Affiliate marketing—generating an income or commission through the promotion and recommendation of products, services, and tools that others are selling—can be an amazing addition to your passive income portfolio and a wonderful way to round out your offerings, provide additional value to your audience, and, of course, get paid in return.
Over the years, affiliate marketing has helped me generate more than a million dollars online.
Affiliate marketing is a simple concept to understand and it’s cool because you can get started right away. But, it’s not easy to master and it takes time for it to become a consistent and reliable income stream for your business.
When I started out online in 2008, affiliate marketing methods were more along the lines of finding products with great commissions, usually through an affiliate network with a number of different products to choose from. The next step was to buy advertisements through ad services like Google Adwords to drive traffic through those affiliate links.
When people make a purchase after clicking on that advertisement, you could earn a commission, and I know a number of people who have made millions using this method.
I’ve tried it myself, but I quickly lost $500 because of poor product selection and advertising.
This kind of marketing is called “push marketing,” where you are pushing out a message or offer to a target audience in hopes of capturing their attention and finishing with some sort of transaction.
My affiliate marketing methods involve more of a “pull marketing” strategy, where instead of aggressively reaching out to new people to drive sales, I’m instead including recommendations and affiliate links within existing conversations and the content that I already publish within my brand.
If you want to build a long-term affiliate marketing strategy in your business, you must think about “pull” strategies. I love these because they are less aggressive, part of a natural conversation you’re already having with your audience, and are largely based on the relationship and trust you’ve built with your audience.
Plus, when you recommend something great, it can actually strengthen the relationship you already have with your audience, because you’ve vetted and found something useful for them.
For example, half of my million dollar affiliate earnings come directly from the products and tools I recommend on my resource page, a helpful one-stop-shop that includes all of the best tools and resources my audience can use.
Without much promotion, this resource page is visited more than 100,000 times per month. You should definitely have a resource page on your site, one where you could recommend your favorite tools, books, products, classes—anything you know that will help your audience.
Personally, I only include items that I’ve used and have come to trust, and I recommend you do the same.
And that’s the secret to successful long-term affiliate marketing: promoting and recommending products that you know add value and help your audience achieve their goals, relieve their pains, make their lives more convenient, fill in knowledge gaps they have about a certain topic, etc.
Start with that, and the earnings will become a byproduct of how well you serve.
There are a lot more affiliate marketing-related topics coming up this month on SPI, but I wanted to share three tools you can use to help you as you move forward with integrating affiliate marketing into your business.
You don’t need each of these tools, but perhaps one of them will be a major game-changer for you.
Tool #1 – Pretty Link
Pretty Link is WordPress plugin (the lite version is free and all you need to get started), and it cleans up your longer affiliate links so they become shorter, easier to share and much easier to remember.
This is especially helpful if you’re mentioning affiliate links within podcast episodes or YouTube videos, or even in live situations on stage or while on a broadcast.
Plus, the plugin keeps track of the number of clicks for each Pretty Link you create.
[Full Disclosure: I receive compensation if you purchase through these links even though they are not meant to generate passive income.]
For example, I promote LeadPages from time to time on my website. The affiliate link that is provided to me from LeadPages, after signing up for their affiliate program, is:
There’s a lot going on here in the link, and of course it would be silly for me to share it the way it is on a podcast or YouTube video. Even including it as is within an email can be a little off-putting for some, too.
Thanks to Pretty Link, I can shorten and customize the URL so it’s easy to remember, share, and track:
So now, the link becomes:
https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/leadpages [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
I have more than 1,000 links set up through Pretty Link.
Some affiliate links redirect through several Pretty Link urls so that I can keep track of where on my site certain links are converting (or not).
For example, I have the main LeadPages URL I shared with you above, but I also have:
This is the link I include on my resource page (hence: rp) so I can keep track of how clicks behave on that particular page. It doesn’t matter if it’s harder to pronounce or type in, because I never tell people to do that—this is the one they simply click on when they are on that page.
The beauty of tracking on your end is that if no one clicks on the links, you know that it’s not an offer you need to keep, or perhaps you need to reframe it or incentivize people in a different way.
Pretty Link for the win.
Tool #2 – Screenflow or Camtasia Studios
One of the best (and most underutilized) affiliate marketing strategies is to tell people in your own voice exactly what they’re going to get before they get it.
For physical products, it’s a little easier to do. Just take a camera (your phone) and film yourself using the product you’re promoting.
Unboxing videos on YouTube are extremely popular, and more often than not, there’s some sort of agreement between the person opening the box and the company who supplies that product. It may be an affiliate deal, paid sponsorship, or a promotion. Sometimes the company just gives that product to that person for free in exchange for the review.
With software-based products it’s a little more difficult to film a video, but using a tool like Screenflow (if you’re a Mac user) [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.] or Camtasia Studios (if you’re a PC user) will help.
And yes, I do realize Camtasia has a Mac version as well, but I prefer Screenflow over it.
Using these tools, you can simply record whatever you’re looking at on your computer, along with your voice. Whether it’s your full-desktop view, or just a particular window, you can give people an insider look at programs, courses, and other things you use online and recommend.
This significantly increases the likelihood of someone clicking through your affiliate link, because like I said, people like to see what they’re going to get before they get it.
Plus, as you walk them through the product, they’re going to feel more comfortable knowing that you’ve used it too, and also they’ll have an idea how to navigate it, so there are no surprises.
This strategy is extremely simple, but very powerful, and I hope to see more of you doing more videos in the future.
Tool #3 – Geni.us Links
Geni.us, formerly known as GeoRiot, is a heavenly tool for anyone who is a part of the Amazon Associates Program (a.k.a. their affiliate/referral program). [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
What Geni.us does is, well, genius! You see, when you are an Amazon Associate, you can promote any product on Amazon as an affiliate and earn a percentage of the total that that person buys within a twenty-four hour period after clicking your link.
Yup. So if they buy that thing you recommended, and a whole mess of other stuff, you get a commission on all of it. But only if they live in the same country as you. If you’re an associate in the U.S., then you can only generate an income from those who purchase through your link who are also in the U.S.
People outside of the U.S. click on your link are automatically redirected to their respective country’s Amazon page, and you lose out on a potential commission.
But with Geni.us, that doesn’t happen. A Genius Link will determine what country the click is from, and redirect it through your affiliate link for that specific country.
Don’t think it’s a big deal?
Well, after using Geni.us for over two months now, it’s reported that through all of the Amazon links I’ve since shared, I have a lifetime reach of more than ninety-six countries!
You will have to sign up for the associate programs in various countries to be able to earn a commission from those countries, but it can all be done with the help of the Geni.us dashboard. I’d recommend checking your google analytics to see which countries are most popular in your audience, and then targeting those associate programs first.
Here’s the country breakdown for my site since working with Geni.us. Obviously, the U.S. has the most clicks, but the other countries in total isn’t anything to shy away from:
What Tools Do You Use?
Do you have any tools for affiliate marketing you’d specifically like to recommend? Share it below for the rest of the community!