Women have been underrepresented in many spheres, and it’s been considered par for the course for many years until they finally decided to speak up and show the world that they could stand up for themselves and their ideals. Affiliate marketing is not an exception: young as it is, the field has been deemed a no-woman’s land where men dominated and asserted their rules. But is it really as depressing as it seems? Explore the topic with us.
The Past is in the Past
Affiliate marketing has overcome quite a few hindrances and obstacles to obtain the title of a reliable business. Just several years ago, e-commerce websites were considered a marketing toy for the bravest geeks ready to implement any innovation, no matter how dubious or fickle it seemed — now they are an integral part of the overall business plan. The entire sphere has shifted from nascent, crude, and underdeveloped forms to fully equipped Web 2.0 concepts, improving communication between merchants and affiliates, and now we're standing at the threshold of a new era, which is bound to reshape not only the established traditions but also our attitude towards various phenomena.
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As you apparently understand, it would be a total misconception to believe that women never participated in the business for more than 20 years of its history. However, one old article claims that women were not spotted in the affiliate marketing industry at the time. The author offered no statistical data, but even that upset female powerhouses so much that the entire Internet was buzzing with exasperation and frustration. It proves one interesting thing: if an ordinary article provoked a heated argument, the gender issue in the sphere exists, and it is as topical as in any other field. People may misguidedly perceive affiliate marketing as an exclusively-male occupation.
Unfortunately, this gender stereotype is still very much alive: women tend to avoid technology-related professions and are not interested in the tech-oriented environments of performance marketing.
Both are aberrations.
In 2021, according to Zippia, 42.5% of affiliate marketing managers were women, and 57.5% of affiliate marketing managers were men.
In July 2022, the numbers slightly changed: women still accounted for about half of all affiliate marketers. The data somehow confirm the idea that the number of male affiliates is higher than female affiliate marketers, but the difference is not so dramatic: it's just about 12%. Now, with the accessible Internet, more or less stable connection, various courses and platforms available for everyone to explore, more and more female influencers and content creators are learning to trade. In the foreseeable future, it may reduce the gap even further.
Considering the different demography-related resources, people who believe that women shy away from affiliate marketing positions choose to ignore the obvious facts. Women, just like their male colleagues, can puzzle out performance marketing and unravel any conundrum it throws their way: there's nothing gender-mysterious about the correlation between the advertiser understanding consumer needs and filling them. Sales are driven by consumer appeal, and this idea does not require your gender identity.
Women of Today
The variety of businesses women own can impress even the most finickity experts, and they all have their unique approaches to the industry where they work. Now we want to celebrate women and their achievements, and here are a few skillful affiliates who deserve our undivided attention.
Impact, now a widely used tracking platform, was established by Lisa Riolo and her partner. Not only is this management tool famous among affiliates from different countries, it has also received the PerformanceIN / Talking Influence Award, G2 Best Software Award, MarTech Breakthrough Award, and Inc. Award.
Prior to cofounding impact.com, she held key roles at industry-leading companies, including EVP Customer Experience, SVP Business Development, and VP Services and Customer Success at companies that included Commission Junction, Invoca, and Workzone.
Now we know Lisa Riolo as a brilliant business leader, digital marketing professional, and gifted entrepreneur, but her path wasn't paved with gold: according to her LinkedIn records, Lisa Riolo started as a Customer Sales & Service Manager at Bank of America and worked her way up the career ladder to become an acclaimed personality.
Missy Ward is another affiliate marketer who deserves a particular mention. For the last 20 years, she has helped numerous companies grow their business, and her unique performance marketing model remains increasingly effective and efficient up to this day. She doesn't divulge her secrets but shares a few facts from her extensive biography.
In fact, Missy Ward is another self-made woman: she had worked in various Marketing Departments of various companies before she realized she needed a change. In 2003 she finally made up her mind and founded Affiliate Summit Corporation, where she served as the Co-CEO for 17 years. In July 2020, Missy Ward, vigorous as ever, discovered a new way for herself and resigned, taking on a new role as CMO of Vermont Hemp Processing, Inc.
Anne Maghak is a very experienced marketer who has worked on both sides of the fence. She has explored all the possible options to become a founder and CEO of Affiliate Management Solutions.
