Looking for ways to create additional revenue streams for your small business? Affiliate marketing might be for you.
This method of marketing is about finding ways to complement and grow the business you already have by offering more value to your customers and anyone else you’re reaching (especially online).
Affiliate marketing is specifically the process where an affiliate (you and/or your small business) earns a commission for marketing another’s products.
Can you believe that more than 80 percent of brands have affiliate programs? In other words, there are a lot of opportunities out there, and affiliate marketing is especially low risk. Either you’re successful and generate a commission or you’re not. There is no upfront cost (outside of your time and effort spent marketing the affiliate offer). As long as you find the right fit for your own brand and audience, there is a real potential for achieving additional revenue.
The following are four tips to get the most out of your efforts as you get started with affiliate marketing.
Find and join an affiliate program
While many companies offer affiliate programs, not all do. Generally, if you’re looking for the right affiliate program to complement your existing brand, it’s good to start by searching an affiliate network, including (but not limited to):
Of course, you could always work backwards as well, looking up the companies you would like to partner with and seeing if they offer direct affiliate programs. Many list their affiliate programs on their websites. Or, get even more direct and contact the owner of any given company you’d like to work with. Just because a company isn’t publicly promoting an affiliate marketing program doesn’t mean that they don’t have one or wouldn’t be open to creating a partnership with you.
Ideally, you should already have an engaged online audience to leverage.
Keep in mind that most affiliate marketing programs will have terms of service that you need to follow, so definitely read all of the fine print.
For example, the unique link you’re given to use usually will have a cookie with a specified timeframe. In addition, some programs don’t allow you to purchase pay-per-click (PPC) ads using the name of the product or company. It’s important to be aware of all the requirements and/or limitations as you’re choosing who to work with.
In addition, commission rates can vary widely as well. It could be a flat rate or range from 5 percent of the sale to 50 percent of the sale.
Decide what to promote
More than anything, the product or service you ultimately decide to promote on your own channels should make sense for your (or your business’s) brand. It should be a great fit for your audience.
Of course, this means that you need to have a clear idea of who your audience is, how your brand serves or helps them and anything else relevant about how your brand is viewed by online followers (whether they’re customers or not).
While it doesn’t make sense for a food blogger to promote skin care products, it would make sense for them to promote cookware, kitchen appliances or even meal kits (really, anything food-related).
You’ll also want to consider your primary publishing platforms when deciding on what affiliate products or services you want to promote. Instagram, for example, would be perfect for any products you can share great visuals of. YouTube or a blog would be great for a more in-depth review of a product or service.
Remember that the quantity of affiliate offers you promote also builds trust. Consistently sharing a select few versus a buckshot approach of throwing everything at the wall is obviously more trustworthy.
Spread the word about your affiliate offer
While affiliate marketing can grow some significant passive revenue for you and/or your business, there is still some heavy lifting up front on your part to get things going.
Sharing a review
Most commonly, affiliate marketing is based on the art of the review. And for the best review, think quality over quantity. Get personal, share your true experience and be authentic.
Authenticity builds trust with your audience in general, but especially when it comes to publishing online reviews. (You likely already practice authenticity as you built up your online audience over time, so stick with that.)
The more expensive the affiliate product, the more trust you have to build.
Your publishing channels likely will impact how you review as well. What you do on YouTube versus an Instagram Live versus a blog and so on can all bring a different angle out about your experience or how you share it. Don’t be afraid to be creative and true to not only the platform but yourself as well.
It doesn’t have to be about you or your personal experience if that doesn’t make sense for your brand. Instead, you could interview experts about the product and share what they have to say.
These experts can be part of the affiliate company who makes the product or provides the service, or it could be someone with an expert opinion whom your audience trusts.
Again, the platform you’re publishing on can help direct the type of content you create.
Create a tutorial
“How to” searches are huge on Google, so why not walk your audience through how to use your affiliate product? Whether it’s a video or a step-by-step Instagram gallery or blog, you can think outside of the box so that you can share an engaging tutorial with your audience.
Offer a bonus
Some affiliate offers can already include a discount, but if not, there might be something you can do or offer to sweeten the deal for your audience.
Maybe it’s a free ebook of yours. Maybe it’s an invitation to a private Facebook group you manage. The sky’s the limit. Just think through the logistics of how you can make good on that offer before you promote it.
But having a bonus offer can help you stand out from others offering similar products.
Keep the law in mind
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that you disclose the use of affiliate links in all posts.
But doing so isn’t a death sentence for your affiliate marketing potential. In fact, the disclosure is often appreciated by online followers who have come to expect it. When they don’t see it, they’ll often call a post out in the comments. So, being as transparent as possible isn’t just the law, it’s also a critical piece to building that trust relationship with your audience.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to consult with a lawyer when publishing a full disclosure on your website, blog or elsewhere.
Affiliate marketing is a great, low-risk way to dip your toe into alternative lines of revenue. Of course, it’s most effective to already have an engaged following (whether that’s your existing customer database or beyond) so that you can hit the ground running with a planned out strategy of content that you can share promoting the product or service that already complements your own brand.
Are you in the fitness industry? See our four tips to become a fitness affiliate marketer, as well as 18 of the best fitness affiliate programs to boost your income.
As you’re considering diving into affiliate marketing, consider leveling up your digital marketing process with DailyStory that offers automation, audience segmentation and more for all your marketing needs. Schedule a free demo with us today.