Wondering how to monetize your Instagram account as a food creator?
There are a few ways for content creators in the food niche (Instagrammers, coaches, business owners, bloggers, and influencers) to make money online via their Instagram, blog, and other channels.
As a blogger you are probably familiar with affiliate marketing as it is very popular and voted one of the top two revenue generators for publishers – second only to ads.
But if you are not blogging or have just started out, learning more about affiliate marketing is an important stage and will help you monetize your digital content.
Affiliate marketing is the process of referring readers to products, places, and services you recommend and receiving a commission if they sign up or make a purchase.
For example, items you share – like kitchen tools and serveware, or essential cooking and baking tools you use, ingredients you recommend, but also meal delivery or online grocery services, cooking or wine apps you love, courses of fellow food creators, and more – all will include a special affiliate tracking link.
This means that when someone clicks the item and buys it through your referral, you’ll receive a small commission. For readers, the price remains the same whether they use your special link or not.
But how can affiliates promote links on Instagram when you can’t link on Instagram? By using services such as VENNDY and others (there’s a link below), creators can set up a virtual shop of clickable Instagram posts for their bio and monetize content regardless of whether they have a blog or a website. With VENNDY you can personalize, with customized photos, each of the links to your promoted items and websites you partner with.
Here is an example of how a linkable gallery looks like:
Brands have been using similar paid services for some time now. But now, a few things have changed that allow Instagrammers to use referral links in order to step up their monetization game and earn commissions for driving traffic and generating sales to businesses they use and love. Here are some numbers that help explain.
- Over 80% of brands use affiliate marketing and are open to promotions on social media.
Stat: An estimated 75.3% of US businesses will be on Instagram in 2020.
- There’s a growing demand and openness to approve creators as affiliate partners based on their quality social media accounts, even if they don’t have a website.
Stat: Social media has proved to be an effective way not only for brand awareness but also for sales; 69% of US marketers plan to spend most of their influencer budget on Instagram.
- Content creators can use referrals to help consumers make better online purchases, especially in these times of quarantine and social distancing driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and the new reality of less gatherings and an anticipated growth in ecommerce.
Stat: 70% of shopping enthusiasts turn to Instagram for product discovery.
In this blog post we’ve put together some ideas for monetizing your expertise while inspiring your followers with useful advice and recommendations.
The advantage of using affiliate marketing to create a passive source of income
Even if you are a business owner or Instagrammer, with no website, one great way to scale your business is to set up multiple revenue streams.
This means that, in addition to the work you do every day, when you exchange your time for money, you earn extra income through one or more passive income sources.
Passive income is money that you earn by creating a source of income that you build once and then enjoying its fruits without having to actively work for it.
This means that you put in a substantial amount of effort at the beginning, but this diminishes after a while and becomes fairly minor.
Some examples for passive income sources include: a blog, an online course, a YouTube channel, digital products, or affiliate marketing to earn commissions through referrals.
If you are still wondering why your business should also be built on passive income, then consider having more of a work–life balance to pursue the activities you love doing or having less stress about money, allowing you more financial growth and stability and the freedom to work at your own schedule.
A beginners’ guide to using affiliate marketing on Instagram for Food Creators
Some of the links below are affiliate links. This just means that if you choose to make a purchase, we may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This will help support VENNDY’s expenses during this free beta stage. We are also using these links to showcase how you can use VENNDY’s tools for your own monetization through referrals.
If you are new to affiliate marketing, you may want to check out our Affiliate Marketing Guides to learn more.
To help you get started, here are some basic ideas to keep in mind:
1. 1. In the sections below you will find some of the best affiliate networks out there. We’ve also included some programs to give you an idea of how this works. But once you sign up and go through the lists yourself, you’ll probably recognize other brands, hopefully based on your own preferences and experiences.
Some of the programs may not seem obvious as they are not purely related to food – Etsy for example – but you can find related products there that could be very useful in your niche.
2. 2. When choosing the most appropriate networks to join as a creator for food and drink content, consider which product can convert into sales and help you earn income. The product’s price, lifespan, and demand as well as the commission paid by the merchant are just a few aspects to consider.
You would not, of course, be promoting something you don’t believe in.
