Tips and ideas for doing affiliate marketing without having to pay to promote your links. How to make money on your links using Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, a blog and email marketing. Make passive income promoting products that you love!
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when you are recommending a product or service to your sphere of influence in return for payment.
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything, I earn a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thanks for your support! Check out all my policies here.
How Do You Pick Which Products To Be An Affiliate For?
I am writing this post today because a woman who I admire and respect, Renae Christine, launched an affiliate program for her peeps to promote, and some of them can't afford to pay for Facebook or Pinterest ads right now (an invitation only program for people who have already taken her courses). I will be promoting her programs without spending money myself, so this is a great way to get all my thoughts in order… win win!
1. Choose products you already use!
To me this is the best way find affiliate products to promote. If you are currently taking a course, using a product or tool, then try and figure out how to get an affiliate link for it! Most times there will be a link at the top or the bottom of the page that says “Affiliates” or “Partner Program”.
I am an affiliate for this company, Serpstat, because I use their software to do SEO research!
2. Get asked by the maker of the product
I am affiliate for several products because I have a website that is an authority on the topic they cover. For example, Temple.net sent me this email asking if I would promote their products.
This will happen more and more as you are seen as an affiliate and you start to grow a following. That said, I get about 3 of these a day and don't respond to most of them because they do not fit in with my audience or business model!
3. Find great products to promote
The last way is to search out affiliate opportunities that match your business. There are sites where you get lots of affiliate links all in one place like:
- Amazon Associates Program – The grand daddy of affiliate links. Super easy to get in and they have EVERYTHING, but watch out, you can't use those links in emails or straight on some social networks.
- Share A Sale – This is my FAVORITE! They have lots of companies they work with and are super reputable and have great tools.
- Clickbank, JV Zoo and Commission Junction are also places to find links (they are not ones I use, but if you are just getting started you may need to find ones that are easier to join)
Why did I tell you all this?
Say you joined the amazing Candy Funnel Program and think that is the bomb diggity… yay! Yes, you should focus on one affiliate offer at a time until you get it set up, but it is important to know that your affiliate efforts can work for lots of products and services.
Don't Go Overboard!
That said, if you are promoting a bagillion things, you won't get enough traction to make any headway (and you could wind up looking like a spammer!)
Doesn't Making Money Off Your Recommendations Feel A Little Creepy?
I am a super proud affiliate for products that I love and use. Yes, I make a commission, but my people never pay more for using my links and sometimes I can work them a deal that they couldn't get normally!
PLUS I help my people find great free things and some of them go on to buy more…. later we will talk about having a newsletter, but for now, know that I send out affiliate links every week in my newsletter. I couldn't take the time and care that I do to make it great unless there was some payoff, sometime or somewhere along the lines to make me money. I am a business, not a charity!
Disclosures & The FTC
One last thing before we get to the marketing places, you HAVE to be aware of the need for disclosures! The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has super strict rules about promoting products that you are being paid to recommend (the fines can be up to $10,000!)
This is not hard to do! At the top of this page I have a blanket FTC disclosure that says this post includes affiliate links.
When I am posting a link on social media or in my newsletter I put #ad directly after the link or have a disclosure at the top!
I KNOW! When you get started as an affiliate it seems like no one will click your links if they think you are trying to “sell” them something, but you ARE trying to sell them something! Even if you are recommending something for free, somewhere down the line you are getting reimbursed for sharing that link so you have to disclose it.
And honestly, at this point no one notices those disclosures anyways.
Free Ways To Promote Your Affiliate Links
Okay, now that is all out of the way, here are my best places for promoting affiliate links for free… don't try to do them all! Pick a couple that are a great fit for your biz and rock them out hard!
Okay, this one is going to be a little bit scary for some people, but it REALLY is easy and is the VERY best way to make a hub for your affiliate links. Functionally, you have a website where you can put reviews, info and content THEN share your affiliate links with your peeps. Here is what my affiliate HUB looks like….
The benefit to having your own website is that you can promote a variety of offers and really give your opinion about about WHY you think the product you are recommending is so great! Here are a couple of the kinds of posts you can make…
- How to – you tell them how to do something. For example, I show how to do Etsy keyword research without a paid product and then show how easy it is to do if you use this paid tool that I recommend with an affiliate link.
- Product review – with this you talk exclusively about the product and how it helped you grow your business. For example, you could do a whole post about how using just Renae Christine's free handmade training course helped jump start your business. Once they are signed up with that course, any further products they buy will get you a commission.
- Add on – below I have an example of an “add on” banner. I have a whole post about doing Etsy SEO for handmade bath and body makers and simply embedded a banner ad for Renae Christine's course inside the post.
The nice thing about doing a post or page with the link embedded is that you do not have to disclose the affiliate relationship if you are sharing on social media or in an email.
How to share a link….
Banner ad in content
This banner ad is embedded in a blog post I have about handmade SEO. It has the PERFECT audience to be interested in this program and I am sure to get some clicks!
Link in text
You can put an affiliate link in your words when it would be appropriate.
Here are some totally free website builders and site makers….
Facebook is a great place to share affiliate links (within reason of course!) Here are some ideas…
Have you ever had a girlfriend recommend that you get a certain kind of shoes or a specific training? Using your Facebook profile to promote a course should be like that! You can put a happy friendly little message on there and then give your recommendation!
Don't forget to disclose that it is an advertisement!
