She makes recurring revenue from affiliates

(4 min read) The tools and tricks that tech and productivity Creator LaShonda Brown uses to drive her affiliates business.

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Affiliates make her more than brand deals

People receive all this information from me educating them about tech tools, and all I'm asking them to do is click on my link - typically to start a free trial. I've already told them how it works, they can try it for free…it's such an easy ask!

LaShonda Brown, a tech and productivity Creator, is the first person I’ve ever spoken to whose #1 revenue source - even over brand deals - is affiliates.

Let’s get into it!

The Business

.Highlights.

.Breakdown.

.Observations.

With 55,000 followers across platforms, LaShonda fits squarely into the “microinfluencer” category (i.e. <100k followers) but her robust and diversified business is anything but micro. She has six (6) people working for her and four (4) of her revenue streams each drive more than 10% of her business!

YouTube and email are where her audience really converts to customers;  the rest provide support and infrastructure to engage partners and fans.

YouTube is the product and how I communicate with my community…It's through emails that I'm promoting affiliate links, I'm promoting my content, and my brand partners are benefiting - so for me, email marketing is huge!

Affiliates and brand deals make up 71% of her revenue, but LaShonda is the first Creator I’ve ever met who makes more from affiliates than brand deals (Anna Daly is close, at 50/50).

Some of my affiliate partners convert at over 60% and I can just watch it on the dashboard. It's insane. 

How is it possible she’s able to generate so much money from affiliates?

One reason is the market she’s in - LaShonda’s content is focused on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tools like Canva and Notion. SaaS products are usually provided via monthly subscription fees, so affiliates like LaShonda often also get monthly payments per referred customer!

While the economics of SaaS tools are nice for Creators, getting someone to convert to paid is much harder than a single-time purchase. That brings us to the other reason her affiliate business is so big:

Trust. LaShonda has strong trust from both her audience and her partners.

Her trust-building approach is fairly straightforward:

Focus on a single, simple call to action

The entire first year that I did YouTube full time, I didn't sell anything. I just promoted my affiliate links…all I would ask is to click on the link, so that's what they did - in crazy numbers. 

Humanize corporate partners as social proof

I started asking tech companies to send merch so that I had their logo on a t-shirt, just to visually emphasize that they are not just a partner -  I know these people. I also started to incorporate interviews with team members from these tech companies in my YouTube videos…then all of a sudden it goes from, “LaShonda's just using some tech tool” to “Oh wow she knows the CEO.” My opinion carries so much more weight. 

Advocate for your audience the way you advocate for partners

If you have an issue with the tool, tell me about it. I'll talk to the CTO, I'll talk to the CEO, I'll talk to a Product Manager for you. Tell me what you need, because I have a real relationship with these tech companies. I'll just tell them. 

Provide financial value to the audience as well

I say to brands “My audience needs 20%.” And I don't budge.

When I'm able to tell my audience, “Not only does my link give you a free trial, but if you use my code, you save money,” then they will go to my website first and say, “Well, does LaShonda have a coupon? Because I'm gonna look there before I go to Google.”  Eventually it just becomes part of the routine - when my audience are ready to change or sign up for tools, they're going to look at my page before they just go out on the Internet. That's how that recurring commission keeps coming in.

Ultimately, though, her trust-building strategy comes down to a single idea: give outsized value to both your audience and your partners.

When you are giving lavishly to everyone, you tend to just get things in return.

The Operation

LaShonda employs five (5) people - a producer, 2 editors, a graphic designer, and an admin - and all of them are local to her. The interesting thing about that? She lives in a small town in the mountains of Virginia.

People are sleeping on this. There are so many influencers who live here in hiding so that they don't get bothered by you people. 

It’s worth keeping in mind that you don’t need to live in a major city or use fancy staffing sites like Upwork, Roster, or YT Jobs to hire a great team. There’s often plenty of talent right in your backyard.

The Stack

LaShonda’s most valuable tools and partners:

We love a good Canva moment. I'm in there every day, so Canva has to be top shelf. 

LaShonda is one of just a handful of Canva Verified Experts in the world!

You have to think about what you are prioritizing with your membership platform. For me, the priority was the video experience. Uscreen is helping people to do a Netflix-style membership experience, where people can cast my videos to their TV, look at it on tablets, search the catalog, and watch live streams. And then I can add value with the integrated community aspect, so I'm not using Slack, Discord, or a Facebook group. I can have everything self-contained, and it's mine… 

Having experienced a lot of different tech companies, I just see much more intention spent helping Creators on their platform be successful. Also, I love Rob. Everybody loves Rob.

(Rob is the Head of Creators at Uscreen, and LaShonda is right - everybody does love Rob.)

If it wasn't for TubeBuddy helping me to optimize my videos, I wouldn't reach the people I'm reaching. 

Flodesk is phenomenal when it comes to helping you to create visually appealing emails that convert…And it's through those emails that I'm promoting my affiliate links, my content and my brands, so for me, email marketing is huge. Those emails need to look good, and Flodesk does it the best. 

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Written by Avi Gandhi, edited by Melody Song,
powered by TheFutureParty

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