Affiliate Marketing

How To Start Your Own Affiliate Program And Avoid These 3 Expensive Pitfalls

How To Start Your Own Affiliate Program on WordPress.

Timing is everything, especially when it comes to determining how to start an affiliate program for your business.

Start too early and you might end up with a pile of paperwork and no revenue. (But if you wait too long, you might miss out on valuable revenue and reach for your business.)

In fact, affiliate programs work best when your business is already well established.

That's because affiliates are not “pay as you go marketers.”

They also aren’t magical growth accelerators. A successful affiliate or referral program requires structure and a nurturing environment to bring in those extra sales.

Here’s why it works that way:

1. The Best Referrals Come From People Who Know Your Program

Sure, anyone can share an affiliate link… but the highest conversion rates come from individuals who have experience with your program (or services and courses) and can give a genuine account of it to their network of trusted relationships.

People see through a make-me-money-fast scheme, whether it’s coming from your mouth or the mouth of your affiliate partners.

So make sure that you’ve done your due diligence by making sure your program or services are stellar and that you have happy clients who are more than ready to share the news about it all.

2. The Most Valuable Affiliates Have A Following Of Their Own

Want to gather a group of affiliates who are worth their weight in gold? Ally yourself with individuals who have a strong following of their own… which is easier said than done.

To do this, of course, you have to “prove” that your affiliate program is going to be worth their time and attention. You’ll also have to prove that your program offers more potential than the other ones out there.

You'll also want to make sure that you treat any affiliate's referral like gold: which is why having a proven product or service makes it easier to onboard affiliates.

No one wants to refer their friends or clients to a bad experience.

If I don't have a good time at a restaurant, I'm not going to tell my friends to go there because they'll never trust my recommendations for restaurants (or anything else)! The same is true for anyone who spreads the word as an affiliate.

3. Affiliates Aren’t Going To Put Effort Into A Product That’s Not Selling

Do you know who’s the most loyal affiliate of your program? You.

Your affiliates are in it for the money, otherwise they would be using their time and efforts to promote their own products and services.

So if you’re having a tough time making sales on your own, there’s very little reason to believe that your affiliates will do any better.

And, to be totally honest, if the time spent with you isn’t paying off for your affiliates, they’re likely to abandon your program entirely.

4. Affiliates Are Looking For An Easy Way To Make Money

And this is totally, 100% ok.

After all, it’s not their course or program to sell, it’s yours.

Your first job is to build something worth promoting.

Your next job is to create the best sharable graphic, social media posts, and email swipe copy that they might possibly need when advertising your program – and make sure it’s all easily accessible.

Many of the strongest affiliates often have full-time gigs of their own, and don’t have time to plan an entire marketing strategy around your programs.

Once again, that’s your job. Make it as easy for them as possible!

5. Affiliates Are Also Looking To Build Stronger Relationships

Our AccessAlly Affiliates are some of our all-time favorite business allies. We’ve taken the time to get to know as many of them as possible.

Whether that’s through email, Skype conversations, or in-person meetings, we’re always excited to get to know each one of them a little more whenever possible… which does require effort.

It's good for all of us when we focus on helping our affiliates succeed: our collective customers benefit and so do we.

Building a strong business means building real relationships. Especially with your affiliates. So be prepared to dedicate quite a bit of time to making sure they have everything they need to be successful.

The Strength Of Your Business Dictates The Success Of Your Affiliates

Jumping the gun and setting up your own affiliate program “too soon” means that you might not see the great benefits that you’re craving.

Can it still work? Sure.

In the world of online business, anything is technically possible.

But know that your affiliates will quickly see how much or how little dedication you’re putting into it. And the stellar ones aren’t likely to stick around if things aren’t running as smoothly as they could be.

This also means making sure that your affiliate tracking system is fully automated, so that there are no awkward mix-ups or payment inconsistencies.

Speaking of Awkward, Expensive Pitfalls…

A lot that can go wrong when you're not totally prepared for (or invested in) an affiliate program. But here are the main 3 pitfalls that we see most often:

Mistake #1: Investing Too Much in A Big System… Without The Payoff

Since affiliate programs tend to be a little more “high-end” on the business investment spectrum, affiliate program software typically comes with a price tag attached. Yes, there are some WordPress referral plugin options on the low end but you'll want to make sure they integrate with your existing systems.

Affiliate systems also require a ton of time to manage properly, which means that you might either burnout (if you're trying to do it all yourself), or have to hire a new tech savvy team member (which can be quite expensive).

If your affiliates aren't bringing in enough extra revenue to cover this investment, you can end up in the red.

Mistake #2: Recruiting the wrong type of affiliates

Anyone can be an affiliate, right?

Wrong!

Some affiliates are only in it to make a little money, and aren't as discerning about the type of traffic they're sending to your products.

We've seen a huge influx of website traffic and purchases from affiliate referrals… only to have it followed by refunds and returns. These were just not our ideal customers to begin with.

It's not just a hassle. It's a total waste of money and resources to try to get everything straightened out.

Mistake #3: Losing your best affiliates because of poor leadership

Say you've successfully avoided mistakes 1 and 2, but then find yourself pulled in many different directions. Yeah, you promised new graphics, more promotions, and an affiliate contest (complete with prizes)… but when it comes right down to it, you don't have the time.

