7 Steps to Successful Affiliate Marketing on Instagram

Photo fo woman using Instagram on mobile phone

Jon here, I’m not anything close to a power Instagram user so I was grateful to have this guest post submitted by Elizabeth Price who offers some excellent insights about affiliate marketing on Instagram (something I’ve never done).  

Here’s Elizabeth…

Have you ever heard of affiliate marketing on Instagram? What is the idea behind it? It is a relatively new marketing tool that has already proven its’ effectiveness. An affiliate uses his resources, such as a blog or social media to promote services or products of a specific company. The company, in turn, pays the affiliate a commission from every sale made through them.

Who can become an affiliate? Although commonly these are established influencers, pretty much anyone can participate in the network. All you need is to have an active account on social media. Find a product you like and promote it.

Many people confuse affiliate marketing with advertising. What makes these two terms different? The main distinctive feature of affiliate marketing is that you pay for a result (a sale), while advertisement requires you to pay for the process.

Also, affiliate marketing is different from an endorsement. The idea of endorsements is to provide an unbiased opinion of a regular user about a specific service or product. Although many influencers build their marketing campaign on such reviews, this is not the same, as their opinion cannot be called unbiased.

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular and effective ways to earn money on Instagram. How to run a successful campaign? In this section of our article, we have collected the top seven steps that will teach you how to use affiliate marketing on Instagram.

1. Create Unique Content

Instagram photos

Whenever we talk about advertising or marketing, it is clear that the content you provide must be unique. Stealing content from competitors is never a good idea. First of all, it can harm your SEO, but most importantly, it can ruin your reputation.

The same applies to marketing on Instagram. Moreover, it applies both to written and visual content. A content marketing expert and blogger Caitlin Hughes insist that since Instagram is a highly visual network, marketers have to pay special attention to the pictures they post. Caitlin highlights the importance of delivering high-quality and unique content through your channels and shares ideas on how to create unique photos.

Posting original and appealing content is especially important if you are engaged in affiliate marketing. If you make your own photos and share your personal thoughts then you build up the audience’s trust, which is extremely important for effective marketing.

Here is a good example – Tara Milk Tea (@taramilktea) is an inspiring traveler. She has over one million subscribers and surely knows how to monetize on an Instagram account! Tara is an affiliate, who promotes clothes, restaurants, hotels, and other products with the help of her page. What is the secret of her success? It is the quality of her content! Tara’s profile is vibrant and engaging. She posts lots of excellent shots and, most importantly, all of them are one-of-a-kind!

2. Use Coupon Codes

Instagram personality showcasing apparel video

The easiest way to encourage a prospective buyer to make a purchase is to offer him a discount. This trick is widely used by influencers. They share a photo of a product, give a basic description to capture the users’ interest, and then they share affiliate codes. For a user, this code is a pleasant discount and for you, it will provide more interested customers and more sales.

James Kitchiner from Power Retail claims that integrating coupon codes into your marketing campaign is a great idea. He states that it is a sure way to make people even more tempted to make a purchase if you know how to use coupons right.

A good example of influencer that uses coupon codes for affiliate marketing is Laura Kasperzak (@laurasykora), whose Instagram blog is followed by more than a million people. Laura’s blog focuses on wellness, yoga, parenting, and so on. Thus, she uses her page to promote products that are relevant to her audience and she uses coupon codes as well.

3. Sell without Selling

Instagram post with affiliate coupon code

Today, sellers are required to become more and more creative. The old ways of selling goods don’t work anymore, so people come up with new strategies, especially on social media.

Look at it this way – platforms like Instagram were created for entertainment purposes. However, when businesses have discovered the benefits such channels can give them, they started overtaking social media networks. By this time, almost all businesses have accounts on Instagram and use them to increase sales. Thus, the competition is really high. Yet it is vital to building a campaign that will make you stand out from this crowd. How to do this? The smartest way is to give the audience what it is looking for – entertainment. In other words, you should sell without selling! A successful investor and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, claims that this is one of the best strategies that sellers can use in 2019 and he shares many handy tips related to this matter in his blog.

