The affiliate model: yay or nay?
The affiliate model is a pretty common model, and I’ve participated in affiliate programs before. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the affiliate model. What bothered me is that while I would only make commission on sales made from my affiliate link, the people who put together the bundle would profit off my product sold to everybody else.
The people curating the bundle had told me about their thousands of subscribers and how I would be getting my product in front of all these people–which is great, but my product increases the value of the bundle whether someone buys through my affiliate link or not. I deserve a share of all the revenue, which was not part of the deal. I’d still only get money from the income generated from my affiliate link.
This basically meant I’d have to “launch” the bundle to my own mailing list–in which case I might as well just launch the workbook on my own and keep 100% of the sales from it. (Which I’m probably gonna do this fall, hint hint!) The bundle was also priced lower than the workbook all on its own, which might be compelling for buyers but is not very motivating for me, considering all the effort I’d have to put into selling the bundle to my audience.
Thank u, next.
When profit-sharing can be beneficial
There’s a different model that I’m part of, wherein I’ve put a video version of my pricing course (which is a little more expanded than the content of my workbook) on Arlan’s Academy.
In that case, my content is still part of the bundles on that website, but I get a cut of all sales where my video course is included. So if anybody buys my course separately, or a bundle that includes my course, I get a commission from the sale.
This arrangement is actually beneficial to me because I get access to Arlan Hamilton’s considerably larger audience, and my course adds value to the bundle that she’s selling–hence, why we split the profits. This arrangement is a mutual win-win situation. (No surprises there, though–Arlan Hamilton is a queer Black woman and the curators of the other bundle were… cishet white men. Do the math yourself there, IYKYK.)
BuT wHaT aBoUt ThE eXpOsUrE
I wanted to bring up this example because I know there’s a lot of complaining about working for “exposure” (which is a terrible word, by the way)–and yeah, that absolutely sucks. But there are ways to capitalize on those kinds of opportunities, and putting your product on someone else’s platform can be leveraged to build your business.
For example, right now, I’m in conversation with a group of people who are brainstorming ideas for courses and services for writers. We’re talking about creating the bundle together and marketing it together. This would give me access to a larger audience that I wouldn’t otherwise have, for much less labor than I would need to put in to get that same reach alone. In return, I’ll create a product that will also enhance the value of the other contributors’ brands. Again, another kind of win-win, profit-sharing situation that could be beneficial for everybody involved.
How online summits and discount bundles fail business owners
A lot of online summits use this strategy: “You can get your product/knowledge/service offer in front of hundreds of thousands of people!”… but you only get money from the affiliate ticket sales you sell yourself.
Or…you could also run your own workshop and keep 100% of the income. Maybe you’ll reach fewer people, but you’re in control of the pricing and can build a better relationship with participants.
Honestly, I feel like online summits should have a better profit-sharing model than an affiliate model because your expertise, your product, is adding value to the entire summit. You should get more from that than just email addresses. A lot of these online summits don’t even offer contact information. It’s up to attendees and purchasers to reach out to you. I can tell you from personal experience that rarely happens.
When I think about the conversion rate of people who buy that bundle for coaches, who *happen* to open my workbook out of the fifty-five gazillion products that are part of the bundle, and then reach out to me…it’s probably going to be pretty much zero. Therefore, I would have added value to this product that someone else is offering, without having gotten anything for myself out of it. No thanks.
You should be the one who benefits most from your own labor.
There is absolutely a time and way that visibility can pay off, but I would be careful. If someone is making money off of your product or your expertise because you are adding value to their product or offer, you should be fairly compensated for that. It’s not enough to be compensated with “exposure” or *the chance* that someone will see your materials and contact you for paid work.
If the only compensation you’re getting is affiliate commissions that you yourself have to take time and energy to sell, or something that is dependent on a third-party opting in to get onto your email list, I would definitely ask A LOT of questions. I’ve presented at summits before, and to be totally honest, I’m not sure I got a lot out of them. It can help build your authority–you get to say you spoke at such and such summit–but, again, from my personal experience, I didn’t get many sales or new mailing list subscribers from them.
Your mileage may vary, but these are just a few things to consider when you’re putting your product on someone else’s platform.