Do you have an online course?
Me too! In fact, I’ve been selling online courses since February 16, 2015, and as of October 2016, my courses have generated more than $1.5 million in sales.
Everyone wants to know the secret to my success, and although I have to say that taking action was the real deciding factor, affiliate networking has been a major contributor to my success as an online marketer and blogger.
I look at affiliates as extensions of myself — they do what I cannot do; they reach whom I cannot reach.
Many people like the idea of other people doing the selling, but when it comes time to pay up they feel annoyed they’re having to pay their affiliates! This is silly — these folks work for every penny they earn. They’re smart, capable, and usually very motivated to increase their online earnings.
Probably my #1 asked question is, “How do you find affiliates for your online courses?”
So I decided to write out this post detailing three ways to find affiliates for your online course.
It’s just like it sounds: Go on Google and type in [your topic] + blog and see what comes up.
You can also type in the words you eventually want to rank for but aren’t ranking for yet. When I didn’t know any better, that’s exactly what I did. I typed in “make money proofreading” and clicked the sites on page 1. They were blogs in the work-at-home niche. At first I was a bit jealous — why does this site come up instead of mine!? Never mind that my site had only been up for three months whereas this blogger had been blogging for several years!
Poke around the sites on page 1 of the search results. If there’s an “advertising” link somewhere, click that and see what options they offer. Some sites will say flat-out they don’t do affiliate marketing, and if that’s the case, you don’t want to bother — they’re not the kind of blogger you need.
You want bloggers who are influencers — not just bloggers who write for themselves or just for fun. You want marketers!
Note: Be sure to check their ranking on Alexa.com — if they are brand new without any traffic, Alexa will tell you so, and then it may not be worth contacting them just yet.
Method #2: Harness the Power of Pinterest
You can find ideas and how-to’s all over Pinterest. People go to Pinterest specifically looking for ways to improve their lives in some way. Chances are, your online course offers them a solution or a way to make positive changes, whether it’s to save money, start a business, or build something cool.
Pinterest is a search engine, so use it like one. Repeat what you would in #1 on Google but using Pinterest. Simply type in your topic and see what — or who! — comes up. See who “owns” a chunk of your industry, then visit their site to learn more. But don’t stop there!
If you see a particular pinner who pins about your topic a lot — say it’s photography — head over to their Pinterest account and take a look at their boards.
You’re looking for a collaborative board, or one with a little symbol on it like this:
If they have one about photography (extremely likely if they’ve got a big presence!), click on that and see who else is pinning about photography and repeat the above steps of clicking to their site and investigating.
What do you say to these potential affiliates? That’s another post for another day — we also cover this extensively in the Monetize Your Genius™ course.
I will say this, though: It’s sooo time consuming to do this manually, and when you contact affiliates manually, you might spend hours crafting the perfect email about your product, but you’re always at the disadvantage. You might have the best course out there in your niche, hands down, but the fact is that you still approached them out of nowhere. They have probably never heard of you before. Sometimes that means it’s easier to say, No.
You’ll get some yeses, too — I got a lot of yeses doing it manually! But it took a lot of time, and if I had known then what I know now, I would’ve done it using this third method:
Method #3: Find a Group of Affiliate Marketers and Make Your Dwelling Among Them
I still use Method #2 because I really want new affiliates to be Pinterest savvy, BUT… this next method is no doubt the fastest way to get new affiliates for your online course.
Whether or not you are doing affiliate marketing for other people’s products really doesn’t matter. You want to meet people who do want to market others’ products — like your course!
What better place to do that than in a group full of affiliate marketers?!
You can look for free ones, but I don’t recommend it, and I’ll tell you why in a minute.
First — here’s how I figured Method #3 out for myself!
I follow Michelle Schroeder-Gardner from the personal finance blog Making Sense of Cents. She regularly earns upwards of $50,000 per month doing affiliate marketing. Michelle is an affiliate for my online courses too, which was how we originally met.
I’d been hustling trying to recruit new affiliates using Methods #1 and #2 above… and I was just floundering. Not ’cause I suck at it, but because I’m busy! I’d contact 4-5 people and get pulled in so many directions that I’d never follow up. Then it was just awkward.
One day, I decided to email Michelle to ask her if she knew of anywhere I could connect with a lot of affiliate marketers who were looking for new programs to join. She told me about her course,which includes access to a Facebook group of affiliate marketers who are taking or have taken her course.
And the lightbulb went on.
The folks taking her course were motivated. They were educated, too.
Heck, they were learning from someone who earns $50,000 a month selling other people’s products — so you’d better believe they were getting top-quality education.
Michelle suggested enrolling in the course just so I could have access to that group. “There are tons of bloggers looking for new programs to join,” she said. “And you can be sure they know what to do to promote your course!”
That made sense to me. I was still skeptical, though, because I really don’t like spending money on online courses.
(I know… it’s ironic because I create them and teach others to create them.)
Why I Don’t Buy Online Courses
The reason I don’t spend money on courses very often isn’t because I don’t think they’re valuable; it’s because they tend to distract me. Just about every online course has some kind of sales page that is specifically designed to suck you in and convince you that you need that course. It could be a course on how to start a cat-sitting business, and I’d bet that by the end of the sales page I’ll be considering it 🙂
So I tend to avoid enrolling in online courses so I don’t get distracted from what I’m supposed to be doing.
But this time, I was wrong to be skeptical because this online course aligned perfectly with my goals — recruiting qualified affiliates. So I bit the bullet, paid my $197, and I was in!
Waiting for Michelle to approve me to join the Facebook group took all of an hour, but it felt like days! I was chomping at the bit.
I posted that same night to introduce myself to the group:
The post generated a lot of buzz, and within 24 hours I had connected with 12+ qualified affiliates for all of my affiliate programs, including the one for Monetize Your Genius™.
I was also delighted to see about 15 bloggers who were already my affiliates hanging out in the group too.
Why did it work so well?
Joining up into a group of affiliate marketers worked best for several reasons:
- Everyone could see my post at once. No need to email people individually.
- It wasn’t invasive to their already-cluttered inbox, so they read it if they want to read it.
- Because I’d paid to be in the group along with them, it was an indicator I was a serious blogger with legit programs.
- Michelle and my current affiliates were able to chime in to let new affiliates know that they enjoyed being part of my programs — BOOM! Beautiful social proof.
It was also so much faster than Methods 1 and 2. I even hired an affiliate management assistant straight from Michelle’s group. There are tons of really talented people in there.
Why did I pay for group access? Sure, there ARE free groups and forums out there to find affiliates for your courses, but I chose to pay for access to Michelle’s group because I trust her — you never know who would’ve seen my post if I’d posted it in a free-for-all kind of group. It’s really important to me that I have quality bloggers promoting my courses!
I’m now moving through Michelle’s actual course content on affiliate marketing, too, and I’m learning lots of new ways to monetize my blog I’d never thought of before. It’s helping me take charge of my platform, stop worrying about what other people think, and earn more money using my platform.
I can confidently say that joining Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing has turned out to be one of the best investments I’ve made in my business all year.
What I Use to Build Affiliate Programs
Here are the tools I use to build my affiliate programs:
- WP Affiliate: I use this on two sites.
- Affiliate Royale by MemberPress. I use this on two sites. MemberPress is an amazing plugin with lots of functionality to build any kind of membership site you want. It integrates perfectly with WP Courseware.