Passive income. Making money while you sleep. Getting out of the dollars for hours model. These are every business owners dream, right? Creating something that can generate income on its own without creating more work from you, it’s on your goal sheet. But what if you’re not quite ready for this step in your own business? What if you’re unsure what direction you will take or what product or service might be best for you and your audience? The answer for you just might be affiliate marketing! Let’s cover how to know if it’s right for you and your business, how to get started, what to look for when choosing an affiliate partner and how to approach them.
Is Affiliate Marketing right for your business?
First, what is affiliate marketing and how is it different than influencer marketing? For an in depth talk about affiliate marketing and how I use it in my own business, check out this podcast episode! Affiliate marketing is defined as when you refer people to a product or service and get a commission if they purchase because of you. Influencer marketing, on the other hand, is when you are paid per post or given a flat fee to endorse a product in a more general way. As an influencer, you are not paid based on the action your followers take as a result of their post, but rather for simply talking and sharing about it.
Both affiliate marketing and influencer marketing are powerful ways to generate income and I use both of these in my business. So when is affiliate marketing the best choice? This is often a longer-term partnership and has a more complex content strategy to be able to continuously drive traffic with the goal of completing sales that can be linked back to you.
When it comes to being successful with affiliates, it’s important that you market them seriously and with intention. I blog, post on social media and talk about my affiliates on the podcast regularly. Affiliate marketing can be a smart choice if you’re not ready to be promoting your own work yet and have the time and space to promote something for someone else and/or if you have influence with your current audience.
Examples of affiliates that I support in my business are businesses like my client management site Honeybook or the legal contracts I use within my business all the way down to my all-natural skincare that I love. These are businesses that I use every day that support my business and my lifestyle and that may be helpful for my audience.
Before you get started
The first step for both affiliate marketing is to build trust with your audience. This is crucial because if your followers aren’t engaged with your content or if they don’t trust your recommendations, they aren’t likely to click through to something that you are recommending. This is important when it comes to affiliate partnerships because you don’t get paid if people aren’t taking action, your paycheck reflects your followers trust in you and their ability to take action based on your personal recommendations!
It takes time to build the trust of your audience! Show up consistently, ask your audience questions and engage with them, share products you love without making a dime, and serve them well long before you try to promote a sale. The more you show up authentically and share the things that you actually love and that might also be helpful to your audience (even if you’re not getting paid yet), the more they will be attracted to the things you recommend in the future and will be ready to take your recommendations.
The best news? You don’t need to have a large following, it’s all about quality over quantity here! I’ve watched micro-influencers kill it in affiliate marketing because they have built a loyal following who sincerely trusts their recommendations. If affiliate marketing is something you’re drawn to explore, start to naturally incorporate posts and stories of things you’re using, loving, or that are making your life easier with your followers!
Choose companies that align with your business
Think of affiliate marketing as an extension of your brand and just another tool you have that allows you to serve your community. Look for products and services you love and are passionate about, that you can share easily. When I say “Hey I love this, you should try it”, I’m putting myself out there as a spokesperson, so I better truly love it. Make sure that you are picking people and companies that are aligned with your business standards and values. People can tell if someone is genuinely sharing something because they love it (and happen to get paid for it too) or if they are simply sharing something for a paycheck.
The next step is to look for companies that are creating products or services that are aligned with the needs of your audience but are not something you would want to create in the future yourself. As an example, I talk a lot about my health and fertility journey, and so sharing the products I use (and getting paid for them) was a no-brainer. This is just a great way to tell my story and provide a resource that helped me in my own life and might help my audience that has been along for the ride too.
Keep your affiliate circle small. Every time you are promoting someone else’s course, product or program, it’s a time when you are selling something to your audience. I am a firm believer that we should be serving our audience 80% of the time before we ever sell or promote anything. With that limited time available to us, we need to be extremely picky with the companies we choose to align ourselves with.
Consider what the payout potential is and if it is worth your time and efforts. How much of your time will this take? How much energy are you willing to put into marketing these items? How responsive is your community when you share? It’s important to think about the big picture and where your efforts are best spent (on your own business or promoting someone else’s) before diving into affiliate marketing.
How to approach an affiliate partner
If you’ve found a product that you love and use, check and see if they have an affiliate program or a way for you to have a referral code and track your efforts in sharing this with you community! Affiliates can be not only a great way to generate income but you can also get yourself free products or credits towards things you love.
If you don’t see an active affiliate program but you’re interested or curious, reach out! Genuinely share your personal experience with the product, including what you love about it and how it has impacted you. Do your research and show that you know all about them before ever talking about what you have to offer. Then present your plans in the best light and how you hope to share their offer with your audience! Consider sharing all your stats and audience demographics and why you’d make a great team. Nervous about pitching yourself? Check out 11 more ideas about how to pitch yourself here.
So what do you think? Will you be adding affiliate marketing as a revenue stream for your business? If you’d like to dive deeper into strategies for promoting affiliates, tune in to the episode How I Made 6-Figures with Affiliate Marketing.