Affiliate programs rock because you get paid to simply tell others about quality products or services they need. It’s like telling a friend about a great book you read or movie you watched, and getting paid when they read or see it.
But like any work-at-home option, affiliate marketing takes research, planning, and good execution. Simply choosing a high paying affiliate program, or feeding Amazon products on to your blog, isn’t enough to generate steady income.
The first step in picking affiliate programs is to make sure it’s a fit for your audience. If you’ve built a following around fashion, choosing an affiliate program related to gardening may not go over well (unless there’s gardening fashion).
Another thing to consider is how you’re paid. Affiliate programs vary in how they pay you. Some pay a percentage of the sale or pay you for each lead you send. All these are okay, but one of the best ways to get paid in affiliate marketing is through recurring income affiliate programs.
What is recurring income?
Most affiliate programs pay when you make a sale. You refer someone to a book at Amazon, if they buy, Amazon pays you a commission for that sale. These types of commissions are awesome, but in order to make a steady income through programs such as Amazon, you have to sell those items over and over, month after month, year after year. That’s a lot of work!
Recurring income differs in that you continue to receive income from one sale. How?
Recurring income affiliate programs tend to promote services, memberships or subscription-based businesses that have ongoing charges for their customers. For example, if you refer someone to a service that costs $50 per month, and the affiliate commission is 10%. Not only do you earn $5 the first month for each referral, but also, you’ll earn it every month for as long as that referral stays with the service.
Let’s say you refer 100 people to that service, that’s $500 you receive in passive income month after month, as long as they stay customers. Instead of having to make 100 new sales each month to make that $500, recurring income is being made whether you make a new sale or not.
But lets say you do make 100 new sales a month. That means you’re adding $500 extra to your bank account, month after month.
My favorite affiliate programs not only pay recurring income, but also pay in tiers, which means if you refer someone to the affiliate program, you can earn a percentage from their sales. The affiliate still earns the regular commission that you do, but you’re paid too. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re in an affiliate program that pays 10% affiliate income on your sales, and 5% on the second tier (your affiliate referral’s sales):
- 1st Tier (Your referral sales): 100 sales of $50 @ 10% = $500
- 2nd Tier (Your referred affiliate’s sales): 100 sales of $50 @ 5% = $250
In this example, you’re earning $250 for having referred another affiliate.
Let’s say you have 4 referral affiliates that have 100 sales…that’s $1000 you’ve earned for work your affiliates did. These numbers go up if you or your referral affiliates have more customer referrals.
For example, lets say in six months you have 300 sales referrals (50 per month) and 6 affiliate referrals (1 per month) that each have 100 sales referrals. Your income at that 6 months mark would be:
- 1st Tier (Your referral sales): 300 sales of $50 @ 10% = $1500
- 2nd Tier (Your referred affiliate’s sales): 6 affiliates with 100 sales of $50 @ 5% = $1500
That’s $3000; $1,500 from your personal sales and $1,500 from your affiliates’ sales.
Of course, some people may cancel service and you may not make that many sales, but hopefully you can see the benefits to earning ongoing income from a referral.
Note: Not all recurring affiliate programs offer two-tiers, and there are some non-recurring programs that do offer two-tiers.
Where to find recurring and/or two-tier affiliate programs?
Again, you want to make sure you find quality, recurring commission affiliate programs that fit your niche. Then, think about the services, memberships, and subscriptions people need related to your niche. Here are a few examples in popular affiliate niches:
Health and Wellness: Memberships and subscriptions:
- Music (for great exercise tunes)
- Meal plans
- Smoothie/Juice mixes
Beauty/Skin Care Market: Subscription/membership autoship programs involving:
- Wrinkle cream
- Make up
- Acne treatment
- Dating sites
Making Money: Services, memberships, subscriptions
- Email Marketing Services (i.e. Aweber, ConvertKit)
- SEO Tools and Services
- Lead Magnet and Funnel Services (i.e. ClickFunnels)
- Software and plugins (that require ongoing renewals)
Of course, there are many more niches, and if yours isn’t listed, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a recurring program. Again, think about subscriptions, memberships, and services your market would need related to your niche. Check out the ones you’re already using to see if there is an affiliate program.
Some affiliate networks, like Clickbank, allow you to search by recurring income (in the Marketplace, click on your niche, and on the left below “Filters” is “Attributes,” where you can click on “Recurring” under “Required Billing Types.”)
How to join and promote recurring affiliate programs
Many recurring affiliate programs are free to join. Others require you to use the service or be a member before you can join.
