Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing

Curious about how to incorporate affiliate marketing into your solopreneur business strategy? It may be worth your time to explore how affiliate marketing can bring in a bit of passive income to supplement the revenue that your current products and services generate.

Brush up on the basics of affiliate marketing

Essentially, affiliate marketing entails promoting another business' products or services through your existing public platforms, such as your website, your email list, and your social media accounts. In exchange, you receive an agreed-upon percentage of the revenue generated by the sales you inspire. Though having a large audience is generally considered important for success as an affiliate marketer, a small but engaged community can also bring in a steady income stream.

Here's how it works: you post a unique link on your website or other online platforms, people click through to the website of the product or service you're promoting, and, if they make a purchase, you receive a pre-determined percentage of the total sale.

Want more in-depth information on how it works? Here are 17 articles on affiliate marketing that you should read.

Determine your stance on affiliate marketing 

Will you promote only products or services that you have used yourself? Will you consider promoting a service or product that you haven't specifically used but whose creator you trust? Will you promote any product that seems valuable to your audience? There's no right or wrong answer, as long as you openly disclose your experience with the product or service.

We here at One Woman Shop generally promote products and services that we use and love (like BluChic's WordPress themes, Evernote, and HootSuite), but we also occasionally mention products and services that we haven't used but trust because our familiarity with other work from the creator (like Alexis Grant's ebooks and the Small Business Bodyguard).

Brainstorm categories of products and services to promote

What products and services could your client base and those who land on your website benefit from that complement your current offerings? If you offer digital marketing consulting, your community might be interested in social media management tools, website hosting, and WordPress themes.

If you coach busy women, your clients might want resources for eating healthy on the go, reducing stress, and staying fit while traveling (think: cookbooks, a meditation app, and portable exercise equipment).

If you teach photography to beginners, your students might be looking to purchase a DSLR camera, a stylish but sturdy case, and an edition of Photoshop.

Think about the minute-by-minute daily needs of your community, as well as the products and services that you use on a regular basis if you are within your target market- whether it's a food processor, a convertible dress, a coding class, or a productivity e-course.

Find products and services to promote

Now that you have a sense of the kinds of products and services you're interested in showcasing to your community, it's time to find specific affiliate programs to join.

Search the sites of products and services you'd like to promote

Already have an idea of a product or service you'd like to share with your community? Search the website by using this Google search string: websiteurl.com affiliate OR "partner program"

For example: Googling "restored316designs.com affiliate" leads you to a page dedicated to information on their affiliate program

Email business owners that you respect

Can't find mention of an affiliate program on the website of someone you've previously partnered with or benefitted from? Email them to ask if they have an existing affiliate program or might consider an affiliate relationship with you.

Browse affiliate marketing networks

Many companies run their affiliate programs through networks like CJ Affiliate by ConversantShareASale, and E-junkie. These sites have directories of their partners so that you can easily scroll through to find fitting products.

Google it 

Think back to the categories you brainstormed earlier then turn to Google for a bit of help. Google ("affiliate" OR "partner program") AND (keyword related to your industry).

For example: Googling cookware affiliate program brings up several legitimate companies, such as the RachelRayStore.com, Le Creuset, and EmerilStore.com

Ensure that your chosen products and services pass your litmus test

A few questions to ask yourself: will my audience find this genuinely useful? Will my community feel alienated if I promote this product or service? Does this fit into the budget of my audience?

If you're not sure that you can comfortably vouch for the product or service, consider asking for a sample to review or ask the company or business owner if you can send them a list of questions you think your audience might want the answers to.

Stay tuned for more on properly disclosing your affiliate relationships and creative ways to promote products and services that you're an affiliate for!

3 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Create Passive Income

As solo business owners, we often feel like there are only two ways for us to make money:

  1. Raise prices
  2. Work more hours

And since most of us can’t charge whatever the heck we want for our products or services, we get stuck in a cycle of working long hours just to give ourselves a raise.

But trading time for money is never going to work to our advantage. The solution? Passive income.

Passive income is anything you can do to make money while you sleep: you put the time in upfront, and your revenue accumulates indefinitely. Here are three ideas for earning passive income no matter what industry you’re in.

1. Sell information products

You see this one happening a lot in the entrepreneur world. We’re talking ebooks, behind-the-scenes guides, cheat sheets, knitting patterns, cookbooks, etc. At first glance, it may not seem profitable. After all, you have to go through all the work of creating the product, which takes time and money.

The trick is to use knowledge that’s so familiar to you, compiling it into a product will hardly feel like work at all. Then you need to price your product so that you can reasonably recoup your costs within a month. After that, it’s all profit!

Ask yourself these questions for ideas:

  • What knowledge do I have that others value?
  • What have I succeeded at that has others wondering what my secret is?
  • What behind-the-scenes process could I let people in on—for a price?

With a little brainstorming, any entrepreneur can develop an information product that will be hard at work earning money while you sip margaritas on the beach.

2. Create an online course

Some online courses require you to be available to facilitate live groups, events, or Q&A webinars, but others are set up to run themselves.

For example, you could use MailChimp, Aweber, or CourseCraft to create an automatic email course (editor's note: like this 16 week productivity e-course!). Your customer pays via PayPal and your email service kicks in with a series of timed auto-responders to deliver them your pre-written content each day, week, etc.

Getting your email lists set up might take a bit of time, but the initial costs to create an e-course are pretty low. Depending on your list size, email service will cost as little as $10 - $20 per month!

Many of the same ideas you thought of for information products can be created as an online course if that’s more appealing to you. Bonus: most people are more willing to pay a premium price for an e-course—even if it includes the exact same info you would have included in an ebook!

3. Run a membership site

Sites like Hope*ologie, The Influence Network, and our very own One Woman Shop are an awesome way to keep money steadily flowing in. With this model, you create a private website that’s only available to subscribers. For a monthly fee, your customers get access to whatever resources, webinars, or community groups you post to the site!

Membership sites require plenty of maintenance and have a higher startup cost, but the reward is loyal subscribers who automatically hand you their hard-earned cash every month. Because customers are forking over a fair amount of dough, you’ll need to make sure you keep your site well-stocked with new goodies each month so they get a reasonable value.

If you’ve got the wherewithal to plan ahead and create amazing resources each month, the profit you’ll see rolling in will more than make up for your efforts!

What are your favorite ways to earn passive income?