As I promised recently I have decided to blog occasionally about ways people living with CFS can potentially earn money online with the little energy they have. So here is the first blog in that vein about affiliate marketing.
Up until recently I didn’t really know much about affiliate marketing. I am still no expert, but I now understand it a bit more and can see it has the potential to be a nice little money earner especially if you already have a blog, website or facebook fan page set up that has a following.
Basically affiliate marketing is where a business pays you a commission when you refer customers to that business and they end up purchasing something. That’s why you have probably seen a lot of spammy emails or pop-ups urging you to click on a link and buy something. I guess I had blocked my ears to affiliate marketing when I’d heard it mentioned previously because I thought it was just related to spam and dodgy schemes. It appears I was wrong.
Affiliate marketing can be a legitimate way to ethically earn money online. I am very new to it myself so I haven’t earned a cent through it yet, but the concept is a good one, and I plan to use it more and more. I will only ever refer people to companies and products I believe in or at least have some positive experience with, and I’d suggest you also follow that rule of thumb if you don’t want your blog followers, fellow forum participants, family and friends to abandon you (after the 10th time you put up a spammy link to a product you’ve never used).
I thought I’d use an example I’ve recently learned about to show how affiliate marketing could work for people living with CFS. It is with the iherb Rewards Program.
I have been buying vitamins and other supplements online via iherb since being diagnosed with pyroluria back in August 2012. My chiropractor/kinesiologist recommended them as the cheapest, easiest way for me to get my regular supplies of zinc, B6 and B3, among other supplements I am on. This has proved to be the case, and I’ve been extremely happy with the service provided – cheap, quality products shipped to my door in under a week (US to Australia) if required.
Recently I decided to check if iherb had an affiliate program. I had seen mention of a Rewards program but I thought it was like Fly Buys so hadn’t paid much attention. Turns out the iherb Rewards Program is an affiliate program that works a little differently, but in a way that could benefit you and I.
How it works is, as an iherb customer I get a unique code (OJE953) allocated to me that I can give to family, friends or anyone else. This code gives new users of iherb $10 off their first purchase if it’s over $40 or $5 of if it’s less than $40 (either way, it’s a nice discount). When that code (OJE953) is entered as a discount code at the checkout, I automatically receive product credit equivalent to 4% of the customer’s purchase (ie. They buy $100, I get $4 towards my next purchase). Not only that though. And this is where it gets good. Every time that customer purchases anything from iherb in the next 12 months I continue to receive 4% in product credit (not directly from the customer, but from the iherb marketing budget – they know it’s well worth their while getting people to do their marketing for them!)
I thought that was pretty cool because I spend about $100 a month, so any little bit off that is a bonus). But then I saw that it’s even better because if the customer I referred then refers another person to iherb (using their own personal code), I also get 3% of all those peoples’ purchases in store credit (and my friend gets 4%). This pattern continues for another two generations (For example – I refer to you – 4% – you refer to B – 3% – B refers to C – 2% and C refers to D – 1%).
Yes it is like multi-level marketing, but if people are already buying vitamins,supplements and other chemist/drugstore products, it’s not a big stretch to think they might buy the same items from iherb instead of where they do currently.
So in monetary terms, let me break that down for you. Working on the premise that each person in my example purchases $100 average of goods a month, if I refer 5 people, in 12 months I’d earn $20 per month from their purchases. If each of those people refer 5 people each as well, I’d earn an extra $75 per month ($95/month in total). If those people all referred 5 people each, my monthly income would be a further $250 ($345/month in total – when you get over $300 iherb sends you a cheques for that in cash!), and if those people each referred another 5 people it would be an extra $625 a month for me (total $970/month over 12 months = $11,640). Now that’s pretty cool!
I know the above example is simplistic and optimistic, and some people won’t buy $100 of product a month or refer 5 people. But like any good multi-level marketing scheme (visit here To see why iherb’s program differs from MLM), you only need one or two to break the mould and refer 50 people for the year and your discount/credits go up dramatically. Like anything, it takes some effort, and you would need to refer regularly to have it provide regular, continuing income, but the passive income results from very little physical work are theoretically great. Even if you just cover your own vitamin and supplement costs you come out on top.
