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How I Went From a Solopreneur to Building a Global Brand With Affiliate Marketing

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How I went from a solopreneur to building a global brand with affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a popular income stream for entrepreneurs around the world, but to succeed, you need to deploy efficient strategies. Johannes Larsson, the founder and CEO of Financer.com, an SEO geek and affiliate marketing expert, has over a decade of experience in digital marketing and entrepreneurship. In this post, he shares three steps to take your affiliate marketing to the next level. The text below is written in the first person by Johannes Larsson.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve used affiliate marketing to go from making €0 to €100,000 a month. In this article, I’m going to share how to use affiliate marketing as an entrepreneur, get the same life-changing results I did, and level up your affiliate strategy. 

How I went from a solopreneur to building a global brand with affiliate marketing 

I’ve been using affiliate marketing since I first became an entrepreneur over a decade ago. At the time this was still a relatively new concept. Today, affiliate marketing is widely known for being a popular and lucrative income stream that’s accessible to anyone with an internet connection. 

Since those early days of trialing in my childhood bedroom, I’ve created a global financial comparison site with a presence in over 25 markets. I’ve used affiliate marketing to generate over €100k a month. 

Affiliate marketing is often used by bloggers and influencers as a way of generating extra cash on the side of their “real income”. However, as an entrepreneur, I saw that affiliate marketing had the potential to be much more.

I realized that if I can make €100, then there is nothing stopping me from making €1000 and more.

Planting Seeds for the Future

I am in no way an overnight success. Affiliate marketing rarely works that way. You can see below that even though I started affiliate marketing in 2010, it took five years for me to get to the level I had always dreamt of. 

Today I’ve surpassed even my own vision and seen what can be possible with affiliate marketing. If you’re reading this, you might be in the same position I was back then, where you’re working hard but not yet reaping the rewards. 

Remember, affiliate marketing is planting seeds for the future. Take care of those seeds and later on, you’ll have a plentiful harvest. 

Three Steps for Taking Your Affiliate Marketing to the Next Level

Ever since making my first affiliate sale, I started to dream of the life affiliate marketing could give me. But it took a lot more than dreaming to make this a reality. Follow these three steps to level up your affiliate marketing strategy.

Conduct Experiments

Affiliate marketing requires a lot of experimentation. You might try out ten things before one is successful, but that’s all part of the fun. These are my rules for conducting affiliate marketing experiments.

  1. When you’re starting out, create low-risk, micro experiments that don’t require too much time and money.
  2. Record your results using a spreadsheet and don’t rely on your memory, it’s easy to lose track.
  3. Use data to decide what is effective, and what isn’t working out, try to keep emotion out of your analysis, and stick to the facts.

Experimenting with niches

I’ve had my biggest affiliate marketing success with financial products. But before this, I tried web hosting, jewelry, clothing, and many more. Don’t be afraid to try out different niches to see what works best for you. If there’s a good market and you have some personal interest and expertise, give it a go. 

Experimenting with platforms

Social media has endless benefits for affiliate marketers. It’s free, and you can build up an engaged audience from over 3.7 billion users worldwide. 

Consider the following when deciding which social media platforms to promote your links.

  1. Where is your audience the most active? It’s much easier to go to where they are already spending their time than trying to convince them to go somewhere new.
  2. Any social media platform can be used in your strategy, but some are more affiliate-marketing friendly than others. Pinterest, YouTube, and Facebook are all especially popular choices with affiliate marketers.
  3. Try out different types of content. You can create videos, photos, how-to guides, written or spoken reviews, infographics, and more. Just make sure the content you create is suited to the specific platform and your audience.
  4. Experiment with paid advertising to grow your reach. Business Facebook makes it very easy to target specific audiences and manage your ads.

Experiment with methods

There are many different affiliate marketing methods available, from blogging to social media to newsletters. The only way to find out which method is most successful with your audience is to experiment with them. 

