How to set-up your own affiliate program

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How to set-up your own affiliate program

Having your own affiliate program can bring a massive boost to your business. A good affiliate program could be the difference between success and failure. Imagine having an army of affiliates, all driving a constant flow of traffic to your website. Just take a look at the screenshot below, that’s a picture of my affiliate account for Auction SOS. I have highlighted the number of clicks brought in by affiliates.

Affiliate Program

That’s what a well set up affiliate program can do for you, but why do so many people include an affiliate program as an “After thought” and why do some people not offer an affiliate program at all? After doing a bit of research on the subject it turns out that a lot of people (and this could include you) would love to run an affiliate program but simply don’t know how to go about it.

That’s what I am going to cover in this week’s newsletter, I will show you how to set up your own affiliate program in a number of different ways, but first let’s start with a brief introduction about affiliate programs.

In a nutshell an affiliate program allows people to promote your website/product. Your affiliate program/script will allow your affiliates to generate a unique link that they can use to drive visitors to your site, if that visitor then buys something from your website then the affiliate will earn a percentage of the sale amount. Or in simple terms – a commission!

There are many different types of affiliate programs, so you will need to decide which type to run for your site.

Per Sale
This is the most common type of program. An affiliate will earn a commission for any sales made after the user has clicked on an affiliate link.

A multi-tier affiliate program allows users to earn commissions on a number of different levels. It acts as an incentive for current affiliates to recruit new affiliates, any new affiliates that have been referred by the original affiliate become part of the original affiliates “downline”. The original affiliate will then earn a commission every time the affiliate he/she (I’m not sexist!) recruited to the program makes a sale.

Per Click
Quite uncommon but still used occasionally. The affiliate will get paid a set amount every time their affiliate link is clicked.

This is a popular type of program for affiliates. A recurring commission program will generate the affiliate a commission each month/day/week/year rather than a one off sale. This is generally used for services that require a monthly payment such as web hosting and membership sites.

The most common program, and probably the one that you are most interested in will be the “Per Sale model.

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That’s all well and good but I already know all of that – HOW DO I START MY OWN AFFILIATE PROGRAM!

Don’t worry, I will tell you right away 😉

There are two options for you; you can either go with your own hosted affiliate program where you handle all payments, members, banners, links etc. Or you can go and sign up at a 3rd party affiliate marketplace.

Both of these options have their advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a look at them.

First of all let’s start with the hosted option.

You can see an example of a hosted affiliate program by clicking here.


– You are in control of every aspect of your affiliate program
– Build up a database of affiliates
– Send out emails to your affiliates
– Run all of your affiliate programs from one central location
– Ability to pick and choose your affiliates
– View detailed statistics


– Initial set-up may take some time
– Spam filters!
– Have to recruit your own affiliates
– All payments handled by you, some affiliates may be put off
– Requires webspace

Now let’s look at the affiliate marketplace option.

You can see an example of a marketplace program here. (This program is run via Clickbank)


– All tracking and management handled by a 3rd party
– Payments sent out by the company not by you (in some cases)
– A massive army of affiliates ready to promote your product
– Quick and easy to set up
– Professional customer service (in some cases)


– Some of the refund policies leave a lot to be desired, can be abused by some customers
– Limited control over your program
– Tracking stats may not be as advanced as your own hosted script
– Tracking cookies blocked by Spybot and IE7 causing lost commissions

As you can see, both options have their good and bad points. I use both hosted scripts and marketplace programs for my products. I will now give you some examples of those and how they are run.

Marketplace 1 – Clickbank

Unless you have been living under a rock then you will have heard about Clickbank. Clickbank is the world’s largest digital product marketplace and it’s dead simple to get your product listed on there!

Step 1 – Sign up for a free Clickbank account.
Step 2 – Submit a product approval request ($49.95 for the 1st product)
Step 3 – Your product is listed in the marketplace!

