How to find and recruit affiliates

To recruit affiliates, first of all you need to think like an affiliate. There's no point in trying to recruit affiliates if they're disappointed when they visit your website and examine your affiliate product and your affiliate agreement.

If possible, hire an experienced, successful affiliate as your affiliate manager - someone who knows what affiliates want and can talk the same language as affiliates. It's disconcerting for an affiliate to talk to an affiliate manager and find out that he's never built an affiliate site.

If I meet an affiliate manager who's like that, I immediately think, "Can I trust what this person tells me?" Encourage your affiliate manager to build affiliate sites and get first-hand experience.

Pay your affiliate manager performance bonuses. Give him/her a strong incentive to help your affiliates achieve sales.

When you're seeing things from the affiliate's point of view, you'll start by creating a superb product which affiliates will be keen to promote. You'll pay the best commissions in your industry, use tracking software which affiliates are comfortable with, and you'll pay commissions fast - preferably on the first or second of the month. You'll provide affiliates with a range of tools to help them promote your product. You'll ask your affiliates what they want and do your best to provide it.

If possible, you'll pay lifetime commissions or residual commissions.

You'll also have tested and tweaked your website so that it has the highest conversion rate you can achieve. Serious affiliates hate being used as guinea pigs. So get your conversion rate up as high as you can BEFORE you start recruiting affiliates.

Before launching your program to the masses, you'll probably want to test your affiliate program quietly with a few affiliates so that you're 100% sure everything is working smoothly.

When you do all these things, you increase the chances that serious affiliates will not only join your program but also stay loyal to it. You'll also find that affiliates will recommend your program to their friends.

Once you've polished the basics, you're ready to find and recruit new affiliates.

First of all, here's a really important tip...

Don't compete with your affiliates

If you purchase a large number of key phrases on AdWords and pay-per-click search engines, you'll scare away many affiliates. After all, you can afford to pay more than they can because you don't pay a commission on the sales which you generate.

You've stopped doing that? Good. Now you're ready to start finding and recruiting affiliates.

SEO a two-edged sword

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an obvious way to attract the attention of affiliates. However, it can be a two-edged sword. If you're TOO good at it, being very well placed in search engines for many phrases in your industry, you may scare away serious affiliates who don't want to compete with you in the search engines. Tread carefully.

Develop your own list/newsletter

Your own email list is a good place to start looking for affiliates. Develop your own email list or newsletter for people who are interested in your industry. Give your readers useful information, earn their trust and friendship, and then turn them into loyal affiliates. Some of your customers could eventually become good affiliates.

Email prospects one by one

It's terribly time-consuming, but contacting affiliates individually by email can work well. While doing this, you must keep in mind that affiliates receive a lot of spam and junk mail. So YOUR email has to stand out favorably.

The first few seconds are vitally important.

Start your email by praising a particular section of the affiliate's site. For example, comment on a particular article, and explain how an affiliate link to your product could be woven into that article.

If you want an affiliate to promote your product, explain where the affiliate could promote it on his/her site. Do your homework. Find an appropriate spot.

Always use the website owner's name. If you can't find the name, even by doing a whois search at, say something like: "Sorry, I couldn't find your name," to indicate that you tried. This is very important. You don't want your email to look like spam.

Describe some of the benefits of your affiliate program. If it's a downloadable product, give the affiliate a link to a review copy.

You want the affiliate to do something. Figure out exactly what this is and write a call to action. For example, "Click here to join the affiliate program."

If you receive no reply, follow up briefly, and use another email address if you can find one. Filters may have swallowed your first email.

DON'T send bulk email addressed to "Dear website owner". It's dumb, and it looks dumb.

Participate in forums

Take part in forums in your industry. Respond helpfully to questions. Demonstrate that you have a firm grasp of your industry.

On our affiliate forum, new affiliate merchants frequently make asses of themselves by spamming the forum. Tread carefully on affiliate forums. Every move you make online either builds your reputation or helps wreck it.