Your audience should be your first priority. But your understanding of the business model that can build you a constant stream of income is almost as important.
A combination of evergreen content alongside seasonal opportunities will keep your offerings fresh and interesting.
3. 3. Even if you are a brand-new content creator, we don’t recommended waiting until you have grown to think about aspects of monetization. Using affiliate marketing is possible even with a small following.
Sponsored posts and other means of monetization can be added at a later stage, but the advantage of affiliate marketing is that, although you may not see success and commissions rolling in right away, with the right content your recommendations with affiliate links can live forever! This is the beauty of diversifying your earnings by adding a stream of passive income.
The hard work you put in during these early stages might just start paying off later.
4. 4. Successful affiliates don’t rely only on their community; they understand the importance of good search strategies such as #hashtags, stories, and shoppable services links to help them reach people who are looking for what they are recommending. There’s nothing like a ready to buy customer to help you make a sale!
5. 5. As we emphasized in all of our Affiliate Marketing Guides blog posts, the number one factor in succeeding as an affiliate is to reach a point where you’re exchanging valuable knowledge.
We’ve gathered some testimonials to help you learn from real users about their affiliate marketing journey HERE.
Just before you apply:
Here are a few tips, before we dive in deeper:
- Even if you have a nice following, that doesn’t mean that all programs will approve you. Make sure you prepare and write a short description/bio about you and your promotional methods (Instagram, Facebook, website) and have it close to hand.
Try to personalize it and use a few keywords relevant to the brand you’re applying to. This might help you get approved for programs in a few different categories. We suggest creating two versions: a short one of up to 255 characters and a longer one with around 500 characters.
- As a beginner, don’t expect to be approved by all programs. Don’t take it personally; simply try. You may not be approved today, but as you grow you can reapply. By building a stronger foundation of content and followers, you are more than likely to be approved.
If a certain program is important to you, don’t settle for "no” as an answer. You can always reply to their rejection email with some information that may make them change their mind; for example, tell them how much you love their product and how you plan to recommend it to your readers.
VENNDY’s tools can help you keep track of all your programs and products and add affiliate links as you grow. Check out this blog post to learn more about the advantages of working with VENNDY.
Just before we get into some actionable steps, to help you along, we have created a free "Affiliate Marketing Strategy Cheat Sheet” according to which you can build your "Affiliate Marketing Strategy Map.”
GRAB OUR FREE AFFILIATE MARKETING STRATEGY CHEAT SHEET AND BUILD YOUR AFFILIATE MARKETING STRATEGY MAP
Here are the 5 steps we recommend to help you get started:
1. Apply to join one or more affiliate networks
As you can see below, many of the programs work with one of the big affiliate networks. You can either sign up to all 5 affiliate networks, or choose to start with only 2 or 3 – wherever you find more relevant programs that you can work on promoting.
Keep in mind that a growing number of affiliate programs work independently and have their own in-house affiliate program, for example, Le Crest.
So, if there’s a specific brand you wish to work with, simply Google their name with the words "affiliate program” and you should find it.
Here are the affiliate networks that have a good number of affiliate programs:
- Flex Offers
- Commission Junction
- Impact Radius - Target and Walmart are two examples of brands using Impact. This means that they have their own program. Impact is providing the technology for tracking and managing the relationships with their partners. It will require you as an affiliate to apply independently through the link on the merchant's site.
2. Think of products, services, and ideas that you use and relate to
What would your readers be looking for when considering buying kitchen appliances? Which cooking apps can you recommend? Daily meal planner? Keto recipes?
In every of the affiliate networks mentioned above, there are a few categories with products and services related to food. In Flex Offers for example it can be Food and Drinks, Home and Garden, appliances,
It’s important that the affiliate products you use are relevant to the type of content you write. However, you can be creative and include other industries such as recommended restaurants from around the world, cooking with kids, or gift ideas from retailers you love.
3. Choose which affiliate programs to join
There are some great affiliate programs for foodies – bloggers and influencers in the food niche
As you can see in the list below, some brands have more than one option for joining their program: some work with more than one affiliate network, while some have an in-house program in addition to the option of joining through an affiliate network.
There are endless possibilities for food creators to integrate products, places, and ideas for inspiring their readers.
