Wondering how to monetize your Instagram account as a business advisor or an online digital content creator?
There are a few ways for content creators in the business niche (coaches, business owners, bloggers, Instagrammers, 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 – blogging tools, tools for building an online shop or an e-commerce website, small business tools, domain names, internet services, web hosting, software, marketing, social media tools, legal or accounting services, office solutions, office supplies, career planning, 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 also 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 e-commerce.
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 creators in the business niche
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 business tools – Etsy for example – but you can find related products there that could be very useful in your niche. Some examples may be business cards, business planners, business stickers, or business thank you cards, and many more.
2. 2. When choosing the most appropriate networks to join as a creator for business tools and business-related 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.
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.
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:
2. Think of products, services, and ideas that you use and relate to
What would your readers be looking for when considering to start an online shop? Which e-commerce platforms can you recommend? Hosting services? Social media management tools?
In every of the affiliate networks mentioned above, there are a few categories with products and services related to business. In Flex Offers, for example, it can be Office Solutions or Online Services, or Web Hosting and Services.
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 marketing, technology, and education items.
3. Choose which affiliate programs to join
There are some great affiliate programs for business-related tools, products, and services that can be used by bloggers and influencers in the business 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 business creators to integrate products, places, and ideas for inspiring their readers.
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 in Section 1, you can find many more programs to join.
One of the most popular ways to attract readers is by putting together "The Best of" Lists.
A Best of List requires research, objectivity (at least to some extent), and an explanation as to how it has been compiled. Another way to create these lists is by collaborating with others, hence sharing their experiences and reviews.
The Best of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Hosting offering affiliate programs
When it comes to services that are location-based, there is a greater value to users' input, because there is access to a smaller number of users. This is when reviews and personal experiences can have greater value and impact. So your input matters. Here are a few names for ISPs offering affiliate commissions:
Comcast Business - at FlexOffers
One.com - at AWIN.
Entrepreneurs and Small Business Solutions
Click on the services in the carousels to get more details and visit the sites.
Freelance and Design Services
Small Business Payroll and HR Services
Small Business Accounting and Invoicing Software
For more details click the links in the carousel:
Small Business Formation and Legal Services
Employee Scheduling Software
Email Marketing Solutions
Remote Work Tools
Here are some must-have blogging tools. Except for Canva, they all have their own affiliate programs.
ConvertKit - have their own independent program
Custom Business Stationery and Mailing Supply
Templates and Planners for Small Businesses
You may want to keep in mind that as brands are constantly changing their affiliate programs and move from one network to another, it is very important to have a plan for updating your affiliate links and content.
A service such as VENNDY can help you not only create your shoppable gallery but also track your affiliate links and update them as they change or cancel.
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 website builders or email marketing tools out there, 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 hosting services 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.
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.