Issue #22

How I grew my affiliate income: April Lewis’ affiliate marketing success story

Customer Stories Affiliate Marketing
10 min read
In this Article

When you think of affiliate marketing, lots of phrases probably come to mind. Phrases like passive income, commissions, referrals, spam, unrealistic, impossible… maybe even sleazy or salesy.

Build authority to grow your affiliate incomeBut here’s one you might not have heard in correlation with affiliate marketing yet… authority. I’m going to show you how authority in your business can help you cash in on affiliate income quickly!

How affiliate marketing builds authority

So how DOES authority in your business help you cash in on affiliate income? Much less, how does it help do it quickly?

In Neil Patel’s step by step guide to affiliate marketing blog post, he describes affiliate marketing as…

…revenue sharing… the process of spreading product creation and product marketing across different parties, where each party receives a share of the revenue according to their contribution.

Quite honestly, this is the BEST definition of affiliate marketing in my opinion! What’s so great about it? The part where he says that each party receives a share of the revenue according to their contribution.

See the distinction? It’s not JUST referring people to use products– it’s also rewarding them according to how well they do at getting products out to audiences and converting them to users.

This is EXACTLY HOW I was able to go from $0 to $4k+ per month with affiliate income alone… in just nine months.

Let me show you how…

Connect with your audience

Share what you love to connect with your followers and grow your business with a free ConvertKit account.

Create a free ConvertKit account

My affiliate marketing success story

Affiliate marketing done right- April Lewis

Since 2010, I had been growing a single mom blog as just a creative outlet. You know, I was dabbling. But all that dabbling taught me a lot.

I learned how to build websites, fine-tune my ability to write engaging online copy, market from the angle of monetizing a blog, grow a social following, and write and market a book… even reaching Amazon’s bestseller status.

Then in March of 2015, I decided to put out my digital shingle and become a virtual assistant. I was tired of making $24k/year and getting nowhere in life.

While I was learning how to blog, I followed a Facebook group for virtual assistants. This group helped me learn a lot about what I was doing on my own to grow my blog.

How to have affiliate marketing success

So instead of following the group just to learn online skills for myself, I decided to find work doing the same things for other people.

I joined more Facebook groups and networked my buns off. Literally. I’d wake up at 6 am and start, then I’d work til midnight. Sleep then repeat.

My passive income disclaimer

Here’s the part of the story where I insert a disclaimer: passive income is a misnomer. This is exactly why I use the term passive-ish income instead.

It does take work, in the beginning, to get started. It’s like a snowball- starts off small but can compound really quickly if you lay the right groundwork.

Affiliate marketing done right is a long-term game.

You have to decide today to make a commitment to successfully creating an effective passive-ish income strategy for yourself, follow-through, then reap the rewards of your dedication later on.

As I grew my virtual assistant business I learned more tools, systems, platforms, and marketing principles that were pivotal for my own success as well as my client’s success.

I came up with a list of five tips that are foundational if you’re building an online business. In fact, my welcome sequence is ALL ABOUT these five tips. And my subscribers LOVE IT! They are:

  1. Focus on implementing one thing at a time.
  2. Build a strong foundation using the right tools.
  3. Don't listen to just anyone you meet online who gives you advice.
  4. Realize you will make mistakes.
  5. Action= forward progress.

These five tips are as true for effective affiliate marketing as they are for laying the foundation for your business to be successful. I follow this list religiously in my business every single day. It’s been the key to my affiliate marketing success. Here’s how…

How I grew my affiliate income from $0 to $1k in six months

During all this crazy hustling to network, sleepless growth, and the craziness that is ‘start-up’, I stumbled upon a tool– ConvertKit. I had worked in probably 10-15 email marketing systems by this point in my business, but all of them gave me headaches if I’m being honest.

It didn’t matter if it was the industry standard, the most expensive tool, or the free option– none of them were intuitive to use.

An online mentor told me about ConvertKit, and in one night, I learned how to use the whole system. Literally from about 1 am to 5 am I had my whole account set up AND a product launch ready to go.

Then all that networking I was doing to find clients took on a whole new drive.

How to grow affiliate income- chat forumsI ENDLESSLY looked for any chat thread I could find about email marketing. I talked about ConvertKit to any poor soul who would listen, and I started paying attention to pain points that most people had with email marketing and list building for their business.

I reached out to the powers that be at ConvertKit and told them I would LOVE to partner with them in some way because I was completely gaga over their tool. I was fortunate enough to be one of the first four ConvertKit Certified Experts hand-picked by the company.

At that point, my business went from struggling to make $1200 to $2k/month to $4k/month, almost overnight. Around this same time, I had an idea.

I was going to make the best affiliate blog post funnel of all… centered around ConvertKit.

My first affiliate marketing strategy

I wrote a blog post.

It took me literally six weeks to get this thing just the way I wanted it. Well, the blog post AND the content upgrade.

The post itself was 4,454 words. Yes, I’m serious. And the content upgrade had a one-hour training video, swipe files, custom code, and a migration guide that was ANOTHER 2,963 words.

