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When you hear “affiliate marketing,” you may think of your favorite Instagram influencer sharing a discount for their favorite water bottle company in a post. If you buy it, they get a small commission on what they sell through that unique discount code. Beyond how often it’s seen on social media though, it frankly isn’t discussed in the business realm as often as other marketing tactics are, but it should be. According to Statista, affiliate marketing reached $5.4 billion in 2017 and is estimated to reach $8.2 billion by 2022. There is massive potential for affiliate partnerships to further your business’s exposure and sales. 
Affiliate partnerships create an opportunity for you to connect with audiences who are most likely to want your product, and to advertise through someone who has a vested interest in whether or not their audience buys. In influencer marketing, a company pays for a sponsored post, or the service of an influencer promoting the product on their page. But with affiliate marketing, the influencer knows that more financial compensation is available if they can get their audience to purchase with their code. This inevitably ups the ante of the content’s quality, whether done through influencer posts, brand partnerships, or backlinks within blogs. 
Here are some ways you can get started with forging affiliate partnerships. 
Affiliate Partnerships: Why You Should Consider Them And How To Get Started | Stephanie Burns
1. Add Affiliate Opportunities To Influencer Relationships
If you’ve already invested in influencer marketing in the past or know of the perfect influencers to align with your brand, create an affiliate partnership opportunity to pitch to them. Ideally, this will be an “add-on” to the flat rate you would pay them to post about your product. In some cases with more micro influencers, you can ask for them to promote your product in exchange for freebies. Sometimes the combination of a free product and the opportunity for a small commission via their personalized discount code is enough to sway smaller influencers into partnering, at little cost to you.
To take this a step further, Mandy Jones with AffiliateWP recommends creating co-branded landing pages. This will feature both the influencer and your product on backpages of your website, which establishes more of a sense of ownership for the influencer. “Personalize the web address to make it easy for influencers to relay the info efficiently on their podcast or vlog,” she says. “This can be done with any affiliate, but as public figures, influencers will appreciate and make good use of this kind of personalization, not to mention that their followers will be looking for it!”
2. Partner With Big Name Brands 
Affiliate partnerships go beyond individuals and influencers, and can be extended to big name brands or similar companies. Many companies have affiliate marketing through backlinks: one example is Home Depot, which has an affiliate partnership with product recommendation site Consumer Search. According to E-Commerce Nation, it’s a win-win for both parties: “While Consumer Search earns a commission for each sale, The Home Depot increases visitor traffic and achieves powerful backlinks.”
There are always opportunities for your company to establish affiliate partnerships with big name brands, too. Just ask Danial Daychopan, the founder and CEO of Plutus. They recently rolled out affiliate partnerships with Amazon, AirBNB, Nike, and others through their “Plutus Perks” program. In this partnership, Plutus users earn 5% back on cryptocurrency for any purchase made on Amazon. As for how they scored this, Daychopan says it’s all in the mutual benefit. 
“Striking partnerships is much easier if you can provide equal benefit in return. We have managed to secure affiliate deals with high-profile brands as we deliver a unique payments service with high upside potential in a trending industry,” he reflected.  “By collaborating with us, brands can stay at the forefront of cutting-edge innovations and also open their doors up to alternative untapped revenue streams,” he said. Plutus Programme members are then incentivized to purchase from Amazon over competitors because of the cashback opportunity. Know what your company can uniquely offer to these brands (no matter how big they are) and use this insight in your discussions with them.
3. Take Advantage Of Backlink Opportunities
When engaging with influencers, look beyond what they can do on Instagram, and where else their audience is consuming their content. One example is through blogs or articles with backlink potential. This is an easy way to partner with influencers who don’t usually promote products or do advertising on their platform, because there’s no promotion involved beyond the links. Some influencers or content creators actually solely do affiliate backlinks. 
They look for these opportunities on affiliate aggregators like VigLink. Leyl Master Black writes that VigLink “automates access to more than 30,000 affiliate programs and monetizes the links on your site for you. For example, if a blogger is writing about a new pair of shoes they found on Zappos, instead of having to sign up with the Zappos affiliate program directly, they can work with VigLink, which will automatically append the affiliate code to the link and pay the blogger their earned commissions.” Using a site like this will make it easier for you to manage these partnerships if many bloggers or influencers sign up.
Between social media posts, backlinks, and other potentials for partnerships with both big and small brands, affiliate marketing is a must for more targeted exposure. If you’re struggling with marketing or looking for new routes for brand awareness, consider which of these options works best for your company and what you’re selling.
Stephanie Burns is the founder of Chic CEO, a resource for female entrepreneurs starting businesses. Download a free business plan template and follow Chic CEO on Twitter and Instagram.

Affiliate Marketing As A Business

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