If so, we’re here to answer a common FAQ: how to monetize your audience. This is part two of our series – if you missed it, you can check out part one, How to Monetize Through Advertising here.
The good news is that if you’ve already got an audience, you’re well on your way to monetizing online. Growing and keeping an audience is a must if you want to monetize, and one of the most difficult things to do.
This post is to help anyone who already has a decent-sized audience, whether that’s through a blog, social media, email, or another online platform. Here’s how you can monetize via affiliate links:
Affiliate links, otherwise known as affiliate marketing, are links that you share in your content that lead your audience to a product or service on a business website. Your link will be unique to you so that the business selling the product or service knows who to attribute the sale to.
In general, affiliate marketing works by rewarding you with a commission payment for each sale. Some programs have a slightly different end goal though- for example, some offer commission for leads or for users that sign up for a free trial.
Affiliate links might include hyperlinks which you put into the text of blog posts or emails, URLs that you include in social media posts, or ads that you show on your website. In each case you’ll want to make sure that you’re using a link that identifies you as the referral source. Another type of affiliate marketing may include giving your audience your own unique discount code. For example, you’ll see influencers tell their audiences they can get a discount by using “their” specific code.
Marketer Pat Flynn broke down affiliate marketing into three different types:
You can find opportunities to join affiliate programs either directly through suppliers that you want to promote, or through affiliate marketing “marketplace” programs that pull opportunities into one place for account holders. The Amazon Affiliate Program is a well-known example.
Is affiliate marketing for you? Consider the relative pros and cons:
Affiliate marketing is not for everyone. We’d suggest that if you don’t have an audience that trusts you and who you connect with authentically, then you’re unlikely to do well with affiliate links. However, if you do have a great relationship with your audience, here are some suggestions about when affiliate marketing may be a good fit:
If you have a site that revolves around product or service reviews, this is an obvious fit for affiliate marketing. Alternatively, even if you occasionally produce review content as part of your overall content strategy, those reviews offer a great opportunity to share affiliate links.
To maintain transparency and trust with your audience, you may want to predicate review content with a sentence to tell your readers that it may contain affiliate links. People appreciate it when you’re open about your interest in those links.
The most successful affiliate marketing review sites tend to be very honest with their reviews. They’ll talk about the pros and cons of the product and be clear about who it may not be suitable for. Being authentic will play a critical role in keeping that audience you’ve worked to build up!
If you’ve built up an audience but you don’t have the time or inclination to manage a customer relationship, then affiliate marketing may be a good fit for you. While you play a role in recommending products or services, you’re not responsible for product queries, returns, or complaints. You make your commission on the sale and have no other role but to keep creating engaging content.
If you have an audience that loves to engage with your content, no matter which platform you use, then affiliate marketing may be a good choice for you. This is particularly prevalent among niche content creators, for example:
A common thread among the most successful affiliate marketers is that they have the trust of their audience. If you create how-tos, it’s reassuring to your audience to know that the product link you shared is for the exact same item you used to get the result you shared. Genuine connection comes from being honest about the topic you’re covering and any products you share.
Affiliate marketing examples are everywhere - you probably see them almost daily, whether you realize it or not. Some examples include:
Affiliate marketing can net content creators a decent amount of income without the risk of carrying inventory. While your margins will be low, top affiliate marketers make into the thousands every month, and 81% of affiliate marketers make $20,000 or more each year.
The key to doing well with affiliate marketing is to have a large audience which you continue to grow and build a trusting relationship with. People buy based on recommendations from those they trust, so only recommending products that you genuinely have tested and believe in is a good way to go.