Working with an affiliate network can be a great way to quickly grow your affiliate program. But it’s not an all-in-one solution. You still need to put in the work yourself to grow. Today, I’m answering some of the most common questions I get about affiliate networks. I’ll show you how to work best with them, how to handle the tech side of things, how to take advantage of what they have to offer, and what mistakes to avoid when working with an affiliate network.

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Previous Episodes of The Affiliate Guy

Don’t Launch if You Don’t Want This…

The Worst Part of My Entire Business: Why You Need to Hire an Affiliate Manager

How to Decide to Accept or Decline an Affiliate

How to Write, Publish, and SELL Your Book with Chandler Bolt

How to Use Affiliate Marketing in a Book

How to Run an Affiliate Book Launch

How to Work with An Affiliate Network: Q&A Lightning Round

Working with an affiliate network can be a great way to quickly grow your affiliate program, but it’s not an all-in-one solution. You still need to put in the work yourself to grow. Today, I’m answering some of the most common questions I get about affiliate networks. I’ll show you how to work best with them, how to handle the tech side of things, how to take advantage of what they have to offer, and what mistakes to avoid when working with an affiliate network. So over the past couple of months, I have had a bunch of questions about affiliate networks. How do I work with them, how do I get into them? What about the tech side? Or there are different logistical questions, all of these things. How do I recruit affiliates for them? What mistakes should I be avoiding?

Today I’m taking eight of those questions that I’ve been asked repeatedly over the past couple of months. And I was kind of like none of these questions were like an episode in and of themselves. What I wanted to do was take all of them and do kind of a lightning round type episode where I answer these eight questions about how to work best with an affiliate network. I’m going to dive right in. Before I do, though, I want to make sure that you check out our 1st 100 Affiliates report. This is where you get your first 100 affiliates and we’ll talk about this a little bit later. But before we get into it, go to mattmcwilliams.com/first100. Make sure you download that report. I walk you through how to find those affiliates. I walk you through some templates that you can use to recruit those. So you want to go check that out at mattmcwilliams.com/first100.

Question number one, which affiliate networks should I work with and why should it just be one or multiple? It’s actually two questions here and I’ll get into the second one in a moment. But our recommendation is ShareASale. There are many others that are just fine. It’s not that I have an issue with most of them. I do with some. So there’s really no right answer. But ShareASale is my recommended one. And I’ll put this link in the show notes. But you can go to Mattmcwames.com/ShareASale ShareASale and sign up with them. But there are tons of others.

The ones that come to mind that are probably the biggest and most well-known Clickbank is for course creators and Info Products Commission Junction CJ’s for kind of the big brands of the world, it’s very expensive for merchants. If you’re going to sign up to be on CJ, it’s expensive. ShareAsale is considerably less expensive, especially if you get the Friends of Matt discount. So if you reach out to me if you want to sign up with ShareAsale. In fact, if you want to sign up with a ShareAsale merchant, don’t go to Mattmclaims.com ShareASale. Email me at Matt@Mattmclaims.com or you can text me is probably the better way. 260-217-4619 just text me and I’ll hook you up with the Friends of Matt discount. You get a little nice little discount, but it’s still not much. It’s a fraction of the cost of the Commission Junction.

As I said, Clickbank is kind of the course. Creators info products type World CJ’s for the big brands link to share is a good one. There’s impact. The list goes on and on. AvantLink A win there are just so many. ShareAsale is the one I recommend. Although I’ve run some big brands on shares. I ran the Tiny Princess affiliate program which we took that was north of the nine-figure range with 25,000 affiliates. It was huge and we ran it on a share sale. So it’s not just for tiny brands, it’s for bigger brands too. It’s just not typically you do the work which we’ll talk about as we go along. They don’t run it for you on share sale at all.

So the second question that ties in with that and the first one kind of said, should it just be one or multiple? The second one I got was how do I integrate with multiple networks? And the answer to that is I wouldn’t at first. There are some serious complications to that, meaning you might be way overpaying commissions. Years ago when I was at Legacy Learning Systems and I was running the affiliate program for them, that was back in 20. 09, 20. 10. In early 2009, I came on board. I took over this small affiliate program. We grew it. So when it was small they weren’t really noticing something that was happening until we started growing. And we definitely noticed it, which was we were on multiple networks and we were overpaying because our customers would click through affiliate A on network A and then affiliate B on network B and they would convert through B. But A was still cookies on A. Nobody overrode on A.

