It’s harder than ever to make money from your digital content in 2020. The pandemic has slowed down advertiser spend, and a global push towards authenticity and truly necessary content marketing has meant that a lot of the ‘fluffier’ lifestyle content creators are suffering. If your content is meaningful then you’ll have less to worry about, but the revenue struggle is still very real.
Although advertisers are spending less money and big brands are boycotting Facebook one thing that people are still very much actively doing is shopping online, and if you’re an authoritative voice then you still have an opportunity to use affiliate marketing as a decent revenue stream.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when you as a content creator promote someone else’s product or service through a hyperlink on your platform. With effective affiliate marketing services set up, you then receive a cut of revenue if a customer clicks through to the product from your recommendation.
In October 2019 Buzzfeed even hired six ‘affiliate writers’ to create revenue-generating product suggesting pages and make more money from their affiliate marketing. This revenue can come in a variety of different formats:
Pay Per Click (PPC): You get paid for each click on the link to the partner that comes from your platform.
Pay Per Lead (PPL): You get paid if someone clicks on the link and then provides their data to the partner (signs up for a newsletter, for example)
Pay Per Sale (PPS): You get paid when someone clicks through to the link and then purchases an item from the partner site
Brands may also enter into sponsored content / native advertising deals with publishers and content creators, where the brand will pay the creator to explicitly promote their product. If this is something you currently offer brands, consider adding an affiliate program into your contracts.
How can you do affiliate marketing well?
Making money from affiliate links is all essentially run on the same principles that you use to engage your audience across all your platforms; be honest, relatable and useful. Audiences aren’t stupid and can tell when you’re spamming them with links for product for no reason other than to earn money. If you have services or products that you genuinely want to recommend then do so in the same way that you know your audience connects with, and mention that while the recommendations are all yours personally, you may earn money from any purchases made by the audience. Lots of mainstream websites and successful content creators do this already, look at some of your favourites for examples.
Think about why people read your content; is it because you’re an expert in your field and know what tools and services to suggest? Is it because you have access to heaps of product and are able to identify what’s genuinely useful and worth your audience’s money? Giving your audience good quality recommendations of products or services that you would genuinely use yourself is a crucial starting point.
It’s helpful to drive targeted traffic to your affiliate marketing pages, whether this is through internal linking on your own websites or platforms, spending a bit with Google AdWords or on social media platforms to promote a post or page, or simply by effectively using your SEO and social skills to make sure the page with your recommendations gets seen by an audience who are actively looking to make purchases. Do you have pages or posts that consistently do well that would really benefit from some smart and honest product recommendations? It’s a good idea to start there.
As with all your content experiments, ensure that you’re constantly tracking and testing new methods to see what works. Set yourself up with clear campaign links that you can track in your analytics service, and be ready to try different wording, images or placements if your links aren’t working as well as you’d hoped. Most importantly, be patient with this. Whacking a link onto a top performing page isn’t going to result in thousands of pounds of affiliate revenue overnight. Be careful, be thoughtful, be constantly monitoring the impact and be honest. It will happen once you find the right formula for your personal content brand.
How to start with affiliate marketing programs
OK, so you want to earn more money and introduce affiliate marketing into your content – but how do you start and how do you actually find the links that enable you to do this? Luckily we live in the age of Google, and searching for the product or company you’re recommending plus ‘affiliate program’ is usually enough to get started. Amazon has an affiliate marketing program called Amazon Associates where you simply sign up and can immediately start placing monetizable links across your content, for example, and the same is true of most major brands and companies.
You could also join a global affiliate marketing network such as Awin, who already have partnerships set up with hundreds of brands which they can also offer to their own partners – this is a more costly option though and would be a more realistic option if your content business has scaled significantly already and you have the budget to spend.