The internet has created absolutely loads of opportunities for freelance writers. One of the biggest is the world of affiliate marketing. It can be really lucrative if you have good knowledge of a specialist subject that people build internet businesses around.
In this article, we’ll be looking closely at how freelance writers fit in the world of affiliate marketing. We’ll begin will looking at what exactly affiliate marketing is before moving on to the advantages and disadvantages of writing for affiliate marketers.
Introductions out of the way, let’s begin.
What is Affiliate Advertising?
Affiliate advertising or marketing is all over the internet. Basically, it’s when an online retailer of some sort pays third-party publishers to put out content for them. Typically, each time the retailer receives a visit to their own website via a link hosted by the publisher, the publisher receives payment.
Where Does the Freelance Writer Fit in?
The freelance writer’s job is to create the content that the affiliate link goes in. This is then put out by the publisher. Typically, a publisher will commission a piece of writing from the freelancer about a given topic. This will usually involve a short brief, sometimes a title, and product links to build into the writing. They will also agree on a set rate – either per word or per article (per article is more common since publishers are suspicious about writers spewing out reams of nonsense for a larger payment) – and a word count, as well as a deadline.
Affiliate marketing writing can take on different forms. Sometimes you will be asked to write product reviews. Sometimes you will be writing about some news event that’s related to the industry your affiliate is working in. Alternatively, it might be how-to guides. For example, loads of cosmetics affiliates want content on how to create certain makeup effects such as contouring. They’ll ask you to write a typical how-to guide and include a link to certain products in the copy. This is known as an advertorial and is favoured by many affiliates because it promotes the product in a much less aggressive way than a standard advert or review.
Advantages of Working for Affiliate Marketers
There are loads of advantages to working with an affiliate marketer as a freelance writer – particularly if the niche they’re working in is a highly lucrative one. If the marketer makes more money on successful leads, they’re usually willing to pay you more, too!
Below are some of the many advantages to choosing this path as a freelance writer.
They find you work
It can be tough to make a decent, steady living as a freelance writer. It often involves a lot of rejection from various publications and getting a regular gig can be troublesome. If you manage to get in with a decent affiliate marketer, they will usually approach you with writing tasks they need completing. Having the work come to you really is a godsend!
It’s also nice to not have to think too much about an original topic and angle. The affiliate will usually give you a loose outline of what they want from you and you just have to write that brief. It’s hardly crafting the eloquent Dickensian prose that likely attracted you to writing in the first place, but it will pay the bills!
It can be highly lucrative
Although payment is usually lower than journalistic writing, affiliate writing can still be a highly lucrative business if you know your subject well and can type accurately at a high speed. That’s if you’re not writing for some gold mine of an industry too.
Whilst working as an affiliate writer for most industries will be lucrative enough to pay the bills, if you find the right one or a particularly successful affiliate within a given niche, you could make some serious money doing it.
Examples of high-profit industries that affiliate writers do well in include the cryptocurrency industry, gambling and iGaming, and high-priced consumer goods. The more expensive (or profitable) the thing you’re advertising is, generally, the more you can legitimately charge for your work.
Challenges of writing for affiliate advertisers
Of course, it’s not all rosy working as an affiliate freelance writer. There are certain challenges and downsides to it. Some of them are consistent with most types of freelance writing and others are more unique to this niche.
There is a lot of competition out there and even if you’re more qualified to write authoritatively on a subject, you still might get passed up for inferior, cheaper writers. Many affiliate marketers haven’t worked out that if they go for a great writer the first time around, they will save money on having the work edited by a second professional.
Since platforms like UpWork and PeoplePerHour have become popular, you’re often competing against the rest of the world for positions. The cost of living varies, meaning that some writers can undercut you and the affiliate will likely try to increase their own profit margins by using them instead of you – quality becoming secondary.
Reviewing things blind
Some affiliates want you to review things that you haven’t ever used yourself. Naturally, this feels dishonest and some, me included, frequently turn down such jobs unless the client is willing to source the product for a true review – this rarely happens. Writing quality reviews is not easy and a good understanding of the industry is needed, particularly when you don’t have access to the actual product. This can be seen in the online casino industry where an in-depth knowledge of all types of bonuses such as no deposit or free spins is crucial.
Clients give you ridiculous keywords
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about freelance writing for an affiliate is the set of keywords required. Naturally, affiliates want people to find your article. To make this more likely, the will often give you a list of keywords that are commonly searched for online.
With many clients, this is not a problem. They give you sensible keywords that are phrased naturally and can be simply built into the article.
It gets trickier when you get given a list of keywords that are phrased in a way that makes sense as a search query but that no one would ever actually use in either writing or speech. A reasonable example of this would be the phrase: “Garden shed 44mm buy online.”
Inserting such an exact match keyword can destroy the flow of an article and it can be really frustrating to make such a mess of your writing. Just remember, you’re not often credited for the work so you don’t have to worry so much about it. Mention your concerns to the client, and if they insist on using the keywords exactly as they have given them to you, just suck it up and do it. You’re writing it to their specification and it’s usually their property once payment has been made.