So there’s only one affiliate on each network and it was crediting both affiliates for the sales. Whereas if it had been on just an in-house program or just on one network, it would only be paying one of those. If that makes sense, it would only be paying if affiliate A and B are both in the same network, then B is going to get the credit A is not going to get anything. It was a big problem because we were basically overpaying by 15%. We went from reporting say about 400,000 in sales and within about five months I had to stop to about a million in sales and this was per quarter. So we’re doing about 400,000 per quarter. I got a million per quarter at that point. But the profits were way down, like dramatically down. We cannot figure out how until I was like, wait a minute, you have this thing on two networks, but I never run a program on two networks. And it just didn’t occur to me. If you do this, if you do set up on multiple networks, if you do an internal in a network, what you want to do is set up the network as an affiliate internally and then you have to do some stuff on your end that only fires the Pixel if it’s that internal affiliate.

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So how that would work is you would have your internal program on your in-house software, whether it be a plug-in or something that you built yourself, doesn’t matter, you got your internal affiliate and you’ll have an internal affiliate for the network A and network B. And then you might even have an in-house program that you run. So if the person who’s shopping goes through in-house affiliate A and then they go through affiliate B on network B and then affiliate C on network C, then each of those internal links is different and it’s only going to credit one of those. It’s how you avoid paying out multiple commissions. Now, there’s a little bit of tech work on the back end because you have to tell your system to only fire the network a cookie if the sale was produced by a network A affiliate. So how that would work, just so just to be clear, is if they clicked on network A affiliate, that was the only thing they clicked on. Network A gets the credit. It’s whatever affiliate referred to traffic through that. But if they click on a second one, then it overwrites that. That way you’re not paying out multiple commissions that you don’t need to be paying on.

Question number three is, how do I get accepted as a merchant for the networks? The short answer is, usually if you pay them and you’re legit, they’re going to accept you. The big thing here is to show that you’re legit. They do not want to add riffraff to their network. They just don’t. They want to add the highest quality merchants that they can add the highest quality companies they want to take a look at your website. Is your website easy to shop for? Does it look nice? Are you professional? Is your price point reasonable? Are you charging $5,000 for something that everybody else charges $200 for? Are you charging $200 for something everybody else charges $5,000 for? That’s the big thing I’m looking for its legitimacy. I’m going to look at your BBB ratings. If I’m in a network, make sure you’re not like some sort of a scam. I’m going to try to interact with your customer service and see what kind of customer service I get but normally and this is why some companies with higher upfront fees it can be a good thing because it kind of rules out some of the riffraff on their end is how they look at it. But really if you pay and you’re legit you’re probably going to get accepted.

There’s no magic trick for getting accepted. If they say that they don’t accept gambling websites and you’re a gambling website, you’re not going to get accepted. Just make sure you’re abiding by their rules and you’ll be fine. The fourth question I got was how do I make the integration easy? I’m on WordPress in this example, how do I get all the codes and stuff? The easy answer there is to ask the network they are going to help with the code. It is in their interest to do so. They want your stuff to work. They want your sales to track because they usually get paid a percentage of the sales. They’re almost like a sub-affiliate or a second-tier affiliate. They want to get paid. So if it’s not tracking not only is that bad for you and bad for your affiliate but is also it bad for the network and so ask them to get them to help. It’s usually really simple, it’s usually copying and pasting some code may be setting up something as we talked about in the second question about multiple networks a moment ago but that’s on your end it’s usually really simple. The second question was about multiple networks a moment ago. But that’s on your end. It’s usually really simple. I mean every time I’ve ever done it, I basically sent code to a developer and within an hour we were set up and running. I mean it’s very simple.

I have question number five. Five, once I’m on the network, what is the best way to do outreach and get affiliates active? The same principles that I always share. The big thing here is don’t expect the network to do the work for you. They are not going to do your affiliate recruiting for you. Okay. Like people think, oh, I get on the network and people are just going to find me. Yes, but that’s going to be few and far between, and especially early on they’re going to find you. But they’re going to look at your stats because your stats are public now and they’re going to go, well, this company doesn’t even they’ve never even made a sale. Their earnings per click are zero. Why would I sign up with them? Once you get some affiliates on board and active, then you can start attracting affiliates. So this is 101. This is basic 101, how to recruit affiliates. I’ve shared it before, but I’ll share it again real quick. You look up affiliates who promoted similar products. So you type in your competitors’ names and you look to see who’s promoting them.