Unfortunately, neglecting your affiliates can completely annihilate their interest in you and what you have to offer. Because while you were trying to refocus, another company may have stepped in with a better program.

Your affiliates might decide to skip your next promotion or dis-engage entirely.

Always remember that your affiliates are humans with their own lives! They need inspiration and leadership from you if you're going to expect any bit of effort from them!

…and that brings us to the next part of building your own affiliate program:

When You’re Really Ready for It… Here’s How To Set Up An Affiliate Program That Actually Benefits Your Business

By this point, you should know in your gut whether or not an affiliate program is the right fit for your business at this time.

If the answer is “Heck yes, absolutely,” then there’s a whole new list of practical things to consider: the set up and running of said program.

To be 100% honest, it’s a huge undertaking, both in the setup and in the management of the program itself.

But the payoff (for the right fit) makes it all worthwhile.

So here are the top 5 “practicals” of building your own affiliate program:

1. What Features Do I Need To Have In My Affiliate Center?

So… what does an affiliate center typically include?

  • Unique Affiliate Links – each affiliate should be able to login and access their own unique links, that will be used to track referrals and purchases.
  • A Tracking System That Integrates With Your E-Commerce – Not only should the links be trackable, but they should also be automatically “figured’ inside your e-commerce system. This will allow for streamlined accounting – a total must!
  • A password-protected location – this should house all affiliate links and resources for a quick, one-stop-shop for your affiliates.
  • An Affiliate “Leaderboard” – one great way to incentivize affiliates is by running a contest. Typically, we do this by offering a prize, and keeping a list of the top 5 or 10 affiliates. It creates a little friendly competition and amps up the enthusiasm.
  • ”Swipe Copy” – In your affiliate center, you should also have a place to hold “swipe copy,” or the pre-written emails and social messages that your affiliates can use during promotions. We also like to create custom graphics to make it all a little more visually appealing

2. What affiliate program platform should I use?

The software “brain” behind your affiliate program is really the one that ensures all the features (listed above) are readily available and functioning.

Because of this, it’s definitely recommended to use a robust affiliate system that thoroughly integrates with your CRM/e-commerce system – whether that's a third-party tool, or something that's already built into your current tech setup.

For example, we used Infusionsoft's affiliate center for years to host and track our affiliate program, and were really happy with its performance.

After we added affiliate functionality to our AccessAlly plugin, we switched to using that, instead.

(So if you're using any of our integrated CRMs, know that you can use AccessAlly as your WordPress affiliate plugin.)

3. What % of a sale should I offer my affiliates?

This is a huge question, and one that you have to dig deep into your business model to find the answer to!

Many entrepreneurs who run affiliate programs won’t directly advertise how much they’re sharing with their affiliates, but in short, the answer is this:

Share enough to make it be worth their while.

If you’re selling thousand-dollar services, you won’t necessarily need to designate as high of a percentage as when you’re only selling $20 products.

But on the other hand, most affiliates will appreciate your generosity if you decide to give out a 20 – 50% cut, no matter how much you’re charging for your products.

4. How Much “Swipe Copy” Do I Need To Prepare For My Affiliates?

Generally, there are two types of affiliate promotions:

  1. Evergreen promotions – when your products are always available to purchase.
  2. Launch promotions – when you’re opening up enrollment or sales for a limited time.

Each type of promotion should include its own set of swipe copy… in general, I like to see:

  • 1-3 pre-written emails (more, if you want them to do a sales sequence with their email lists)
  • 3-5 Facebook/LinkedIn/Google+ posts
  • 3-5 Twitter posts
  • 3-10 unique graphics to use as social posts, website banners, etc.

5. How Many Affiliates Should I Recruit?

how to start your own affiliate programOnce again, this is totally up to you.

“The more the merrier” isn’t always a good motto to have, since you definitely want your affiliates to be invested in your business and mission.

(Think about it: affiliates who send low-quality traffic to your site will also be sending you less-than-ideal clients who might buy a product quickly… but then cancel just as fast. Total customer service headache!)

At the same time, you want to recruit enough affiliates so that you can count on some referrals always coming in, even if some of your affiliates are busy with other things during a promotion.

Find a sweet spot that works for you – possibly setting a “good-better-best” goal to reach when recruiting.

What’s the Next Step In Starting Your Own Affiliate Program?

First, be 100% certain that now is the right time to begin your program.

Then, find the affiliate platform/plugin that will work best for your needs.

Next, spend ample time planning out your promotions and preparing a ton of copy and materials for your affiliates.

Lastly, take time to recruit affiliates who love your business and are ready to make you proud.

The future of your business might even depend on the strength of your program.

Content updated March 2019.


Maria MyreMaria Myre is the word person at AccessAlly, where she spends her days sipping on espresso and exploring new, intuitive ways to connect entrepreneurs with the tech tools and training that will best fit their business needs. When she’s not writing tech-y business stuff, Maria enjoys art and horseback adventures in the Great Outdoors.

17+ Ideas to Help You Earn Passive Income as an Affiliate

Affiliate marketing success

I found it.

The closest thing to passive income you can earn online.

