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How To Start an Affiliate Program for Your Business (6 Steps To Follow)
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How To Start an Affiliate Program for Your Business (6 Steps To Follow)

Affiliate marketing combines word of mouth with influencer marketing to make a beautiful, personalized ad solution. You can use this approach to get more sales while rewarding those doing the footwork.

Ready to learn how to start an affiliate program? We’ve got just the thing to help.

This page will give you the six key steps to help you start your own affiliate program. They are as follows:

We’ll also throw in some best practices for after you’ve successfully created and launched your affiliate program. Let’s get started!

Learn how we increased traffic by over 40%, and conversions by over 100% for an ecommerce client.

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1. Set your goals

Step one of establishing affiliate marketing programs is outlining your goals. For your program to work, you must have goals to guide your approach.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you hope to get out of your affiliate program?
  • What metrics will you use to track your progress?
  • What products could benefit from an affiliate program?

Some example goals for your company could be:

  • Earning 10% more clicks to your ecommerce site every month
  • Improving conversions by 15% or more
  • Growing sales for a certain product

Your approach will vary depending on which of the above goals you choose. For example, if you want to promote a specific product, you wouldn’t waste your time finding affiliates for others.

2. Find an affiliate solution

Once you outline your goals, you should find a software or tool to help you start your own affiliate program. A platform can help you grow and manage your affiliate program and keep all the data in one place.

Here are a few popular options for affiliate marketing platforms:



Refersion is an affiliate management and tracking program for shops on Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and more. They handle everything from campaign arrangements and management to making sure you pay your affiliates on time. This tool also integrates with a variety of apps and developers.

impact focuses on partnership automation for affiliate marketing. They are another SaaS option that helps companies manage their affiliate programs in one place. Their focus is on automating processes to help your program run more smoothly.



PartnerStack is another solid option for affiliate marketing management. They help you kickstart and manage all aspects of your affiliate program, making it easy to watch sales, traffic, and payments.

Regardless of which tool you pick, having a solid platform can help you keep the whole program more organized.

3. Select your products and promotions

The next step to starting your own affiliate program is choosing the products that you want to include in your offer.

If you are just starting with affiliate marketing or a small business, it may benefit you to stick with 1–2 products at first, usually your most well-known options.

You also want to select products with a high average order value (AOV) to make it beneficial for your partners. If you offer 10% commission on every order, but most orders are only around $20, then they won’t be earning that much. Make it worth their time so they want to earn more clicks!

Also, decide on what promotion you want to include. You could offer a percent off customers’ first purchase, free shipping, or buy more, save more discounts.

So, if you sell makeup, you might offer an affiliate link where users get 10% off their order. You could then pay your affiliates a percentage of total sales. You can also change your products and promotions if you find they aren’t working, or they lose traction over time.

4. Outline your commissions, policies, and structure

Now, it’s time to outline how much you want to pay your affiliates. This figure will depend on a few factors, such as your business size, your income, and total sales. Some common structures are:

  • Percentage of sales: You pay affiliates a set percentage of sales made through their link. This percentage could range from 5% to as high as 50%.
  • Flat rate: You pay a set amount per sale. This fee is best for high-selling products that bring in a steady revenue stream, or subscription services.
  • Tiered commissions: You pay affiliates based on the amount of sales they earn. The more sales they make, the more they get paid.

Once you establish your commissions, you need to figure out how you’ll structure the program and any policies you should include. Some ideas include:

  • When and how you pay affiliates
  • What channels and methods are permitted
  • What products are excluded from affiliate programs
  • What cases will lead to banned affiliates
  • When an affiliate link will be active
  • Any other expectations that reflect your brand values

Remember that you must follow the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines for endorsements. Basically, if someone is promoting your products as an affiliate where they could earn money, you have to be upfront about it:

affiliate program transparency

5. Prepare affiliate marketing materials

Offering prepared marketing materials to your affiliates can make it easier for them to create content. Try having a prepared set of materials that you can give them once they commit to the affiliate program.

Some examples of affiliate marketing materials include:

  • Video scripts or outlines
  • Social media post guidelines
  • Product images, details, and links
  • Any colors or fonts they could need
  • Campaign goals or visions

Doing some tedious work on their behalf can encourage creativity and lead to better quality, genuine posts.

6. Find and reach out to affiliate partners

The final piece of the affiliate marketing puzzle is recruiting your partners. You can use various methods, such as email, social media, and affiliate networks, to find users who could represent your brand.

Remember that, much like with influencer marketing, your affiliate partners will represent your brand and put in a good word for your business. You want to find people who reach your target audience and can showcase your products in a way that aligns with your goals and values.

You have to promote your program in order to make it work. So don’t hesitate to reach out and find people interested in becoming an affiliate.

Best practices for affiliate marketing

So, you’ve just built yourself a solid affiliate program. Here are a few best practices to keep the program — and its returns — going:

  • Track your performance: Monitor which affiliate methods, links, and partners are the most effective over time. Most affiliate software and tools will allow you to see your leads, sales, clicks, and other metrics.
  • Look at trends and competitor affiliates: Sometimes, you’ll notice trends in your industry that you can use to your advantage, especially in health and beauty. Also, look to your competitors to find inspiration for structuring your affiliate links.
  • Change up your offerings: While it’s good to offer consistent perks, you can switch up our promotions now and then to target different interests and audiences. For example, if you normally don’t offer a sale on a certain item, use an affiliate link with a discount for a limited time.
  • Shop around for different solutions and software: When you’re looking for a tool to control your affiliate program, don’t go with the first one you find. Compare the different benefits, costs, features, and reviews of each to find a good fit for your company.

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Captivate your buyers through affiliate marketing programs from WebFX!

Though you could follow this guide to create your own affiliate approach, there is another, easier option — outsourcing.

Affiliate marketing management services from WebFX save you time on outlining, implementing, and supporting an affiliate program. Instead, you can focus on managing your business while we create an affiliate program that matches your resources, goals, and needs.

We have driven $6,021,182,299+ in revenue for our clients. Want to experience that win yourself? Request a free quote today to get started!

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