I remember exactly how it felt the first time I ever did anything that put me into the "limelight."
In hindsight, I've had bigger audiences while placing my order at Starbucks than I had on my first webinar appearance, but my nerves didn't realize that at the time.
It felt like I was giving a state of the union address, not like I was doing a live interview with 4 attendees on a very casual topic that was in my area of expertise.
I also remember how it felt the first time I received real criticism for what I put out there. Not the "I slightly disagree, here's why..." kinda criticism either. The "wow this guy needs to get a real job, shave his stupid red beard and stop sharing such stupid information," type of feedback that can wreck your day if you let it.
Over the past 8 years, some comments actually made that one look like a compliment by comparison.
If you told me back then that I'd have built my business around putting myself out in front of everyone who wants to listen, I wouldn't have believed you.
Yet here I am. Living the dream that was once my nightmare. I make money online and building my personal brand and image has played a big role in it.
However, this blog is about you, not me. I'm not writing this article to convince you to "push through your fears," and teach yourself how to get comfortable with putting yourself out there.
As much as I believe you can learn to be that type of person, you don't have to be to make money with affiliate marketing.
Although there are many benefits to showing your face online (which we will discuss), you don't have to do it to succeed. My message has never been about "making you the most money possible at all costs," but rather "making you as fulfilled as possible." If you're miserable with putting yourself out there, dealing with trolls and criticism, don't do it.
So, in this article I'm going to show you some ways to make affiliate marketing work while maintaining your anonymity online.
First though, let's go through the pros and cons of putting yourself out there vs. not
Why Show Your Face
Although I do enjoy creating content now and slapping my face and name on it, I don't do it just because it entertains me. There are business reasons why showing my face is worthwhile.
First, showing your face helps build trust with your audience. Trust is a powerful asset for affiliate marketers.
The more trust we have with our audience, the more sales we earn. It's a beautiful cycle that rewards us for being trustworthy over time. If we regularly steer our followers towards things that make them better off, they trust us more the next time and we continue to earn more.
Our facial expressions, voice and body language all play a huge role in building trust.
Although it's unfair, research clearly shows that a person's "unfakeable" appearance impacts how trustworthy they are perceived by others. Some people are born with more trustworthy facial features. Someone with a "baby face" is likely to be perceived as more trustworthy.
Researchers tested this by creating 20 pairs computer generated "trustworthy" faces and 20 pairs of "untrustworthy" faces.
They asked participants to decide how much money they would theoretically invest with each of the 40 faces (with no other information provided).
13 out of 15 people invested more money with the “trustworthy” identities. This amounted to 42% more money. The study was peer reviewed and generally unrefuted.
These are things that we can't control such as.
- Do we look happy even when not smiling?
- Do we have more feminine or masculine features (feminine features being perceived as more trustworthy)
- Are we generally attractive? Yes, unfortunately attractive people are perceived as more trustworthy...sigh.
Of course, someone's appearance has little real world predicting power of how they will behave, but that doesn't matter.
So, if you're someone who has a naturally trustworthy face and demeanor, you're likely giving up a little bit more by going the faceless route.
There is more to the faceless discussion though as well.
Consumers might ask or assume things like...
"If someone had something to hide, they wouldn't be putting themselves out there so much."
"It's odd that this person doesn't share who they actually are, are they hiding something?"
One of the rewards of putting yourself out there is you'll find yourself getting more and more opportunities.
Speaking opportunities, book opportunities (outlier), business partnerships, sponsorships etc.
My content has served like a new aged business card for me throughout the years. Many of my current income streams were a result of connections that were made by people finding me through my content and reaching out with opportunities.
Although you might have no interest now, there may come a time when you've grown more confident and want to leverage all of the goodwill you've built up to sell something like a book or get paid to speak at events.
Accountability to Quality
"Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching." -C. S. Lewis
It's no surprise that studies show conclusively that people behave better when they know they're being watched.
Not showing your face is going to have the same effect as not being watched. Afterall, if no one knows it's you, you don't have to feel the same guilt (shouldn't be that way obviously).
If you've been on any social network, you've seen this in action. The hateful comments much more often come from people without a real profile picture and what is likely a burner account.
Unfortunately, many people who are interested in making money online lose sight of maintaining a sense of ethics and empathy for their followers.
