How To Do Affiliate Marketing Right To Boost Your Freelance Income

How to use affiliate marketing to boost your freelance income | Guest post by Justine Grey for Nesha Woolery. #Freelance #Business #Marketing #Affiliate #Income #Guestpost

Freelancing is all about exchanging time for money. But what if you need more money and have no more time to give? That's when you need to start making passive income, and the easiest way to do that is with affiliate marketing. 

My friend and affiliate expert Justine Grey is here today to teach you- my lovely community of freelancers and designers- how to do affiliate marketing right so you can boost your freelance income. Justine has even listed 31 affiliate programs you can join!

Read on for all the deets on how to make affiliate marketing work for you. 


Nearly 6 years ago, as my newborn baby slept in her father’s arms, I sat up in my hospital bed and flipped open my laptop.

23 unread emails

15 project notifications

4 urgent requests

All this since going into labor less than 15 hours before.

At the time, I had been running my freelance business for several years and most of my income sources - including paid writing and client work - required me to trade my time in order to get paid.

This meant I could not take any time off before, during or after giving birth to my second child. The realization that I would not get another paid maternity leave, like I did with my first child as a company employee, hit me like a ton of bricks.

Instead of sleeping when my baby slept, I worked. That pattern continued for a year until the pressure and stress of it all led to me to quit my business and go back to work full-time.

I have absolutely no regrets with that decision. As a result, I now have nearly a decade of experience in the affiliate marketing industry - both as a content affiliate and affiliate manager.

But the entire time I worked for someone else, a tiny voice in the back of my head kept saying, "If I had only put more energy into growing my passive income streams, I’d still be running my dream business right now.”

That belief led to my most recent big decision - leaving my full-time job earlier this year to return to full-time entrepreneurship.

Although freelancing was the quickest way I could make the leap, I won’t be making the same mistakes again. By this time next year, passive income pursuits - like online courses, affiliate marketing and subscription services, will match or exceed what I currently make freelancing.

That way, should the unexpected or unfortunate happen, I’ll be able to walk away from client work temporarily without it affecting my income - or sanity - again.

If you’re ready to inject passive income into your business, today’s post will teach you all about my favourite passive income source - affiliate marketing.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is simply a partnership between a merchant (i.e. a company that sells products and/or services) and a publisher (i.e. a blogger, podcaster or multi-author website).

When they team up, the publisher joins the merchant’s affiliate program so they can use unique tracking links to promote certain products and services. Anytime someone from the publisher’s audience clicks on those links and makes a purchase at the merchant’s site, the publisher earns a commission.

Affiliate marketing is truly a win / win / win scenario for everyone involved:

  • The merchant wins because they affordably extend their marketing reach through their affiliate publishers - growing their revenue and customer base as a result.

  • The publisher wins because they get paid to share helpful tools with their audience.

  • The customer wins because they get introduced to something new that could benefit their life or business, and often save money or gain bonuses by purchasing through the affiliate publisher.

If you’re a freelancer or designer with a blog, newsletter, podcast and/or social media accounts, let me explain how you can easily incorporate affiliate links into your content.

5 Steps To Getting Started
With Affiliate Marketing

01. Get Your Head In The Game

Some bloggers cast affiliate marketing aside because they think it’s pointless to advertise a company for free without any income guarantee. That’s the wrong mindset to have.

These same bloggers have no problem investing their time into things like social media because they know with just a little effort every day, they’ll eventually grow their audience and client base.

The same goes for affiliate marketing and your income.

I encourage you to start by experimenting with different offers, products and messaging until you find the right mix for your audience. Over time, your income will grow if you double down on what works and eliminate what doesn’t.

02. Use Proper Disclosure Statements

Just like with a sponsorship, you must disclose your paid relationship when promoting companies as an affiliate. Blogger disclosure statements became important in 2009, when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) updated its outdated policies to include new media - setting fines at up to $11,000 per violation for anyone endorsing a company or product without proper disclosures present.

For some reason, I see bloggers ignoring FTC guidelines all the time. If you think it won’t happen to you, think again:

  • The FTC is a large organization with over 1,000 employees.

  • They do spot checks and continually roll out new initiatives to crack down on bad behaviour - maybe it’s big brands today but tomorrow it could be travel bloggers, course creators or fashion influencers.

  • On top of that, anyone can report you including your competitors, audience or affiliate manager.

I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. So while I’ve created a list of do’s and don’ts based on what I felt would be relevant for this article, I highly encourage you to read the latest FTC document to see if there are additional guidelines you’ll want to follow based on your unique situation.


03. Choose Your Affiliate Products

With your disclosure messaging out of the way, it’s time to choose your affiliate products.

