This article appeared first in the InMotion Hosting newsletter
First, a disclaimer: We are not affiliate marketers. At least not in the traditional sense.
According to nearly every article on affiliate marketing, achieving success is a complicated, cut-throat endeavor requiring loads of time and training and writing and list/link building and advertising and researching and reputation building and gaming and social media-ing, and… well, the list goes on and on.
For many this actually sounds like an endless source of fun and adventure. For us this sounds like an endless source of misery. Fortunately, there’s always another way.
Now, affiliate marketing has never been a big focus for SPYR. Hell, aside from posting stupid pictures of ourselves on social media we give zero attention to marketing and just do the work (all of our leads come via word of mouth). However, despite the lack of emphasis we place upon marketing, affiliate marketing has become a pretty significant revenue stream in the past few years.
Of course, we all know the big internet names rake it in through affiliate programs. They have the audience, the traffic and, most importantly, the influence that garners top commission rates to match their performance. Good for them. They did the work and deserve every bit of it.
But, we’re not all big names nor do we all aspire to be. Some of us are more effective in a behind-the-scenes capacity. We’re facilitators. So, why not facilitate?
No matter how well an income stream is performing, an improvement is always welcomed. If you can facilitate that refinement, you can then create a mutually beneficial relationship where everyone wins.
Facilitation is precisely the approach we’ve taken with affiliate marketing. We don’t want to become content producers or marketers. We aren’t interested in building lists and writing copy or, for that matter, selling in general. We’re a creative agency and let our work speak for itself relying on the, ever powerful, word of mouth to handle the rest.
Rather than approaching affiliate marketing as a new ‘job’, we instead looked at what value we could already bring to the table, who would most benefit from our input and skills, and reached out to a chosen few who we knew would experience the biggest returns. As a design company, we impact perception through imagery and product development and knew this would be a valuable compliment to the efforts of our marketing and blogging colleagues.
So we turned to others in our circles – past clients, friends, etc – who have the established audience and influence that we lack and teamed up to create mutually beneficial scenarios where we better position their publicly facing affiliate promotions, negotiate commission structures for them (they’re completely hands off) and take a small cut through tiered affiliate programs. Basically, we’re earning money by helping other, more popular people earn money.
The point is, use the tools you currently have to fill in the gaps for others. If we believed the only way to succeed in affiliate marketing was to be great content producers with a giant list we would have never started. Be creative, help others succeed and everyone involved can reap the rewards.