It’s good old affiliate marketing.

Now before you dismiss the idea entirely… I need to say it: what it takes to achieve affiliate marketing success is not what you might expect.

I’m sharing the numbers with you because I know that we don't see a lot of realistic affiliate marketing success stories…

Here’s the thing: most affiliate marketing is ineffective and can be a waste of time.

Unless you do it the way I’m about to show you today.

Let’s go!

What Type of Affiliate Marketing am I Talking About?

When it comes to affiliate marketing success, there are two sides to the coin…

You can be the one creating products and enlisting the help of other business owners, by creating your own affiliate program. You get more exposure, and you pay a cut of your sales to your referral partners.

Or, you can be the one recommending products as an affiliate and earning a commission.

Most long term business owners end up doing both, but in this post I'll be talking about my income and experiences being an affiliate for other companies.

Interested in Creating Your Own Affiliate Program?

I talk more about how to create an affiliate program here.

You can also take a look at what it takes to add an affiliate program with a WordPress affiliate plugin, in this video:

Oh, and if you are totally thrown and need to learn the basics of being an affiliate there are plenty of resources for that.


Now let's look at what successful affiliate marketers know (stuff I had no clue about in my first year of business) …

Affiliate marketing example

How To Do Affiliate Marketing Right (Plus My Surprising Numbers)

Looking for ideas to up your affiliate marketing success? Read this to find out 17+ proven ways to succeed in affiliate marketing, whether you're just getting started or you've already got a steady thing going. #affiliatemarketing #onlinemarketing #digitalmarketing

When I started out in my very first business online in the health space, nearly 10 years ago, I didn’t know anything about affiliate marketing.

I quickly learned that I could become an affiliate for another company, and earn a commission when someone who came from my link purchased.

It seemed simple enough, and there are plenty of affiliate programs you can sign up for…

From big ones like Amazon, niche product sites, software, and online programs…

Since my business was brand new, and I didn’t have a product or online course to sell, I signed up for one of my “competitors” affiliate program.

Then I sent an email to my tiny email list (it was about 50 people at the time) with an affiliate link for their online course…

A week later, I had made a handful of sales and earned $132.

Email Marketing + Affiliate Promotions

I was stoked! That was my first taste of “passive income”, because I didn’t have to create a product or show up to deliver a service…

I just wrote an email and hit send.

The downside? I had tapped out this opportunity…

Even though I knew that my audience responded well to this offer, I couldn’t just send the same email again.

I either had to keep growing my email list, or find another product that I could recommend. I ended up doing both… (and also launching my own courses!)

But there was a better way, that I had yet to figure out.

Writing Affiliate Reviews on Your Website

Fast forward a few years…

I’m in the next iteration of my business teaching people how to get techy with it (funky dance videos included).

Because I was often talking about tech tools and systems, I decided to sign up for the affiliate programs of the ones I was already recommending.

I also realized that people often had a hard time deciding between multiple competing systems, so I put together some comparison posts.

In the end, I wrote a few in-depth reviews about some of the tech tools that I was using and knew a lot about.

One of the email platforms that I recommended was Aweber (yep, that’s an affiliate link!).

Soon, people were finding my review and comparison posts and I started to see people who weren’t on my email list signing up through my affiliate link.

Before I knew it, I was bringing in $200 a month from my recommendation for just one system. (Even after I stopped recommending it and started talking about other email marketing platforms.)

Over the years, I’ve amassed over $15,000 in commissions from just this one company… Pretty amazing right?

Affiliate marketing strategy

The Difference Between One Time Affiliate Promotions and Residual Affiliate Efforts

So what was different between my one-time $132 cash infusion and my steady $200 a month approach?

Yes my reach was much smaller in the early days… but the biggest difference was that my reviews continued to bring people in over time.

The search engines were doing a lot of the heavy lifting for me… and I was able to offer my opinion on the product and help people make the right decisions.

I kept my reviews as unbiased as possible, by sharing both the good and the bad and I was very clear that my links were affiliate links.

Plus, the affiliate program offered a recurring commission structure, so I knew that the money was going to continue to steadily trickle in over time.

These days there are a lot of recurring affiliate programs, and this list has over 90 of them. AccessAlly is also a great option to earn recurring income.

Affiliate marketing results and ROI

Why You Might Want to Invest Your Time in Affiliate Marketing Even If You Have Your Own Products and Services

If you’ve read this far, then you know you can make a modest amount of money by aligning yourself with products that you love and recommend anyway.

But it goes even further.

Writing in-depth review articles and doing comparison videos also positioned me as an authority on the topic.

This in turn helped me to attract more clients for my services, and in turn sell more of my own products, too.

You see, if someone is researching something with the intent to buy then they are more likely to buy other related services and products, too.

Having highly ranked review posts helped me to build my email list and attract more of my ideal clients.

But here’s how I feel in love with affiliate marketing all over again in a big way…

Writing affiliate reviews

How I Went On To Make Multiple Six Figures in Affiliate Income

My involvement in affiliate marketing had been positive up to this point, but things were about to get crazy.

In 2011 I decided to sign up as an affiliate for my mentor Marie Forleo’s B-School program.

