There are more ways to make money as a guitar teacher than just collecting lesson tuition. Income from your guitar lessons will probably always be your primary source of revenue, but there are some other cool things you can do on the side that can bring in some passive income for you, increase awareness of your brand and add more value for your students all at the same time. It’s like killing 3 birds with a single stone, and the best part is that once you set something like this up, you can pretty much let it run on auto-pilot from that point on.
Will these additional income streams make you rich? No! But they can bring in enough extra money to cover your operating expenses every month, which means that everything you earn through teaching can be 100% profit.
The income stream I want to tell you about in this article is using AFFILIATE LINKS to earn a commission on things your students already buy and use. This is the second article in a 3-part series…click here to go back and read part 1 (Selling Merchandise).
What are affiliate links?
Affiliate links are a way for you to make a sales commission by recommending certain products or services to your students. This basically means you use YOUR website to drive visitors to ANOTHER website, and if any of those visitors BUY something, you get PAID. Different companies all over the Internet offer “affiliate programs” to give people like you and me incentive to spread the word about what they sell. Once you join an affiliate PROGRAM, you get your own unique affiliate LINKS that you use when you tell your students about that product or service.
The amount you get paid from an affiliate program is usually a PERCENTAGE of the total sale, and it can range from anywhere between 1% to 90%, depending on the program. Some programs will pay you a FLAT FEE for every person who signs up through your link, instead of a percentage. These programs use a pretty sophisticated tracking system to keep tabs on who sends people to the site and who gets credit for the sale. They usually include a way for you to log in and see how well your affiliate links are doing (how many clicks your links are getting, how many sales you’ve made, and how much money you’ve earned).
This is one of those cool things you can set up ONCE and it keeps running on it’s own FOREVER…and you keep getting paid again and again while you sleep. You probably won’t make a fortune from affiliate sales, but it can be a nice passive income stream for your teaching business that runs on autopilot while you spend your time doing other things.
What kind of items you should link to
If this sounds interesting, then you need to begin by understanding the CARDINAL RULE of affiliate marketing:
Only promote items you’ve USED BEFORE, are FAMILIAR WITH and are CONFIDENT IN RECOMMENDING to other people!
Remember, your reputation is at stake! If you recommend something to a student and it turns out to be a rip off, your credibility will suffer and you might even LOSE some students. Make sure you have confidence in the affiliate items you promote and don’t recommend anything you wouldn’t buy and use yourself.
Once you understand that, the first thing you need to do is find some affiliate programs that offer items your students and website visitors will want to buy. I usually recommend starting with affiliate programs from each of these 3 basic categories…I’ve also included some recommendations of affiliate programs you can look into for each one (you might recognize some of these from my “Toolbox” page):
1) Music Equipment
Your students will be buying guitars, amps, effect pedals, picks, straps and a bunch of other accessories…why not put together a list of the specific items you recommend and make them affiliate links? Here are a few music stores with affiliate programs you can check out:
2) Books, Music and Videos
I’m sure you recommend method books, instructional DVDs and CDs to your students all the time. Again, why not make a list of the resources you recommend the most and make each item an affiliate link? The most popular sites with affiliate programs for these items are:
3) Software Tools/Courses/Programs
There are lots of cool guitar training tools and resources your students could benefit from. Here are just a few you might want to try for yourself and see if they would be a good fit for your students…they all have affiliate programs:
- Riff Master Pro (let’s you slow down parts of songs without changing the pitch so you can learn riffs and licks easier)
- Guitar Speed Trainer (uses a “speed curve” metronome to train you on your picking technique…almost like having a “personal trainer” for the guitar)
- Absolute Fretboard Trainer (helps you learn all the notes on the guitar fretboard in an easy, systematic way)
- Guitar Scales Method (helps you learn scales, modes and improvisation on the guitar)
- Guitar Ear Trainer (ear training software course for guitar & bass players)
- Guitar Pro (lets you create your own tabs/musical scores and compose complete musical arrangements)
These are just my recommendations for getting started. Once you start looking around, I’m sure you’ll find TONS of other useful things you can recommend and make a commission on.
How to get started
Obviously, the first step in getting started with affiliate links is to have your own website (you need a place to put all those links where your students can find and click them). If you don’t have a site built for your teaching business yet, check out my free video tutorial that shows you how to build it yourself in 30 minutes or less.
Once you have your website up and running, and you know what kind of products you want to recommend, you just need to sign up for their affiliate programs. When you do this, make sure you read and understand the TERMS OF SERVICE! That document explains the rules of the affiliate program, how and when you get paid, things you can and can’t do, etc. There have been lots of people who’ve used affiliate links in unethical ways in the past, and your account can get terminated if you break the rules. Make sure you understand them so that doesn’t happen to you.
Once you apply for the programs and they accept you, you’ll get your very own unique affiliate links. Just add them to your website and you’re ready to start earning commissions.
Making the sale
One of the cool things about using affiliate links is all the various ways you can promote them to your students. Here are some of my recommendations about how to make your students aware of your affiliate links, and hopefully get them to buy things:
1) Set up your own “Toolbox” page
Every website owner should have a dedicated “resources” page…this is just a page on your website with an organized list of the products you use and recommend. Of course, many of those should be your affiliate links! A page like this helps your students by pointing them to the right gear and tools, and you also get a sales commission for recommending them…everybody wins! Check out my “Toolbox” page to see an example of how to set this up.
2) Write “review” or “tutorial” articles
Another cool way to promote an affiliate product you believe in is to write a review about it and post it to your website. Explain what the product does, go over the pros and cons, and describe how to use it effectively so your students can make a more informed decision about whether they should buy it or not. You could also record a “tutorial” video where you actually teach them how to use it. Just include your affiliate link in the article, or below the video so they can click it when they’re ready to buy.
3) Add them to your email autoresponder messages
You ARE using an email list to grow your teaching business, right? If so, you can include your affiliate links in your email autoresponder series. One thing a lot of beginner guitar players are confused about is which guitar and other equipment they should buy. You can add an email message to your autoresponder series with your gear recommendations for various price ranges, and include affiliate links in the message. Again, everybody wins!
4) Use them when you make personal recommendations
Again, your students probably ask you for recommendations about gear, books and other resources all the time. If you keep a list of your affiliate links handy, you can email them a link along with your recommendations.
One more word about integrity
Obviously, affiliate marketing is based on TRUST. When you place an affiliate link on your website or in an email, people are trusting your expertise, and trusting that you’re making a good recommendation for them. NEVER EVER recommend an affiliate product just because it makes money for you! Like I mentioned before, if you wouldn’t buy or use it YOURSELF, you shouldn’t be recommending it to anyone else no matter how much of a sales commission you could make on it.
It’s a good idea to have some kind of informal disclosure statement on your website, just to let people know that some of your links are affiliate links and that you get paid a small commission if they click them and purchase something. It’s just another way to be honest and help maintain trust with your students. You’re a BUSINESS OWNER, and you teach lessons to make a PROFIT (and because you love what you do), so you shouldn’t feel bad about selling things to your students AT ALL…but make sure you’re taking care of them in the process.
Using affiliate links is a great way to generate some extra income in your guitar teaching business, as long as you do it the right way. If you put in a little work up front setting up your affiliate accounts and adding the links to your site, you can keep getting paid again and again on autopilot as long as you run your business…and your students will benefit from using some great products that can help them become better guitar players.
Got any questions or personal experiences with using affiliate links in your teaching business? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!