How to Start Affiliate Marketing as a Craft Based Businesses

Affiliate marketing is an amazing way to add another stream of income to your business and the barrier of entry is basically zero. Yup. You don’t need 10,000 Instagram followers or YouTube subscribers in order to get started. It’s FREE and has the potential to make you a decent amount of income.

When I talk about affiliate marketing I’ve noticed that the majority of people around me have no idea what I’m talking about. We’ve all seen the links and disclosures on blog posts and YouTube, but what really are these links?

Well, grab a cup of coffee and a notepad because I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to get started with affiliate marketing as a small business in the crafting niche!

At the end of this post, I’ve included a list of my favorite crafting-related affiliate programs to get you started!

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is when a person earns money for promoting a company’s products or services. If you’ve ever seen a disclaimer in a YouTube video or blog post that says the creator may earn a commission if you purchase through their links, that’s an example of affiliate marketing.

To clarify – affiliate marketing is not a sponsorship or ad. Affiliate income is completely dependent on whether or not an affiliate’s audience purchases through their link.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Actually Work?

I’ll use an example to demonstrate exactly how affiliate marketing works.

Let’s say I’m writing a tutorial about how to square up a quilt block. In the tutorial, I am using my favorite 12.5″ square ruler. In my tutorials, I like to link to the products I use so that my audience knows what they are and where to get them.

Because I am a part of the JoAnn Fabrics affiliate program, I log into their affiliate program website and then create a link for the ruler.

When my audience clicks the link, it will take them to the product I linked to on JoAnn Fabrics’ website. The link itself has a unique code that lets JoAnn Fabrics know I referred the person who clicked. If the person who clicked purchases the ruler, I’ll get a commission based on the total price of that sale.

For example, if the ruler was $10 and my commission rate was 4%, I’d get paid $0.40 from the sale.

The affiliate link also has a cookie in it that stays on the person’s computer for X amount of time. Each affiliate program will have different cookie lengths. I’ve seen cookie lengths anywhere from 24 hours to 30 days through the programs I work with.

In our example, let’s say the person clicked the link and liked the ruler, but wasn’t ready to checkout. Three days later they come back and purchase the item. You’ll still receive your commission on that sale as long as the cookie length is longer than 3 days.

Now here’s the cool part: you don’t only get a commission on the sale of the ruler, but the sale of the entire order.

If a person purchases anything on the company’s website through that link, I get a commission based on the entire price of the sale.

For example, I link to a ruler that I love and a person clicks the link to look at the ruler. They decide they’re not interested in the ruler and instead go on to purchase fabric for their next quilt. Their entire purchase is $100. I’ll get my commission rate from that entire $100 purchase even though the person didn’t buy the item I was promoting.

Pretty cool, huh?

How Can I Become an Affiliate Marketer?

If you have an online presence, you can participate in affiliate marketing. Many affiliate programs do not require a certain number of followers or number of sessions on your blog. They simply want to see that you have the potential to have an audience and you have a legitimate platform to share their products. 

This is great if you’re just starting a quilting blog, a crafting youtube channel, or selling a physical or digital product.

Some affiliate programs will want you to have a website, but others are okay if you use only your YouTube channel or other social media to promote the links. It varies by company, so always be sure to read their policies before joining or applying. 

HELPFUL TIP: If you are adding affiliate links to your content, you MUST disclose that they are affiliate links. You can find the FTC disclosure guidelines here.

How to Find Affiliate Programs for Crafters

Before you can apply to a program, you have to find a program. There are a few ways to do this, but this is the way I did it and I recommend you do it, too.

Think about the products you use every day when you’re crafting and where you got them. What are the brands that you love? Next, go to google and type in “[company name] affiliate program”. If the business has an affiliate program, it will pop up right away with instructions on how to apply for their program.

The most popular affiliate program is probably Amazon Affiliates – but it’s not always great for the crafting world. Amazon has a low commission rate for craft-related items and if you think about where your audience shops for their supplies, Amazon is probably not at the top of their list.

Have you ever tried to purchase a skein of yarn or spool of thread last minute? Then you know some crafting items can be extremely expensive compared to what you can get them for at a normal craft store. Linking to a product that costs double on Amazon what it does at JoAnn Fabrics is not best for your audience.

When choosing affiliate programs to apply for, keep your audience at the front of your mind. Work with companies that your audience shops with and trusts.

Now you’ll have your list of affiliate programs that you’d like to sign up for. You may notice that you need to apply through third-party sites with most affiliate programs. These third-party sites are called affiliate networks.

An affiliate network is a place where companies can run their affiliate programs. A few examples of affiliate networks are Share-A-Sale, Awin, and Rakuten.

