Podcast affiliate marketing is an often underutilized monetization tool for podcasters. Whether you’re just starting to monetize your podcast or you’ve been monetizing for years, affiliate marketing is a great way to diversify your income while providing value to your audience.
That said, podcasts as a medium have some peculiarities that you need to consider as you start your affiliate marketing journey. Here’s everything you need to know about podcast affiliate marketing.
How Podcast Affiliate Marketing Works
Podcast affiliate marketing works similarly to affiliate marketing in other mediums (like videos and blogs) with one big difference: the audience is typically not looking at the screen while they consume the content. Even if you’re an affiliate veteran, you’ll need to treat podcast affiliate marketing a little differently than other channels.
A Refresher On Affiliate Marketing
At its core, affiliate marketing is where a business pays you a commission to promote their brand or product to your audience using a unique link or promotional code. This unique link or code tells the brand where a specific audience comes from in their analytics. If they can trace a conversion to your podcast, they’ll pay you some money.
A conversion is an action the brand wants your audience to take. That action is usually the purchase of a product but could also be subscribing to a newsletter, scheduling a demo, or adding an item to a shopping cart.
Affiliate links typically have a window of time where they’re “active,” called a cookie window. You’ll only get commissions for conversions within this timeframe. The cookie window and the commission rate itself are among the main differentiators between different affiliate programs.
Many major brands have their own affiliate programs you can enroll in, like Amazon Associates. There are also affiliate networks, like Commission Junction, you can sign up for that help connect brands to content creators.
Affiliate Marketing and Podcasting
In most mediums, the affiliate link is on-screen and clickable without much effort on the audience’s part. It might appear in the text of a blog post or video description.
But with podcasts, the audience is typically not watching the screen as they listen. They’re usually doing something else like driving, cooking, or off on a jog.
This means that if you’re a podcast affiliate marketer, your listeners will need to find the link in the episode description after listening or remember the URL or promo code on their own. It’s a little tricky, but it’s worth it once you get up and running.
- To do podcast affiliate marketing well, you need to:
- Find a good affiliate partner that meshes well with your listeners.
- Ensure the link or promo code is simple and easy to remember.
- Include the affiliate link or promo code in your episode description.
- Add the link or promo code to your website and mention it on social media.
- Mention the link or promo code during your podcast and provide a disclosure.
Because of its unique characteristics, podcast affiliate marketing isn’t likely to rake you in a ton of cash right away. But it is a great way to diversify your monetization in a way that provides value to your audience.
Affiliate marketing is a win for the brand because they make a sale, a win for you because you get paid for doing what you love, and a win for your audience because they get an honest recommendation from a creator they trust.
How to Start Podcast Affiliate Marketing
You can start using affiliate marketing for your podcast at any time, but it works best once you’ve built up a decent audience. What’s the size of a “decent audience?” Honestly, it’s a bit of a gut decision.
It comes down to you. Do you feel comfortable recommending a brand or product to your listeners? Do you think they’ll buy the product you’re recommending? The answers to these questions depend on many variables, from how niche your content is to how well you’ve established your authority on the subject matter.
Once you’re ready, there here are the steps you need to take
Set Up a Website
You need a home on the web where you can host your content and your affiliate links. We recommend WordPress due to its huge plugin library and its large community of support. Plugins like AmaLinks Pro and our own Amazon Link Engine can save you a lot of time and effort when it comes to setting up and managing your links. You should maintain a social media presence to share your links through as well.
Use Podcast Analytics
You need hard data on who your listeners are and what they like. Once you understand your listeners, you can find the right affiliate program for them. Many podcast publishers will have their own reporting function, but a few good third-party podcast analytics tools are Podtrac, Podbean, and Bluebrry.
Find a Relevant Affiliate Program
You can sign up for a big brand affiliate program like Amazon Associates (more on that in the next section), or you can sign up for an affiliate network that might be able to put you in touch with more niche brands. If you have a specific brand in mind that you want to work with, you could lean on your personal network or do a cold outreach and strike a deal on your own.
Use a Tool to Manage, Analyze, and Report on Your Links
Once you get your affiliate marketing off the ground, you’ll need a tool that can help you manage them all. Part of the reason why we built GeniusLink is to solve this exact problem. We have a ton of tools that’ll help you set up, manage, analyze, optimize, and report on your affiliate marketing performance.
Start your Geniuslink free trial now.
How to Choose the Right Podcast Affiliate Program
Think of affiliate marketing as partnering rather than advertising. It’s about connecting an audience you care about with a product you honestly feel will benefit them. The right podcast affiliate program for you will be one that will build trust between you and your audience.
If you don’t put your listeners first when using affiliate links, you’ll alienate them and ultimately hurt your overall performance. Meg Marrs, who runs Safer Senior Care, recommends prioritizing relevance over payout:
“I’ve definitely spent way too much effort trying to promote sub-par affiliate offers just because they had an attractive commission cut (like a 50% payout). Promoting quality products – even if they have a lower commission payout – is sure to earn more sales as well as build your reputation as a trusted source.” – Meg Marrs.
