Way back in 2007-ish, I began my journey with affiliate sales. As luck would have it, I started selling as an affiliate for others and also started allowing affiliates to sell my digital products to their followers.
How does affiliate marketing work? When most people ask questions about how to do affiliate marketing, they are talking about being an affiliate themselves and selling other people’s products. But you can also make excellent money by hosting your own affiliate program. Let’s take a look at both sides and I’ll share some of my most profitable ways to get more affiliate sales.
How Affiliate Marketing Works
The idea of having others selling for you and earning a commission is far from new. In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, door-to-door salespeople would ring your bell and offer demonstrations for brooms, shoes, vacuum cleaners, cleaning products, encyclopedias, potato chips, and a lot more.
Long before the common-day shopping malls and interstate highways, the door-to-door salesperson was crucial to bringing customers what they needed.
Not long after, in-home shows hit the scene. This is yet another form of pre-Internet affiliate sales. Do you remember the brand names Amway, Avon, Tupperware, Mary Kay, and Shaklee? They were frontrunners which paid affiliate sales commissions to their representatives.
It’s much the same today. Although the concept has taken an online shift, the principle is identical. Companies recruit others to sell their products for them. Today, those people are referred to as “affiliates.”
Online affiliate marketing started in 1989 with William Tobin from PC Flowers & Gifts. And the modern-day affiliate sales structure was born!
But being an affiliate is only one way to make affiliate sales. You should also consider becoming the affiliate program host… the one who has products that others can sell. Here’s an overview of both sides.
How To Do Affiliate Marketing As An Affiliate
Being a successful affiliate means more than adding a few links or banner ads to your website or social profiles. Sure, that’s one way affiliate marketing works, but in order to make some serious affiliate sales, you’ll want to put a bit of creative effort into the process.
Affiliate Sales Strategy #1: Find The Right Affiliate Offers For Your List
This is my rule #1 for affiliate sales. Why? Because if you don’t have products that are applicable to your list and/or social followers, they will have zero interest in what you’re introducing them to.
So often, affiliates jump on a product because it’s a high-ticket item with a huge commission. What if that product teaches online business owners how to optimize their video channels, but your target customers don’t use video? They are into podcasts and blogging.
Your sales messages will simply wilt. Few people will have any interest in training or tools or webinars about something that doesn’t pertain to them.
Know (or find out) your customer base so you can choose which products to introduce them to wisely.
Affiliate Sales Strategy #2: Monetize Your Blog Or YouTube Channel
When most people hear the term “monetize your blog” or “monetize your YouTube channel,” they instantly think of running paid AdSense or Mediavine ads. Sure, that’s one way to do it. But there are so many other ways to cash in.
- Record Or Write Reviews For Products/Services — Shoppers constantly want to know what others thought when those customers bought the products they are considering now. Creating a blog post review or recording a video review is a personal, detailed way to offer your opinion.
- Accept Sponsored Posts — Did you know companies will pay you to write a post that highlights their products/services? The most successful ones involve you using the product in a unique way and/or teaching others how to use the product. For instance, if you’re writing a sponsored post for a pet toy, show your audience how you used the toy as a reward while training your dog to do a new trick or to stop an annoying behavior.
Find more ways to monetize your blog posts here. These work great for videos and podcasts, too!
Affiliate Sales Strategy #3: Create Campaigns Instead Of One-Off Promotions
As an affiliate, how do you normally promote? Do you create an email and send it to your list once? Do you create social media copy and post it once to each of your social profiles? That’s a great start. But did you know that most successful affiliates create entire campaigns when promoting an affiliate product?
When you ask these folks how affiliate marketing works, they’ll explain the detailed steps they use to develop complete campaigns that include multiple emails, a schedule of social media posting, possibly a video or Facebook/Instagram Live, and more.
Because the Internet travels at the speed of light, no single person will see everything you post/mail. That’s precisely why you must do it multiple times across several dates/times to reach them all. I walk you through my method for creating campaigns here.
Affiliate Sales Strategy #4: Make Friends With Affiliate Managers
One of the smartest things you can do to make more affiliate sales is befriend the affiliate manager for the company you’re promoting. Affiliate managers see a wide variety of approaches, including the ones that work and the ones that don’t.
While a good affiliate manager would never violate the privacy of other affiliates, they can offer you tips/suggestions about your campaigns that might make them more profitable.
Affiliate managers won’t have time to review every element of your promotions, but they can tell you — for example — they rarely see social media posts convert into sales, but they do see blog posts converting well. If that’s the case with this particular product, you’ll know not to waste your time/effort on social posting, but instead to concentrate on blogging.
