Get 50% revenue from affiliates

(6 min read) How Anna Daly developed her strategy for affiliate revenue and brand deals. Featuring Hopp, Manychat, Canva, and Creator Society.

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Anna Daly

I started posting links that were specific to me with these brands, and that's when the brands finally started to recognize who I was and how my sales were going. 

Affiliate revenue (i.e. when brands pay a % of sales instead of a flat fee) is controversial in the Creator Economy. Many think it’s a bad deal - that promoting a product without getting paid upfront is too risky.

Anna Daly (and her managers at Creator Society, who introduced me to Anna for this piece) feel differently. She makes half her revenue from affiliates, and her approach is one many Creators can learn from.

Let’s get into it!

Links

The Business

.Highlights.

.Breakdown.

.Observations.

When people ask me what I do on social media, the word “influencer" does not come out of my mouth. I like to say that I do “contract work on social media,” and I work with these brands that I'm already in love with.

Anna became a Creator while she was doing direct sales for the makeup brand Seint. 

I knew that most of my audience were moms around my age. I told myself, “I'm only going to share one post per day that has anything to do with Seint.” The rest were just things that I felt my audience were interested in and I was interested in - whether it was sharing about my favorite book, my favorite family recipe, or a sale that was going on at Target with kids clothes. 

I noticed it was those posts that were keeping people around and creating conversation. 

By not pitching the products she was selling, and instead showcasing ALL the things she liked, Anna built trust with her audience. She became a tastemaker.

When she realized her audience was purchasing not only the makeup she was selling, but everything else she was curating for them, she signed up for affiliate sales platform LTK (more in The Stack below).

I just wanted to make a little bit of money.

LTK allowed her to generate affiliate links for the brands she was curating. When a viewer clicks an affiliate link and makes a purchase, the Creator gets a percentage of the sale, which varies depending on the brand / product.

Every brand is a little bit different. Target has a lower kickback than Nordstrom does, but some companies can go up to 17%, so it just depends. 

The more products she sold, the more brands started to notice her.

After doing that for months and months, you would finally get a brand to reach out to you and say, “We've noticed your sales are great. We have a new Spring line coming out in March. Would you be willing to work with us?”

And that’s how she started getting the brand deals that make up 50% of her revenue.

When I first started this business, I wasn't getting any free samples. I wasn't working with any companies. I was just genuinely sharing the things that I loved and providing a link. If things go well, that's when companies will start to reach out.

Now, most of Anna’s brand deals include an upfront component and an affiliate (sales-based) component. On an individual partnership level, the upfront payment is usually higher than the affiliate fee, but that doesn’t mean affiliates aren't worthwhile.

Since affiliates tie into nearly every piece of content she puts out as a lifestyle Creator, Anna’s revenue is split evenly between brand deals and affiliate revenue.

Put differently - if she ignored affiliates the way many lifestyle Creators do, she’d only be making half the money she is.

The trick is to use affiliate links to monetize the content you want to post, while charging brands to post the content they want you to post.

I share Nordstrom quite a bit, whether I'm under contract with them or not. If you look at it from a per post perspective - for example, they paid me to post this Thursday - then I’m probably going to make more money on the Thursday contract than I will from the affiliate links. However, I'm probably also sharing them three or four other times during the month, not under contract. 

Anna is working on an original O&O (owned & operated) brand, tentatively called “Anna B”. The most interesting long-term opportunity affiliate linking offers is the ability to learn about the audience and their preferences. As her manager, Madison puts it:

We know what sells, how much of it's going to sell, what price points, what people love, where they're shopping. So we have a lot of insight into how to build a line that's actually going to perform for Anna. 

The Stack

Link in Bio - Hopp

Anna’s management team chose Hopp (which is Wix’s bio link platform) for her:

There's so many different capabilities. We added Anna's products in there and there are little widgets that you can go and shop. You can add searchable keywords and specific codes, and viewers can easily copy it before they go shop the link. 

Community - Instagram Broadcast

Finances - American Express

I just want Delta miles, so American Express all the way - Delta, Platinum, whatever. I spend a lot of money. It is expensive to do this. 

Anna buys a lot of her own products to showcase in her content, so I imagine travel points are a real benefit for her.

Office - Apartment

I was doing this out of my house for three years, and it got to the point where it was just too much…It was so overwhelming. So I am now in an apartment. I come here every single day.

Link Automation - Manychat

When people comment on my posts, Manychat automatically DMs people to shop whatever was in the post that they commented on. Instagram obviously doesn't allow links in the caption or comments, and a lot of followers find it hard to go to your link in bio to find your outfit of the day. 

It’s so easy - at the bottom of my caption, you'll always see “Just comment below and I'll message you the links to shop this post.” So when they comment on a specific post, the links to that outfit automatically are sent to their DMs 

That's been a game changer for my account because before that… we had an assistant who would send them out individually and it took forever. Not only is it good for sales, but it's also good for engagement. Everybody, even if they don't plan on buying it, will still ask for a link just because they think they might want it later!

Design - Canva

Video Production - The Newest iPhone + Tripod + Instagram App + CapCut

I used to use a ring light and it made everything honestly look kind of artificial and strange. I chose a corner office with all this lighting intentionally so that I can just have natural light. 

Affiliates - Managed by Creator Society:  LTK + Amazon Storefront + ShopMy + Direct to brand

LTK had an application process. I knew that if I applied with LTK, then I could start generating my own links. They were a lot more stringent back then. The first two times [I applied], they turned me away because they wanted me to take higher quality photos, so I worked on that and I just submitted a couple of times until they approved me. 

Once you're approved through LTK, then you are able to generate a link that is specific to me for all of these brands that I was already talking about and sharing. When someone clicks it, even if they don't buy anything, you can still see that they clicked the link and went to the website and all of that.

Representation + Distribution + Operations - Creator Society

Anna’s manager, Madison Luscombe from Creator Society, was on the call with us and described their relationship as follows:

I'm her manager and represent her in all of her efforts. [That includes] everything from affiliate efforts to brand partnerships to the content in between…we do all of her Pinterest posting and TikTok posting, reposting of her content, creating collages of her products, and just overall strategizing on how she approaches her content on a monthly basis.

This isn’t usual for Creator representation. Most agents and managers just broker deals, but Creator Society is handling the entire operations stack, from affiliate linking to content repurposing.

The operations side of running a successful affiliates-focused Creator business is intensive:

I just have a very solid weekly schedule for the operations side when it comes to repurposing her content, making sure that certain content goes up every week…We cover her bestsellers. We're posting to Pinterest and YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook.

For her part, Anna has been happy with Creator Society. She met Madison in a Facebook Group full of LTK Creator-sellers, and has found their help managing complex operations and allowing her to keep focused the most valuable part of the relationship.

She's making sure that I meet all of the requirements for each brand deal. It's really overwhelming when you look at each brand deal individually. It could be seven stories, eight stories, two stories, no stories, like no video content, just a picture. So just making sure that I reach all of those requirements, that's been a game changer for me. There's so many little things that you can miss. 

Relevant Previous Interviews

LinkedIn Roundup

I write about the Creator Economy on LinkedIn through the lens of my 15 years as a Creator, agent, manager, marketer, producer, and executive at companies like Patreon, Wheelhouse, and WME.

Here are a few highlights from the last week!

Thanks for reading!

My mission is to enable a million people to find freedom in the Creator Economy.

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My firm, Partner with Creators, is a fractional go-to-market team for the Creator Economy. If you’re struggling to work with Creators, get in touch here.

For anything else, reach out anytime - [email protected].

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Written by Avi Gandhi, edited by Melody Song,
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