Anne Maghak has worked as an affiliate, super affiliate, marketing consultant, and affiliate manager, and she has dealt with most intricate cases, so she can probably solve even the problems deemed unsolvable. This woman has seen the industry change dramatically over the years, not only on the outside, with tools and approaches, but from the inside, observing the shift in customer needs and pains. As a CEO, she led an increasingly successful campaign in 2020: her company increased revenue in Converting Publishers by 268%!
Kim Salvino has been an active member of the affiliate community since 2005. The initial success of the affiliate program she managed prodded her to move forward, so in 2008, Kim established her own team and thus grew the department to provide strategic guidance and help 70+ clients increase their revenue.
Later, in 2012, Kim Salvino, already a proclaimed Affiliate Summit panelist, received the Pinnacle Award for Affiliate Manager of the Year. The list goes on: Kim often speaks at Affiliate Summit and PubCon, and she has even published her own articles and a book!
Sarah Beeskow Blay
Sarah Beeskow Blay has 18 years of experience in the industry and can easily be given the title of marketing veteran, instrumental in helping different brands achieve their affiliate marketing goals, boost performance, or enter a new international market.
Sarah Beeskow Blay has refined her skills, and if you look at her LinkedIn records, she has made a long way to obtain the post of Vice President at Silverbean, a leading global affiliate and partner marketing agency. Now she can proudly claim that her skillset can be applied to marketing, sales, customer service, presenting, leadership, team building, product development, business strategy, and client retention. That's definitely something to wish for.
Carolyn Tang Kmet
Carolyn Tang Kmet is a higher education professor, and you can find her page on the Loyola University website. She is a senior lecturer, who teaches courses in marketing and information systems, but this is not our main focus here.
Before getting this role, Carolyn was the CMO with All Inclusive Marketing, a full-service e-commerce agency that provides analytics, marketing, and site optimization services. And this is only the tip of the iceberg: Carolyn also managed to work as a director of affiliate marketing, where she helped shape global affiliate marketing strategy. She also led the client services team at a performance marketing tracking platform, so this woman possesses a unique all-round experience which helped her win the Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award for Affiliate Manager of the Year 2010 and the New Advertiser of the Year 2011 award from Commission Junction. In 2018, Carolyn was honored with the Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Legend award for her contributions to the performance marketing industry.
Janet Thaeler: $14k in a month is possible!
As you can see, women prosper in affiliate marketing: they can certainly compete with their male peers. However, as a media source, we would like to talk to these successful women rather than only enumerate their achievements. That’s why we contacted Janet Thaeler, who has been working in the sphere for over 15 years, hiring and working with influencers. Now she herself is an influencer and online marketer for Amazon, occasionally speaking at major universities and industry conferences.
Let’s start with a simple one. Tell our readers about yourself a little. How did you find out about affiliate marketing? Where and how did you start? What attracted you to the sphere that you wanted to join it? Weren’t you afraid?
I was in a college marketing class when someone told us he won free tickets to Affiliate Summit in Vegas. I’d never heard of it. I thought, I want to go! And so I asked him about it after class. I was broke so I contacted Shawn Collins (the founder) and asked about the contest. He said it ended but asked what I’d offer for a ticket. I said I’ll write an article about affiliate marketing for a local business magazine. He said ok and that’s what I did. Thankfully the magazine accepted my pitch.
I was never afraid at all, only excited. I was so attracted to the idea of the freedom to market products how I wanted to. There wasn’t a boss setting the direction. You don’t need to stock inventory or provide customer service.
My first try was an online florist review website, which my boyfriend at the time helped me create that made $50 a month for a few years.
As a woman, what problems did you face in the sphere, if any?
I only think my confidence has held me back. I didn’t know in the beginning I could ask for a higher commission, longer cookies or exclusive discount codes. At one job, I was an employee and an affiliate. I earned a commission when I brought in new clients. I was thrilled – until I learned they paid a man in the industry DOUBLE what I made!
But I faced FAR MORE issues being a woman in tech and with low pay as an employee than I do as an affiliate.
What are your greatest achievements? What are you proud of?
I once ran a Facebook ad to an offer that did really well. I was generous enough to share my success with a few close friends but no one else made anything from it. I made $14k in a month profit and it was so much fun.
