I recently got to thinking about how easily musicians miss opportunities to make money. Not that money’s everything, but it sure doesn’t hurt. Especially in times like these.
So, I figured I would cover another powerful way to earn an income online.
If you’re smart about it, you could incorporate it into your current activity without too much friction or hassle.
Today, we’re going to look at affiliate marketing.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is basically the act of promoting other people’s products for commissions.
If you were promoting a $100 product, for example, and you were promised a 25% commission, you should be earning roughly $25 on every sale.
I say “roughly” because fees can add up, whether it’s processor, PayPal or bank fees. But considering the potential upside, that’s not bad.
Here, we’ll get into:
- The upsides and downsides of affiliate marketing
- How to choose what products to promote
- How to get started
- How to promote products and earn commissions
- Best practices
- Whether affiliate marketing works
Upsides to Affiliate Marketing
The primary advantage of affiliate marketing is that you can earn money on products you didn’t have to create.
Having published two albums, two EPs, six singles, two eBooks, five books (and a great deal more,) I’m quite familiar with the man hours involved in developing a variety of products.
Even more work is involved if you’re thinking about making a sales funnel (i.e. lead magnet, tripwire offer, higher priced offers, etc.). The app you use to build your funnel could prolong the process even more.
Contrast that with affiliate marketing. You can promote a product you didn’t have to put any man hours into and start earning commissions as soon as your affiliate account is set up.
You can also use your existing marketing channels (website, email, social media, etc.) to promote products.
If you need a little inspiration, check out this quote via Bo Bennet:
Affiliate marketing has made businesses millions and ordinary people millionaires.
Downsides to Affiliate Marketing
As you can see, there are many upsides to affiliate marketing. But every rose has its thorn, right?
(I know, I know.)
Here’s the thing…
You’re not in control of the products you promote. The creator may discontinue the product or affiliate program. It may become irrelevant. Their product may get pulled from virtual store shelves. They might raise or lower the price, affecting your commissions in the process. Anything can happen.
If all your eggs are in one basket, you could lose all your earning at a moment’s notice (which is why it’s good to diversify).
And, should you encounter such a scenario, you may not get paid for units already sold. You may even get chargebacks (it sucks losing money you worked hard to earn).
Additionally, if you don’t abide by the terms of the provider, you could lose your account.
Finally, although you can earn commissions on the products you sell, you’re never going to earn 100% on something you didn’t create. Sorry.
How to Choose What Products to Promote
Basically, you can promote whatever you want. But just like The Beatles had haters, trying to appeal to everyone is a losing battle.Just like The Beatles had haters, trying to appeal to everyone is a losing battle. Click To Tweet
I would recommend promoting products you understand, personally use and would happily recommend to others. That’s the best way.
Your seal of approval is worth more than you might think.
If you recommend good products and people love them, you’ll build a stronger reputation. If you recommend everything under the sun and your followers end up returning a bunch of products, they’re probably not going to come looking for recommendations again.
As for what products to choose, consider the things you already use every day. Musical gear is a good example.
Whether it’s guitar strings, drumsticks, accordions or otherwise, there’s a good chance you can promote it and make money.
For most musicians, this should prove a good starting point.
How to Get Started
I feel the best way for beginners to get started is by joining Amazon Associates.
You know Amazon, right? They’re only the #1 eCommerce behemoth in the world. You probably shop with them already and may even have a Prime account.
Amazon is home to a ton of products, not just books. They have thousands of products in these categories and many others – arts & crafts, automotive, electronics, home & kitchen, toys & games…
So, finding products to promote is easy.
For instance, one of my favorite guitar amp heads is the Peavey 6505 MH mini head, so once my Amazon Associates account is set up, I can simply search for that product, grab the link that Amazon gives me, and then share that link with my audience.
(And, by the way, I’ve already done this very thing.)
You can hear me using this amp in this demo:
And, just in case, here’s my affiliate link for the mini head (if you purchase anything through this link, I may earn a small commission at no additional charge to you).