I decided to write a review of the program after having gone through it and gotten so much out of it myself, and because I knew that Marie could really help her students succeed.

This was a $2000 course, and the commission was 50%.

The B-School program was not available all year, but Marie had a great set of free training videos that showed people what to expect if they signed up for the course.

After the enrollment period, I had earned $11,000 dollars.

Now, you might be thinking: wow, that’s amazing – I want some of that passive income action!

But here’s where my next affiliate marketing tip comes in…

Affiliate marketing passive income

Offering Bonuses as an Affiliate Marketer

You see, in 2011 I was a web designer and I knew that people who signed up for B-School could benefit from having a website created for them.

So I offered everyone who purchased B-School through my affiliate link a website project…

This is where the “passive income” story falls apart.

I worked my buns off for that commission, but I ended up delivering some great starter websites and making friends for life with these people in the process.

I also learned that offering bonuses in an affiliate review can be very effective, because it helps you deliver more value than just your opinion…

This is especially important if you’re promoting something that has a lot of other affiliates, and that may have a “launch model” where people need to make a decision to buy before registration closes.

The next year, I revisited my B-School review blog post, updated it with more in-depth information and decided to switch out my bonuses.

This time, I decided to offer some consulting sessions – these would be easier to deliver and would still be very useful for the people who signed up through my affiliate link.

I ended up with over 50 sign ups, and I was on the phone in back-to-back consulting sessions for weeks. (This was no hardship considering I brought in over $50,000.)

Offering affiliate bonuses

Fine Tuning Your Bonuses and Adding In Other Forms of Marketing

At this point, B-School was such an important part of my business that I was also asked by Marie Forleo to come on board as the resident tech trainer for the program.

Each year, I put more energy behind my B-School promotions… from sending emails, posting on social media, updating my review post, and answering individual emails from people who had questions.

The interesting thing was that because B-School was becoming more popular, more people were researching B-School before signing up and finding my review.

So each year I saw a bunch of new email sign ups during B-School season… and this was great for my business, whether they signed up through my link or not.

I ended up earning multiple six figures in B-School commissions over the years.

This totally transformed my business: I was able to hire my husband and fund the development of our PopupAlly and AccessAlly software with this “cash cushion”.

Each year I also revisited the bonuses that I offered.

I learned that offering 1 on 1 time was extremely beneficial, but that I could also offer more group bonuses… like a ticket to my live events, or access to our courses or software instead.

That was still not the passive income that everyone strives for, but I felt really good offering a lot of value because it was such a big part of my business revenue.

Bringing In Facebook Ad Retargeting

As digital marketing continued to get more sophisticated, I also tried a few other things in combination with affiliate marketing.

One example was to run Facebook retargeting ads to people who had visited my review posts…

That way I could remind them about my bonuses and give them another chance to sign up through my affiliate link.

The great thing about Facebook ad retargeting is that you don’t need to spend a lot on your ads, because you’re just showing them to people who have already expressed interest in the program or product you’re recommending.

But everything starts with having a really high quality review post or video, that people are finding through the search engines.

Affiliate marketing success stories

How You Can Earn More With Thoughtful Reviews

Okay, so you might be thinking that some of this affiliate marketing stuff feels really out of reach.

I admit that I was in the right place at the right time, when it comes to B-School. And I continue to proudly recommend it to new and established business owners who want to master modern marketing. (Although it’s no longer as big of a revenue source now that our business has shifted into software.)

But each year there are new “blockbuster products” and affiliate opportunities.

Not to mention lots of long term residual income affiliate programs, like our own AccessAlly affiliate program.

So let’s take a look at how you can construct a winning affiliate review, and how you can set your review up to show up in the search engines when people are doing their research…

Types of Affiliate Review Approaches

The product you're recommending will usually lead itself to one of these types of affiliate marketing success paths.

  • Resource page link: if the product is something that anyone visiting your website could benefit from. This is a simple link in a resource page like this, with a quick explanation of who it's for and why you use it or recommend it.
  • Direct review post: this was the type of post that did all of the heavy lifting in my B-School promotions. This works well if people are not comparing two different things, and they really want confirmation before they buy.
  • Tutorial post: this is a great way to provide value by teaching how to use a tool or product. It's also a great way to explain why you recommend a product, by showing how it works.
  • Comparison post: this type of post usually pins 2 or more competing products against each other. The more personal you can be when creating a comparison post, the better – since most people can compare basic things like price and features themselves. What they really want is the personal experience. Here's an example with 10+ products being compared, and with a fewer number.

Affiliate marketing approach

What to Include in Your Affiliate Review Post

What you include in your affiliate review can really impact the effectiveness of your efforts.

If you’re going to spend the time reviewing an affiliate product, make sure that it covers these basics – and that your review is valuable for people whether or not they purchase.

The sale should always be a secondary consideration, and the goal of your review post should always be to share your own experience with the product and to help people decide if it’s right for them or not.

Here’s what you need to include in your review:

1. An Affiliate Disclosure

It’s important to be transparent and let readers know that your review contains affiliate links.

Being honest with your readers about your motivations for publishing a review not only helps them trust you more, but it also keeps you compliant with FTC regulations.