Marketing consultant Desiree Martinez echoes Meg’s point, saying that you should “Start by being an affiliate for a product you absolutely love and use first.” We couldn’t agree more. Pick a product you can honestly recommend and that you think your audience will like.
The Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners
There is no shortage of affiliate programs to choose from and what works best for you fully depends on your audience’s preferences. That said, here are three affiliate programs that are easy to set up and give you a lot of freedom as far as what you recommend.
Amazon’s affiliate program, called Amazon Associates, is a great way to get started with podcast affiliate marketing because it’s super easy to set up and get going. Plus, you can make an affiliate link to just about any physical product in their catalog so that you can tailor your recommendation to your audience.
One significant benefit is that your audience doesn’t need to buy the product you recommend for you to earn a commission. Amazon Associates pays commissions when your audience adds the item to their cart, not when they purchase it. They’ll also pay a commission if your audience buys a completely different product than what you recommended, which creates a “halo effect” and is a great benefit of the program.
Commission: Varies by storefront, ranging from 1-10%.
Cookie Window: 24 hours
Learn All About How Amazon Associates Works.
Audible has been all over podcast affiliate marketing for over a decade now, and they have it down to a science. There are two options: use the Audible Amazon Associates program or do the unique Creator Program.
Similar to Amazon Associates, you can recommend any book out of their catalog. It’s an excellent opportunity to tailor your recommendations to your audience’s tastes.
Commission: $15 per free trial sign-up (Creator Program), or $0.50 – $10 for account sign-ups (Amazon Associates).
Cookie Window: 24 hours
Skillshare has a robust affiliate marketing program that’s pretty easy to set up. You earn $7 for every new student sign-up from your audience and receive payments monthly. You can recommend just about any course in their library and even feature student work to encourage your audience to sign up.
Commission: $7 per sign up
Cookie Window: 30 days
Affiliate Programs Experienced Podcasters Might’ve Missed
If you’ve been doing affiliate programs for a while and are looking to try something new, we recommend you look into eBay, Chewy, and HP. They’re all have solid rates and/or cookie windows that might go overlooked.
eBay Partner Network
The eBay Partner Network is a great choice if you’ve been using Amazon Associates for a while and are looking to diversify. They’re the ninth largest e-commerce retailer in the world, and you can create an affiliate link for any product on the site. eBay is also a good option if you want to connect your audience to small businesses and entrepreneurs rather than massive brands.
Commission: 1-4% with a cap for each category from $100 – $550.
Cookie Window: 24 hours
The more you understand your audience, the more niche you can get with your affiliate marketing. Chewy, a pet product retailer, has a great affiliate program that can fit many niche audiences, from busy parents to young professionals.
Commission: $15 per new customer order, which equates to around 8%.
Cookie Window: 15 days
Learn More about the Chewy Affiliate Program >
Hewlett Packard is the 97th largest affiliate program and has some great rates and a super long cookie window. Similar to Amazon, HP has storefront-specific programs, but unlike Amazon, different international regions have different affiliate networks. You’ll need to take into account localization to take full advantage, but the effort may be worth it.
Commission: Baseline of 1%, but that moves up to 5% if you classify as a “Content” or “Influencer.”
Cookie Window: 30 days
Learn more about HP’s Affiliate Program >
Three Keys to Successful Podcast Affiliate Marketing
As you’re getting started or expanding your podcast affiliate marketing, we recommend you keep in mind three key lessons we’ve learned about affiliate marketing.
Prioritize Link Localization
You’re likely missing out on affiliate commissions if you don’t localize your links if you have international listeners. If you share a US Amazon link with your global audience and a fan of yours in the Netherlands clicks it, it might redirect to amazon.nl instead of amazon.com. This URL change is enough to throw off your attribution, so you’ll need a tool like Geniuslink, which can automatically localize all your links for you.
Maintain Link Health
Links change and break often. Without a system in place to check up on the health of your links, you’re stuck manually checking each one to make sure they work correctly. Fortunately, link health is another area GeniusLink can help you out with.
Remember: There Are No Hacks
Affiliate marketing is not a “get rich quick” scheme. It’s a way to steadily build supplemental passive income by providing value to your listeners.
In our interview with Meg, she shared this piece of advice for affiliate beginners: “Don’t get into affiliate marketing if you’re looking to try to make a quick and easy buck.” We couldn’t agree more.
Instead of aiming for a “home run” right off the bat, go into podcast affiliate marketing aiming for a single, maybe a double. Just get on base.
Keep Learning: Resources and Podcasts for Affiliate Marketing
As you continue on your affiliate marketing journey, it’s important to stay updated on all the latest developments. What we’ve written here may change in a year, or it may stay the same.
Two affiliate marketing podcasts that come recommended by affiliate marketers are:
Scott Perry, Meg Marrs, and George Hanson all recommend Authority Hacker.
Dave Bowden and George Hanson recommend Smart Passive Income.
You can also keep following the GeniusLink blog to get updates on the industry and advice from other affiliate marketers just like you.