Affiliate marketing: get more from making product recommendations

Do you often recommend products to your clients using your social media pages? I recently talked with my best friend, who runs a small business. She told me that she often shares product recommendations on her Instagram stories and her followers DM her asking for a link to buy the product. I asked her, ‘are you using affiliate links?’ She told me she didn’t feel confident using them and wouldn’t know where to start. So, I’m going to break it down in this blog post! 

Affiliate marketing summary

Affiliate marketing is when a brand gives a content creator or business a unique link or discount code to share with followers. The link will lead to a specific product, and the content creator or business owner can make money when the link is clicked, or the product is bought. Most of the time, affiliate links work per purchase, meaning the content creator or business owner will only make money if the person using the link makes a purchase. Similarly, with unique discount codes, the content creator or business owners can make money every time the code is used.

In some cases, when the link or code is only valid on a particular product, creators and business owners can earn a set amount of money per item bought. In other cases, creators and business owners are likely to earn a commission based on a percentage of the total sale when the link or discount code works across multiple products.

Most affiliate links work using cookies. Suppose an affiliate programme has a 30-day cookie policy. If your follower clicks on the affiliate link to the brand’s website or product, you will earn a commission on any sale from that customer for up to 30 days after. 

Who can become an affiliate, and how to find the right programme 

Most affiliate programmes want creators and business owners to demonstrate how their online presence will align with the product they sell. You won’t always need a website, but it’s essential to have some online presence, such as social media pages.

In the case of Amazon’s affiliate programme, you must have an active website, blog, app, or YouTube channel to apply. Anyone can apply directly to Amazon if they meet these criteria.

Other programmes are managed through third-party affiliate networks like Awin Affiliate Network. To apply for these programmes, you just have to become a member of Awin, and then you can apply to various different affiliate programmes for free.

One of the best ways to find affiliate programmes is to do a Google search of programmes in your industry – or check the websites of products you already use to see if there are affiliate opportunities.

You don’t have to have the most followers to be successful at affiliate marketing. Often those with a smaller, more engaged following have the most success with affiliate marketing because their following shares their interests.

Affiliate marketing works in the following way:

  • You partner with a brand that has an affiliate programme
  • You’ll promote the brand or specific products on your blog or social media pages
  • The brand will likely use cookies to track when your link is used
  • You’ll earn a commission every time someone uses your link to make a purchase
  • If you’re given a discount code instead of a link, you’ll earn a commission every time this code is used to make a purchase.

Things to consider before becoming an affiliate 

Before deciding whether affiliate marketing is for you, we’ll summarise a few key considerations.

  1. Before you decide to work with a particular brand, consider whether it aligns with your audience’s interests. Promoting products that align with your follower’s interests will lead to more success.
  2. Don’t make affiliate links your main content. Integrate them seamlessly with the authentic content you already post.
  3. Use short videos rather than standard posts to get your affiliate links seen by a wider audience.
  4. Read this guide from the ASA to ensure you comply with regulations around the use of affiliate links: 

Remember, affiliate marketing will only be successful if you choose products your audience is interested in. Always remain authentic and never promote products that don’t align with your values.




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