Showing your face will increase the chances that you don't fall down the alluring path of chasing profits over people. That is of course, assuming that is what you want, and I truly hope it is.
Why to Not Show Your Face
Alright, if you found this article you probably already have a good idea of why you don't want to show your face, but let's go over them really quickly because there are a couple of things you might not have thought about.
Less Stress and Negativity
You can't completely remove the stress and negativity (people can still find ways to hit you where it hurts, even without knowing your name or what you look like), but not showing your face does reduce much of it.
Easier to Sell and Outsource
This is the biggest, business benefit of not showing your face. I've actually created a brand at 8020sheets.com that intentionally doesn't show my face because I want to build the site to resell down the road.
If I sold a website that revolved around myself, it's far less attractive to potential buyers. Afterall, if I sell the business, I'm not sticking around. There will be no new "Nate McCallister" content from me there.
If I don't have an affiliate business tied to my identity, it is a seamless transition for a buyer to come in.
Remember, affiliate sites sell for around 24x to 36x their monthly profits. This means a site making $10K per month in affiliate profits could sell for $240,000 to $360,000 (or even more in some cases).
Option #1 Someone Else Entirely
This isn't technically in the spirit of "faceless" but it accomplishes the goal of not needing to put your face out there.
This method involves hiring other people to create the content for you.
It can be in any format (audio, video or written).
Outsourcing written content is the easiest, but video and audio is also possible.
You usually provide the topic for them and pay them either hourly or per project. If it's a video topic, you'd generally create a script and provide the substance for them to create it.
This is easiest when done with short form content like TikTok, YouTube Shorts and Instagram, but can be done in any way you'd like.
The downside to this approach is that it's going to cost a lot of money, especially for video and audio content.
In the example below (which you can check out on Fiverr here), the price is about as affordable as you'll find at $15 for a 30 second video on TikTok or Instagram Reels.
Finding someone who is skilled enough to record audio or video for you and convey your message effectively can be difficult and therefore, expensive.
Also, if you build a brand around a certain freelancer, you run the risk of them moving on and leaving you to find a replacement or pay them even higher rates to retain them.
Option #2 Facial and Audio Augmentation
This method is for video and audio content only of course.
Mentally Mitch is the best example of this (although he isn't an affiliate marketer per se). He uses a pseudonym and raises the pitch of his voice to a comically high level.
It adds style and makes it harder for anyone to truly recognize him.
This won't free you from negativity by any means, but it will give you the ability to keep your face and voice hidden.
YouTube is particularly well suited to Faceless content. You can easily create fantastic video content that entertains and sells well but doesn't show your face or even use your own voice.
Option #3 Written Content from a Brand Name
There are tons of popular blogs that aren't attributed to one specific individual. There's no rule stating that you need to share your real name when you publish content on your own website.
Of course, it helps the trust factor, but it's far from a deal breaker. If it's worth the tradeoff for you, go for it.
In fact, one of the world's most profitable affiliate marketing websites, NerdWallet, has no "face" or established authors.
Sometimes just working with others helps reduce the weight of running an affiliate marketing business. You have someone to talk to when things go wrong and you can support each other through negative comments etc.
Option #4 Paid Ads (Particularly, Native Ads)
Paid traffic can be an amazing way to grow your affiliate business quickly if you have more money than time and patience.
Ads often involve a "face" but they don't have to. You can easily run ads while remaining anonymous.
Native ads are an awesome way to drive affiliate sales if you have the motivation to learn how to make them work.
There's quite a bit that goes on behind successful native advertising campaigns (read my blog post here about the native ads training program I used) but they don't require any sort of personal branding and can be done completely incognito.
You can also run ads through Google, YouTube, Facebook or any other paid ad platform and send traffic to landing pages. You don't have to build a huge website or ever show your face.
You can then follow up with the people who sign up for your lead magnet through an email sequence and through future email promotions.
If you'd prefer, you can also run ads directly to your affiliate links in many cases, but it's a best practice to always send traffic to a landing page first so you can grow your email list.
There are pros and cons to remaining anonymous or keeping yourself hidden in your affiliate marketing business. It is entirely possible to make it work but it can require a certain level of creativity and money (although not always). The bottom line though: don't let your fear of the public eye prevent you from pursuing affiliate marketing.