Creator Engagement

6 Strategies for convincing creators to agree to an affiliate-only collaboration

It's not easy to convince creators to work for affiliate-only deals, but you can get creative with your offer and get them to say yes. Let's find out how.
Posted on
January 10, 2023
6 minute read
Priya Nain
Marketing at SARAL

6 Strategies for convincing creators to agree to an affiliate-only collaboration

It's a tough world out there for small brands trying to get some love from creators.

You know the drill: you pour your heart and soul into your product, put in all the hard work to get it just right, and then you go to pitch it to the creator of your dreams. But they're just not that into you.

Why? Because you can't offer them the same kind of lavish perks and upfront payments as the big brands can.

It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack, except the needle is a good creator, and the haystack is made up of all the larger brands waving piles of cash in their faces. And let's be real, who wouldn't be tempted by all that cash?

It's not like the big brands are being totally unfair. They've got the budgets to pay for those creator partnerships, and they want to get the best return on their investment. But for small brands trying to make their way in the world, it might feel like an uphill battle.

But don't let that discourage you.

In this article, we'll explore how small brands can approach creator marketing, including tips for finding and working with creators on a commission-only basis. We'll also discuss strategies for standing out and making your brand appealing to creators, even in the face of competition from larger brands.

Find creators who will take commission-only deals

One way to find creators who are open to commission-only deals is to skip the endless outreach and set up a landing page specifically designed for your commission-only partnership collaboration. You can drive traffic to your landing page via ads targeted toward influencers.

Here's a visual of how the flow of the process can look like. You can skip the application form or add more filters to see what works best for your brand

Your ad copy and creatives should discourage anyone not open to affiliate or commission deals to not click on them or not fill any forms. Attract only the right influencers, so everyone saves time.

To make sure creators sign up for your commission-only deals once they are on your landing page, it's important to include the following information:

  • Spell it out: Make sure to clearly explain the terms of your commission-only offer on the landing page. This should include the commission rate, as well as any other details like how and when payment will be made.
  • Sell the dream: In addition to explaining the commission-only offer, highlight the benefits of working with your brand. This could include the unique features of your product, the size of your audience, or any other relevant details.
  • Make it easy: Include a clear call to action on your landing page, like a form for interested creators to fill out. This will make it easy for them to get in touch and show their interest in working with you.

Here's an example of a landing page by Pura Vida for its ambassador program

Offer a high-commission rate

When you can't offer a high upfront payment, offer a high percentage of the commission. It's a win-win for you as well as the creators.

This is a great way to collaborate with creators who really want to promote your product because it might help their audience but shying away because of no upfront fee.

Creators may be more likely to collaborate with a brand that offers a higher commission rate, as it provides them with the opportunity to potentially earn more money based on their efforts. This can be especially appealing if you can highlight that the eventual money they will make from commissions would be higher than the flat fee payment they expect.

To find out how much commission to offer, you can research what other brands in your industry are offering and bump it up by 10-15%. Make sure it fits with your margins, though, don’t do this unprofitably unless you’re sure you can make money back.

You can take the flat fee payment requested by the influencer, compare it to the fair fee and calculate a commission you can offer in a way that will cover their fee if they sell a certain number of units.

Make sure you take into account the price of your product when offering commission. A 5% commission is not attractive if your product costs less than $100.

Improve the chances of a commission-based collab

If your product is not popular, creators will not agree to promote it for commission. Here are three things you can do to improve the chances of a commission-based collab:

  • Show product in action: One way to show off your product is to send creators your products as a gift or invite them to your studio or workplace to try them. This way, they can see for themselves how it works and what it can do.
  • Share the love: Got some good reviews from happy customers? Share them with the influencer to build trust and credibility for your product.
  • Sell the sizzle: Talk about what sets your product apart from the competition. Highlight those unique selling points and explain why they're so awesome. Let the influencer know how your product can make their lives easier or more fun.
  • Talk about helping their audience: Will the product be super-useful to the creator's audience and make creators the hero for bringing it to them? Highlight that in your pitch.

