Affiliate Links

An Instagram influencer with 16,000 followers breaks down how much she earns and why affiliate links have become a bigger part of her income

Bethany Everett-Ratcliffe is a micro influencer from New England
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  • Bethany Everett-Ratcliffe is a small influencer who makes most of her money sponsoring brands.
  • But it has seen an increase in revenue from affiliate marketing since it started using the new Instagram tools.
  • Influencers with access to Instagram’s beta test can post photos, stories, and live streams with these features.

Bethany Everett-Ratcliffe is a full-time “small” influencer with just over 16,000 followers on Instagram, a feed filled with fashion photos and daily stories with her latest finds or favorite sales.

Everett Ratcliffe told Insider that the largest portion of her revenue is sponsorship contracts, which brought in more than $8,000 last month. But she’s also made over $500 in the past month from affiliate marketing, a portion of her income that has grown rapidly as she relies more on Instagram’s original affiliate marketing program.

In June, Everett-Ratcliffe was invited to join an Instagram early test for her affiliate program. Influencers have long used these affiliate links across platforms like Instagram and YouTube — and even blogs — to earn a commission from the sales they drive through their content. They often rely on third-party platforms such as LTK (formerly RewardStyle), Impact, or ShopStyle.

Now, influencers like Everett-Ratcliffe can do it all right from within the Instagram app. The program, which started small with a select group of creators and brands, has expanded over the past few months.

“It felt like a test before,” Everett Ratcliffe said. “Now, it definitely looks more like a program.”

Today, Instagram has about 80 brands available for influencers to tag in posts, stories or live broadcasts. Each brand sets its own commission rate, some rates on Instagram are as low as 1%, and some are as low as 20%. And during the holiday shopping season, some brands may expand their prices by as much as 25%, according to a Meta spokesperson.

Qualified content creators can also add stores to their Instagram page to showcase the products they are promoting and earn a commission.

Bethany Everett-Ratcliffe standing in the street for Instagram.  Latest product tags.

Until recently, Everett-Ratcliffe typically made close to a hundred dollars a month through revenue generated from affiliate links through ShopStyle, she said. ShopStyle has been her primary way of relating to products from brands like Abercrombie.

But she has said in recent weeks that she’s been relying more on Instagram links than ShopStyle’s, and has seen her income increase.

She said she will publish at least three shoppable feed posts each week that are eligible for a commission. You’ll often be publishing circular posts, with one page marking the clothes you’re wearing, and another indicating the beauty products you’re using.

In October alone, Everett-Ratcliffe received a total of $508 from Instagram for affiliate commissions, she told Insider. Insider verified these earnings with documents provided by Everett-Ratcliffe.

Shopping on social media is developing rapidly

With the speed of social shopping in the US increasing, platforms like Instagram are pumping out features left and right to grab a slice of the market. The trend of social commerce is already a huge industry in China, generating an estimated sales revenue of about $351 billion in 2021, according to eMarketer.

Influencers play a huge role in the evolution of shopping on Instagram (and social media, more broadly). Instagram Shopping Product Manager Laila Amjadi described the influencers as “the new multi-brand retailer”.

And more recently, Instagram started allowing some content creators to activate affiliates on IG Live — an incentive to attract creators to direct shopping, an essential part of social commerce.

Everett-Ratcliffe tested the feature in November, sharing a collection of holiday styles she’s curated from Gap Inc brands like Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic.

She said that during the live broadcast, she was able to offer viewers a discount for brands. Everett-Ratcliffe said that while it has seen the purchases take place live, detailed analytics has not yet been shared with the creators.

With more ecommerce tools rolling out to Instagram, Everett-Ratcliffe now has to decide how often to use them.

“Part of me is like, When do you draw the line?” Everett Ratcliffe said. “When is it too much shopping and too much in your face?”

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