Make the main focus on delivering engaging and high-quality content. Share bright photos and make your account interesting for the audience, and then, the audience will expand by itself. Later, you will be able to use this to your benefit.

An inspiring example of such approach is a popular travel blogger Lauren Bullen (@gypsea_lust). She has over 2 million followers on Instagram and shares vibrant pictures from her journeys. Looking at her account, you can’t tell she is an affiliate. However, Lauren always shares links to travel agencies, hotels, places, and stores with her photos.

4. Always Strive to Expand Your Audience

Instagram example post

Even if you already have a bunch of subscribers, your affiliate marketing campaign will only benefit if you get more followers! Thus, you should never stop looking for ways to expand your reach.

Anna Gotter, a writer from AdEspresso.com, calls Instagram one of the best channels for advertising and promoting different types of services and products. “Since 60% of users are discovering new products on Instagram and more than 200 million visits a business profile at least once a day, this is one platform that you need to be really focusing on.” – she says.

So how to advertise your account to get more followers? One of the easiest ways to do this is to use sponsored posts. This is an excellent tool to enhance engagement or expand your audience, and, if you are running a marketing campaign, it is another way to get more sales! Sponsored posts work quite simple – you invest in advertising and Instagram shows your post to a larger number of people based on your targeting preferences. This feature allows you to target users by their interests, age, locations, and behaviors.

What to keep in mind? Here are a few things you should consider before running sponsored posts:

  • Content. The first thing you should do is to determine the format of your sponsored posts. Think about whether it should be a banner, photo or carousel, video, etc. Think of the description as well. Keep in mind that paying for advertisement will increase the reach of the post. However, it won’t guarantee sales. Thus, the rest of the success depends on whether you can grab the users’ attention or not.
  • Define your goals. Another vital thing to define is the goal you are pursuing with sponsoring a post. Is the ultimate aim to gain more subscribers? Or maybe you need to share a link with a larger number of people? The reasons may be very different. However, you should define this. Otherwise, if you make a sponsored post without pursuing any aim, the ad will not bring the needed result
  • Determine the frequency. Users can do multiple paid posts each month. However, this doesn’t mean that more means better! Sometimes, a hundred posts will work worse than a single post. Therefore, you should focus more on quality, not frequency. Also, keep in mind your budget when deciding how many posts to make this month.
  • Don’t underestimate targeting. As was mentioned before, the quality of the post is what defines its effectiveness. It is impossible to make your ad work well if you don’t know for whom it is meant. Thus, targeting is one more thing to do. Try to get as specific results as possible to create a clear image of your perfect customer. Consider different criteria to get higher conversion rates.

If you follow these steps, you can boost the effectiveness of this feature and get better results at a lower cost!

5. Create a Killer Bio

Example of Instagram profile

It is hard to overvalue the role of the account’s bio in the marketing campaign. This is the first thing that people see when they open your account. Thus, it is your chance to capture the user’s attention and make him or her want to subscribe to your page and check out what you share.

It is vital to create a bio that catches attention and makes you stand out. If you are wondering how to create a memorable and attractive bio, let’s start with basics. A good bio should tell readers about:

  • Name
  • What you do
  • The main idea of your blog
  • Emojis
  • A powerful call to action

If you provide all these details in a creative way, the success of your page will be guaranteed.

In addition, bio is one more chance to share an affiliate link. Experts from Gramista claim that adding affiliate links to a bio is an excellent way to increase sales and spread a word about the products you promote. An example of an influencer, who does this is Charity Grace (@charity.grace) – a mom, inspiring sportswoman, and one of Instagram’s established influencers. Charity shows a great example of how you can use links in your bio. Note how she uses permanent and semi-permanent references. For example, there are a few references with coupon codes, these are semi-permanent.

6. Use Google Adwords to Your Benefit

Another excellent tool for increasing the number of followers is Google Adwords. This tool can give you many great benefits, including higher engagement, more clicks, more subscribers, etc. Google Ads offers a variety of advanced features that help users drive accurately targeted traffic without spending too much on the advertisement. Thus, it is a real dream of every marketer. However, it has a few small drawbacks.

