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I talked a little about affiliate marketing in my article on how bloggers make money, but today I want to dive deeper into the topic. Whilst it’s true that just about anyone can try their hand at affiliate marketing these days, not everyone is successful. A good understanding of how affiliate marketing works is crucial if you want to end up sitting on a beach as the passive income rolls in… and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want that? So hello and welcome to Affiliate Marketing 101.
I’m so glad you asked. Affiliate marketing is when an influencer promotes a product, then earns a commission when their followers buy said product through their links.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have seen this hundreds have times before on social media. It’s often the primary way that bloggers, influencers and content creators make their money.
Let’s take the example of a YouTube beauty guru. Each time said guru creates a makeup tutorial, he or she will usually put links to the products used in the description box below the video. If you buy something using those links, the creator will earn a percentage of the sale at no extra cost to the consumer.
Affiliate marketing is not quite the same as, say, a celebrity being paid to promote a product, because you only get paid if people buy – and buy through your unique links. It’s results based and relies on you providing quality content for your audience.
It’s not a pyramid scheme, either. You don’t have to pay to sign up to a network or try to recruit others. You still have complete creative control over your content and you don’t have to aggressively sell products. Your followers are already interested in the products you use and are happy to take recommendations from you, so you may as well generate some income from it.
Let’s get down to the details. There are usually four parties involved in affiliate marketing:
1. The Merchant. A brand with a product to sell.
2. The Affiliate. You! The content creator who will post, tweet or talk about the product.
3. The Network. Lots of affiliate marketing happens through a third party network. Merchants and affiliates sign up to the network instead of communicating directly with each other. Affiliates search the network for a product to promote and then generate a unique link to include on their blog and social media.
4. The Consumer aka the person who buys the product in the end.
Not all companies use a network for affiliate marketing, however. If there’s a brand you’re really passionate about, it’s always worth approaching them about the possibility of working together. In fact, these partnerships can sometimes be the most lucrative of all! For more about pitching to brands, be sure to download my free guide here: link
It kind of sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. Affiliate marketing has become incredibly popular over the past decade. But why is it so powerful, exactly?
Think about it: how many times have you bought a product because a friend recommended it to you? Word of mouth is often said to be the most powerful way of marketing a product. Affiliate marketing works on this very same principle.
We’re constantly online and we feel almost as though bloggers and influencers are our friends. We observe their lives day in and day out. They often share very personal things with us. We feel as if we know them, sometimes quite intimately. When that connection is in place, consumers are more than happy to take product recommendations.
For example, after successful skincare vlogger Hyram gushed about the brand CeraVe, it sold out all over the world. His viewers trust him and so are eager to follow his advice.
Okay, so this all sounds pretty great, right? But sadly, it’s not as easy as sprinkling a couple of links throughout your blog post and watching the cash roll in. The good news, however, is that you don’t need millions of followers to earn an income from affiliate marketing. What you need is authority and trust.
As I said before, good affiliate marketing should feel like getting a recommendation from a friend. No-one is going to buy something because a sketchy stranger on the internet said they liked it. You need a strong relationship with your audience in order to achieve a significant number of sales – and of course, you need to actually have an audience in the first place.
In fact, affiliate marketing networks will often review your content before accepting you into the program. The requirements do vary but pretty much every network worth joining will want to see that you’re legit before they’ll let you in. If you get turned down by a network, don’t be disheartened. Work on consistently publishing high quality content and try again in a few months’ time.
Once you’re in, you can put affiliate links into your blog posts and videos from the get-go – in fact, it’ll save you a lot of time later on. However, your focus shouldn’t be on pushing products. You need to be consistently publishing useful, informative and entertaining content. Over time, your audience will come to know you, like you and trust you. But it does take time. Affiliate marketing is a long game. As I’m sure you’ve heard, there’s no elevator to success. You’ve got to take the stairs, my friend.
I can’t stress this enough. Don’t promote products that you don’t actually like. Sooner or later, people will find out that it’s no good and brand you as a big, fat liar.
It’s okay to recommend products you haven’t personally used, but do your research. For example, a skincare blogger might recommend a product they believe would work well for someone with a different skin type than their own. Similarly, a solo travel blogger might recommend a hotel that they believe would be good for couples or families. Read as many reviews as you can and only recommend something if you genuinely believe your audience would benefit from it.
Only promote a product when doing so genuinely adds value to your content. People really do want recommendations from their favorite influencers, they just don’t want to be spammed. Some good examples of this could be:
Content should always serve your audience, so before you recommend a product, ask yourself “is this helpful?” Your links should always be relevant to what you’re talking about, and it’s quality over quantity. There’s no point including loads of affiliate links in a post if no-one actually buys anything.
Your audience should always know when a link is an affiliate link. Ensure that there’s a brief statement of disclosure in every blog post that contains affiliate links so that your readers are aware. On Instagram, you could disclose this by hash tagging #sp, #affiliate, #collab or #ambassador at the start of the caption for transparency purposes. This is key to maintaining trust and it might just save you some legal drama down the line, too.
Now that you’ve got the lowdown on affiliate marketing, why not up your content game with this list of apps to help you create more engaging Instagram stories? Or if you’re just starting out with blogging, check out this guide to choosing the best platform.
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Your Luxe Lifestyle was founded by luxury world traveler Isabella Garofanelli bringing you the very best the globe has to offer in travel, lifestyle, and wellness.
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