Is paid affiliate marketing successful?

Content Monetization: How It Works, And How Influencers Can Avoid "Popular" Mistakes

Making money online has never been easier. The internet has spawned the influencer profession as they can share any type of content with their followers at any time. Whether "foodies", entrepreneurs, fitness trainers or politicians, they all publish new content via their social media channels, video platforms, blogs or newsletters. Each target group finds a suitable person who wants to create and monetize content.

Even if influencers seem unreachable, it's important not to equate them with an elite. Everyone is able to produce content and then post it on their social networks, websites, in webinars or email lists. You can earn money with content through brand cooperations that suit the target group!

The term “influencer” is often associated with many followers and a loyal audience. However, more and more companies are realizing that having a large number of followers is not essential for good quality content.

Influencers with a small number of followers, who interact more frequently with their fans, are more likely to approach their potential customers than influencers with many passive followers.

Whether you see yourself as an influencer, affiliate marketer or brand ambassador, your job consists of inspiring, informing and educating your target audience.

In this blog post, we'll show you the most popular ways to monetize content and explain why one model is particularly superior. Why influencer marketing is not too different from other types of marketing and why you shouldn't do without it if you want to increase your earning potential is illustrated in the following article.

Go straight to the listing of the 3 most common mistakes influencers make when monetizing content

Reading tip:What is Affiliate Marketing? The myth vs. reality.

How can you make money with your content?

Content publishers, which include influencers, can make money from their messages by partnering with companies. It's also in the interests of brands looking for new ways to work with content creators. However, there is no clear path to success for either side.

Very few know what influencers exactly do, how partnerships between brands and influential personalities come about or how they earn money with it. The answers to this question

en also vary from person to person because not every creative is created equal.

The most common form of monetized content is sponsored posts, where content creators receive a flat fee. This type of monetization is mostly used by influencers. However, advertisers are taking a risk because, similar to a television commercial or advertisement, there is no way of determining how effective the advertisement will be.

In contrast, there are performance models in which content publishers are paid using commissions. The payment depends on the actual sales or on whether desired criteria such as downloads or a subscription are met. If this is the case, the creator will be rewarded with a bonus. This monetization model is mostly associated with affiliate marketing.

There are many reasons why companies prefer performance models. One of the main reasons is that you can invest in a creative's accomplishments without writing losses. Such models also have advantages for professional content creators as they allow them to improve their business in various ways. In this list you will find the advantages of the performance model for Instagrammers, YouTubers, bloggers and co .:

  1. Achieving multiple partnerships. Be open to orders, this opens up more opportunities for new partnerships, as advertisers take less risks.
  2. Long term earnings. With this model, you have the opportunity to earn more in the long term than with a flat-rate remuneration.
  3. Long-term partnerships. Brands continuously invest in profitable partnerships, which in turn enables publishers to build long-term partnerships.
  4. Traceability. Since the remuneration takes place on a commission basis, a tracking link is built into the post. This enables both creators and advertisers to observe and analyze the success of the content.
  5. Optimization. Performance-based work enables the publisher and advertiser to analyze the performance of the content, both to test new ways of targeting and to improve the goals of both parties.

Of course, commissions and lump sums aren't the only options for monetizing your content, but they are the most popular forms. As more advertisers discover the benefits of content monetization, it remains a hot topic.

Reading tip: How to Create a Profitable Blog!

The big debate:Is monetized content still authentic at all?

The goal of advertisers is to understand the target audience and to respond to their needs and wishes. In the digital age, this is more achievable than ever, as the opinions of customers are present on all sides and complete transparency is expected.

Customers are primarily interested in the opinions of like-minded people or people they admire, so they are more likely to be more open to discovering suggested brands, a change in contrast to the way brands were marketed in the past. Back then, advertising was all about how a company wanted to be perceived by the market.

Nowadays, brands try to provide potential customers with information about their brand through individual content creators in order to facilitate informed purchase decisions. Content creators are about to become the most popular marketing channel for advertisers.

So why is this popular marketing method so controversial?

One of the biggest advantages of brands partnering with creative builders is the transparency it gives consumers. A special insight into a brand is provided through unbiased ratings, information and opinions. However, such services are viewed critically when money comes into play.

Content monetization has become more obvious to consumers as new regulations made a partnership disclaimer mandatory. The disclaimer was essential for transparency, but it does not make the concept of monetization immoral.

Contrary to popular belief, the monetization of content is not a sign of a lack of authenticity. In reality, the best content creators are very focused on creating an authentic experience.

The assumption that monetized content is dishonest, immoral, and just plain fraud needs to be corrected.

Jack Conte, the CEO of Patreon, shared his experiences with content creation in the music sector at PatreCon 2017. He described the concern that by partnering with Hyundai he might be mistaken for someone who sells himself. Still, he got Hyundai to sponsor one of his band's music videos. The partnership not only helped him to earn money, which he could reinvest in the band, but also gave his music a larger platform and thus a greater reach.

