A Guide to Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing

Samantha Pratt Lile
September 1, 2022
 min read
A Guide to Getting Started with Affiliate MarketingA Guide to Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing
Table of Contents

Do you want to help your business grow by generating a consistent stream of nearly-passive income? A growing number of brands continue to drive earnings even as their teams sleep. How do they achieve this pathway to success? The answer lies in affiliate marketing.

What is affiliate marketing?

What exactly is affiliate marketing, and how does it work? Affiliate marketing is defined as a type of advertising model through which a brand compensates third-party publishers who generate web traffic or leads that result in sales. These third-party publishers are known as affiliates, and they usually help drive sales by sharing trackable links to a brand’s products on their own blogs and other websites. 

The marketing strategy provides a simple way for affiliates to generate passive income, and it involves little risk for the brand since affiliates are only paid when they produce a sale. Other affiliate marketing models will pay affiliates based on total clicks, generated leads or completed installations.

How do you get started with affiliate marketing?

So, are you ready to get started with affiliate marketing? Where do you begin? There’s plenty of information explaining how affiliates can get started in the business, but less guidance for brands starting affiliate marketing programs. The following steps will help you promote your brand and launch a successful affiliate marketing program:

  • Establish goals – What do you want to accomplish with your affiliate program? What types of customers do you want to attract, and what types of affiliates will be best equipped to help you reach that market? Set clear goals for your new affiliate marketing program, and be sure to include KPIs to measure your progress.
  • Research examples – How have your competitors established their own affiliate marketing programs? Be sure to also examine how some non-competitors are managing their affiliate strategies. What sort of affiliates do they use, and how do they find their candidates? How do they structure their affiliate commissions, and what sort of support do they provide to help their affiliates succeed?
  • Determine affiliate commissions – How will you set up your affiliate commission structure? Consider your competitor research to see samples of a structure that will work for your brand and affiliates. Will you pay a set fee for each sale, or will your commission be based on a percentage of deals closed? Will you pay your affiliates with cash, or credit to shop with your brand? Most affiliates are accustomed to being paid a percentage commission in the form of cash, and it’s always a better idea to reserve payment to completed sales, rather than impressions or clicks.
  • Structure your affiliate program – Commissions aren’t the only aspect of your affiliate program that you need to determine. Under what terms will you allow affiliates to promote your brand? What marketing channels can they use? How long will cookies associated with affiliate links be active, allowing affiliates to earn commissions? How will your affiliate program differ from the competition?
  • Recruit and train affiliates – How will you find and attract affiliates to your brand’s program? You might rely on an affiliate marketer network, which charges its own commission, or you could form your own affiliate network using specialized software. Next, you’ll be ready to recruit the best candidates to promote your brand. How many affiliates will you select, and what qualities will your ideal affiliates possess? Reach out to them with a personalized message and explain not only the benefits of your affiliate program, but the details on how it works. Once you’ve recruited your affiliates, be sure and provide them with an affiliate agreement, as well as training so they understand your program and the best practices for promoting your brand.
  • Track your success – Be sure and assign each new affiliate with a unique affiliate link so their sales can be tracked. Both affiliate networks and affiliate program software will track the success of your affiliate program using data including these links. Monitor which affiliates are generating the most sales, as well as your progress toward your KPIs. Pay attention to indicators such as revenue, conversion rates and unique sales. Be prepared to make adjustments to your program if it’s not meeting your goals.

What software boosts affiliate marketing efforts?

A variety of software tools are available to help brands create affiliate marketing programs, helping with tasks like creating custom links, tracking commissions and paying affiliates. By choosing from some of the following best affiliate marketing software options, brands more easily can increase sales from affiliate promotions.


A popular affiliate marketing software program that tracks sales data from both referrals and affiliates, Everflow features coupon code tracking, QR codes and click-to-conversion reporting to prevent affiliate fraud and link misuse.

Post Affiliate Pro

Brands can use Post Affiliate Pro to manage all aspects of their affiliate marketing programs, including potential affiliate invitations, sending commission payments and everything in between. Post Affiliate Pro is known for features like custom landing pages, top URL reporting and flexible payment integrations with tools like ReCharge, WorldPay and Stripe.


Designed to help software-as-a-service and ecommerce businesses operate their own referral programs, LeadDyno features a dashboard that helps users recruit and communicate with affiliates. The software is a popular choice thanks to the ability to customize a branded dashboard, a useful affiliate invitation form and a convenient mobile app.


Users can integrate their Affiliatly software with their Shopify stores, so the tool can track sales from a brand’s website while connecting each one to the affiliate who generated it. Affiliatly is also one of the top affiliate marketing software choices because of its affiliate portal, custom commission settings and a checkout affiliate pop-up that will invite existing customers to join the affiliate program.


A budget-friendly affiliate marketing software tool designed for small business owners with limited technical backgrounds, UpPromote even offers a free plan for as many as 200 affiliates. The software is popular for features like real-time tracking, an affiliate marketplace and professional email templates to help brands get their programs started.

The free Power-Point-alternative presentation software can help you create engaging slide decks to communicate your affiliate marketing plan with internal teams. You’ll save time with professionally curated presentation templates and Smart Slides that provide an AI design assistant to handle the details. You also can create beautiful slide decks to present company information and expectations to potential affiliates and partners.

How do you get affiliate marketing budgets approved?

Much like any other budget, it takes preparation and strategy to get an affiliate marketing budget approved. You’ve already made the first step by creating a plan and establishing goals for your affiliate marketing program. In addition to presenting your plan, it’s important that you emphasize the value the marketing strategy will offer the brand.

 Don’t forget to prepare a summary of all the costs that your affiliate marketing program will require, and counter these with statistics and data demonstrating the increased sales and revenue that can be expected. Finally, be prepared for questions and further discussion.

You can better engage your audience and capture its attention by displaying all of this information using a vivid visual presentation designed with or another presentation software tool. Be sure and illustrate your data with plenty of eye-catching and informative infographics.

How do you master outreach for affiliate marketing?

How do you appeal to prospective affiliates to partner with your brand? Much like the rest of your affiliate marketing program, your affiliate outreach should be done strategically. Effective affiliate outreach requires much more than a standard email campaign. To recruit the best affiliates to promote your brand, it’s important to engage with them and nurture a relationship. The more connection that is forged, the better chance the affiliate will want to represent your brand.

Brands developing a healthy affiliate outreach strategy will also use social media platforms to contact recruits, and some even will pay for ads to promote their programs. Other options for affiliate outreach include networking at industry events and creating a referral program for affiliates, rewarding them for recruiting new members.

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha Pratt Lile

Samantha is an independent journalist, editor, blogger and content manager. Examples of her published work can be found at sites including the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and Buzzfeed.