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I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!

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5 Strategies That Tripled My Affiliate Marketing Income This Year

Do you make income from affiliate marketing in your business? For the first four years of my business, I didn’t – and I regret it! I didn’t know how you could use them to make more money without being sleazy and scammy, and finally, I got over that mindset hurdle and started sharing more about the products and tools I am using in my own business. I wish I’d started sooner. The truth is that anyone can get started with affiliate marketing income – no matter what stage you are at in your business! 

In this episode, I’m sharing how I finally got over my big hang-ups around affiliate marketing income and five simple strategies that helped me triple my affiliate marketing passive income.

Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher 

In this episode, I talked about:

  • What affiliate marketing is
  • How I worked past my imposter syndrome and started building affiliate marketing income
  • How you can start building affiliate marketing income
  • Five strategies that helped me TRIPLE my affiliate income this year
  • The top 5 affiliates that generate the most passive income for my business

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is when you receive a kickback or a commission for sharing about a product you use and love. I know that there are people that share about things that they don’t personally, but that’s not what I’m talking about today because one of the core values in my business is to be authentic and honest. When it comes to affiliate marketing income, that extends to believing that you should be honest about what you’re using, what you’re loving, and also what you’re not really loving as well.

Course creators can pay affiliate commissions to people who recommend their course (and that is a great strategy), but today I’m strictly talking about how you can make income from affiliate marketing by promoting other people’s products or courses.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you use software like ThriveCart or Flodesk, and you absolutely love them. So, when people ask what you recommend for course building or email marketing, you’re happy to tell them. With affiliate marketing, you have a unique link that people use to purchase those products you’ve recommended. Whenever they buy using your link, you receive compensation. A percentage of the sale is standard, but sometimes you’ll also get discounts on the monthly cost of a service or platform. 

Affiliate marketing has been around for a while, so you’ll see affiliate links for everything from robot vacuums to Dubsado to services like Hello Fresh, just to name a few examples on my website!

Mara Kucirek sharing about how she increased affiliate marketing income

Where to start earning affiliate marketing income

For the first four years of my business, I literally did nothing with affiliate marketing. I knew it existed, and I knew how it worked, but I felt like my business wasn’t big enough to be promoting affiliates. Looking back, it is so silly because I run a business where people ask me all the time for software recommendations, especially about online courses, and it’s something I love talking about. I have done speeches and podcast interviews all about online course software, but I never signed up for affiliate programs or used a specific link or anything like that. If nothing else, I hope that’s a really big takeaway for you in this episode.

Wherever you are in your business, you can get started with affiliate marketing income. You don’t have to have a certain number of social media followers or email subscribers. Just start with the things you already use and love. 

Google any company name + “affiliate” to find a link directly to the page where you sign up for an affiliate link. Alternately, many tools and courses have referral and affiliate sections right inside the software. Once you get rolling, you’ll think of even more things you recommend on repeat, most of which can become affiliate links.

The mindset shift I made around affiliate marketing income

Again, it seems silly now, but I had a major mindset hurdle around affiliate marketing income. Beyond just feeling like my audience wasn’t big enough, it just felt really wrong to me, like I was being greedy or something like that.

But in the middle of last year, I started to recognize that hey, I use other people’s affiliate links. In fact, when I need to go buy something in my business, I will specifically go ask business owners for their link if I know they have one because I know that it helps out other people’s businesses so much in a way that, as the consumer, doesn’t have an impact on me.

So, just to clarify, using someone’s affiliate link to buy something typically does not cost you more money. If anything, it often saves you money because often affiliates will have a special coupon code or a deal. I am always using other people’s affiliate links. It’s not something I see other people do that’s greedy.

I don’t know why I had so many hangups around the idea that using affiliate links was somehow going to make me a terrible person. But I digress…

Getting started with affiliate marketing income

By the end of 2022, I got a lot more honest with myself. I got more intentional about signing up for affiliate programs for products that I use, like course software, and then I just started sharing my link where it made sense and was appropriate.

For example, if someone asks for a specific recommendation, I will often share my affiliate link and I will tell them, “Hey, no pressure. This is an affiliate link”, or if it’s in an email or on my blog, I have little messages that are very clear about what’s an affiliate link and what’s not an affiliate link, so that way people can choose what they want to use transparently.

If you want to get started with affiliate marketing, the best place to start is where I did: with the tools you already use in your business. You can Google the company’s name and just put the word affiliate after it (for example, “thrivecart affiliate”). Most of the time their affiliate program will pop up (most larger software companies have some sort of affiliate program), and you usually just have to find the link to sign up.

If you can’t find an affiliate program for a specific software you use, you can always just email them too. I’ve had a ton of success with that, not only in becoming an affiliate, but then also building and growing a relationship with that company, which is another important thing I’m going to talk about in this episode.

Mara Kucirek holding a checklist on strategies to increase affiliate marketing income

5 strategies to increase your affiliate marketing income

In 2022, I started sharing those affiliate links and by the end of the year, I was making a couple of hundred dollars a month, which was amazing. But now? I want to talk about specifically in this episode about how in the last six months I’ve really ramped that up and tripled (sometimes even quadrupled!) my affiliate marketing income. It’s become a larger revenue stream in my business, which has been really amazing. It’s allowed me to have a little more freedom in my life and business with I always love!