Example disclosure: I’m a proud AccessAlly affiliate, which means I earn a commission for any sales I refer. I personally use AccessAlly to run my business and membership site, so I share this review from my first hand experience (including both the good and the bad!).

2. Video (Optional)

Video is optional, but it can help you get your point across and share your story with a product more authentically than text.

If you’re creating a video review, upload it to a public platform like YouTube and use some of the keywords people might use to help your video appear when people are searching.

Make sure to include your affiliate link or a link back to your full written review on your site in the video description.

Include a verbal affiliate disclosure in your video too – it’s best to be upfront in all of your affiliate partnerships.

3. These Key Points (Sample Outline Below)

Affiliate marketing success starts with including the right details in your review.

Here’s an example of the flow you might use to review a software tool like AccessAlly.

  1. Post Title (Example: WordPress LMS Plugin Review)

  2. What I’ll Be Covering

  3. Who This Review Is For

  4. Why You Should Listen To Me As a Reviewer

  5. What I Was Looking For

  6. How I Found AccessAlly & What It Is

  7. What I Like About AccessAlly

  8. AccessAlly’s Drawbacks

  9. If You Use [CRM], Here’s Why You Should Check Out AccessAlly

  10. Final Call to Action and Affiliate Link

Include your affiliate link throughout the post, and be sure to put your affiliate disclosure before you link to the product.

Be as honest and personal as you can be: don’t just repeat the features and details anyone can find on the product’s sales page…

People who are researching a product or course want to know what results you personally got from it, not a regurgitated “feature list”.

Affiliate marketing bonus examples

How To Pick Your Bonuses

If it makes sense to offer bonuses, here are some suggestions to help you put together a great bonus package.

First, think about the type of person who will be signing up for the product you’re recommending… what other things do they need?

Is there anything you can offer that will make them more successful? Think about things that complement the offer (not distract from it).

You’ll also want to check the affiliate program terms, to make sure that what you plan to offer as a bonus is allowed.

For example, some affiliate programs don’t allow you to offer bonuses worth more than the program price or the commission you earn.

This prevents people from offering SO much that it devalues the original program, and makes people feel suspicious about the “over compensation” in the bonus department.

Similarly, offering to give cash-back may be against the rules of an affiliate program. For example, if you plan to split the commission with the person purchasing – that would reduce the price of the product for the person buying and give them an incentive to buy through your link…

But again, this devalues the product and may not be allowed.

So here are the types of bonuses that tend to do well:

  • Your own existing courses and products, if they’re relevant
  • A training course or program specifically designed to go along with the product (for example a “how to use XYZ course”)
  • Templates, checklists, highlights that help people implement or get results faster
  • Group coaching, live events, or other “face time” with you
  • Access to you for feedback or questions along the way (it’s especially helpful if you make the effort to check in with people over time – and it shows you care!)

Other creative things you could do is donate all or a portion of an affiliate commission to a charity.

The most important thing is how you frame the bonuses: as something that brings additional value, without making the original product feel inferior.

Bonuses should remain the cherry on top, and not become the focus of your review.

If your bonuses could be a paid offering on their own, you could split them off onto their own individual sales page, and link to them from your review instead.

Affiliate marketing seo

How to Optimize Your Affiliate Marketing Efforts with SEO

Now that you’ve spent some time writing or recording your thoughts about the product you’re recommending…

It’s time to make sure that your post shows up in the search engines, so that you can get the full benefits and effects of this strategy.

The first step is to do a little bit of keyword research… start off by thinking through what people might be searching for if they’re thinking about buying this particular product, a competing product, or even just wondering about the possibilities in this category.

For example, for AccessAlly you might realize that people are searching for a “ConvertKit LMS plugin”.

Now, you’ll want to type that into Google, preferably into an Incognito or Private browser, and see what comes up.

Wordpress lms review affiliate

You might see some suggested related keywords while you’re typing, and you might also get more ideas for keywords based on the results.

You’ll want to pick one main keyword and then 2 other related keywords. So in our example, that might be “ConvertKit WordPress integration” and “ConvertKit course plugin”.

Now here are the ways you’ll use these keywords in your review, to increase your odds of showing up on the first page of the search results:

  • Use the main keyword in your post title
  • Include images that are relevant and set one of your keywords as the image name, description, or caption / alternative text
  • Use these keywords where they naturally come up in your text (this isn’t about stuffing your post with a bunch of keywords, but if you can weave them it where it makes sense, it’ll help tell the search engines what your post is about)
  • Use the keywords in your sub-headings as it makes sense
  • Link to your post from other relevant pages or posts on your site
  • Write the description for your post in an SEO setting area or plugin, and include your keywords as long as they sound natural
  • Make sure your URL for your post includes your main keyword
  • Once you hit publish on your post, share the post on social media and include your keywords as they make sense

Click to get the 6 membership site models and case studies

Putting It All Together – How To Have Affiliate Marketing Success

I've covered a lot in this guide, but the most important thing that can help you reach affiliate marketing success is your attitude.

If you're in it for the long term, then it doesn't matter if your first commission payment is small… it will continue to grow over time, and by adding up all of the referrals you'll make in the next decade, you'll be glad you started.

Affiliate marketing may help you fund your main business like it did mine, or it could help you take more time off, pay off your mortgage, or save a little extra for a rainy day.

