Turning a passion project – whether that’s an Instagram page, a YouTube channel or a blog- into something profitable is a dream that most endeavor to achieve. And affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make that happen.
But this form of performance-based marketing takes much more effort than just signing up for an affiliate program and adding a few links to your content to build strong enough affiliate marketing relationships that end up creating a constant stream of income for creators.
Behind every good affiliate marketing strategy is the hand of incredibly valuable and creative content. Content is key to affiliate marketers and as such content marketing – where a person or brand creates and shares content online, thus enhancing audience perception of the content creator and increasing their interest in their products or services- is the most important step to earning money from affiliate marketing.
So before you unleash a barrage of affiliate links, let’s take a step back and think about what the types of content can help you get started? What kinds of content can smartly toe the line between entertaining and informational?
One of the easiest and simplest types of content where you can promote affiliate products is reviews. A quick write-up or video that sums up your honest opinion of a product based on your own personal experience can be much more impactful than you believe.
The goal with such content is to be thorough and helpful, without outrightly promoting the product. It’s important to keep the trust of your followers- which means highlighting what you love about a particular product and its uses in an honest manner.
A brilliant example of product reviews that work simultaneously as content marketing and affiliate marketing are reviews of beauty products. YouTubers Soph Does Nails and Nyma Tang both reviewed Rihanna’s Fenty makeup line, in their own unique styles, playing to their individual strengths; While Soph reviewed what the Fenty products look like on pale skin,
Nyma showed her subscribers what the darkest foundation shade looked like on her skin.
Both influencers know their audience and chose to create custom content for a specific- and majority- section of them, rather try and appeal to everyone. And thus, they did a great job with their affiliate marketing.
Another exceptional example of a company that became a success story with its product reviews is The Wire Cutter. Managing to generate over $150 million in affiliate sales, the company, made its fortune by reviewing products. Focussing mainly on gadgets, they have a team of experts that personally test the gadgets – for nearly 70 hours- before they promote with a refreshing air of brutal honesty.
In the same vein as reviews, another solid form of content is product comparisons. Based on the questions of audiences regarding what products to buy, a product comparison post/video can attempt to figure out what’s different about two competing products in order to determine which one is best for them, and by extension their followers.
We Rock Your Web does a good job of this by pitting small business accounting software products against each other in a comprehensive comparison post. By including mini-reviews of each product, a ranking of their top three picks, and a comparison table that looks at the products’ features and costs side-by-side, the site manages to collate every bit of information that could be valuable to anyone trying to make a decision. This sort of comprehensive comparison helps builds trust thereby encouraging your audiences to through one of those links and make a purchase.
Written reviews and comparisons are often the most convenient choices of content when it comes to affiliate marketing – it’s much easier to link within a text than other formats- visual content- such as YouTube videos– is still a strong contender. In fact, there are a lot of people who prefer watching informational videos or step-by-step tutorials in place of text.
A great tutorial that makes uses of links to multiple affiliate products, is this video
by YouTuber Tess Wicks of the channel Wander Wealthy, which explains how she organizes her day as an entrepreneur. Subtle, and shot with a storytelling angle, her mentions of each product in the video creates the perfect base for affiliate marketing; and her viewers don’t even realize it!
The best videos tutorials for affiliate marketers are product reviews, how-to videos and best of videos. One good example of how a how-to tutorial can look is Envato Tuts +which has a number of short videos that teach viewers how to do multiple things in Microsoft PowerPoint.
Another option is to combine words and videos; giving people the best of both worlds. Online entrepreneur, Yaro Starak pulls that off with impressive results over at the Entrepreneur’s Journey blog as he uses both text and film to lay-out his story, reviews and everything else he covers.
An example of his creative approach, is when he writes about using a stand-up desk, where he uses both formats to explain the reasons for why a stand-up desk is worth it and how to put one together- he includes a number of links to the specific products he bought to put his stand-up desk together, thus proving that using video doesn’t necessarily hamper your ability to use affiliate links.
