Creative Business

Affiliate Marketing for Creative Businesses

How to make money with affiliate marketing

This site contains affiliate links. I may be compensated in some way, or receive a commission or free test product, (at no additional cost to you) for sharing these links. My opinion will always be honest and true, and I will only recommend products and services that I use, or have tried and approve. 

We hear so much about passive income, making money while we sleep, and scaling our creative online businesses, but there are not many tips out there for how to do it, unless we are buying someone’s funnel course, or something else that we barely understand when just starting out.

When your business is new, and you are just ready to get your feet wet a little, or get a foot in the door, so to speak, affiliate marketing is a great place to start.

how to m onetize your blog, best affiliate programs, affiliate income

We will cover:

  • Amazon Affiliates
  • CJ (Commission Junction)
  • Share-A-Sale
  • Brands that you sell (Direct Links)
  • Brands that you use (Direct Links)
  • Brands with their own program
  • How and where to share your affiliate links
  • Required disclaimers

Amazon Affiliate Program

Amazon Affiliates is the one that everyone is always so excited to join. Everyone shops Amazon, right? Well, there is a good and a bad to that, and more than one way to make money with Amazon.

Amazon is pretty easy to get affiliated with, and if you have a WordPress site, they even have a plug-in for linking items directly into your website. That is tailored information that I will share in a separate post, as everyone does not have a WordPress site.

You can have an Amazon Influencer account, an Amazon store, or for the purpose of this post, use Amazon affiliate links. Once you have an approved Amazon account, they will give you access to the Stripe, which is at the top of your Amazon page when you sign into your business account. It does not work in the app.

You search, as usual, for the item you want to recommend, and select it from the choices. At the top of your stripe, you have choices for Text, Image, Text and Image or Custom. I always use Text. When you click Text, a box appears with a short link to the item, customized to your affiliate code. You copy and paste that link to your blog post, or in Facebook or Twitter. On social media, once you apply the link, it shows the image from the link. Amazon’s rules change quite often, so I do recommend that you check them often, to make sure that you are following policy as to where and how you can post.

On my blog, I link to the item being discussed. Here, I will put a link to the paintbrush in the above photos. You click select to select the words you wish to link to (Here in this instance.) or you can add the link visibly. Like here: https://amzn.to/2ZdhNrx .

It does not look as professional to show the actual link, in most instances, so the majority of bloggers use the first method.

Do you ever see your favorite celebrity or big wig in your industry post a picture of herself in a new floral duster or bomber that “is life”, you just have to try it, so soft, so flattering, on sale, some big secret she is sharing with you, and you HAVE to have it? Well, that is affiliate marketing at it’s best. She is being kind enough to share a link that she will make big bucks on, when all of her followers buy one, so that they can be beautiful and successful, too.

It’s likely that link is not to Amazon. Remember I said there was a good and a bad? Well, the good is said to be that any link of yours that someone follows is good for 24 hours. It does not matter what they buy, or if they leave Amazon and go back later. They are yours for the day. Apparently Jennifer Allwood in her early days, shared a link that she expected to make 40 cents on, and woke up to $400 in commissions, because someone bought an ATV on Amazon after following her link for a paint brush, or something very similar. That’s the good.

The bad, well, it always feels great to be able to offer an affiliate link when someone asks what product you are using. Amazon has everything A to Z, so it is so easy, but you are not going to get rich on it. (Unless you know a lot of people who are interested in buying ATV’s on Amazon, I guess.)

Case in point. I got a new hair straightening brush thingy. If you have seen many of my videos, you know my hair is wild. It’s half curly, half bushy, and can be way out there, when it wants to be. I don’t like messing with it. I go to bed with it wet, and in the morning, it goes up or in a ponytail, depending on how bad the bush grew overnight.
Well, even old girls like me want to try to look nice now and then, so I ordered the thing. IT IS FABULOUS. (Seldom used, but fabulous, when I do! Lol) So, I did a video of it. I showed pictures of my before and after. I posted it on Facebook. I got comments, DM’s, and all kinds of questions about it. I know at least 3 people bought one, because my daughter bought one off of my link while we were stuck in traffic, and 2 friends told me they received and loved theirs. I made….11 cents. That was in December, and my oldest daughter told me she followed my link and did all of her Christmas shopping, too. 11 cents. So, there you go. Jennifer Allwood made $400, and I made 11 cents.

Should you bother with Amazon? I say yes, because you never know when someone may need an ATV, and it is easy, and eventually, hopefully, maybe, you will have the kind of following that the big guys have and wake up to big deposits. It is always worth the work.

One more thing about Amazon. They offer bounties for new members to Audible that are huge ($50) and they offer huge commissions if you push their stuff…Kindle, Kindle Fire, Alexa, etc., so it is possible to be smart with your Affiliate Marketing with them and make more than you would by sharing your favorite paintbrush or hair tool. Use it wisely, and you can make more money. Bounties also include Prime and Kindle membership free trials, baby and wedding registries, and a lot of electronics. There are promo codes available for you to use, too.

