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How to Make a Business Plan for Affiliate Marketing (and Why You Need One)

John Hughes / March 22, 2022 / Business

Affiliate Marketing Business Plan_Easy Affiliate

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Your affiliate marketing business is your livelihood, so when you're struggling to meet your goals – especially as they relate to income – it can create a lot of angst and uncertainty.

This is especially true when you've put in hours of work, only to have gotten no further in what you set out to do. Check out https://www.strategicsolutionsresearch.com for an actionable research to form your marketing strategy.

Many companies have market research, but lack understanding of target audience, market, and competitors. That's what experts can do for you.

And that’s also where understanding how to make a business plan for affiliate marketing comes in. With a well-written plan, you can create a clear path for your business. This will ensure that all of the work you put in contributes to your overall business goals and objectives.

In this post, we’ll introduce you to affiliate marketing business plans. This includes a look at why you need one for your business, and the essential elements of a solid plan. Then, we’ll show you a few of Easy Affiliate ’s features that make planning and implementation a breeze. Let’s get started!

Why You Need an Affiliate Marketing Business Plan

Even without a brick-and-mortar business, having a marketing plan can help you immensely – both immediately and in the long-term. With a strong business plan, you can achieve two things:

  • A clear path for success. The number one goal of any marketer is to achieve success. A business plan enables you to lay out a clear path and adjust it as you go along.
  • Time management. With a clearly defined plan, you can gain the ultimate resource – time. Extra time can then be used to further your business, including the reassessment and modernization of your goals as time goes on.

Both of the above benefits are enough on their own to make a plan for your affiliate business worth it. The bottom line is, a solid plan can lend itself to success – all that's left is to create one.

4 Essential Elements of An Affiliate Marketing Business Plan

Creating an effective business plan can be a challenging yet worthwhile endeavor. To make this process easier, let’s take a look at four fundamental elements you must include when creating a business plan.

1. Goals and Objectives

It’s not enough to know what you’d like to achieve; you also have to know how you’ll get there. With a clear list of goals and objectives , you can do just that. In order to get the most out of your business, your goals must be clear and specific. A great way to do this is by following the  SMART  formula.

For example, take a general goal such as, “I want the business to earn more money”. It's unclear and vague. Instead, setting a goal such as, “I'd like the business to generate 10% more profit over a three month period” is much more actionable. It's clear, specific, measurable, and attainable.

These elements set the tone for the rest of your affiliate marketing business plan, so it pays to clearly define what you want from your business up front.

2. Market Research and Analysis

With a clear idea of where you need to go, carrying out some research and analysis is the next logical step. In short, this enables you to have a firm understanding of your target audience and competition.

Here are two tips to get you going:

  • Create buyer personas . These help you target only those who are interested in your affiliate product, which could  increase conversion rates and boost your income.
  • Analyze the competition .  While you shouldn't be led by your competitors, expanding and developing on what they're currently offering can help you attract higher quality affiliates.

Your target audience and competition play key roles in the business decisions you make, so it's vital that you use them to develop your business plan.

3. Finances

This is arguably the most important element to consider, as without finances the shutters will stay down. Of course, money is likely a major reason you're in business, so getting this right is key.

To create a solid financial plan , there are three tips you should keep in mind:

  • First, understand the terminology. In order to take control of your finances, you need a solid understanding of the jargon you'll run into as you seek out advice.
  • Be realistic with your projections. To get a feel for typical expenses, plenty of well-known marketers post their monthly income reports on their blogs.
  • Create a process for financial tracking . This will help you to keep tabs on expenses and income throughout the year. There’s a wide variety of business tracking software to choose from, including FreshBooks and Wave .

Most of all, keep in mind that you shouldn’t rely on estimates. You want to dig deep and ascertain exactly what to expect when it comes to your coffers.

4. Promotion and Marketing

Being a marketer, your promotion and marketing strategies are two of the most important elements of your business plan. Without them, you can't spread your message, or showcase just how great your products are. Without customers, there's no point to being in business.

To get started, here are a few steps you can take:

  • Perform a situation analysis .  Know where your business currently stands and how this aligns with your goals.
  • Focus on the product .  Understand that the products you promote can make or break your business, so choose wisely.
  • Keep track of statistics.  Keeping track of statistics will help you adjust your plans accordingly. This is vital to success.
  • Enlist the right tools. For starters, invest in a good email marketing platform like ActiveCampaign , as well as a chatbot like MobileMonkey to maintain engagement with your customers.

According to professionals marketers, your marketing strategy is one of the strongest indicators of your business’ success. It's also an essential element in turning a profit.

How to Use Easy Affiliate When Planning and Implementing Your Business Plan

Easy Affiliate Homepage

Easy Affiliate  is an affiliate management plugin with a wide array of features. It's a stellar solution for taking control of many aspects relating to your affiliate business, from planning through implementation.

For example, Easy Affiliate includes features related to transaction tracking, banner and link management , and click reports. All of these can give you a better idea of how your current plan is panning out, enabling you to adjust your strategy as you see fit.

Easy Affiliate Reports View

Getting started is simple. Once you  purchase a plan and install the plugin on your WordPress site, you'll have almost everything you need to set up a quality affiliate program right at your fingertips!

Business plans are an underrated element of many online businesses. With the right plan in place, you can move your business forward with a clear and solid strategy.

In the above post, we've outlined four essential elements you must consider when developing your business plan. To recap, they are:

  • Your goals and objectives.
  • The market research and analysis you carry out.
  • Arguably the most crucial element – your finances.
  • Any promotion and marketing you'll do.

Do you have any questions about how to make a solid business plan for affiliate marketing? Let us know in the comments section below!

Don't have your own affiliate program yet? Get Easy Aff iliate today!

If you liked this post, be sure to follow us on Twitter , Facebook , and LinkedIn ! And don't forget to subscribe in the box below.

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About John Hughes

John is a blogging addict, a WordPress fanatic, a staff writer for WordCandy.co, and a regular contributor to the Easy Affiliate and MemberPress blogs.

Related Posts

6 characteristics of a successful affiliate marketing program, how to prevent affiliate fraud (in 4 ways), 5 awesome productivity tools for affiliate programs in 2024, how to set up an affiliate program for your ecommerce website, 3 business types that need affiliate marketing lead generation (and how), top 8 wordpress plugins for affiliate programs in 2024, dev tools is here unbox the ultimate affiliate program api & more.

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affiliate marketing business plan

  • Affiliate Marketing

How to Create Your Affiliate Marketing Business Plan [+ Download Our Free Template]

  • Last updated April 23, 2024
  • By Referral Rock Team

affiliate marketing business plan


To succeed with affiliate marketing, you need to develop a system and a plan that ensures the proper implementation of your marketing efforts. 

 An affiliate marketing business plan is a vital document for creating a successful affiliate program. You’ll need to create this plan before starting your program. Whether you make the plan yourself or get help from a third party, having this plan will help you create a program that will result in higher profitability. 

This post will go in-depth on affiliate marketing business plans, including all the essential sections you’ll need. Plus, we’ve included a downloadable template for you to use as a starting point. 

What is an affiliate marketing business plan?

 An affiliate marketing business plan is the template that helps you plan your affiliate program before you begin looking for any affiliates. A strong business plan sets the stage for your affiliate program, section by section, and makes sure you’re clear on what you need to accomplish for a successful program. You’ll reference the plan throughout your affiliate program preparation and launch, so you don’t miss any vital steps. 

Why do you need an affiliate marketing business plan?

An affiliate marketing business plan primes you to optimize your program to generate a strong ROI, and saves you time in the long run since you have a concrete plan for how to proceed.

This plan provides a space to define your program goals and how you’ll meet them, and creates a clear path to help you succeed and manage time.

Also, affiliate marketing is a highly competitive space. With a marketing plan, you are all set to compete against other affiliate programs and make your own program stand out. Thanks to all these benefits and more, an affiliate marketing plan will immensely help your business in the long and short term. 

Affiliate marketing business plan template

Creating an effective affiliate marketing business plan can be challenging, because of all the bases you need to cover. But it is undoubtedly worthwhile – and we have your back to make sure you don’t miss any steps. 

Download our affiliate marketing business plan template below, and fill in each section to set your program up for success.

affiliate marketing business plan template

Here’s a look at the parts of an affiliate business plan that we’ve included in the template.

1. Program goals

Knowing how to achieve your goals is half the battle; you also have to know how you will get there. You’ll need clear goals and objectives to be successful, in the form of quantitative metrics to track your ROI. So, set SMART goals: goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. 

Essential items you’ll need to set goals for are:

  • Conversion rates over a given time period
  • Average order value over a given time period
  • Revenue from affiliates over a given time period
  • New customer sales generated through the affiliates over a given time period

But other measurable goals will differ from program to program, so include any other goals you have as desired. 

2. Projected benefits

You also need to determine how your affiliate program will benefit your online business, in a qualitative way. Defining benefits is helpful in case others in your business want to know about the program’s value.

Some projected benefits could be expanding your customer reach, increasing brand trust, and marketing to new segments. These benefits don’t need numbers attached to them since you’ve already set up quantitative goals for tracking. 

3. Target audience

You must have your target audience in mind. By defining your audiences, you can find affiliates who match your brand. Doing market research is the best way to understand your target audience. 

You also need to create buyer personas to help target the people interested in your affiliate product. You’ll get more sales and conversions from your affiliate marketing campaign when you target specific demographics. 

Even though you likely already have your audience and buyer personas written out elsewhere, it’s vital to define your audience within your business plan so you can find affiliates with an audience that matches yours.

4. Costs and budgeting

Finances are a vital element to consider when creating your affiliate marketing program. Make sure you have a realistic projection of your costs and budgeting. Begin by looking at your current profit margins. The higher profit margin, the better, as you’ll have more money to spend on affiliate commissions. 

Next, determine how much commission you can afford to pay out consistently. Affiliate marketers are in business and will not promote your products for free. You’ll have to incentivize them to showcase your products to their audience – with cash. Offer enough commission to attract affiliates while ensuring you still make a good profit. You’ll need to create a balance between the two. 

If you plan to give your affiliates a discount code, you must factor that into your costs as well. The discounts may reduce your average order value, but will motivate more sales and increase conversion rates. 

It is also worth considering how much you expect to spend on an affiliate marketing tool (software or a network).

  • Using affiliate software is an ideal option, since you only pay one fee to use the tool. 
  • Affiliate networks will cost you more because they charge additional fees on top of the payment made by using the network. The extra amount can be up to 30% of your total sales.

5. Competitive analysis

Analyzing your competitors before your program’s launch is always a good idea, as signing an affiliate when a direct competitor offers more attractive terms can be difficult. 

Conduct research to determine what your competitors are up to and decide what similar elements you’d like to incorporate into your affiliate marketing program. Research two competing affiliate programs in your niche and determine how you can provide more value to your affiliates than they do. Look at their commission structure, program terms and conditions, and how they train their affiliates. 

You can also evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities you could take advantage of and the threats they pose to your own upcoming program. Identify the elements you can incorporate into your affiliate program and how you can make your program stand out. 

6. Affiliate software

The affiliate software you use ties everything together, so you’ll need to select this tool carefully. In addition to helping you manage the affiliate relationship, the affiliate software you choose will create trackable affiliate links for measuring affiliate sales, and pay out commissions automatically to keep affiliates happy.

When choosing an affiliate software , go for one that gives you full control of your affiliate relationships and affiliate data. You can never get that type of full control with affiliate networks, so avoid existing networks altogether.

The affiliate software you choose should easily integrate with your existing marketing tools. It should also allow you to customize your commission structure, affiliate portal, branding, and how you communicate with your affiliates.

You should ask the following questions when choosing affiliate marketing software.

  • What metrics does it track?
  • What tasks does it automate?
  • Will it help you keep affiliates engaged? How?
  • How does it help prevent affiliate fraud?

7. Affiliate commissions

Now it’s time to determine your affiliate commission payout. You should set a competitive commission, compared to programs that attract the same types of affiliates. But ensure the commission you choose is one you can afford to pay consistently. The commission could either be a percentage of each sale or a flat fee.

Determine the length of affiliate tracking cookies – how long affiliates are eligible to earn a commission once someone clicks on the link. You should also establish what the affiliate has to do to earn the commission. If you are an eCommerce or B2C business, only give commission on sales. B2Bs, on the other hand, can give commissions for both qualified leads and sales. 

Determine which affiliate will get a commission if someone clicks on multiple affiliate links (whether the first click or last click awards the commission). You can also offer bonuses for your highest-performing affiliates, or to all affiliates when they meet lifetime sales goals.

8. Products affiliates can promote

Next, record the products you want your affiliates to promote. Indicate if they can promote any product, or only the ones you designate, such as top sellers or products that tend to produce a high average order value. Have a list of the products you want to focus on in your digital marketing campaigns, and outline why you’ve chosen those products for affiliates to share.

9. Affiliate manager or point person

Will you choose someone from your team to handle your affiliate marketing program, or hire a new employee as an affiliate manager? If you don’t have someone in a dedicated affiliate manager’s role, you’ll still need to ensure there is someone the affiliate can reach out to when they have questions. Indicate the roles and responsibilities of the affiliate manager or point person. 

10. The affiliate agreement (program terms)

It is also necessary to write up an affiliate agreement , which your affiliates will be required to sign before they promote your products. The following terms should be included in your affiliate agreement:

  • Your commission terms
  • Rules about products affiliates can promote
  • Expectations for affiliates
  • Responsibilities of your brand
  • Guidelines for posts (what affiliates can and can’t say about you)
  • Guidelines for promotion (where and how affiliates can and can’t promote your links)
  • What you consider unethical affiliate activity, to protect your brand in the event that this does occur
  • Termination clauses – on what grounds the affiliate relationship can be terminated

This list isn’t exhaustive – you may decide to add other terms to the agreement as well.

11. Qualities of ideal affiliates

All the affiliates you plan to choose should have an audience that matches yours and a proven track record of creating quality content. But other ideal qualities of affiliates differ from one company to another, so you’ll need to be clear on those essentials in your business plan. 

Here are some questions to ask to help you search for the right affiliates:

  • How large (or small) should their audience be? Smaller-audience affiliates tend to produce higher engagement, despite having less reach.
  • What platforms should they be active on?
  • How will you know if their style and tone match your brand’s?
  • Do you want affiliates with previous affiliate experience?
  • Do you want affiliates who already know and love your products/services?

12. How you’ll find affiliates

Now that you know the qualities to look for in an affiliate, the next thing you have to determine is how you’ll find affiliates . You can look for affiliates on social media, on relevant blogs, or even from your existing customer base if you have customers who regularly create content. Or, you can use brand mention software to streamline your search, and recruit content creators who have already talked about you in a positive light. 

Also, indicate whether you’ll open an affiliate application on your site and let prospective affiliates come to you. If you go this route, decide what information you will collect to vet the applicants.

13. How you’ll screen affiliates

Next, create a plan on how you’ll screen affiliates.This way, you can make sure that affiliates have all the ideal qualities you desire, before reaching out.

  • Will you ask affiliates for a concrete plan of how they would promote you?
  • Will you ask them added questions via email or Zoom for screening?
  • How will you make sure affiliates are ethical? (Make sure they haven’t engaged in questionable behavior, such as using spammy links.)

14. How you’ll reach out to affiliates

Your plan should also include ways you’ll reach out to the affiliates you’d like in your program, who have made it through the rounds of screening. It could be through direct messaging, email lists, social media platforms, or Zoom. Make sure you know how you’ll convince them to join your program. 

15. How you’ll train affiliates

Training an affiliate is necessary if you want them to follow your affiliate marketing program plan. You can train them through Zoom, your portal, or any other way of your choosing. The training can be live, or set up beforehand for affiliates to complete at their pace. 

Include in the training how affiliates can and can’t promote your brand:

  • For instance, what language should they use, and what language must they avoid?
  • Are there specific rules for the images they create?

Also, do you plan to give affiliates free products as part of the training, and educate them on the standout features of these products and how to best use them?

16. How you’ll communicate with affiliates

Affiliates need assets like banner ads, videos, templates, and images to enhance their content. Determine which of these types of content you’ll create for affiliates, and how you’ll provide these assets so affiliates can easily access them.

You must also keep checking on individual affiliates, so decide whether you’ll do this through email, Zoom, or any other method. Remember that affiliate communication is always a two-way street: you’ll also need to decide on a way for your affiliates to contact you if they have questions or concerns.

And how will you give all affiliates updates on the program and your brand, when new developments happen?

  •  Via email? 
  • Through your affiliate portal? 
  • Within a Slack group or community?

17. Tracking and evaluating program success

Once you have your affiliate marketing program up and running, you’ll need to track your ROI based on the goals you set. So, establish how you’ll track your metrics, and how often you’ll check in on them. (The right affiliate software will track the essential metrics for you. )

If the program isn’t performing how you expect, what do you plan to tweak? And if you notice that an individual affiliate is not performing as well as you expect, what is your plan of action? Will you give them added guidance, or even dismiss them from the program, so you can focus on higher performers?

Wrapping up

An affiliate marketing business plan has several parts. You’ll need affiliate marketing software to put all the parts together. Our affiliate software makes it easy to create affiliate programs, manage and reward affiliates, and keep your affiliates engaged. 

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How to Create a Winning Affiliate Marketing Business Plan in 2024

create a affiliate marketing business plan

Starting an affiliate marketing program without a business plan is not a wise decision. 

Launching an affiliate marketing program might seem straightforward: sign up affiliates, let them market your products, and watch the sales roll in. Yet, the reality is far from simple.

A solid business plan is crucial to navigate the complexities of affiliate marketing and turn it into a successful revenue stream.

Instead, follow compiled steps to create a business plan for your affiliate program, ensuring your program not only starts on the right foot but also thrives in the long run.

Importance of Affiliate Marketing Business Plan

importance of affiliate marketing busines plan

Affiliate marketing is commonly referred to as a passive income. This is a little bit deceiving and can detract from the effort and skill required to create a successful affiliate program. 

The stats tell us that there’s plenty of money to be made from affiliate marketing, but to unlock this “bounty,” you need to be strategic and have an affiliate marketing business plan. 

  • Over 80% of brands run affiliate marketing programs
  • 16% of online orders are attributed to affiliate marketing
  • Affiliate marketing is the top customer acquisition channel for 40% of US merchants
  • More than 85% of marketers expect affiliate marketing revenue to grow

It’s a competitive field you’re looking to enter; you’re up against big affiliate networks and programs offering affiliates great rewards. To be successful, your program has to stand out from the crowd and motivate affiliates to create referrals for you. 

The nice thing about an affiliate marketing strategy is that it draws on many of the skills you already use in your digital marketing, giving you a good starting point.

With the right software, even beginners can set up an affiliate program in a few minutes.

The bigger question is, how do you turn it into a success?

15 Steps to Creating a Business Plan for your Affiliate Program

Whether you run an e-commerce store or plan to start a new online business, it’s crucial to think through key factors before launching your affiliate marketing program.

While affiliate marketing offers low risk and minimal upfront costs for merchants, mistakes in fundamental decisions can hinder your success.

Focus on these 15 critical questions across six categories to ensure your affiliate marketing business plan is on the path to achieving your goals:

Your products will be one of the primary elements that should drive your decision-making.

Q. What Types of Products Do You Sell?

The type of products you sell will dictate the features you need from your affiliate program.

If you’re selling physical products, then you need affiliate marketing software that plugs into your e-commerce platform (WooCommerce, Shopify, Big Commerce).

If you sell products or services, then your software will need to integrate with other platforms like Easy Digital Downloads . 

Q. What Does Your Customer Journey Look Like?

What has to happen for you to make a sale? Affiliates can give you all the traffic in the world, but ultimately, you’ve got to make the sale. 

For example, the B2B customer journey is generally longer and more complicated than the B2C one. If this is the case, you might have a dedicated sales team that just needs leads.

For these businesses, affiliate lead generation is a much better option than using affiliate marketing simply for sales. 

Different business models will require different things from affiliate programs. 

Q. What Commission Can You Afford?

People aren’t going to market your products for free (unless you’ve got some amazing brand ambassadors ).

They need an incentive to showcase your products on social media, leverage their SEO, and hit their email lists. 

In an ideal world, you’d be able to offer a huge reward and still make plenty of profit but that’s not how it works.

You have to have a clear picture of your profit margins and understand how much you can afford to offer in commission . 

Deciding on commission as part of your affiliate business plan

It’s a balancing act where you have to offer enough rewards to attract engaged affiliates while still ensuring you make a good profit. 


Your affiliate marketing software is what ties everything together. If you can’t accurately track referrals, then your program isn’t going to work for you or your affiliates. 

Getting set up is the easy part; successful affiliate marketing is more about program features and how you leverage them. 

Q. How Can You Make Your Affiliate Program Easy to Use?

The chances are your program won’t be the only one your affiliates are signed up to.

These guys are entrepreneurs looking to make a good income, so they’re working with many different businesses. 

They don’t have time to waste on a poor affiliate experience. 

This is why your software has to be simple to operate and offer the detailed analytics affiliates need to optimize their performance. 

Screenshot - Affiliate Portal: Dashboard

It’s also essential for you that you have easy access to all the information you need. You want to maximize sales, not manage payouts and other little details, which is why AffiliateWP offers an integrated payouts service . 

You can set up your affiliate program in just a few simple steps, but the important thing is choosing software that streamlines processes for you and your affiliates. 

Q. How Much Should You Pay for Your Affiliate Software?

How much you should pay for your affiliate software depends on the features you need. 

One way is to focus on the passive income aspect of affiliate marketing, go for the cheapest option, and hope you attract great affiliates with minimal features. If you’re hoping to earn tens of thousands of dollars through affiliate marketing, then it’s quite safe to say this isn’t the best option. 

affiliatewp pricing

Instead, you’ve got to go back to the questions you answered about your products and ask yourself what features will help you sell them. 

Q. How Can You Govern Affiliate Behavior?

The actions your affiliates take will reflect on your brand, so it’s important to create strong terms and conditions . Your affiliate marketing software should make this easy to set up and give you the tools to protect yourself from affiliate fraud. 


People often underestimate how challenging it can be to find good affiliates .

It’s not all about commission rates; instead, it’s about understanding what good affiliates want , where to find them, and how to showcase your value proposition. 

Q. What does your ideal affiliate look like?

Affiliate marketing is a form of partnership marketing , which means you’re looking for someone who has something you need.

Generally, this is reached, but it’s important you don’t sacrifice a targeted approach simply in the pursuit of a larger audience. 

Take the time to understand your ideal affiliate’s audience and how they reach those people. Are they a blogger, influencer, retailer, email marketer, or something else?

Once you have a profile of your perfect affiliate, you’ll have a better idea of how to reach them. 

Influencer follower stats

Remember that if you hide your affiliate sign-up page on a forgotten corner of your website, then few people will see it. Treat this as a sale and optimize your sign-up page to appeal to your ideal affiliate. 

Bonus Tip: Affiliates will judge your sign-up page to see how good you are at converting. For maximum results on your affiliate sign-up page, we always recommend SeedProd’s optimized landing page templates . 

Q. What Are Your Competitors Doing?

It’s difficult to sign up for an affiliate if you have a direct competitor with a much more attractive affiliate program. Perform market research find out what your competitors are doing, and incorporate the elements you like into your program. 

Another great option is to check out brands you admire and sign up for their affiliate programs. It will allow you to look around and see what they do well. 

Q. What Non-Monetary Rewards Can You Offer?

When creating your affiliate marketing business plan, getting carried away with commission is easy. Yes, affiliate commissions are essential, but they’re only part of the equation. 

Not everyone can offer huge commission rates, so instead, you’ve got to think about what non-monetary rewards you can offer :

  • Free products
  • Company swag
  • Professional creatives
  • Tiered affiliate rates
  • Personalized landing pages

Landing page for Pinterest affiliate marketing

Any features that can improve conversion rates are highly popular, so one of our favorite tactics is creating personalized landing pages for your best affiliates.

These landing pages highlight the exclusive nature of your relationship and can result in a big boost in your conversion rates. 


Signing up affiliates is only part of the job; you must keep them engaged and selling.

There are many affiliate programs out there, and if you’re unable to engage your affiliates, then you can find their marketing campaigns start to focus on other products. 

Q. How Do You Ensure Your Affiliates Get Off to The Best Possible Start?

Affiliates don’t want to be waiting months for their first sale. They want to hit the ground running, creating great content (product reviews, social media posts, email marketing) and making their first sales. 

When selling your products, you have more know-how than anyone in the world, so share it. Create an affiliate onboarding that contains everything needed to cut your affiliates’ learning curve. 

affiliate onboarding email sequence

Nothing is a better incentive than watching commissions come in, and the quicker this happens for your affiliates, the better it will be for you. 

Q. How Do You Maintain Your Affiliate Relationships? 

Humans like doing business with people they like. Sure, they like making money too, but if you create a personal connection,, it will count for something. 

Your affiliate onboarding gives you a great chance to open the dialogue, but it’s important to maintain communication. 

  • Ask for feedback
  • Notify affiliates of new program features
  • Share new creatives
  • Offer insider knowledge on your affiliate products
  • Continue to innovate with your non-monetary rewards
  • Create clear guidelines to highlight your expectations


Everything we’ve outlined so far in your affiliate marketing business plan is great, but if you can’t convert, it won’t bring in the results.

