Kris works as a full-time affiliate manager for a language company. In the evenings he works on his blog and podcast called ‘’Actual Fluency’’ where he interviews well-known language learners and polyglots. He monetizes his website mainly through affiliate marketing. As an affiliate manager who is also an affiliate partner himself, he really sees the two sides of the game.
Today we’re going to talk about how affiliate marketing works best, for those who are looking for affiliate partners to promote their products, and for those who affiliate for other companies.
You can, for example, add a link on your website where you send people to someone else’s language course. For every sale that you bring the business you affiliate for, you receive a commission. That’s basically how affiliate marketing works. Commissions in our niche vary from 5% to sometimes even 75%. It’s basically a reward for bringing new customers to a business.
How does Actual Fluency make money from affiliate marketing?
Writing blog posts about topics that people search for in Google has been working the best for me. So for example, when someone goes to Google and searches for ‘’why learn Danish’’, they would end up on my website. There would be a pop-up where I ask for their email address in exchange for a free copy of my ebook. Once they sign up to my email list I send them more useful emails with more tips, to build a relationship with the reader, and after a few days I promote courses I really believe in. These are the basics that are still working. This technique works very well for bloggers. If you have a podcast, affiliate marketing is trickier because people can’t click on a link when they’re listening to your podcast while driving, for example. Sponsorships are a better option to monetize podcasts.
Tracking affiliate sales
We use tracking links to track affiliate sales. Once someone buys a product through your unique affiliate link, the sale will be tracked. Also, if that person decides to purchase the product later, the sale stills gets tracked. This is possible because of the use of so-called cookies. As an affiliate, you often have access to an affiliate dashboard where you can sign in and get an overview of all the sales you have made within a certain period. Some systems also allow you to see when the next payout date is and how much money the company you affiliate for owes you.
What are the best companies in the language learning niche to affiliate for?
I have to add a disclaimer here because I do actually work for one of the companies I affiliate for, and that’s ‘I will teach you a language’. I have been promoting its courses a lot because of their high quality, but also as the commissions are very attractive to me. The courses are $300 and the commission is 50%, so you get $150 per sale. If you can sell 20 courses per month, you almost have a full-time income.
It might seem more lucrative to affiliate for expensive courses, but that’s not always the case. Some courses might be cheap but they might have good upsells or maybe they’re subscription-based and you get a commission for every month a person is subscribed. Lower prices also mean that it’s easier to make an affiliate sale. It kind of balances out in the end. I don’t think that’s it’s up to me what people should affiliate for; you should look for high-quality courses that you get excited about and see if they have an affiliate program. The most important thing is to promote products you actually believe in and think are worth the money.
Having said that, at the bottom of this article you can find a list of a few of the companies in our industry that have affiliate programs.
”The most important thing is to promote products you actually believe in and think are worth the money”
Creating a strong relationship with your audience is crucial
The better your relationship with your audience, the more likely it is that people will listen to your recommendations and buy through your link. That’s why it’s so important to first get them on my email list. That way you have the chance for the audience to get to know you and build trust. Before I pitch a course I always make sure to provide a lot of valuable content and send a lot of personal emails.
Don’t ever just follow the money
So many people have reached out to me and asked to write a blog post for Actual Fluency. Most of these articles are of very low quality and sometimes they’re even stolen from somewhere. That can ruin your brand. Only accept high-quality guest posts and add affiliate links to products you believe in. If you only follow the money first you won’t get far with this business model.
”If you only follow the money first you won’t get far with this business model”
The podcast where Kris interviews language learners and polyglots: Actual Fluency
The power of affiliate marketing in the right context
Affiliate marketing in the language learning industry can be very lucrative if you carry it out in the right context. For example, instead of just adding affiliate links to expensive courses on your website, you could do a language challenge in which you learn Spanish in 7 days using a certain course. If you share your learning journey on your blog or YouTube channel and you can speak some Spanish after the challenge, people will be very likely to check out the course and some of them will buy it. These kinds of strategies are so much more effective than, for example, trying to rank a blog post on Google in which you review a product. I think there is a huge gap in the market for people in the world of language learning who document language challenges on their blog or on Youtube, using a specific product. If you make a video series with the title ‘’Learning Spanish in 7 Days with Babbel’,’ many people will watch it because it shows something of a progression. If people trust you and your results are good, people will definitely use your affiliate link and sign up.