One more route that affiliate marketers can take is that of educational webinars, which takes into consideration what informational topics are relevant to the affiliate products you represent, crafting an educational and profitable webinar from it. For example, if your blog is focused on arts and crafts, and your affiliate products are mostly art and DIY supplies, you could host a webinar on ’10 things you can craft without hurting the environment’ that highlights the products. Similarly, if you run a baking/cooking channel or blog, a creative webinar would be ‘5 ways to deal with food allergies as a foodie’.
A great real-life example of a successful webinar is the one set up by The Freelancer’s Union, that is based on tips to help members Save for Retirement with the help of Honest Dollar,
a company that provides retirement plans; to help with affiliate marketing they set up a special price for members to sign up with, thus keeping track of the customers who came to Honest Dollar via The Freelancer’s Union promotion.
Webinars are dynamic in the sense they allow the content to be more interactive. This means the audience engagement can be increased by including surveys or taking questions throughout the webinar. However, it is worth noting that a webinar requires more of a time commitment – from the side of audiences- than most of the other content types, so it’s essential that it’s packed with useful tips and information that make it worthwhile.
Seasonal content is another interesting path to take when it comes to using affiliate links. If it’s July aim for content that celebrates vacations in the sun and if you’re in December join the Christmas cheer. A perfect example of this type of content can be found on the blog The Frugal Girl, where she uses the “new year, new me” trend of a brand new year to promote a good deal on cleaning supplies.
While we’re on the topic of festivities, something that can’t be ignored are the gifts; so many to give, so many to receive. Affiliate marketers can profit off this frenzy as well, by putting together a gift guide that includes affiliate links. This gift guide published by Beth of the blog Budget Bytes collected a number of items that not only worked as persuasive affiliate marketing but also reflected her vibrant, frugal brand in an authentic manner- bringing about sales, without appearing too promotional.
While gift guides do best during the holiday season, this doesn’t have to hold you back from using guides as a means of monetizing your content. A particularly popular type of guide is long-form guides, which pack more useful information in an open and accessible format. A great piece – titled ‘ The Ultimate Guide to Building a Personal Website’- that makes use of this is on the College Info Geek site, where the owner Thomas describes in 9000-word detail all the specific steps required to start a website, from picking a domain and web hosting plan to choosing from popular themes.
The guide includes affiliate links that will make him money in a context where the products answer just what his readers are looking for. This is a win-win situation wherein his readers get a ton of value in the form of free information and, as a result, are more likely to click through and take advantage of the deals he offers.
List roundups are a simplified yet equally effective version of guides, which works just by curating a list of similar items, all in one place, thus saving people the time and trouble of going out and finding those products and deals on their own. Previously mention the site, The Wirecutter maintains a similar list of good deals, along with more specific lists of products like The Best Accessories for Your iPhone and iPad.
While product reviews and guides describe why a product is great to use, an innovative way to keep your content moving forward is sharing what results you’ve had after using it. So if you have a success story behind a product you’d like to become an affiliate for, then share it, thus enhancing your marketing strategy and strengthening your pitch to that brand. This case study by visual branding and social media graphic designer Lindsay Scholz where she details how she grew her email list with a quiz using Interact, is a great example.
Blog posts, videos, and social media are the perfect places for your best-performing affiliate marketing products, successfully helping influencers monetize their content. But it’s also a smart move smart to have a Resource page on your website that can act as a full directory of everything you recommend.
By creating this list and putting it on your website, you can also create additional affiliate marketing content that will generate sales if someone decides to buy something from your affiliate link. A great example of this is the Resource page on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income. He is also someone to look up if you want to know more about optimizing your content for affiliate marketing sales.
Content marketing has gained a lot of buzz for good reason. Providing valuable information packaged in creativity is the best way to gain the loyalty of audiences thus steering them towards smart purchasing decisions, that end up not only benefit them but also ends up making your passion project profitable. The content types mentioned are only the tip of the iceberg, and with some thought, creators can expand and branch out into authentic, never-seen-before content that is truly helpful to others and also a way to gain maximum more profit from your affiliate marketing.