No matter how great your affiliates’ marketing efforts are, it’s up to you to sell your products, so this is where everything comes together. 

Q. How Can You Optimize Your User Experience?

You’re working with affiliates and influencers because they have a great connection to their audience. Whether they use content marketing, social media platforms like Linkedin, email marketing, or something else, they create an amazing, personalized user experience (UX). 

To maximize sales, you must create a similar level of UX. It’s no use if potential customers are blown away by your affiliates only to be disappointed by your landing pages. 

We created our Affiliate Landing Pages feature because it enables you to create a seamless user experience.

As these pages are personalized, they can focus on the relationship between you (the retailer) and your affiliate and ensure continuity when customers move from your affiliate’s site to yours. 

Q. How Can You Optimize Your Conversion Rate?

Small improvements in your conversion rate can make a big difference to you and your affiliates. For small businesses that don’t have the resources to reach their target audience in quite the same way as big brands, conversion rates are all important. 

Maximizing the user experience on your landing page should allow you to convert more affiliate traffic, but there’s still more you can do.

One thing to remember is that most people don’t convert on their first visit to your website. Once they leave your site, you cannot reach them without collecting leads.

A great way to immediately get more out of your affiliate traffic is to leverage OptinMonster to create more leads. 

affiliate marketing lead generation example

You’ve also got to ensure you capitalize on the moment when a customer decides they are ready to purchase. Your checkout process should be quick, simple, and able to take credit card payments conveniently ( WP Simple Pay is an ideal option for this).

Whether a startup or an established business, an affiliate program is a great way to reach a wider audience and boost revenues. However, one thing that tends to be overlooked is that affiliate marketing is excellent at creating repeat customers. 

When you make an affiliate sale, it’s the culmination of an effective affiliate marketing business plan, so you want to ensure you maximize that investment’s lifetime value. 

Q. How Will You Create Repeat Customers?

You’ve worked hard to get new customers from affiliate marketing; now, how can you turn them into repeat customers? This is where you want to focus on your post-sale care and put your email marketing into action. 

A great way to do this is to incentivize your affiliates to keep your customers coming back to you with Lifetime Commissions and Recurring Referrals . 

Q. How Can You Continue to Optimize Your Affiliate Program?

It’s essential to set goals for your affiliate program and choose KPIs to show you how it performs. The right affiliate marketing software will give you access to lots of different data, so it’s important to use this to improve your processes. 

Creating a thriving affiliate marketing program isn’t easy; it will take consistent work.

Some aspects of your affiliate marketing business plan might not work immediately, but that means there’s an opportunity to improve. 

Your Affiliate Marketing Business Plan Starts with AffiliateWP

As you can see, an affiliate marketing plan has many different moving parts.

To bring those moving parts together, you need the right affiliate marketing software, and that’s exactly what AffiliateWP offers for online businesses that run on WordPress. 

We have high-level features and are known for our world-class support, so if you have a question, we’re here to help. We’re always updating our site with the latest tips and strategies to ensure that your affiliate marketing program doesn’t sit idle, and these small details make a big difference. 

We’re here to make your affiliate marketing program a success, and that means AffiliateWP should be featured in your affiliate marketing business plan. 

Get started with AffiliateWP today!

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Affiliate Marketing Business Model: The Definitive Guide


Looking for a proven business model to make money online? You’ve come to the right place! The affiliate marketing business model is one of the best ways you can build a real online business.

According to Lexico, powered by Oxford, the definition of business model  is:

“ A plan for the successful operation of a business, identifying sources of revenue, the intended customer base, products, and details of financing. ”

In this article, we explore how affiliate marketing can be a great business, as long as you follow the right plan.

We’ll cover step-by-step how YOU can build a successful affiliate marketing business!

How Affiliate Marketing Works

The affiliate business marketing model is a great way to make money online

Affiliate marketers promote the products or services of a merchant. They refer people to the merchant through unique, traceable affiliate links . When someone clicks on their affiliate link and makes a purchase, they get paid a commission on the sale.

With some affiliate programs, the affiliate can earn a commission even if a visitor doesn’t buy anything. It’s referred to as a pay-per-lead payment model. The affiliate gets paid for sending leads, such as when a visitor opens an account with a merchant.

This is a win-win for the affiliate and the merchant! The merchant can focus on creating quality products or services, and save money on marketing expenses. The affiliate can focus on promoting the merchant without having to worry about payment processing and order fulfillment.

Here’s a graphic illustration of how the process works:

How affiliate marketing works

NOTE : Many affiliate networks don’t use the term merchant. They use “advertiser” or “vendor” instead. Some also don’t use the term “affiliate” either. They use “publisher” instead. Just remember they mean the same thing.

For more information, refer to our article: How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

The Pros of the Affiliate Marketing Business Model

The pros of the affiliate marketing business model

The main advantages of an affiliate marketing business model include the following:

Low barriers to entry  – Anyone with a computer and access to the internet can start an affiliate marketing business. It’s true!

Low startup costs  – A traditional brick-and-mortar store costs a lot of money to start. An affiliate marketing business on the other hand business has very low overheads.

Low risk – Unless you spend money on paid advertising, which we don’t recommend, you have little financial risk.

Don’t need your own product or products  – Creating your own product or products can take a long time and can be very expensive. With affiliate marketing, you can promote brands that have great products and a good reputation. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel!

High income potential  – There are many affiliate marketers that earn 6-figure incomes and higher from affiliate marketing. There are no income guarantees, though. Affiliate marketing is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme. Like any normal business, you get out what you put in.

Can be done part-time  – Nearly all affiliate marketers start their business on the side. Many may choose to work on it full-time once it brings in enough that they’re able to leave their full-time job.

Work from anywhere in the world  – One of the perks of affiliate marketing is that you can work from anywhere in the world. For example, there are people in the travel niche that travel the world and make money while doing so.

No commuting!  – You’re able to work from home in your PJ’s should you choose to do so. Not only do you save money on gas but, more importantly, you have more time to spend with your loved ones.

Choose from millions of products to promote  – There is no shortage of products to promote. You are really spoiled when it comes to choices!

Easy to scale  – With affiliate marketing, the sky’s the limit. There are always new things you can do to grow your business. For example, you could post more content, get more active on social media, join new affiliate programs, send outreach emails…

Flexibility  – Affiliate marketing offers you a lot of flexibility. For example, if you’re not happy with the results you’re getting from an affiliate program, simply change to another one. If your website looks dull and boring, you can change your color scheme or add some fresh images.

“Cookies” are a huge advantage  – When someone clicks on your affiliate link but doesn’t make a purchase right away, a “cookie” is created. If that person makes a purchase the next day using the same device, you’ll earn a commission on the sale. Cookie lengths are often up to 30 days and even longer.

Affiliate marketing isn’t mutually exclusive  – Affiliate marketing isn’t the ONLY way you can make money from your website. There are many other income models that are 100% compatible with affiliate marketing. Examples include sponsored ads, selling your own products, offering coaching or consulting services, etc.

Make money while you sleep  – Once your affiliate marketing business is up and running, you can literally make money while you sleep . It’s a great way to earn passive income!

Make money while you sleep

With affiliate marketing, your business never sleeps. Even while you’re sleeping or away on holiday, nothing stops your website from making money.

The Cons of the Affiliate Marketing Business Model

There are honestly few disadvantages of the affiliate marketing business model, but nothing’s perfect. Here are some possible drawbacks to be aware of:

Takes time to start earning money  – It’s possible that you’ll start earning regular and consistent commissions within the first couple of months, but not likely without a LOT of time and effort, or a healthy dose of luck. However, you’ll likely start earning consistent commissions from affiliate marketing after 6 months to 12 months.

For more information, read: How fast can you make money with affiliate marketing?

Inconsistent income  – Your income can fluctuate a lot from month to month, especially in the beginning. As your business starts to grow, your income will still fluctuate, but will normally increase month after month. That’s if you continue working on your business.

Commission payments take time to be processed – There are affiliate programs that’ll pay you a commission as soon as somebody you referred makes a purchase. Most affiliate networks, though, will only pay you one or two months after the sale. They need time to verify the sale, cater for refunds, and process your payment.

Tracking down affiliate payments – If you’re not selective about the affiliate programs you join, you could end up being owed affiliate commissions by someone who doesn’t want to pay up. Like with any business, it’s important to work with people you can trust to avoid payment nightmares.

Affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone  – Not everyone enjoys spending hours behind a computer. It can get lonely. And while the work can be exciting sometimes, it’s not always glamorous. Often, the most useful things you can do aren’t particularly engaging, such as optimizing internal links on your site, compressing images, or sending out outreach emails…

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is a LOT of work! If you’re not willing to put long hours in while sitting in front of a computer screen, you may be better off doing something else.

Can be a steep learning curve  – Building a website, doing keyword research, optimizing your site, and creating content for search engines can be daunting. If you don’t already know how to do all of these things, it requires a steep learning curve.

NOTE : At BrandBuilders, we can help you flatten the learning curve and provide you with a fully functional affiliate website  in under 24 hours. You can also order premium quality SEO optimized content  for your website from our team of expert content creators!

Affiliate Marketing is a BUSINESS

Working on online business

If you treat affiliate marketing as a part-time hobby or an afterthought, don’t expect great results.

You have to see yourself as the owner of a new startup. As with any startup, you need to do your research, have goals, and define your business plan.

As mentioned earlier in this article, the definition of a business model is:


Let’s take a look at what the plan for an affiliate marketing business model looks like.

How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Business

An affiliate business won’t give you good results if you don’t have a plan in place.

Step 1: Define Your SMART Goals

Having goals are great, but unless they’re SMART, chances are they’ll never come to fruition.

Hitting the mark with SMART goals

SMART goals are:

  • Specific  – Your goals should be specific and not vague. For example, “I want to earn money online” is too vague. “I want to make $100 per day within 6 months as an affiliate marketer” is specific.
  • Measurable  – Vague goals are not measurable. Choose a goal you can count AND measure. If your goal is to make $100 a day, you need to be able to measure your results through income statements and analytics reports.
  • Achievable  – Achievable goals are goals that are possible within the timeframe you’ve set. For example, numerous affiliate marketers have proven that it’s possible to make $100 per day, so you can feel comfortable using this number as an achievable goal.
  • Realistic  – Even if a goal is achievable, it doesn’t mean it’s realistic. For example, making $100 a day may be achievable, but it’s not realistic to expect it on day one. You may want to start with a smaller initial goal that’s realistic first.
  • Timely  – Goals need to have a clear timeline. You need to have specific dates by when you wish to accomplish your goals. Without that, your goals may always remain pending.

Tip : Have sub-goals. Your goal may be to make $100 a day within 6 months, but you won’t go from $0 per day straight to $100! Once you’ve established your goal, work backwards to the present moment.

For example:

6 months = $100 per day

5 months = $50 per day

4 months = $20 per day

3 months = $10 per day

2 months = $5 per day

1 month = $0 per day

With these sub-goals defined, you have an easier time tracking your progress and making sure you’re on track to hit your SMART goal.

Step 2: Find the Right Niche and Audience

Find the right community for your online business

People search the internet because they want something. Some just want to be entertained. Others are looking for information. Others are ready to buy something.

With the affiliate marketing business model, you should be focusing on the people who are searching for a solution to a problem and are willing to pay for it. There will always be an affiliate program or affiliate network that caters to those people.

To get started, find a niche with a lot of hungry buyers. YOU should ideally be a part of your target audience or be willing to learn a lot more about the niche. It will be difficult to come across as an authority figure if you don’t have good knowledge of your niche.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

Avoid generic niches

A niche such as weight loss is a very lucrative niche but you have a lot of competitors. If your new website is all about weight loss in general you’ll quickly get lost in the crowd. It’s simply too broad.

In addition, you’ll be competing against massive authority sites such as healthline.com, medicalnewstoday.com and webmd.com.

In order to succeed you should drill down deeper. For example, weight loss for women who have recently given birth. It would obviously help if it describes you. This way it will be easier to establish a connection with your target audience.

Just make sure you don’t drill down too deep. You don’t want to have an audience you can fit into your car! A sub niche should be large enough so you can earn a decent income from it.

Focus on one niche at a time

Your business should be highly focused on your niche. Everything you publish should be 100% relevant to your target audience. For example, If you’re in the health niche, don’t post content about dog training.

You can have an affiliate marketing business in the health niche and one in the dog training niche. Just don’t post information about both niches on the same website. It’s very confusing for search engines such as Google and you’ll find it hard to rank well.

My advice is to focus on only one niche at a time. Many people suffer from the shiny object syndrome. Every time they see a new shiny object they drop what they’re busy with to chase after it. In the end they have nothing to show for all their hard work.

Become an authority figure

As an affiliate marketer you need people to trust you. If you have no or little credibility with your target audience they won’t care about your recommendations.

How do you become an authority figure? By posting high quality, helpful and comprehensive content! You need to show people you know your niche, and understand the challenges they face.

They have to believe you can help them or point them in the right direction. That’s what affiliate marketing is all about… getting people to click on your affiliate links and buy a product or service from the merchant you’re recommending.

For more information, refer to our article: How to Choose a Niche for Affiliate Marketing .

NOTE : If you have any problems finding a good niche, we’ve compiled a list of 1,452 niche ideas  you can download for free.

Step 3: Conduct Keyword Research

Gone are the days when you could optimize a post around a single keyword by repeating that keyword over and over. Google has evolved way past that. Today, you need to focus more on the topic you’re writing about than a specific keyword.

Does this mean keyword research has become obsolete? Not at all! You just need to see it in a different light. See it in the context of the topic you’re writing about. Covering the topic well is critical but you need keywords in order to do so.

The following keyword research strategy is very powerful. If applied correctly, it can help you outrank high authority sites!

In order for this strategy to work, download MozBar . It’s a free SEO toolbar that’s compatible with the Chrome browser.

MozBar toolbar for Chrome

MOZ allocates a domain authority (DA) to all websites. It’s a good indication of how likely it is for a page on that website to rank well in Google. DA varies between 1 and 100. The higher the number, the more authority the website has.

It’s normally unlikely a new website will outrank a high authority website if they’re both targeting the same keyword. However, it’s possible and I’ll show you why in a minute.

For this keyword strategy, we’re going to deviate from the traditional way keyword research is done. We’re not going to start by entering a keyword into a keyword research tool and see what pops up. Instead, we’re first going to find competitors that are relatively new but are already ranking for several keywords.

1. Enter a keyword relevant to your niche in Google. Find the site with the lowest DA that’s ranking for that keyword on the first page.

Earlier in this article, we mentioned the weight loss niche. Let’s see what happens when we search for “weight loss friendly foods” as an example.

Moz domain authority

There are some high domain authority sites on the first page. What’s interesting is that the website healthkeepersclub.com with a low DA of 17 is on the first page. What’s even more interesting is that it’s able to outrank the authority site webmd.com that has a DA of 94!

In addition, the healthkeepersclub.com page only has 1 external link pointing to it. The webmd.com page has 152 external links pointing to it.

How’s that possible?

The reason is the healthkeepersclub.com page has been SEO optimized for the keyword “weight loss friendly foods.” For example, we can see the keyword in the title of the page.

The webmd.com page hasn’t been optimized for that keyword. It still appears on the first page though because it’s such a huge authority site. Even though it doesn’t target the specific keyword, it covers the topic. That’s enough for it to rank on the first page.

2. Find out what keywords your competitor is ranking for.

Find competitor's keywords using Ubersuggest

According to Ubersuggest , the keyword weight loss friendly foods is searched for about 3,600 times per month. That’s not bad at all. However, we want to see what keywords our competitor is ranking for.

Ubersuggest keyword tool

Ubersuggest shows the site healthkeepersclub.com ranks for 2,842 keywords. You’ll notice Ubersuggest gives it a domain score (their equivalent of MOZ’s domain authority) of 3.

Why are we targeting a low authority site instead of a high authority site? The reason is it’s easier for us to rank for keywords a low authority site is already ranking for.

Staying in Ubersuggest, click the “Keywords” tab.

Finding keywords using Ubersuggest

This will show us what keywords our competitor is ranking for.

Search difficulty in Ubersuggest

You’ll be able to see the keywords, monthly search volume, and their position in the search results. You’ll also see the SEO difficulty (SD) of that keyword.

Make a list of all keywords with a monthly search volume of 500+ and a SD below 25.

3. Find your competitor’s highest ranking pages.

Click the “Top Pages” tab in Ubersuggest.

Find competitor's top pages using Ubersuggest

This shows you your competitor’s top pages and how much traffic those pages generate.

Click “View All” to see the specific keywords a page is ranking for.

Keywords a competitor is ranking for

The first page gets an estimated 553 visits a month from Google. Our competitor’s website is in the #4 position for the keywords “keto custom plan review” and “custom keto diet reviews.”

Look for keywords with a monthly search volume of 500+ and a SD below 25.

Note: Use your own judgement. If a keyword has a higher SD and a high search volume you may wish to use it. Especially if your low domain authority competitor is ranking on the first page of Google for that keyword.

4. Get more keyword ideas.

Go to the “Keyword Ideas” tab in Ubersuggest and type in the keyword you’re thinking of using. This will give you some additional keyword ideas to work with.

Find more keyword ideas

Look for keywords with a monthly search volume of 200+ and a SD below 25.

These are typically secondary keywords you would include in your headings and content.

5. Get ideas of what people want to know from Google.

The last step is to go to Google to get more keyword ideas you can use in your content.

For example, for the keyword “weight loss friendly foods” Google will show you what questions people ask.

"People also ask" questions in Google

These questions are relevant to the topic. Where possible, try to include them in your content and provide helpful answers.

Google will also show you related searches.

Related searches in Google

Once again, these are searches Google considers to be relevant to your keyword and audience. It’s a good idea to include at least some of these keywords in your content.

By now you’ll have a huge list of relevant keywords you can include in your content.

It may seem like a lot of work, and it is. However, studies  have shown the average #1 ranking page will also rank well for about 1,000 other relevant keywords.

The keyword research you’re doing may not only help you rank for your primary keyword but for many others as well!

NOTE : Keyword research and content creation can take a lot of time. As a business owner there are better ways to spend your time. At BrandBuilders we can provide you with high quality SEO optimized content . Contact us  for more information.

Step 4: Pick the Right Affiliate Programs to Join

You’ve found a good niche, identified your target audience, and done your keyword research. Now it’s time for the next step, namely finding the right affiliate program.

Some merchants have their own in-house affiliate program while others make use of the services of an affiliate network.

Here are some options for you to consider:

Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates

Amazon is our #1 affiliate program.

With Amazon you can earn up to 10% commission per sale. There are programs that offer higher commissions but they just don’t have the credibility Amazon has. You can typically earn more per click from Amazon than other programs that pay a higher commission.

Amazon tends to convert better than most other programs. The reason is simple, everyone knows Amazon. Even if you’ve not yet established your credibility with your target audience, Amazon has.

People are more likely and comfortable buying from Amazon than from any other website.

Choose between millions of products to promote!

NOTE : Earlier in this article we mentioned we can provide you with a fully functional affiliate website  in under 24 hours. These sites are already optimized for Amazon and are ready to make you money right away.

Commission Junction

Commission Junction

Commission Junction, rebranded CJ Affiliate, is the world’s largest and most established affiliate network. They host thousands of merchants (called advertisers) and are trusted by some of the world’s largest brands.

It’s a great platform to find the right product or service for your affiliate business.

Note that in order to be accepted as an affiliate (called publisher by Commission Junction) you need to have a website or blog.

FlexOffers affiliate marketing network

FlexOffers hosts 12,000+ programs and is a very popular affiliate network.

As an affiliate marketer you can choose between thousands of products and services for your affiliate business.

FlexOffers categories

Product categories include home and garden, lifestyle and recreation, travel, digital products, insurance, online services, and health and wellness.

The most successful affiliate marketers promote many different affiliate products in their niche. There’s no reason to limit yourself to just one product – just make sure every product you choose to promote is a good fit for your audience.

For additional information, refer to our article 5 Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners .

Step 5: Build a Great-Looking Website

Build a great looking website

As discussed in our article how to make money with affiliate marketing without a website , having a website isn’t absolutely necessary. However, it’s highly recommended for the affiliate marketing business model. I can’t think of one successful affiliate marketer that doesn’t have a website.

Many affiliate marketing programs expect their affiliates to have a website and won’t approve their application without one.

With any website, first impressions count! Nobody likes an ugly affiliate site with thin content that’s difficult to navigate. You only have a couple of seconds at most to grab the attention of a visitor before they click away.

It’s beyond the scope of this article to provide you with detailed instructions on how to build a website or blog, but here are a couple of suggestions:

Domain Name

All affiliate websites need a domain name that’s relevant to the niche and the product or products being promoted. Always try to register a .com extension and keep the name as short as possible.

Namecheap  is a good and trusted domain name registrar.

Namecheap domain name registrar

A .com domain will cost you less than $10 to register on Namecheap.

Website Hosting

Once you’ve registered your domain, the next thing you’ll need is website hosting.

Our recommended website hosting provider is SiteGround .

SiteGround web hosting platform

SiteGround is one of only a couple of hosting providers that are officially recommended by WordPress.org.

Talking about WordPress. org , there are free blogging platforms such as WordPress. com  that will host your site on their platform. But trust me on this: you don’t want your content hosted on somebody else’s platform!

Instead, you want to have a self-hosted solution where you’re in complete control. That’s why we recommend you use WordPress.org  as your content platform.

Don’t know how to link your domain name to your hosting provider or how to install WordPress.org? SiteGround will only be too happy to assist you if you get stuck, or you can connect with us at BrandBuilders  for free coaching on your affiliate marketing journey.

Use a Responsive Theme

As mentioned earlier, first impressions count. Affiliate websites need to look great!

A responsive theme will adjust the layout of your website based on the device your site is being viewed on. This way, your site will display correctly on desktops, tablets, and mobile devices.

There are many free and paid responsive themes  to choose from. Two of the most popular options are Neve and Astra.

Neve WordPress theme

Neve  by ThemeIsle is a fast-loading responsive theme that can be downloaded for free.

Astra WordPress theme

Astra  is one of the most popular WordPress themes, best known for being lightweight and working well with popular page builders like Elementor .

Step 6: Drive Traffic to Your Site

You’re not going to get paid by merchants and earn passive income if you can’t drive traffic to your site.

Affiliate websites need a lot of traffic to make decent money. On average, only one or two out of 100 people  will click on your affiliate link and buy the product you’re recommending!

Many affiliates make the mistake of sitting back once their site is up and running, expecting Google to send them traffic. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way. It’ll take time before you start getting free organic traffic from Google.

Successful affiliates don’t just sit back and wait. They continue working on their business, actively and aggressively.

Here are some things you can do to drive traffic to your site:

Post more content on your website.

The more content you have out there, the more keywords you’ll have rank for. You should NEVER stop creating fresh content!

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should create it all yourself. Smart bloggers will outsource most or all of their content creation!

Take a blogger such as Jon Dykstra, for example. Based on his August 2020 income report , his revenue totaled $71,562 across 8 niche sites.

Income report

His “content investment” totaled $7,641. There’s no way Jon could have sat down and produced that much content on his own in a month – not with all of the other responsibilities involved in running content sites!

Content investment

Jon is not the exception. Most highly successful bloggers outsource much or all of their content creation. It’s the way a business owner thinks.

NOTE : In case you’ve missed it, at BrandBuilders, we specialize in supplying our clients with high quality SEO optimized content . Don’t hesitate to contact us  for your content requirements!

Don’t only rely on search engines to send you traffic.

Google should not be your only source of traffic, especially not in the beginning when your website is not “trusted” by Google.

Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest can drive a lot of traffic to your site and affiliate offers. Here are some recommended articles for succeeding on social:

  • 10 Tips to Crush Instagram Affiliate Marketing
  • Affiliate Marketing on Pinterest: A Complete Guide
  • Affiliate Marketing on Facebook: 4 Tactics for Success

Step 7: Scale Your Business

One of the reasons the affiliate marketing business model is so popular isn’t only because it can be very lucrative. It’s also because it’s highly scalable.

Once you understand how you can make money with affiliate products, you can take it to the next level!

There are mainly two ways you can accomplish this:

1. Become a serial entrepreneur.

Many successful affiliates have more than one website. Once your first website is doing well, nothing stops you from launching a second site… or a third, or a fourth…

Remember, as a business owner, your job is to manage your business. This doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. If you can get into the mindset of a business owner, the sky’s the limit on what you can achieve.

2. Incorporate additional business models in your business.

The affiliate marketing business model is only ONE of many models you can use in your business. Many affiliates add additional income streams to their business that are 100% compatible with affiliate marketing.

Examples include the following:

The ad revenue business model.

Monetizing your site with both ads, such as Google AdSense, and affiliate offers are totally doable. Many bloggers get a huge percentage of their income from ads.

Jon Dykstra – whose August 2020 income report we looked at previously – is one of those bloggers. He mainly relies on ad revenue, as opposed to affiliate commissions.

Google AdSense isn’t the only or necessarily the most profitable ad network. In a recent article, we looked at Mediavine vs AdSense . Once you have sufficient traffic, you can apply to Mediavine and other ad networks that pay MUCH better rates than Google does.

The online course business model.

