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8 Clever Strategies to Boost Your Affiliate Income as a Freelancer

Written by on July 20, 2022

Revenue from affiliate marketing is an important part of any successful online business. Essentially, it’s passive revenue that you don’t have to spend huge marketing budgets on. Anyone can easily see the value in that.

If you’re freelancing and making use of affiliate programs as part of your revenue stream, this is just as important. You need to ensure that any affiliate programs you’re a part of, work for you and your audience as well. 

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Even though you can collect affiliate revenue totally passively, there are advantages to taking a more involved approach. There are several strategies you can follow to help your affiliate efforts succeed. 

More successful affiliates mean more revenue for both you and any business you promote. This guide will cover the basics of affiliate marketing for the uninitiated. Then, we’ll discuss practical tips for boosting your affiliate income as a freelancer.

Introduction to Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing covers more than one single strategy. It refers to whenever a business uses third parties to drive traffic to their site. This could be affiliate links to product pages, it could be influencer marketing, or it could be backlinks in partner blogs. 

The important part about affiliate marketing is that these relationships are mutual. Both parties benefit from affiliate links. The business gets more traffic and conversions, the affiliate gains a commission on those conversions. This can form a valuable part of a freelancer’s income. 

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According to the projections above from Statista, the affiliate marketing revenue share could increase up to $8.2 billion this year. There are a number of types of affiliate marketing, let’s take a look.

Partner Programs

Partner programs are a long term affiliate strategy. They take the most effort to develop and maintain as they involve contracts and direct contact with the partner business. Partner businesses often engage in cross-promotion.

As an affiliate, partner programs can be your most lucrative deals. You’re not only collecting revenue from traffic you drive to the business. You can also gain traffic back in the other direction through exposure.

Think of it like this; say you’re a freelance writer. You include your author bio on every piece you write that links to your partner business. They promote these articles on third-party blogs and you both increase your revenue. 

Word of mouth referrals from established business contacts can also be valuable for building your client base.   

Affiliate Links

Affiliate links are the most common form of affiliate marketing. These are often call-to-action links within blog articles or information pieces. A customer visits the link, which takes them to a landing page (usually a product page). 

If the customer converts after using the link, you earn a commission on the sale. This ensures the business is only paying for valuable traffic. As a freelancer, this will be your most viable revenue option. 

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing simply involves letting online influencers use affiliate links. Content creators should seek out these opportunities. Sponsored content, sample product reviews, and unboxing videos can all be a part of your influencer marketing. 

The principle here is like the idea of using celebrity cameos in adverts. People are more likely to buy from faces they trust. The newer generations put more trust in their favorite online personalities than TV celebrities. Use this to your advantage.  

Brand Ambassadors

Brand ambassadors are customers who will champion a business’s product to anyone who will listen. They’re rarely thought of as part of affiliate marketing. Businesses normally won’t be giving brand ambassadors affiliate links to use.

For content creators and creative freelancers, we’re talking about your audience. Whether that’s viewers, readers, or fans. Encouraging word of mouth referrals from your audience is a simple and cheap form of marketing your brand. 

The growth of PRM in marketing has made this particular niche more viable. Referral program software now makes it quick and easy for businesses to give customers incentives for promoting products. Using referral programs when freelancing, meanwhile, is a good way to keep track of your affiliate revenue.

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How to Boost Your Affiliate Income: 8 Great Strategies

Follow these practical tips to get the most out of your affiliate marketing strategy.  

1. Optimize Your SEO

The best way to boost income in any online business, freelance or otherwise, is to raise your discoverability. Optimizing for search engine results is currently the most effective way of doing this. 

You should start with keyword research. Use tools like Google Analytics or SEMrush. If you optimize your site for specific keyword phrases, you’ll boost your visibility in search results instantly. See here for some more in-depth SEO tips for affiliate marketing.

2. Add Value

Extra services from affiliates and partners can add value to a product sale. Say you operate a blog site aimed at freelance writers. Maybe one of your partners offers a WordPress plugin that would be useful to them. Maybe you can arrange a free trial with any purchase.

This is just one example, there are a variety of ways to use partner offers and services to add value for customers. Discounts, vouchers and coupon codes, and loyalty rewards are all viable options. This is a good strategy on how to increase average order value.

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3. Incentives

Look for the most generous referral schemes to optimize your revenue. Many programs will offer additional incentives for meeting certain goals. This could be increased commission based on conversion quotas, refer-a-friend bonuses, or similar offers. 

We mentioned referral program software for your brand ambassadors above. There are so many tools to choose from, it can be difficult to make a decision. But there are plenty of online resources available to help you find the best referral program software options. 

