I think we often get on Instagram and automatically put the people on our feeds into one of two baskets. The first? Influencers or celebrities who are building brands and businesses on the platform. And then the second is our personal circle, our friends, family members, those random people you met at a house party in college, and other colleagues and acquaintances.
One group shows up with a desire to grow their business, and the other is there to share their life and personal updates with people they know. But I’ve noticed there’s begun to be more of an intersection between people using the platform for business and people using it as a personal outlet. And to be totally honest, I’m here for it!
Instagram has long been a tool to share the things we love, so it doesn’t need to stop with just sharing our loved ones, hobbies, and treasured spaces! One of the BEST ways to begin using the app for more connection (and a little income boost) is by becoming an affiliate for brands you already use and love.
No, you don’t need 4, 5, or 6-figure follower counts. No, you don’t need to be a professional “INFLUENCER”. And no, you won’t feel slimy or salesy, if you’re promoting the stuff you really and truly like! So let’s have a little chitchat all about how YOU can start affiliating for your favorite brands, starting now.
Offer free promo first.
Long before I was an influencer, I was just posting the things I loved. Anytime I went shopping, I’d post that I got these cute jeans at Madewell, or these soft sheets that we adore at West Elm. Whether it’s a post in your feed or a story, be sure you’re tagging and hashtagging the brands that you already use in your daily life and would recommend to a best friend. Because that’s essentially what you’re doing! Just on a larger scale and platform.
Tagging your sources in every photo will 1. Get people used to buying from your recommendations and 2. Show brands you’re creating content for them without asking for anything in return. It sort of lays this foundation for both your followers and brands you like, and primes both of them to pay attention to what you’re doing and supporting.
Get into the habit of tagging and mentioning any brands featured in a photo or story. It’s actually funny because you’ll find people start noticing and even relying on you mentioning where you got what after offering it up for a while. I am admittedly not great at sharing the brands behind every little thing on my feed and story anymore, but I’ll get messages all day long asking for where I got a rug or a pair of sunglasses because my audience knows I’m willing to share that information!
Start becoming a source of inspiration and information for those with similar aesthetics looking to decorate their homes like yours or get cute kids clothes like your littles wear! Then you’ll have some social proof and power when you do begin reaching out to brands to become an affiliate.
See if brands have a referral program.
At the same time as you start mentioning the brands you use in everyday life, you can also start checking in with those companies to see if they offer any kind of referral system or refer-a-friend program. Off the top of my head, I can think of a bunch of brands that give any user a code to share with friends, like Airbnb, Postmates, and Winc. Just for signing up and using their stuff, they give you a code to pass along to others that gives both you and them a discount if they apply the code. Take that opportunity and run!
Begin sharing your code authentically any time you use their service or product, and over time, people will come to think of you before interacting with those particular brands, and they’ll check in to find your referral code for a discount. After sharing your code for a while as a resource for your followers, you can use that social proof as negotiating power since it’s clear you’d make a good affiliate.
So many companies already have these programs already set up, so do some research online for brands you currently use to see how you can spread the good word of businesses you already are obsessed with.
Become an affiliate with this email template.
For companies that don’t have affiliate programs, or if you’ve been using a referral code but want to become an affiliate and make money (and not just earn discounts with a brand from your offer code) — you can always reach out and pitch yourself as an affiliate. The big bonus for brands with this is that THIS is the way marketing is going. Customers want to see real people using products, not some celebrity they can’t relate to.
So put your confidence-pants on, and shoot your favorite brands a version of this email to start an affiliate relationship with them:
Hey! My name is _____. I do _____, and I love [the brand’s product or service] for [X, Y, and Z reasons].
[Here’s why you’d love to share it, and why your followers would benefit from using it, too. Keep this concise but friendly and honest!]
I’d love some kind of discount code to offer my people that you can track, and in return, I’d love _____ [usually a percentage of sales].
Thanks! [your name]
Short, sweet, to the point, and asking for what you want! Think about it… If you made a list of 50 brands you love and use every week — and trust me, 50 sounds like a lot until you think of all the food, transportation, clothing, beauty, personal care, and entertainment products we use every day — and sent this email to 5 of them a day, you could reach out to all 50 in just 10 days.
Pick some smaller and larger brands so that you have an assortment, and I’d bet that several will get back to you with an affiliate code. What do you have to lose?… Nothing! And what do they have to lose? You’re offering to get them more sales in exchange for a small cut! That’s a win-win for them to expand their reach and get some word-of-mouth marketing, which is crucial.
So, who knows?! You may be the next influencer and you don’t even know it yet! You can (and, I believe, should!) become an affiliate for the brands you love, and everyone will benefit because of it!