A short while ago, I wrote an article titled 21 Ways to Make Money While You Sleep . Online courses or digital courses ranked in second position, only behind affiliate marketing. One of the best ways to make money online is with your own product, and courses offer great margins and great passive income potential.

As is the case with Google AdSense, online courses are completely compatible with the affiliate marketing business model. According to Teachable  – one of the major players in the industry – their average instructor earns $5,426 with each online course.

Regardless of what business model works best for you, it’s always a good idea to have multiple income streams!

Affiliate marketing is a great business model if you treat it as a true business. It does require hard work and a commitment on your side. However, it’s well worth it! An affiliate marketing business can provide you with a great passive income for years to come.

By following the 7-step plan we’ve outlined in this article, there’s no reason why you can’t make a huge success of it!

At BrandBuilders, we would love to see you succeed with the affiliate marketing business model. We specialize in helping entrepreneurs like you build income streams that work 24 hours a day.

Book a FREE coaching call  with one of our experts right now to find out how we can help you succeed!


  • Freelancing And Online Business

5-Point Plan for a Successful Affiliate Marketing Business

Renaud Gagne's Headshot

Editor in Chief

A Decorative Image


Welcome to the realm of affiliate marketing, a field that entices aspiring entrepreneurs with the potential for passive income and financial independence. While success in affiliate marketing isn’t guaranteed, it’s undoubtedly worth exploring. Contrary to some beliefs, affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme; rather, it’s a legitimate business model that demands hard work, commitment, and patience. As a result, after evaluating numerous online business concepts, we chose to feature affiliate marketing in our top 7 remote businesses to launch online this year .

Like any other business venture, success in affiliate marketing doesn’t come without a roadmap. To truly thrive in this competitive landscape, you need a strategic and effective affiliate marketing business plan.

The importance of having an affiliate marketing business plan cannot be overstated. It provides the foundation for your long-term growth, ensuring that you have a clear vision and actionable steps to achieve your goals. The good news? We’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll walk you through a 5-step process that will serve as your beacon in the world of affiliate marketing, helping you navigate with confidence and purpose.

So, let’s dive in and unleash the potential of your affiliate marketing empire!

Identify Your Niche and Target Audience

Archery bulleyes

Embarking on your affiliate marketing journey starts with carving out your unique space in the digital world. It’s about finding that sweet spot where your passion aligns with profitability, and your target audience’s needs are met. In this section, we’ll delve into the art and science of discovering profitable niches and understanding your target audience, setting the foundation for a successful affiliate marketing business plan.

Researching Profitable Niches within Affiliate Marketing

The world of affiliate marketing is vast, and it’s essential to narrow down your focus to a specific niche. Begin by exploring your interests, expertise, and market trends. Conduct keyword research using tools like Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner to identify popular topics in high-demand areas. Analyze the competition to ensure you can differentiate your offerings and stand out from the crowd. Remember, a profitable niche is the perfect blend of passion, demand, and opportunity.

Analyzing Your Target Audience and Their Pain Points

Once you’ve identified your niche, it’s time to dive into the heart of your target audience. Who are they, and what drives them? Understand their demographics, interests, and digital habits, but also be keenly aware of their pain points, challenges, and aspirations. By tapping into your audience’s emotions, you can tailor your content and product recommendations to address their needs effectively. Create personas to humanize your audience and make your messaging more relatable, ultimately helping you build trust and credibility as a go-to source in your niche.

Select High-Quality and Relevant Product Partners

Shopping in the mall

The next crucial step in crafting your affiliate marketing business plan is to identify the right product partners that align with your niche and appeal to your target audience. This is where the magic happens, as you transform your content and influence into revenue streams. In this section, we’ll discuss strategies to approach suitable affiliate programs and networks, and how to evaluate products for their conversion potential and commission structures.

Approaching Suitable Affiliate Programs and Networks

With a plethora of affiliate programs and networks out there, finding the one that fits your niche like a glove can feel overwhelming. But fear not, for this is where your research skills come into play. Begin by evaluating popular networks like Amazon Associates , ShareASale , and ClickBank , while also exploring niche-specific programs.

When choosing your affiliate partners, consider factors such as their reputation, cookie duration, and support systems. Reach out to other affiliates in your niche and ask for their insights and experiences. By immersing yourself in the affiliate community, you’ll gain invaluable knowledge that will help you make informed decisions about your partnerships.

Evaluating Products for Conversion Potential and Commission Structure

Not all products are created equal when it comes to conversion potential and commission rates. To maximize your earnings, you’ll want to focus on promoting products that resonate with your target audience and offer a fair compensation plan.

Examine product reviews and ratings, as well as sales data and conversion rates, to gauge their popularity and potential for success. Assess the commission structure, ensuring it’s sustainable and provides the opportunity for long-term growth. Don’t be lured by high commission rates alone; instead, prioritize products that align with your niche and audience’s needs, ensuring a win-win scenario for all parties involved.

In conclusion, selecting high-quality and relevant product partners is a vital component of your affiliate marketing business plan. By fine-tuning your approach and carefully evaluating products, you’ll create a powerful synergy between your content, your audience, and your revenue generation efforts.

Create Engaging and Valuable Content

Create Engaging and Valuable Content Watercolor

At the heart of every successful affiliate marketing business plan lies a treasure trove of captivating and insightful content. It’s your vehicle to educate, persuade, and inspire your target audience, all while guiding them towards making well-informed purchasing decisions. In this section, we’ll explore the formulation of a content strategy that hits the mark and delves into the nuances of incorporating your target keyword “affiliate marketing business plan” within your content creation process.

Formulating Content Strategy to Educate and Persuade Your Target Audience

An effective content strategy is a harmonious blend of empathy, relevance, and value. To strike this balance, begin by mapping out your content topics based on your audience’s pain points, interests, and aspirations. Utilize various content formats such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, and infographics to cater to diverse preferences and consumption habits. Tell compelling stories, share actionable tips, and provide unbiased reviews to position yourself as a trusted advisor in your niche.

Embrace the art of persuasion by integrating psychological principles like social proof, scarcity, and reciprocity into your content. Maintain a consistent publishing schedule to foster a sense of anticipation and loyalty among your readers. And above all, always prioritize quality over quantity, as it’s the hallmark of a sustainable and successful content strategy.

Utilize Multiple Platforms for Promotion and Traffic

Multi Media Platforms Water Color

In today’s hyper-connected world, the key to unlocking the full potential of your affiliate marketing lies in embracing a multi-platform approach. By leveraging the power of various channels, you can amplify your reach, attract a steady stream of traffic, and ultimately, generate greater revenue. In this section, we’ll delve into the art of harnessing social media, email marketing, and paid ads for increased visibility, as well as explore the world of backlinks and collaborations through guest-posting and blogger outreach.

Leveraging Social Media, Email Marketing, and Paid Ads for Increased Visibility

To truly make your mark in the digital realm, you must diversify your promotional efforts and tap into the power of different platforms. Begin by harnessing the immense reach of social media to share your content, engage with your audience, and establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche. Utilize platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, tailoring your approach to suit each channel’s unique dynamics.

In addition to social media, don’t underestimate the impact of email marketing in nurturing relationships and driving conversions. Craft personalized drip campaigns, share exclusive content, and offer irresistible incentives to keep your subscribers engaged and eager for more.

And finally, consider investing in paid ads on platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads to gain instant visibility and reach a broader audience. Be strategic in your targeting, bidding, and ad creatives, ensuring an optimal return on investment and a consistent influx of traffic.

Building Backlinks and Collaborations Through Guest-Posting and Blogger Outreach

The journey to success in affiliate marketing is rarely a solo one, as building a robust network of connections and collaborations can propel you towards your goals more swiftly. One invaluable strategy is to engage in guest-posting, where you contribute high-quality content to reputable websites in your niche. This not only exposes you to a new audience but also helps you build backlinks that boost your search engine rankings.

Additionally, reach out to influential bloggers and content creators within your niche for potential collaborations, interviews, or product reviews. By forging these mutually beneficial partnerships, you can tap into their loyal following and bolster your credibility as an expert in your field.

In conclusion, utilizing multiple platforms for promotion and traffic is paramount for a thriving affiliate marketing business plan. By leveraging social media, email marketing, and paid ads, as well as cultivating backlinks and collaborations, you will create a powerful promotional engine that propels you towards sustained growth and success.

Track, Analyze, and Optimize Your Campaigns

Track, Analyze, and Optimize Your Campaigns - Water Color

In the dynamic realm of affiliate marketing, the secret to long-lasting success lies in continuous improvement and adaptation. But how do you determine what’s working and what needs fine-tuning? Enter the world of tracking, analyzing, and optimizing your campaigns. This essential process will empower you to make data-driven decisions, fine-tune your strategies, and maximize the return on your efforts. In this section, we’ll explore the utilization of analytics tools to measure campaign performance, and the art of continuous optimization for improved conversion rates and revenue generation.

Utilizing Analytics Tools to Measure Campaign Performance

To make sense of the vast digital landscape and understand the impact of your affiliate marketing business plan, you’ll need to arm yourself with powerful analytics tools. Platforms like Google Analytics , SEMrush , and Ahrefs provide invaluable insights into your website’s performance, traffic sources, user behavior, and more.

Begin by setting up tracking codes, goals, and custom reports to monitor your campaigns’ progress and effectiveness. Dive deep into the data, identifying trends, patterns, and anomalies that can inform your future strategies. Don’t shy away from experimenting with different content formats, promotional channels, and product partnerships, as these discoveries can unlock new growth opportunities.

Continuous Optimization for Improved Conversion Rates and Revenue Generation

Armed with data and insights, it’s time to put your learnings into action and fine-tune your campaigns. Start by optimizing your content for maximum engagement and search engine visibility, incorporating best practices such as internal linking, linking to authoritative sources, proper heading usage, and keyword density.

Next, assess the effectiveness of your promotional efforts across various platforms, and adjust your approach to maximize your reach, engagement, and conversions. This may involve refining your social media strategy, tweaking your email campaigns, or streamlining your paid ads targeting.

Lastly, evaluate your product partnerships and their performance, identifying any areas for improvement or potential new collaborations. Continuously seek feedback from your audience and fellow affiliates, and be open to change and adaptation, as these are the cornerstones of a thriving affiliate marketing business plan.

In conclusion, the journey to creating a successful affiliate marketing business plan is a strategic and methodical one, encompassing five essential steps. By identifying your niche and target audience, selecting high-quality and relevant product partners, crafting engaging and valuable content, utilizing multiple platforms for promotion, and continuously tracking, analyzing, and optimizing your campaigns, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your affiliate marketing goals.

As you embark on this exciting and rewarding path, remember that success is not an overnight phenomenon. It takes time, dedication, and a willingness to learn and adapt. By applying these strategies and consistently refining your approach, you’ll not only create an effective affiliate marketing business plan but also unlock the potential to generate substantial revenue and make a lasting impact in your chosen niche. So, take the leap and start reaping the rewards of your hard work and perseverance.

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Affiliate Marketing Business Plan

Affiliate Marketing Business Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide to Success

Affiliate marketing has emerged as a lucrative opportunity for individuals looking to monetize their online presence. With the right approach and a well-crafted business plan, you can leverage affiliate marketing to generate passive income and build a successful online business.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of creating an effective affiliate marketing business plan, providing you with valuable insights, strategies, and FAQs to help you succeed in this dynamic industry.

Affiliate Marketing Business Plan: A Foundation for Success

A solid business plan serves as a roadmap to guide your affiliate marketing efforts and maximize your earning potential. By outlining your goals, strategies, and tactics, you can effectively organize your activities and stay focused on achieving your objectives. Here’s how to create a winning affiliate marketing business plan:

1. Define Your Niche

To stand out in the crowded affiliate marketing landscape, it’s essential to identify a specific niche that aligns with your interests and expertise. This allows you to target a specific audience and build credibility within that niche. Research different niches and select one that has a substantial market demand, but isn’t overly saturated.

2. Conduct Market Research

Before diving into affiliate marketing, it’s crucial to conduct thorough market research. Understand your target audience’s needs, preferences, and pain points. Identify popular products or services within your niche and evaluate their competitiveness. This research will inform your content creation strategy and help you identify potential affiliate partners.

3. Set Clear Goals

Establishing clear and measurable goals is vital for tracking your progress and evaluating the success of your affiliate marketing efforts. Whether it’s generating a specific number of sales or reaching a target revenue milestone, define your goals and break them down into actionable steps.

4. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

To measure the effectiveness of your affiliate marketing campaigns, it’s essential to identify relevant KPIs. These could include click-through rates, conversion rates, average order value, or revenue per click. Monitoring and analyzing these metrics will help you optimize your strategies and make data-driven decisions.

5. Choose Affiliate Programs

Research and select reputable affiliate programs that align with your niche and audience. Consider factors such as commission rates, product quality, payment terms, and affiliate support. Focus on building long-term partnerships with reliable programs that offer competitive advantages.

6. Create Quality Content

Content is the lifeblood of affiliate marketing. Develop high-quality, engaging content that provides value to your audience. This could include informative blog posts, in-depth product reviews, video tutorials, or social media content. Focus on building trust and establishing yourself as an authority in your niche.

7. Promote Your Content

To drive traffic and increase your affiliate conversions, you need to promote your content effectively. Utilize various marketing channels, such as social media, search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, and paid advertising. Tailor your promotional strategies to your target audience’s preferences and behavior.

8. Optimize for Search Engines

Implementing effective SEO strategies will help your content rank higher in search engine results, increasing its visibility and driving organic traffic to your affiliate offers. Optimize your website structure, utilize relevant keywords, create compelling meta tags, and build high-quality backlinks to improve your search engine rankings.

9. Monitor and Analyze Performance

Regularly monitor and analyze your affiliate marketing performance to identify what’s working and what’s not. Utilize analytics tools to track key metrics such as website traffic, click-through rates, conversion rates, and revenue generated. This data will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your strategies, allowing you to make informed adjustments and optimize your campaigns for better results.

10. Build Relationships with Your Audience

Successful affiliate marketers understand the importance of building strong relationships with their audience. Engage with your followers through comments, emails, social media interactions, and live events. Listen to their feedback, address their concerns, and provide valuable solutions. By establishing trust and rapport, you can increase your credibility and boost conversions.

11. Stay Updated with Industry Trends

The affiliate marketing landscape is constantly evolving, with new trends, technologies, and strategies emerging regularly. Stay updated with the latest industry news, attend relevant conferences and webinars, and engage with fellow affiliate marketers in online communities. This continuous learning will ensure that you stay ahead of the curve and adapt to the changing dynamics of the industry.

12. Diversify Your Affiliate Revenue Streams

Relying on a single affiliate program or product can limit your earning potential. To maximize your revenue, diversify your affiliate partnerships and promote a range of complementary products or services. This not only increases your income streams but also reduces the risk of relying on a single source of income.

13. Test and Iterate Your Strategies

In affiliate marketing, experimentation is key. Test different strategies, promotional channels, content formats, and affiliate programs to identify what works best for your audience. Keep track of your results, make data-driven decisions, and iterate your strategies based on the insights gained. This continuous optimization will help you refine your approach and drive better results over time.

14. Stay Compliant with Legal and Ethical Guidelines

As an affiliate marketer, it’s essential to adhere to legal and ethical guidelines. Familiarize yourself with regulations such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines on affiliate disclosures and ensure that you transparently disclose your affiliate relationships to your audience. Build your business on trust and integrity to maintain a positive reputation and long-term success.

What is an affiliate marketing business plan?

An affiliate marketing business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines your goals, strategies, and tactics for effectively leveraging affiliate marketing to generate income. It serves as a roadmap to guide your activities and ensure that you stay focused on achieving your objectives.

How important is market research in affiliate marketing?

Market research is crucial in affiliate marketing as it helps you understand your target audience, identify popular products or services, and evaluate the competitiveness of your niche. This knowledge allows you to tailor your content and promotional strategies to meet the needs and preferences of your audience.

How can I choose the right affiliate programs?

When selecting affiliate programs, consider factors such as commission rates, product quality, payment terms, and affiliate support. Research reputable programs that align with your niche and audience, and focus on building long-term partnerships that offer competitive advantages.

What role does content play in affiliate marketing?

Content is essential in affiliate marketing as it helps you provide value to your audience, build trust, and establish yourself as an authority in your niche. Develop high-quality content that is informative, engaging, and tailored to the needs of your audience.

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How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Business

affiliate marketing business plan

Starting an affiliate marketing business can be very profitable. With proper planning, execution and hard work, you can enjoy great success. Below you will learn the keys to launching a successful affiliate marketing business.

Importantly, a critical step in starting an affiliate marketing business is to complete your business plan. To help you out, you should download Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template here .

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here

14 Steps To Start an Affiliate Marketing Business :

  • Choose the Name for Your Affiliate Marketing Business
  • Develop Your Affiliate Marketing Business Plan
  • Choose the Legal Structure for Your Affiliate Marketing Business
  • Secure Startup Funding for Your Affiliate Marketing Business (If Needed)
  • Secure a Location for Your Business
  • Register Your Affiliate Marketing Business with the IRS
  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Get a Business Credit Card
  • Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
  • Get Business Insurance for Your Affiliate Marketing Business
  • Buy or Lease the Right Affiliate Marketing Business Equipment
  • Develop Your Affiliate Marketing Business Marketing Materials
  • Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Affiliate Marketing Business
  • Open for Business

1. Choose the Name for Your Affiliate Marketing Business

The first step to starting an affiliate marketing work is to choose your business’ name.  

This is a very important choice since your company name is your brand and will last for the lifetime of your business. Ideally you choose a name that is meaningful and memorable. Here are some tips for choosing a name for your affiliate marketing business:

  • Make sure the name is available . Check your desired name against trademark databases and your state’s list of registered business names to see if it’s available. Also check to see if a suitable domain name is available.
  • Keep it simple . The best names are usually ones that are easy to remember, pronounce and spell.
  • Think about marketing . Come up with a name that reflects the desired brand and/or focus of your affiliate marketing business.

2. Develop Your Affiliate Marketing Business Plan

One of the most important steps in being an affiliate marketer is to develop your business plan. The process of creating your plan ensures that you fully understand your market and your business strategy. The plan also provides you with a roadmap to follow and if needed, to present to funding sources to raise capital for your business.

Your affiliate marketing business plan should include the following sections:

  • Executive Summary – this section should summarize your entire business plan so readers can quickly understand the key details of your affiliate marketing business.
  • Company Overview – this section tells the reader about the history of your affiliate marketing business and what type of affiliate marketing business you operate. For example, are you a merchant-driven, network-driven, or affiliate-driven affiliate marketing business.
  • Industry Analysis – here you will document key information about the affiliate marketing industry. Conduct market research and document how big the industry is and what trends are affecting it.
  • Customer Analysis – in this section, you will document who your ideal or target customers are and their demographics. For example, how old are they? Where do they live? What do they find important when purchasing services like the ones you will offer?
  • Competitive Analysis – here you will document the key direct and indirect competitors you will face and how you will build competitive advantage.
  • Marketing Plan – your marketing plan should address the 4Ps: Product, Price, Promotions and Place.
  • Product : Determine and document what products/services you will offer 
  • Prices : Document the prices of your products/services
  • Place : Where will your business be located and how will that location help you increase sales?
  • Promotions : What promotional methods will you use to attract customers to your affiliate marketing business? For example, you might decide to use pay-per-click advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and/or social media marketing.
  • Operations Plan – here you will determine the key processes you will need to run your day-to-day operations. You will also determine your staffing needs. Finally, in this section of your plan, you will create a projected growth timeline showing the milestones you hope to achieve in the coming years.
  • Management Team – this section details the background of your company’s management team.
  • Financial Plan – finally, the financial plan answers questions including the following:
  • What startup costs will you incur?
  • How will your affiliate marketing business make money?
  • What are your projected sales and expenses for the next five years?
  • Do you need to raise funding to launch your business?

Finish Your Business Plan Today!

3. choose the legal structure for your affiliate marketing business.

Next you need to choose a legal structure for your affiliate marketing business and register it and your business name with the Secretary of State in each state where you operate your business.

Below are the five most common legal structures:

1) Sole proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the owner of the affiliate marketing business and the business are the same legal person. The owner of a sole proprietorship is responsible for all debts and obligations of the business. There are no formalities required to establish a sole proprietorship, and it is easy to set up and operate. The main advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it is simple and inexpensive to establish. The main disadvantage is that the owner is liable for all debts and obligations of the business.

2) Partnerships

A partnership is a legal structure that is popular among small businesses. It is an agreement between two or more people who want to start an affiliate marketing business together. The partners share in the profits and losses of the business. 

The advantages of a partnership are that it is easy to set up, and the partners share in the profits and losses of the business. The disadvantages of a partnership are that the partners are jointly liable for the debts of the business, and disagreements between partners can be difficult to resolve.

3) Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A limited liability company, or LLC, is a type of business entity that provides limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The advantages of an LLC for an affiliate marketing business include flexibility in management, pass-through taxation (avoids double taxation as explained below), and limited personal liability. The disadvantages of an LLC include lack of availability in some states and self-employment taxes.

4) C Corporation

A C Corporation is a business entity that is separate from its owners. It has its own tax ID and can have shareholders. The main advantage of a C Corporation for an affiliate marketing business is that it offers limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The disadvantage is that C Corporations are subject to double taxation. This means that the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and the shareholders also pay taxes on their dividends.

5) S Corporation

An S Corporation is a type of corporation that provides its owners with limited liability protection and allows them to pass their business income through to their personal income tax returns, thus avoiding double taxation. There are several limitations on S Corporations including the number of shareholders they can have among others.

Once you register your affiliate marketing business, your state will send you your official “Articles of Incorporation.” You will need this among other documentation when establishing your banking account (see below). We recommend that you consult an attorney in determining which legal structure is best suited for your company.

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4. Secure Startup Funding for Your Affiliate Marketing Business (If Needed)

In developing your affiliate marketing business plan, you might have determined that you need to raise funding to launch your business. 

If so, the main sources of funding for an affiliate marketing business to consider are personal savings, family and friends, credit card financing, bank loans, crowdfunding and angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who provide capital to early-stage businesses. Angel investors typically will invest in an affiliate marketing business that they believe has high potential for growth.

5. Secure a Location for Your Business

Having the right space can be important for your affiliate marketing business, particularly if you’d like to meet clients there.

To find the right space, consider:

  • Driving around to find the right areas while looking for “for lease” signs
  • Contacting a commercial real estate agent
  • Doing commercial real estate searches online
  • Telling others about your needs and seeing if someone in your network has a connection that can help you find the right space

6. Register Your Affiliate Marketing Business with the IRS

Next, you need to register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which will result in the IRS issuing you an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Most banks will require you to have an EIN in order to open up an account. In addition, in order to hire employees, you will need an EIN since that is how the IRS tracks your payroll tax payments.

Note that if you are a sole proprietor without employees, you generally do not need to get an EIN. Rather, you would use your social security number (instead of your EIN) as your taxpayer identification number.

7. Open a Business Bank Account

It is important to establish a bank account in your affiliate marketing business’ name. This process is fairly simple and involves the following steps:

  • Identify and contact the bank you want to use
  • Gather and present the required documents (generally include your company’s Articles of Incorporation, driver’s license or passport, and proof of address)
  • Complete the bank’s application form and provide all relevant information
  • Meet with a banker to discuss your business needs and establish a relationship with them

8. Get a Business Credit Card

You should get a business credit card for your affiliate marketing business to help you separate personal and business expenses.

You can either apply for a business credit card through your bank or apply for one through a credit card company.

When you’re applying for a business credit card, you’ll need to provide some information about your business. This includes the name of your business, the address of your business, and the type of business you’re running. You’ll also need to provide some information about yourself, including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth.

Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you’ll be able to use it to make purchases for your business. You can also use it to build your credit history which could be very important in securing loans and getting credit lines for your business in the future.

9. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits

In order to start an affiliate marketing business, you will need to obtain the appropriate licenses and permits. You may need a business license, a seller’s permit, or a zoning permit, depending on your location. Contact your local government office for more information.

10. Get Business Insurance for Your Affiliate Marketing Business

Other business insurance policies that you should consider for your affiliate marketing business include:

  • General liability insurance : This covers accidents and injuries that occur on your property. It also covers damages caused by your employees or products.
  • Auto insurance : If a vehicle is used in your business, this type of insurance will cover if a vehicle is damaged or stolen.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance : If you have employees, this type of policy works with your general liability policy to protect against workplace injuries and accidents. It also covers medical expenses and lost wages.
  • Commercial property insurance : This covers damage to your property caused by fire, theft, or vandalism.
  • Business interruption insurance : This covers lost affiliate income and expenses if your business is forced to close due to a covered event.
  • Professional liability insurance : This protects your business against claims of professional negligence.

Find an insurance agent, tell them about your business and its needs, and they will recommend policies that fit those needs. 

11. Buy or Lease the Right Affiliate Marketing Business Equipment

Some basic equipment needed to be a successful affiliate marketer includes a computer or laptop with internet access, a phone, and a printer. You will also need to set up a bank account and a merchant account to process payments. You may also want to invest in some marketing materials, such as an affiliate website, business cards, and flyers.

12. Develop Your Affiliate Marketing Business Marketing Materials

Marketing materials will be required to attract and retain customers to your affiliate marketing business.