I’m also proud of how a small group of Utah bloggers managed to help defeat a nexus bill that at the time would’ve severely impacted our ability to make money as affiliates. It was a very dramatic last minute victory that shocked everyone speechless. From that, I know it’s possible for a politician to keep his word, even against big business. And he got re-elected. To me that’s a miracle that still inspires me today. Whenever I see his name I remember.
Can you tell us about the most important episodes of your career?
I worked in marketing at a large company. They didn’t have analytics on their website nor a marketing manager. I talked so much about online marketing, they created the job and gave it to me. It was my dream, but convincing them to pay for Ominiture (the analytics software that was popular at the time) was difficult. I found a way to get it for less and then they wanted to control who got to see the analytics. I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t how they made business decisions, but I learned a lot, including that corporate jobs weren’t for me.
I was proud of my idea to create a network of bloggers to create content in behalf of our clients at a marketing agency I worked at. Later, there was a huge search engine update and rankings fell in other areas, but not from that initiative.
I’m a successful YouTuber and make a full-time living from the channel I started with my friend Diana.
Achievements are great, that’s true, but even the most successful people have their setbacks. Can you share about failures that you had in Affiliate Marketing?
I studied about, bought courses about and talked about affiliate marketing far more than I actually did it, at first. I was in love with the whole idea, knew people who were successful with it but somehow, rarely did it. I started putting on affiliate marketing conferences for lifestyle bloggers locally. It was being around other women and teaching as well as doing it more that brought me more success.
There are always times when something is going well and then the company changes networks, my favorite affiliate manager leaves, they drop commissions dramatically or even go out of business. There’s constant change. I was very mad when I found out a partner I worked with and helped start their affiliate program dropped my commission drastically after the first year. I read most emails now and pay attention to try to keep up on the changes.
You’ve been in the sphere for quite a while. Is there a set of tools an affiliate marketer should use? Which would you advise?
I wish I’d found the Pretty Links plugin sooner, so I could create affiliate links with my domain name that redirect to the product that I’m promoting. I have many memorized. But it took me several years to learn that. It’s also perfect for changing links when a company changes affiliate networks (which is way too often). I should keep up on tools more than I do.
Who inspires you? Are there other women in the sphere who you look up to? Maybe someone unrelated to the sphere?
Yes, Melea Johnson has inspired me because she aims high and is so natural at creating value and building rapport with her audience.
Cassidy Tuttle of succulentsandsunshine.com has inspired me for years. They spoke at my local affiliate marketing conference.
Lastly, A Mighty Girl is one of my favorite affiliate websites because it combines a passion and cause with affiliate marketing. I was also inspired by Sleepopolis because the guy Derek who started it was so authentic and nerdy. He filmed reviews in his bedroom and it wasn’t anything amazing. And yet it still became one of the top online mattress review sites.
After all the experience, what can you say about Affiliate Marketing?
Even though I’m doing more influencer marketing right now, affiliate marketing is part of my work. Sometimes it’s a roller coaster ride but it made me adapt and anticipate change. I enjoy the relationships I’ve made.
The great thing is I can still be an affiliate in my 90s if I want to and no one will know it’s a grandma behind the scenes making money. I say that some people collect things, I collect income streams. Honestly, like her or hate her personally, Kim Kardashian is a QUEEN of income streams. I don’t know if she does affiliate marketing, but she probably does.
Are there any tips about affiliate marketing you would like to share or write a farewell message :)
One of my favorite bloggers has written about how women often want to work part time when they become moms. And yet that often means a big pay cut, because higher paying jobs are often 40+ hours a week. I wish more women, and especially moms, knew about affiliate marketing and could make a higher income on their terms.
You can do affiliate marketing on your own terms and with your strengths. I was stuck making $50 a month for years, while I worked full time. Don’t give up though, keep learning and investing in yourself and education. Over time it can grow to be so much more.
Usually people don’t ask me what I do for a living. They assume because I work from home and on my terms, I probably don’t work, or, if I do, I’m not that successful. It was a revelation to me that success doesn’t look a certain way. It can be on your terms. When I graduated from college, I didn’t know affiliate marketing existed as a career. I’m so glad I found it.
Myths debunked, women restored. While many people still believe that women are not interested in affiliate marketing, the proper research we have initiated reveals quite the opposite: there are intelligent, wealthy, ambitious women who know how to start a business and how to direct it.