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How to make money as a whole-hearted affiliate marketer

For many years I’ve been recommending online products and programs without worrying about getting paid for it (that’s normal, right?!).

When I first started writing online, I didn’t know anything about affiliate marketing. I didn’t realize you could get paid to recommend products that you love!

Now that I’m a more seasoned entrepreneur and have curated a full library of eCourses (some are game-changers and others…not so much), I started signing up for affiliate programs for the courses that I found myself constantly recommending to all of my friends and to you rule breaker’s, too!

Then, a few months ago, I sent an email that earned me over $2,000 in affiliate commissions.

One email.

This success obviously piqued my interest in affiliate marketing as an actual way to make money.

So I signed up for a few more affiliate programs for my favorite courses and played around with the marketing strategy.

In the process of trial and error, I’ve picked up several affiliate marketing strategies that work and a few that don’t work.

Affiliate marketing has become a nice little money cushion supplementary to income from my own business that I never expected to have. Here are my best tips for making affiliate marketing work for you, too:

1. Build trust with your readers, colleagues, friends, or whoever else you’ll be “marketing” to.

Trust takes time and is a result of consistent giving, giving, giving without expecting anything in return.

I love how Brené Brown explained the concept of trust in her book, Daring Greatly using the concept of a “Marble Jar”.

“Whenever someone supports you, or is kind to you, or sticks up for you, or honors what you share with them as private, you put marbles in the jar. When people are mean, or disrespectful, or share your secrets, marbles come out…Trust isn’t a grand gesture–it’s a growing marble collection.”

Every generous, kind, selfless thing you do for your audience will put a marble in the “trust jar”. But when you’re sleazy, pushy, or selfish with them, marbles come out of the jar.

You need to have a certain amount of marbles in your trust jar with your readers before you start marketing to them if you want it to be effective.

2. Introduce your audience to the products + businesses you love before you ever “market” to them.

This is probably the best thing that I did accidentally.

When I sent that $2,000 email, you guys already knew about the program I promoted and how much I loved the brand. You’d already started building a relationship with that brand and were ready for the email when it arrived.

In my blog posts and on social media, I constantly talk about the products, programs, books, entrepreneurs, and businesses I love.

I share how certain authors have changed my life. I speak from my heart about why I recommend people read these spiritual and psychology books. I talk about what I learned from B-School and constantly share great articles on Twitter and Facebook.

This means that when I do share affiliate program links, it’s not the first time you’ve heard of the business. You’ve probably already signed up for their newsletter and used their free opt-in offer.

3. Share your specific experience with the product and the tangible takeaways you’ve gained from using it.

Your readers, friends, and fans are looking to you to give your honest opinion.

They trust you (if you followed tip #1).

So when you let them know about a game-changing program that you recommend, share your story of using this program.

Tell them what specific results you’ve achieved from using the program (as long as they’re results that your audience wants, too!)

4. Be very, very, very choosy about which products and programs you promote.

Your audience will actually thank you for sharing these resources with them…unless it feels like all you ever do is push programs.

Even though I love Marie Forleo’s B-School, for example, I’ve decided not to promote it as an affiliate because there’s more than enough people doing that already. So much so, in fact, that it gets overwhelming.

My favorite online program ever is Denise Duffiled Thomas’ Lucky Bitch Money Bootcamp, and I’ll shout that from the rooftops forever. To me, this program is an “aha” machine and I go through it at least twice / year (ok probably more like 4-6 times) and earn my money back on the investment every single time.

But if I started telling you that every online program is my “favorite program ever”, you’d start to get suspicious because that’s clearly ingenuine!

5. Pay attention to special offers, launches, and price increases.

Organized entrepreneurs might notify you, the affiliate, when they want you to promote their stuff. (The best is when they give you email swipe copy and images to share!)

The best times to promote programs as an affiliate are when there’s a reason to create buzz around that program because it creates a sense of urgency (which raises conversions).

6. Send short emails.

If you’re promoting a program to your email subscribers, I find that the most effective emails are always short and focus on the following things:

    Why you think this product is perfect for this person (put yourself in their shoes).

    Specific results you’ve achieved with this product (that interest your reader).

    Deadlines + a sense of urgency for why they should act now.

    A link that says “Find out more about {INSERT PROGRAM HERE}”

    A note that says something like: “In total transparency, the above link(s) are affiliate links which means if you decide that {INSERT PROGRAM HERE} is right for you, I will earn a percentage. I want you to know that I only “promote” products with affiliate links that I would promote anyway because of the reasons stated above. I am extremely selective about which products I’m willing to recommend to others.”

So if you’ve never tried affiliate marketing before (or haven’t been successful), I recommend you start putting these tips into action!

Affiliate marketing is a wonderful compliment to the money you make promoting your own business. If you don’t take advantage of it, you’re leaving money on the table.