What are you doing to grow your podcast? What is the next step that will allow you to supplement your income? The answer could be affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing can be used by anyone, regardless of their niche or industry. It is also an easy way to supplement your income while you’re growing your podcast. In this post, we will be talking all about how affiliate marketing can make you more money.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
By definition affiliate marketing is the process by which an affiliate earns a commission for marketing another person’s or company’s products.
How does it work? You (the podcaster) promotes other people’s products, services, or content through links on social media posts (or in the description of each show) with an affiliate link. If a sale happens, the publisher earns a percentage of the sale. The best part? It costs nothing additional to the purchaser.
Let’s take a hypothetical example.
Your podcast is all about marketing. After recording a podcasting episode your interviewee, who is also a marketing guru, asks if you'd like to be an affiliate for her Marketing 101 course. She says that she'll give you 5% from each sale. She will also provide you with a unique code that your followers can use so that you can track sign-ups. The course itself is $1,500 dollars. Once she gives you the code you mention it in your podcast and include it on your website. After a month, the course creator lets you know that ten people signed up using your code. That's $750 dollars.
It’s also important to mention that time spent promoting products as an affiliate may be deductible business expenses against income tax. This could also save podcasters some extra cash come Tax Day.
Is Affiliate Marketing Right for My Podcast?
When deciding if affiliate marketing is right for your podcast, you should always consider your audience first.
Never promote anything irrelevant to your audience and their needs.
For example, if you have a podcast about fashion, you may be able to find affiliate marketing opportunities with clothing brands and other fashion-related companies. This is a win-win because the offers will be relevant to both your channel and your audience. The more relevant your affiliate offers are to your audience means the more likely they will be to convert.
On the flip side, if your podcast is a comedy show about music or culture, then it would be challenging to promote fashion-related offers. See where we are going with this?
The other thing to consider when determining if affiliate marketing is right for your podcast is your niche. Some niches are tougher than others to find good products to promote. However, we like to think there are products for every niche.
If you understand your audience well enough and have a niche with enough affiliate opportunities, then affiliate marketing can make a great secondary revenue stream or even eventually replace your day job.
Now that you have a little taste, let’s delve further. Let’s look at why you should have a podcast email list as a podcast host.
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How to Choose the Right Products
Choosing the right products to promote to your podcast channel as an affiliate marketer is one of the most important decisions you can make.
The products you promote will greatly depend upon what industry/niche your podcast is in as well as the topic of each individual episode. As far as searching for products, there are various platforms you can use to discover affiliate products.
The best place to start is by picking products that you personally use that tie into the theme of your podcast. If your podcast is about security, you might preach the concept of using a VPN (a virtual private network) and promote a brand you trust like IPVanish.
Another method to discover and choose affiliate products is by signing up for an affiliate network like the Amazon Associates Program. Once joined, you can promote any product listed on Amazon.com.
The affiliate network provides you with a list of products that are in your industry or niche as well as allowing the option to find and promote individual items from their catalog. Be careful when fully committing to promoting Amazon as their commission rates are much lower than working with direct merchants.
Other than Amazon Associates, there are other affiliate networks you can join like ShareASale or CJ Affiliate.
The benefit of signing up with an affiliate network is that they offer reporting and tracking software. This can help make your job easier when it comes time for filling out tax documents at the end of the year (and keeping track).
Affiliate networks and platforms also help you set up vanity codes. These vanity codes will attribute commissions to you for all sales that used your code; even if the customers don’t use your affiliate link. This helps make a seamless flow between your message to your audience and them checking out.
Ask your affiliate manager if they have a vanity code tracking setup and can offer a simple discount to your listeners. Make the coupon code something easy for your audience to remember, like Dustin10.
If vanity code tracking is not available, have no fear! You can still use a shortlink in your messaging. I like using PrettyLinks to utilize a URL that your audience is familiar with. My podcast read would be “I love PrettyLinks. Go to Dustinhowes dot com slash prettylinks to save 20% at checkout with my exclusive code”
Did you know? Spreaker has it's own affiliate program. You can make a 20% commission for every new referral you send to Spreaker with your unique affiliate link. Our top affiliates are also eligible for bonus incentives. Want to learn more? Click here.
Examples of Good Product Matches for Your Audience
If you’re still feeling a little lost on what makes a good product match for your audience, allow me to provide a couple of examples.
Let’s say you are a phone case blogger who blogs about all of the latest and greatest phone cases. Of course, you could promote and sell iPhone cases and other phone accessories to your audience.
Another option is that you could sell your own course or promote someone else’s course. First, if you have your own course, then why not reach out to your current or past students. Did they love your course? Would they be interested in becoming affiliates? Offer them a discount referral code. Or let’s say you recently finished an online course you loved and would love to promote it. Do they have an affiliate program? Reach out to the course creator and ask. The worst thing that they can say is no!