The easiest way to figure out what to promote is to start with:

  • The products you currently use and love

  • The products you’ve used (and loved) in the past

  • The products you think your audience will benefit from

While you may have heard it’s only okay to promote products you personally use and love, it’s also okay to promote products you’ve used in the past too - especially if what you used in the past was more affordable than what you currently use today.

Sometimes there are also special circumstances where you spend a lot of time researching (and possibly even testing out) a product for the sake of your audience. Perhaps you need to round out your article with additional options, or you know including a lower price point product will make your readers happy.

Regardless, if you invest your energy into investigating a certain product to share your findings, don’t refrain from linking to it as an affiliate because you deserve a little somethin’ somethin’ for the time you devoted for the sake of your audience.

To speed up the product picking process up for you, I’ve rounded up 31 affiliate programs to consider as a freelancer or designer below:

Envato Market

Commission: 30% per sale (new customers)

Cookie Length: 30 days



Commission: 200% per sale



Commission: 4% per sale

Cookie Length: 30 days



Commission: 85% on customer’s 1st monthly payment  / 8.33% per sale on yearly subscription



Commission: $10 per lead



Commission: 30% recurring each month



Commission: $5 per lead or $100 per sale

Cookie Length: 45 Days



Commission: $30-$60 per sale

Cookie Length: 60 Days



Commission: 10% per sale

Cookie Length: 45 days



Commission: 15% per sale

Cookie Length: 120 days



Commission: 10%  recurring each month for 9 months


Acuity Scheduling

Commission: 50% per sale, up to $30 per referral



Commission: 15% per sale

Cookie Length: 90 Days



Commission: 25% per sale



Commission: 10% per sale

Cookie Length: 30 Days



Commission: 20% per sale (new customers) / 10% per sale (existing customers)

Cookie Length: 30 Days



Commission: 20% per sale


Designer Blogs

Commission: 10% per sale

Cookie Length: 60 Days



Commission: 10% per sale for customer’s first year



Commission: 35% per sale + 5% two-tier

Cookie Length: 60 days


Pretty Darn Cute Designs

Commission: 25% per sale + 5% two-tier

Cookie Length: 60 Days


White Oak Creative

Commission: 10% per lead

Cookie Length: 30 Days



Commission: 30% per sale




  • $8 per sale (new customers) / $2.50 per sale (existing customers) / $300 per Eligible Bigger Businesses (with 10+ employees)



Commission: 40% per sale


ScreenFlow for Mac

Commission: 15% per sale

Cookie Length: 90 Days



Commission: 40% per sale



Commission: $65 per referral



Commission: $50-$125 per signup


Gravity Forms

Commission: 20% per sale



Commission: $100 per sale

04. Get Approved To Your Programs

Once you select a handful of affiliate products, start applying to each program. You aren’t guaranteed approval but here’s a few ways to increase your chances:

  • Ensure the website URL you provide is live and in presentable shape. That means if you’re in the process of a redesign or getting ready to launch, wait to apply.

  • Make sure your website content relates in some way to the program category you’re applying to. For example, don’t apply to a fashion program if you’re blog is about UI design.

  • Sell yourself in the personalized message box most programs provide when applying. If an affiliate manager questions your application for some reason, this is the first place they’ll look to make their final decision.

If you’re still having trouble with this step, check out my free “Always Get Approved” Affiliate Application Guide for more tips.

05. Start Promoting

Once you get approved, it’s time to start using your affiliate links. A few smart ways to do this as a freelancer is:

  • Write a step-by-step product tutorial that helps clients learn how to get started with a tool that would benefit them.

  • Round up a bunch of products your clients might find useful, either on a resources page or in a blog post.

  • Show your clients how to create something really cool using the affiliate product - just like Jessica Safko did in her post about designing awesome sidebars using Adobe Illustrator.

To help you take action, I created a fun Affiliate Experiments Planner for you to help you get started (or more serious!) with affiliate marketing. I also outline 31 ways to experiment and profit with affiliate links in this post so definitely check it out if you’re looking for outside-the-box promotion ideas.


  • Affiliate marketing is a win/win/win way to infuse passive income into your freelance business
  • There are over 30 affiliate programs that work well for designers and freelancers

  • To find success with affiliate marketing, experiment with different products, offers and messaging until you find the right affiliate mix for your audience.

  • Grab the Affiliate Experiments Planner to get strategic with your affiliate marketing efforts.

Have you tried affiliate marketing yet? If not, what’s holding you back from getting started? If so, how do you plan to grow your revenue with it in the coming year?


Justine Grey is an Affiliate Strategist helping product sellers and bloggers grow their revenue with affiliate marketing. For more affiliate tips and tricks, check out her guide to affiliate links or join her Affiliate Ace community.


Nesha Woolery

I build beautiful brands & websites for passionate entrepreneurs!