The key marketing materials you will need are as follows:

  • Logo : Spend some time developing a good logo for your affiliate marketing business. Your logo will be printed on company stationery, business cards, marketing materials and so forth. The right logo can increase customer trust and awareness of your brand.
  • Website : Likewise, a professional affiliate marketing business website provides potential customers with information about the services you offer, your company’s history, and contact information. Importantly, remember that the look and feel of your website will affect how customers perceive you.
  • Social Media Accounts : establish social media accounts in your company’s name. Accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social media networks will help customers and others find and interact with your affiliate marketing business.

13. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Affiliate Marketing Business

To start an affiliate marketing business, you will need some essential software. This includes a web browser, an email client, and a word processing program. You may also want to consider using a content management system (CMS) to help you manage your website. A CMS allows you to create and edit your website’s content without having to learn HTML or CSS.

14. Open for Business

You are now ready to open your affiliate marketing business. If you followed the steps above, you should be in a great position to build a successful business. Below are answers to frequently asked questions that might further help you.

How to Finish Your Affiliate Marketing Business Plan in 1 Day!

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With Growthink’s Ultimate Business Plan Template you can finish your plan in just 8 hours or less!

How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Business FAQs

Is it hard to start an affiliate marketing business.

No, it's not hard to start an affiliate marketing business. In fact, there are a lot of different ways that you can go about doing it. You can start by finding a product or service that you're interested in and then finding a company that sells that product or service. You can also join an affiliate program and promote products or services that way. There are a lot of different ways to get started, and the best way to find out is to just dive in and give it a try.

How can I start an affiliate marketing business with no experience?

There are a few different ways that you can start an affiliate marketing business with no experience. One option is to join an affiliate marketing program that offers training and support. This can be a great way to learn the ropes and get started. Another option is to attend a live conference or workshop on affiliate marketing. These events can be a great way to learn from experts and network with other entrepreneurs. Finally, you can also read books or online articles about affiliate marketing to learn more about the topic.

What type of affiliate marketing business is most profitable?

There are a few different types of affiliate marketing businesses that you can start, but the most profitable is likely to be a business where you are an affiliate marketer for products or services. With this type of business, you will need to find a product or service to promote and then drive traffic to the offer. You can do this by creating your own website or blog, making affiliate campaigns, or by using paid advertising methods such as Google AdWords.

How much does it cost to start an affiliate marketing business?

Affiliate marketing businesses can be started for relatively little cost. The most important expense is the cost of advertising and marketing your business. Other costs may include website development, design and hosting, and any other tools or services you may need to operate your business. You should also factor in the cost of acquiring customers, which can be done through advertising or by providing valuable content that encourages people to visit your website.

What are the ongoing expenses for an affiliate marketing business?

Affiliate marketing businesses have relatively low ongoing expenses. The main costs are for the domain name and web hosting, which typically cost between $10 and $50 per year. You may also need to pay for a subscription to affiliate networks , which costs around $100 per year. Marketing and advertising costs can vary widely, depending on the methods you use to promote your business.

How does an affiliate marketing business make money?

Affiliate marketing businesses make money by earning commissions on sales they refer to other businesses. When a customer clicks on an affiliate link to a product or service, he/she is redirected to an affiliate site and the affiliate marketing business is paid a commission by the other business.

Is owning an affiliate marketing business profitable?

The answer to this question largely depends on how successful you are in building your affiliate marketing business. There are many people who earn a full-time income through affiliate marketing, and there are also many people who fail to make any money at all. The key to success is to put in the hard work necessary to build a successful business.

There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success:

  • Choose the right niche: It's important to choose a niche that you are interested in and that has a large potential market
  • Build a website: This is essential for any affiliate marketing business. Your website will be your primary tool for attracting visitors and converting them into customers
  • Create valuable content: Your website must have high-quality content if you want visitors to stick around and convert into customers.
  • Promote your website: You need to actively promote your website in order to attract traffic and convert visitors into customers. There are many ways to do this, including SEO, social media, and paid advertising.
  • Track your results: It's important to track your results so you can see which strategies are working and which ones aren't. This will help you optimize your marketing efforts and improve your chances of success.

Why do affiliate marketing businesses fail?

The main reason affiliate marketers fail is because the people who start them don’t do their research first. They think it’s going to be easy money and they don’t put in the work needed to make it successful. One of the affiliate marketing mistakes is that they don’t have a plan or an affiliate marketing strategy. They just start affiliate marketing and hope for the best. If you want to start an affiliate marketing business, you need to do your research and have a plan in place. You need to know what affiliate products you’re going to promote, how you’re going to promote them, and what your goals are. You also need to have a budget in place and be prepared to invest time and money into your business. If you can do all of that, then you have a good chance of making your affiliate marketing business successful.

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Affiliate Marketing Business Plan (Why You Need One & How to Write It)

Affiliate Marketing Business Plan (Why You Need One & How to Write It)

Starting a affiliate marketing business may sound like an easy thing to do. However, it's not the case since starting such a business involves a lot of things to settle. In general, there's so much more to starting a affiliate marketing business that you need to have a business plan to be successful. Otherwise, you will end up being overwhelmed with so many things.

Now, if you're wondering about a business plan and how it's essential as you start your affiliate marketing business, you've come to the right place!

A business plan for a affiliate marketing business generally illustrates your goals, financial strategies, research, and everything else involved with your business. It contains the strategy for guiding and helping you start and run your business.

In this article, we'll talk more about the business plan for a affiliate marketing business and every concern you may ask about, mainly how to write one.

Without further ado, let's get into it!

What is a affiliate marketing business plan?

A affiliate marketing business plan is a document that defines (in detail) a affiliate marketing business' objectives and how it plans to achieve its goals.

For instance, a affiliate marketing business typically needs an initial investment. As such, you need to include the said amount in your plan and how you can acquire such, either from your pocket or through a business loan or any other financing option (learn more about a affiliate marketing business financing .

Profit and goal are other examples. It is also included in your business plan as a goal to achieve within a set period, usually within months.

Overall, the business plan is the document that lays out a written road map for the affiliate marketing business from a marketing, financial, and operational standpoint. You should also have a basic idea about a affiliate marketing business profitability .

Business plans are essential for startups and established businesses, and the affiliate marketing business is no exception. Every business, regardless of the type, should have one.

Further, business plans are critical documents for internal and external audiences. For instance, you may use these plans to attract investors before establishing a track record. It can also help you secure loans from financial institutions.

Business plans can also help keep your affiliate marketing business' leadership team on track for meeting established goals and on track with strategic action items.

Overall, business plans are particularly helpful for new businesses, including the affiliate marketing business. Ideally, goals should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect achievements or changes. When an established business changes direction, a new business plan is created.

Why do you need a affiliate marketing business plan?

You need a affiliate marketing business plan for several reasons. However, the main reasons are to help you establish your company, set the goals you want to achieve, and evaluate your affiliate marketing business’ status after a specific timeframe.

As a general rule, your business plan serves as a guide. Revising and adjusting this plan may also be necessary as circumstances change throughout your actions.

You should know that if you plan to apply for a business loan (which any knowledgeable entrepreneur should do), lenders want to see a business plan.

For your affiliate marketing business to succeed and meet your goals, you need a precise and robust business plan.

Learn more about starting an affiliate marketing business :

Where to start?

-> How to start an affiliate marketing business? -> How to finance an affiliate marketing business? -> How much does it cost to start an affiliate marketing business? -> Pros and cons of an affiliate marketing business

Need inspiration?

-> Other affiliate marketing business success stories -> Examples of established affiliate marketing business -> Affiliate marketing business slogans -> Affiliate marketing business names -> Affiliate marketing business Instagram bios

Other resources

-> Profitability of an affiliate marketing business -> Affiliate marketing business tips -> Email templates for an affiliate marketing business -> Blog post ideas for an affiliate marketing business

How to write a affiliate marketing business plan?

When creating a business plan, you need to include more than just the steps on how you start. It also includes how you will sustain it and how you can develop it even further as you move forward. Simply put, it should include everything related to your affiliate marketing business.

If you’re wondering how to write a business plan for your affiliate marketing business, here are the things you need to include:

1. Executive summary

The executive summary in a business plan includes a gist of your entire affiliate marketing business. Further, it includes the general reason why it will turn out successful.

2. Company description

The company description details every information about your affiliate marketing business. As such, it includes your advantages over your potential competitors and the things that make your business stand out above other similar companies.

3. Organization and management

The organization and management are the part of your business plan that states the structure of your affiliate marketing business.

It includes the entire staff, especially the ones who will run your affiliate marketing business, whether you’re solo, with a partner, or with a group of people. Simply put, it shows what type of business you run and who is responsible for it.

4. Market analysis

The market analysis is the part of your business plan that shows your perspective on the industry where your affiliate marketing business belongs.

Since it’s about marketing, it includes your target market or customers. Further, it includes your potential competitors since they can take away your potential customers.

5. Financial plan

The financial plan is the part that concerns everything related to your affiliate marketing business finances. This document consists of a detailed financial statement and an analysis of your finances and the required funds .

6. Marketing strategy

The marketing strategy outlines the concerns about reaching out to potential customers . Moreover, it demonstrates how to expose the products and services your affiliate marketing business offers.

Besides attracting customers, it also includes strategies for gaining new customers and keeping the regular ones from leaving. Finally, it outlines strategies for increasing sales for your affiliate marketing business to grow.

What makes a good affiliate marketing business plan?

A good affiliate marketing business plan serves as a roadmap that outlines the strategies and actions required to achieve the goals and objectives of a business. It typically includes information about the business's products or services, target market, competition, marketing and sales strategies, operations, financial projections, and management team.

Here are some key elements that make up a good business plan:

  • Executive summary : This is a brief overview of the entire business plan, summarizing the key points and objectives of the company.
  • Company description : This section provides detailed information about affiliate marketing business, including its history, mission statement, and legal structure.
  • Market analysis : This section should describe the industry and market that affiliate marketing business operates in, including target customers, competitors, and market trends.
  • Products or services : This section should describe the products or services affiliate marketing business offers, highlighting their unique features and benefits.
  • Marketing and sales strategies : This section should detail the strategies that affiliate marketing business will use to promote and sell its products or services, including pricing, distribution, and advertising.
  • Operations : This section should outline the day-to-day operations of affiliate marketing business, including manufacturing, production, and distribution.
  • Financial projections : This section should provide detailed financial projections, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.
  • Management team : This section should introduce the key members of affiliate marketing business's management team, highlighting their qualifications and experience.

Overall, a good affiliate marketing business plan should be well-researched, realistic, and focused on achieving specific goals and objectives. It should also be adaptable and able to evolve as the business grows and changes over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can i write a affiliate marketing business plan myself.

Yes, you can write a affiliate marketing business plan yourself. It requires a clear understanding of your goals, target audience, competition, financial projections, and marketing strategy. Research successful plans and use templates. Ensure it's comprehensive, realistic and seek help if needed. Ultimately, a good business plan sets you up for success.

How long should a affiliate marketing business plan be?

There is no standard length for a affiliate marketing business plan. It can range from a one-page summary to a comprehensive document of 50+ pages. The length depends on the complexity of the business, audience, and purpose. A concise plan that covers key elements is often more effective than a lengthy one.

In a nutshell, creating a business plan for a affiliate marketing business is a bit complicated, but you still need to do it.

Overall, a business plan will help you make the right calls, obtain the funding you need, and strongly start your new affiliate marketing business. As such, you must make a robust and precise one.

The six parts we included above should be handy throughout this process. With this information, you can begin writing your business plan and see what it takes to become a professional entrepreneur.

  • 1,120+ Best Affiliate Marketing Business Names [2024] 1 of 13
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  • How To Start An Affiliate Marketing Business [+Step-By-Step Guide] 4 of 13
  • 50 Creative Blog Post Ideas For Affiliate Marketers [2024] 5 of 13
  • 20 Email Templates To Help Affiliate Marketers Boost Growth [2024] 6 of 13
  • How Profitable Is An Affiliate Marketing Business? (Updated for 2024) 7 of 13
  • 70 Best Instagram Bios for Affiliate Marketing Business 8 of 13
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  • How Much Does It Cost To Start An Affiliate Marketing Business? (In 2024) 10 of 13
  • 51 Trending Affiliate Marketing Businesses [2024] 11 of 13
  • 39 Pros & Cons Of Starting An Affiliate Marketing Business (2024) 12 of 13
  • How To Finance An Affiliate Marketing Business? [2024] 13 of 13

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Affiliate Marketing for Beginners: What You Need to Know

Learn how to earn a passive income with affiliate marketing.



Get started with influencer marketing.

affiliate marketing passive income woman working on computer and writing

Updated: 11/23/21

Published: 03/18/21

If you’ve ever came across Tim Ferris's iconic book on how to just work four hours per week, you’ve probably dreamed of sipping a Mojito on a beach while your money worked for you in the background. One of the main ideas he constantly talks about is the concept of passive income .

After all, having an income chart like this is the main goal of many online entrepreneurs:

passive income goal sample chart

For many entrepreneurs looking to build an online business or marketers looking to monetize their web traffic, affiliate marketing is often how they got started with generating income.

Affiliate marketing is one of the world’s most popular methods of generating passive income online, and it continues to grow. In fact, affiliate marketing spend is reported to increase to $8.2 billion by 2022 — up from $5.4 billion in 2017.

If you’re looking for a complete guide to affiliate marketing, read more to find out how you can promote products as an affiliate to create an additional source of income.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

How to Start Affiliate Marketing

How Much Can You Make From Affiliate Marketing?

Are You Ready to Start Affiliate Marketing?

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing tactic in which a retailer, typically an online one, rewards a website with a commission for each customer referred via the website’s promotional activities. The website, often called an affiliate, will only get paid when their promotion results in a transaction.

affiliate marketing business plan

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There are typically four parties involved in affiliate marketing:

  • Affiliates: The promoters of the product
  • Product creators: The creators of the product
  • Networks: The networks managing the affiliates
  • Consumers: The end users of the product

affiliate marketing model

You don’t always need a network to become an affiliate, but the other three parties (the affiliates, the product creators, and the consumers) form the core of an affiliate program.

Who are the affiliates?

An affiliate, also known as a publisher, can be an individual or a company. Typically, these are other bloggers or content creators operating in the industry of the product they are creating.

They help promote the product or service by creating content like blog posts, videos, or other media.

They can also promote their content to get transactions by putting up ads, capturing search traffic from SEO, or building an email list.

When one of their visitors creates a transaction, which could be a purchase or submitting a lead form, the affiliate gets a commission . How much commission is structured depends on the affiliate program terms.

Who are the merchants?

A merchant, also known as the product creator or advertiser, is typically the creator of the product or services. They offer revenue sharing and commissions to people or other companies (affiliates), which have a significant following on their brand.

The merchant can be a company like HubSpot, which offers a commission to every affiliate who’s able to get their visitors to make a purchase.

Or it can be an individual like Pat Flynn, who offers an affiliate program with his podcasts.

The merchants can be anyone from a solopreneur to a big company, as long as they are willing to pay their affiliates to help them gain a transaction.

Sometimes the merchant does not even have to be the product creator, as in the case of the Amazon Associates Program .

Who are the affiliate networks?

An affiliate network acts as an intermediary between the merchants and their affiliates. In some cases, a network is not necessary, but some companies choose to work with a network to add a layer of trust.

The network manages the relationship and provides third-party checks and balances. Third-party checks can be important because they bring down fraud rates.

Some popular networks include ClickBank and ShareASale .

Some merchants choose to work with an affiliate network because they lack the time or resources to track, report, and manage payments to the affiliates. They might also choose to work with multiple affiliates or publishers within the affiliate network.

Who are the consumers?

The consumers or customers are the ones who makes the transaction. They are the ones who purchase the product or submit the lead form in order for the affiliate to gain the commission.

How does affiliate marketing work?

Affiliates are typically paid whenever a visitor creates a transaction, such as a click, form submission, or sale. Affiliate marketing is mostly performance-based, which means you only get paid as an affiliate if your visitor takes an action (versus just visits your site).

Let's say you owned a popular knitting blog that saw 100,000 hits per month, and a knitting supply company contacted you about promoting their needles and yarn on your website. As an affiliate, you'd place links to their products throughout your blog content. In this case, you'd receive affiliate income if a visitor landed on your blog and took an action — either a click, form submission, or purchase.

We'll talk more about getting paid in the next section . In the meantime, here are some common affiliate marketing models:

Pay-Per-Click (PPC): The affiliate gets paid for all clicks that were generated, regardless of whether a lead or sale happened. This is fairly rare since all the risk is on the product creator.

Pay-Per-Lead (PPL) : The affiliate gets paid for every lead they generated. This could be an online form submission, trial creation, or any pre-purchase. This is a shared risk on both the merchant and the affiliate.

Pay-Per-Sale (PPS) : The affiliate gets paid for every sale they generated. This is the most common model since all the risk is on the affiliate.

Need some examples? Check out our video on the top three ways you can use influencer marketing to grow your business.

Now, let's talk about how to get started with affiliate marketing.

  • Choose a platform and niche.
  • Build an audience.
  • Sign up for an affiliate program.
  • Choose products to promote.
  • Create remarkable content that promotes your affiliate products.
  • Optimize and track.

When it comes to affiliate marketing, most people think it's a process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s or company’s products.

While affiliate marketing can seem straightforward — just find a product you love, promote it, and earn a piece of profit with every sale you make — there are actually a few moving parts you need to a monitor.

1. Choose a platform and niche.

To be an affiliate, you need to have influence. Establishing a website or blog that specializes in a niche is the best way to establish influence. Whether you focus on finance, personal health, business, or even cats, a niched blog or website will help you gain influence and build an audience.

Affiliate marketers build audiences through blogs (on WordPress or HubSpot ),via newsletters , or even on YouTube or other social media channels.

2. Build an audience.

A large, engaged audience is a highly valuable asset for any blog or website. Having people who read, view, and engage with your content can help you make affiliate income.

The best way to build an audience is to first establish who your target audience is, and you can find your target audience by researching competitors, monitoring your traffic, and conducting first-hand research by talking to subscribers and customers.

Once you establish this group, grow and cultivate your loyal online audience through targeted content and emails. Give your audience a reason to read and engage with your content, and they'll find a reason to purchase your recommended products, too.

3. Sign up for an affiliate program.

The best way to get started with affiliate marketing is by signing up for an affiliate program like the Amazon Associates or HubSpot Affiliate Program . After signing up, you will get an affiliate link that contains a unique ID. You can then use this link in your content.

There are typically no upfront costs when it comes to joining an affiliate program, but your variable ongoing costs will depend on how you want to promote the products. If you choose to outsource content or run ads, those are costs that will come out of your pocket.

4. Choose which products to promote.

Choosing the right product to promote, working with the right company, fostering relationships, and updating content are all core essentials of excelling at affiliate marketing.

According to Pat Flynn , one of the pioneers of creating passive income through providing value to his audience, there are two important rules when it comes to affiliate marketing:

  • Only recommend products as an affiliate that you’re extremely very familiar with. If you are not confident in the product and do not feel it will help people, do not promote it.
  • Never tell anyone to directly buy a product. Always recommend products based on your experience and in the context of what you’ve done.

When it comes to choosing the right products, David Gonzalez — founder of an affiliate management agency, suggests that you should think about these three components when choosing a product to promote:

  • Your audience: Will the product resonate with them and make them grateful you promoted it?
  • Product quality & value: Would you advocate your best friend buying it?
  • Profitability: Does the offer have highly competitive conversions & payouts?

After reading these recommendations, do any products come to mind?

5. Create remarkable content that promotes your affiliate products.

To see the best success with affiliate marketing, you need to create genuine and remarkable content that promotes your chosen products. Write a roundup blog post of your favorite products. Create comparison charts that discuss the merits of similar products. Interview other users and fans of the products to showcase different opinions.

Regardless of what kind of content you create, ensure it features authentic reviews and mentions of your affiliate products. Avoid discussing and promoting products you haven't used yourself.

6. Optimize and track.

Whenever your visitor clicks on your unique affiliate link, a cookie is inserted in their browser to track actions.

When they make a transaction that is a qualified action (could be a sale or lead form submission, depending on the terms of the program), the merchant is able to record this action and attribute it to you as an affiliate so they can make a payout.

You should track your own affiliate content, too, to see what has performed well and what you can improve and promote. Understanding what content resonates best with your audience will show you what to focus on for future affiliate marketing opportunities.

7. Get paid.

There are different structures when it comes to payout, which varies based on affiliate program terms.

Commission payouts by the company are usually given on a monthly basis, but this varies depending on the affiliate program terms. This can also be based on how each affiliate program reallocates spending or determines its compensation structure.

It could be a weekly payout or a monthly payment for all the leads or sales you've made.

You'll want to pay attention to the payout structure when choosing an affiliate program to join, which ultimately depends on the goals you have.

You might want to understand the commission structure of the company or product creator. Are you looking for a commission per sale or commission per lead generated? Are you looking at a recurring commission or a one-off payment?

Depending on your goals, this will affect which product you choose, how you plan to promote the product as well as how much time & resources you want to invest.

For instance, if you choose to promote your content via paid ads, then that’s a cost you have to account for. You will have to compare how much you’ve spent to promote each piece of content or to generate each purchase against how much commission you’re getting for each referred sale.

Or, if you have a blog and an affiliate website , then you will have to pay for hosting. In this case, this should be a flat fee spread out across all your referred sale.

Use this marketing plan generator to calculate how much you need to invest to get a basic marketing plan up and running. You can also see this case study how HubSpot uses Impact for our affiliate program.

How much can you make from affiliate programs?

You might be wondering, what are established affiliates earnings? (established affiliates are those working full-time.) Well, that varies. I've seen super affiliates earn upwards of $100,000 per month .

Making money from an affiliate program is more about the profits than the revenue you’re getting.

An affiliate making $5000/day might be worse off than another affiliate making $500/day with no cash outflow because the former might be spending most of his revenue on paid acquisition.

At the end of the day, before becoming an affiliate, you have to align your expectations to your earning potential. What kind of industry or niche you operate in, and what kind of work you do depends a lot on how much you want to make.

If you focus on ads like Adwords or Facebook to promote your affiliate products, how much money you invest is as important (if not more) as how much you make.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

Too often do I hear this misconception: affiliate marketing is dead .

In today's landscape of online marketing, people often mention that some variant of X is dead — SEO, email, mobile, etc.

The test of time is a pretty good test; if something has stayed around for a while, there’s a better chance of it sticking around for a while.

Everything evolves, and there are tactics that don’t work the exact same way as they did before. Affiliate marketing, of course, is no exception to that rule.

Affiliate marketing has evolved from a get-rich-quick scheme into something that requires you to build real trust with you audience to reap the rewards of the work that you put in.

At the end of the day, becoming a successful affiliate marketer as a beginner requires you to nail down the fundamentals of marketing. Authenticity is hard to fake, especially when it comes to building your own personal brand.

A brand that promotes products incessantly without any regard for bringing real value to its audience will find affiliate marketing to be a short-lived source of income. Choosing the right products to promote, stemming from a true passion for what the product does, forms the basis of all your promotional activities.

It's also important to continue learning about affiliate marketing. Take a course , read tips and tricks, and stay curious.

While there are many tactics to scale your promotion, the golden rule of affiliate marketing stays the same: only promote products you love and treat your audience like humans.

Build your own brand, choose products that you love, create authentic content and you will be on your way to building a real source of passive income.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Affiliate Marketing Business Plan

Published Apr.24, 2023

Updated Apr.24, 2024

By: Jakub Babkins

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Affiliate marketing business plan

Table of Content

1. What Is A Business Plan For Affiliate Marketing?

An affiliate marketing business plan template is a written document that outlines the strategies, tactics, and objectives a business intends to use to promote its affiliate program.  This plan should include an overview of the products or services being offered, the target market, and the marketing strategies and tactics that will be used to reach potential customers. 

The affiliate marketing business plan sample should also list the program’s budget and timeline and any specific details related to the affiliate program, such as commission rates, payouts, and tracking methods. Having a well-thought-out business plan is essential for any successful affiliate marketing program.

Marketing affiliate agreement: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1397951/000151116414000306/exhibit102720140508mkhdandbf.htm

2. Why Do I Need An Affiliate Marketing Business Plan?

An affiliate marketing business plan is essential to help you stay organized, focused, and motivated as you build your business. It serves as your roadmap, an action plan outlining your strategies and tactics for achieving your goals. 

It also helps you to identify potential obstacles, plan for them and find solutions. A business plan for affiliate marketing can also help you attract potential partners and investors and measure your progress.

3. Steps To Start Affiliate Marketing Business

Like the Advertising Agency Business Plan , creating an effective affiliate marketing business plan is essential for success. This business plan for an affiliate marketing website should outline how to launch, promote and monetize your business. Here are some of the key steps to get started: 

  • Research the Market: Do your research to understand the market and identify the best opportunities for your business. Consider the niche you want to focus on, the products you want to promote, and the channels you will use to reach and monetize your target audience.
  • Choose Your Partners: Select the right affiliate partners to collaborate with. Carefully evaluate their products, services, commission structure, and customer service policies.
  • Develop Your Website: Create a website that is optimized for organic search and includes content that will help you attract and convert leads. Make sure you include an opt-in page for email subscribers.
  • Set Up Your Tracking System: Establish a reliable tracking system to track your leads and sales. This will help you understand your ROI and ensure you’re getting paid accurately.
  • Promote Your Offers: Use paid and organic tactics to promote your offers. In Social Media Marketing Management Business Plan , this could include email marketing, social media campaigns, search engine optimization, and influencer marketing.
  • Monitor and Analyze Performance: Monitor and analyze performance regularly. This will help you understand what’s working and what needs to be improved.

