The ABC’s of affiliate marketing

Many designers across the country are now using affiliate marketing to help their overall financial success.
Affiliate marketers get paid a commission for referring customers to companies/brands where the customers make purchases. These commissions can range from less than 1% to a much higher percentage, depending on the product and the level of referral volume. For online campaigns, a customized link or referral code is used to track sales.
During the recent High Point Market, Designers Today Executive Editor Andrea Lillo spoke with designers Jasmine Crockett of Joy Meets Home, Jaime Zehner of JZ Interiors, Lori Paranjape of Mrs. Paranjape, and Noel Gatts, of Noel Gatts Design and Beam&bloom about how they became involved with affiliate marketing and developed their brand partnerships.
“I’m a little different from the other designers since I used my relationships with builders to help design and build my own home,” said Paranjape. “I received $400,000 worth of donated product for my new home. I now use it as a show house to promote the brands. This type of affiliate marketing results in a payoff for both you and the brand that donated product.”
The other three designers are newer to affiliate marketing and say that they have learned that being authentic is very important. The designers said the first step is to solidify your brand, meaning who you are and what you stand for, and then visualize an avatar of your desired client, and finally work to build your number of followers both on your website and in social media.
“I use social media a lot, so the brands see that I post a lot of content,” said Zehner of JZ Interiors. “I use Canva to plan out my posts on Sunday. At this point, I have two blog posts a week and a weekly newsletter for my followers.”
Zehner said she tags all the brands in her posts, so her followers have direct links and then other brands reach out to her with their products to add to the mix. But when it comes to her interior design projects it’s hard to share information about those without breaking client privilege.
All of the designers say the learning curve for affiliate marketing is a steep one but it’s very worth it in the end.
Crockett of Joy Meets Home is now at the point where she can trade product for social media posts, “The brands now reach out to me first instead of vice versa.”
Gatts, from Gatts Design & Beam&bloom, said she is considered a micro influencer at this point due to her number of followers.
“Getting those clicks is a numbers game,” said Gatts. “It is important to clearly state that yes, you are an affiliate marketer, but that you carefully curate your content and do not promote anything that you don’t believe in.”
For her part, Paranjape posts two times a week on Instagram with one post going out in the morning and in the other post going out in the afternoon. She said her route to successful affiliate marketing has been a longer arc since she went about it in a non-traditional way.
The designers all recommend reaching out to brands you would like to work with such as CB2 and West Elm and asking to become one of their affiliate marketers. But, if that seems too challenging, they suggest that designers might have more luck reaching out to boutique brands who are less likely to have hordes of affiliate marketers.
“Newer brands are always more likely to donate products,” said Gatts.
Paranjape said it’s important for designers to be able to talk about money with their clients and with brands.
“Remember you are the expert at what you do,” she said.
All four designers said that affiliate marketing has been very profitable for them with one designer even averaging $500k a year.
See also:
How to overcome the designer’s biggest challenge: Calculating fees
7 revenue driving reasons to embrace digital as a designer

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