For example, to apply to the JoAnn Fabrics affiliate program, you need to apply through Rakuten. First, you’ll apply with Rakuten. Once you’re approved, you can apply to the JoAnn Fabrics affiliate program. You’ll also be able to easily apply to any other program that is run through Rakuten.

If you’re not sure what program to apply to first, write down what network each program is with. You’ll probably notice most of the programs you want to apply to are with one or two networks. Apply to those networks first.

When Should I Start Affiliate Marketing?

You should start affiliate marketing right away! Most of the programs will want you to have some content on your website, so set it up a bit so it’s presentable and get a handful of blog posts on there or a couple of videos on YouTube if you’re going that route.

After that, get started right away. Again, a lot of affiliate programs do not consider your following. It’s totally okay to start if you have an audience of zero.

At first, you won’t see many clicks on your links. But if you have the links in place, then as you gain a following you’ll see that passive affiliate income come in. It’s a slow game as you get started, but you’re setting your future self up for success by putting this into place.

How Can I Use Affiliate Marketing in my Business?

Whether you have a crafting blog, DIY YouTube channel or you sell physical or digital products, affiliate marketing can work for you! I’ll give you a few ideas to get started.

If you have a crafting blog…

You’re likely already linking to the products in your tutorials and blog posts. Go back through all of your blog posts and update the URL links to your affiliate links.

You can also create new content surrounding a product to help increase your affiliate income. For example, post a review on your sewing machine or a review on the newest Cricut accessory. Just be sure that this content is valuable to your audience.

If you have a DIY YouTube channel…

You can insert affiliate links into the description of your YouTube videos. Link to the tools, notions, patterns, and software that you’re using in your video.

You can also have a section in your description that highlights your favorite tools. Post this list in the description of every video, even if you’re not using the tool in that video.

If you sell a physical or digital product…

Start a blog. No seriously. Start a blog! Having a blog section of your website is a great way to get organic traffic from Google and Pinterest to your website.

If you sell fabric bundles, create blog posts about how to starch fabric, cut fabric store fabric… you get the idea.

If you sell quilt patterns, create blog posts about the techniques that are used in the quilt pattern. For example, create a tutorial about how to make no-waste flying geese and then highlight your most recent flying geese quilt pattern throughout the article.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to get creative and affiliate links can be a natural addition to your business.

Before You Get Started…

As you get started with affiliate marketing, always keep your audience in mind. If you do not yet have an audience, keep your ideal audience in mind.

Every time you post a link to a product, you want to make sure that it is adding value for your audience.

Do not post links just for the sake of posting links.

Do not create content only with the idea of making affiliate income in mind.

Affiliate marketing should be treated as supplemental income – not your whole income. Especially in the early stages of implementing it.

What Companies offer Affiliate Programs for Crafters?

As promised, here is a list of my favorite affiliate marketing companies for crafters. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a great place to get started.

Amazon Affiliates – Amazon is good for beginners because they do not have a traffic or follower requirement. You must make 3 qualifying sales in 3 months or else your account will be closed. However, you can always reapply if you don’t reach the amount of qualifying sales.

Craftsy – Craftsy is a platform that offers crafting classes. You can apply to this program through Share-A-Sale.

Cricut – Cricut has a generous affiliate commission and there’s a huge audience of Cricut-using folks. You can apply to this program through Share-A-Sale.

DMC – I work with DMC and they have been one of my favorite programs to work with. It’s a trusted company within the crafting industry and they’re constantly coming out with new products and patterns. You can apply to this program through Share-A-Sale.

Dollar Tree – Affordability is a major factor when it comes to crafting. Definitely apply to this program if your audience loves a good deal. You can apply to this program through Share-A-Sale.

Etsy – As crafters, we all know and love Etsy. It’s a powerhouse in the DIY world and most importantly, it’s very trusted within our community. You can apply to this program through Awin.

Fat Quarter Shop – Fat Quarter Shop is a quilting and cross stitch online retailer. You can apply to this program through Share-A-Sale.

JoAnn Fabrics – JoAnn’s is a large crafting retailer and carries a variety of products for nearly every craft. You can apply to this program through Rakuten.

Micheals – Michael’s is another large crafting retailer and carries a variety of products for nearly every craft. You can apply to this program through Commission Junction.

Target – Target is a trusted on-trend department store that is popular among millennial mothers. You can apply to this program through RewardStyle.

The Home Depot – The Home Depot is a trusted home improvement store that carries everything needed for a DIY project. You can apply to this program through RewardStyle.

Walmart – Walmart is a trusted department store that has a great budget-friendly price point. You can apply to this program through RewardStyle.

Now you know exactly how to get started with affiliate marketing and I hope you start implementing an affiliate marketing strategy with your business right away!

xo, Hailey