When you are first starting out recruiting affiliates, it can be hard to find more than a few people who are good fits and with whom you have a good relationship. That makes recruiting good affiliates a challenge, because most people have a limited network of potential affiliates on hand. So how do you recruit affiliates you don’t even know? Today, I’ll show you how.

How to recruiting new affiliates

This is part one of a 3-part series on recruiting affiliates “cold.” Read part two: How to Recruit New Affiliates You Don’t Even Know. Read part three: The Absolute #1 Way to Get Your Best New Affiliates. You can also click here to subscribe to get my free report on the top 15 places to find affiliates.

Over the years, more than 80% of affiliates we’ve recruited began promoting offers before we had any relationship with them. That means that prior to reaching out to them to ask them to promote something, we didn’t know each other. At all.

We recruited them “cold.” In part two of this series, I’ll share the exact methods we use to find the right affiliates and get them on board, but today, I’ll share the three keys to cold affiliate recruiting.

1. Scale

The simplest explanation for our ability to recruit thousands of affiliates we don’t know is that we reached out to tens of thousands of potential affiliates.

There is no substitute for sheer numbers in affiliate recruiting. Ultimately it’s a numbers game.

There is no substitute for sheer numbers in affiliate recruiting. Ultimately it’s a numbers game.

The more potential affiliates you reach out to, the more affiliates you will recruit. Of course, you want them to be qualified on some level or else you are wasting time and energy, but your list doesn’t have to be perfect.

In other words, cast a wide net. You’ll hear more “nos” and “why in the heck would you ask me this?” responses, but you’ll also get a lot more “yes” responses.

So, how do you find more people to reach out to?

The shortest and cheapest answer is Google. You literally search for people who’ve promoted similar products as yours and reach out to them. I’ll show you how to do that in part two, so make sure to subscribe here so you don’t miss that.

You’ll learn how we find hundreds of affiliates every month for our clients, without taking forever to do so.

2. Personalization

People, especially people like us in the online marketing space, can smell a blast email from a mile away.

Whatever you do, don’t send out an email with greetings like:

  • “Hi friend”
  • “Hello” (and nothing else)
  • “Hey there”

You have exactly a 0% chance of ever recruiting anyone worthwhile that way.

If at all possible, reach out to every single person individually. If not, do everything you can to make the email as personal as possible.

Some examples that we’ll cover in-depth in part two are:

  • Mention the program(s) they’ve promoted in the past. Acknowledge how you found them. (“I saw that you promoted Joe Smith’s How to Write Better Emails course recently.”)
  • Mention their content and comment on it. Show that you care about their content and how it ties into your offer. (“I read your post recently about writing better emails. Really awesome stuff.”)
  • Mention an interview with them that you heard or saw. This is another way to show how you found them. (“I heard you on Joe Smith’s podcast recently and loved your style.”)
  • Congratulate them on an accomplishment. Who doesn’t like to be recognized? (“I saw that you finished 4th in Joe Smith’s recent JV launch. Congrats!”)

The more personalization, the better, while remembering that scale matters. The great thing about personalization, though, is that a little bit goes a long way and doesn’t take a lot of extra effort. You can easily get 50-100% better results with only 10-20% more effort.

3. Persistence

Persistence quote from Calvin Coolidge

In the end, the one thing that determines how well you do with recruiting affiliates cold (and in general) is persistence.

1,000 affiliates emailed one time will yield approximately 20 affiliates.

1,000 affiliates emailed two times will yield close to 40.

1,000 affiliates emailed three times will yield more than 60.

Yes, eventually you will find diminishing returns, but you have to keep following up and following up.

Here’s how it used to look when we recruited cold:

Flowchart on affiliate recruiting

That was it.

If they said yes, we were done. If they said no, we were done. If they said maybe, we followed up one whole time. If there was no response…well, we were done.

Not exactly what one would call “persistent.” And definitely not very effective. We spent a lot of time and energy to find them and then gave it a half-hearted effort in reaching out to them.

Here’s how our recruiting looks today:

Affiliate recruiting emails flowchart

Actually, it keeps going even longer than the chart suggests.

We continue to follow up with “maybes” until we hear a yes or a no (or we run out of time). And we continue to email the “no responses” more than five times. We’re simply looking for a response.

Recently, we even began following up with the “nos” with a special email asking them to still promote at a lesser level. That single email recently led to more than $50,000 in revenue during Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever launch.

Click here to get the EXACT email we use when someone says “no” initially.

Nothing beats persistence. Nothing.

Are you willing to spend the extra time and possibly offend a few people (out of thousands) to 10X your results?

If so, keep emailing until you get the answer you want (or get a definitive “no”).

Scale, Personalization, and Persistence. These are the three keys to recruiting affiliates, even if you don’t know them at all.

This is part one of a 3-part series on recruiting affiliates “cold.” Click here to subscribe so you don’t miss parts two and three. You’ll also get my free report on the top 15 places to find affiliates.

What strategies have you used to find affiliates cold? (Or have others used to find you?)


Text me anytime at (260) 217-4619.

Or…check out some of my free reports to help you get on the right track:

Find Your First 100 Affiliates

template for affiliate program terms and conditions

Affiliate Program Terms & Conditions Template

email for recruiting affiliates

Get My #1 Affiliate Recruiting Email

top mistakes to avoid with your affiliate program

Avoid The Top 20 Affiliate Program Mistakes

email templates for activating affiliates

Turn Inactive Affiliates into Your Best Affiliates

Affiliate email template for affiliate managers

Get My Template for Writing Affiliate Emails

Sales secrets of successful affiliate marketers

Affiliate Marketing Sales Secrets

Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing with a resources page

Learn How to Create a Resources Page

guide on how to write a product review with affiliate marketing

Learn How to Write a Product Review

4 thoughts on “3 Keys to Recruiting Affiliates You Don’t Know

  1. Anthony Metivier says:

    This is a very useful grid, Matt. Thanks – the visualization always helps make something nebulous much more doable.

    I’m getting some good responses so far based on what I’ve been reading on the blog here and using the templates. Plus, affiliate marketing is just such an interesting world once you get into it. Great to have your guidance. 🙂

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Dude, wait for the next two posts 🙂

  2. Marifer Avery says:

    Great article. Question: how many days do you wait until following up with a maybe/no?

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      It depends a lot on how long you have. If it’s 2 weeks before a promo, probably 3-5 days later. If it’s 10 months before, give it a few weeks.

      But you can definitely keep following up multiple times without being annoying 🙂

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