Low Cost Ways To Start An Affiliate Program

By Jason Hulott


Affiliate marketing, or performance marketing as it seems to have recently been renamed, is as old as the Internet. In essence, an affiliate program is a mechanism whereby a product owner (merchant) allows other sites (affiliates) to offer out their product and services for sale and pay them a commission or referral fee for sales they introduce.

For merchants, this can be a great, low cost, risk free way to drive more sales and leverage other people’s traffic. For affiliates it has become a standard method to monetise a website. So a win-win.

Fun fact – Amazon was not the first programme launched as seems to be widely reported, in fact PC Flowers and Gifts launched an – runs in the cloud and allows you to run your own affiliate program. In fact, you can run a whole network with HasOffers so you can offer different products from different sites or brands if this is something you need to consider.

  • Post Affiliate Pro – runs on your own server. Is a powerful way to build an affiliate program for your business and offers a wide range of commission structures. This can also integrate with payment mechanisms to auto mass pay affiliates, which will save you time and effort.
  • You can also find a number of packages that work on specific Content Management Systems:

    Google your content management system to see if they have an affiliate module if you decide you want to include the affiliate software piece within your content management systems.

    If you have an IT department, they will be able to configure the software for you or some of the solutions so you have installations and setup services.

    Pros And Cons

    Pros of running in-house:

    • Low cost to entry
    • Total control
    • Builds private network of affiliates

    Cons of running in-house:

    • Takes time to grow the program
    • Needs management.


    A opposed to running an in-house program, you could simply pay some money and sign up to an external affiliate network who will have software that you can use to track sales, AND that will additionally already have a ready made number of affiliates (this can run into hundreds) who could start to promote your products and services quickly.

    There are several types and sizes of networks you can sign up to. The bigger affiliate networks tend to have bigger fees as they feel they will be driving you more sales and therefore can charge a premium. From our experience, the bigger networks include:

    There are lower cost and smaller networks out there than can also be used to launch a program. These include:

    There are also a number specialist niche affiliate programs, which could be a great way to find relevant affiliates as these networks will understand your industry. Take a look at these:

    As you can see, there are plenty of places to find just what you need. So what’s the tally for outsourcing? Let’s take a look,

    Pros Of Outsourcing:

    • Quick delivery of a programme
    • Can drive volume sales quickly
    • Increased brand exposure
    • Access to a large number of affiliates in different marketing verticals.

    Cons Of Outsourcing:

    • Potentially large setup fees, monthly management fees and overrides
    • Self management will still need some management
    • Need to choose the right network for your niche. While some will suggest they can drive volume traffic, they might be specialists in Fashion, Travel, Finance, etc.


    As you can see there is a lot to think about, but by doing your homework ahead of time, this will help you launch a successful program. It should also be noted that there is nothing stopping you starting in-house and then adding on an external affiliate network as things develop to help grow your traffic and sales via the affiliate channel.

    In this way, you can create an in-house program for your direct relationships and then offer out your program to a wider number of affiliates via a network 6 months down the line once you understand how well the channel works for you.

    The post Low Cost Ways To Start An Affiliate Program appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Email Marketing Tips.

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