As a rule, using this tool requires marketers to change their campaigns at the root. This is due to the fact that Google runs a pretty strict policy against promotion content that doesn’t bring any value to the audience. Thus, if you start using this tool, you will have to change your approach. But is this really such a bad thing? Specialists from Aversity don’t think so. “This will force you to try more effective affiliate marketing strategies, like list and funnel building. Simply, you need to have a landing page, generate leads and send your offer to them after they join your list.” – They say.

7. Share Links

We have already discussed how you can benefit from including links in the bio. However, that’s not the only option. Now, let’s look at a few other ways to use links on Instagram:

Swipe-Up Stories

Instagram stories can be extremely useful for marketing. One of the newest features allows users to include swipe-up stories that direct to a specific website! It makes sharing links very simple as it doesn’t require your followers to enter URLs into the address bar manually. Instead, they will be redirected to the needed page right from their app.

Unfortunately, this feature is not available to everyone. Currently, only business accounts with over 100,000 subscribers can use it. Thus, if you happen to have an account suitable for that, be sure try it! This is an excellent opportunity to engage your audience to visit your affiliate link!

Stories, Photos and Photo Descriptions

This method is considered the least effective. However, it still should be added to your toolbox.

Sharing affiliate links in your photos, descriptions, and Instagram stories is a good way to remind your subscribers about the product you are promoting.

How to post links on Instagram? If you are an active user of Instagram, then you should know that it doesn’t give its users a possibility to include links. In fact, you can add a text link to a photo description, but it won’t redirect users to the needed page. In other words, links on Instagram are not clickable, except for those you locate in the bio. However, this doesn’t mean that marketers can’t use links. Here are a few tips to help you post links in the most effective way:

  • Use tools to shorten URLs. Although URL shorteners have a few significant drawbacks and can harm your SEO, Julie Neidlinger, a blogger from CoSchedule.com, claims that they are extremely useful when it comes to social media. Such links don’t take up too much space and are simpler to memorize.
  • Create a branded URL. Since links shared through Instagram can’t redirect users to the website, it means that they will have to enter the address manually. For this reason, it is a good idea to create short branded URLs that your audience will remember easily.

A good example of links user in photo or video description is Charity Grace (@charity.grace) a popular blogger that we have already mentioned in our post. The screenshot below shows a video that Charity shared recently. In the video, she is trying on different sport outfits and specifies the prices for them. In the description, she shares a link to an Amazon store where each of the outfits can be purchased.

Final Words

Affiliate marketing can be a highly effective tool for increasing sales and many big companies prove this! Two bright examples of successful affiliate campaigns are Amazon and eBay. Both companies have launched their affiliate programs in 2010 and grew them into massive networks. Today, eBay Partner Network and Amazon Associates are the biggest programs for affiliates that offer high revenues and bring both companies lots of advantages.

Are there any risks concerning affliate marketing? Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks of affiliate marketing. The risks that you may run into vary from legal issues to increased taxes. However, banned accounts are among the worst issues. When you run an affiliate marketing campaign, your social accounts are what brings you earnings. Thus, being restricted from one of them for a month or more is quite bad.

The last possible issue is loss of reputation. We have already shown how affiliates can bring companies higher revenues. However, summing up our research, it is important to highlight that affiliating marketing can also cause lots of harm if approached wrong. The biggest harm can be caused by choosing the wrong affiliates. Thus, it is important to conduct in-depth research of the content your potential affiliates deliver to their audience.


Elizabeth Price is a former Psychology student of Montclair State University, still eager to research almost any topic. She works as an academic advisor and freelance writer. Here is her recently updated critical analysis essay example. You can reach here on Twitter or drop her a letter to [email protected] Elizabeth is a contributor at such platforms as Native Advertising Institute, LearnWoo, and TaskPigeon.

Fat Stacks quote from Breaking Bad by Jesse Pinkman

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