Last, but not least, what Amazon giveth, Amazon can taketh away. If you do not follow the Amazon terms of service, they will yank your credentials faster than a kid getting the last fry out of the bag. They change the rules quite often, and they can…well, because they are Amazon, so remember to play by their rules, always.

The Affiliate Network Clearinghouses aka The Big Guys

The next BIG way to get into affiliate marketing is by joining the big clearinghouses of affiliate businesses. Commission Junction, now just cj.com and Share-A-Sale are the two largest. They manage the affiliate programs for thousands of businesses, and most all of the big guys, like Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Lowe’s, Home Depot. (You don’t make as much on the big accounts, similar to Amazon.). Inside the clearinghouses, a lot of the businesses still control who they allow to become affiliates for their brands. I have not been accepted to all who I have applied. The commission percentage, or pay per click, varies per business, too.

The clearinghouses are where you can find your goldmine, though, because there are so many advertisers that you can write about/share. If you were blogging and sharing to Pinterest, it could be an all day, every day job. You just have to be careful to be authentic and true and not spammy. Personally, I feel it is unethical to use your status to promote something that you do not truly believe is worthwhile, just for commission. For some, they see it as a job, and do not have a problem with promoting anything and everything. Be warned, though, the platforms themselves (Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram) do not like to be used for over promotion/spam, and can (and likely will) slow down your reach if it feels you are being spammy. Choose wisely, and be authentic.

Affiliate marketing, share a sale, commissions

I am linked with over 100 merchants between Share-a-Sale and Commission Junction, and Share-a-Sale is by far my best income source, affiliate-wise. I have yet to post about nearly half of those merchants that I was approved for, but it does take time. Time that can be better spent than I have done…Let me explain…

When I first joined SAS, I was so excited that I clicked to join every program that I thought I had an inkling of being able to honestly recommend. Ain’t nobody got time for that. It was, however, very easy, and I enjoyed myself, just dreaming of all of the affiliate income that I was going to make. Newbie fool I was, lol, there’s a lot of work in them there links.

I’d love to say that I learned my lesson, but just last week, I signed into CJ, and tried to do the same thing. My computer was moving slow, but like the good working girl I am, I sat there straining my one good eye for over 2 hours, checking the little boxes beside the merchants that I thought would be a good fit for my blog. Then….then I finally got to the Z’s…I made it through the whole alphabet…and there was no “apply to all” box at the bottom. They all have to be applied to individually, and I had just wasted 2 hours of my very valuable time and it nearly made me sick. Soooo, next week, I will go back in and choose the top 3, and apply. (I was looking for travel related merchants.)

The moral of that story is, just select the select few programs that are a perfect fit. Choose the ones that you can share and write about this week, this month, maybe. (It takes more than one article/post/link to get real traction going for any merchant.) Go with those well-chosen few, and run with them. Go back next month and choose 3 more. The overwhelm is real. There is likely to be no way that you are going to write 100 different authentic blog posts about 100 different brands this week. Save yourself some heartache, and take baby steps.

I do want to mention my top 3 earning links, and they may or may not benefit you, but I write for my husband’s construction blog, too, and manage his social media for his business, so I can get in a few manly items, too. My biggest money maker, by far, has been Pit Barrel. It is an AWESOME cooker/grill, that has provided us with the tastiest meats on the planet. It is so easy, and my husband cooks dinner on it at least twice a week. (Another win-win.) I make $50 for each one sold! They make GREAT Father’s Day gifts and birthday gifts, by the way. (Best Prime Rib that I have ever tasted in my entire life.)

Sun Basket (I also eat low carb and own a health food store in my day job.) pays $20 per referral purchase, (people do not like to go out and shop, if they can have ingredients for planned meals delivered-Sun Basket is one of few food delivery companies that have options for Low Carb dieters) and Great Low Carb Bread Company are the other two.

With KETO dieting going mainstream, and more and more people being diagnosed as diabetic or pre-diabetic (and the American love of bread) GLCBC has been a good one for me. My husband loves it, and it is a big seller in our store. Choosing on-trend companies make a big difference, too. I think I make 10% on that one, and the average sale is over $100. If those will fit into your niche in any way, I highly recommend them. They are responsible for deposits into my checking account, every single month. (As are a couple of others that I will mention under brands that I use.)

Awin is another good one to sign up with. They work with companies like Etsy.

Brands that you sell & use

The most traction comes from brands you carry, and brands you use. These are the ones that you are known for, and your audience sees and hears you talking about them all of the time. A lot (not all) of brands have their own affiliate program. In my painting business, of the main four that I promote, three are in-house programs. (I must add here, if you manufacture anything in your business and want to start an affiliate program of your own, please check out Share-a-Sale, but that is more for another post.)