By following these steps and creating an effective plan, you’ll be well on your way to starting a successful affiliate marketing business.

4. Goals Of The Affiliate Program

The goals of the affiliate program are to increase brand recognition, generate leads, and drive sales. We will strive to build a long-term relationship with affiliates that will continue to generate revenue for our business. 

Specifically, the objectives of our affiliate program are to:

  • Increase our reach by expanding our affiliate network and recruiting affiliates that align with our brand’s values and mission. 
  • Increase our affiliate sales by developing attractive commission structures, promotional offers, and affiliate incentives. 
  • Develop an effective communication strategy to ensure our affiliates are updated with our latest promotions and offers. 
  • Monitor our affiliates’ performance and provide timely feedback to help them maximize their sales. 
  • Continuously evaluate our affiliate program and make any necessary changes to ensure our affiliates are successful. 
  • Provide excellent customer service to our affiliates so they are happy to promote our brand. 
  • Develop a comprehensive tracking system to measure the success of our program accurately. 
  • Cultivate relationships with our affiliates to ensure they remain loyal to our brand.

5. Benefits Of The Affiliate Program

The benefits of an affiliate program to a business are numerous and can be a great way to increase profits. Affiliate programs allow businesses to take advantage of the power of word-of-mouth marketing and referrals without taking on the cost and responsibility of creating and managing their affiliate network. Affiliates are individuals or companies with a vested interest in promoting and selling a business’s products or services. 

Affiliate programs are beneficial to businesses because they give business access to a wide network of potential customers. Businesses can reach new markets and expand their customer base by partnering with affiliates. Additionally, businesses can leverage the reputation and influence of their affiliates to increase brand awareness.

Affiliates can also benefit from an affiliate program. By promoting products and services they believe in and have a vested interest in, affiliates can increase their income by earning a commission for every sale. Additionally, affiliates can take advantage of promotional materials, such as discounts and special offers, that are provided by the business.

By creating an affiliate program, businesses can enjoy the benefits of having access to a wide network of potential customers, increased brand awareness, and increased profits. Additionally, affiliates can benefit from the program by earning a commission for every sale made and taking advantage of promotional materials provided by the business.


6. Competitive Analysis

The affiliate marketing business is a highly competitive industry. Many established companies have well-developed strategies, customer bases, and marketing teams. As a new entrant, it is important to understand and analyze the competition to develop a successful affiliate marketing business plan. 

The competition can be divided into three main categories:

  • Direct Competitors: These companies offer similar services to the ones offered by our affiliate marketing business. Their strategies, customer bases, and marketing teams are similar, and they can pose a direct threat to our business. Examples of direct competitors include Commission Junction, ShareASale, and AvantLink. 
  • Indirect Competitors : These companies offer related services but are not direct competitors. They can still threaten our business by competing for customers or taking away potential partners. Examples of indirect competitors include Google AdSense, Amazon Associates, and ClickBank. 
  • Potential Competitors: These companies are not yet offering services but could become a threat in the future. As such, it is important to watch them and prepare for their potential entry into the market. Examples of potential competitors include Microsoft Advertising and Rakuten Linkshare. 

Understanding the competition in the affiliate marketing business makes it possible to create a successful business plan and stay ahead of the competition. To be successful, it is important to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the competition, track their strategies, and stay up-to-date on new developments.

7. Products For Affiliate Program

This business model and plan for affiliate marketing outline the products sold through an affiliate program. These products include digital products, physical products, and services. In Digital Marketing Agency Business Plan , these products will be sold through various channels, including social media, websites, blogs, and email campaigns.

  • Digital Products: We offer various digital products, such as eBooks, webinars, audio courses, video courses, and more. Our digital products are designed to provide our affiliates with valuable information and insights to help them grow and succeed in their business.
  • Software: We offer a variety of software products to help our affiliates manage their businesses. Our software products are designed to be easy to use and provide our affiliates with the tools they need to be successful.
  • Web Hosting: We provide web hosting services to our affiliates. Our web hosting services are designed to be reliable and secure. We also provide our affiliates with the tools they need to build and maintain their websites.
  • Advertising Services: We offer advertising services to our affiliates. Our advertising services are designed to help our affiliates reach their target audience. We offer various advertising options, including pay-per-click, banner ads, and more.
  • Consulting Services: We offer consulting services to our affiliates. Our consulting services are designed to help our affiliates grow and succeed in their business. We provide our affiliates with advice and guidance on maximizing their best results.

8. Target Audience For Affiliate Program

  • Bloggers: This program is designed to attract bloggers who create content that is related to the products or services promoted through the affiliate program.
  • Content Creators: Content creators are another key audience for this affiliate program. This includes influencers, video creators, and others who create content that can be used to promote the affiliate program’s products or services.
  • Social Media Influencers: Social media influencers have large followings on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. They can be a powerful tool to promote the affiliate program’s products or services and can reach a large audience.
  • E-commerce Businesses : E-commerce businesses can benefit from the affiliate program by promoting the products or services offered on their websites. This can be a great way to earn additional income while also helping to promote the affiliate program.
  • Affiliate Marketers: Affiliate marketers are the primary target audience for this affiliate program. They are experienced in promoting products or services and can help to drive traffic and sales for the affiliate program.

9. Software For Affiliate 

The software used in affiliate marketing can be divided into five main categories: tracking, shopping cart software, analytics software, email marketing software, and content management software to guide how to write a business plan for affiliate marketing.

Tracking Software. Tracking software is the most important type of software used in affiliate marketing. Tracking software helps affiliates monitor their campaigns, track commissions, analyze performance, and make informed decisions. They can also monitor clicks, impressions, and conversions, giving them a good insight into the success of their campaigns. Popular tracking software includes HitPath, HitTail, and ClickBank.

Tracking Software links:

  • HitPath: https://www.hitpath.com/
  • HitTail: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hittail/mgimoelmopblhbkfdmodajblmapkkdof?hl=en
  • ClickBank: https://www.clickbank.com/

Shopping Cart Software.  Shopping cart software allows customers to purchase products from the affiliate’s website. It is an essential software in affiliate marketing, allowing customers to quickly and securely purchase products from the affiliate’s website. Popular shopping cart software includes Magento, Shopify, and WooCommerce.

Shopping Cart Software links:

  • Magento: https://www.mgtclusters.com/
  • Shopify: https://www.shopify.com/
  • WooCommerce: https://woocommerce.com/

Content Management Software. Content management software (CMS) creates and manages content for the affiliate’s website. This software helps affiliates create content quickly and easily, enabling them to focus on other aspects of their business. Popular CMS software includes WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

Content Management Software links:

  • WordPress: https://wordpress.com/
  • Joomla: https://www.joomla.org/
  • Drupal: https://www.drupal.org/

Email Marketing Software. Email marketing software is used to send automated emails to customers. This software helps affiliates stay in touch with their customers and keep them engaged with their campaigns. Popular email marketing software includes MailChimp, Constant Contact, and AWeber. Email Marketing Software links:

  • MailChimp: https://mailchimp.com/
  • Constant Contact: https://www.constantcontact.com/
  • AWeber: https://www.aweber.com/

Analytics Software. Analytics software helps affiliates track the performance of their campaigns. This software helps them analyze data such as clicks, impressions, and conversions, giving them insight into the success of their campaigns. Popular analytics software includes Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics. Analytics Software links:

  • Google Analytics: https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/provision/#/provision
  • Adobe Analytics: https://business.adobe.com/products/analytics/adobe-analytics.html

10. Promotion For Affiliate Marketing Company

Finding new clients for partnership marketing can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor. To be successful, it is essential to have a solid affiliate marketing business plan pdf that outlines the strategies and tactics that will be used to attract new clients.

  • Build an Effective Website: Having a well-designed website is essential for generating leads and attracting potential clients for partnership marketing. Ensure that your website is easy to navigate, visually appealing, and contains clear and concise information about your services.
  • Leverage Social Media: Social media is an excellent way to reach out to potential clients for partnership marketing. Create accounts on multiple social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, and post regular content about your services and offerings.
  • Networking: Attend networking events, seminars, and conferences related to your business field. Communicate with the attendees, introduce yourself and your services, and establish connections.
  • Cold Calling : Cold calling is one of the most effective ways to reach out to potential clients. Research your target market and list companies you want to partner with. Reach out to the decision-makers of these companies and present your services.
  • Referrals: Referrals are an excellent way to gain new clients. Ask your existing clients to refer you to other companies interested in your services. Offer incentives such as discounts or free services for successful referrals.
  • Email Marketing: Email marketing is an effective way to reach out to potential clients. Create a list of emails of people interested in your services. Send emails introducing your services, and provide clear information about the benefits of partnering with your company.

11. Conversion Rate Optimization

Excellent work.

excellent work, competent advice. Alex is very friendly, great communication. 100% I recommend CGS capital. Thank you so much for your hard work!

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a marketing strategy that focuses on increasing the number of website visitors that take a desired action. The business plan goals and objectives for high-end affiliate marketing websites involve analyzing website analytics to identify areas of improvement and then utilizing tactics such as A/B testing and personalization to drive conversions.

Goals: The goal of conversion rate optimization is to increase the percentage of website visitors that take a desired action, such as making a purchase, signing up for an email list, or downloading an app. The goal is to improve the user experience and make it easier for visitors to complete the desired action.

Strategies: The strategies used to optimize conversions include A/B testing, personalization, and segmentation. A/B testing involves creating two versions of a website or landing page and testing which performs better. Personalization involves using data to create personalized experiences for website visitors. Segmentation involves dividing website visitors into different segments based on their behavior and then targeting them with specific messages and offers.

Tools: The tools used to optimize conversions include Google Analytics, Optimizely, and Hotjar. Google Analytics provides insight into website analytics and allows marketers to track user behavior. Optimizely allows marketers to create and test different website or landing page versions. Hotjar allows marketers to gain insights into user behavior and create heatmaps of user activity

12. Choose OGS Capital for Your Affiliate Marketing Business Plan and Get the Most Out of Your Investment! 

OGS Capital has years of experience in affiliate marketing and understands the industry’s complexities.

 We have the expertise to create a customized business plan that meets the requirements of your business and provides the guidance you need to make the most of your investment. 

Our team of experienced business consultants will work with you to create a plan that takes into account your goals, current market conditions, and financial projections. 

Our affiliate marketing business plans are designed to help you make the most of your business while helping you achieve success. With our help, you can unlock the potential of your business and get the most out of your investment. 

Contact us today to get started on the road to success.

  • Is affiliate marketing a profitable business? Yes, affiliate marketing can be a very profitable business. With the right strategies and tools, affiliates can earn a steady income through affiliate marketing. Affiliates can earn a commission on sales when they refer customers to businesses. Affiliate marketing can also increase brand awareness and build customer relationships.
  • Do you need an LLC to do affiliate marketing? No, you do not need an LLC to do affiliate marketing. However, forming an LLC can provide certain benefits, such as protecting your personal assets from any liabilities that may arise from your affiliate marketing activities.

Download Affiliate Marketing Business Plan in PDF

OGSCapital’s team has assisted thousands of entrepreneurs with top-rate business plan development, consultancy and analysis. They’ve helped thousands of SME owners secure more than $1.5 billion in funding, and they can do the same for you.

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Planning an Affiliate Marketing Campaign: A Step-by-Step Guide

January 25, 2022

Sam O’Brien is the Chief Marketing Officer for Affise—a Global SaaS PRM Marketing Solution. He is a growth marketing expert with a product management and design background and a passion for innovation, growth, and marketing technology.

Running a business is tough. You have to wear a dozen hats, trying to do everything perfectly, but naturally, not all of those hats fit equally well. For many, marketing remains their biggest challenge as a small business owner.

Getting leads in, increasing exposure, and driving sales can be the hardest bit, but it’s also the most gratifying. The whole point of your business is to sell, profit, and get that money rolling in. Ka-ching! 💰

Affiliate marketing might be the answer to your woes. The way it works is simple. You offer another marketer commission for bringing in leads and raising awareness about your products and business.

You pay your affiliates only when they perform, thereby increasing your ROI, and making the chances of failed investment close to none. Your profit margins are slightly reduced, but since your affiliate does all the marketing, it’s worth it.

Take the ClickUp Affiliate Program as an example. Affiliates get an impressive 20% of all transactions from users joining using their affiliate links. ClickUp, meanwhile, benefits from the extra exposure and lead generation that comes from working with top-quality affiliates. It’s the very definition of mutually beneficial. 🤝

Follow the eight simple steps below to develop a high-performing affiliate marketing program of your own !

1. Determine your target audience

2. set objectives, 3. check out the competition, 4. optimize your conversion funnel, 5. decide if you want to use an affiliate network, 6. find suitable affiliates, 7. support your affiliates, 8. test everything, start using affiliate marketing.

Avatar of person using AI

8 Steps For Developing a High-Performing Affiliate Marketing Program

Do you know who buys your product? 🤔

Before you embark on an affiliate marketing campaign , you need to know who your customers are, along with where they live, their age, income, etc. You should know what pain points your product caters to and what your target market’s needs and worries are.

Figure out who you want to reach, and create a customer avatar for your business. The clearer the picture of your target customer, the better you’ll understand who they are, and the likelier you are to reach them and push them down your sales funnel. It’s critical to align your brand with its target audience, so you can best speak to and serve them in everything you—and you affiliates—do.   

Try to figure out where your customers hang out. Are they on YouTube or Instagram? What are they searching for on Google? Which influencers do they follow? What blogs do they read, and what podcasts do they subscribe to? Many affiliates use their social media following to convince followers to click on affiliate links.

Once you have the answer to these questions, you’ll know which affiliates to hire to appeal to your target audience.

affiliate marketing EasyAffiliate

If you don’t have goals, you have nothing to measure your success or failure against. Define SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. These marketing objectives will help you assess if your affiliate program is working.

An example of a SMART sales goal might be that, in two months, you want to have 20 affiliates who bring in a minimum of 2,000 leads. You should assess your affiliate marketing campaign’s success against these objectives and also define KPIs to measure daily and weekly performance.

Setting measurable goals helps identify the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing strategy , so you can make appropriate changes at the right time.

You could also set stretch goals. These are targets that are beyond your current capabilities but encourage you to strive harder, gain bigger, and win better.  🎯

SMART goals

What’s keeping you from taking over the world? Competition! If you want your business to grow, know where you stand compared to your rivals. A thorough competitor analysis can help you decide on a reference point for your affiliate program.

Your research should answer the following questions:

  • What is their revenue-sharing strategy? Does the affiliate earn per click or receive a standard commission fee?
  • Do they use an affiliate network to find affiliates?
  • How does the merchant support the affiliate? Is there any training offered?
  • What are the terms and conditions of the affiliate program?
  • What progress tracking metrics do they use?

The reason for this research is so you can attract the right affiliates and get them to choose you over your rivals.

By assessing your competitors’ affiliate programs , you can search for opportunities to improve them and find ways to do it better. 📈

Affiliates will consider your conversion rate before they choose you over others. Work on your user experience, website design, and sales copy to improve this. This will directly impact your EPC and increase program adoption rates.

The metric most affiliates are interested in is earnings per click (EPC). EPC is a measurement of the profitability of an affiliate marketing campaign. Affiliates prefer to spend their valuable time promoting the products and services that make them the most money.

You’ll find it hard to get affiliates with a low EPC. It’s a fickle world, we tell you!

Earnings will improve as conversion rates do. There’s no point in having a hundred thousand leads if you only convert 100 of them into buying customers. Optimize your conversion funnel to convert the maximum number of leads and make partnering with you more profitable. 

The more they can make, the more high-caliber affiliates you’ll attract. 

conversion funnel

Depending on your objectives, you can decide to run your affiliate program yourself or join an affiliate network. 👥

Doing it yourself can be a hassle and increases the workload you’re looking to reduce in the first place.

Instead, you could join a network that helps you find affiliates and facilitates your relationship with them. Affiliate networks take a cut of the commission for each sale they are involved in, however, which can be a concern. 

If you decide to go solo and want to deal with affiliates directly, you’ll need project management software to help with resource management, task management, and to help define clear goals. 

Whether you choose affiliate marketing management software or an affiliate network, the choice should be made based on your budget, priorities, and capacity.

Affiliate network

This is the climactic part of your affiliate journey: finding the right people . When you start your affiliate program, you have to actively find partners. Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have thriving affiliate communities you can join.

Other than social media engagement , you can reach out to affiliates through emails, joining affiliate sites, or messaging influencers who’ve reviewed products like yours or whose following is similar to your target audience. Don’t forget to add a business owner email signature to show your recipients whom they’re speaking with.

Be careful while selecting affiliates, and do not accept everyone who applies. You don’t want or need low-quality content—this will harm your reputation. Accept only those applicants who align with your brand’s objectives.

Recruiting affiliates who prove to be an asset is difficult, but once you have a good team working for you, and the sales start rolling in, they’ll be incentivized to work even harder. 🤝

Not all of the affiliates you hire will be pros. Most will have little to no training in affiliate marketing.

You should be ready to support your affiliates with a fantastic affiliate toolkit. Another good idea is to have an affiliate manager who can support them to increase their earnings and, in turn, your sales.

Create an active community where you’re constantly engaging with your affiliates, helping them out when needed. Online Facebook groups are used by many businesses to increase knowledge and understanding among their partners.

You could also have an event once in a while, or perhaps host a webinar to share tips and tricks to help new affiliates and train them in using tracking software and dashboards.

Remember this : The better your affiliates perform, the more profit you’ll make.

Once your affiliate program is up and running, monitor it regularly and make improvements as necessary.

Testing is crucial.

Ideally, you should use A/B testing. Test two affiliate marketing campaigns in parallel and throw out the one that doesn’t work.

Use your objectives to develop KPIs for your affiliates and to monitor their performance.

Seek feedback from your affiliates so you can actively make changes that improve results. Keep updating your marketing collateral, promotional materials, and offer codes.

You can encourage your affiliates by emailing them exclusive discounts, increasing commission rates, or sending them a gift.

Get more ideas for improving your affiliate marketing campaigns with our AI prompts .

By now, you should have a better idea of how to start an affiliate program. Whether you sell clothing, jewelry, or a service in the SaaS space, an affiliate marketing campaign can propel your business to new heights .

Affiliate marketing can be incredibly lucrative. It may even become your most successful marketing channel once you’ve determined your audience and set your goals. It’s also a ‘safe haven’ if you don’t have time to track budgets. You can choose to join an affiliate network or hire a manager to find and support your new partners for you. 

Affiliate marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach a mass audience that you wouldn’t be exposed to via traditional sales and marketing campaigns. Using the influencer model can help you reach potential customers for a fraction of the cost of advertising. 

A successful affiliate marketing campaign can drive traffic and generate leads like no other marketing channel and is extremely risk-averse. What are you waiting for? Enter the fascinating world of affiliate marketing today. 🤝

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  • Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing Beginners Guide (How To Get Started)

Discover the world of affiliate marketing, an easy entry into entrepreneurship, with this comprehensive, beginner-friendly guide.

affiliate marketing business plan

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways you can make a passive stream of income.

You don’t need to have a website or even be a social media influencer – you only need to be a creative marketer.

One of my favorite examples from a conference about 12 or so years ago was someone who used affiliate links for dating programs by setting up road signs in heavy rush-hour traffic areas.

As people drove home from work and sat in traffic, they saw the signs and visited the URLs, which were landing pages or redirects through the affiliate links.

But that’s not a very sustainable strategy – just a unique way to make money as an affiliate marketer.

As you can see, there is no shortage of ways to make money with affiliate marketing, and this guide will help you devise a strategy and start your journey.

It is based on my 20+/- years of experience being an affiliate managing programs – and for a short time, managing an affiliate network.

Even if you’re already an expert, there are likely ideas you haven’t tried yet.

The strategies in this guide apply to individual people like bloggers and social media stars, businesses and non-profit organizations, and media outlets or publications looking to make money with affiliate marketing.

There’s a ton of information below, including statistics on what affiliates actually earn from some of the largest affiliate networks, so get ready to dive in.

We’ll start with defining what affiliate marketing is, go into the truth about what you should expect earnings-wise, and then ways you can become an affiliate, including unique ideas I’ve had but haven’t implemented or tried yet. That one is in the how to get started section.

Tip four in the “tips for beginners” section is more of an advanced affiliate marketing strategy as it is commonly overlooked and a missed opportunity for you to make money.

And there are other hidden gems mixed throughout.

Table of Contents:

  • What affiliate marketing is.
  • How much money you can make .
  • How this channel works .
  • The types of affiliate strategies, models, and opportunities (huge list with explanations) .
  • Ways to get started in affiliate marketing .
  • Tips for beginners .
  • Conclusion .

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a performance marketing channel where a person or entity earns a commission by promoting a product or service.

In some instances, a mixed payment model like a flat fee with a commission or a commission and a lead CPA, a cost per click, a download, or other events could become options.

Leads could be app downloads, upsells in games, a form fill-out, newsletter sign-ups, and more.

There are three parties that interact to make the affiliate marketing channel work.

Affiliates (Also Known As Publishers And What You Are)

This is the person, company, or entity that is promoting a store, product, or service in exchange for a commission.

Merchants (Also Known As Offers)

A brand or service provider who is paying others to promote their offerings on a revenue-sharing basis.

Merchants may also create private bundles, packages, or funnels; these one-off deals normally have custom commissions. They are referred to as offers.

Affiliate Networks

The tracking platform that holds money in escrow, provides compliance guidelines, pays the partners, and tracks the conversions is known as the affiliate network. There are three types:

  • Traditional – You’ll find ecommerce brands with their products listed, as well as lead offers from insurance companies, subscriptions, service providers, and even non-profits looking to fundraise.
  • CPA – The CPA network differs from a traditional affiliate network because it lists single offers or product bundles with a flat payout. The affiliates in CPA networks choose offers and negotiate commissions based on the offer vs. having a full suite of product tools where they can mix and match commission models.
  • Sub – Sub-affiliate networks are when other traditional affiliate networks or CPA affiliate networks join an affiliate program and list the merchant on their platform. This can also include monetization tools where an affiliate installs a JavaScript on their website, and the JavaScript turns backlinks into affiliate links on the exit click.

How Much Money Can You Make With Affiliate Marketing?

The amount of money you can make from affiliate marketing is limited to your ability to bring high- and mid-level intent users to your tracking links and convert them.

However, it is important to know that most people do not make a living exclusively from affiliate marketing. It’s a combination of channels and monetization strategies.

But don’t get discouraged; it is easy to earn a few thousand a year and then grow your income from there.

Affiliate revenue can complement and sometimes beat cost per thousand impressions (CPM) and flat fee rates, not to mention tide you over when sponsorships and ambassadorships dry up.

And almost every affiliate platform offers multiple ways for you to get paid. As the affiliate, it is up to you to talk to the affiliate programs you join to get increased percentages, flat fees, and mixed models.

I talked to multiple affiliate platforms, including some of the largest and most trusted networks in the US (a special thank you to ShareASale , Impact.com , and AWIN ) to share stats on what percentage of affiliates that make at least $1 per year earn by revenue group in a 12 month period.

The following is the average based on the combined data we got from the groups we talked to (which isn’t limited to the ones mentioned above.) I’ve been asked not to share specifics from the contributors, so I will not.

But we talked to associations, SaaS private labels, etc.

< 1K 79.75%
1K-5K 9.30%
5K-10K 2.95%
10K-50K 4.40%
50K-100K 1.15%
> 100K 2.45%

Affiliate payment models and actions can include a traditional affiliate payment which is a percentage of sales, and be combined with the following:

  • Flat fees for a sale or package.
  • Cost-per-click payments.
  • Cost per verified lead payments.
  • Fee per download.
  • Flat fee payments on upsells in a shopping cart.
  • CPM (cost per thousand impressions).
  • Newsletter sign-ups.
  • Form completion fees (different from verified leads where payment is made or verification happens).
  • Sponsorship and exclusivity fees.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

Affiliate marketing works using the following steps:

  • You discover you can build an audience or reach an audience that has a need.
  • Once a need is identified, you create a strategy to get your tracking link or code in front of the group.
  • From there, you match the audience you’re reaching to the store, product, or service provider who has an affiliate program.
  • Locate the best network or platform for the affiliate program and join.
  • Once approved, verify your promotional method is compliant with the manager.
  • Begin putting your tracking links or codes in front of the audience (with compliant advertising disclosures) and check the affiliate network to ensure clicks, leads, and sales are tracking.
  • Expand on what works and continue to grow your income.

Types Of Affiliate Marketing

There’s almost no limit to the types of affiliate marketing.

Some methods have short-term revenue boosts, like sharing a link on social media, and others can build sustainable revenue for the long haul, like building destination websites.

You can even do affiliate marketing in person via presentations at a conference or handing out contact cards at a nightclub or networking event.

I’ve done this personally by using custom URLs and QR codes (with advertising disclosures).