In reading over the info for this blog, I also discovered that after the first 365 days of one of your referrals becoming an iherb customer (and every level of referral), you will continue to get 1% of everything they ever spend – any referral at every level (1+1+1+1) FOREVER! Sounds good to me for just giving someone a chance to get a discount on their first order!
As you can see, you will not get rich quickly through this scheme (or at least not without doing some major marketing), but if someone had given me their code for iherb last August, I’d have saved $10 (happy on my end) and they would have earned around $25 so far off their own vitamin bills – just by giving me a code. Now I’ve found out about this rewards program, their credits earned would possibly be higher. It might seem small, but it’s still a win-win, and has the potential to eventually earn more than a small amount. And if that person had given their code out regularly, and also told me to give out my code, who knows how much they’d have earned by now. I’m going to have to tell my chiropractor/kinesiologist about it because if she’s already referring her clients to iherb to same them money, they may as well get $10/$5 off and she may as well get the extra cash/credits.
Many affiliate marketing programs earn you a lot more than 4% – apparently some offer 50-75% for single products, but I haven’t found them yet (when I do I’ll let you know about them!) – but none that I’ve found pay you down the generations as iherb does or give commission on 12 months plus of purchases.
It’s worth checking if any products/companies you already recommend to people (especially via a blog, facebook page or website) have an affiliate program. If you already love their product and are endorsing it anyway, you may as well be earning a commission if there’s one available. If they don’t have an affiliate program it still may be worth emailing them to ask politely if they could offer you a commission on any referrals you send their way! They will get customers they probably wouldn’t have had otherwise, and you will get rewarded for sending them.
Most affiliate programs don’t offer commission on purchases over 12 months plus like iherb, but many track referrals and pay affiliate bonuses for 30-60 days after first contact (for example, Hay House track for 30 days, so if the person clicks on your affiliate link that takes them to Hay House, if they return any time in the next 30 days and buy ANYTHING, you get a commission).
Please make sure you always follow the rules of Affiliate Programs. Don’t spam, don’t constantly plug your code or other affiliate link to people on facebook or support forums, and do register all your income with the relevant tax authority (ie. ATO, IRS). Use affiliate programs properly and you could earn a nice, steady income over time. Use them in an offensive way and it’ll only be a short-term win anyway, so it wouldn’t be worth it in my opinion.
(If you’ve been paying attention, I’ve quietly slotted my iherb gift code (OJE953) in anywhere I had a chance in this blog – can’t hurt to earn some extra myself! So if you have never ordered from iherb, feel free to use this code – OJE953 – for $10/$5 off your purchase – and then pass your own code on to your own family and friends so you make some money too. We could all be the winners in this – while spending most of our day in bed or otherwise managing our CFS!! Oh, and yes, the Hay House is also an affiliate link. And like me, I recommend you be transparent in telling your friends/readers/family that you receive a commission for referring them. They won’t mind getting a discount or just using your link if they know it benefits you and you’ve been up-front about it)
[SInce originally writing this post I have discovered another way to link to iherb in blog posts and other online forums (eg Facebook). Once you yourself are an iherb customer, you can create a cart or wishlist of the items you wish to share – ie you may be a practitioner who wants to recommend certain products or you may just want to share with your friends the supplements you take. When you create that cart or wishlist as a customer in iherb, you can then click on a button that says “Share Your Cart” which gives you a link that you can imbed into your post. To see an example of this, please click here. It will take you to a list of items I recently purchased to treat my pyroluria, but what it also does is automatically provide new customers with the $10/$5 discount, while also identifying them as your referral customer (if you decide to register as a customer yourself at this point, you can delete the items in my basket from your order once you register). It sounds more complicated than it is. I think this is a great way to allow friends/family/colleagues a one-click way to go straight into iherb as your referral (easier for them, so makes it more likely they’ll use it). You just have to make sure you explain in your blog or facebook update that this is what will happen if they click the link because you don’t want people thinking they’ve been tricked into going into iherb. For more information on this, please go to iherb’s Promoting Tips page.]
Good luck with it and please let me know how you go or if you have any questions about the program. I’d be happy to answer them for you.