Facebook Business Page
While Facebook page reach is not super high right now, one fun way to get clicks to either your affiliate links or to get email signups is to have a graphic with a “click here” button that gives them the signup link in the description…
Your Own Facebook Group
If you have your own Facebook group you can share your affiliate links as much as you want! For example, I have a Facebook group, Awesome Etsy & Ebay Artists and Vintage, that is for Etsy sellers. I am free to share this kind of post whenever I want…
In this one where my group is used to me promoting things, I used #promo instead of #ad. Now, I am not a lawyer so please check this out for yourself, but as long as you disclose obviously I feel like I am following the letter of the law!
Someone Else's Facebook Group
Okay, this is where having your own website REALLY comes in handy! I share posts A LOT when someone has a question in a group.
Say someone asks a question in the Marmalead group about how to do Etsy SEO and I have a “how to” article that covers that WITH an affiliate link included in there… BAM! I am giving great value without being a big old spammer in someone else's group!
I KNOW, all of this seems harder than being able to drop your affiliate link all over other people's groups, but that is only fair.
They have spent a lot of time growing a following so they can promote their own products and links, not so you can get some affiliate commissions!
If you have a big Instagram following FOR SURE share your story about how the affiliate product has helped you in the past and then have your link in your bio so they can click through.
I love Pinterest and you can drop a straight affiliate link in there without any trouble (for a while they weren't allowing affiliate links, but as of February 2019 it is allowed).
For this you want to really make it something that is graphically pleasing and sharable!
Pro tip… for Pinterest make sure you are broad and specific. For example, for this handmade training course I wrote a caption that is good for all Etsy sellers AND have content specific for handmade bath and body makers that matches the picture I have in my pin. You could make a different pin for each type of seller every day and for sure get some good clicks back to your affiliate link!
Twitter is another place that you post affiliate links directly with no problems! Twitter users tend to be a little bit more techy so if you have a good following there, it might be a great place to promote an online course or product.
Okay, if you are serious about doing affiliate marketing, for SURE you want to grow an email list! Having the ability to message people every week with tips and product suggestions is a great way to share affiliate link. To start, you want to give away something great that will make them want to join your list (for example, I give away 100 Free Marketing Ideas when you join my email list!)
Then you share that free offer everywhere you can!
A great place people forget is to have it on all your outgoing email signatures! That way anytime you are talking with someone in your personal email account, they will see your free offer link.
Now, you may be wondering why you wouldn't put your straight affiliate link there… good question! You could for sure, but having an email newsletter list allows you to communicate with your subscribers on a weekly basis instead of just one time!
Okay, a free email program is Mailchimp.com (I use ConvertKit). Each week I have a section in my newsletter that is fun free stuff that I have found that week, which often includes links to affiliate products!
For example, this is what part of my email newsletter looked like a couple of weeks ago…
The first link is to a free class that I get a $1 commission per signup, the second one is a free-free course and the third one is a straight affiliate link.
Here are the results of the links from that email…
Now that may surprise you, but my list is mostly made up of people who are already established Etsy sellers so that is probably pretty representative of how many of my peeps would want a beginning Etsy course!
You can grow just the right kind of email list to attract exactly the kinds of people who will like your affiliate offers!
Video is for sure a way to promote your affilate links! You can do all different kinds of videos from “how tos” to “product reviews” and more!
If you are going to be doing YouTube, it is best to have your own website to drive them to that you can associate with your channel. They are not all that excited about having a bunch of affiliate links in your descriptions.
Here is a video I did that leads to a post talking about Etsy SEO…
In the description I have a link to a blog post on my site that has affiliate links to my favorite Etsy SEO software, Marmalead!
Instagram Live is still being heavily promoted within Instagram so doing a live video is a great way to get some exposure for your affiliate links (make sure you have your link in your profile!)
If you are going to do Lives, I might tend towards recommending Facebook Lives because you can easily include your affiliate link right in the description of the video.
Promoting Other Affiliate Products
Okay, now let's talk business! Belonging to one affiliate program is great and a good way to get your feet wet, but putting all your eggs in one basket isn't a great idea.
As you grow your affiliate assets (like your website or email list) you can promote more and more different affiliate products along side of the one that you started with. This makes putting time into affiliate marketing a much more lucrative endeavor!
Having a resources page on your website is a great “passive income” opportunity! You can link to it from any post and it is a great way to keep all your affiliate links in one place!
Top Tools/Courses Post
Another great idea is to have a page or post that talks about all your top tools and resources for a particular niche!
For example, I have a “top tools and resources for realtors”, one for Etsy sellers and one for authors. Through all your affiliate marketing efforts, just make sure you are keeping your “customers” and their needs in the front of your mind and you will do great!
More Affiliate Marketing Help
Okay, if you got all the way down here, you might be thinking, huh, this isn't that bad and could be kind of a fun way to make money (that is what I think every month when the checks and payments start rolling in!)
So here is my best referral for Affiliate Marketing help, Monica's class, Anatomy of An Affiliate Launch. I have taken a bunch of her courses and love how matter of fact and step by step she is!
Lastly, Being A Spammer!
The one thing that I find women particularly struggle with the most is feeling like a big old spammer if they are promoting affiliate products…sigh.
So I did something fun, I included LOTS of affiliate links and resources in this post… there are 8 different links to affiliate programs, email signups, etc. in this post. But because I gave you such great information it is NOT spamming, it is just helping a friend out with resources that they might need when starting to be an affiliate.
If you truly believe in the product you are promoting then you are not a spammer, you are just recommending things that you really think your friends will like and that let you earn another stream of income for your business!