How much do people earn off affiliate codes and collaborations?

This blog post has been edited twice since it was published on August 24, 2018. 
The last update was August 27, 2018.

Ever wonder how much a social media influencers like Jaclyn Hill, Manny MUA, and others make for their collabs and affiliate codes or links? Let me tell you, it's a lot. NOTE: This blog post is based a bit on my own experiences as well as what I've been told by friends who own some of these cosmetic companies, and from other industry insiders.

Different companies offer different amounts to their affiliates - a person who promotes their company and/or product via a link or a promo code. Many smaller companies can't compete at the level that bigger companies can and so they don't.

Personally, I use ShareASale and LinkShare to work with companies such as Sephora*, Temptu*, Julep*, Laneige*, Laura Geller*, Beautylish*, Birchbox*. I also work directly with Sonia Roselli* and SauceBox* as an affiliate via their own affiliate platform. I'm also an affiliate with Amazon* and Target*. When I share links from those companies every purchase made I earn a commission. The amount I earn ranges from as little as 1% up to 10%. I also get private offers from these companies from time to time and when offered the % I make per unit sold via that link is slightly more (never higher than 12%).

I've personally never made it a secret on how much % I earn (but I do need to update my disclaimer post because some of the % of have changed). The bigger your site is, the more viewers you have, the more fans you have, the higher the percentage of those affiliate codes and links a person can earn. The more you push your code or link the more chance for a sale and the more money you earn. Personally, I do feel guilty about even pushing the links I do share with my own readers but the mega-influencers have no qualms about it which is why viewers, readers, and fans should be careful when they make claims of "it's the best I've ever used!" "It's buttery!" "It's my ride or die!"

Someone I know, who is a brand owner of a different company, has said that they have been approached by social media influencers essentially demanding a minimum of $50,000 per two-minute positive video they do for that brand. They turned these influencers down. Yet another friend once told me that they were approached and were told the minimum cost to promote the store would be $10,000 and that was just for a mention in a video and not a full-length video.

One of my friends from a smaller brand posted this:

Having been a part of a small brand, we couldn't compete for space and time with brands that could afford to pay mega-influencers that kind of money, and many lesser known social media personalities wanted the same kind of money that those mega-influencers were getting from other companies which made it impossible for us to work with them, too.

Based on all the conversations I've had with my friends, I can hypothesis an approximate amount that Morphe pays their influencers and why they - along with ABH - are two of the most popular companies among influencers.

A palette that retails for about $39 to $45 can potentially earn a mega-influencer between $3 to $5 per unit sold depending on the company and mega-influencer. Most companies that work with mega-influencers are going to sell no less than 50,000 units and the new average is 100,000 units per item in that collaboration. If they sell to ULTA and Sephora they may have even more units made. The more items in that collection the more units made.

This means a company like Morphe has to be offering its mega-influencers top dollar per unit sold on top of their affiliate codes.

Let's do some math, shall we?

Let's say that Morphe paid Jaclyn Hill, and this is pure speculation on my part, $1.50 per unit sold of the new Vault palettes that are sold individually. Let's say from the $49 sets she earns $2 per unit sold. So for the sake of keeping the numbers game short and to the point let's focus on those $15 palettes rather than the $49 sets.

  • Now let's say Morphe sold 100,000 units. Since they had four palette schemes made let's say 400,000 total units were made.
  • Jaclyn earns $1.50 unit sold regardless of whose code (if any) was sold.
100,000 units x $1.50 unit = $150,000
400,000 units x $1.50 unit = $600,000

So it's highly possible she could have made $600,000 on the individual palettes if all four colors sold out and if 100,000 of each palette scheme were made. Now let's look at what she could make off her affiliate code.

We know that Jaclyn has approximately 7,161,155 followers between YouTube and Twitter. Let's say only 1% of her total followers make a purchase.

1% of 7,161,155 followers = 71,611.55 potential sales.

For the sake of math, let's round that up to 71,612 followers make a purchase and they only ordered one palette not more.

71,612 potential sales x $15 each palette = $1,074,180 in sales per palette.
12% of $1,074,180 = $128,901.60 from the promo code alone one ONE palette.

Of course, the math is going to vary depending on how many units were actually made, how many people actually used her promo code, how much she earned from her affiliate code and how much she earned from the collaboration itself. It stands to reason that on THIS collection alone she made or will make close to $1 million if each and every palette is sold and not returned. And then you wonder why Morphe and Jaclyn are ignoring complaints people are having because returns mean less money in their pockets.

Now, I'm not saying these mega-influencers shouldn't be making money. It's a business after all. I AM saying that you need to question the quality of a product based on knowing these people make hundreds of thousands of dollars while the company makes millions. And if it's a bad product you're not going to get your money back and your complaint about the product will be drowned out by her mega-fans who will say you don't know how to wear makeup, you're a hater, you're just jealous.

As for me, because I don't push and promote my own affiliate codes and links coupled with the fact that I'm not an active blogger, I actually make less than $500 per year between ALL of my links. I can tell you from my Sephora Canada link I made less than $10 CAD last year! LOL

So just keep this in mind when you see mega-influencers go on and on how great a product is. Swatches can be manipulated. Photos and videos can be manipulated. Reviews can be based lies. But it's your money and there are so many fantastic brands NOT pushed by mega-influencers out there that you should try.

And in related news, this YouTuber posted this video. Of course, she'll make some money off the views (unless you use an ad block). ;)

Edit: Since originally posting this on August 24, I posted in a group that I belong in asking brand owners and store owners if they're willing to share their own experiences in a public group. One brand owner wrote this:

I'll share what I feel comfortable sharing: For affiliate codes, the standard rate is 10%. For {redacted} we don’t offer that to just certain numbers but based off activity on social, talent, and audience response.

We don’t pay for sponsored content but have considered now for the future IF it’s someone we feel is genuine and fits the brand. We don’t have much control over payments since most people are represented by managers and they state prices based off subscribers. If the price is too steep we will pass. General rate is $1k per 100k subscribers (this is just general estimate)

Kevin James Bennet, who works as a consultant wrote this:
I was consulting with a brand that wanted to work with a mega-influencer.
Their management gave me this rate scale:

$25K - for a mention in a multi-brand product review video.
$50K-$60K - for a dedicated brand review video (price determined by how many products were featured).
$75K-$85K - for a dedicated video doing a negative review on our competition.

(yes, the last option is legit - payment to hurt the competition)

Funny thing, I remember the time Morphe released their Piccaso palette that was dupe of Viseart's Editorial Brights. All of their mega-influencers were raving about it and comparing it to Viseart but claiming it was as good, if not better, and a much better price point. These people would then drop their affiliate codes as they promoted Morphe. That makes you wonder... were they paid to essentially trash Viseart by hyping up Morphe?

UPDATE: Marlena from Makeup Geek released a video where she talks some numbers on what influencers are now demanding. She has verbally confirmed as a brand owner that mega-influencers are now demanding $60,000 from her for a video.


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