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Affiliate Marketing for Influencers: How to Make Money on Instagram

Updated on April 27, 2020
10 minute read

You could be making a serious income with affiliate links on Instagram. Read to learn how affiliate marketing for influencers works and how to get started.

Published April 27, 2020

If you’ve ever wondered how affiliate marketing for influencers works, it’s just like when a retail clerk earns a commission for the sales they close, but in a digital way!

So if you’re a trusted source of shoppable inspiration on Instagram, you could be making a serious income — just by adding affiliate links to your content.

In this blog post, we’re explaining how affiliate marketing for influencers works, how you can get started, and how to optimize your strategy to earn as much as possible and build your brand!

What is Affiliate Marketing for Influencers?

Affiliate marketing for influencers is essentially a way to earn a commission payment on the clicks or sales you drive on behalf of brands.

In order to earn this commission, influencers will use uniquely trackable links (known as affiliate links) to track how many clicks or sales were made.

You may have seen influencers sharing bespoke promo codes on Instagram, which is also a form of affiliate marketing, but the most reliable way to track and earn from your referrals is by using affiliate links.

Most brands will be set up with an affiliate program that will have some form of dashboard, so you can monitor exactly how many clicks and sales your affiliate links are generating — and how much you stand to earn once all the sales are closed and your payment is due.

How Do Affiliate Commission Payments Work?

Although affiliate links can be highly lucrative, it’s important to keep in mind that they aren’t a get rich quick scheme. You’ll need a little patience if you really want to be successful.

Most affiliate marketing programs require a sale to be fully closed before any commission payment is released, which means the return or exchange window has completely ended. This usually takes 60-90 days, but can vary depending on the individual brand partner.

If you’re using an affiliate network to generate and track your affiliate links (more on this later), there will likely also be a minimum payment threshold before you can receive your earnings, which is typically set at $100.

Affiliate Models: Pay Per Click or Cost Per Acquisition?

There are typically two main types of affiliate model: pay per click and cost per acquisition.

A pay per click model means that you’ll earn a small amount for every click that you drive to a website, while cost per acquisition only pays when an actual sale is made.

A cost per acquisition payment is usually a set percentage of the final sale amount. This percentage is usually set by the brand partner, and can be subject to change.

Each model has pros and cons to take into consideration:

But in general, most influencers and content creators use the cost per acquisition model on Instagram.

This is because trusted recommendations are much more likely to convert into sales, and the commission payment on a cost per acquisition model is usually between 10-25% of the final sale price.

This means you can spend more time on valuable, detailed recommendations that convert just a few times, rather than having to generate thousands of clicks to make the same amount.

Are you a brand or business looking to start an affiliate program for influencers? Find out how to get started in our blog post here!

How to Make Money from Affiliate Marketing as an Influencer on Instagram

If you ever feature products or services on your profile, the chances are that someone in your audience will be inspired to buy them as a result.

And if this is the case, affiliate marketing could be a great way for you to make money on Instagram.

In fact, some influencers and content creators are making a full-time income just by using affiliate links on their Instagram account.

The best thing about using affiliate links is that you can share them whenever you would use a regular link, with the added bonus that you’ll earn a commission payment on the sales you drive.

And there are generally no contractual obligations for how and when you share affiliate links, so your content can look however you like!

NOTE: It’s still important to appropriately disclose affiliate links though. Always be transparent and include a clearly visible label or hashtag to disclose that your links are affiliate.

Instagram: Ashley Spivey

You can add commissionable affiliate links pretty much anywhere on Instagram.

The link in your bio, IGTV descriptions, and Instagram Stories links are all great clickable options for driving traffic, especially when paired with a strong call-to-action, such as: “Click the link in my bio to shop.”

And if you want to integrate even more commissionable affiliate links into your Instagram strategy, you can use a free tool like by Later.

With by Later, you can turn your whole Instagram feed into a clickable landing page that updates with every new post you share.

This means you can add affiliate links for products on every Instagram post you publish — that your audience can tap to shop at any time!

Ready to optimize the link in your bio? Start using by Later today — it’s free!

How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing as an Influencer

If you’re ready to start earning from affiliate links on your Instagram, it’s easier than you might think!

To start, you’ll need to find the right affiliate network for you.

Affiliate networks provide you with the technology to generate unique links for partner brands and products.

Each affiliate network has their own entry-level requirements, technical tools and features, partner brands, and commission rate structure.

For example, rewardStyle and Shopstyle are popular affiliate networks for fashion and lifestyle influencers, whereas ClickBank covers everything from dating to computer programming.

Some of the most popular cost per acquisition affiliate networks are:

In addition to joining an affiliate network, you can also work directly with brands who have an in-house affiliate program in place.

Brand programs will often be set up in conjunction with a larger affiliate network. For example, Mejuri’s affiliate program uses ShareASale’s tracking technology:

ShareASale and Mejuri’s Affiliate Program

For in-house affiliate programs, you’ll often find details on how to get involved on their website or social media channels.

If you reach out to a brand to join their affiliate program, it’s always a good idea to share your media kit, as well as why you’d like to join their affiliate program, and some recent examples of your Instagram feed aesthetic.

5 Tips for Making Money from Influencer Affiliate Links on Instagram

If you’re serious about turning your Instagram into a legitimate revenue stream through affiliate marketing, it’s worth investing time and effort into your strategy.

Influencers have been known to earn 7-figure salaries through affiliate marketing. Plus, with the right strategy, you’ll never have to compromise the quality or integrity of your content.

Here are our 5 top tips for driving more sales with influencer affiliate links on Instagram:

There are lots of places that you can add links on Instagram, but which ones get the most clicks with your audience?

The key to understanding your traffic hot spots is by testing different strategies and delving into your Instagram analytics to see what works best for you.

For example, you could try adding affiliate links to the link in your bio, IGTV descriptions, and if you have over 10K followers, your Instagram Stories.

Monitor the type of content that drove the most clicks, as well as which calls to action saw a spike in activity.

Once you understand what motivates your audience to click your affiliate links, you can customize your content strategy to capitalize on your unique traffic hot spots!

If you want to create a legitimate revenue stream from your affiliate marketing strategy, sharing genuine and honest recommendations is essential for your long-term success.

The more genuine your recommendations are, the more likely people are to buy the products you feature and not return them — which means more commission payments in your bank account.

Plus, if your audience knows they can trust your advice, they’ll be much more likely to listen to your recommendations again in the future!

It’s important to be genuine and honest with your audience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get strategic when it comes to driving as many sales as possible through your affiliate links.

Think carefully about what might motivate your audience to make a purchase.

This could be a seasonal discount code or explaining in more detail why you love a certain product and think it’s a valuable addition to your household. By delving into the details and sharing your experiences, your audience are much more likely to relate to why that product is worth buying.

Equally, it’s important to be strategic with your calls to action. Make sure they are clear, easy to read, and drive your followers to your affiliate links rather than directly to the retailer’s website.

Affiliate links rely on a complex tracking technology (usually involving cookies) to ensure that you can earn commission payments for the sales you inspire.

However, there are limits to how this technology works. On Instagram, a user must click one of your affiliate links and go right through to the final checkout phase within the Instagram web browser.

Otherwise, the chain will be broken and your hard-earned commission payment won’t be tracked.

So with this in mind, it’s a good idea to use affiliate links for retailers with a smooth mobile checkout process, or even consider featuring products at a lower price point that are better suited for on the spot purchasing decisions.

TIP: Direct your audience to visit your website or a YouTube video to shop. Once out of the Instagram app, the cookies your affiliate links drop have a longer shelf life, and are much more likely to convert into commission payments.

Most affiliate networks will have some form of analytics dashboard, where you can closely track the number of clicks and sales each of your affiliate links receive.

Check in on your affiliate links on a weekly and monthly basis, so you can see which products have incentivized your audience to take action.

Over time, you’ll gain a much deeper understanding of what resonates with your audience. You’ll learn important details such as the retailers and type of products they like, what price point works well, and whether a discount or sale motivates your followers. You can even start to understand when your audience likes to shop, honing in on specific seasons, months, weeks, days, and even certain times of the day.

By closely tracking these insights, you’ll know what to feature again in your affiliate marketing strategy.

Hopefully these tips provide all the inspiration you need to get into affiliate marketing for influencers!

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