And don’t limit yourself. You can mix and match to create a stream of revenue that has seasonal highs, bursts of revenue during slow times, and builds an audience you can scale – and eventually sell the destination property if you’d like.

Here are some of the ways you can be an affiliate marketer:

  • Websites and blogs – Whether your website is topically niche, a reviews site, or you create how-to guides (recipes, home improvement, etc.), affiliate links can be used as tools, solutions, and complementary banners in a sidebar.
  • Social media influencers – Can share affiliate links as they feature products and solutions. Having a vanity code is a great way to track sales if no clickable link is available (as long as it doesn’t leak to coupon sites and cash-back browser extensions).
  • Social media advertising – Brands can only gain so much coverage on their own. By having experienced social media marketers running ads, they can increase their reach. And if you have a fan base, boosting your own posts through the ad platform is another form of paid social media that can work. Ask your affiliate managers for a boost budget if they’re asking for shares and you have an engaged audience.
  • Social and professional groups – Let’s say you belong to a photography club or a professional Slack channel, or maybe you are part of or own a Facebook group for like-minded people. If you have permission from the owner, share your affiliate links with them. Better yet, the group owner can do it to raise funds for get-togethers and a slush fund if a member is ever in need.
  • PPC – If the affiliate program allows for it, try running PPC ads. If you do trademark or trademark + coupons/reviews/etc., you will likely get removed from the programs, so don’t do it unless you have permission. Adding value to the brand and using non-branded phrases is always the safest route. Make sure to read the TOS of the program and ask the manager if direct linking or landing pages are required – you don’t want all of your commissions reversed because you forgot to check first.
  • Destination sites and apps – Destination sites and apps are places people go to be part of a community and find resources because they have full trust in the place; it is their go-to destination. By being the leading authority, you can set up comparison pricing, booking, and shopping engines, as well as creative ways to use data and deal feeds to monetize the audience while providing resources.
  • Ebooks and courses – Have you written an ebook, or do you sell a course that mentions a product, software, or service? You can use affiliate links here too.
  • For sports bets, why not promote the venues they can place bets from and sell fan merchandise to loyal fans?
  • Don’t forget social media platforms that use video, like Reels, TikToks, etc.
  • Newsletters and email – Email is not dead, and if you have an active list, you know the audience breakdowns. Share relevant and timely communications with them, and even deals on products they would need at the moment. Your email and newsletter list are your money-makers as long as you don’t abuse them.
  • SMS – Just like emails above, if you don’t abuse your list, you can get an audience that clicks and shops. They tend to be younger, so audience matching here from the products, venues, and time/season is vital.
  • Perks portals – Have you ever landed on the “thank you” page of a website, and there are offers for other companies? These are likely affiliate links or a hybrid affiliate commission + fee (cost per click, CPM, or flat fee).
  • Cashback – If you’re getting cash back from a vendor, browser extension, or website, you’re getting a part of the commission they’re earning. You can offer cash back too, but make sure to talk to a licensed attorney and a certified CPA to get the processes and protections in place before starting.
  • Coupon and deal sites – Coupon websites and deal sites (deal sites share products on sales vs. a coupon for a brand) are normally powered by affiliate commissions. They pull in product and deal feeds and collect commissions as you click and checkout.
  • Reviews – Reviewing products in writing, on videos, and on social media is a great way to earn affiliate commissions.
  • Partnerships and co-branded campaigns – One of my favorite strategies is to partner with other companies to promote each other with direct links or affiliate links. It could be blog posts, email blasts, co-sponsoring a giveaway on a third-party site (with an influencer or blogger), etc. You can reach other audiences, track everything, and generate income. These stats can then be used to build larger partnerships, especially if you’re smaller. You can approach a big brand and say, “Here are our stats and what you can expect for a CAC and ROAS compared to your other efforts.”
  • Gift guides and portals – Gift websites that create lists, registries, or gift ideas listicles can all make money through affiliate links. It’s literally product and shopping-based content, so conversions and user intent are high.
  • Planning apps – Apps that help people plan events (weddings, baptisms, birthdays, etc.) or even decorate a room are perfect for making money with affiliate marketing. You provide ideas and guidance, and the users provide preferences. You’re already making recommendations, and they’re going to be shopping. Have them shop through your affiliate links for extra revenue in your pocket. It’s money on the table.
  • Offline ads – Buy ad space in a bathroom, a movie theatre screen, billboards, bus stops, or even a shopping cart space inside a store and have a QR code to get the person to take action. You could even offer a comparison price if you know the website is cheaper than in person, and offer a discount. If there’s a downloadable app, you have a captive audience and a message about saving right there on the spot.
  • Listicles – These are the “best” and aspirational lists you’ll see ranking for shopping queries. Some could be the best XYZ product or service, others could be vacations and places to visit.

How To Get Started With Affiliate Marketing

Many successful affiliates already have a platform, but there’s no reason you cannot start from scratch.

By going in with a plan, you can start your affiliate marketing journey with a more controlled approach, measurable steps, and the potential for better results.

Step 1: Pick A Niche You Are Excited By

The first step in affiliate marketing is to figure out what you can write about, talk about, be interviewed about, and not get tired of for at least three or four years.

If it bores you, or you pick a niche purely for performance, you’re less likely to see genuine success.

I know this from experience. You have to have passion to keep it interesting. Create an experience people will want to keep coming back to, that they will trust, and that they will share with others who are interested in the topic.

You must also be knowledgeable on the subject, or you will lack authenticity. It’s similar to E-E-A-T .

Here’s a way to see if the niche is a good one for you to try:

Create a list of at least 50 topics under that niche with 2 or 3 unique talking points about each.

If you cannot find at least 50 that are unique from each other, you may not have the expertise yet. You also won’t have enough content to publish or do something new for a full year. This will limit you.

That doesn’t mean you have to stop; instead, think of a complementary niche and see if it is topically relevant to the one you have. That includes audience demographics, stores, or service providers that cater to both topics, and you feel equally enthusiastic towards it.

If there is, this complementary theme will help you get to 50.

Step 2: Find Affiliate Programs To Join

Before you build a website, YouTube channel, podcast, or buy media, make sure there are programs that have an audience match and will accept your promotional methods.

Some affiliate programs don’t want review, deal, or coupon sites, for example. So if that was your plan, you may not have options right now.

Others don’t want podcasts, newsletter features, YouTube content creators, or PPC marketers because they don’t see the value.

And the same goes for audience matching.

Suppose none of the programs cater to a female demographic, but you have women as an audience. In that case, chances are you won’t make as much as you would with other niches because the shopping and conversion experience doesn’t meet their needs.

And if your promotional methods aren’t accepted in the program, your commissions will get reversed because you broke the program’s terms of service. But you can still make money in other ways.

Pro tip : Always read the program terms of service before joining and get permission for your promotional methods from the company before starting. This is how you can help to protect yourself. Don’t ever join, and just hope for the best.

Step 3: Launch Your Plan

Now it’s time to launch your plan. It could include a website, landing pages for paid media, a podcast, a YouTube channel, social media accounts, or any other way you plan to get your links to the right audience.

Here’s the idea I mentioned in the opening.

If you’ve been to a nightclub, bar, or even a hotel lobby bar, you’ve likely seen bathroom advertisements. They could be in the stalls or on the walls by the sinks. This is prime real estate with a captive audience.

If it is a late-night establishment vs. a daytime restaurant or the go-to pub by a large hotel that hosts conferences, this is what I’d be looking for.

As people have been drinking and the night is coming to a close, they will use the restroom before getting in a cab or Uber. They will also have some immediate needs, thoughts, or wants. This is where you can run your affiliate links.

  • Buy ad space in the restroom.
  • Have a QR code that redirects through your affiliate links on the ad.
  • Find affiliate programs that would resonate with the specific types of patrons in that restroom. Nightclubs have different needs than high-end hotel bars, for example.

Here are niches that I’d potentially try for nightclubs:

  • Late-night food delivery apps as people need to soak up the booze.
  • Dating apps that cater to specific age ranges or demographics based on the type of nightclub (music, age demographic, LGBTQ+, etc.).
  • Hydration therapy (IV drips) where you can book or do a quick and easy lead form, especially if you can book for the next morning, and they’ll come to you.
  • Pregnancy tests or STD tests and clinic appointments.

And don’t count yourself out – this could be applied to ads on shopping carts at grocery stores or convenience stores. Shoppers see them, and you can gauge the audience based on Census Bureau data and store customer data.

Fun fact : Years ago, I did something similar to the above. There was a way to pay the app to send a message to everyone within a multiple-mile radius of a city center, and you could include a custom message with a URL (the link wasn’t clickable, though). I used it to target people in major cities at roughly 1:50 and 2:00 a.m. with two push notifications.

In the notification, I had a message like: “Going home alone? Have a snack meet you there! Click here to order.” Then, I would include a food delivery solution or relevant match to the message with late-night service.

The app caught on that I wasn’t sending “I’m available to date” messaging since that was the purpose of the push, so my account got closed. Oddly enough, I think it started selling push notification ad spaces afterward, so the company benefited too.

Affiliate Marketing Tips For Beginners

The very first thing to do is check out my checklist of things to look for before joining an affiliate program .

This way, you’re ready to pick the affiliate programs with the best chance of making money.

Then it’s time to get into the right mindset – and this starts with rejection.

Tip 1: Take Rejection Well

You find the perfect affiliate program and are excited because they have the perfect product, amazing commissions, and your audience is asking for it.

You apply, get rejected, and the affiliate manager either doesn’t respond or gives you a generic email. It happens to all of us.

Don’t get upset, and definitely do not respond with a rude email to the manager. Instead, email why you’re a good match and share an example of how you’ll be adding value. It may not get you into the program, but that’s life.

If they still don’t respond, see if the PR team has an alternate program on a non-affiliate but still commissionable platform. That could be your way in.

If you cannot work with the company you wanted, look for their competitors and see if Amazon sells the product, too.

There’s almost always an alternative to your first and second choice.

And at some point in time, once your platform is large enough, they’ll come to you. When they do, require a custom commission and share that you were initially rejected, and it will take work to replace your current vendors.

But again, be professional and don’t place blame or focus on the past. You don’t want to ruin the opportunity.

A final option is to look for sub-affiliate networks. There are massive players out there, like Skimlinks, and niche ones that dominate in spaces like fashion. They have access to the brands and can get you in until the brand is ready to work with you.

Tip 2: Don’t Focus On High Commissions And EPCs

Higher commissions and high earnings per click (EPCs) do not mean more money.

The amount you make depends on multiple factors.

Average order value (AOV), proper attribution commissioning, allowing software affiliates in the checkout process, conversion rates, etc., all impact the amount you earn outside of the payout.

Look at the entire sales flow and your demographic matches, then account for leaks and other affiliate touchpoints.

The higher commission may only be there because you are going to make less due to other factors that can replace your tracking.

Tip 3: Be Open To Testing

Always test merchants, messaging, and links.

In one of our B2B affiliate programs, we pay different amounts on different packages.

We regularly test affiliate promotional wording, and when we change a single word or a selling point, the higher packages sell more frequently, and the partners earn more.

Then the same learnings can be applied to partners with similar traffic and audiences.

In another program, we discovered (because our top partners shared conversion data) that most of the competitors have roughly equal conversions on desktop – but we are the highest by a couple of percentage points in mobile traffic.

When we approach new partners and they say they’re happy with the competitor, we ask what percentage of their traffic is mobile.

When they give a higher number, we share what they could be making based on the data we have from similar traffic sources if they work with us instead.

If they don’t test, they’ll continue to think they’re maxing out profits, which is not always the case.

Tip 4: Monetize Everything Relevant

One of the most common mistakes I see when people monetize their channels is that they forget there are places where actions take place and no affiliate links.

This includes emails and newsletters, social media shares, and blog posts.

When people post to Facebook, and there are multiple images, don’t forget to edit the description on each so it is unique, add relevant hashtags, and upload the specific affiliate link to purchase on each image.

Here’s an example I did on my feed with a few products, then deleted. Please note I used an advertising disclosure – this is important for both you and the programs you’re promoting.

In this screenshot, you’ll see I used one affiliate link (I may bring someone to a blog post from this one vs. a direct link to shop since I have three different stores).

In full transparency, I manage the affiliate program for the music boxes, but I am not mentioning which program it is. This guide is to help you, not promote my clients.

affiliate marketing example 1

In this next screenshot, I clicked on the music box, and if you look to the right, I describe why it is a gift for the theme (I didn’t use hashtags on this one) and share the affiliate link that would take you to the product.

affiliate marketing example 2

Getting started in affiliate marketing is easy, and there is no shortage of ways or opportunities.

You probably won’t get rich, but you can make extra income while having a lot of fun doing it.

As a bonus, once you become an affiliate marketer, you will learn analytics, tracking, and multiple forms of marketing, including SEO, email, content writing, media buying, etc. This will set you up to scale as a marketer in a company if you want a full-time marketing job.

And best of all, affiliate marketing is a low-cost way to start your own business and become your own boss.

I hope you take the plunge and give it a try – I owe most of my career to this industry, and I look forward to seeing you succeed in it, too.

More resources: 

  • How To Plan An Affiliate Marketing Strategy For Content Creators
  • Top 10 Affiliate Marketing Software Platforms To Maximize Sales
  • A Guide To Getting Started With Amazon’s Affiliate Program

Featured Image: Overearth/Shutterstock

Adam Riemer is an award winning digital marketing strategist, keynote speaker, affiliate manager, and growth consultant with more than 20+ ...

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Affiliate Marketing Business Plan Every Affiliate Should Use

Affiliate Marketing Business Plan

Table of Contents

Making sure that you affiliate marketing business is a success from the start is crucial. While many entrepreneurs and businesses jump into the affiliate world without much preparation – we have before you an entire affiliate marketing business plan that is easy to follow. This business plan walks you through every steps of creating a highly profitable business.

We’ve proven this affiliate marketing business model works , as we are affiliate marketers ourselves who have generated millions of dollars in sales. Let’s go through now the step by step plan to launch your affiliate business into reality!

The Best Affiliate Marketing Business Plan

Decide the affiliate industry you want to be in.

The first step of starting an affiliate business is the most important. You must decide which industry you want to be in. You have a wide variety of industries to choose from, since the affiliate world is quite expansive. Here’s a list of some of your choices you can choose from …

  • Health and wellness
  • Software (SaaS)
  • Make Money From Home
  • Consumer Goods
  • Electronics

Once you have chosen the types of products and services you want to be selling as an affiliate it’s time for the next step. Make sure to choose an industry that you have a passion for!

Decide The Type Of Affiliate Marketing You Want To Do

Now it’s time to decide which actual type of affiliate marketing you want to do. Within the industries of affiliate marketing, here is a list of the types of affiliates you can become …

  • High ticket affiliate marketing
  • Low ticket affiliate marketing
  • B2B affiliate
  • B2C affiliate marketer
  • Organic Affiliate
  • Paid Lead Generation Affiliate (Usually PPC)

By choosing the type of affiliate marketing you’re going to be doing, you help narrow down the tools and resources you’ll need to be successful.

For example, an organic affiliate marketer relies on creating content for lead generation – while a paid affiliate marketer relies on paid traffic sources instead.

Find High Quality Affiliate Offers To Promote

After deciding the type of affiliate you are going to become, you have to find high quality affiliate offers to promote to an audience. Keep in the mind that high quality and high retention affiliate offers are by far the most profitable to promote.

This means that you’ll want to sell affiliate offers that …

  • Have products and services that delivery great results for customers
  • Sell easily because they are optimized for high conversions
  • Have upsells and down sells to maximize your affiliate commissions
  • Have great customer support to manage and help customers in need

If you sell an affiliate program of low quality, you’ll earn less money because of low customer retention. So make sure your business plan’s affiliate programs to join, are only the best ones.

Understand Your Costs As An Affiliate Marketer

Finally, it’s time to take a look at the nitty gritty parts of business. Your budget , and how much you can expect to spend doing affiliate marketing.

A beginner affiliate marketer can expect to spend anywhere from $0 – $100’s per month . It all depends on your advertising costs and your affiliate tool costs.

An expert affiliate marketer or someone looking to scale their business plan, will spend anywhere from $100’s – $1,000’s per month .

Set Up Your Affiliate Business

Now that the fundamentals for your business plan have been decided, you can now set up your actual business itself. Here’s a list of what you’ll need to set up so you can begin generating customers for your affiliate biz.

  • Your funnel or sales process
  • Your advertising or lead generation
  • Your follow up method

Once those 3 things are set up you can begin the next step!

Drive Traffic And Leads

Finally it is time to drive traffic. This is the last step of the affiliate business plan. If you’ve followed these steps then your affiliate business, or one that you’ve setup for a company – is ready to people to get inside your offer!

Begin driving traffic and leads to your sales process while following up to maximize conversions from your advertising.

Optimize Your Affiliate Marketing Business

Let’s imagine that your affiliate business is running properly and profitable now. It’s time to continue forward and improve your affiliate marketing plan even more.

You’ll want to do the following…

  • Optimize your ads, follow up, and funnel for maximum affiliate conversions.
  • Scale your budget to grow you brand and number of sales produced daily.

How Do I Write A Business Plan For Affiliate Marketing?

All you need to do write out the business plan model we laid out above. So write on a piece of paper the following …

  • Industry you’ll be in.
  • Type of affiliate you’ll become.
  • Affiliate offers in that industry and type you’ll promote.
  • Your estimated costs.
  • What you’ll need to set up your business.
  • The method you’ll use to generate traffic and leads.

Is Creating A Marketing Plan For Your Affiliate Business Easy?

Yes! It is extremely easy to write a business marketing plan for any affiliate business. The above plan you read through should give you easy instructions on exactly how to setup your affiliate marketing business properly.

Creating a business plan is necessary, as it gives you a clear guide on what actions to take for maximum success.

Once you have written the business plan out, it’s time to take action and make it a reality!

If you want help to create a guided affiliate marketing program or to create your own business plan – consider investing in a coach or mentor .

With our kindest regards,

Richard Weberg

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Sales & Affiliate Marketing

Richard Weberg and Jon Weberg are a father and son marketing duo who are both expert email marketers & master affiliate marketers. They are also the founders of EmoneyPeeps.com. With over 29+ years of experience in the industry between them, they have a wealth of knowledge and skills in digital marketing, including email marketing, affiliate marketing, high ticket sales, conversion marketing, lead generation,and blogging.

They are known for their ability to create effective marketing campaigns, and sales funnels that drive results for them and their clients. Richard and Jon are both regularly invited to speak at marketing conferences, events, and webinars. Jon has also written several books on digital marketing. They are respected thought leaders in the field and are highly sought after for their expertise.

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How to Start an Affiliate Marketing Business

Affiliate marketing is the art of turning fame into a business. People who have managed to attract an audience are paid to endorse related products or services on their public platform. For example, if a popular nutritionist blogger endorses a new line of supplements.

You may also be interested in additional online business ideas .

Learn how to start your own Affiliate Marketing Business and whether it is the right fit for you.

Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services .

Affiliate Marketing Business Image

Start an affiliate marketing business by following these 10 steps:

  • Plan your Affiliate Marketing Business
  • Form your Affiliate Marketing Business into a Legal Entity
  • Register your Affiliate Marketing Business for Taxes
  • Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
  • Set up Accounting for your Affiliate Marketing Business
  • Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Affiliate Marketing Business
  • Get Affiliate Marketing Business Insurance
  • Define your Affiliate Marketing Business Brand
  • Create your Affiliate Marketing Business Website
  • Set up your Business Phone System

We have put together this simple guide to starting your affiliate marketing business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas .

STEP 1: Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

What will you name your business?

  • What are the startup and ongoing costs?
  • Who is your target market?

How much can you charge customers?

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Affiliate Marketing Business Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship , you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

When registering a business name , we recommend researching your business name by checking:

  • Your state's business records
  • Federal and state trademark records
  • Social media platforms
  • Web domain availability .

It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.

Want some help naming your affiliate marketing business?

Business name generator, what are the costs involved in opening an affiliate marketing business.

Costs are relatively low to get started in affiliate marketing, depending on what a person hopes to do. A blog or social media platform are excellent places to get started, and they don’t cost a thing.

What are the ongoing expenses for an affiliate marketing business?

Most affiliates won’t increase their expenses much as they start to take off in popularity. You may choose to invest in more professional equipment, or to hire people to help manage your business affairs.

Who is the target market?

Companies with a primarily consumer audience are the biggest market for affiliates, but they're certainly not the only option. Political candidates or other celebrity figures may turn to affiliates for endorsement, as will commercial or private entities that may want to boost their reputation to the public.

How does an affiliate marketing business make money?

The most traditional way an affiliate makes money is by receiving a certain commission or fee each time their partner receives a click or sale. For example, if a blogger mentions Product X’s company in a post, and Product X receives 1,000 click-throughs from the blogger's site to theirs, then the blogger will make a certain amount of money off each click. The amount the blogger will make is based on their following and perceived credibility in their niche. However, some affiliate marketers will choose to be paid a flat rate for dropping the name into the post.

Kim Kardashian can charge brands $250,000 or more for a single post on Instagram, so it’s clear that companies are willing to pay for affiliate marketing. When you’re first getting started, you can negotiate either a flat fee, a cost-per-click arrangement, or a commission fee. For example, you’ll receive 10% on every sale generated from your posts.

How much profit can an affiliate marketing business make?

There are some affiliate marketers pulling in $2 million a year, so it’s clear that affiliates can turn their popularity into a business. However, realistically speaking, most affiliates will make a modest supplementary income until they can fully build up their client base. The biggest income bracket for affiliate marketers in $20,000 or less a year.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Affiliate marketers need to be in the public eye as much as possible. You may want to consider public engagements, speeches, or a larger website presence to accomplish this goal. You can also consider developing your own line of products to generate additional profits for yourself.

Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship , partnership , limited liability company (LLC) , and corporation .

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your affiliate marketing business is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services . You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

You can acquire your EIN through the IRS website . If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil .

Open a business bank account

Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.

Get a business credit card

Getting a business credit card helps you:

  • Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • Build your company's credit history , which can be useful to raise money later on.

Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an affiliate marketing business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits .

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses .

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance . This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance . If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

FInd out what types of insurance your Affiliate Marketing Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Affiliate Marketing Business.

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners , we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.

Recommended : Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker .

If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator . Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.

How to promote & market an affiliate marketing business

Most brands will find you as opposed to the other way around. The best way to market this business is by increasing your followers whenever and wherever possible. The more word-of-mouth you generate, the more likely it is that affiliates will start contacting you to sign-off on their products.

You may also want to include a ‘Contact Me’ section of your website that specifically states you’re open to potential endorsements. However, this may send a message to your fans that you’re more interested in making money than you are about them.

How to keep customers coming back

Business partners are looking to generate either positive interest or sales. Affiliate marketers will need to develop a style of when and how to mention certain brands in order to maximize their audience's response.

STEP 9: Create your business website

After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business .

While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

  • All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
  • Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
  • Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.

Recommended : Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders .

Other popular website builders are: WordPress , WIX , Weebly , Squarespace , and Shopify .

STEP 10: Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.

Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com

Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.

Is this Business Right For You?

Affiliate marketing is excellent for a passionate person who enjoys being in the public spotlight. They should be good at promoting brands without coming across as a salesperson. They’ll need to be good at handling questions and potential criticisms from both their fans and the media.

Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

Entrepreneurship Quiz

What happens during a typical day at an affiliate marketing business?

Affiliate marketers make their name based on a specific talent or niche, so the majority of their time will be spent concentrating on the skills that have initially attracted their audience (e.g., blogging, YouTube videos, etc.). However affiliate marketing may also include the following:

  • Blending product names into their content
  • Updating social media for affiliate purposes
  • Negotiating payment with business partners
  • Finding new affiliate companies to work with  
  • Ensuring legal compliance of all posts

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful affiliate marketing business?

People become successful in affiliate marketing by approaching the problem from a number of different angles. For example, some are great writers while others are comedians or pundits. Some give relatively uncontroversial advice to people via video or blog. Others take a hard stance against a hot button issue in the media to build up their audience.

No matter what, you have to establish trust with their audience before becoming successful at affiliate marketing. The key is to be consistent about your point of view, and to speak to your following without trying to control them.

What is the growth potential for an affiliate marketing business?

It may be difficult at first to work your name or cause into the public eye. There are a lot of people (both online and off), who are trying to become public personalities in practically every given industry. However, there are also a number of people who eventually drop out of the public eye or move onto more straightforward endorsement deals. This leaves a vacuum for up-and-comers  to edge their way in.

Not sure if an affiliate marketing business is right for you? Try our free Business Idea Generator and find your perfect idea.

TRUiC's YouTube Channel

For fun informative videos about starting a business visit the TRUiC YouTube Channel or subscribe to view later.

Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor.

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Learn from other business owners

Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

What are some insider tips for jump starting an affiliate marketing business?

Hopeful affiliates may want to try paid advertising if they’re hoping to speed up their influence. While organic content is always better — because you’re building up an audience based purely on your words and talent alone — it will take longer to do. Facebook and Google ads can be expensive, but they’re typically the fastest way to get a new venture off the ground.

Affiliates should utilize cross-channels as a way to build up their audience. For example, having a website following as well as an active email list. People who choose this career path must be relentless about creating content that is unique and eye-catching. But they'll have to do it such a way that doesn't overwhelm or frustrate their audience.  