The key is to get started today.

The sooner you do, the sooner you'll be earning referral income and reaping the rewards with your strategic affiliate marketing success!

An Easy To Use ConvertKit WordPress Affiliate Plugin For Your Business

convertkit affiliate plugin wordpress
ConvertKit is a marketing automation platform, especially popular with bloggers and small businesses for its flexible, easy-to-use features that make email marketing a simple, straightforward process.

As your business grows and thrives (thanks in part to ConvertKit's automations), you might start looking at affiliate marketing as a way to reach new audiences and increase the visibility of your company.

There are a few generic affiliate plugins on the market that might work … and one that's created specifically as a ConvertKit WordPress affiliate integration

Before trying to find the right tech tool, it's important to dive in deeper and pinpoint exactly what you want to accomplish with your ConvertKit WordPress plugin.

What Kind Of Products Are Do You Want to Sell With Your Affiliate Program?

The first question we need to answer to help you choose the best ConvertKit WordPress affiliate plugin integration is this:

What do you plan to offer? It could be…

The good news is that there are different WordPress plugins that handle many of these options.

For An Affiliate Program That Sells Online Courses, Digital Products, or a Membership Program…

… it's possible to “do it all” with a single plugin that handles everything: your digital products, courses, memberships, order forms, and the affiliate program itself.

The benefits of an all-in-one tool is that you don't have to worry about trying to get multiple tools to speak to each other, the way you would if you used one of the WordPress affiliate plugins that can only communicate data with ConvertKit usings a third-party API tool like Zapier or other add-ons…

Zapier is a great tool in a lot of scenarios, and we're certainly not bashing it here. But when you use a third-party tool like that for sensitive data, you end up relying on two separate integrations (the plugin > Zapier & Zapier > ConvertKit) for every data transfer. If something ever goes wrong, it can be difficult to track what happened…and even more difficult to set things straight again.

That's why we created a dedicated affiliate plugin integration for ConvertKit users to use with AccessAlly.

All-in-one Tool For Your Affiliate Program Needs

With AccessAlly’s mobile friendly order forms you can now track affiliate cookies and run your own affiliate program.

Why is it ideal for those who offer online courses, digital products, and membership sites you ask? Because AccessAlly also handles delivery of each of these types of offerings.

In fact, AccessAlly is a ConvertKit membership plugin too!

This affiliate management plugin does so much more for your business, and here's just a taste of the full features you can look forward to:

  • Affiliate Registration is handled directly through ConvertKit's opt-in forms – becoming an affiliate is as easy as having an “affiliate tag” applied and getting the AccessAlly account created through a ConvertKit webhook.
  • Unlimited affiliates: the number of affiliates you have is up to you! Since each affiliate is a contact in your ConvertKit account, you'll only be limited by your ConvertKit plan.
  • Real time reports: see exactly which affiliate accounts are sending traffic to your website, including where the link is coming from. Very few affiliate systems show you what page a link it being clicked on.
  • Easy affiliate login and reports: your affiliates can access their own individual affiliate sales reports and see their progress in the affiliate area on WordPress as they send people your way.
  • Promote your products and services: there's no limit to the amount of products or services you want to promote through your affiliate program using this WordPress affiliate plugin. The sky's the limit!

Let’s take a look at how easy it is to set up an order form and an affiliate program on WordPress for ConvertKit.

How To Set Up Your ConvertKit affiliate plugin integration

The first thing you need to do is integrate ConvertKit with your WordPress site. It's not as complicated as it sounds — all you have to do is add your unique ConvertKit account API info into AccessAlly's settings are:

Convertkit wordpress integration

Set Up Your Products

After the integration is ready, you can create as many products as you want–no limits here! Online courses with single payments or payment plans, memberships with a free trial and monthly charges, even coupons and special discounts are all available options for this part.

Convertkit wordpress shopping cart

Add Your Order Forms To Your Site

AccessAlly lets you use a 3-step order form, that captures the user's contact info on the very first page. Then, if the user doesn't complete their check-out, you can follow up using ConvertKit’s automation functionality.

Convertkit affiliate plugin wordpress

Finally, once you have your products in place you can create the affiliate program in AccessAlly.

In AccessAlly’s affiliate plugin functionality, all you need to do it make someone an affiliate is assign a tag in ConvertKit.

Convertkit wordpress affiliate plugin

This gives them the ability to access your affiliate center on your WordPress site, where they can get their affiliate links, stats, and more.

Convertkit affiliate plugin wordpress dashboard

Delivering Courses and Products using ConvertKit

Delivering your online courses and products using AccessAlly is easy with ConvertKit’s automations. You can do dripped content release, or instant access – it’s all based on tags.

Sell courses with convertkit

You design the course or membership structure in AccessAlly, while your WordPress theme handles the look and feel of your site.

Create affiliate program convertkit

From there, ConvertKit handles the delivery of emails and decides when to unlock access. It could be a daily challenge, a weekly course, or a monthly membership… your automations in ConvertKit power it all.

Convertkit course automation

Convertkit affiliate plugin wordpress pinterest

Plus, you can decide what kind of affiliate program you want to run.