Your strategy could use just one of these methods, or they could all complement each other. Your social media accounts can promote your blog, and your blog can garner email signups, and so on.

When testing out new ideas, you can try A/B testing. This is where you create two variations of the same campaign and monitor which one is the most successful. An example of this would include two different email subjects each going out to 50% of your audience and seeing which one gets the most clicks. 

Experiment with tools 

If you’re using an affiliate network, such as Travelpayouts, then utilize their free, customizable tools. As an entrepreneur, you’ll know how much difference a good toolkit can make to your business, and affiliate marketing is no different. You might want to experiment with the following:

  • Google Analytics for analyzing your website’s performance 
  • SEO tools such as SEMrush and Yoast SEO
  • Backlinking tools such as Ahrefs 
  • Plagiarism, spelling, and grammar checkers such as Grammarly and Dupli Checker
  • Tools for tidying up your links such as Pretty Links

Streamline your workflow 

When you’re just starting out in affiliate marketing, you’re fighting fires, trying new things, and seeing what works. But now it’s time to start acting like a business. You need to start putting practices in place so that you’re not relying on unexpected wins and chance success anymore, but reliable data and repeatable techniques. 

Now that you’ve done your experimentation, you should have a good idea of what gives you the best results. Streamlining your workflow means taking that information and repeating it, in the same way, each time so that you repeat the same success. 

Everyone’s specific workflow will look different and all that matters is that it suits your business’s needs and is consistent. For example, every blog post that we publish goes through the following process.

  1. First, the article ideas are added to my team’s Notion list. This is the shared workspace we use to monitor the article ideas we have, when they’re due, the keywords we will use, who the assigned writer is, any attached files and whether it has been published.
  2. We use Ahrefs for our keyword research, to monitor links and our site’s traffic. This helps us to find low competition keywords with high traffic.
     
  3. Then the article is added to a Trello board between a writer, their editor, and myself. Each Trello board links to the article draft in WordPress and has a section to enter the brief, keywords, and a checklist of edits. Once they’re done with the card it’s moved along the columns as each process is complete.
  4. As a team of 40+ with multiple websites, things could get confusing if we were all managing different affiliate links. Instead, we have a specific affiliate partnership manager who takes ownership of this and works with the writers to make this as seamless as possible.
  5. Our team is constantly looking at how we can streamline our workflow further, optimize our methods and get the best results possible. When new information comes out we publish new guides for the team to review in our private system.

Staying organized and repeating this same procedure for each piece of content means that there is no room for misinterpretation or confusion within the team. We know what works and everyone sticks to it. 

Tip: Even if you are a solopreneur I would recommend optimizing your workflow as if you had a large team. This will keep you extremely organized and more prepared to grow in the future. 

Outsource and scale 

This stage is all about becoming bigger than yourself, your expertise and imagination, and creating a team. 

  1. Start by outsourcing the tasks that do not require your expertise. These are often time-intensive but monotonous jobs that require lower pay. An entrepreneur is always looking after their profits, so if your skill-set is worth $100 an hour it makes sense to outsource any tasks that you can pay somebody less than that for.
  2. Next, take a look at your weaknesses and see how you can outsource those too. We all have weak points, so find people who can do them to a higher level and bring more value to your business.
  3. Finally, it’s time to really scale. This is where you take the business to where you’ve always dreamt of so get extremely clear on your vision and understand exactly what you want it to look like.

    At this point, you need to be spending more time on your business than you do in it. You’re simply guiding your ship now, and you should be able to step in and out of it without it sinking, otherwise, you have no more freedom than working a 9-5 job.

    This distance from working in your business, day in and day out, should give you more perspective to see things from a high level. You need to think big and make decisions that guide you closer to your long-term goals. 

Summary 

To summarize, affiliate marketing is an extraordinary way to make money as an entrepreneur, but it doesn’t come easy. However, if you can conduct effective experiments, optimize your workflow, outsource, and scale then you too could have a successful affiliate marketing business.