Provide resources and support to help creators grow

If you don't have the cash to offer influencers upfront as compensation for collaboration, there are still several creative ways you can compensate them. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Invites to exclusive events: If you host events or have access to exclusive experiences, you could offer influencers invites to these events as compensation for their collaboration. This can be a unique and valuable opportunity for them.
  • Networking opportunities: Provide them with networking opportunities with industry experts or celebrities they would not have met otherwise.
  • Training and workshops: If you have in-house team members who are experts in areas that could be beneficial to influencers, you could offer to provide training or workshops as compensation. For example, if you have a team of graphic designers, you could offer a workshop on how to create better creatives or make a portfolio.

Sephora conducts makeup and fashion workshops for all its creators when they join SephoraSquad, their ambassador program

Sephora workshop
  • Mentorship: If you have expertise or experience that could be valuable to influencers, you could offer to mentor them as part of the compensation for your collaboration. This can be a great way to help them achieve their personal goals and grow their skills.
  • Align with their personal goals: Take the time to get to know the influencers you want to work with and understand their personal goals. This can help you identify creative ways to compensate them that align with their interests and objectives. For example, if an influencer is interested in starting their own business, you could offer them resources or support to help them achieve this goal.

Lululemon offers its ambassadors free business & personal development coaching. Read more about how they compensate their creators beyond cash.

All these benefits should be mentioned in your email or on the landing page where creators will know about the collaboration.

Collaborate on product creation

If you're interested in working with a creator, but their follower count and rates are too high for a commission-only deal to be viable, creating a product in collaboration with them can be a good alternative. You could consider a profit-sharing or revenue-sharing agreement, where the creator receives a percentage of the profits or revenue generated by the product. It will be a mutually beneficial partnership.

Since the creator's name is attached to the product, they will be highly motivated to promote your brand and the new product in order to drive sales and increase their own earnings.

Gymshark collaborated with TikTok creator @whitneyysimmons to create a line of female fitness apparel. When it was time to launch, both the brand and the creator hyped it up to drive sales.

Gymshark collab

Creators would be interested in collaborating because it can provide unique opportunities for them to showcase their skills or interests and can allow them to create something that is meaningful and valuable to their audience.

Creating a product in collaboration with an influencer can be a way to establish a long-term partnership with them, which can eventually get you the commission-only deal for other products.

Build a relationship with creators

Instead of focusing on quick results, focus on long-term relationships, as that will help sway their decision to collaborate with you, even without upfront payment.

There are many ways you can show influencers that you care about them as people rather than just viewing them as a sales machine:

  • Engage with their content: Show influencers that you value their work by regularly engaging with their content - like, comment, and share it to show your support.
  • Show appreciation: Let influencers know that you're grateful for their hard work and content by thanking them and letting them know how much you enjoy it.
  • Connect with them on a personal level: Make an effort to connect with influencers on a personal level by reaching out to them privately and inviting them to virtual hangouts or events. This can help to build a more personal relationship with them.
  • Show genuine interest: Don't just pretend to care about the influencer's work and what they have to say - actually show some genuine interest! Ask questions and engage in meaningful conversation with them to show that you're truly interested.

You are not at a disadvantage

Small brands don't have to feel like they're at a disadvantage when it comes to collaborating with creators. In fact, you have the advantage of still being 'human' rather than a faceless brand. This will help you build long-term relationships with creators, even though it might take time.

By finding creators who are open to commission-only deals, offering a high commission rate, and aligning with their personal goals, you can establish mutually beneficial partnerships with creators and help your brand grow.

This is why we’re building SARAL. We put relationships at the forefront of our tool and help you put this philosophy of relationship-based influencer marketing into action. Try it to streamline the process of finding and working with creators. It can help you identify the right influencers for your brand, track the success of your collaborations, and manage your relationships with creators all in one place.