Affiliate programs market themselves to bloggers and YouTubers as an easy way to earn money from the products you recommend your followers. You can either earn a small fee per click, a commission from any sales generated or both. There is a lot of earning potential when it comes to affiliates but is it really that easy?
Ideal for content creators who make product recommendations. Affiliate marketing is the perfect fit if you are already creating content that features products regularly and you have built up a level of trust with your audience.
Access to creatives. Most affiliate programs provide you with the tools to create custom widgets for your site. This gives you the opportunity to find creative ways to display products as part of your posts or in your sidebar.
Not limited to just one program. There are plenty of programs to choose from (although there is usually an application process) and you can choose to use multiple programs at the same time. The more popular programs are Shopstyle Collective, AWIN, rewardStyle, Amazon and eBay. They are loads of smaller companies on the come up and individual retailers also host their own.
Can also be used on social media. Unlike AdSense which is limited to your blog, you can post affiliate links on social media. This widens your reach significantly and increases your earning potential. This is particularly useful if your engagement is higher on social media than your blog/YouTube channel. You can also find programs like rewardStyles sister program, LikeToKnowIt which has been built specifically for Instagram.
Time consuming to implement successfully. Affiliate marketing works best with a strategy based on how your audience engages with your content. If you have an audience that clicks but doesn't buy then you may favour a pay per click program over one that offers commission. You may find that your social media followers love to shop so a commission based program works best there. It will take time and lots of experimenting to nail down a formula that works for your platform.
Can be off putting for your regular readers. ASA guidelines require you to inform your audience when affiliate links form part of your content. Knowing you are earning a fee from your recommendations can erode the trust you have built between yourself and your audience. If your platform begins to feel like one long advert, it will turn audiences off.
Earnings can be unpredictable and you have to deal with payment thresholds. Different programs have different pay structures but for pay per click programs you are likely to only earn pennies per click. ShopStyle has an average rate of 4p per click, you would have to generate 2500 clicks before you earn enough to meet their payment threshold of £100. Commission based programs can offer rates anywhere between 1% and 15% and usually have a lower payment threshold. Amazon will pay out after £25.
Affiliate marketing requires a clear strategy and a consistent approach to deliver results. It can be lucrative if you are regularly encouraging sales from a high commission retailer. You may also find success if you are have a large audience and a high click rate. If you are time poor and not able to commit to a strategy, then affiliate marketing may prove difficult.