You decide what affiliate commission structure you want to offer, how long you want to track affiliate cookies and if you’re offering a recurring product you can also choose how long you want to pay affiliates.

Get Started with the ConvertKit Affiliate Plugin WordPress Integration in AccessAlly

While there are other WordPress referral plugin options out there – not all of them were designed with ConvertKit integration in mind.

So if you’ve been looking for the right affiliate plugin on WordPress that deeply integrates with ConvertKit… you’ve found it!

Check out AccessAlly and get started integrating your ConvertKit account with the checkout pages and affiliate system.

How To Use a WordPress Referral Plugin To Increase Your Reach and Revenue

WordPress referral plugin

Referral programs are on the rise.

The industry of affiliate programs is projected to reach $6.8 billion by 2020 in the United States alone.

That's a huge chunk of money… and the playing field is wide open for more people to get in on it.

For business owners, the projected growth also means that affiliate programs are becoming increasingly mainstream and viable options for you to increase your reach and revenue.

So let's take a look at how you can use something as simple as a WordPress referral plugin to host a profitable affiliate program on your own website.

How a WordPress Referral Plugin Can Increase Your Reach

Nathalie Lussier, the founder of AccessAlly, recently shared a candid look at how she's been on both sides of the referral industry, and has made multiple 6 figures in referral sales.

That's good news for those who are building an income as affiliate marketers.

And, considering the fact that the affiliate only receives a portion of the cut, it's even better news for the company selling the products.

WordPress Affiliate Marketing Program Plugin

The initial revenue from an affiliate sale is only the beginning of the story: referrals have a prolific tendency to snowball. A single affiliate might be end up being responsible for a large percentage of your sales. As more affiliates become engaged with your business and actively promoting your products, the bigger the snowball effect will be.

Features of an Affiliate Program Poised for Success

Ok let's pause a minute.

A referral program isn't a magic cure-all for your sales and marketing woes. There's a possibility that it might not be right for your business.

That's because the ultimate goal, for affiliate marketers, is to create streams of recurring revenue, whether through annual launches or with evergreen promotions that keep on earning.

Once your understand this, you'll be in a good place:

A referral program can only be successful if all three parties involved (business, affiliate marketer, and end client) receive a significant benefit. Think of the win-win-win.

To successfully enroll affiliates and earn referrals you'll need:

#1 A Great Product

Hopefully this is a total no-brainer, but the product you're opening up to affiliates will have the most success if it can beat the competition in the eyes of your affiliates and clients. A smart affiliate marketer (the kind you want on your side) will ignore poor quality products in favor of ones that deliver real results to their end clients.

#2 Dedicated Fans or Existing Network

Speaking of a great product… if you don't already have a crowd of dedicated fans or an existing network of peers, you'll definitely want to focus on building relationships before starting your affiliate program.

After all, it takes an average of 6 to 8 touchpoints before someone is ready to commit… so if your product isn't already “out there,” you may find that your affiliates fizzle out and lose interest quickly.

#3 A Good Commission Structure

It's tempting to want to fill your pockets faster. But generosity with your affiliates is a long-term strategy that increases their own incentive to promote your products, bringing you more revenue over the long haul. (If it doesn't pay off for them, it probably won't pay off for you, either.)

Many affiliate programs start at a 50% commission split, depending on the offer.

Selling a subscription product? You'll want to decide how to offer commissions on the recurring payments. Will you pay out indefinitely or for the first 6 months and stop? You decide.

#4 Referral Training Materials

The fact that someone is excited about your product doesn't mean they're a natural marketer. The more guidelines and training materials you can provide to your affiliates, the better they'll be able to promote your product.

#5 Promotion Materials

Along the same lines as the training materials, it's always a good idea to pre-design a variety of promotion materials, from banner ads to social media posts to email swipe copy. Not only does this help save time for your affiliates, but it also ensures that the promotional material will be on-brand.

#6 Affiliate Management & Guidelines

We've talked before about the dark side of affiliate marketing. The more effective you are at eliminating spammy promotion and fake coupons, the better your product will appear to online shoppers.

As a rule of thumb, affiliate programs are more suitable for established businesses than new startups. We talk more about finding the “right time” to start an affiliate marketing program in this article: How To Start Your Own Affiliate Program And Avoid These 3 Expensive Pitfalls.

Prepping Your Business for An Affiliate Program

You know what to include in your affiliate program and how you want it to look… but you also have to do some preparation on the business side of things to make sure that the new referral program will get off the ground without a hitch.

1. Multiple success stories

The best affiliate marketers are often those who have already invested in your product and received its benefits first hand. Make sure you have a strong network of these case studies in place, as they may be responsible for your very first referral sales.

2. Bandwidth to manage a separate program

Affiliate marketing might seem like a hands-off way to get more sales… but there's a ton of behind-the-scenes admin work required, too.

3. A WordPress referral plugin to run your affiliate program.

Finally, you need the right software to take care of the all the technical component of you referral program, from order records (purchases, returns, and refunds) to link tracking and custom referral links. There are self-hosted plugin solutions that you can add to your own WordPress site.

Two of the bigger plugins in this sphere are AccessAlly and AffiliateWP.

