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5 Lessons Before Finding Your Next Affiliate Partner

This blog contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission in exchange for your product or service purchase after clicking one of my links--don't worry, there is no extra cost to you.
Often times, we get so roped in to shiny object syndrome that we see the benefits of Affiliate Marketing (which are extensive, I must add) and we dismiss the actual pre-work that should go into forming successful partnerships.
It's important that you are aware that there is a little bit of due diligence that must be performed before you go solidifying any partnership.
In this world of the oh-so-valuable free social media platforms we have access to, poaching affiliate partners via Instagram DMs or even targeted Facebook ads is so common. And it's tempting to accept every offer that comes your way, even for me. But, I know better than to take the bait right away. That is, before fully evaluating the partnership.
So if you are currently engaging in affiliate relationships (or hope to), then listen up, because I have some lessons to share that have gotten me through the past decade of successful Affiliate Marketing partnerships, while staying true to my values and keeping my integrity.

Lesson 1: Reflect on your business or personal values

Assuming that you are launching affiliate marketing as an additional revenue stream because you own your own business--whether it be a personal brand or not--it's important that you have values set.
Having personal values, and sharing them, allows you to connect with your community on a deeper level. It allows them to really get to know you, what you stand for, what opinions you have and what makes you unique.
Part of my brand-building online course, Building Your Personal Brand, walks you through this exact process that I'm about to share with you now.

Do these three steps to establish your core values:

  1. Investigate the "how" of your business.

    You know what you do, you know why you do it, so now HOW are you going to get there? Establish some purposeful statements about the things that are important to you, and the things that drive you in your business. 

    If you help moms become better parents, in what ways do you like to do that? With patience? With kindness? With Transparency? With integrity? Place these types of adjectives into some short statements regarding what you stand for.

    For example: Teach with Integrity or Educate with Transparency are both fantastic core values.

  2. Dare to be Different.

    Simply copying core values that you've seen before aren't going to get you anywhere. The traits that are going to make yours memorable, are the same things that make them different. Feel free to start by googling some popular examples, use that as your foundation, and mold them into something unique.

  3. Keep it short and sweet.

    This should be an easy one, but as Marcus Tullius Cicero once said in regard to difficulty in keeping word concise, "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter." Sometimes condensing and editing-down is the hardest part. I recommend your core values are anywhere from 3-5 descriptive words.
You now have a set of core values that you can reference any time you please, but especially when evaluating if an affiliate partner is going to be a good fit for you.

Lesson 2: Get to know your community on a deeper level

If you haven't already, perform exercises to get to know who your ideal community is. If you already know this, you are a step ahead--kudos!
If you haven't done these exercises, or maybe it's been a minute since you have, I advise you to perform them.
For example, answer the following questions about your ideal community member:
  • Why do they get out of bed in the morning?
  • Who is most important to them in the world?
  • What is most important to them in the world?
  • What do they want to achieve before they leave this world?
  • What do they really love about their life?
  • What do they love to do?
This is just the start of some probing questions that will really help you evaluate what affiliate products or services would align with their wants and desires, instead of just picking up the next affiliate partnership that simply falls in your lap.
Really pinpoint and investigate the above discovery questions so that you are not wasting your time on an affiliate partnership that your community members don't resonate with, and therefore won't feel comfortable purchasing from.

Lesson 3: Run a competitive analysis

Running a competitive analysis may sound like an extensive process, but trust me, it's easy and straightforward. You are simply looking at how your affiliate products or services all compare to one another.
  1. Start a blank excel doc, google sheet, or your favorite way to organize stats, and gather all of your potential affiliate partners.

  2. On the left side in the first column, list out each of your potential affiliate partners.

  3. Across the top, list out the following stats:
  • What network their program is in
  • What their tracking cookie duration is
  • What their commission is
  • What their Average Order Value (AOV) is
  • Notes about what their social presence looks like
  • Notes about the types of partners you see currently promoting them


Take a look at one of my recent examples:

After you have all of this data, you can make a better informed decision on whether this partnership will be worth the time and effort. Clearly, highest commission percentage or longest cookie duration doesn't always win out, but it sure does play a factor in whether or not it's going to be enough of an incentive for you.

Lesson 4: Gather actual proof of concept

I always say, if you want to know something about your community, ask them.
So if you have some affiliate partnerships in mind, and they meet all of the above criteria, I highly recommend finding a way to see if your community would be actually interested in hearing from YOU about this product or service.
I would not outright state the brand name or exact product, but instead I would state the high-level category it falls under.
In the "parenting educator to moms" example we've already used, you might directly as your audience this question:
What types of products or services are you interested in learning more about?
    1. Self-care resources for moms
    2. My favorite K-5 learning apps
    3. The best printed educational packages
    4. Homeschooling essentials


All of the affiliate partnerships you are considering would fit into one of these categories, but you aren't outright saying what brand, product or services you are potentially going to partner with.
And now, really listen to what they have to say. Take their word for it. You are going to be relying them to skyrocket your affiliate income.
Remember, this is doing your audience a huge service! You are doing the research and doing your due diligence to find the partnerships that you stand behind, and then presenting them with a direct link to purchase (maybe even with a special discount) on a silver platter.

Lesson 5: Lay the groundwork before reaching out

Always (and I mean, always) have published content related to your proposed partner's niche before you reach out to them asking to become an affiliate.
As an affiliate program manager, if I'm looking at your website and don't see any related content within your blog, YouTube channel, podcast, or other authority platform, then I'm going to dismiss your application right away. You don't want that to happen to you.
Once you pinpoint what affiliate partners are going to be the best fit for you and your community, create some content around that product or service.
This gives you leverage when you apply. You can even link to that specific video, podcast or blog post within your application, stating that you have this fabulous piece ready to go, and would love to be able to present your community with affiliate links in order to better serve them.
Once the conversation is rolling, you can even start a discussion with them on what hot topics you should write or speak about next. This gives you a leg up on all the other affiliate partners for that brand.

Affiliate marketing success does require work.

In recap, affiliate marketing is fairly straightforward to implement, but those who are successful put a little more thought and energy behind their partnerships, rather than just simply joining forces with any ol' brand.
I hope this gives you some points to ponder before you get started with your next affiliate partnership.
Want more accountability and a step-by-step action plan for succeeding with your affiliate relationships? Join my 6-week program, The Flourishing Affiliate, to not only gain access to my private affiliate community full of online business owners just like you, but get the exact roadmap and accountability you need to making your next $1,000 recurring income with affiliate marketing.
I hope to see you on the inside!

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