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How To Set Up An Affiliate Program No Matter Your Company Size

Setting up an Affiliate Program has less to do with the size of your company and more to do with what you’re looking to get out of your Affiliate Program.


1.  Decide: In House or Affiliate Network?


The first thing to consider is whether you want to run an affiliate program from within your own company, through your website. This is known as in-house affiliate marketing. The challenge with this option is manpower. As the number of affiliates you have promoting your in-house affiliate marketing products grows, you will need someone on your team (and eventually a whole team of someones) running your affiliate center. Usually companies start with an Affiliate Manager and then add product-specific team members as the number of products you offer grows.


However, an in-house affiliate marketing program allows you to gather and keep all of the information about your affiliates. You know who they are and you have their email address if you want to contact them. Additionally, for specific launches you have greater control over emailing your affiliates to let them know about promotions and the like.

Important Note: Depending on what you’re selling, your best option may be in-house. An Affiliate Network is best for products - either physical products or digital products. While an in-house Affiliate Program works best for services.


What is an Affiliate Network?!


An affiliate network is an online hub that connects producers and advertisers. If I want to advertise certain business programs on my website, then I can sign up at one (or more) of these Affiliate Networks and get everything I need to advertise other business programs all in one place. I don’t have to individually sign up for each product's affiliate program. I simply sign up once and have access to thousands of products that I can promote and later receive affiliate commission for.


As a business owner looking to bring in affiliates, an Affiliate Network is a remarkable option because it puts your product in front of a lot of potential affiliates, which means “free” PR for you! Additionally, affiliate networks have their own tracking, reporting and payment system. So, your company doesn’t have to worry about the details of each payout. The Affiliate Network is keeping track of that for you!


Another unique feature of an Affiliate Network is that you can reward your affiliates for MORE than just a sale. You can also set up a Cost Per Action (CPA), Cost Per Lead (CPL), or Cost Per Click (CPC). The difference between a cost per action and a cost per lead is requiring a specific action to take place versus an email sign up. For instance, the action might be to download an audio or PDF, or to fill out a survey.



2.  Decide which platform you’re going to use.


Here's a list of Affiliate Platforms that I recommend.


Best Affiliate Networks:


Best In-House Affiliate Programs:



3.  Create Your Affiliate Product Graphics & Sample Copy


Consider the different types of graphics that would be helpful to an affiliate. I recommend:

  • Social Media Sizes

  • Website Sidebar Size

  • Email Banner Size


Additionally, consider the copy going on the graphic. I recommend creating a few of each kind:

  • No copy on graphic

  • Headline copy on graphic

  • Benefits heavy copy on graphic


Likewise, sample copy is a powerful resource to provide because it …

  • Helps dictate the message being shared with your product or service.

  • Prevents the affiliate from having to spend time creating her or his own copy. Sometimes this added step will reduce the number of times or places the affiliate promotes your product because thinking up their own copy requires extra time and energy.

  • Creates a jumping off point for your more creative and dedicated affiliates.



4.  Affiliate Contract


This is most important if you are utilizing an in-house Affiliate Program. Affiliate Networks provide this step for you. However, if you go with an Affiliate Network, you will definitely want to review the agreement your affiliates are signing with the AN and make sure it works for you!


For an In-House Affiliate Program, you need to make sure your affiliates are signing a contract or agreement that stipulates the terms.


Be clear about:

  • Affiliate Commission Rate

  • When affiliates can expect Payment (30 days later?)

  • Your payment methods (PayPal, check, etc.)

  • Do you have a minimum amount required? For example, they must earn $200 before you’ll send a check.

  • How long are an affiliate’s cookies tracked? 30 days 90 days? 6 months?

  • What are acceptable terms of promotion and what are not? For example, are you okay with an affiliate setting up a FaceBook ad promoting your product?



Once you have these basics down, you should be ready to go.


Enjoy the benefits of your Affiliate Program!


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