Second is you find their email address and we’re not going to go into that because I’ve shared it before. We also cover this in our course Findaffiliatesnow. This is much more in-depth. If you want to check that out at findaffiliatesnow.com, you can. You create a spreadsheet of the affiliates and then you send them a specific email that basically says hey, I noticed you were promoting something else. Here’s what we have coming up or we’re doing. Would you be interested? Love to share some more info with you. The key here is I often say the objective is not to get a yes. You’re not trying to get a yes. You are trying to get the three magic words, which is to tell me more. So the biggest way you can screw up an affiliate recruiting email is to make it too long. In other words, don’t try to fit everything into one email like I know you want to tell me. You spend a bunch of time developing it. You want to share six testimonials. Tell me how awesome the sales funnel is. You want to brag on your commissions, the prizes, who else is promoting it? Don’t do that. You just want to get a reply. That is all you are trying to do. That is all you are trying to do in this.

So again, check out your 1st 100 affiliates report at mattmcwilliams.com/first100. That’s a free reporter. You can check out our course Find affiliates. Now all those links are in the show notes and I’m going to put a link in the show notes as well for that affiliate recruiting email that will walk you through that as well. So the key here is just you got to be active. Being on the network means nothing in terms of recruiting. The only advantage is if that affiliate that you’re trying to recruit happens to be on the network, it’s easier to sign them up and they trust you a little bit more because you’re on the network. But it doesn’t mean, oh, I’m just going to get a bunch of affiliates coming to me, at least not early on. I shouldn’t say it means nothing, but it means very little early on. So you got to go and bust your b*** to recruit affiliates. We’ll make it easier if you check out our stuff, but you definitely got to put in the work on your end.

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Six questions, what types of affiliates should I target? Well, I just kind of talked about that. We cover that in your First100 affiliates report. If you’re asking that question, though, here’s my thinking. You probably don’t know a lot of people in your niche. You probably don’t have like a list of potential affiliates just sitting around like, oh, I’ve been in the industry for five years. I’ve got 50 or 60 contacts. That would be great affiliates. So you’re going to have to do some cold email recruiting. You’re going to have to find some affiliates with your limited network or even affiliates that you don’t even know. This is just straight-up recruiting cold. And I would say probably 80% to 90% of the affiliates that we’ve recruited over the years, they began promoting for us, for us, and for our clients 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. So there are three keys to Cold recruiting. Number one, scale, just sheer number of affiliates, you got to cast a wide net.

Secondly is personalization. Don’t do the hello there or Hi there or Hi, friend, don’t do that crap. There’s a 0% chance of this working, mentioning their content, mentioning the programs or products they’ve promoted in the past, mentioning an interview that you saw with them or heard with them, congratulate them on accomplishment like, hey, Congrats on finishing third place. And so and so’s launch, right? That’s key. So scale, personalization and persistence. We have just found that if we email 1000 affiliates, we’ll get about 20. If we email them twice, we’ll get about 40. If we email them three times, we’ll get about 60. Eventually, there’s a point of diminishing returns. But the point is it’s just persistence, persistence, persistence, persistence, persistence, persistence. And you got to keep following up. Keep following up, keep following up, keep following up. If you want to actually get affiliates, nothing beats persistence. Absolutely nothing beats persistence. And so you want to target those types of affiliates that have been promoting similar products, and that means they’re probably going to be cold. But again, that’s going to allow you to expand your network. So remember scale, personalization, and persistence. Just cast a wide net, personalize the communication and follow up ten to twelve times. Seven, the question is what affiliate management software and plugins do you recommend with networks? Which ones do you recommend? What are the best ones? Why do you recommend them? Are there any deals on them? The network is your tracking. That’s your management platform. You don’t need anything else. Now, I mentioned if you have some internal stuff if you’re running an internal program and a network, well, then you need the internal stuff. And there’s so many there’s IDEV Infusionsoft. If you go to MattMcwilliams.com/Toolbox, I’ve got some recommendations there, but the network is going to be your primary tracking, especially if that’s all you’re using. If you’re not using an in-house one, that’s going to be all of your tracking. That’s going to be where all of your reporting and all of that stuff is.