It's surprising how many affiliate merchants hire someone inexperienced to promote their program on forums, and that person doesn't even bother reading the forum's rules. That's dumb. Really dumb. Doing it gives affiliates a bad impression of your company.

ALWAYS read the forum rules or guidelines. You may be allowed to link to your site in your post, or more likely only in your signature file. Create an attention-getting signature file. Again, think like an affiliate. Say things which will attract affiliates, such as, "Excellent product, high commissions, good conversion rate, fast support."

Search in Google for "affiliate forum" "affiliate forums" or "marketing forum".

Pay-per-click advertising

You can advertise on AdWords and pay-per-click search engines to attract affiliates, for example by using the phrase "yourproduct affiliate program" or "yourindustry affiliate program". You may not get many visitors this way, but those you attract should be well targeted.

Two-tier affiliate program

In the Internet marketing industry, a two-tier affiliate program can be extremely effective in spreading the word. First, you lure an affiliate who's a key person in a key place. You want someone whose opinions are respected by other affiliates. That person recommends your program to his or her newsletter subscribers or list subscribers and earns, say, 10% of the commissions of the people who sign up because of the recommendation. THOSE people then tell other people...

Remind your existing affiliates that they can earn second-tier commissions.

Some savvy marketers pay key people in key places an above average commission. An excellent product combined with high commissions is a powerful persuader.

Strategic partnerships

Look for people who are in your industry but are not direct competitors. Perhaps you can persuade them to promote your affiliate program while you promote their affiliate program. You should be able to arrange win-win deals.

Advertise for affiliates

Place advertisements in positions where affiliates are likely to see them, for example on affiliate forums, in affiliate newsletters, affiliate blogs, affiliate directories and affiliate networks. You can advertise on and in our newsletter. We have a Media Kit you can download for details.

When advertising, try to get inside the mind of the potential affiliate. Don't just send them to a sign-up form. SELL your affiliate program. Send them to a page which explains the benefits of your program. Tell them why it's so good.

Get listed in affiliate directories

Submit your program to affiliate directories. Because they have different rules and different requirements, this is tedious, time-consuming work. You can hire an affiliate announcement service to do this for you. It does a good job.

Your own affiliates

Once you have some affiliates, encourage them to send you more affiliates.

"Your own affiliates are a great resource. Do you reward them for sending you more affiliates? Even if you do not have a two-tier system, you can still give better commissions or bonuses to those affiliates who send you a quality affiliate," says Brad Waller of EPage.

Start an outspoken, controversial blog

Create an attention-getting blog which attracts potential affiliates to your company. Don't have time? Hire someone to write the material for you.

Outsource affiliate recruiting

Hire a company to recuit affiliates for you. Be sure to look for testimonials. Partnerific has plenty of enthusiastic testimonials from satisfied clients.

UPDATE: How to recruit, motivate and manage your affiliates

Neil Durrant, Shawn Collins and Anik Singal have all written books or courses on how to create and run an affiliate program. However, those products are all now either out of date or off the market.

Now at last there's a really good, up-to-date course for affiliate managers which IS available.

It's Sales Army Secrets, in which highly successful affiliate merchant Jimmy D. Brown describes how to recruit, motivate and manage affiliates. It includes a description of 20 ways to recruit affiliates and a heap of really good tips on how to help and motivate them. It's superb value, written by a guy who is really good at this stuff. This is a MUST-HAVE book for all affiliate merchants.