Conte took the opportunity and was able to increase the quality of his music in the long term, which also benefited his fans.

Every creator, whether blogger, Instagrammer, YouTuber, photographer or musician, faces the same dilemma. The top two priorities of a successful content creator are:

  1. Include the interests of the audience. For long-term success, content creators should only partner with brands that will also benefit their audience. They should think about what will be of interest to their audience and what they can do to solve potential problems for their audience. The most successful content creators know they shouldn't be promoting a company that isn't interesting to their followers. Like successful entrepreneurs, publishers need to deliver a great user experience, which means that the consumer is king.

  2. Figure out the best way to monetize content. Like Jack, content creators should figure out what type of monetization works best for their long-term goals and what looks most authentic for them and their business.

Reading tip:How you can earn money with your hobbies is written here.

The new age of content monetization

Think back to before social media: you may remember flipping through magazines that held traditional advertisements.

Such advertisements generally have two formats. The first type is large image ads that often take up an entire page. The second type is native advertising. To find this type of advertisement, you have to read between the lines because it is context-based and unobtrusive. If you've already read an article about celebrity outfit comparisons, you will have noticed suggestions from the editor in the text on how you can create this look yourself, which beauty routine you should follow and where you can get the same outfit at a cheaper price get.

The textual content thus represents another way for the magazines to monetize their publication. Advertisers pay the magazine to be mentioned in texts for a relevant target group. It's a good source of income for the magazines, and when done right, it adds great value to the reader as well. In fact, a lot of publications rely on their editors to decide which brands are worth mentioning.

Nowadays, digital influencers are also using native advertising to monetize their content and share their experiences with selected brands, products and services with subscribers.

In the past, there was only the possibility of negotiating a flat fee, regardless of whether you wanted to advertise with prominent support or native advertising. However, that was before digital tools were used to measure marketing success.

Digital media enable publishers as well as advertisers to find out how effective their media content is and even provide information about which source, on which day and at what time customers found them.

With this data, advertisers can decide how they want to share their advertising spend. They can use it to identify the originator who brought them the most customers, the highest sales, and the most loyal, returning buyers. Advertisers can choose their referral source based on who is bringing them the most profit on their ad spend.

Therefore, publishers should be able to operate different types of monetization, collect their own data about their performance and explain to advertisers what specific value they offer them.

With digital media, publishers have more than one way to monetize their content and advertisers have ways and means of measuring its benefits. This property can be used by content creators and advertisers as well as customers.

The three most common mistakes influencers make when it comes to monetization

To be one of the best in your business, you need to know what sets you apart. The competition in content monetization is increasing and it is becoming increasingly difficult to grab a brand's attention. To make sure you get the deal, avoid these three most common mistakes.

1. Media Kits and Vanity Metrics

Many creatives and especially influencers will have what is known as a media kit. Most media kits, however, lack their real purpose.

A media kit gives a brief overview of what a creator could offer a company and the advantages of a partnership. Often, however, a large part of these kits does not contain the information advertisers need to be able to assess whether a partnership is worthwhile.

A typical media kit contains metrics that reflect the influencer's worth. The problem with this: Most content creators focus on so-called "vanity metrics".

Vanity Metrics contain information about the average likes of a post, number of followers, readers, page views and impressions about the blog. Although this data can help to assess one's own place in the industry, it is of no relevance for advertisers. They are primarily interested in the success of their media spending and need both qualitative and quantitative data for this.

If a content creator cannot visualize their data, advertisers cannot estimate the size of their investment and could refrain from partnering. As a content creator, you reduce the potential of your own business in the long run.

Advertisers are interested in this data:

  • Average click-through rate
  • Average conversions
  • Target audience demographics
  • Behavioral data, for example the interests of the target audience or with which brands the target audience otherwise identifies

It is important to understand the needs, the problems and the corresponding solutions of your target group, whether these are solutions for their everyday life, their careers or their next vacation. Advertisers want to generate information about the different companies and brands that your target audience would like most. Through this analysis you can understand the target group and the synergy with the brand and then assess whether a partnership makes sense.

Ultimately, the advertiser looks for a key metric: the return on ad spend.

Although influencers can only work out this data with advertisers when they are in contact with them, it will help you stand out from others who do not work with this data.

Partnerships are built on the principle of give and take and it is important to remember that both partners are responsible for success. It is therefore essential that insights from and before the campaign are exchanged.

In order to have a lucrative and long-lasting partnership, you also need to understand exactly what advertisers want from a partnership. Sales aren't always the number one objective, because creators can be useful to brands in other ways as well. Content creators can use the metrics to illustrate the benefits a brand would get from partnering with them. For example, how many of their fans will also become followers of the company, how often the brand's content is shared, and how many subscribers have signed up for the brand's newsletter.

Also, develop a deep understanding of how your target audience interacts with a brand. You not only need this to build long-term partnerships, but also to acquire the next customer. Building this data into your media kit instead of relying on vanity metrics will make you stand out from the crowd.