Affiliates should also be careful about who they endorse and why. This is especially true at the beginning when it will seem like the right move to say ‘yes’ to any potential partner. But selling or endorsing a problem just for money will may cause your audience to lose respect for you. The same could be said for selling too many products, or for endorsing a product that has a tarnished reputation.

There are also strict federal rules affiliates must follow regarding disclosure, so you will need to understand the most current FTC regulations to avoid repercussions.

How and when to build a team

Affiliate marketers typically won’t need a team unless they’re extremely popular and juggling several major endorsement deals. In this case, you’ll need to hire assistants who can ensure all legal and business obligations are being met.

Useful Links

Industry opportunities.

  • Learn about more Online Business Ideas

Further Reading

  • Common Affiliate Marketing Mistakes

Have a Question? Leave a Comment!


Affiliate Marketing Business Plan

affiliate marketing business plan

Affiliate marketing is a marketing strategy that allows individuals or even groups to earn a commission by helping businesses promote their services, products, and/or other kinds of offers. With the range of processes and the different execution of affiliate marketing activities, you have to develop a system and a plan that can retain the organization and proper implementation of your affiliate marketing efforts. One of the documents that you can create to help you with these concerns is an affiliate marketing plan .

  • Real Estate Agent Marketing Plan Examples – PDF
  • Nonprofit Marketing Plan Examples – PDF

Whether you will make an affiliate marketing business plan by yourself or you will incorporate it in your general business and/or marketing plan, it is important for you to make sure that your output can truly benefit the company and the execution of its marketing efforts for higher profitability and wider market reach.

We listed several examples of affiliate marketing business plans that you can all download from this post. These downloadable references can be a great help in relation to the development of an effective affiliate marketing plan for your organization. Make sure that you will look into these examples so you can have a better idea on how you can gather and put together all the details that are essential to be presented in a standard affiliate marketing business plan.

Affiliate Marketing Plan Builder for Your Business Example

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Affiliate Marketing Business Plan Guideline and Template Example

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What Is an Affiliate Marketing Program and How Can You Incorporate It to Your Business Action Plan?

There are different kinds of affiliate marketing programs. Some affiliates earn just by marketing particular products while others need to ensure that there is an actual sale that occurred so that they can get paid a portion from that sale transaction. This depends on the agreement that occurred between the affiliate and the business who needs help in terms of marketing their products and/or services. Here are more instances and descriptions that will allow you to further understand what an affiliate marketing program is and the ways on how you can maximize the benefits from its alignment with your corporate plans of action and marketing strategies:

  • Your marketing plan executive summary should contain the description of how affiliate marketing will be used for your marketing and advertising undertakings. The stakeholders of your business need to be aware of how this process will work for the advantage of the organization and your operations. Aside from specifying this in your document introduction, you also need to come up with a thorough presentation of your affiliate marketing action plans and the effects that it can bring when it comes to providing traffic and additional sales for the business.
  • Ensure that you will gather a team of professional and experts that can work toward the effective development of your affiliate marketing business plan. The deliverable, expertise, and abilities of your team can promote a collaborative effort that will enable your affiliate marketing business plan to be a multifaceted document that can provide potential successes for the business.
  • An affiliate marketing program is performance-based. As we have specified above, an affiliate will be paid either by the number of visitors that he or she was able to bring to the business through his or her own marketing efforts or also by the actual sales gathered from his or her leads. Developing a business action plan with regards this program is very important as you need to make sure that the rewards that the business will provide to its affiliates have high chances of return of investments. With this, regulations and terms of agreement must be specified clearly in your affiliate marketing business plan.
  • There are several elements that you need to list down in your affiliate marketing business plan. These include the website that the affiliate will use so that potential customers or clients can be redirected to your business page, the affiliate network that can track the affiliate’s actual referrals with the help of an affiliate link, the specification of the buyers that you would like to target, and the commission that the affiliate can get out of the sales and marketing transactions. Even with these basic information, the overall content of your affiliate marketing business plan will still depend on the range of your affiliate marketing actions as well as the specific transactions and processes that you would like your business to execute and your affiliates to follow.

Basic Affiliate Marketing Business Plan Example

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Affiliate Marketing Program for Business Plan Development Example

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Detailed Affiliate Marketing Handbook for Business Plan Strategies Example

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Affiliate Marketing Business Plan Development

From direction marketing plan examples up to relationship marketing activities, there are different ways on how you can market your business. Since there has been a rampant development of technology and digital practices within the previous years even up to this day, it is important for businesses to cope up with the trends applied on how entities market themselves to their target audience.

An affiliate marketing business plan can help you a lot if you want other entities to market on your behalf. With the activities of your affiliates, you can reach a wider audience which is a great way for you to get more sales and to persuade people that they really need your products and/or services. Here are the steps that you can follow if you want to develop a comprehensive affiliate marketing business plan that is suitable for the needs, requirements, and operations of your organization:

  • Know the reason why you need to come up with an affiliate marketing business plan as well as the purpose that you would like the affiliate marketing program to serve. It is essential for you to ensure that there is clarity with both the long-term and short-term goals that you want to achieve so that you will be directed accordingly when executing your action plans. This part of the affiliate marketing business plan alongside your executive summary and introduction can present how the program and the document can help the corporate vision of the business to be realized.
  • Do not just focus on market segments. One of the first things that you need to do is to look into the specific niche markets that you would like to target. It is essential for you to be particular when reviewing the activities and needs of your target audience so that you can sell products and/or services that are aligned with their lifestyle.
  • Develop your affiliate marketing program. You have to come up with activities and affiliate instructions that can ensure your organization that your brand and image are presented accordingly and properly. It is important for an affiliate marketing business plan to benefit both the affiliates and the business, which is why you have to thoroughly plan the entirety of the transaction.
  • Once you already identified your niche market and you have a compelling and creative affiliate marketing program and plan, it is now time to work with affiliates and niche partners. You can announce your need for affiliate marketing partnership or you can also look into the sites whose viewers are also your target audience. In this manner, you can easily work with entities whose current audience and existing traffic can lead to the successful launch or presentation of what you can offer.
  • Specify all the other information that you would like to discuss to your affiliates. Set the scopes, terms, and limitations of the affiliate program. In this manner, there will be no confusion and misunderstandings with how the transaction will work especially when it comes to payment concerns and specifications.
  • Present the benefits of the affiliate marketing program to the business. Your affiliate marketing business plan is one of the key documents that can convince the management and your other stakeholders that your affiliate marketing program can truly add value to the business.
  • Finalize the document and see whether you have already included and listed all the information that is essential for the program to smoothly flow during its actual implementation. You need to ensure that there is a complete discussion with regards the affiliate program so that there will be no loopholes when it comes to the execution of particular clauses. In this manner, you can protect the rights and intentions of both the business and the affiliates.

Affiliate Marketing Business Plan Example

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Affiliate Marketing Business Plan for Content Providers Example

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Affiliate Marketing Plan for a Business Example

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Affiliate Marketing Business Plan Guide Example

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Affiliate Marketing Handbook for Business Plan Guide Example

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Tips in Creating and Using a Compelling and Detailed Affiliate Marketing Business Plan

Not all affiliate marketing business plan examples work in the same manner. This is the reality even with the usage of e-commerce marketing plan examples , social medial marketing plans ,  restaurant marketing plans , and other kinds of business and marketing plan documents. With this, you have to make sure that the document that you will make is truly based on the current needs of your business, the kind of affiliate marketing program that you can sustain and support ,and the level of professional relationship that you would like to have with your affiliates and your audience. Listed below are the ways on how you can develop an affiliate marketing business plan that can positively impact your business:

  • Do not sell everything all at once. As we have mentioned above, you need to ensure that you are aware of what your niche market needs so that you can supply products that have high selling potential. Putting all your products out there in the marketplace without any sense of marketing direction can only negate your marketing efforts. This is one of the reasons why it is highly recommended for you to thoroughly review the items that you will specify in your affiliate marketing business plan.
  • Review the affiliate marketing business plan once you have already finished developing the final draft of the specified document. Aside from the accuracy and precision of its content, you also have to look into formatting issues and grammatical errors. Doing this can help you present a more formal and professional-looking document which can help a lot when discussing the document with your target audience.
  • Always be updated with affiliate marketing trends. Know how this strategy is currently doing in the marketplace. This can help you allocate your efforts when updating or improving your affiliate marketing business plan as well as the execution of your tactics and call-to-actions. Maintaining a comprehensive affiliate marketing business plan can also help you maintain a healthy relationship with your affiliates and your niche market.

It may be intimidating and overwhelming at first once you already decided to create your own affiliate marketing business plan. There are challenges that you can face along the way as well as roadblocks that may hinder you from pushing through with the development of the document. However, you do not need to worry as you can get a lot of help from this discussion and the references that we have provided you with.

There is no need for you to start from scratch as there are templates that will allow you to format the document easily and there are also downloadable examples that can make it easier for you to list down all the important details that you should include in the discussion within the affiliate marketing business plan that you will create. So, what are you waiting for? Download the examples from this post and start drafting the affiliate marketing business plan that your organization can use.


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What Is Affiliate Marketing? [And How to Get Started!]

In the early 2010s, the affiliate marketing industry exploded in popularity with pretty much everyone. It didn’t matter if you were an individual wanting to make a bit of cash on the side or a company looking for rapid growth – affiliate marketing became a go-to revenue source across the web!

Even more than a decade later, this boom hasn’t slowed down. It seems like every blog is promoting some affiliate product, countless news sites have affiliate ads plastered across their content, and who can forget the internet gurus that made their fortunes thanks to affiliate marketing?

Let’s talk numbers for a second. The industry is projected to surpass the $15.7 billion mark in 2024, experiencing a reported 10% year-over-year growth rate – that’s particularly impressive for an industry that’s already so big. Plus, Forbes is predicting that the affiliate market could reach a whopping $40 billion by 2030. That growth is great news for any aspiring affiliate looking to earn their own cut of this ever-expanding pie!

So, what is affiliate marketing? And how does it work? We’re here to answer all of those questions and more in this super-guide to getting started with affiliate marketing!

Join more than 117,000 affiliate marketers!

Get expert affiliate marketing insights delivered right to your inbox. Plus, subscribe now for a step-by-step guide to getting started on ClickBank!

What is Affiliate Marketing? How Does It Work?

Affiliate marketing is an arrangement where a third-party marketer can earn commissions by promoting someone else’s product.

We’ll get into the how later, but this business model is one of the easiest ways to start making an income online – no need to create your own product, set up a business structure, or deal with customer service!

Affiliate marketing owes its huge growth in both profitability and appeal to a few key things:

  • Unique distribution structure
  • Unlimited earning potential
  • Flexible schedule
  • Low barrier to entry

But before we dive deeper into those, we first have to introduce the three core players of affiliate marketing: The Affiliate, the Product Owner, and the Buyer!

The Affiliate

The “affiliate” earns a commission in exchange for marketing (i.e. promoting) a seller’s products. They target specific audiences to uncover interested buyers who will go on to make a purchase.

Each time one of these customers buys the product, the product owner will pay the affiliate a commission based on the revenue from each sale.

The Product Owner (Seller)

Whether they’re a large company or a solo entrepreneur, if they have a product or service to sell, they can be a “seller,” product owner, or brand. The seller relies on the affiliate to promote their product, which allows them to acquire new customers and make sales at scale through third-party partners.

When a customer buys their product, the product owner is responsible for fulfilling the order and paying a commission to the affiliate who made the sale. 

Customers, or buyers, are people within the target demographic for an affiliate product. The affiliate marketing system relies on buyers purchasing the products and services advertised to them to drive sales for the seller and commissions for the affiliate. 

It’s important to note that the buyer should not be kept in the dark about the relationship between the product owner and the affiliate. All parties must be fully aware of what’s happening to create the cohesive system powering your affiliate business. (See our affiliate link disclosure guide for more information.)

Putting it All Together: How it Works

When these three core players come together, they create something called The Affiliate Marketing Distribution Network.

Here’s an example of how it works:

  • A product owner who is skilled in home improvement decides that she could make quite a bit of money by creating an online course to teach others. 
  • She’s not too familiar with marketing, so she works with an affiliate to promote her product in exchange for a portion of the sales that he generates. 
  • The affiliate promotes the product to an online audience of potential buyers by running ads, sending emails, or publishing blog posts about the product.
  • Buyers interested in learning about woodworking view these ads or consume this content.
  • If the buyers are convinced of the product’s value, they click on the affiliate’s unique link and are taken to the product owner’s sales page, where they can purchase her course. 
  • Once the purchase has been confirmed, the seller pays the affiliate his commission and keeps the rest of the sale.

affiliate marketing business plan

Beyond this basic definition, ‘affiliate marketing’ is quite a versatile term that can be applied to a whole host of online business models. 

Let’s go through a few of them!

1) The Performance Affiliate Marketing Model

affiliate marketing business plan

Possibly the most powerful form of affiliate marketing, the performance affiliate marketing model sees affiliates being paid once a “goal” – such as a purchase or a form submission – has been met. 

At ClickBank, we think of the performance model in terms of media buyers running paid campaigns on ad platforms like Facebook or Google, bringing potential buyers to a product owner’s sales page featuring a text or video sales letter. The goal is to take these potential buyers from thinking about a problem they have to learning about a solution and then purchasing the product that solves their problem. 

Since ClickBank tends to run on the performance affiliate marketing model, we encourage you to check out our resource on how ClickBank works to learn more.

2) The Affiliate Blogging/Publisher Model

affiliate marketing business plan

In the affiliate blogging/publisher model, affiliates publish content on their websites to promote products to their readers. These sites, typically blogs, will revolve around a specific topic (i.e. niche) and often host product reviews of relevant affiliate products. The affiliate publisher utilizes SEO and organic traffic to get eyes on their blogs, often along with other owned channels like an email list or social media.

Not only do publishers make money by encouraging readers to buy the products they review through an affiliate tracking link, but they are also able to earn additional revenue through display ads!

3) The Coupon Affiliate Marketing Model

affiliate marketing business plan

Coupon affiliate marketing is very similar to performance marketing, except instead of promoting a product, you promote a product through a deal or discount.

The product owner gives the affiliate a personalized coupon code that the affiliate can then place on their website, social media profile, or paid campaign. If a buyer uses the promoted coupon to buy an item from the seller, the affiliate will earn a portion of the money made on the sale.

Many people associate this type of affiliate marketing with social media influencers or coupon/cashback websites, as they are an efficient way for brands to share special deals with a wider range of buyers.

4) Referral Programs

affiliate marketing business plan

Referral programs often get lumped in with affiliate marketing. However, unlike affiliate marketing, where merchants work with affiliates to promote their products, referral programs rely on existing customers to refer new business!

Referral programs also do not guarantee a percent of any sale made from a referral and often won’t even pay out in cash. Customers participating in a referral program are likely to receive store credit or discounts as their referral bonuses. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with sharing a product you like as a customer – but you probably won’t be able to build a thriving, profitable business around referral programs alone.

Okay, we’ve talked through what affiliate marketing is, its biggest players, and some of the most common types of affiliate marketing. But, we know that that’s a lot of information to wrap your head around, so let’s review what we’ve covered so far!

What Exactly IS Affiliate Marketing?

A good way to think about affiliate marketing is as follows: affiliate marketing is a business model that helps companies sell more of their products by enlisting the help of people like you!

You don’t need to be an expert at all the different methods of affiliate marketing that we’ve talked about – you just need to develop ONE core skill to start making an income as an affiliate online!

If you’d like to develop the necessary skills to start your affiliate journey, we have just the place to start. Spark by ClickBank is the official affiliate marketing education platform from ClickBank, featuring the courses, community, and tools you need to start earning with affiliate marketing and skip the trial-and-error phase!

Why Become an Affiliate Marketer?

Now that you have an understanding of affiliate marketing, you may be thinking to yourself, “Is this for me?”

You might even have some concerns about affiliate marketing being legit or wonder if you can actually make real money with this business model.

Well, you should find out the truth about affiliate marketing so that you can make the best decision about your potential career as an affiliate! Here’s what to know:

The short answer is, yes, affiliate marketing is perfectly legit, and it’s a great way to make money online.

However, it can also be a challenging industry to see success in, particularly when you’re starting out. So, with so many online business models to choose from, why would you pick affiliate marketing?

Let’s break down affiliate marketing into its pros and cons to help you make that decision!

Pros of Affiliate Marketing

Starting your own business can be a very appealing prospect. However, for many people, this means hours of cold calls, years of research and development, or huge cash investments in marketing or business assets.

One of the biggest advantages of affiliate marketing is that you can start making sales with little to no upfront investment, and you can start selling products that are already proven and in demand.

Once you’ve done the work to build up an audience, you can start promoting to them. You can also invest money into your affiliate marketing efforts if your chosen method has a cost (i.e. paid media campaigns), but there are ways to be an affiliate for free!

Follow Your Passion

Many people work in industries that they aren’t interested in and spend their free time exploring their hobbies. With affiliate marketing, you can generate income by selling products in an area you are passionate about, like fitness, music, or home renovation!

Then, you can use the skills you develop to monetize yourself. Are you passionate about social media? Are you good at writing? Do you love to talk? This is your chance to spread the word and start making money!

Passive Income

Unlike many side hustles, affiliate marketing is a “golden goose” that can continue to generate revenue for you even after your initial effort. The video review or blog that you posted last year can continue generating revenue for you every month. Your profitable video ad just needs more budget, and you can sit back as the money rolls in.

Invest time upfront in a campaign and you’ll keep making money as people buy your stuff even after you’re done working. Your marketing efforts will keep earning you cash even when you’re not actively working on it.

Easy to Execute

With affiliate marketing, you don’t have to worry about those frustrating and sometimes annoying parts of a business like shipping a product, customer support emails, product returns, or storing products.

In affiliate marketing, the seller/product owner does that for you, and the only thing that you have to worry about is showcasing their product! Plus, some sellers will supply you with ad copy, so your workload as an affiliate may end up being pretty light.

Work From Home With a Flexible Schedule

Affiliate marketing is the ultimate work-from-home job! Not only can you do it from home, but you can do it from anywhere .

No meetings, no deadlines – just you promoting the products that you like when you have the time!

High Earning Potential

While affiliate marketers don’t get the full value from each sale that they make, the volume of sales that they can drive more than makes up for it. 

Unlike traditional jobs where working longer hours doesn’t equate to higher pay, affiliate marketing operates on a different principle – it’s all about your performance. 

The beauty lies in the direct correlation between your efforts and your earnings. When you sharpen your skills in campaign crafting and reviewing, you’re investing in your own paycheck. It’s about time you start getting rewarded for your exceptional work!

Cons of Affiliate Marketing

It requires patience.

Though you see the occasional “overnight success” story, affiliate marketing isn’t a “get rich quick” scheme. Getting consistent sales requires being patient, investing quite a bit of time, and being willing to test and retest strategies to figure out what will work best. 

Like any skill, the more time you dedicate to affiliate marketing, the better you become and the more it pays off. 


What is a plus for some can be a drawback for others. Unlike a typical job that pays you for the hours that you work, affiliate marketing pays you based on a commission model. 

The seller gives you, the affiliate, a special link that will track the actions people take based on their interactions with the content. When a buyer completes the seller’s desired action – a lead, click, or sale – the affiliate will get paid. 

But if they click and don’t complete the action, you don’t get paid at all, no matter how much work you did or resources you invested.

Minimal Control Over the Product

The rules, terms, and conditions of an affiliate program are primarily set by the product owner and the affiliate network.

All affiliates who want to promote a quality product must obey the guidelines and avoid any banned advertising methods or practices, so you’ll have to get creative to distinguish yourself from the crowd. And while you can negotiate aspects of your affiliate relationship, such as commission type or total commission, control over the product always stays with the product owner/brand.

Final Thoughts

Affiliate marketing may not be for everyone, but for many people willing to put in the work, it can be an incredibly rewarding and lucrative way to make money. Additionally, it allows you to do what you love and monetize your passion projects!

Now that we’ve walked through what affiliate marketing is , it’s time for the moment you’ve no doubt been waiting for…

How Much Money Can You Make As an Affiliate Marketer?

Of course, you’re probably not starting affiliate marketing purely for fun, so it’s important to look at what is possible – and what is likely – in terms of potential revenue.

So, who is making money? How much money could you make? These are important questions to consider when committing to a new business opportunity. Luckily, we can answer those questions by diving into the data that ClickBank has as one of the largest affiliate marketing networks in the world. In 2023, we found that 91% of people who make at least one sale on ClickBank will earn less than $10k on the platform. The truth is that affiliate marketing can be very challenging and takes a lot of time, dedication, and knowledge to pay big.

This is why we launched Spark by ClickBank , our affiliate education platform dedicated to giving the most important tips and strategies from top-performing marketers. The goal is to drastically reduce the knowledge gap for new affiliates and decrease the barrier to entry for affiliate marketing!

What we see is that the students who put in the work to learn and improve are the ones who reap the rewards. Partly due to Spark by ClickBank, we have seen the number of affiliates making more than $10k go from 6% to 9% from 2020-2023. This means that nearly 1 in 10 affiliates will make more than $10k in their career!

And this earnings increase isn’t just a recent trend. When we reviewed our data over the last decade, we noticed that total affiliate pay and average affiliate pay have increased almost every year since 2012.

Which begs the question: With these record-high numbers, what income level is possible for affiliates willing to put in the work? And what does it take to see THAT kind of success?

The answer can be found with regular people who are routinely making life-changing incomes from affiliate marketing. Here are just a few examples:

Francisco, a formerly broke college student from Chile, is 22 years old and making over $250,000/year…

Jenn, a mother of 4 who lost her job in 2020, made over $5M in 2022…

Lucas, a top-tier ClickBank affiliates from Brazil, made over $1.3M in just 90 days…

And yes, these three are still some of the hardest-working affiliates on ClickBank!

Everyone who gets into affiliate marketing isn’t going to make a quarter of a million dollars a year or more, and you certainly won’t get there overnight – but we do routinely see new affiliates making an extra $1,000, $2,000, or even $5,000 a month using the tactics that we teach in our affiliate education platform, Spark by ClickBank !

Profit By Industry/Niche

When you get started with affiliate marketing, you need to choose a product category or “niche” with the products you want to promote.

When choosing a niche, it’s important to consider your passion for it. Can you consistently create new content or copy around those topics? Is it something you could easily create 50 pieces of content for right now? If so, then that’s a good niche to start looking at.

In addition to passion, it’s equally important to consider the profitability of your chosen niche. While you can make a profit in any industry, it’s worth considering:

  • Which industry generates the most money?
  • Which industry generates the most sales?
  • Which industry generates the most money per sale ?

To help you choose the best industry for your affiliate marketing business, we have compiled a list of the average order value (how much a buyer pays per purchase on average) and average commission payout (the percent of each sale that the affiliate earns) by niche on ClickBank.

These exact numbers will vary depending on the affiliate program or affiliate network you choose, but they give you a perfect starting point to think about which niche may be right for you! 

Top Products by Category

affiliate marketing business plan

As you can see, some of the top-performing industries across the board include:

  • Health (fitness, supplements, mental health, etc.)
  • Politics / Current Events
  • E-Commerce Operations
  • Business / Investing

People with a passion for those industries begin with a much higher earning potential than people who choose to promote products in other industries.

However, if you’re passionate about other topics, notice the millions of dollars in annual sales that most of them represent. Just because they aren’t the absolute highest earners on a per-sale basis does not mean that you can’t make money in any given industry – it just means that you might have a lower ceiling or may require some creativity to reach that highest level of profit!

What is an Affiliate Marketing Program?

affiliate marketing business plan

If you’re going to be a successful affiliate, you’re going to need… well, affiliate products! After all, if you’ve got nothing to promote, then you obviously won’t be able to make much money.

There are two ways that you can solve this problem and start getting products to promote: First, you can directly contact companies and attempt to establish a partnership with them. You’ll be able to negotiate the terms of the agreement, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting accepted, or getting them to agree to what you want, if you’re just starting out as an affiliate. 

The other way – and the one that we recommend to new affiliates – is to find sellers with affiliate programs on an affiliate network like ClickBank. The affiliate network will do all the work to bring everyone involved in affiliate marketing together so that you don’t need to worry about making deals, negotiating contracts, or getting paid for the sales you generate.

And on a network, many sellers are more open to letting newer affiliates try promoting their products than you may find when you directly reach out to a company and try to become their affiliate.

Sounds better than going at it by yourself, doesn’t it? 

But what exactly is an affiliate program?

As the name implies, an affiliate program is a formal arrangement between a business and external partners called “affiliates” to get more customers and generate more sales.

Affiliate programs vary in commission structure and rules, but they all work off the same premise: The brand or product owner pays a commission whenever a consumer purchases the seller’s product through an affiliate’s unique tracking link.

What to Look for in an Affiliate Program

The ease of getting paid through an affiliate program on a network like ClickBank makes it an ideal opportunity for new affiliates, but you shouldn’t just join the first program you happen to find. If you want the affiliate program to give you the best chance of success as an affiliate marketer, you need to consider which niche you’ll be operating in. 

Earlier, we discussed the various categories and subcategories on ClickBank. To become a successful affiliate, you should first decide which of these categories you are passionate about. The products that you choose will fall within this category, as will the audience that you target.