4. Choose Your Links Carefully 

If you start putting out any old link on any random blog site, your affiliate strategy won’t work. You need to ensure that links are relevant. This guarantees that search engine algorithms won’t ignore articles with your links in.

Further to that, you need to make sure you only highlight the most useful and relevant product in each case. Filling an article with links turns it into obvious marketing. This has a knock-on effect. First it turns readers off the piece. If a customer is looking for product advice, they need to trust the source.

Secondly, search engine algorithms like Google will actively downgrade the authority of pieces that are stuffed with irrelevant links. This means linking products that are only of loose relevance to the article will hurt conversion rates. 

5. Utilize Your Multi-Channel Strategy

If you advertise on many channels already, you can integrate your affiliate marketing into this strategy. If you engage with fans on Twitter, have them retweet your affiliate links and partner discounts. 

The specific social media marketing platforms and other channels you want to use will vary based on your audience. The most important part is making sure that all the efforts of your marketing team make use of this extra revenue stream. 

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Social commerce is a growing market. Don’t neglect your audience’s preferred channels in your marketing strategy.

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6. Provide Quality Content

If you’re writing guest posts for partner and affiliate websites, or your own site, it needs to meet a quality baseline. Search engine algorithms look at the quality of content when ranking pages. They also look at the authority of its sources.

This means that even though it’s tempting to shove as many links as you can into content, it’s not a good idea. Instead, you should focus on content first. Ask yourself, “Is this article something the audience will want to read?”

It should give useful information, practical tips, or express a unique viewpoint. For example, tips and guide videos and articles are great for SEO. This is because they’re full of practical information that often remains relevant for a long period.

They also allow you to insert relevant links to any products under discussion. As well as anything that could help solve common problems your content might highlight.  

7. Visualize Your Sales Pipeline

This will help you plan your customer journey. Look at your affiliate revenue like you would a sales role. A basic sales pipeline looks like this:

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Your job as an affiliate is to get the customers’ attention and create interest. It tends to be less direct and more passive than traditional sales. This is not a bad thing, though, it means a less high pressure environment.

Once the desire is created in the customer, all you need is a one-click way for them to complete the transaction. This avoids any extra barriers to sale that might harm conversions. 

There are now methods of integrating purchase apps directly into streaming platforms and other media. These are certainly worth looking into if you want to boost your affiliate income. Easy, convenient buy options are a key driver of high conversion rates. 

8. A/B Testing

When you launch an affiliate marketing campaign, you might be unsure of what will work. Different audiences respond to different prompts. They also have different areas of overlapping interest. 

A/B testing can help you narrow down the marketing techniques and wording that appeals most to your readers. These tests involve running two side by side ads. You might choose to trial different wordings of the same tweet or Facebook post. 

You might choose two different relevant products and see which one is more successful. A/B testing is simple but versatile. Remember to let any A/B tests run their full, pre-defined, course. What appears to be a clear winner in the first few days might drop off over time.  

Affiliate Marketing as a Freelancer – FAQs

These are the top questions asked by freelancers wanting to get into affiliate marketing. 

How do I Invoice Affiliate Revenue?

Normally, you won’t need to invoice for affiliate revenue. This will be calculated by the business operating the affiliate program. Often, your affiliate revenue will be generated by clicks or conversions via a trackable link. 

If you do need to invoice for non-standard affiliate work, then it’s best to agree this with the partner business directly. Make sure there is a contract in place to define both party’s responsibilities and invoice as part of your regular cycle.  

When do Payouts Occur?

This will depend on the affiliate programs’ specific rules. You will generally find that a monthly payout occurs except in cases where a minimum revenue amount must be reached. Some businesses will specify, for example, payouts above $50 only.

They will payout when revenue has accumulated up to this point, no matter how long this takes. This is to avoid excessive bank charges on low value transactions, in most cases.  

Is Affiliate Revenue Taxable Income for Freelancers?

An important question for anyone who’s freelancing. Yes, affiliate revenue counts as a part of your taxable income and should be added to your net revenue as part of your monthly/yearly earnings. 


Affiliate marketing programs are a lucrative source of extra income for any freelancer. This is only true if they’re managed properly, though. Starting a new ecommerce business is never an easy task. It’s even harder if you don’t get your marketing right.

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For freelancers, this means there are many opportunities to help businesses that want to grow their visibility. Following the advice above will help you get started with affiliate programs. Keep going, and you’ll increase your affiliate income flow from a trickle to a torrent.  


Sam O’Brien is the Chief Marketing Officer for Affise—a Global SaaS Partner Marketing Solution. He is a growth marketing expert with chatbot marketing hacks, product management and design background. Sam has a passion for innovation, growth, and marketing technology. Here is his LinkedIn. He has also written content for Moz and PandaDoc.

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