Advice on our DIY affiliate program for Cooking Club?

We created our own affiliate program for an online Italian cooking club, and could use some ideas for better outreach.

Our affiliates promote a free live cooking class we do quarterly, and we pay $25 when one of their referrals signs up for our Cooking Club subscription membership.

It has worked well for ppl with a food&wine/cooking/Italian-travel audience, but we’re struggling to find affiliates committed to make an effort and also to get in front of more new audiences that are sizable. We give potential affiliates a free class to try for themselves first, but people are often too busy to follow through even with that.

  • Where else can we develop relationships with bloggers/businesses/organizations that serve our target market (home cooks interested in Italy/Italian food) but don’t compete with us?

  • How else can we entice potential affiliates or incentivize them to promote the free class?

Would love to hear your thoughts, suggested resources, etc.

1 Like

this is super interesting!!! I totally understand where you’re coming from. Getting people to refer others to your services can be tricky. I think networking in some FB groups for food bloggers might be a good place to start? I think developing strong relationships with those who are in your program is going to be very crucial.

What if you hosted a free class for the affiliate plus some of their audience? to try to reach more people. That way they can invite others to the free class… then if anyone signs up, the affiliate gets commission and you guys acquire new clients!

Thanks for responding. Developing strong relationships first is a good point.

I feel like what we’re offering already is essentially a free class for the affiliate’s audience. I guess the difference is that the affiliate is not being featured during our quarterly free class? We’re hesitant to do more than the one free class per season because it’s a lot of work, but maybe there’s a way we can make our one class feel like it’s more exclusive for each affiliate?

1 Like

It’s intriguing but like we all know, there’s so much screaming for people’s attention, it’s all noise until you catch their attention.

Are you sharing any recipes, tips, content to FB groups, here on the forum, in other places, other than straight up advertising your class? What are you doing to show your professional class and build trust with bloggers/people who could be an affiliate?

I’m sure you’ve explored which businesses do something with maybe selling a product that lines up with Italy and cooking that you could partner with so you both get a piece of the pie, even for a short time?

Love exploring this outloud with you and see what you come up with!

Thanks for responding, @melissat. It’s a good point about engaging in groups with bloggers. I guess this has been tricky for us because I have the business role on our team (I’m a blogger but not a cook), whereas the Italian cook and teacher on our team shares tips from her personal social accounts but isn’t comfortable developing business relationships.

Yes, we are reaching out to businesses that have a connection to Italian food/travel and cooking that we could potentially partner with. These seem to be less interested in being affiliates so we’re still trying to determine what else we can offer them (photos of our teacher and our classes with their product, demonstrating their product during class, giveaways of their product).

Do you or @girlappetit have any favorite facebook groups for engaging with other food bloggers?

Getting people to participate in your programs is the result of several other things, and referrals are only one of them.
I may be out on a limb here, but you did not tell us about your VALUE PROPOSITION and COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE.
You see, attracting customers is one thing, retaining them is another thing. You must differentiate yourself from other similar programs/companies.
If you have planned these two in advance, it would be easier to get people to move your way.
If you’re still struggling to make a sizable audience, it might be that you have not convinced them that you are DIFFERENT.
I hope I have helped.
Because when I started my own Page, I did study the competition for a while until I found a niche. After that, it’s all downhill.

Thanks for your feedback @pistachioguy. I think we are becoming more clear on our value proposition and advantage, which is 1) connecting with a charismatic Italian ‘friend’ who teaches live from Tuscany and 2) a new recipe every class.

Once people participate in one of our classes, I think we have a very high success rate of converting them to the Cooking Club membership. It spreads slowly by individual word of mouth and more quickly when an “influencer” with a good audience fit invites their people to try a free class with a dedicated email.

Where we’re stuck is getting commitment from new influencers so that we can put our free class in front of new audiences.

We just heard back from an Italian food/gift company with a big email list that seems excited to promote us. Maybe it’s just a matter of 99 no’s for that 1 yes…

1 Like

Yes! Glad to hear that you’ve got some momentum and aren’t discouraged. Keep going - I love that analogy - you’re one yes away from that domino affect of things opening up.

1 Like

Hi there! One group of people you could try reaching out to would be travel bloggers/vloggers/Instagrammers. They tend to have an audience who are interested in experiencing other cultures, and I’ve seen plenty of travel blogs that will suggest doing a cooking class while in a specific country!

A couple youtube channels I’ve watched off the top of my head - Chad & Claire (36K subscribers and do travel vlogs), Wandering Aimfully (~10k subscribers) and Two wondering soles (not a youtube channel - they have a blog and an instagram account)

There are loads of bloggers in this area though, and they wouldn’t be competing with your audience since they’re more focused on travel/lifestyle content, but if they like the trial class they could be a really great option for reaching out to new clients.

Another potential route would be to think about people who frequently recommend gifts for others. That could be any lifestyle type influencer who has an audience that overlaps with the type of clients who would be interested in your classes.

Best of luck and I hope you’re able to connect with new clients and influencers!