Athletes, It's Time to Uncork Affiliate Marketing

Photo by on Unsplash

Photo by on Unsplash

Imagine LeBron James, a wine aficionado who has over 100 million social media followers, enrolls in's affiliate program.

Then, imagine LeBron publishes a blog post on his website about the top 10 bottles of wine he recommends, with affiliate links to purchase each one on

Lastly, imagine this blog post inspires half of one percent of LeBron's social media following — more than 500,000 people — to purchase at least one of these bottles of wine, with an average purchase order of $20. Assuming LeBron retains a modest four percent of the total sales for being a member of's affiliate program, he would generate around $400,000 (about the same amount of money he earns per NBA game) for publishing just one blog post.

Now, imagine LeBron makes a strategic decision to join a few more affiliate programs (e.g. Amazon Associates Program) and runs one affiliate "promotion" (blog post) per month. For less than a week's worth of work, that's an additional $5 million in annual, scalable, almost completely passive income.

This opportunity isn't just reserved for the LeBrons of the world. Any athlete — no matter how skilled, accomplished or experienced — can take advantage of affiliate marketing, one of the eight Internet-based income streams. Any athlete can use digital media to build and scale an ever-growing, highly engaged group of "followers" who crave an inside look into their favorite athletes' lives, and will buy products recommended by them.

At the end of the day, it's a numbers game: how many followers an athlete has, how engaged they are (known as "engagement rate") and the commission percentage associated with the countless number of affiliate marketing programs available today. In fact, there are so many affiliate marketing programs out there, an athlete is sure to find at least a few that match his or her passions, symbols, traditions, hobbies and style.

In order for athletes to successfully maximize affiliate marketing in the short and long run, they must begin by building engagement campaigns and digital brand activations into their overall athlete branding and marketing strategy, while publishing original content that highlights their full life story.

By doing so, athletes will maximize fan engagement, loyalty and equity. The result: a higher percentage of followers who buy products an athlete recommends.

About the Author:

Josh Hoffman is the Chief Strategy Officer at The Institute for Athlete Branding and Marketing. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.