How to Create a Strong Influencer or Affiliate Marketing Strategy

April 27, 2021

If you ever wondered how some people make a living by posting videos of themselves applying makeup, streaming video games, or sharing pictures traveling the world, those people were most likely social media influencers. Influencers are everywhere and they are building profitable businesses that can support their families. One of the ways influencers earn their wage is through affiliate marketing techniques. 

For anyone who is less familiar with affiliate marketing strategies or wants to learn more about how to use affiliate marketing more effectively, read on to learn how affiliate marketing and influencer marketing makes a profit.

What is affiliate marketing?

An affiliate marketing business promotes products and services of others and earns a commission from each sales they influence. Most affiliate marketers more accurately described as influencers that utilize affiliate marketing and very few scenarios involve solely affiliate marketing. The reason is because something needs to drive consumers to use the affiliate marketing products and services someone is promoting. And this is much easier when you have a strong fan base interested in the products and services you use or recommend. 

There are retailers and businesses that have established affiliate marketing programs already in place and work with affiliate marketers to setup an affiliate marketing agreement. Each business  decides how much they will offer in commission and what actions qualify to earn commission. Most affiliate marketing programs focus solely on purchases while others will also incorporate impressions or site traffic earned as a valid metric for commission.

For businesses without an existing affiliate marketing program, affiliate marketers can work directly with the company to develop an affiliate marketing contract that is suitable.     

What is influencer marketing?

An influencer marketing business is a business where a key individual is viewed as an inspiration and thought leader for a particular topic or interest. The subject matter an influencer focuses on could be anything from fashion tips to software troubleshooting. Influencer marketing businesses often use affiliate marketing strategies but their business involves other aspects.

The layers of an influencer marketing business can be very complex including partnerships, merchandise, writing content, and much more. But affiliate marketing is often a large percentage of influencer income.    

Making a Living With Affiliate Marketing and Influencer Marketing

As we explained before, an affiliate marketing strategy is often a component of an influencer marketing business and it’s an important one too since it is often a large contributor to how much money an influencer can make. Because influencers can earn money on the products and services they influence their followers to invest in, if they are able to convince a lot of people to purchase one of their affiliate promotions, that has a direct impact on how much money they can make.

Since a large driver of income for influencers is determined by the number of affiliate sales they influence, the size of their online following effects how much money they can earn. This means that building a large online following is directly proportional to the earning potential of an influencer.

There are a few key elements to successfully growing your following as an influencer.

  • Establishing your voice as unique in a niche market. You don’t want to try and break into the market as a thought leader on a broad topic like home design, fashion, or business. You want to find a niche category of a broad topic that you can specialize in and reach people interested in your unique voice on the topic. For example, mid-century modern home design, upcycle fashion, or business for female entrepreneurs. 
  • Understanding your target audience. To connect with your audience, you need to have a deep understanding of what they want, how they think, and what compels them to take action. Take some time to learn more about the people interested in the topic you focus on by reading their comments on other influencers’ posts and engaging with them in online forums.
  • The social media networks your business should use. For many influencers, it’s rarely the right strategy to focus equally on each social media platform. There will be certain social media platforms that are a better fit for your message and your target audience, for example, a fitness influencer is likely going to have a stronger Instagram and YouTube presence while a business influencer is likely prominent on LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Planning a posting schedule. An influencer business should have an adaptive social media posting schedule designed to plan topics they are going to discuss. A social media schedule is also helpful because it requires influencers to look at how their posts tie together for a uniform voice or message. Posting regularly is proven to increase the loyalty of your followers and increase your chances of earning new followers. 

The Challenges of an Influencer or Affiliate Marketing Business

Earning a living as an influencer or an affiliate marketer doesn’t happen overnight and if it was simple, everyone would do it. The reality is running a profitable influencer marketing business can be difficult for a number of reasons.  

Here are some of the common challenges people face when running an influencer marketing or affiliate marketing business.

  • It takes time to build an influencer business and usually it has to start as a side hustle to continue to put food on the table.
  • Most influencers file their taxes as self-employed and follow a different tax structure than  a W2 income.
  • The business of influencer marketing is competitive.
  • Influencers can experience income fluctuations and need to be prepared for unexpected drops in their earnings.
  • Health insurance is not included.
  • Online criticisms can be hard to stomach.

These are just a few of the difficult aspects of running a business as an influencer but there are clearly many people who created strong businesses despite the adversity.

We hope this was a helpful guide for existing influencers or anyone looking to start a business as an influencer or an affiliate marketer. If there are any tips you would like to share with others interested in building a more successful influencer marketing business, please let us know because we would love to include them in our next post!

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