PLUS, if you signed up for the content upgrade, you got your first 30 days of ConvertKit for free.

With the blog post, I taught you WHY ConvertKit was the best email marketing tool around, then I taught you how to use it AND get completely set up with the content upgrade… all without paying a dime.

Affiliate marketing strategyI mean, I even had an email sequence swipe file for a generic welcome sequence that would work for most businesses with a few simple tweaks.

I answered every single pain point you could possibly have as a barrier with email marketing and delivered it on a silver platter.

And what’s more… I wrote an email sequence for those subscribers that focused on common issues most people have when they are just starting out with email marketing.

Pro tip: That educational email sequence was key because it didn’t matter if they got a free month of ConvertKit or swipe files and custom code. And it didn’t even matter if they knew how to navigate the user interface.
I knew that if they didn’t have some basic knowledge of email marketing strategy, then they still weren’t going to get off the ground with it.
This email sequence ensured that all my affiliate sign-ups for ConvertKit would continue to use the tool, ensuring I would continue to get a monthly recurring affiliate payout for their account.

How to grow your affiliate incomeThe affiliate income started to compound when this blog post funnel launched. So I applied it to other affiliate products I had used and loved too.

I also continued to network on social media, dropping my ConvertKit blog post in any chat thread applicable to help people struggling with email marketing issues.

Within six months I was making $1k/month in affiliate income for all the tools I promoted using this same system.

How I grew my affiliate income from $1k to $4k+ in nine months

Along this same timeline, my business was booming. I was signing clients for product and course launches, leading them to upper 5 figure launches… from ideation to building, writing, designing, paid ads, launching… the whole shabang.

The authority I had gained as a digital marketing expert, combined with the tools and platforms I encouraged clients to use, were a powerful, profitable, and credible system for growing my passive income on a highly compressed compound schedule.

Layering offers

I was able to create a system, called layering offers that helped online service providers like myself increase their bottom line in two ways:

  • The first was with increased sales with add-on services.
  • The second was with affiliate marketing for #allthethings you need to create and run digital marketing projects for clients.

Including workshops, masterminds, and other high ticket offers

This is where the magic happened, folks. It was like my passive income was ignited with accelerant. All I did was talk about the things that helped my own business grow from $1200/month to $4k+ in done-for-you services.

I had been following and investing in two coaches at this point who both had high ticket offers. I bought those courses and what I learned through them caused my business to go BOOM in a mighty way.
How to grow affiliate income

What I learned also helped me ignite my client projects, too.

They’d ask, HOW do you do this?!?

Ready for THE KEY to the most profitable affiliate marketing?

Authority, credibility, trust, and social proof create affiliate marketing success

I shared my story with them, authentically. And because I already had authority with them, they ate up everything I told them.

If I said a $3500 or $4500 mastermind was the HOW… they signed up for it themselves or for their lower-level VA’s. I would be on a call with them sometimes for as little as 20 minutes and be able to make over $1k in commission for ONE mastermind sell.

And this doesn’t JUST help with mastermind and high ticket offer courses. It also works with high ticket services too.

For example, I’m fortunate enough to know an amazing direct response copywriter who charges $1k for a 1500 word sales page for a funnel. If I used my layering offers technique on a client call to refer them to my copywriter friend, she’d pay me a referral fee (or finder’s fee) when the client signed a contract with her.

And all I literally did was name drop.

If you look at affiliate marketing as a long-term game that builds long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships, then your passive income will compound quickly and sustain itself over time.

Not only that, your reputation will spread in your circles, magnifying the success.
Social proof for affiliate marketing success
Last year I only spent $231 on Facebook ads for my business, and I still had an upper 5 figure course launch for my flagship affiliate marketing course for online service providers.

Every single person who knows me and how I help others increase their passive income has helped spread the word about my course on the interwebz.

Ready to grow your affiliate income?

By sharing resources, programs, tools, platforms, etc. that solve pain points in people’s businesses, you won’t have to worry if you’re adding value. That means you can avoid words like spam, unrealistic, impossible, sleazy, and salesy when it comes to affiliate marketing.

Instead, you’ll be able to focus on happy clients and amazing affiliate income. Every. Single. Month.

What simple, long-term strategies for authority can you implement today to increase your affiliate marketing opportunities?

Connect with your audience

Share what you love to connect with your followers and grow your business with a free ConvertKit account.

Create a free ConvertKit account

April Lewis

April Lewis is an affiliate marketing strategist, tiny house enthusiast, and nomadic traveler. She currently works as a coach and consultant helping online service providers create effective conversion strategies to grow and scale their businesses. And she’s on a mission to visit every US National Park courtesy of her passive income stream. As a teacher, April is authentic and down to earth with her implementation strategies to create a passive income stream while working smarter, not harder. She also believes she can teach you her greatest skill… how to see money everywhere.

The future belongs to creators

ConvertKit helps creators like you take their projects from idea to reality. It's never been easier to build an audience and grow a business. And you can do it all for free.

Launch your next project