Last question here. Number eight is how do I best leverage affiliates? Good question number one, you got to get them activated. I mentioned that earlier. I think that was question number five. I mentioned you’ve got to get them activated. And so I did an episode not terribly long ago. I did a series on Onboarding. So make sure you go back and listen to that. It was probably about 15 to 15 weeks ago. This will go live in, I think, late March of 2022, probably like the beginning of the year-ish maybe the end of last year. I did a series on Onboarding your affiliates. I also did one on Activating affiliates.

Well, go listen to those episodes. That’s the first thing you’ve got to get them active. You got to get them on board. You got to get them. You need to give them what they need. I did a whole episode on this as well. They need general direction. These are the seven must for us in our agency, right? They need general direction. You need to train them. You need to give them lessons. You need to share tips and strategies with them. They need a swipe copy, and they need to know how to use it. They need graphics. They need banner ads. They need mailing plans. They need to be told, here’s what to do. What are the best days to mail and who do I send them to? We create those mailing plans, right? We call them the ABC plans, all in or aggressive, balanced and conservative ABC. And so they need that they need to be told what to do and when to do it. They need a promo checklist, a very simple checklist about here’s what you need to be doing. And on this day, and it’s just kind of a checklist above and beyond mailing plans like make sure your blog post, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, whatever you’re using right and they need to feel a part of the process.

So give them behind the scenes access. Make sure you create a Facebook group, ask for their help, share, testimonials, explain your thinking, just keep them updated and make them feel like they’re a part of the process. And then the last thing that comes to mind is internal with our agency we call it the Eve formula. Eve entry points. Variety and energy. They need multiple entry points into your funnels. They need whether it be a workshop, a PDF, a webinar, a podcast series, whatever the case may be, they need multiple entry points. We studied. I shared this I don’t know 20 or 30 episodes ago, what was the biggest difference between seven and eight-figure launches? Number and variety of entry points? Number and variety of entry points.

The second V speaking of variety is variety. They need a variety of things to promote. So not just entry points, but when you get to the sales part, when you get to open cart, for example, if it’s a launch, different things can they promote open cart? Is there a fast action bonus? Is there a mid-cart bonus? Is there a live stream that we can drive them to sell? Can we possibly do, you know, phone calls? Can I drive them to do phone calls with the sales team or chat with somebody? Like different things like that. And they need your energy. They need your energy. You’ve got to be the biggest cheerleader for the product and for your company and for your affiliate program or what the heck are they going to do? They’re going to be like, whatever.

So all of these things apply to any program, but of course, they apply to work with a network as well. A lot of times with the network, I see a lot of people, who run the program and they send out a monthly affiliate newsletter and they expect their affiliates to do anything with that. What the heck? I don’t want your newsletter. This is 2022. Stop sending newsletters. Stop emailing only once a month. Email your affiliates three, four times a week. Make it useful, though. Don’t email them just for the sake of emailing them. Used to just email for the sake of emailing. No, make the emails useful. This is marketing. You’re marketing to your affiliates. So market to them. Send them a lot of emails with updates behind the scenes to share, testimonials with them, give them new tools, announce new products. Treat it like basically an ongoing launch with your affiliates. Keep them engaged in the process so they can see your energy. So that’s our lightning round here for how to work with an affiliate network. There’s a little bit of nuance, but it’s about the same as working in-house with some of those nuances. As I said, I am so excited, guys, about the next episode, going a little bit off the track of specifically affiliate stuff. I don’t want to talk about how to build your team.

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This is something we’ve been doing intentionally over the past couple of years. We’ve scaled up from six people just a couple of years ago. I think she starts in less than two weeks now our 15th team member, I think. So we’re scaling up. I’ve been there and done that from 2005 to 2011, we scaled the company from basically nothing, just the three of us, to 52 people and doing one and a half million dollars a month in sales. And so I’ve been there and done that. And I know what it’s like to scale. It’s a super fun process. But if you do it right. So next episode, I’m going to talk about how to build your team. We’re talking about working with virtual assistants just when you’re getting started. Like, how do you work with somebody who 510 hours a week? How do you work with contractors? How do you work with full-time employees to scale your business? So make sure you hit subscribe so you don’t miss that episode. And make sure you share this episode. If you know somebody who needs this may be trying to work on an affiliate network or start an affiliate program. They could use this or next week. Tell them about the podcast so they don’t miss out on this information. And with that, we’ll wrap up and I will see you in the next episode talking about how to build your team. Thank you so much for listening today. 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

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