January 23, 2007

Comments (34)

Katarina Bader
Said this on February 1, 2007 At 09:38 am
Really good article about affiliate program, how to build one from the ground zero. You have to have something to offer before affiliates come so they stay for a long time.
'Build it and they will come'
Patrick Kallie
Said this on May 16, 2007 At 09:26 pm
This is such a great article. I love the part about the individual e-mails that you sent out. It has a great personal touch.
Patrick Kallie
Unique Satellite
832 885-7758
Said this on November 1, 2007 At 04:37 pm
Wonderful article about affiliate recruiting.
Derek Huizinga
Said this on December 5, 2007 At 10:59 am
Awesome article... you've got it nailed down and provide some really insightful and simply effective thoughts. Keep the information coming.
Micah Hart
Said this on April 3, 2008 At 01:54 pm
My business is reviewing whether affiliate marketing is right for us. This article was a great starting place which has since kicked off several discussions.
Micah Hart
Charles Strogish
Said this on April 9, 2008 At 12:37 am
Hey Everyone,
Have a new business and great, quality service doing online personal training. I am new and do not have a big list yet, so if anyone would like to promote my site, you will receive $19.99 per month for each sign up. Check out my site, and contact me if interested. Thanks

[Mmmmm. The above article is aimed at affiliate merchants, but your comments are aimed at affiliates. I don't think that's going to work very well. You need to go places where affiliates go. For example, you could participate on our affiliate forum and promote your program in your signature file. Allan.]
Roger brooke
Said this on August 16, 2008 At 05:19 pm
Hi! All,
I need Affiliates for our website
This website is regarding debt settlement. People who can generate quality leads please contact me.
[email protected]

[The article you're commenting on is aimed at affiliate merchants. If you want affiliates you need to go where affiliates go. You could try participating on our affiliate forum or advertising in our newsletter. Allan.]
Said this on August 20, 2008 At 12:39 pm
Excellent article. Find super affiliates is not a easy work for affiliate managers. I agree 100% about send individual emails.

What do you think about affiliate recruitment softwares??

Thanks for this article.

[Thank you. In my article "How to find and recruit super affiliates" I discuss software you can use. There's a link to the article at the bottom of the article above. Allan.]
Said this on October 14, 2008 At 07:29 pm
Hey thx for these informations.I tryed it with Clickbank and co too but nothing really worked since now. Just a few days ago i discovered a site
Click2Sell, what I just can recommend !
Said this on February 26, 2009 At 04:54 am
I will surely use this information

Said this on May 10, 2009 At 12:25 am
That's a lot of good information for merchants to attract affiliates.


Said this on May 22, 2009 At 12:45 pm
Thank you for this information. I am very new to this system, and appreciate all of the help I can

Does anyone know where I could find a great affiliate manager. I have a really cool product line, and since
it is brand new, am willing to compensate highly for it.

If anyone has any ideas, please e-mail
me at:[email protected]

Thank you!

Bonnie Bruderer
Creator & Founder
Said this on June 26, 2009 At 12:37 pm
Give affiliates a lot of money for their expertise and they will be happy!

Team GarlicBOSS
Said this on July 9, 2009 At 07:56 am
Hi Allan,

Great Article, very informative. Thanks. Now I know where to look around if i need some info on recruiting affiliates and all related info on Affiliate Marketing. I am new to affiliate marketing and was doing a lot of research on it and found this very very useful.
Said this on July 31, 2009 At 01:58 pm
Hi All,

Great article, very insightful. Although I use affiliate networks to promote our program I am always interested in new way how to obtain independent affiliates also. Commission Junction worked very well for me so far. But I am still looking for new Affiliates to promote our affiliate program We generate insurance leads for lots of different insurance products here is a link to our program . Also If you talk to me I can always start you higher than the base pay outs stated on our affiliate program, plus I can offer you revenue share on cross sales.

Boris Plotkin
Fax: 800.647.2142
Email: [email protected]
Said this on September 3, 2009 At 12:39 pm
Hi There,
I am new to the whole affiliate program. The article was very informative. I was wondering if someone could have a look at my site and affiliate program and tell me what needs to be changed. I am offering 45% commission on the product, which sells very well already.

Thanks for any insight.

[email protected]

[Try asking for a review in the Site Review section of our affiliate forum. Be sure to read the forum instructions first. Allan.]
Said this on September 10, 2009 At 11:50 am
Hey Everybody,

I thought this article hit the nail on the head. I myself am a Sr. Affiliate Manager for an online Ad Network called CPA DNA (Dedicated Media). I'm currently on the hunt for new direct affiliates rather than second and third tier ad networks who are simply going to broker my campaign and decrease lead quality. If you specialize in search or email, or perhaps on a few affiliate websites, I'd love to hear from you!

