TikTok Affiliate Marketing: A Guide for Brands and Creators

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Most marketing strategies require businesses to pay upfront for an advertising plan they hope will generate a return. Even cost-per-click advertising isn’t a sure thing: You might end up paying handsomely for clicks that don’t ultimately result in sales. Affiliate marketing is a rare exception. Because payouts are tied to sales, well-run affiliate programs rarely lose money, and programs that don’t generate any sales end up being free (or close to it). 

Affiliate programs allow brands to access the relationship-building and niche targeting power of influencer marketing strategies for minimal financial risk. They also allow creators to monetize their followings and add a revenue stream. Here’s how TikTok affiliate marketing works and how both brands and creators can leverage this strategy. 

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a model of partnership between a brand and a creator, where merchants pay creators commissions for purchases they generate. 

Here are more details about how it works:

1. Brands distribute custom links to creators

Each creator (or affiliate) receives a custom link or dedicated URL that identifies it as the creator’s. In some cases, brands attach a coupon code or other discount code to the affiliate link. 

2. Creators promote brands

Creators post affiliate links to their social media accounts, personal websites, or other marketing channels and encourage their audiences to make purchases via their links. Some creators also use paid advertising tactics to increase reach and encourage engagement with affiliate offers. 

3. Brands pay creators for purchases

When a customer uses the creator’s link to make a purchase, the brand pays the creator a commission.

In some cases, a third party known as an affiliate network functions as the middleman between the brand and the creator. These services can help brands and creators find each other and streamline the process of making and receiving commission payouts. 

How does TikTok affiliate marketing work?

TikTok is a social media platform centering on short-form video content. Like other affiliate marketing programs, TikTok affiliate marketing can help retailers increase brand awareness and reach specific target audiences. It is a key part of many brands’ TikTok marketing strategy. 

Although TikTok users can’t add clickable links to videos, users with business accounts can use their TikTok profile pages to link directly to affiliate offers or redirect traffic to profiles on more link-friendly social networks. Creators can also upload videos that direct viewers to dedicated URLs, promote discount codes in video captions, or use paid TikTok advertising to increase reach, encourage click-throughs, and boost commission income. 

Users with more than 10,000 followers are also able to add clickable links to TikTok Stories—short videos on an account’s profile page that disappear after 24 hours. 

How content creators can get started with affiliate marketing on TikTok

  1. Define your niche
  2. Create a business account<
  3. Join affiliate marketing programs
  4. Add affiliate URLs to your TikTok bio
  5. Create quality TikTok content

Becoming a TikTok affiliate marketer is a low-risk way to add a creator revenue stream to your portfolio. Once you’re up and running, it can also be a source of passive income. As long as your link remains live, you can make money from clicks and purchases. Here’s how to get started as an affiliate marketer on the platform: 

1. Define your niche

The first step is to define your niche, including the subjects you’ll cover and the needs and interests of your target audiences.

If you have a sizable TikTok audience, you may already have an established niche. If not, consider what types of TikTok content you’d like to upload and what sort of product or marketing niches might be associated with your interests. For example, if you have expertise in fly fishing and camping, you could consider a niche in outdoor skills and gear. 

2. Create a business account

In order to share links on your TikTok account, you’ll need to convert your personal TikTok account to a free TikTok business account. Here’s how to make the switch:

1. Open the TikTok app and click Profile.

2. Select Menu, then Settings and Privacy.

3. Select Manage account.

4. Select Switch to Business Account.

    3. Join affiliate marketing programs

    The next step is to find affiliate marketing programs in your niche. You can sign up for an affiliate network, research individual companies on a directory like the Shopify affiliate program, or reach out to brands directly.

    4. Add affiliate URLs to your TikTok bio

    Once you’ve identified affiliate programs, it’s time to start distributing your links. To add a link to your bio, click Edit profile and paste the relevant link. If you have more than one link, you can also create a landing page using a free link-in-bio tool like LinkPop to provide access to multiple URLs at once.

    5. Create quality TikTok content

    To maximize sales, create videos that promote affiliate products and direct users to your unique referral links. You can also use relevant hashtags to boost organic traffic or invest in paid ads to reach a wider audience. 

    How sellers can get started with affiliate marketing on TikTok

    1. Develop affiliate offers
    2. Set up your program
    3. Recruit affiliate partners
    4. Manage your affiliates

    Unlike other types of creator marketing opportunities, TikTok affiliate marketing requires minimal upfront investment. Although you need to set up your affiliate marketing program, advertise it, and even approach individual creators, there’s limited financial risk. If a partnership doesn’t result in any sales, you won’t be responsible for paying out funds. Here’s how to get started:

    1. Develop affiliate offers

    Identify your affiliate products (the products for which you’ll pay a commission on sale) and calculate the commission rates you can afford to pay creators. Depending on your profit margins and marketing strategy, you might include affiliate links for your entire store or only for specific products, such as items that generate larger profit margins or products that you are specifically trying to promote.

    2. Set up your program

    There are two ways to set up an affiliate marketing program: You can run your own program using an affiliate management app or affiliate marketing software, or you can join an affiliate network, a third-party service provider that connects content creators and brands. Joining an affiliate network can minimize the workload associated with recruiting affiliates and running your program, but it also costs more. Networks typically charge a set-up fee and take a percentage of each affiliate sale. 

    To make your choice, consider whether or not you can afford to invest time in running an affiliate program. If you’re considering a network, calculate how many sales you’d need to earn from the network per month to recoup your investment and estimate the likelihood of reaching that goal. 

    3. Recruit affiliate partners 

    If you’ve chosen to join an affiliate network, you can recruit affiliates through its platform. If you’re running your own program, you’ll need to do a little bit more legwork to find potential partners. You can advertise your program on your company website, post about it on social media, or even send targeted messages to creators on TikTok. Look for creators who are popular with your target audiences, have brand identities that align with yours, and publish high-quality content relevant to your products or services. 

    4. Manage your affiliates

    Once you’ve recruited your affiliates, familiarize them with your brand, products, and program rules. If your budget allows for it, you might also give affiliates sample products for use in their videos. You can also distribute an affiliate resource pack with product information, visual assets, and key marketing messages. Encourage your affiliates to make high-quality content featuring your brand, as it can increase the likelihood that their videos will reinforce your company’s messaging.

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    TikTok affiliate marketing FAQ

    What is the standard eligibility for a TikTok affiliate?

    Affiliate marketer eligibility is determined by the brand running the affiliate program, not by TikTok. Creators can consult individual brand websites to confirm their eligibility for any specific program.

    Can I use paid ads to promote my affiliate links on TikTok?

    Yes. You can use paid ads to increase content reach and potentially earn more commission dollars.

    Can I promote multiple affiliate programs simultaneously on TikTok?

    Yes. You can use a link-in-bio tool like LinkPop to create a landing page that hosts multiple affiliate URLs at once.