What IS affiliate marketing?

       Affiliate marketing is a fancy of way of saying that you earn money for the products you refer others to.  According to the dictionary, it is “a marketing arrangement by which an online retailer pays a commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals.”

       I think it had a bad taste in my mouth because I just didn’t know any better.  When you’re on social media and you see the adds or blog posts for “I make all my money from affiliates” it doesn’t lend a positive light on how we as artists can actually use it to supplement our art, not take away from it. For my purposes – and yours as well if you’re reading this – it has nothing to do with taking away from your art creation and everything to do with the products you use enough to endorse.

How It Works

       The concept of how affiliate marketing works is really quite simple.  You find a provider/business that offers affiliate marketing.  You sign up for their program, and then you share the product/service across your platforms using a specific link that is coded to your account.  You then get product credit, cash back, or a percentage of each sale made by people using your link.

       Some folks will purposely seek out big name companies that offer big referral bonuses for their affiliates.  Then there are others, like me (and you perhaps) that would just love to supplement their art career.  For folks like us, affiliate marketing has the opportunity to become a passive income stream (a passive income is one that doesn’t require work once the avenue is set up…I’ll get into this in another post).

How It Can Work with Your Art Business

       What really got me looking into this whole affiliate marketing thing, was my planner.  I use the Protopreneur Planner produced by Yvonne Heimann.  Y’all KNOW I love this thing – I wrote a blog post about it!  Because I loved it so damn much and kept asking (jokingly) if I was going to get product credit for all the referrals I was sending her way, she actually created an affiliate program.  Which then got me thinking…what made me okay with promoting the planner and getting a product credit/referral percentage but leery about affiliate marketing in general?

       I realized that I was okay with it because it was a product I use, find value in, and was promoting it ANYWAY – regardless of if I had an affiliate link or not.  I wasn’t just promoting a product to get the commission.  Making that distinction was important for me.  So how can I use this new found acceptance of affiliate marketing to my advantage for my art business?  By doing what I’m already doing.  Doing the product reviews and promoting products or services I use and find value in.  Some of these products/services just so happen to have affiliate programs.  Going about affiliate marketing for your own art business should be done in much the same way.  For it to enhance your current business as an artist, I would suggest/recommend you only promote your affiliate links (if the companies have an affiliate program) for the products you use.  There are some big name companies that offer affiliate programs – like Amazon and Dick Blick.  Both of these big box brands are places I actually purchase my art supplies from.  At the writing of this post, I don’t have affiliates for these places yet, though I’m looking into it.

       One thing that is quite important to keep in mind if you intend to use affiliate marketing to supplement your income, is not to rely on it to pay the bills.  I personally count it as “bonus money”.  Money that beefs up my savings account or allows me to buy a new art supply this month.  To truly be able to count on your affiliate marketing money you need to be promoting your affiliate links left and right; not just as a passive option (like maybe an ad in a side bar or on a link page on your website).  For me and my intentions, the passive option works best.  Only you can decide what the right answer is for if and how you intend to utilize affiliate marketing in your art business.

My affiliates

These are some of the affiliate links I do have and why I have them.  You’ll notice that there is a reason.  As I mentioned above, the only product/service I will ever have an affiliate link for is for those that I use and feel confident recommending.

My Protopreneur Planner of course!  If you haven’t seen the blog post I did about how and why I use it, go HERE to see for yourself.  And yes..there’s 2 in this picture because my husband now uses one.

Morevago is an app that I use.  If you go on the main page of my website, or any of the gallery pages, you’ll see little notification windows pop up in the lower left corner.  Those are quick testimonials I’ve received.  The use of them is called “social proofing”.  I’ll be going more in depth into how and why I use these in a later post.  I highly recommend it though.  You can join the Facebook group for more information as well.