I wish everyone the best in business and in life!

Andrew Ogren
[email protected]
PH: 310.524.9400 x364
Said this on September 24, 2009 At 09:01 am
Fantastic article so many ideas that never crossed my mind. Thanks for listing my affiliate program as well!

Said this on January 21, 2010 At 09:29 pm
What is not spoken about is the longevity of a certain business. If an affiliate joins a business, they, (besides a good profit margin) at least needs to be assured of the business being in business a year or two or 5 years from now.
Said this on March 25, 2010 At 05:43 am
These tips are superb! Especially the one about emailing prospects one by one. Nobody wants to see "Dear Website Owner". You're right Allan. That is just Dumb! You've got to take the time. Affiliates can be the difference between a few sales and a thousand sales in a campaign.

Said this on April 17, 2010 At 01:14 am
Hey thanx for sharing these many tips. I have just started working as a affiliate manager and I am going to use all of the techniques explained above.

Said this on June 13, 2010 At 08:49 am
This article is excellent and I wish I would worked on some of the mentions areas of my business during the time I was putting the program together.

I now have an excellent program, have run a successful full beta, and have a handful of paying members (referred from the beta group) but now I have no email list or relationships with JV's. I have been sending out personalized emails but with not positive results yet.

Devote some time the ideas in this article. I hope someone can learn from my experience! I feel like I am starting all over again.
Said this on June 15, 2010 At 01:14 pm
A really informative article! I love the idea of personal emails and will give this a try for sure. I am a very new affiliate manager for a network which deals mainly with gambling sites and would love any pointers or tips that anyone has to offer me to be successful in this industry.
Said this on July 14, 2010 At 05:42 pm
Hi There,
I am new to the whole affiliate program.
Said this on July 15, 2010 At 06:06 pm
Welcome. Be sure to take a good look around our site. There are plenty of articles and tools to get newcomers off to a great start in affiliate marketing. Good luck! - Glennys
Said this on November 16, 2010 At 11:38 am
The bit of advice you give in my opinion is "THINK LIKE AN AFFILIATE".

Look for ways to help your affiliates maximise the money they can make.
Said this on February 11, 2011 At 07:58 am
Great Article, very most importent. Thanks for listing my affiliate program as well
Said this on July 15, 2011 At 09:39 pm
This article is fully correct, but only the beginning. With new technologies there are so many new ways to spread the word. If you are interested in joining our program email me at [email protected]. We help each other find leads because the success of an affiliate marketing group starts at the base. And now there are infinite ways to talk to just about everyone. Or just go to this website: We are always bringing new people in and making sure that those people succeed.
Said this on July 16, 2011 At 01:07 am
No thanks, multi-level marketing isn't my field.

However, feel free to share your tips on how to find and recruit affiliates.
Said this on May 10, 2012 At 01:57 am

hey, this is a great site! Thanks for all the info. Im in need of affiliates to for an affiliate marketing site that I have. If anyone was to promote my site you will make 75% commissions! Also I have an affiliates area with banners and emails, ect. and

Said this on June 7, 2012 At 12:18 am

Hi Allan,

More effective, using social media and friendship for getting affiliates, more impression with bump squeezepage, modification blog posting more impression.

Said this on July 4, 2012 At 12:55 pm

amazing article, helped me a lot

Said this on July 11, 2012 At 08:59 am

your insights really opened my mind, in understanding how affiliates think and what they are looking for, thanks again!

Said this on September 18, 2012 At 04:29 am

Hi Allan, 

I have been following your website for a while. Your article on how to find affiliates is very useful. As a matter of fact, I began to think on making affiliate program by following what you wrote. So here comes

Glad if you and others followers of your website can put in a comment or two. Also i am looking for affliates and partners. Thanks


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