My personal brands that I sell and use are DIY Paint (Debi’s Design Diary.) Dixie Belle Paint, and Paint Pixie Brushes. I only recently found out that these brands pay you in free paint (10%), rather than in actual dollars. Since I use them all, anyway, that is not a big deal, and is apparently an industry standard, but it is a reminder to check your agreements to make sure that you fully understand what your benefits may be.

Affiliately, diy paint, debi’s design diary, commission

I create videos for all of these brands, all of the time. Not a week goes by that I don’t use them in my work, and mention it on social media (including links). I have not made anything in commission credit from any of them. Not to say that I have not driven people to their websites via clicking my links, because I have, and I can see that in their portals. I will attach a screenshot of one below. Why no sales, if I am sending people to the sites? You tell me. Sometimes that’s just the way it works. I am guessing that other times, they get to the website and see the shipping charges, and decide to find a local retailer. (We all help each other out this way, that is part of it, too.) Finally, it can be price, but mostly, I think in the day of free Prime shipping from Amazon, nobody wants to pay $25 to have some paint that they have never tried before shipped to them. Not even me.

Will I quit? No way. Sometimes I am going to be that local retailer that benefits from Pam in Georgia’s video. Sometimes she will benefit from mine. Sometimes the viewers come directly into my brick-and-mortar. So these, “meaty” links can leave you starving, or my plan is to keep plugging along until my following is large enough that one day the purchases start dwindling, then rolling in, and my few authentic mentions will pay off.

Even if you have a store, you can’t carry everything. You may want to, believe me, you want to, but you likely have budget constraints to live within in order to have a profitable business. (I do.) There are brands that I would carry if I could, but that allow me to have affiliate links because I use their products. (Some companies only allow affiliates for retailers.) My most used are Junk Monkey Paint Company (Sonia Miller, the owner, really humps it every day, hawking her line and teaching people how to use it. She is bright, cheerful, and encouraging. That really helps a lot. If I am not wrong, their affiliate program actually mails you a check, not a discount on paint.)

Another owner that is really working her business in your favor is Jennifer with The Jen Show on Facebook, and Artistic Painting Studio. She has rollers and foils that are to-die-for when creating faux finishes.

I am new to Essential Stencils, but they are a fabulous company that offers Facebook Live demonstrations on their products, and they create a very well made stencil.

One that I use and promote that comes from Share-a-Sale, and that I do make a monthly check from is Blick Art Materials. I use Blick’s acrylic paints, and they even allow me to create a built in supply list, when I am doing a class, so that the students can just follow my link directly to the required supplies. I LOVE their acrylics, they are more of a heavy body than the cheap acrylics that you get at the mass market stores, and way less expensive than the name brand heavy body paints. I buy brushes there, canvas there, and palette knives, as well, so I do recommend them often. They offer free videos, and lesson plans, too, so they are a real benefit to creative businesses.

How and where to share your affiliate links.

The best place to use your affiliate links is on your blog/website, but if you don’t have one, yet, no worries!

The thing that is so good about having your own blog (you can use blogger, or other blogging sites, but if you are serious about your business, and I am assuming if you have read this far, you are; you really need to own your own real estate and don’t want to lose any traction that you have built up, once it is time to move. (Again, another blog post, but go buy the domain for your name and your business name, even if you are not ready yet. If you “get big” by something going viral or you being mentioned by a big wig, your domain can go up from $14 to $1000 or more if somebody else catches on and buys it up. Yep, domain name resellers can buy YOUR name and you have to buy it back from them at THEIR price.)

With a blog, after every post, you create a pin, and share it on Pinterest. Others who read your blog can share it on Pinterest, where it gets (hopefully) pinned and repinned. (We will discuss Pinterest group boards and Tailwind in another post.) You can share your blog post on all social media. Tweet it, post it, record a video of it and embed it, and share your beautiful photo on Instagram. Once it is there, it can be found FOREVER. (SEO helps, we will discuss that on the website post.)

However, if you don’t have a website yet, all is not lost. Millions of dollars, if not more, are made via social media affiliate marketing daily. You have to be careful to not be spammy, but if you choose the right products, and you promote them in the right way, your following will buy them, or at least click on the links and take a look. (And maybe buy something else-it still counts toward your click.) This is where your camera comes in, or at least your adjective-packed descriptive capabilities.