Here are some of our favorite food creators on Instagram, some are focused on baking, some on cooking, some on restaurants, and some on photography of food. This is list is only to give you a glimpse to show how every account is a reflection of the creator's passion and personality. Click the images in the carousel below to visit their profile and their blogs.
The list below has been put together just to give you an idea and encourage you into looking further for the brands and merchants that you can partner with.
By joining all or some of the affiliate networks mentioned above you can find many programs to join.
Brands occasionally change the network they partner with, and by using a service such as VENNDY, you can very easily update your links and yet, keep your content always up-to-date.
The carousels below, divided into content ideas, include great brands that offer affiliate programs either independently or through affiliate networks.
Favorite Cooking Essentials
Le Crest - through Pepperjam.
Healthy food, vegan, gluten-free, keto, organic, farm products (olive oil, dried fruits, Cheese...), wine, and more are some of the categories where food creators can add more value and personalization to readers. Here are some examples:
Full Circle - at Rakuten
BRAGA Organic Farms - at ShareASale
Culinary Teas - at ShareASale
Online Cake Orders (for daily use or special occasions)
Offline and Online Bakeries and Cookies
Biscoss - at ShareASale
Sweets, Party and Event Planning
Nutrition Bars and Supplements
Cake Decorating Classes
Cooking Books Reviews
Food Photography Essentials
Whenever you see a beautiful feed with great shots, it is most likely than not that this is the result of a high-level work using a variety of techniques and gear that may leave you puzzled as to how you should get started.
This only means that like in any other field it’s a learning curve and so you shouldn’t expect to reach the same results with only your iPhone. And yet, you don’t need the most expensive gear to produce good photography. It’s important to be aware of the specific tips, tricks, and tools that can help you improve as a food creator.
Here are a few tools to help you get started, and you can look for the alternative options to match your own budget.
Online Food Photography Classes
Corona Days Trends on Cooking at Home
The lockdowns around the world, have changed our daily routines. Less restaurants and more take away, spending less time in supermarkets and more ordering for groceries online, and a growing need to eat at home by cooking or ordering food.
It’s a good time to share easy recipes with links to products and online grocery services.
Also, sharing your favorite and recommended meal delivery services can have a growing demand.
Sharing Easy to Make Recipes
The Best Meal Delivery Services (click any of the images to learn more):
ShareASale - SunBasket ($20 per sale)
CJ - Green Chef ($15 per sale), Hello Fresh, Home Chef
Impact Radius - Blue Apron, Freshology ($40 per sale).
Flex Offers - Freshly
Online Grocery and Food Delivery Services
Yummy Bazaar - at ShareASale
Fresh Direct - at FlexOffers
Thrive Market - at Commission Junction
Walmart - at Impact Radius
Target - at Impact Radius
Ideas for gifts that can be delivered to foodies struggling with social distancing because of coronavirus
The companies shown in the carousel below have their affiliate program with Rakuten, ShareASale, or AWIN. Click on any of the images to visit the sites. Check the full collection with the name of the affiliate network HERE.
Promoting your content is one of the most important ways of being successful as an affiliate. What’s the point of having great content if no one reads it?
As an independent freelancer, even without a website, there are platforms that offer a quick way to start your own online destination site according to your needs. A destination site can be a website or a blog, but there are many other tools out there such as landing pages, online shops, instant websites, and Shoppable galleries like VENNDY.
It all depends on your offerings and needs!
You can then use free social media channels, e.g., Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube, to promote.
Collaboration is a powerful business tool for companies regardless of their size or industry.
For small businesses, collaboration is key to growth as they can join forces and learn from each other, exchange ideas, increase purchasing power, and grow revenue.
This is no different for creators and Instagrammers who want to grow their business and make money online.
Here are just some of the ways that collaboration can help you grow.
Collaborate to inspire
Certain topics are better presented when brainstormed by a few people with different backgrounds and experience. Nobody knows it all, especially when it comes to personalization and people’s different taste when trying out new things. That’s the big advantage of reviews and reading other people’s experiences.
Collaborating with other creators can be powerful source of inspiration and support.
Collaborate to reach new audiences
Creators and particularly Instagrammers are often at a disadvantage when trying to promote content. This is especially true when compared to larger businesses that have the big advantage of a high ranking in search engines or using paid ads.