Also learn:4 Tips to Help You Create a Successful Affiliate Blog Post.

2. Define yourself as an “influencer”

The second mistake that most content creators make is to define themselves as an “influencer,” “affiliate marketer,” or something similar. “Influencer” may sound more impressive than “content creator who has a lot of followers and publishes monetized content for the benefit of brands”, but influencers are often associated with accepting only lump-sum payments. This has a very limiting effect on companies and can sometimes prevent them from entering into a partnership.

In comparison, “affiliate marketers” carry the stigma that they are less focused on delivering good content and are only after promotional methods such as paid media marketing.

Affiliate marketing can be very lucrative and effective as a marketing channel for a brand. However, this has not always been the case, and unfortunately this negative connotation seems to persist in the marketing method. Because of this, calling yourself an affiliate could be counterproductive as advertisers may think your content is of less quality than that of an influencer.

The difference between an affiliate and an influencer

An influencer often demands a flat fee for its content and is typically hired by an advertiser with the aim of increasing brand awareness. This positions this type of content more in the upper area of ​​the sales funnel and less in business success.

Proponents, like celebrity supporters, are not intended to directly increase sales and are instead intended to expand brand awareness and present it positively.

In contrast, affiliate marketers monetize their content through a performance model in which they are paid with commissions based on the number of sales, leads, downloads or referrals. Because of this, they tend to focus more on the lower part of the sales funnel, where publishers encourage customers to make the purchase. The advantage of this model is that the unique tracking link helps advertisers determine its exact value. Over time, the relationship between the two parties can develop into a highly profitable one.

Companies don't care if you're an influencer, affiliate marketer, brand ambassador, or anything in between. When you inform, educate, empower, and inspire your audience, you are valuable to a brand.

It doesn't matter how you define yourself, that's completely up to you. Both methods represent an easy way to monetize your content. If you follow these rules, all you have to do is consider the following to successfully make money from your content.

3. Don't limit yourself to a single monetization model

There are several ways you can partner with a company, regardless of how you define your profession. An advertiser just wants to know if they can achieve their goals by partnering with a content creator. Are you generating new customers, making more sales, getting more subscriptions or app downloads, and achieving the desired goals? In addition, can the costs of content creation be covered with the income in the short or long term?

With the performance marketing model, advertisers only pay for the benefits they get in return. Sponsored posts, on the other hand, are paid for in advance and the advertiser has no assurance that the costs incurred will be covered. It's also difficult to pinpoint the value of a sponsored post as they usually don't contain links that lead to the brand's website.

Companies are increasingly demanding more from the influencers they partner with. Although flat-rate payments are still commonplace, advertisers are increasingly focusing on affiliate models in which publishers are only paid if the brand's conditions are met. The accountability and the low cost factor of the performance model are positive factors for both partners.

So why are the majority of influencers reluctant to claim performance-based compensation?

  1. Sponsored posts will continue to be the norm, especially on platforms (like Instagram) that are difficult to link to.

  2. A flat-rate remuneration is more predictable and comfortable for influencers who are not familiar with other models, since their remuneration is fixed.

  3. They don't know how much they can make on commissions because they don't know their success metrics and audience data.

  4. Content creation takes time and money, and it's easier to justify high quality content when the salary expectations are clear.

So how can you monetize it?

The advantages of a partnership

When brands work with creative people as much as they do with a partner and don't see them as just an investment, it pays off. Both sides should determine which goals they have, which pricing model is suitable for them and how they want to achieve these goals through the partnership.

You don't necessarily have to choose a monetization model. Be open to both and consider using a hybrid model. In the case of hybrid models, you will be remunerated by the brand in advance for your services. The amount of the initial investment will be lower than a regular flat fee, but you will also receive commissions. This means that you can earn extra money through long-term content monetization, depending on how successful your content is.

Whether this strategy is profitable for you depends on your data, business goals and the strength of your partnership.

If you publish content, you can make money from it

As a creator, you can monetize your content more effectively if you understand your metrics. Do not pay too much attention to your vanity metrics (number of followers, likes, impressions, etc.) and focus on understanding the benefits you can bring to a company. If you do not yet have precise key figures, advertise your reach, the characteristics of your target group, your formats and the interest of your target group in getting to know the new brands presented.

Whether you're an influencer, affiliate, or content creator, when you publish content, you can make money from it too. Good partnerships are based on good experience. Think about how you can add value to your target group through the partnership while fulfilling the goals of the brand. Work with the brand to come up with a strategy on how best to monetize your content. To do this, familiarize yourself with your target group by examining your performance and behavioral data.

Is your content educational and enables other entrepreneurs to achieve more? Join the Shopify Affiliate Marketing Program now!

Apply now as an affiliate

This article originally appeared in English and has been translated.

The most important Shopify newsletter for agencies and freelancers

Register and do not miss any updates, tips and learnings that give you and your customers the decisive advantage. Become part of the community!

Free. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Thanks for your registration.

You will soon be receiving free tips and resources.