Now, let’s get into the actionable strategies that you can implement to make money from the products that you already love.

1. Create product landing pages

Here’s an example. Product landing pages are great because when someone asks for my affiliate link, it gives me the option to give them this link to the page where I talk about why I like the program, which I think is really powerful. It’s nice to see from someone specific how they use the product and what they like about it. Of course, you can also just directly share your affiliate link, but that usually takes them to the homepage of a company’s website, which doesn’t always do a great job explaining what a product is or the benefit of using that product.

One thing I also focus on a lot is the SEO of these pages. On my Riverside Affiliate page for example, I did a little bit of keyword research and saw that people are regularly searching for Riverside coupon code, so I optimized the page for that keyword. I try to do this for all of the affiliate programs I’m a part of (even if I don’t always do it for everyone because it takes a bit of time to set up!).

2. Research what people want to know about the products you use

If you understand what kinds of information people are searching for before they make a buying decision, you can answer their questions and help them figure out if they’ll make the purchase. The two main ways to do this are to survey your audience directly via social media polls or do keyword research on Google and Ubersuggest (that’s what I use!). I love creating tutorials and explaining techy things to others, so this is one of my favorite ways to do affiliate marketing! I always try to create content based on my research where I’m figuring out exactly what people want to know.

You can see an example in my blog on Flodesk Workflows. When I was researching, I saw that people wanted to know how to set up their first workflow in Flodesk. They wanted to know how to tag different things. Keep in mind, people are looking at these things before they make a buying decision.

While sometimes people see these tutorials and they’re already a user of whatever product I created it for (which is totally fine), sometimes the people that find them are on the fence and they’re thinking, “well, do I want to use this email marketing software or this email marketing software?”, and they’re asking questions. And they are making a purchasing decision in that moment (and likely using my link!).

3. Keep it Organized

When you start using affiliate programs, it can get really confusing to track all of the information that’s involved. All of these different affiliate programs have specific links that you have to use. They also have a spot where you can log in and see the details of who’s clicking your link, different coupon codes, stuff like that.

So there’s a hub you need to keep track of to log into, and then there are other things you’ll probably want to keep track of as well. For example, I have a list of people I have emailed or talked to at different software companies. Sometimes I will go to a conference or I will meet someone who works at a specific company and I want to make sure I have their contact information.

I first started keeping track of all of this data with Asana, which is a project management tool I use in my business. However, I actually found it really challenging to navigate through having it all in there. You could also use a spreadsheet (I’ve seen a lot of other people use things like ClickUp, Airtable, or Google Sheets to manage all of their affiliate links), but that didn’t work for me either.

What is really working for me right now, and this might change in the future (things are always growing and evolving in my business), but I have a Google Doc and it’s literally just called “affiliate links.” In it, I have a list of every program I am a member of and then underneath the program name I have my referral links, all of the login information for the backend of the affiliate program, people I know at the company, and then any other little notes about the program.

On top of that, I also keep a list of any blog posts, podcasts or YouTube videos that are related to the affiliate program, so that way if something changes, (for example, pricing changes all the time), I know exactly what I need to update.

4. Build personal relationships with companies

Hear me out – this is way easier than it sounds! Anytime I have a program I love and that I am an affiliate for, I make an effort to build relationships with that company. Usually what I’ll do is send some sort of introductory email introducing myself. I make it personalized with details like how long I have used the product, my business, what I love about the product, and how I want to share it with other people. That email, by the way, doesn’t always get responded to, but it’s nice when it does.

I also make an effort to support those companies on social media and I regularly comment on things they create. I think building a relationship is so important because the company can help you create better content for your audience. It also gives you the opportunity sometimes to say, “Hey, can I have a higher percentage of affiliate income when someone clicks” or “can I have a special coupon code that is just for my audience?”

Most companies have a team dedicated to helping out affiliates. After all, you are helping them with marketing and getting the word out about their products. Don’t underestimate the value of these relationships.

5. Make sure your links work

This one is the easiest (and most important!). Sometimes companies change how their affiliate program is run, so the link will change and you missed the email, for example. It’s really important to make sure your links still work because things will break and you might have people clicking your links, but you don’t know that it’s not working and you are not receiving any sort of commission.

Once a month, I go through my Google Doc, click through all the links, and spend a few minutes reviewing blog posts, landing pages, and other resources I’ve created. I don’t review every single one each month; I just pick two or three to check on at a time. Then on my editorial calendar, I write in the date that I revised that blog post and I’ll just go through and make sure it’s still up to date.

My current top affiliate marketing income earners

These are the companies that make me the most money right now.

  1. Thrivecart
  2. Flodesk
  3. Dubsado 
  4. Convert Kit
  5. Demio

Now, go sign up for some affiliate programs! Even if you feel like you don’t have an audience or you don’t have a lot of places you can share about those products, just start by signing up. Start by starting small and creating small pieces of content or just sharing it with people. It really goes a lot farther than you think it will, and people honestly appreciate it because so many of these have coupon codes associated with them in different ways. You can save people money, which is so helpful. Go make more affiliate marketing income!

Want more tips on how to earn affiliate marketing passive income?

Listen to the full episode to hear more about my experience earning affiliate marketing income, as well as my top five passive income streams from affiliate marketing. 

Links mentioned:

*This post may contain affiliate links.