When users who are looking for a certain product or service are making online purchasing decisions, chances are that in the first results a Google search will show the following:
- One of the giant retailers (such as Amazon)
- A comparison site which focuses on creating reviews about what searches people are making
- A niche site that has developed expertise in the field
But when creators work together, they can join forces to create better content than others. Partnering to aggregate their knowledge, content, ideas, and social reach can diversify how and who they reach and improve traffic, reduce costs, and achieve better results on affiliate sales.
Collaborate through co-opetition
Ever heard of co-opetition? It’s what happens when two competitors come together to work on business opportunities.
Creating collaborative content with others can work when each offers complementary services or knowledge but also when working on content that requires a broader range of examples or personal experience.
Working together can also be a way to build trust when combining pieces of advice from different creators on a variety of subjects. No one uses all the food processors or air fryers, right?
So, collaborating with others or sharing each other’s favorite product in one collection (which is one of VENNDY’s unique features) can improve everyone’s chances of earning more.
This is yet to be researched, but it might well be that a list of your own 20 best experiences could never be quite as valuable as the single best piece of advice given by 20 different creators.
Collaborate through referrals
It is not only you making money from referring others to businesses; you also need others to help you get your content out by referring you on.
This concept is worth further explanation.
Word of mouth is one of the most important marketing tools for any business. A survey by Alignable found that 64% of small business owners rank referrals and recommendations as the most effective way of acquiring new customers, way ahead of other strategies such as social media (18%), websites (10%), email (4%), and coupons/online deal sites (2%).
A single recommendation can have far greater impact, leading to word of mouth marketing (WOMM). Some brands use WOMM for growing sales without spending on advertising!
Referrals made by your readers or by peer co-creators have a dual impact: they increase your audience reach and improve the chances of converting readers into customers.
This is because WOM customers already have a level of trust and confidence in your content which was transferred to them from the person who recommended or collaborated with you.
Research shows that people trust friends, family, and even strangers, more than ads.
To encourage trust, consider that you are no longer trading just the time you spend researching and journaling your experiences for money, you are now also trading the value you give to your readers.
The good thing about referrals is that if you do it right, without being too pushy or salesy, your success is also the indicator of how trustworthy your audience finds you. Your name is more important than any commission and one way to protect it is by making sure you recommend only what you think can serve as a match to your clients.
Collaborate to learn
It can be enormously beneficial to learn how others are brainstorming and creating their content.
Whether it’s ideas for monetization, new affiliate programs, or other merchants – it can be professional advice on cooking, baking and nutrition or knowledge about how they grow their social reach – there’s much to learn from each other’s successes and failures.
It is no different from joining a Facebook group or a bloggers’ gathering; only this time, collaborating on shared content can improve your offering and generate the desired outcome of more engagement and sales.
Collaborate on VENNDY
The collaborative feature in VENNDY’s collections allows you to easily create lists of places, products, and services that you either curate yourself or promote for others. You may not receive full commission for all the products you share, but you will be creating a much more comprehensive list, offering greater value, improving trust, and letting your readers choose the best options for themselves.
How can VENNDY help with your monetization efforts?
VENNDY is a marketplace for creators dedicated to helping you focus on creating the content you are passionate about for the audience that needs your help. If you are a business owner, blogger, influencer, coach, or service provider of any kind, with VENNDY you can easily and in just a few minutes open your own shop of recommendations and promoted items.
Adding VENNDY’s shop tab to your Instagram bio will help you to:
- Link all of your Instagram images to multiple links – such as blog posts, favorite places, shoppable items, related pins, and promoted products.
- Keep your bio link constant with one URL that matches your feed while also being customizable and independent of your Instagram feed.
- Drive traffic from your Instagram bio to relevant pages based on your goals as an entrepreneur, blogger, content creator, and affiliate.
As mentioned above, by using services such as VENNDYand others, creators can set up a virtual shop of clickable Instagram posts for their bio and monetize content regardless of whether they have a blog or a website.
You can sign up to VENNDY here and learn more about VENNDY’s tools here.
This blog post will be updated regularly to add additional ideas, products, and platforms that you can try out and then promote, so make sure to occasionally check for updates.
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