and leave the creation, formulation, and fulfillment to someone else.
Do you want to get started as an influencer?
Every day I get messages and DMs from women asking the question, “How can I become an influencer?” and you all know my thought that if you have one follower, you already ARE an influencer but I think these DM’s are asking the wrong question.
They should be asking, “How can I make money sharing things I love?” That’s the real business-minded question and the truth is, I would recommend affiliate marketing 10 out of 10 times because it’s the best way to learn how to use your influence to inspire people into action.
Affiliate marketing can be a really good jumping off point if you’re wanting to get involved as an influencer but you don’t have the engagement rates or stats to back it up to brands quite yet.
The thing is, affiliate marketing is the perfect way to get results, earn money, and be able to provide stats for brands you want to work with. You can test what drives the sales, figure out your own marketing plan, collect the data and get your feet wet to see if creating content and influencer marketing are things you actually want to get more into.
Are you exhausted by selling your own products?
Affiliate marketing can be a tangible way to still drive revenue and be using your influence during off times which can be really valuable if you’re feeling run down from selling your own products and need a minute to catch your breath.
At the same time, it’s also a great income stream to bring into your business if you’re looking to pivot to something new! Affiliate marketing is the best way to expand or extend your brand or introduce your audience to new offers between your own launches.
There are a couple of ways this works: one being from a business and financial perspective, and the other one being from a brand perspective. If you’re in a slow season in your business or in a period where you want to take a little break, affiliate marketing can make you some extra money with minimal front-end work.
But, at the same time, bringing affiliate marketing into your business is SUCH a great way to open both your brand and your audience to new things, which is a positive for everyone involved.
Do you learn best from others?
If you’re a “doing” kind of learner, like a lot of us are, affiliate marketing can be really valuable to your own business and strategic mindset. There’s a reason that things like masterminds, courses, and workshops are such great opportunities: different perspectives can bring your businesses to entirely new heights, and that’s the same thing when it comes to affiliate marketing, too!
A lot of affiliate programs give you launch materials, swipe copy, and selling recommendations, some even let you see behind the scenes of their own process. You get to learn while you’re implementing and taking action, that way, you get to watch, learn and participate while also getting to study what’s working for others.
While not everything an affiliate program does is going to work for your own business, there’s a 95% chance that you’ll learn something just from being a part of it, whether that something is a practice you want to implement or avoid. This is a hands-on learning experience and you get to learn from the brand as well as from other affiliates with the added bonus of making money, you really can’t go wrong with it either way.
Make the most of affiliate marketing
First off, ONLY partner with businesses that you TRULY love and that align with your brand. I cannot underscore enough how important it is that you do NOT undermine an ounce of your audience’s confidence or trust in you in order to get a quick paycheck.
I also want to encourage you to be selective with the affiliate partnerships you do choose, because they can take energy to promote in a way that makes the whole thing worth it for you financially.
When you either approach a brand or are approached by one, always consider that: is this partnership going to be something that you’re willing to focus on? Is this a brand you love enough to share about it consistently? Is this something your audience will love, too?
The most successful partnerships come from responsive communities and a willingness to share space with another product or opportunity.
Affiliate marketing action items
First, click around the websites of the products you’re already using. Do they give you a custom promo code or referral link without even having to apply to an affiliate program? So many online businesses build referral and affiliate programs into their sales strategies these days, so you might be sitting on referral codes you don’t even realize you have!
Next, decide when and how you’re going to share these affiliate links. In an Instagram post? A series of IG Stories? A creative and entertaining Reel? Leverage the content creation methods you love the most to share why you love the product or service so much.
If you have your own website, you could also build a mini-sales page or landing page with an original photo or video of you using the product, a brief write up of why you love it, and a button to click through to purchase with your link.
The best part about creating these mini-sales type pages on your website is you can create an easy to remember URL, like jennakutcher.com/primallypure. Sometimes, actually most of the time, affiliate links are long, not-so-pretty links. If you don’t have the swipe up feature on your Instagram, getting people to those links is more challenging, so make it as easy as possible for your audience to shop through your link with a mini-sales page and a custom slug.
Lastly, lean on your own experience with the brand. The brand likely talks about all the bells, whistles, and features of the product. They will take care of that piece for you but what YOUR secret sauce is, is your personal experience that no one else shares.
Share your own transformation, paint the picture of before and after, let people into how YOU specifically use the product. Don’t just repeat or use the same tactics of the brand, your job as an affiliate is to give a personality to the offer and so it’s important you let YOUR personality shine in the process.
The Big Picture
Any way you spin it, finding new ways to create passive, regular income in your business is such an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to building something that gives you freedom.
With affiliate marketing, you really can start diversifying your income simply by sharing the things that you really love! And, on a different level, affiliate marketing is such an incredible opportunity for opening your audience and your brand up to new things.
Plus, now that I think about it a little more, some of my truly favorite things, brands, and businesses of all time have all been ones I’ve only discovered because my friends and Instagram follows have shared them. From capsule clothing collections to vitamins to razors, I have found some truly phenomenal brands and businesses to support… all thanks to the magic of affiliate marketing.
Now, it’s your opportunity to share your favs and get in on the action. Hey, why not give it a shot, right?!