Join Our Community

Designing Profitably: How Interior Designers Harness Affiliate Marketing for Increased Revenue

affiliate marketing business of interior design business tips for interior designers how to increase revenue marketing tips for designers revenue strategies Oct 11, 2023
How interior designers can generate more income through affiliate marketing | Behind the design

When you’re first starting an interior design business, it’s important to find a niche so you can compete with established competitors, offering consumers something new and fresh they can’t find elsewhere. You are incredibly focused on finding clients and getting paid, so identifying other revenue strategies may not be a priority.

The biggest revenue challenge you have as a business owner is time. In the design industry, time is a commodity, and it dictates how much money your business can make. The more hours you spend designing, the more money you make. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day, which limits you to how much money you can actually make on any given day. Therefore, it is important to diversify your business’ revenue.

But how do you expand as an interior designer? Whatever niche demographic you cater to, you can make efforts to attract a wider audience. You can also look for other businesses to collaborate with, expanding your offerings and better serving the needs and preferences of clients.

Many interior designers purchase products such as furniture and then mark up the price by a certain percentage. Some may even do this on other services offered, such as construction services. In this article, we are going to discuss a different type of collaboration called affiliate marketing. Here’s what you need to know if you want to earn revenue through affiliate marketing.


What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an arrangement between two businesses in which one creates products or services, and the other markets these goods to earn commission on any resulting sales. The idea is that one company essentially pays another party to help expand its audience, generate leads, and boost sales. Most likely, you have purchased a product through an affiliate relationship and didn’t even realize it.

Affiliate marketing is a multibillion-dollar industry. In 2023, affiliate marketing spending is estimated to be over $14.3 billion dollars and that number will grow another 1.7 billion by end of 2024.

I often build affiliate relationships with products I use in my business and believe my clients would also benefit from using them, such as With, users can manage and schedule social media posting, engagement, and analytics across multiple social platforms, making it easy to stay consistent with social media marketing. As an affiliate, gives me a special link, and I share the link with my audience. If someone clicks the link and signs up for, then I get a small dollar amount. In itself, this dollar amount might not look like much. But, with enough people clicking the link, it will add up.   

As a business owner yourself, it’s important to choose brands that align with your goals and values, as well as products and services that add value for your clients. When you become an affiliate, you are associating yourself with another business, and you want to make sure the arrangement has a positive impact on your professional reputation.

You may go about affiliate marketing in a couple of ways. The easiest option is to present your clients with products or services related to the work, and then, using the links you provide them, they can purchase the products. In this scenario, you don’t have to worry about collecting taxes or marking up the product.

However, you could also choose to offer items on your website or promote them through social media with affiliate links that drive traffic to the seller’s websites. You’ll get credit for sales and earn a commission.

Affiliate marketing can help you generate additional revenue without additional time, especially when you are promoting the products through your website or social channels.  


Categories of Affiliate Marketing

There are three main categories of affiliate marketing: unattached affiliate marketing, related affiliate marketing, and involved affiliate marketing. 

The first has to do with people selling products that aren’t related to their area of expertise, and it likely won’t apply to your interior design business. For example, you wouldn’t necessarily become an affiliate for a company selling apparel or travel packages — products and services that have nothing to do with interior design.

Related affiliate marketing refers to promoting products or services that fall within your wheelhouse, meaning you can recommend them with some level of authority. If you’ve used the products or services yourself and you can recommend them not just in a professional capacity but speaking from personal experience, this would also fall under the category of involved affiliate marketing.

Involved affiliate marketing is a deeper relationship with the brand and the marketing process. You are taking a much more active role in marketing the product. For instance, you may use In the Know or Pinterest to market a line of household goods that you really believe in. Or you promote the services of your contractor in addition to your own design services.

The more related or involved you become in the marketing process, the more you link yourself with the brands and products you’re promoting, so it’s important to ensure that the businesses you affiliate with are reputable and reliable.


Affiliate Marketing Opportunities for Interior Designers

If you’re an interior designer looking to branch out and earn extra income through affiliate marketing, there could be several potential avenues to explore. More than 80% of companies have affiliate programs therefore you have plenty of options when considering affiliate marketing.

One of the easiest options is to partner with brands that manufacture products for the home, including foundational items like flooring and tile; finishes like molding and hardware; appliances; indoor and outdoor furniture; and home decor like wallpaper, light fixtures, pillows, plants, and accessories.

Chances are you’re already using a range of products in the process of remodeling for clients, so becoming an affiliate for favorite brands that you already recommend and use is a no-brainer. 

You could also become an affiliate for service providers like moving and storage companies, demolition experts, electricians and plumbers, and so on. You might even promote apps for design and decor.

Before you get started, though, you should know that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires you to disclose your affiliate status so consumers can make informed decisions. Any connection you have with a brand that involves marketing their products and receiving payment for resulting sales “should be disclosed clearly and conspicuously.”


Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Like any business undertaking, it’s important to carefully weigh what you stand to gain against the risks you’re willing to accept when you join affiliate marketing programs. The main benefit, of course, is that you can earn money on products or services you’re already promoting.

However, you may also open yourself up to scrutiny related to those products or services or the business practices of the brands that sell them. What are the potential pros and cons of affiliate marketing that you should be aware of before you make your decision?


Pros of Affiliate Marketing

The main reason you’re probably interested in affiliate marketing is the potential to earn a relatively passive income. 

Certainly, you’ll put some work into choosing brands and products/services to promote. You’ll also learn the laws regulating this type of marketing, the guidelines for any company you promote, and the ins and outs of posting affiliate products and links on social media. However, you aren’t designing or manufacturing the products, so you won’t have any of the associated overhead or liability.

As an affiliate, you may choose to work with brands you’re already familiar with and use in your business, or you might go looking for relevant affiliate opportunities. Either way, you could present new products and services to your clients without any additional cost to them. You may even be able to offer exclusive deals as part of your brand affiliation.

If you’re interested in starting your own product line at some point, this can be a great way to gather data about click-through and purchasing habits, helping you determine the most profitable way to expand your own business. 

When you choose reputable and established manufacturers and service providers, you can also elevate your brand, boost authority and online presence, and improve your reputation within the interior design marketplace, strengthening relationships with peers, vendors, and clients.


Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Although there are several potential benefits associated with affiliate marketing, there are also some risks you should be aware of. For starters, you’re tying your brand and your reputation to another company.

This could work out great when you choose a company that shares your goals and values and operates in a safe, responsible, and productive manner. It could also backfire if, for example, the company is involved in any kind of scandal. That can look negative on your brand.

As noted above, you are required to disclose your affiliate status, which is not a negative in and of itself. Observing the truth in advertising can help to create trust and rapport with clients.

However, it might cause your clients to question whether you’re only pushing products because you’ll benefit from the sale rather than offering options that might better suit their needs and preferences. This is a needle you’ll have to thread carefully, assuring your clients that you’ve chosen to affiliate only with reputable brands you’d promote even if you weren’t getting paid.

You will have to abide by guidelines and security policies for the brands you affiliate with and any platforms you use for marketing purposes, and this can be complicated, confusing, and, in some cases, contradictory. 

Finally, the onus is on you to choose suitable partners to affiliate with, selecting the best brands, products, and services to pass along to clients. With proper research and vetting, however, you have a good chance to satisfy clients and increase your profits.


Finding and Applying for Affiliates

The best place to start when it comes to finding potential affiliate opportunities is to reach out to brands you already admire and use frequently in the course of your work. They may or may not have affiliate programs, but it never hurts to ask, particularly if you plan to continue recommending their products or services.

Your next step is to do some research online. You might consider established and well-known brands that you’d like to work with, even if you don’t necessarily use their products already. Choose brands that you think your clientele would like and see if they have affiliate programs in place.

Dig into the online accounts of industry experts, bloggers, and influencers. What types of affiliate links are they posting? Some may not be suitable for your business, but you could get ideas about how to proceed and which brands to approach.

Be prepared to apply to join affiliate networks. They may ask you to provide information about the type of business you run and how you plan to promote/market their brand, among other things. They often ask about your audience reach through social platforms. You will also have to agree to follow the guidelines for the company’s affiliate program.


Maximizing Affiliate Relationships

Suppose that you find one or more affiliate programs you wish to be involved in, you apply, and you’re accepted. Next, you must figure out the best ways to promote the brands and products you’re connected to. In other words, you must develop an affiliate marketing strategy designed to optimize your efforts and maximize outcomes.

There are several options to explore. The first is to simply use affiliate links. These can be attached to product/service pages on your website, promoted through blogs, or added to social media posts, for example.

You might also want to include product promotion as part of your own marketing and email campaigns. If you periodically send out newsletters or email blasts to your mailing list, include a section for your favorite product picks, complete with attractive images and affiliate links.

Video content is a great way to promote your business, add value for consumers, and meet affiliate goals. You might consider product demos or “how to” home decorating videos, for example, that aren’t overtly salesy. Just keep in mind that any affiliate promotion must be disclosed.


Affiliate Marketing Is What You Make of It

Affiliate marketing can provide opportunities to earn extra income, especially if you partner with brands you already promote and use in your business. When you understand the potential pros and cons, and you’re prepared to put some time and effort into vetting preferred brands, you can expand your business and serve the needs of clients simultaneously.

Are you looking for ways to elevate and expand your interior design business? Behind the Design has the resources to help you succeed. Join our community to get started today.

Sign Up for Our Monthly Newsletter

Get helpful career, business, and design tips right in your inbox each month.

At Behind the Design, we are committed to building a stronger design community by reimagining education, training, and support for interior designers. Through our various software training options, educational articles covering everything from leadership to marketing, and soon Continuing educational courses, we are committed to helping you. Join our newsletter to get the latest education and training updates.

Sign Me Up!

More on Behind the Design...