Affiliate WP

affiliste plugin for wordpressAffiliate WP is a “standalone” referral plugin that can give your site affiliate functionality and offers some integrations with other order form and shopping cart WordPress plugins. If you have a WordPress site set up, but none of your other plugins or systems include affiliate functionality, you may benefit from using the Affiliate WP plugin.

AccessAlly

wordpress referral pluginAccessAlly is a full suite plugin that includes memberships, online courses, and an e-commerce solution in addition to affiliate program functionality. The benefit of using AccessAlly is that, since everything is housed in a single plugin, you don't have to worry about failed integrations that might put your entire program in jeopardy.

Plus, since it integrates with your CRM, you can have a fully automated program that's set up once, and runs automatically afterwards.

Tips & Tricks' Affiliate Plugin

WordPress referral plugin for affiliates
Tips and Tricks' Affiliate Plugin is another option for WordPress referral plugins that focuses on integration with WooCommerce and Cart66 plugins, along with a few other options. One main drawback will be integrating with your CRM, but the biggest benefit for this option is the low price point. Worth checking out if you're just getting started.

What About Third Party Affiliate Systems?

You might have heard of affiliate tools like Post Affiliate Pro or Everflow.

These software solutions are made for the sole purpose of running the affiliate programs of hundreds (or thousands) of businesses. They can be particularly beneficial if you can't house an affiliate program on your own site (like if you're not on WordPress or you plan to move off eventually).

The downside is that it's another tech tool to add to your stack, and it might not integrate with some of the systems you're already using. You also don't have full control over what the affiliate area looks and feels like. With a WordPress referral plugin, you can design your own affiliate center and keep it on-brand.

How To Set Up Your WordPress Referral Plugin

In this video, you'll see first hand what a “real” referral program looks like to the affiliates and program manager. While the video is specific to AccessAlly, you can expect to follow the same general setup process no matter which tool you sign up for.

Looking for an affiliate plugin on WordPress? This helps explain the options.

1. Accept Applicants

At AccessAlly, we prefer to review all affiliate applications, asking for some key information to assess whether an applicant will be able to send high quality referral traffic our way.

This helps us prevent irritating spam signups that waste our time and that of our clients.

2. Add New Affiliate to a Tier

Each affiliate tier that you create can have a different commission structure. So you might offer a “regular” 30% commission for affiliates, but a higher commission of 50% to key joint venture partners of your business, for example.

3. Connect Affiliates With Resources

When a new affiliate logs into your site, they should see a well-organized area where they can access promotional materials (including swipe copy and graphics), as well as any information available on the number of link clicks, sales, and clawbacks associated with their account.

4. Motivate Affiliates With Contests and Leaderboards

Your affiliates have lives of their own, and may not always feel motivated to promote your product, especially if they've hit a referral dry spell.

One way to counter this natural loss of motivation is by running special affiliate contests and using leaderboards to offer special bonuses to top performing affiliates.

5. Manage and Review Link Clicks

As your program begins to grow and you start getting some great referral traffic, you'll want to keep an eye on where all that traffic is coming from, and whether it's converting into sales.

Take a look at the link clicks periodically to see what pages (and affiliates) are making the biggest impact on your program.

6. Payout Time

Pay your affiliates promptly and on time every month, to maintain trust and a positive working relationship with them.

Increasing Reach with Your Referral Program

A well-run affiliate program will grow and expand along with your business, multiplying the effectiveness of your campaigns, leading to increased visibility and reach for your products. As you begin to develop your own referral program, always look for ways to leverage your existing fans and clients, trusting that the ripples will make their way to other circles as well.

Take a look at how AccessAlly's WordPress affiliate plugin functionality has helped WordPress membership site owners scale.

Content updated February 2019.

Joint Venture Webinars: How To Find Allies To Promote Your Next Webinar

joint venture webinars

Webinars are amazing: they're a great way to deliver information, to connect with an audience, and even to sell your products and service… And the best part?

When you do a webinar the right way, it can be a huge list builder and create buzz about your brand.

All in all, webinars are a powerful way to market your business online… But if you're only doing webinars on your own, you're missing out on the power of hosting joint venture webinars.

Keep reading to find out how to get started with joint venture webinars, how to find the right allies, and when it's best to go solo depending on your situation.

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4 Intellectual Property Checklists For Online Business Owners

The great thing about owning an online business or website, is the relatively low barrier to entry. Kind of like “have bag, will travel.”

Have laptop, have Internet, will work.

Obviously, the work hardly stops after the start-up phase. In fact, the majority of work probably comes after, especially the work of protecting all facets of your business.

Just a quick disclaimer that this information is primarily for United States-based businesses – however, read on and gain some knowledge, as your country may be similar!

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List Building: 10 Ways To Make It Work For Your Business

10-ways-to-make-list-building-work-for-your-business

There’s a lot of hype associated with list building and a lot of pressure on having your email list consist of at least “x” number of subscribers as you prepare to share your offerings in the digital world of online businesses…

But one of the most common questions I get asked is, “Why?”

List building can be time consuming, but if you put in the effort, I have complete faith that you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time.

Today we’re going to look at 10 reasons that will nudge you to take action and get your list growing, because what’s in it for you is going to make you a happy business owner. I promise.

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