Affiliate marketing in podcasts has been done for a long time. One of the longest-running podcasts, The Adam Carolla Show, used affiliate links with Amazon to supplement the host’s income in the early days. Once his podcast grew much larger, hybrid partnerships started to come into play. Adam took on sponsorship deals which include commissions for every unit sold. This is a practice he still uses today.
Adding affiliate commissions to any sponsorship deal is a good idea.
This will give the merchant a better deal and show them you have skin in the game to actually sell the product. How does this work exactly? Well not only are you, the podcaster, mentioning the company on your podcast. But you’re probably offering your listeners a discount code. As a result, for every product sold with that discount code, you would also get a commission.
Another great example of podcasts using affiliate marketing is MMANuts, which discusses all things MMA. Their demographic is young and male, so they choose to promote products like soap, mattresses, VPN, and CBD. They are a great testament to testing out products as well; they do exceptionally well-promoting web hosting services. On paper, that wouldn’t seem like a great fit. But they tried it. It converted. So they kept rolling with it.
The Beyond The Streams podcast is another great example of a small podcast doing big things. The podcast talks about streaming tv, so a great natural fit are tools that will help their audience get affordable alternatives to cable. They promote IPVanish and developed a strong relationship with their affiliate manager, along with cleaning up on commissions. The Beyond the Streams podcast does so well that they have earned higher commission rates and sponsorship deals.
At the end of the day, it comes down to the products you are promoting that are the most relevant to your audience.
How to Choose the Right Brands to Work With?
When choosing the right brands to work with as an affiliate marketer, it is important to do your research and not just select brands at random. The last thing you want to do is disappoint your loyal audience by promoting poor products to them. Doing so is a sure-fire way to damage your reputation and podcast reviews.
First, focus on brands that are in the market for new customers and offer products or services your listeners might actually be interested in. Create a list of 3 companies that sell a good service for the product you would like to promote. Reach out to these companies and let them know what you are doing; they might just set you up with some free goods to check out.
Another way you can select potential partners is by finding out what products and brands your audience is already using and loving.
If possible, I highly recommend testing the products out yourself or having someone else more suitable in order to ensure it will be a good fit for your audience.
How to Join an Affiliate Program
So now I have you convinced to start affiliate marketing, which brings us to our next question.
How does one join an affiliate program?
Luckily, joining affiliate programs is not very difficult. However, each program will have its own requirements. Most good programs will have an easy place for you to join in the footer of their page.
To find out the requirements for a specific brand’s affiliate program, try searching for an affiliate page on their website or reaching out to their affiliate manager. Some programs are hidden by design, so hit up support if you can’t find a link in the footer.
Some programs are open to anyone to join, while others may have certain traffic or other requirements. Make sure to apply to programs putting your best foot forward: highlight your audience, traffic, website, etc. Make it easy for the affiliate manager to accept your application.
If joining an affiliate program through an affiliate network like ShareASale or CJ Affiliate, you can find their requirements in the signup process. I recommend reading over any terms and conditions, as well to be sure that you’re eligible for a particular program before signing on with one or more brands (some programs are only open at certain times of the year).
How to Negotiate Affiliate Commissions
After you successfully join an affiliate program, you have an opportunity to negotiate your affiliate commission rate and other special treatments.
The first step is to reach out to the affiliate manager and tell them the game plan. Let them know what you need to succeed. Don’t ask or demand anything in the initial outreach email. Instead, see what they can offer first.
Once you have their attention, asking for free products and an upfront sponsorship here is a good idea. It doesn’t hurt to ask and the worst they can say is no. If an affiliate manager can authorize your requests, that’s great! But if they can’t they will likely try to sweeten the pot with an increased commission rate to help compensate for your time fairly.
Remember that affiliate commissions are almost always negotiable, and the more you have to offer as a podcaster such as a large audience or otherwise, the higher your chances are at negotiating a fair rate.
I hope that by now you have a solid idea of how to supplement your income with affiliate marketing while growing your audience as a podcaster.
To recap, affiliate marketing is a great way to make money with your blog, podcast channel or both.
You can explore the many potential affiliate programs available for you by checking out their payout rates and commission structures so that it’s clear what they offer in terms of earning power before joining them as an affiliate marketer.
All that’s left to do now is discover the offers waiting for you. Are you ready to dive in as an affiliate marketer?
Dustin Howes owns an affiliate marketing agency that is dedicated to helping companies maximize their affiliate marketing efforts. Through group coaching and private consulting, Dustin teaches program managers how to recruit the right affiliates, optimize working hours, and how to take the growth of the program to the next level. Learn more affiliate marketing tips at dustinhowes.com.