Affiliate Sales Strategy #5: Schedule Social Posts Out For Several Months
If you use social posting software, think about this. It only takes you a few minutes longer to post the same content once or twice a month for the next 6 months as it does to post it once.
If you have evergreen affiliate promotions, go ahead and schedule them for as many months as the social platform will allow. In this way, you can create another stream of passive income with auto-posted social posts.
Don’t have any social posts? Write some! You can include:
5 Ways to Make Your Commissions Soar!
These 5 advanced techniques that will help you:
- Increase your affiliate commissions steadily.
- Build more passive income (so you don't have to work as hard).
- Take advantage of the natural flow of traffic.
- Offer your followers fun and helpful freebies without selling all the time.
I understand that I will also receive weekly articles & videos plus periodic discounts, product notices & more. I can unsubscribe at any time.
- Review blog posts
- Review videos
- Links to free content the affiliate manager might have available
- Your experiences using the product
- Mentions of bonuses offered by the affiliate manager
Affiliate Sales Strategy #6: Create Freebies For Affiliate Products You Promote
This strategy is a game-changer for affiliates! With it, I’ve won affiliate contests, and doubled (sometimes tripled) my affiliate sales for different products.
- It’s quick to create (you can be ready in 7 days or less).
- It involves no selling.
- Pulls double duty to grow your list and earn you passive affiliate commissions.
- Brings in fresh, qualified traffic when shared.
- Allows you to give something away for free with no selling needed.
- Delivers high conversions for your favorite affiliate products.
Create your own freebie to promote an affiliate product. This could be a guide, an infographic, a checklist, a cheat sheet. — whichever format you are most comfortable with.
By offering this free content from you that your follower can’t get anywhere else, you build good will and foster a sense of community.
I show you the exact strategy I use here.
How Affiliate Marketing Works As The Affiliate Program Host
The other point of view in affiliate marketing is being the affiliate program host. The host is (most often) the product creator or manager who chooses to allow other people to earn affiliate sales when they sign up to promote the available products.
Let’s walk through the basics and see if this is a step you want to take.
Affiliate Sales Strategy #7: Develop Your Own Digital Courses
Do you already have digital courses or tools you sell? If so, you’re halfway there! If you don’t yet have digital courses or tools, you’ll be excited to know it’s easier than you think to create your own first product in a short period of time.
Years ago, it would take weeks or even months to create a digital product. The process was difficult and tech-intensive. But now, the world of digital product creation is flourishing! What used to take months takes only weeks. And what used to take weeks just takes days. Plus, most of the tech is super-simple to set up and use.
In fact, Cindy Bidar has an awesome course called Lightning Fast Launches that can show you how to create your first product in a weekend. (Use code MARKETINGWORDS to save $10.)
Affiliate Sales Strategy #8: Create Your Own Monthly Membership Program
What’s better than creating your first product? Developing your own monthly membership program. What’s the difference?
A product is a one-time sale item such as an ebook or video series. Each time a customer purchases, you earn a profit.
With membership programs, your customer agrees to be billed automatically monthly for a fixed or unlimited period of time. Monthly memberships give you passive income with reliable rebills. Instead of selling a product and getting paid once, you sell a membership and get paid every month over and over until the customer chooses to cancel.
Making one sale of a $49 product gives you $49. Making one sale of a $49/month membership might bring you $147 (3 months), $294 (6 months), $588 (a year), or more!
Affiliate Sales Strategy #9: Start Your Own Affiliate Program
As the affiliate host, you need a minimum of two things:
- Something for affiliates to sell.
- Software to sell, track and pay affiliates.
We talked about what to sell (and how to create quick products) above. But what should you do about software to sell, track, and pay affiliates?
If you’re already selling digital products, check with your shopping cart software provider to see if they have affiliate modules built in. Teachable, aMember, ClickBank, Gumroad, and many others do. I personally use aMember and love it!
In addition to affiliate software and a shopping cart, you’ll want a way to start and/or grow your list. For this, I use Active Campaign. Other options include AWeber, ConvertKit, and more.
There are several moving pieces when starting your own affiliate program, so read more to get additional information.
Regardless of which way you choose to do affiliate marketing, there is money to be made! If you’re an affiliate (or an affiliate host) who doesn’t mind putting in a little effort, you can look forward to reaping the benefits of affiliate sales every month.
Start slow, but stay consistent and build gradually over time.
Have questions about affiliate sales? Talk to me below!
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