How many opportunities are you leaving on the table?
Look, I recognize that money isn’t everything. But it sure doesn’t hurt, especially in times like these.
And while you might be plenty busy already with gigging, recording, and other activity, what if there was a way to supplement your income without adding a ton of work to your plate?
Sound too good to be true? Not so fast.
Today, we’re going to look at affiliate marketing.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is 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. There’s always some cost to doing business.
Here, we’ll get into:
- The upsides and downsides of affiliate marketing
- How to choose what products to promote
- How to get started
- The ever-changing landscape of affiliate marketing
- How to promote products and earn commissions
- Best practices
- Whether affiliate marketing works
Upsides to Affiliate Marketing
The primary advantage to affiliate marketing is that you can earn an income on products you didn’t have to create.
Having published 44 songs, seven books, three courses, and a great deal more, I’m quite familiar with the man hours involved in developing a variety of products.
But if you want to earn an income from your own creations, you can’t just built it and hope they will come, can you? There’s a great deal of legwork involved in marketing, and if you’re not a marketing savant, you’ve got a mountain to climb to get to where you want to go.
Contrast that with affiliate marketing. You can promote a product you didn’t have to put any man hours into creating and start earning commissions as soon as your affiliate account is approved.
You can also use your existing media (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.
- You get to earn commissions on product you didn’t have to invest 10s or 100s of hours of your own time to develop.
- You get to earn commissions promoting things you already use and love!
- You can use your existing media to promote products on autopilot.
- Affiliate programs generally supply you with plenty of marketing materials, including graphical banners and email sequences.
- It’s easy to incorporate affiliate marketing into your existing ecosystem, especially if you’re already creating content.
Downsides to Affiliate Marketing
There are many upsides to affiliate marketing. But every rose has its thorn, right?
(I know, I know.)
Here’s the thing…
As an affiliate, you’re not in control of the products you promote. The creator may discontinue the product or affiliate program. 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 earnings at a moment’s notice (which is why it’s good to diversify).
If anything happens to the affiliate program you’re a part of, 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.
You are a musician, though, and chances are you’re already in the process of setting up a couple of viable income streams, which is wise. This can help you avoid single source dependency.
- Affiliate programs are sometimes discontinued or shut down.
- The terms and conditions of the affiliate program can change.
- The commission structure of the affiliate program can change.
- If the program gets shut down suddenly and without notice, you may not get paid for units already sold.
- If you don’t abide by the terms of the affiliate program, you could have your account shut down.
- Generally, there aren’t any opportunities to earn 100% commissions on units sold (but they do exist!).
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 strong 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.
But keep in mind that focusing on low-ticket items is generally a losing battle, because you’re only earning a percentage on them. This doesn’t mean you can’t promote low-ticket items passively. What it means is you should dedicate more time to promoting high-ticket offers, because that’s where the income is.Dedicate more time to promoting high-ticket offers, because that's where the income is. Click To Tweet
How to Get Started
One of the best ways for beginners to get started is by joining Amazon Associates.
You know Amazon, right? They’re only the top eCommerce behemoth in existence. 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 commodities 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).
Now you know how affiliate marketing works. It is that simple!
The Ever-Changing Landscape of Affiliate Marketing
I know I said earlier that Amazon Associates is a good place to get started for beginners. Well, while it is a good place to learn the ropes, it probably isn’t the best place to earn an income on your referrals.
A few years ago, Amazon announced that they were going to be reducing 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.
I don’t recommend sharing your link out of context. For instance, don’t start talking about what you had for lunch and then sneak in your affiliate link promoting something entirely unrelated. It’s bad form.
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 dime.
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 already. These days, they depend on sponsorships more than affiliate commissions, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t actively generating 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. If anyone’s interested, they can simply click the link to find out more about said products.
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 earn an income 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
Product reviews are a great way to make product recommendations. Of course, they do take time and effort to create.
But 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 other type of content. 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. If you start earning some serious money and get your account banned because you ignored their terms, your life is going to suck. So, do things by the book. This usually means avoiding black hat tactics, whether it’s recommending products you don’t know anything about, keyword stuffing, low quality content, baiting and switching, and so on.
- 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. They can help you do everything by the books.
- 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 and track the number of clicks that are coming through. That’s the main way I like to use these.
- 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:
I’ve easily earned thousands on my various affiliate marketing efforts mind you.
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 a great affiliate marketer, 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!