All of the accounting is taken care of by Clickbank; they record all sales, commissions and even send out the paychecks to you and your affiliates. One downside is the refund policy, a customer simply needs to email Clickbank and ask for a refund and Clickbank will issue the refund – no questions asked 🙁

You can have up to 100 items for sale in your Clickbank account, but if you want to let your affiliates promote all of the products, rather than just the 1st product then you need to invest in a script.

I use Adrian Ling’s Easy Click Mate and you can see it in action by clicking here – and thats not even an affiliate link!

Marketplace 2 – Paydotcom

Paydotcom (PDC) was launched by Internet Marketing “big wig” Mike Filsaime as an alternative to Clickbank. The main selling point behind Paydotcom is the cost – it’s FREE to list your 1st product in their marketplace compared to Clickbank’s $49.95 charge.

The main downside is the size of the marketplace, as the site is still quite new it doesn’t have the same affiliate user base as Clickbank, who knows what will happen in a few years when PDC grows in size but at the present time the affiliate base is no match for Clickbank. Also a major bug bare with PDC is the speed of the website, by all accounts the site has been poorly coded and this results in one of the slowest loading sites I have come across. It’s a shame because the idea is great but I think that a complete re-coding is required to fix the speed issues.

If you want to give Paydotcom a try you can do so by clicking here.

Hosted Option 1 – Post Affiliate Pro

I have been using Post Affiliate Pro now for almost two years and am currently using it to run my Auction SOS! Affiliate program. Post Affiliate Pro runs on your web server and once installed allows you to control all aspects of your affiliate program.

It gives you 100% control over everything, affiliates, sales, refunds, charge backs, banners, the list is endless!

At the time of writing a licence costs $99 for the Professional version (the version that I use) but they also offer a free version, however this comes with no technical support. The installation is simple but if you have any problems they will install it for free (paid version only)

If you want to try out Post Affiliate Pro you can do so by clicking here.

Hosted Option 2 – IDev Affiliate

I will be perfectly honest with you here, I have never used IDev affiliate but a friend of mine uses it and told me I should list it here! By all accounts it works in the same way as Post Affiliate Pro and contains a lot of the same features.

I won’t go on about it too much but if you would like to check it out then please click here.

The Last Word

One final thing to consider is making sure that you don’t already have an affiliate script already installed. I know a lot of you use my EW Portal delivery script to delivery your e-Books. You may not know this but the EW Portal also contains a built in affiliate system! You can see an example by going to my El Passo Books website and clicking on affiliates. So please don’t go out buying these other solutions if you already have one staring you in the face – it would simply be a waste of money!

I think this has to be one of my longest newsletters, I just looked down and it’s almost 5 pages long in MS Word! I should have made it into an e-Book and sold it for $7 😉

Thanks for reading; hopefully I haven’t left anything out. As always please leave me any questions or comments and I will do my best to answer them.

Thanks again,

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8 Responses to “How to set-up your own affiliate program”
  1. HI Dan,

    I really liked this newletter. It has answered a lot of the questions that i and many others were wondering. I have been meaning to look into affiliate structures for a while. This has given me the boost that i was lacking.

    Thanks for a very good newsletter.


  2. Dan (el_passo) says:

    Hi Vinnie,
    Glad I could help. It originally wasn’t supposed to be as long but I got a bit carried away!

    Let me know how you get on with your own affiliate program.

  3. Chrissy says:

    Very interesting Dan,

    Rather apt to as I was just considering an afiliate program for one of my sites.

    Cheers Dan 😉

  4. Tony says:

    Thanks Dan. Folk are always going on about affiliate linke but few ever show how to do it. A real education and very helpful. 🙂


  5. Janey says:

    Well done that man an excellent read! It’s just the information I was looking for. Hopefully I can now decide which affiliate program to use.

  6. Dan (el_passo) says:

    If any of you guys do get an affiliate program up and running let me know. I could make a “Members Program’s” page and promote them all for you.

  7. calvin says:

    Great stuff with el_passo I’m not sure i’m awake for this yet!