Anyway, I know I made it sound easy, but sales are not guaranteed by any means. Generating revenue typically requires tons of traffic. But you also aren’t required to climb Mount Everest to start earning commissions.
Sadly, there was an article that recently said Amazon would be reducing their commissions on certain products. This is the bread and butter of an affiliate marketer, however, so get used to it. We’ve all got to roll with the punches.
The good news is that there are tons of companies with affiliate programs, so opportunities aren’t in short supply.
This is a beginner’s guide, however, so I won’t be getting into other affiliate programs here.
How to Promote Products & Earn Commissions
Now that we’ve got a solid working foundation, we’re ready to start promoting.
Here are five simple ways to start earning juicy affiliate commissions:
Share Your Link on Your Blog
It’s best if you mention products in the natural flow of content instead of forcing them in.
But when you’re writing about your latest stop on tour and mention your favorite multi-effects pedal, that’s the time to link it up.
Just don’t share your link out of context. Don’t start talking about what you had for lunch and then sneak in your affiliate link promoting something entirely unrelated.
Share Your Link on Social Media
If it makes sense, you can share your affiliate links on social media.
Again, as with sharing on your blog, you don’t want to spam your followers or post deceptive links, as this isn’t going to help you earn a thing.
But if something naturally comes up in the flow of the post, share away.
Share Your Link in the Description of Your YouTube Videos
Know it or not, many YouTubers are affiliate marketers. These days, they depend on sponsorships more than anything, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t smart when it comes to creating multiple sources of revenue.
Think of it this way:
You’ll be doing your viewers a solid by including links to products mentioned in your video in the description. It’ll make them easy to find.
Create a Resources Page
Many marketers and entrepreneurs, such as Chris Ducker and Pat Flynn have resource pages on their website.
You could just as easily call these “money pages” because they only feature links to products and services the business owners have the potential to make money on.
I like the sound of “money pages” myself.
You can do the same. While you might call your resources page something else, there’s nothing stopping you from making one.
Here’s an example of what a resource page might look like:
Make Product Reviews
Making product reviews can take a lot of time, and if you ever wanted to become a full-time affiliate marketer, you’d need to produce a ton of reviews.
Either way, one of the main ways, affiliates earn money is by making reviews for their favorite products. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a blog post, podcast audio, video or otherwise. All forms of content are fair game.
Affiliate Marketing Best Practices
Search engines (like Google), email service providers (like MailChimp) and even some users don’t always look kindly on affiliate marketing (you can’t please everyone).
Here are a few things you can do to make sure you aren’t overdoing your affiliate promotions:
- Abide by the terms and conditions. I know that no one reads this stuff, but if you start earning some serious money and get your account banned by the provider (because you ignored their terms), your life is going to suck. So, do things by the book.
- Let your users know when you might earn money on a purchase. Say something like, “if you purchase through this link, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you” (you saw me do this earlier). But if you know you’re going to be adding links everywhere, you should have a notice in the sidebar, footer or somewhere visible. I’m not an attorney, so if in doubt, please consult a qualified professional.
- Use a link cloaker. I like to think of this as a link shortener rather than a cloaker. If you’re using WordPress, check out a plugin called Pretty Links. If not, there are plenty of great catch-all solutions like Bitly. You can turn your affiliate links into something short and easy to remember/type in.
- Never spam. Just don’t do it.
Does it Work?
I don’t intend to show off all my earnings or affiliate relationships (not that they’re a big secret), but you can see I do okay (and I do mean okay, not amazing) with Amazon Associates:
Final Thoughts on Affiliate Marketing for Musicians
What I’ve shared here is just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s so much more you’ll want to learn if you want to be great at affiliate marketing, such as content distribution and syndication, SEO, advanced marketing tactics and more.
So, if you enjoyed this guide and would like to learn more about affiliate marketing…
Please leave a comment below and let me know!