Here at Simplecast, we do weekly webinars for Simplecast members–but we know sometimes life can get in the way of attendance, so we like to post the highlights to our blog! In last week's webinar, Aaron and Addy discussed affiliate link strategies to enhance earnings potential as a podcaster, without relying on the traditional model used by major advertisers. Read on to learn more!

Why affiliate marketing?

Beginner podcast creators looking to monetize may find themselves bumping up against a few roadblocks–the main being that they don't quite hit the download threshold for traditional sponsorships. You may see advertisers talking about CPM, or Cost Per Mille, which represents the return per thousand views/hits. Major companies can require an industry-standard 10,000 podcast downloads before considering a direct sponsorship of your show. But don't worry! Before you get too intimidated, know that some of the best received podcasts do not pull those numbers and still see success, even generating respectable money.

The simple truth is that podcast audiences, while growing, might not be as attractive to advertisers as other mediums, like television. So, podcasters looking to monetize with a new or growing show might need another source of income–which is where affiliate links come in.

So what is an affiliate link? Basically, it's a link to a product, service, or website, appended with a tracking code, so that each click or conversion can be tracked back to your referral. An "affiliate link" can also sometimes be a code or a landing page that helps attribute a sale back to you. You can promote a product or service within your podcast, earning a 4-5% commission from each sale generated via affiliate links. You pay nothing; the seller of the product (for example, Amazon) is simply rewarding you for driving traffic and sales to their site.

Best Practices

Affiliate links are great for generating income from your podcast and even potentially engaging a bigger audience. Some of the most important tips for doing well with affiliate links are the same tips for doing well with your podcast in general. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Know and love your audience
As we tell lots of podcasters, download numbers do not dictate how successful your podcast is. What's important is that you have an audience that wants to hear what you have to say. You should do what you can to connect with them and gain their trust. When you're making a show that your audience loves, you're much more likely to be successful with affiliate marketing.

Be relevant and sincere
You might be worried that you’ll be bombarding your loyal listeners with ads they have no interest in, but fear not: by knowing your audience, you can pick the affiliate program that makes the most sense for them. Does this mean your vintage car podcast might have to decline an affiliate program for electronic scooters, even though they have great terms? Maybe–because, after all, you might get one great commission on a scooter sale, versus 45 small commissions on something actually relevant to your audience. And don't forget:  you can always recommend affiliate products that you actually use and enjoy. Personal recommendations go a long way!

Be Passionate
Maybe this goes without saying, but make sure you genuinely believe in whatever you're advertising. After all, if you don’t care, how can you expect your audience to care?

Lastly, extend beyond the podcast to your social media presence, and make sure to reference the links in the show notes or header/footer of your episode platform.

Affiliation Connection

Disclosing paid affiliation is required by law. Fortunately, Mac users can download the $2 app Affiliate, which automatically adds your affiliate account to links that you copy and paste. As an affiliate marketer, you’re responsible for tailoring the ads to your content and modifying the basic promo script to fit. The more successful your spots, the more revenue you generate.

Ten Affiliate Programs To Get Started

Not sure where to get started? Below are ten affiliate programs that have helped podcasters transform their shows for the better!

  1. Amazon
  2. Audible
  3. Target
  4. eBay
  5. Redbubble (T-shirts and other themed/logo merchandise)
  6. Skillshare (paid subscription to take video courses)
  7. Thinkific (training, how-to platform to share your knowledge)
  8. AWeber (email client tool)
  9. SquadCast (remote interviewing platform)
  10. Find and create your own affiliations–what do you regularly use, and do they have an affiliate program?

Final thoughts

Even if you’re aiming for the 10,000 download milestone, affiliate marketing is there for you in the meantime. Plus, if you’re a great host, have great content and a passionate audience, and prove that you’re familiar with host-read ads, you stand a much better chance of attracting larger companies. Historical data about how your audience converts for your affiliate deals can also be very persuasive to other advertisers.

For more help, reach out to us today!