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Affiliate marketing strategies for small business owners

How to add revenue streams to your business with affiliate marketing

business strategy marketing tips online business Apr 26, 2021

Similar to how we can start a side hustle when we’re working a full-time or part-time job, we can also add a side hustle to our business. Back when I started my company, I used to joke that it was the side hustle to my side hustle. Almost two years later, it’s now my full-time gig with its own side hustles that bring in extra revenue month after month.

In his book, Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days, author and entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau writes, “A side hustle is more than just another stream of income, it’s also the new job security. When you receive paychecks from different sources, it allows you to take more chances . . . More income means more options. More options equals freedom.”[1]

If you’re at a stage in your business where you’re wondering, “How can I make more money?” or “How can I generate more revenue without having to create something new?” it might be time to look for a different kind of side hustle—something that I believe is an untapped revenue stream for many small business owners—affiliate marketing.

With affiliate marketing, you have the opportunity to earn revenue as an affiliate partner and/or reach new people through your affiliate partners, which can generate new leads and more sales.

The concept is that you’re leveraging the relationships you have with people in your network to A) share their products/tools/services with your audience or B) share your products/tools/services with their audience.

First, let’s talk about sharing others’ offers with your audience...

A) Become an affiliate partner with another business owner or service provider

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you likely use many tools and products that you recommend to others in your industry. They’re things you already know, use and love, so why not get compensated for spreading the word about them?

In this scenario, you would sign up as an affiliate partner and receive a commission from offers purchased through your unique link. Depending on the business and how they operate, the sign-up process is usually online: you would create your own affiliate login for their affiliate portal and immediately get access to your affiliate link(s) to share with your community.

If another business owner offers a product/tool/service that you think will help people in your community, consider personally reaching out to them to ask if they have an affiliate program. If they don’t have an affiliate program, they may consider creating one simply because you asked—because now they know there is demand for it. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

Whenever I discover a product/tool/service and think, “Wow! My community would love this too,” instead of creating it myself—and putting in all that effort to try to match what they’ve done, which is already amazing—I reach out to the creator to see if there is an affiliate partnership opportunity.

Bright Idea >>> Brainstorm all of the products/tools/services you use in your business. Take a look at all of the online platforms you use for things like email marketing, accounting software, the digital platform for your website, etc. These service providers may offer some sort of partner, referral or affiliate program that you can tap into.

Next, brainstorm all of the products you’ve purchased, courses you’ve enrolled in and programs you’ve taken. If you had a great experience or you personally use those products, you have an opportunity to share them with others and earn commission when you do.

Now let’s look at the other scenario of affiliate marketing...

B) Create an affiliate program for your offers

In this scenario, you would leverage the relationships you have with people in your network to share your product, program or offer with their community. This is something I coach my clients to do when they’re launching a program or course because it’s a great way to reach new people. 

Bright Idea >>> Consider adding affiliate marketing to your marketing strategy if you’re launching an online course, program or product. Affiliate partners can be a powerful resource when you launch your offer because their network knows and trusts them, and will likely be receptive to learning from you too.

One affiliate strategy is to have a partner share your free webinar with their list, and during your webinar—where you first share lots of valuable information related to some aspect of your offer—you pitch your offer to their audience.

Another affiliate strategy is to have a partner share their unique link to your freebie download, which ultimately gets people from their network into your email funnel that promotes your offer. A freebie could be something like a checklist, quiz, worksheet or how-to guide.

Whichever strategy you use, make sure there’s some sort of opt-in required, so you give something for free in exchange for people’s email addresses.

Ideally, the platform you use is able to automatically generate unique affiliate links and track partner commissions, so you don’t have to. An online business platform like Kajabi has an affiliate portal where your partners can access their auto-generated affiliate links to your products and track their commissions.

Here are 3 steps to creating an affiliate program for your offer:

Step 1: Make a list of potential affiliate partners.

Who is in your network who already has an established community or following (e.g. Facebook group, Instagram followers, email list, etc.)? Who do you know who knows people who have a problem your offer will solve? Identify potential partners who align with your business—ideally, you have complementary businesses with the same target audience.

Step 2: Reach out to potential affiliate partners about your affiliate program.

Be intentional about who you ask to be an affiliate partner. Reach out to them and share that you think they’d be a great affiliate partner. It’s a win-win: you get to reach new people and gain new customers, while they get to earn commissions by sharing your offer. You would give them a commission from any sales that are brought in from the partner’s community. 

Step 3: Connect with their community.

Remember: your affiliate partner’s network or audience may not know you yet, so they should be introduced to you in some way. One thing you could do is go live with your affiliate partner on Facebook or Instagram, on their page or in their group, so their audience is introduced to you. This could be a great way to pique their audience’s interest on the topic and offer your freebie download or free webinar. The great thing is your partner doesn’t have to sell for you, they just make their community available to you.

Consider affiliate marketing as your new side hustle. You have a great opportunity to tap into this revenue stream as an affiliate partner or to reach new people through your affiliate partners.

If you want a helping hand to brainstorm your affiliate marketing strategy, come and check out the FREE training in the BrightBiz Builders Facebook group



[1] Rose, J. (2017, September 23). How Starting A Side Hustle Could Be Your Best Investment Yet. Forbes.

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