One of the topics that often comes up when talking business with birth and postpartum pros is the challenge of having income streams tied to billable hours. In order to increase income to a sustainable level it is common to see birth workers adding on services such as placenta encapsulation and childbirth classes to their range of offerings. Still, these services require a definite investment of time out of your busy schedule, even if they don't require you to stay up all night! Alternatively some birth and postpartum professionals take on more clients than is a healthy balance for them simply to make ends meet. Either way, we are looking at many long hours devoted to the families we serve.
What is affiliate income?
The idea of "passive" income for birth and postpartum professionals is somewhat challenging, as one of the most common ways of generating passive income, advertising on your website, can have a definite impact on your ability to build trust and intimacy with potential customers. Affiliate income, however, has definite potential as an easy fit for generating passive income by aligning yourself with companies whose products and services you believe in. You get a percentage of any sales they make based on referrals you send their way. I use affiliate links in my practice as a way to both connect clients with companies I recommend, and earn a supplemental income that helps me to keep my website services affordable.
Note: Some certifying agencies may have restrictions around this. For example, Lamaze International has some specific guidelines for educators who sell products… So be sure to check into your ethical requirements before taking on a new income stream.
The nature of our work means that we are trusted care providers and the families we serve tend to trust our opinion. We have a market of devoted clients who trust our opinion, and are in a buying cycle as they prepare for baby. According to a 2010 USDA report,
the average middle-income family will spend roughly $12,000 on child-related expenses in their baby’s first year of life. They're looking for everything from a stroller to cloth diapers, and as a trusted expert they are looking to you for recommendations.
This trust, however, is both a strength and a danger - we need to be sure we are not taking advantage of that relationship and that the products we represent are ones we wholeheartedly believe in.
How to find affiliate partners
Examples of companies offering affiliate deals include cloth diaper products and stores, green living sites with natural baby supplies, online stroller stores, and of course book retailers. If you are setting up an affiliate link make sure you are a) up front with clients that it is an affiliate link, and b) that the product is something that you truly feel is a great fit for your clients. You could, for example, review a favorite stroller in your blog and then link to a stroller store with affiliate links.
Here are some examples of companies offering affiliate relationships. These are just a small sampling... to find more simply do a google search for affiliate + the product genre you want to recommend to your clients such as slings or cloth diapers.
You can also consider creating your own affiliate relationships with local businesses that you love to send clients to. For example, a local birth photographer might be open to a small referral fee when your clients purchase her services. Just be sure that the professionals you align yourself with are authentic connections!
How much money could I make with affiliate income?
Well, let's imagine you send a client to an affiliate-linked cloth diaper store where you get an affiliate fee of 10%. When your client purchases $300 worth of diapers, you earn $30. The price was the same for them, the only difference is you are getting a small percentage of their purchase as a thank you for the referral. Some affiliates even allow you to offer a discount to your clients when they purchase using your link! That may not seem like a lot, but it can add up quickly, especially if you have a large client base or write a blog post with an affiliate link that gets shared beyond your local client base.
Words of caution...
Remember that by offering affiliate links you are in essence recommending that product to your client base. If it doesn’t work as advertised or your client has a bad experience with that company, it reflects poorly on you as well. Broken trust = broken relationship. Be care ful not to lose the big income (referrals to their friends and family for your birth services) for the little income (affiliate fees). Carefully chosen affiliate relationships will not only boost your income stream each month, but also connect your clients with the products and services that you know will be a great fit for their needs.