Affiliate marketing is a win-win for brands and podcasters.
From brands’ perspective, it’s a relatively low-cost way to reach interested audiences. For podcasters, it can bring in significant income from your work. And if you do it well, your listeners also benefit from hearing about high quality products they’ll actually be interested in — which means they’re eternally grateful to you.
Because of these positives, it’s easier than you might think to start incorporating affiliate marketing into your podcast. Companies want you to promote them and they want to reward you for promoting them, so they make affiliate programs accessible.
Case in point: SquadCast has an affiliate program! You can earn money by recommending us on your podcast.
There are also platforms specifically designed to connect brands and podcasters, where you can scroll through and find relevant companies. These platforms also make it easy to manage your affiliate program, so you can find the approach that works best for you.
Here’s how to get started with affiliate marketing, and how to make it work long term.
What is affiliate marketing?
In short, affiliate marketing is promoting a brand, service or product on your podcast in exchange for a commission.
For example, podcaster Jordan Harbinger promotes several affiliates on his show, including apparel brand Public Rec. He has his own URL — publicrec.com/harbinger — and 10%-off promo code — HARBINGER — that he gives to listeners in each episode.
The URL can go to the company’s homepage or to a specific product. Jordan’s Public Rec URL, for example, forwards to a particular pair of pants. When someone uses that URL or promo code, Public Rec knows that Jordan was the one who sent them to the website.
If you found the product through an affiliate marketing platform (more on those coming up), the URL will probably be an automatically generated string of random letters and numbers, not your podcast name: but you get the idea.
The action that triggers the commission varies, depending on the kind of engagement the brand is prioritizing. Usually, a customer has to use your code or URL to make a purchase, but you might also get a commission when people follow your link to sign up to a newsletter or a free trial.
How to get started with affiliate marketing
Setting up an affiliate marketing program has never been easier. There are three main stages:
Find something to market
Step one is to look for products. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds! In addition to looking at brands that you think would be a good fit for your podcast, there are a few easy-to-use platforms connecting brands and affiliates. Find out more about them from these resources:
- 11 Affiliate Programs for Podcasters
- Best Affiliate Programs for New Podcasters
- 105 Best Affiliate Programs of 2021 (this one isn’t podcast-specific, but many could work for podcasters!)
Tell your listeners!
Once you have your link or code, let your listeners know about it. There are a few different approaches:
- A simple ad. Spend 15 to 30 seconds or so at the beginning or end of each episode, or during a break in the middle, explaining the product you’re marketing and giving people the URL or code. Repeat and spell it slowly, to give people a better chance of remembering.
- Commit a whole episode to affiliate products. If it feels genuine and not too spammy, create an episode about your affiliate products. For example, the podcast Shaped by Dog with Susan Garrett put out an episode titled Pro Dog Trainer’s Guide to Toy Selection with a list of affiliate links — and a disclaimer identifying them as such.
- Do a review episode. Again, as long as it feels genuinely helpful to your listeners — and only if you really love the product — create a bonus episode in which you review an affiliate product.
- Invite a guest to talk about their product. If you have an interview show, ask guests to give you an affiliate URL for their products or services, so you can get commission when a listener makes a purchase based on the episode.
Make it easy to find your links outside the podcast
People tend to listen to podcasts while doing other things that make it hard to immediately look up your link. Make it easy for them to find the URL outside the episode, by including it on your:
- Website: Have a landing page specifically for your affiliate links. It shouldn’t be too in-your-face, as that will read as spam, but it should be in an easy-to-find place people can navigate to from your homepage.
- Show notes: Include a list of affiliate links in the show notes of each episode, and direct listeners to them during the show.
- Social media: Don’t plaster your affiliate URLs and codes all over other people’s social media pages: this is annoying and won’t make you any friends! Set up social media accounts for your podcast, and publish the links and codes on there.
- Newsletter: Email is a great way to reach listeners on days or weeks that don’t have episodes, and another opportunity to send people your affiliate URLs and codes. For example, Scott Kitun, host of tech investment podcast Technori, puts out a weekly newsletter with news, affiliate links and plugs, and information about the upcoming episode.
The dos and don’ts of affiliate marketing
Here are some basic guidelines to follow when putting together an affiliate marketing program.
Do make a high quality podcast
Podcasts with engaged audiences — even relatively small ones — tend to make more money from affiliate marketing. To get an engaged audience, you need to give them something to get excited about. That means finding a niche you’re knowledgeable about, creating interesting content, and being consistent about putting out episodes.
Don’t tarnish your brand
Only market brands you think your audience will genuinely love, and that you do too. They’ll be more likely to make a purchase or sign up, and they’ll be happy that you introduced them to something that has improved their lives.
In contrast, if you convince your audience to buy something that turns out to be low quality or even a scam, your reputation will suffer, and they probably won’t use another affiliate link from you.
If you’re making money from affiliate links, let your audience know. They’ll probably appreciate the opportunity to support you, and knowing that you’re honest will make them more likely to trust the product you’re selling. (So again, make sure it lives up to your hype.)
Do test what works
Try out different products or put your ads in different places in each episode to see which is most effective. This is especially easy if you’re using Impact or CJ, which keep track of your affiliate metrics for you.
For example, spend a couple of months with an ad at the beginning of each episode, then try moving it to halfway through to see if more people use it. Look at what happens when you include the URL in your newsletter, or only post it to your Facebook Group instead of Twitter.
Creating an affiliate marketing program is easy, and there are lots of opportunities to make it work for you and your audience.
Rewatch SquadCast’s webinar with guest Harry Duran, host of Podcast Junkies, to learn how you can become a SquadCast affiliate, and get paid to tell people about how much you love us!
Natasha Lavender is a writer, editor and podcast nerd. She has a BA in English and American Literature from the University of Birmingham in the UK, which proved especially useful when she moved to Chicago, IL, in 2016. This content was produced collaboratively with PodReacher.