The key to success in any affiliate program is how well you can market it. If you’re using a program, you can better speak to it’s quality, so it can help to also be a user, member, or subscriber. Other ways to promote your recurring affiliate programs include:
Funnel/Email System: This is my new favorite as once it’s set up, it’s fairly passive compared to other options such as blogging.
Email Signature Line: You can include links to your favorite affiliate program in your signature line. A great way to do this is if the affiliate program offers a free trial or some other freebie that you can promote. For example, “Get the Free XYZ Report on How to …” Use a link shortener to cloak your link so it doesn’t look crazy. If you use WordPress, you can use Pretty Link so the link uses your domain. Otherwise you can use a link shortener such as Bit.ly.
Blog: You can include affiliate links in the text of your blog posts, as well as use graphic ads supplied by the affiliate program.
Website/Blog Resource Page: Many people who come to your website will want to know the resources you use and recommend, so having a tools and resources page that lists this information is a great way to promote your affiliate programs.
Here is WAHS’s resources page, which has a mixture of affiliate and non-affiliate links.
Tutorials or How Tos: You can provide step-by-step instructions on how to use an affiliate program, or how to do something related to your niche that includes use of your affiliate program in an article or video.
Review: A great way to talk up the benefits of a product or service is to review it. Share the features and how your audience can benefit from it, as well as provide any downsides or tips for best use. Your readers are counting on you for quality products and services, so don’t give something a positive review if you haven’t used it or don’t believe what you’re saying. Sending your followers to a bad product or service will hurt your reputation.
Case Study: If you’re using and loving a service, share your experience with it by writing a case study. This differs from a review in that you’re focused on your use and experience with the service, providing details of your results. People are more likely to want to use the same tools you do if they can see how it added value to your life or business.
Lead Magnet: If you offer a lead magnet for your email list, you can include your affiliate links. For example, if you have an ebook that offers tips on your niche, and an affiliate program is a good resource, you can include the link in the book.
Your Products or Services: If an affiliate program can enhance your client or customers experience or ability to use your product/service, include links to it. For example, if you have a course in which you recommend a service, use an affiliate link. Or if you have a service, you can use an affiliate program as an add-on.
Special Deal or Offer: Many affiliate programs have special offers, such as Black Friday deals. Or if you’re a good affiliate, will allow you to offer a special deal to your followers. Make sure you’re on the email list of your affiliate programs so you can hear about great deals and add them to your marketing calendar.
Social Media: Share links to your blog posts, lead magnet or special deal on social media. Or you, if allowed by the platform, share the affiliate product or service directly.
My Favorite Recurring Affiliate Programs
There are many recurring affiliate marketing programs, more than I can join or use. The list below is a few that I use and really like. These programs may or may not work for you depending on your niche and audience.
Note that you can’t use your own affiliate link to sign up for the programs if you’d like to use them. I’ve included service sign-up links as well as affiliate sign up links below:
Money Making Courses
Free Affiliate Bootcamp: This is a great detailed program on how to build affiliate income. It’s focus is on using Clickfunnels to build affiliate income quickly. The bootcamp itself is free, so there is no commission, however, you’ll be paid a 40% monthly recurring commission and 5% two-tier commission on Affiliate Bootcamp students who join Clickfunnels. Sign up for the Clickfunnels affiliate program (find the Bootcamp and other great offers in the affiliate center).
CB University: 75% initial month commission, 25% recurring commission. This is ClickBank’s program to help people make money online by selling their products and setting up their own affiliate program through Clickbank. Packed with videos, instructions, and a community to seek help and support, it’s ideal for the new Internet marketer. Sign up for ClickBank Affiliate Marketplace.
Momwebs: 20% monthly recurring commission. You need to be a Momwebs customer to promote the affiliate program. I’ve been with 3 webhosts since I started online in 1998, and Momwebs has been the all-time best by far!
Tailwind: 15% recurring commission (run through Sharasale) or a $15 credit for referral through Tailwind. Pinterest is my number one traffic source, and Tailwind has been essential in managing and scheduling my Pinterest activity. Sign up for the Tailwind Affiliate Program (recurring)
TubeBuddy: 30% recurring commission on standard service, 40% recurring commission on upgraded services. Anyone who wants to make money or have significant marketing results from YouTube should have TubeBuddy. It has tons of tools that reduce time and effort in dealing with your channel, social media posting, SEO and so much more. Sign up for the TubeBuddy Affiliate Program
Depending on how you’re building income through affiliate marketing, not all your programs need to be recurring paying ones. For example, if you’re a blogger or Instagram influencer, you’ll likely have a variety of products and services you promote that offer value to your followers, but don’t necessarily pay monthly. If you do promote many products and services, it doesn’t hurt to research recurring and/or two-tier programs as long as they’re good for your audience.
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