”I think there is a huge gap in the market for people in the world of language learning who document language challenges on their blog or on Youtube, using a specific product”
Affiliate marketing vs. selling your own courses
It’s a misunderstanding that you have to create your own products if you want to build a successful online language business. Some successful language businesses don’t have their own courses. You have to ask yourself the question if it’s feasible for you to create a better course than all the courses out there. If the answer is no, you would do your audience a disservice in selling them your own product.
If you do have a following of people that like you, trust you and if you have a unique selling point (USP), for example, or a certain learning method that you’re using, it might be worth creating your own course. If you have a strong USP, you will always be able to compete against existing courses. If you are a beginner and you have quite a big audience that is hungry to buy something, affiliate marketing is definitely a good way to instantly generate revenue. On top of that, you also learn what products your audience likes, and that’s important to know if you want to eventually create your own products.
”If you are a beginner and you have quite a big audience that is hungry to buy something, affiliate marketing is definitely a good way to instantly generate revenue”
Giving people more incentive to buy through your affiliate link
If you’re promoting someone else’s product, you could offer to give one of your courses away as a bonus if someone makes a purchase using your affiliate link. This way the buyer has to use your affiliate link in order to get the bonuses and is more likely to buy because they’re getting more value for their money. This is a way to increase your conversion and it doesn’t cost you anything extra, not if your bonus is a digital product at least. Most of the time it’s not going to be worth creating a product just to give it away as a free bonus, but if you already have a product, giving it away as a bonus to increase your sales conversion is something you could consider.
How to find affiliate partners to promote your own products?
Networking is extremely important. I like to go to all the language conferences to meet other ‘Langpreneurs’ in person. Having the podcast also really helps, interviewing people is a great way to get to know other players in the field.
It’s really a sales job in the end, and it often takes a long time to build relationships and convince someone that your products are legit. Meeting potential affiliates in person makes everything much easier, but in the end it remains a numbers game.
Strategies to generate more revenue during product launches and special promotions with affiliate partners
Here’s a powerful strategy that Kris has been useing to generate more revenue during launches and special promotions like Black Friday, with affiliate partners: Two months in advance:
Make sure you reach out to all your affiliates and tell them about the upcoming launch or promotion. Tell them how great the offer is that you’re going to put out and ask them if they want to take part in the promotion. The goal here is to have your affiliates commit so that they’re more likely to undertake action when the promotion goes live.
One month in advance:
Tell them that the promotion goes live in only one month from now and confirm the schedule. Tell them exactly when the offer will go live, when they should promote it, and when the promotion ends. One week in advance:
It’s time for your affiliates to get ready! This is when you send them their unique affiliate links in an email. Most companies don’t do this, but it’s really important here to make everything as easy as possible for your affiliate partners so that they can just copy and paste their links. Some of your affiliate partners might find it difficult to write emails and social media posts with good sales copy. That’s why it could be a good idea to provide a Google Doc with swipe copy that people can use in their emails or social media posts. Again, if you want your affiliate partners to actively promote your products, make it as easy as possible for them! One day before the promotion:
Send your affiliates a final reminder and ask them if they need any help. If necessary, help them with their email copy, scheduling their emails, or other technical issues your affiliates might face. During the promotion:
Email them during the key days, for example, the day the promotion goes live and one day before the offer expires. Track sales during the promotion and let your affiliate partners know how much they’ve made so far. Challenge them to hit a certain number. The key here is to keep them motivated until the end of the promotion. After the promotion:
Always be grateful, don’t forget to say thank you!
”If you want your affiliate partners to actively promote your products, make it as easy as possible for them!”
Kris’s tips for effective affiliate marketing:
For companies and affiliate managers: If you don’t have an affiliate program, create one! You can easily do this with software like Clickfunnels or Kartra. Kris and I are big fans of the latter. Make sure to make your affiliate program attractive for affiliates. 50% affiliate commissions for digital products are considered attractive in our industry. If products are not completely digital or other costs are involved, like teachers, much less than 50% is acceptable.
Tips for people who affiliate for other companies: If you don’t affiliate for other companies yet, get started. Even if you’re already selling your own courses you could affiliate, for example, for products that offer languages or levels that you’re not offering yourself yet. Make sure to pick a product you really trust and like.
Don’t overwhelm your audience by promoting too many products, only promote your favorite courses in the beginning.
Some of the companies in our industry that offer affiliate programs: