You might ask why I'm writing about affiliate marketing for web designers. How on earth is that related to WordPress?!
As you'll see in this post, it is VERY CLOSELY related to building WordPress sites for a living.
In fact, affiliate marketing can be a very strong second income source for web designers and developers alike.
Let me explain.
Affiliate marketing for web designers - why even bother?!
With affiliate marketing, you're distributing the risks that come with doing business.
When was the last time a client didn't pay on time even though you delivered great work?
When was the last time a website project didn't go as planned, resulting in deadlines (and payments) being pushed back?
Most web designers and developers have been there, including me.
Of course, you can implement strategies to avoid these problems. Charging 50% upfront helps to hold clients accountable to deliver the information you need.
But in the end, you'll never have 100% control over your projects.
If you want to minimize the impact of delayed payments on your bottom line, think about how affiliate marketing for web designers works.
By promoting products that complement your offers, you can add a nice side-income to your business.
Who wouldn't like that?
Now, affiliate marketing doesn't need to cannibalize your web design or development services. In fact, you can set up a strategy that even enhances your services.
Common objections to affiliate marketing for web designers
It's likely that by now some objections began creeping up in the back of your mind, and that's normal.
When I first considered this strategy, I had a couple of questions and objections:
- What affiliate products should I even choose?
- I'm already selling my web design and development services to my clients, how would I promote other products/services that aren't my own?
- Does affiliate marketing work for all web designers and developers or did those guys set up their business in a different way than mine?
- Will affiliate marketing undermine my authority?
- Is this even ethical?
Let's address them one by one, starting with the most important objection: is this discussion even ethical?
In my eyes, affiliate marketing for web designers can be 100% ethical - if done the right way.
Just as with any business strategy, you should focus on providing the most value possible to your customers.
If you know about a good service or product that would benefit your customer, why would you not recommend it?
You'd actually do them a disservice by not recommending a product that's beneficial.
Don't focus just on the profits but enhance your service
Of course, affiliate marketing can be highly unethical if you're just focusing on your own profits.
There are a few things to be considered when choosing a service or product to promote:
- Be 1000% convinced of the quality of the product or service. Ideally, you have used it yourself or at least know people who are happy customers.
- Only promote products if you genuinely believe they'll help your customers.
- Be able to answer questions about the promoted offer.
- Don't be overly salesy with your promotions.
- The benefit for your customers is most important. Your profit is secondary (at best).
With these things in mind, I believe that web designers and web developers can add affiliate promotions in very ethical ways.
Instead of just thinking about the money you could potentially add to your bottom line, think about how the affiliate product will help your clients achieve their goals.
Let's say you just built a website design and your client is using a poor hosting company.
By selling them on a professional host like Cloudways or WP Engine and helping them to move their site over, you'd not just earn affiliate income.
You'd help your client increase their website rankings (loading speed matters!) and deliver a better user experience. Most importantly, a faster loading time potentially generates more leads and business from their website.
That's what I'd call a Win-Win scenario.
How affiliate marketing can work for web designers/developers
I think there are at least two ways, in which affiliate marketing for web designers and developers can be really profitable.
Let me walk you through my thought process:
Usually, the customer acquisition process for web design businesses consist of the usual stages:
- First, you build your brand and showcase your portfolio online
- Then you either pitch potential clients or get referred to leads from custom clients
- Or you leverage your email list to generate clients
- Your projects are focused on providing an outstanding service and delivering a great, customized website for your clients
- When the project is over, you try and get them on a monthly retainer to create consistent income
You might ask yourself how affiliate marketing fits into these steps. And that's a valid question.
I have two ways how I integrated affiliate marketing into my daily business.
From my experience in talking to other web designers and developers, those ways could be leveraged in their businesses too.
Recommending affiliate products in existing client relationships
You might have heard the saying that it's easier to sell to existing clients a second or third time rather than to acquire a new client.
That statement definitely is true in my experience. If you're doing a great job for your clients, people will come back to you and will want to hire you again and again.
Don't just finish the first project with a client in a way that not just satisfies your customer. Instead, blow them out of the water and you're building a huge amount of trust.
Affiliate marketing for web designers leverages that trust.
Just yesterday I wrote an email to a client who I worked with in the past, including an affiliate link which I'm pretty sure they'll use (there never is a guarantee of course).
They took over managing their own site and asked me to tweak a setting.
In that process, I noticed that they didn't seem to run any backups of their website. They only relied on the backups their web host is making.
By not backing up their site, they're violating one of the most fundamental rules in using WordPress.
To fix this situation, I recommended they use Blogvault as backup service. Additionally, I offered to set up Blogvault on their site (if they use my link of course).
That's just one example how you can integrate affiliate products into the conversations you're already having.
You're an expert in what you're doing, right?
Remember that you can spot situations where your clients are not leveraging opportunities to their fullest potential. Or when they are taking risks they shouldn't take.
In those moments, it's the best decision to recommend an affiliate product or service that fixes that specific problem. After all, there's nothing shady or unethical in doing so - as long as you trust in your recommendation.
To stay with my Blogvault example, I know that my client will be more than happy.
Blogvault easily is one of the most reliable and user-friendly backup services. I used them myself in the past and keep recommending them again and again.
Using affiliate marketing on your blog
Probably the more obvious choice for doing affiliate marketing is by promoting products or services through your blog.
You're likely already running a blog to build your brand and to sell your services. So why not extend your offering and add affiliate products that complement what you do?
The most common place for affiliate links is the famous "Resources" page (which I currently don't have on WP Mastery, shame on me). You can check out the fantastic Resources page of Pat Flynn.
Best practices for building a solid resource page are:
- Divide the affiliate products based on their use and context (e.g. group affiliate links for design programs together and don't mix them with affiliate links for SEO tools).
- Include affiliate software, books, and courses. Everybody is different, so various products deliver various results for each of your readers.
- Include affiliate offers for readers at all stages, whether they're just beginning their journey, already have an established business, or want to scale to a serious income level.
- Make the links easy to identify and also put links on the logos of the products/brands
- Don't overdo it. The more choices people have, the less likely they are to act (paralysis by analysis)
As you can probably tell by now, I'm pretty excited. Affiliate marketing for web designers can be a fantastic additional income stream and I'm certainly going to leverage it in 2018.
My intention is to bring WP Mastery back to where it originally came from. I started this blog as a platform for me to share my journey in using WordPress and building my online business.
That is why you'll see more content about affiliate marketing throughout this year. I believe from my core that articles like this one can lead you to make more revenue.
Of course, I'm trying my best to mix the business-related posts with tutorials and more technical articles.
In the end, I'll give you the full scope of what it's like to make a living using WordPress.