You can (and should) post on Facebook about products or brands that you have affiliate links for, and share the links there. Facebook’s algorithm and rules change frequently, but at the time of this writing, they do not like you to be sending people outside of Facebook with your posts. They want to keep you there, and they want your posts to be “social”, not salesy. The best way, at the moment, is to describe how much you are in love with a product or brand, and post a picture of you using it, and adding ”link in comments.” Facebook lets us get away from that one, as it makes it take one more step before a person decides to leave Facebook, and most people are too lazy to stop scrolling to go to the comments for the link. Unless your photo and description are GOOD! I get a real kick out of phrases like “this duster is life!” And “grab it now! Urgency” and “back in stock, always sells out”, “must have for the summer”, etc., because people flock to them, and if you make it exciting enough, they will click. Facebook has recently added stores, buy now buttons, and something similar to “shake hands” and has to give approval for working directly with brands, so check out the latest availabilities when you start your affiliate marketing program on Facebook.

Instagram is ALL about the photo. Make the product look sexy, irresistible, make them yearn to touch it. Then you have to add “link in bio” since IG does not allow links in posts. Never let your post look salesy in IG. And checkout linktr.ee, it is a free link adding site that allows you to add multiple affiliate links (plus social links, etc.) into your one allowed Instagram link in your biol.

Open or unboxing your goodies is also a hot topic. The video can be live on Facebook or You Tube, and then shared on the other. People love to watch the behind-the-scenes actions that we take in our day-to-day lives and businesses.

After all of those social shares, you can repurpose by pinning on Pinterest. Pinterest does not allow direct linking to affiliate links, but you can share your blog post, social media post, or You Tube unboxing video there.

Required Disclaimers

This one is touchy, and required. A lot of people are getting by without following these laws/regulations, but I don’t know why they risk it, when people expect that anyone hyping up a product is probably being paid to do so.

I don’t have a copy of the actual law, I only have the information that I have learned through classes and research, and can share that with you here. You are responsible for checking the laws in your country, state and locality. (And for each platform.) Check out the FTC for up to date regulations.

Ftc affiliate marketing

I copied this from the FTC “clear and conspicuous” description from the website linked above:

“To make a disclosure “clear and conspicuous,” advertisers should use plain and unambiguous language and make the disclosure stand out. Consumers should be able to notice the disclosure easily. They should not have to look for it. In general, disclosures should be:

  • close to the claims to which they relate;
  • in a font that is easy to read;
  • in a shade that stands out against the background;
  • for video ads, on the screen long enough to be noticed, read, and understood;
  • for audio disclosures, read at a cadence that is easy for consumers to follow and in words consumers will understand.

A disclosure that is made in both audio and video is more likely to be noticed by consumers. Disclosures should not be hidden or buried in footnotes, in blocks of text people are not likely to read, or in hyperlinks. If disclosures are hard to find, tough to understand, fleeting, or buried in unrelated details, or if other elements in the ad or message obscure or distract from the disclosures, they don’t meet the “clear and conspicuous” standard. With respect to online disclosures, FTC staff has issued a guidance document, “.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising,” which is available on ftc.gov.”

In everyday language, that means it must be at the top of your page, or right above your affiliate link. It has to be big enough to be easily seen and read, and that having a disclosures page is not good enough. Adding #ad or #affiliate above it is not enough, because apparently most people do not understand what affiliate means. The FTC does send out letters to Influencers and enforce these regulations.

I use the same disclosure every time, and put it at the very top of every post that may have an affiliate link. I make it one font size smaller, but in italics, so that it will stand out, but not be obtrusive. It is as follows:

This site contains affiliate links. I may be compensated in some way, or receive a commission or free test product, (at no additional cost to you) for sharing these links. My opinion will always be honest and true, and I will only recommend products and services that I use, or have tried and approve. 

When you receive an offer from a brand, which is a little different than affiliate marketing, but similar enough to be included here (Sponsored post.) They most often give you the exact verbiage that they want used in the post. #sponsored #affiliate #ad #brandname are some that I have been given. They go at the top, and the bottom of most posts. Follow the instructions completely, or you will not be paid.

That was by-far, not everything that there is to know about affiliate marketing, but if it is somethig that you are considering adding to your passive income arsenal, I hope these tips help you to get off to a great start!

As always, if I can be of assisstance, just let me know! -Terri

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4 Comments

  • Reply Chloe Daniels | Clo Bare April 20, 2019 at 1:10 PM

    This is so helpful! Really a nice walk through. I am wanting to try affiliate marketing this year but have only slowly started with Amazon affiliates. Planning to try more, and pinning this for when I’m ready!

    • Reply gethealthyllc April 20, 2019 at 2:31 PM

      Thank you! It is ani e little revenue stream to add! Glad I was able to help!

  • Reply Jacquie April 18, 2019 at 10:38 PM

    Great information here about affiliates! I am new to all of this affiliate stuff and this helped break it down nicely!

    • Reply gethealthyllc April 19, 2019 at 7:59 AM

      I’m glad it was helpful for you! There is so much to learn in the beginning, but for long term passive income from your site, affiliate marketing is the way to go! Good luck with your blog!

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