So, you’ll need to keep your chosen category in mind when searching for and selecting an affiliate offer to promote!

When you find an affiliate program that fits your chosen niche and seems profitable, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Is the product offering something of value to my audience? 
  • Is the commission percentage large enough for the efforts I will put into promoting the product? 
  • Do I know enough about the product and category to promote it effectively? If not, am I willing to learn?
  • Does this program align with my goals?

If you answer ‘Yes’ to these questions, you’re all set to join (or apply to) the program and promote their product!

On ClickBank, you can often just grab your tracking link and go by hitting the “Promote” button, but there will be occasions where you need to apply and get accepted.

It won’t be long before you can launch a marketing campaign to promote your chosen product. The product owner or brand may provide some premade copy, content, and images for you to use, so be sure to include them in your promotions.

And of course, don’t forget to add the custom link in your post, link in bio, or landing page – this is how you’ll get credit (and get paid) for all the sales that you make!

The Best Way to Find an Affiliate Program

So, if you’re ready to start working toward your first sale by finding an affiliate program with a product you can promote, what’s the best way?

You could search for them online, or you could join an affiliate network like ClickBank and have tons of affiliate programs from a variety of sellers presented to you directly!

Introducing Affiliate Networks

Remember when we talked about the different types of affiliate marketing business models?

Well, for every affiliate marketing model, there are affiliate networks that cater to them, connecting affiliates with quality products to promote in various ways.

So, let’s talk about a few of the most popular types of affiliate networks you can join, and then look at the different ways you can be an affiliate marketer. Hopefully, this can help you decide which affiliate network(s) and products will be the best fit for you!

ClickBank – Performance marketing affiliate network

affiliate marketing business plan

First, we have ClickBank, one of the first-ever affiliate networks on the internet. Founded in 1998, ClickBank started primarily as a place for merchants and brands to list their digital products (ebooks), but has since expanded into other product types, including physical products, consumables, and CBD oil!

ClickBank is different from most other affiliate networks because it’s set up to support the “performance affiliate” model, where affiliates get paid huge commissions for each sale they generate on a specific product (sometimes known as an “offer”) listed in the ClickBank affiliate marketplace. 

Where many affiliate networks cap commissions at around 30% – or even 10%, product owners and brands on ClickBank routinely offer affiliates significant commissions of 50%, 70%, or even higher. Part of the reason for this is that performance affiliates are attracting new customers that buy the product immediately, which is more valuable than what some other types of affiliates can provide. 

A few of the most popular products on ClickBank right now include dietary supplements, spirituality products, and digital programs in the e-business/make money online space. 

Ibotta – Coupon affiliate network

affiliate marketing business plan

The Ibotta Performance Network (IPN) connects leading publishers to more than 1,500 brands with a pay-per-sale approach. It’s highly focused on digital offer promotions for cashback and rewards, connecting brands with publishers who can promote their products as a coupon affiliate. 

The three types of digital offers available on the IPN are digital coupons, cash-back offers, and flexible coupons. Digital coupons are applied as a discount with the brand or retailer at the point of sale (POS). Cash-back offers are a reward that the consumer can use online or in-store. A flexible coupon allows the consumer to decide between a discount today or future rewards.

If you want to be an affiliate with this model, you’ll need to build a website focused on promoting cashback or coupon deals for brands. Many popular products on a network like Ibotta are CPGs, or consumer packaged goods, from major brands.

Amazon Associates – Blog publisher affiliate network

affiliate marketing business plan

There are many popular affiliate networks centered around the “blog/publisher” affiliate model, from CJ to Share a Sale, but Amazon Associates is probably the heavyweight champion of publisher affiliate networks. 

Amazon is a great example because it’s so much more of a volume play. While ClickBank pays you a strong commission for promoting a single product (within 60 days), Amazon just wants people to buy products on Amazon – so they’ll pay a small percentage on the entire cart when someone buys after landing on Amazon through your Amazon affiliate link.

Right now, the highest non-Amazon category is luxury beauty at a 10% commission rate, but most fall between 1 and 5%. The hope with a network like Amazon is that you can get maybe 5% of a much higher cart value with all Amazon products within a narrow 24-hour window, and you just have more people willing to buy something because Amazon is such an established ecommerce presence online.

If you manage a blog, content website, or media/entertainment website, you’re primarily bringing in organic visitors and returning visitors to engage with the content on your site. From there, readers may click an Amazon affiliate link and wind up on a product page on Amazon, where they can make a purchase.

Learn more about ClickBank vs Amazon .

Creator.co – Influencer network

affiliate marketing business plan

There are many influencer networks out there, from Grin to CreatorIQ. One influencer network that ClickBank recommends is Creator.co , which is specifically designed to help connect content creators and influencers with branded products they can promote to their audiences on social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. 

The model is slightly different with influencer marketing than it is as a straight affiliate. In a paid partnership, you may earn a flat payment per sponsored post on behalf of a brand, and sometimes additional commissions earned per sale of the product.

Key Considerations When Choosing an Affiliate Network

  • Commission Structure : Look for networks with competitive commission rates and structures that align with your affiliate marketing approach.
  • Product Variety : Choose a network that offers quality products relevant to your audience. 
  • Support and Resources : Consider networks that provide robust support, resources, and tools for affiliates.
  • Tracking and Reporting : Ensure the network offers reliable tracking and comprehensive reporting to monitor your performance.

By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each type of network, you can make an informed decision about which to join and set yourself up for success in your affiliate business!

5 Ways to be an Affiliate Marketer

In addition to the types of affiliate marketing models – from performance affiliates to publishers – you should consider the type of traffic channel you want to work in. 

These can generally be broken down into “free traffic” and “paid traffic” sources, but all of them are viable options within your affiliate business, based on your goals, proficiencies, and preferences. 

Let’s dive into the 5 common types of affiliates by traffic source now!

1) Blogger/publisher

The blogger or publisher builds a website that makes money by pointing readers to a third-party company’s product or service in exchange for an affiliate commission.

This could be a discount code or coupon for a brand, a branded product through a publisher affiliate network, or an affiliate offer on a network like ClickBank. The type of affiliate product you choose will depend on the niche, the audience, and the specific affiliate business model you’re going with.

Why be a blog or publisher affiliate? Well, for one thing, blogging is (almost) free! Aside from web hosting and the occasional tool, you can keep your costs down and make almost pure profit on your affiliate earnings. Often, you get those readers by creating content that’s optimized for search engines like Google so that readers find your website, which is more affordable and sustainable than other ways of getting traffic.

Traffic sources : Affiliate blogs, content sites, media and entertainment sites, coupon sites

2) Media Buyer/PPC affiliate

The media buyer affiliate is skilled at running digital ads on popular platforms like Facebook Ads, YouTube Ads, or Google Ads. They’re a perfect fit for the performance affiliate marketing model!

How does it work? Well, these affiliates can get traffic today if they’re willing to open up their wallets and pay for it. They just need to target the right audience and create engaging ads that move users on social media, search, or a website to click through to a landing page (bridge page), then on to a product page or sales page to make a purchase.

Generally, the goal is to hit upon a winning combination of affiliate product, hook, and ad creative that’s profitable by at least a 2:1 ratio (meaning for every $1 they spend, they earn an extra $1 to keep from affiliate sales). From there, they can scale by spending more money on ads and continue to earn more and more! Media buying is a higher-risk, higher-reward type of affiliate marketing.

Traffic sources : Facebook Ads, YouTube Ads, Google Ads, native ads

3) Email marketer

An email marketer is focused on making affiliate sales through email promotions via their email list. This type of affiliate marketing has its perks: you own those contacts, which makes the email list a significant asset – and you have a predictable way to market to them with your messaging. 

The challenge with email marketing is that you always have to get new contacts on your list somehow. This usually involves one of the other traffic channels: a website, paid ads, social media content, or online community. 

But if you can find a way to keep your email list growing, it’s possible to earn an average of $1 per month per subscriber, which is huge! Email marketing sits somewhere in the middle on the “free” and “paid” traffic continuum, but in the right hands, it’s easily the most profitable affiliate channel.

Traffic sources : Owned email list

4) Social media influencer/content creator

Social media influencers and content creators can be wildly successful affiliates too, but the main distinction for them is that they must grow an audience before they can earn any money. 

The most popular social media platforms are Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and some up-and-comers like Threads and Rumble. Sites like Medium and Quora can also work. Podcasters also fall under the content creator umbrella.

So, if you’re a social media influencer or content creator, you’re building a relationship with your audience, so you’ll want to find trusted brands and quality products to promote. The good news is, even influencers with a relatively modest audience can make successful affiliates if engagement and trust are high! 

Traffic sources : Organic social media platforms (TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), podcast, YouTube

5) Community manager

A community manager is someone who runs a membership site or community online. Popular places for hosting a community include Facebook, Reddit, Slack, Discord, LinkedIn, or a forum. Like any content creator or publisher, a community manager can foster a community around a specific topic, niche, or type of audience. 

For example, there could be a community for product managers, real estate investing, piano playing, or learning French. With so many potential communities available to manage, you have the ability to grow your personal brand and build a trusted reputation. 

Then, when it comes time to recommend products for an affiliate commission, you’ve got an engaged audience that looks to you for guidance! Most communities are inexpensive to start, and you can potentially charge for membership if your community is exclusive enough.

Traffic sources : Facebook Group, Slack community, Discord server, website forum, LinkedIn Group

The Secret to Succeeding as an Affiliate Marketer

As you can see, there are many ways to succeed as an affiliate marketer. There are tons of companies out there that need people who know online marketing to sell their products – and they are willing to pay top dollar for people who can drive sales to them.

But here’s the secret: getting started in online marketing doesn’t have to be hard.

At ClickBank, we’ve got our finger on the pulse, knowing exactly what’s hot, what’s not, and how to turn clicks into cash. If you haven’t yet, be sure to sign up for a free ClickBank account to set yourself up for success on your affiliate marketing journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly does an affiliate marketer do.

An affiliate marketer is essentially a third-party salesperson working with a product owner or brand. As an affiliate, you’ll earn a commission for promoting someone else’s product and generating a sale. On ClickBank, affiliates can earn up to 85% commissions on a range of popular products – meaning for every $100 you make in sales, you’re pocketing $85!

How do I start affiliate marketing with no money?

The best way to start affiliate marketing with no money is by going the “organic” or free traffic route, either on a social media site like TikTok or with your own affiliate blog. ClickBank has an affiliate education platform called Spark by ClickBank that can teach you either of these methods from scratch. Click here to learn more!

Does affiliate marketing really pay?

Yes! At ClickBank, we have thousands of affiliates pocketing commissions from sales they generated each and every year. Many of them earn thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars per year as affiliate marketers.

What are the highest-paying affiliate programs? 

High-ticket affiliate programs tend to be high-priced info products like video courses, coaching, or masterminds. A lot of these are in the “make money online” or e-business niche, teaching customers how to make more money with a business or investing. With these, you may be able to earn 50% commissions on a product priced at $2k and up.

How much can a beginner affiliate make?

A beginner affiliate can realistically make a few thousand dollars while they’re just starting out. It takes time to build a successful affiliate marketing business, as you get to know your chosen niche and traffic source – but the income potential for more experienced affiliates is virtually limitless. At ClickBank, we have hundreds of our Platinum affiliate clients earning more than $250K per year on ClickBank alone!

Do I need a website for affiliate marketing?

Not necessarily, but it depends. If you want to build an affiliate blog, you’ll definitely need your own website. If you run paid traffic as an affiliate, you’ll usually need your own domain to host a landing page (bridge page) to point traffic to from your ads, but this isn’t the same as a full website. For organic social, you can often get by with a simple Linktree-style link-in-bio page – or just add your tracking link directly in the description.


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affiliate marketing business plan

Free Business Plan Template for Small Businesses (2024)

Use this free business plan template to write your business plan quickly and efficiently.

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A good business plan is essential to successfully starting your business —  and the easiest way to simplify the work of writing a business plan is to start with a business plan template.

You’re already investing time and energy in refining your business model and planning your launch—there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to writing a business plan. Instead, to help build a complete and effective plan, lean on time-tested structures created by other  entrepreneurs and startups. 

Ahead, learn what it takes to create a solid business plan and download Shopify's free business plan template to get started on your dream today. 

What this free business plan template includes

  • Executive summary
  • Company overview
  • Products or services offered
  • Market analysis
  • Marketing plan
  • Logistics and operations plan
  • Financial plan

This business plan outline is designed to ensure you’re thinking through all of the important facets of starting a new business. It’s intended to help new business owners and entrepreneurs consider the full scope of running a business and identify functional areas they may not have considered or where they may need to level up their skills as they grow.

That said, it may not include the specific details or structure preferred by a potential investor or lender. If your goal with a business plan is to secure funding , check with your target organizations—typically banks or investors—to see if they have business plan templates you can follow to maximize your chances of success.

Our free business plan template includes seven key elements typically found in the traditional business plan format:

1. Executive summary

This is a one-page summary of your whole plan, typically written after the rest of the plan is completed. The description section of your executive summary will also cover your management team, business objectives and strategy, and other background information about the brand. 

2. Company overview

This section of your business plan will answer two fundamental questions: “Who are you?” and “What do you plan to do?” Answering these questions clarifies why your company exists, what sets it apart from others, and why it’s a good investment opportunity. This section will detail the reasons for your business’s existence, its goals, and its guiding principles.

3. Products or services offered

What you sell and the most important features of your products or services. It also includes any plans for intellectual property, like patent filings or copyright. If you do market research for new product lines, it will show up in this section of your business plan.

4. Market analysis

This section includes everything from estimated market size to your target markets and competitive advantage. It’ll include a competitive analysis of your industry to address competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Market research is an important part of ensuring you have a viable idea.

5. Marketing plan

How you intend to get the word out about your business, and what strategic decisions you’ve made about things like your pricing strategy. It also covers potential customers’ demographics, your sales plan, and your metrics and milestones for success.

6. Logistics and operations plan

Everything that needs to happen to turn your raw materials into products and get them into the hands of your customers.

7. Financial plan

It’s important to include a look at your financial projections, including both revenue and expense projections. This section includes templates for three key financial statements: an income statement, a balance sheet, and a cash-flow statement . You can also include whether or not you need a business loan and how much you’ll need.

Business plan examples

What do financial projections look like on paper? How do you write an executive summary? What should your company description include?  Business plan examples  can help answer some of these questions and transform your business idea into an actionable plan.

Professional business plan example

Inside our template, we’ve filled out a sample business plan featuring a fictional ecommerce business . 

The sample is set up to help you get a sense of each section and understand how they apply to the planning and evaluation stages of a business plan. If you’re looking for funding, this example won’t be a complete or formal look at business plans, but it will give you a great place to start and notes about where to expand.

Example text in a business plan company overview section

Lean business plan example

A lean business plan format is a shortened version of your more detailed business plan. It’s helpful when modifying your plan for a specific audience, like investors or new hires. 

Also known as a one-page business plan, it includes only the most important, need-to-know information, such as:

  • Company description
  • Key members of your team
  • Customer segments

💡 Tip: For a step-by-step guide to creating a lean business plan (including a sample business plan), read our guide on how to create a lean business plan .

Example text in a business plan's marketing plan section

Benefits of writing a solid business plan

It’s tempting to dive right into execution when you’re excited about a new business or side project, but taking the time to write a thorough business plan and get your thoughts on paper allows you to do a number of beneficial things:

  • Test the viability of your business idea. Whether you’ve got one business idea or many, business plans can make an idea more tangible, helping you see if it’s truly viable and ensure you’ve found a target market. 
  • Plan for your next phase. Whether your goal is to start a new business or scale an existing business to the next level, a business plan can help you understand what needs to happen and identify gaps to address.
  • Clarify marketing strategy, goals, and tactics. Writing a business plan can show you the actionable next steps to take on a big, abstract idea. It can also help you narrow your strategy and identify clear-cut tactics that will support it.
  • Scope the necessary work. Without a concrete plan, cost overruns and delays are all but certain. A business plan can help you see the full scope of work to be done and adjust your investment of time and money accordingly.
  • Hire and build partnerships. When you need buy-in from potential employees and business partners, especially in the early stages of your business, a clearly written business plan is one of the best tools at your disposal. A business plan provides a refined look at your goals for the business, letting partners judge for themselves whether or not they agree with your vision.
  • Secure funds. Seeking financing for your business—whether from venture capital, financial institutions, or Shopify Capital —is one of the most common reasons to create a business plan.

Why you should you use a template for a business plan

A business plan can be as informal or formal as your situation calls for, but even if you’re a fan of the back-of-the-napkin approach to planning, there are some key benefits to starting your plan from an existing outline or simple business plan template.

No blank-page paralysis

A blank page can be intimidating to even the most seasoned writers. Using an established business planning process and template can help you get past the inertia of starting your business plan, and it allows you to skip the work of building an outline from scratch. You can always adjust a template to suit your needs.

Guidance on what to include in each section

If you’ve never sat through a business class, you might never have created a SWOT analysis or financial projections. Templates that offer guidance—in plain language—about how to fill in each section can help you navigate sometimes-daunting business jargon and create a complete and effective plan.

Knowing you’ve considered every section

In some cases, you may not need to complete every section of a startup business plan template, but its initial structure shows you you’re choosing to omit a section as opposed to forgetting to include it in the first place.

Tips for creating a successful business plan

There are some high-level strategic guidelines beyond the advice included in this free business plan template that can help you write an effective, complete plan while minimizing busywork.

Understand the audience for your plan

If you’re writing a business plan for yourself in order to get clarity on your ideas and your industry as a whole, you may not need to include the same level of detail or polish you would with a business plan you want to send to potential investors. Knowing who will read your plan will help you decide how much time to spend on it.

Know your goals

Understanding the goals of your plan can help you set the right scope. If your goal is to use the plan as a roadmap for growth, you may invest more time in it than if your goal is to understand the competitive landscape of a new industry.

Take it step by step

Writing a 10- to 15-page document can feel daunting, so try to tackle one section at a time. Select a couple of sections you feel most confident writing and start there—you can start on the next few sections once those are complete. Jot down bullet-point notes in each section before you start writing to organize your thoughts and streamline the writing process.

Maximize your business planning efforts

Planning is key to the financial success of any type of business , whether you’re a startup, non-profit, or corporation.

To make sure your efforts are focused on the highest-value parts of your own business planning, like clarifying your goals, setting a strategy, and understanding the target market and competitive landscape, lean on a business plan outline to handle the structure and format for you. Even if you eventually omit sections, you’ll save yourself time and energy by starting with a framework already in place.

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Business plan template FAQ

What is the purpose of a business plan.

The purpose of your business plan is to describe a new business opportunity or an existing one. It clarifies the business strategy, marketing plan, financial forecasts, potential providers, and more information about the company.

How do I write a simple business plan?

  • Choose a business plan format, such as a traditional or a one-page business plan. 
  • Find a business plan template.
  • Read through a business plan sample.
  • Fill in the sections of your business plan.

What is the best business plan template?

If you need help writing a business plan, Shopify’s template is one of the most beginner-friendly options you’ll find. It’s comprehensive, well-written, and helps you fill out every section.

What are the 5 essential parts of a business plan?

The five essential parts of a traditional business plan include:

  • Executive summary: This is a brief overview of the business plan, summarizing the key points and highlighting the main points of the plan.
  • Business description: This section outlines the business concept and how it will be executed.
  • Market analysis: This section provides an in-depth look at the target market and how the business will compete in the marketplace.
  • Financial plan: This section details the financial projections for the business, including sales forecasts, capital requirements, and a break-even analysis.
  • Management and organization: This section describes the management team and the organizational structure of the business.

Are there any free business plan templates?

There are several free templates for business plans for small business owners available online, including Shopify’s own version. Download a copy for your business.

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Influencer Marketing

What is influencer marketing: An influencer strategy guide for 2024

Learn about the evolving world of influencer marketing in this guide from understanding the types of influencers to crafting effective strategies.

Ready to dive right in and start looking for influencers to work with? Check out our catalog of unique, up-to-date influencer trends by category.

Find influencers

Reading time  13 minutes

Published on  June 6, 2024

Table of Contents

  • Influencer marketing has evolved significantly over the past decade. It has expanded beyond celebrities to include social media influencers who foster authentic connections and influence purchase decisions and brand reputation.
  • Understanding the types of influencers, from mega to nano, is crucial for brands to choose the right partners. The types of influencers you choose to partner with will determine the reach, engagement and ROI you get.
  • Common influencer marketing mistakes to avoid include failing to define clear goals and expectations, prioritizing follower-count over engagement, neglecting influencer research and sharing unclear briefs.

Influencers are here to stay. According to a Q3 2023 Sprout Pulse Survey, more than 80% of marketers agree that influencers are essential to their overall social media strategy.

But the world of influencer marketing is constantly evolving.

A decade ago, the influencer marketing arena was limited only to celebrities and a few dedicated bloggers, whereas now, social media influencers are abound across all social networks. Their followings may vary in size, but these influencers pack a punch. Their tight-knit communities foster authentic connections and influence purchase behaviors, leading to higher brand engagement and ultimately, sales.

However, working with digital creators and influencers needs a well-planned and strategic approach. And this guide aims to help you navigate it. Read on for tips on how to build an effective influencer marketing strategy, what mistakes to avoid and how to find the right influencers for your brand.

Download the 2024 Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a social media marketing approach that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers. These individuals have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche.

Influencer marketing works because of the high trust social influencers have built with their following over time. Recommendations from these influencers serve as a form of social proof to your brand’s potential customers.

Types of influencers: By size and reach

Partnering with an influencer with millions of followers might sound like a dream come true but they may not be the best fit for your brand.

Some social media influencers have large, broad audiences spanning across several demographics. Others boast smaller but more targeted and engaged communities.

Knowing what each type of influencer can offer you in terms of reach, range, cost and engagement is key to choosing the right ones for your brand.

Let’s take a deeper look at the various types of influencers out there:

The four types of social media influencers based on follower count include mega influencers, macro influencers, micro influencers and nano influencers.

Mega or celebrity influencers

These influencers have a massive following of over 1 million and often include famous actors, musicians, athletes and other public figures. Their celebrity status allows them to captivate a diverse audience, making them ideal for large-scale brand awareness campaigns. Think: Cristiano Ronaldo .

Mega influencers can give your brand unparalleled exposure, but partnering with them can be incredibly expensive. Plus, since their audience is often broad, their engagement rates may not be as high as influencers with smaller, more niche followings.

Here are some businesses that might benefit from working with mega influencers:

  • Large enterprise corporations that have the budget and resources
  • Brands targeting a broad audience with varying characteristics
  • Luxury or high-end brands that want to create a sense of exclusivity


With a following that typically ranges from 100,000 to 1 million, macro-influencers are established personalities within their respective niches.

These influencers have earned their reputation through consistent content creation and engagement over time, and are now thought leaders in their niche .

Macro-influencers offer a more targeted approach compared to celebrities, as their followers usually share common interests. Collaborating with macro-influencers can provide your brand with substantial reach, but it may still be relatively costly depending on your budget.

Here are some examples of brands that might work with macro-influencers:

  • Startups seeking rapid exposure, growth and credibility (e.g., Canva )
  • Nonprofit organizations looking to raise funds and awareness
  • Hotels and airlines targeting a specific but large audience


With 10,000 to 100,000 highly engaged followers, micro-influencers are the rising stars of influencer marketing. These influencers typically have a strong presence on specific platforms, like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

Marketers love working with micro-influencers as they captivate a niche, passionate audience with their creative content, relatable recommendations and genuine interactions. They’re also more affordable than larger influencers.


Nano-influencers have between 1,000 to 10,000 followers. These influencers often have a strong connection with their audience, thanks to the close-knit community they’ve built and their personable content.

While they offer a smaller reach, nano-influencers can be excellent partners for businesses who want to target specific communities and demographics without breaking the bank. In fact, per the latest Influencer Marketing Hub data, 44% of brands prefer to partner with nano influencers in 2024, compared to 39% in 2023.

The latest Influencer Marketing Hub data shows 44% of brands prefer to partner with nano influencers in 2024, compared to 39% in 2023.

There are many reasons for this, namely, since nano-influencers work on a small scale, they dedicate more time and effort to individual partnerships. This means more tailored content for your brand and personal relationships within niche communities. They are perfect for businesses such as:

  • Local businesses targeting specific communities, cities or regions
  • Small businesses with limited budgets that want to run cost-effective campaigns
  • Artisan, home-based or speciality food businesses reaching a niche audience interested in their one-of-a-kind products

Why use influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for you, and brands are already using it to their advantage, as these influencer marketing examples show.

According to The 2024 Influencer Marketing Report , almost half of all consumers (49%) make purchases at least once a month because of influencer posts; and almost all consumers (86%) make a purchase inspired by an influencer at least once a year. Not surprisingly, the influencer marketing industry is expected to grow to $24 billion in 2024 as indicated by the Influencer Marketing Hub's latest research.

Here are more reasons why you should add influencers to your marketing mix.

Increased brand awareness

Collaborating with an influencer draws a wider audience to your brand. By featuring your brand in their content, influencers introduce it to new audiences who may not have been familiar with it. Also, the trust influencers hold with their followers enhances your brand's reputation and credibility and boosts market awareness.

Precise audience targeting

Influencer marketing helps brands with precise audience targeting by connecting brands to influencers whose followers align with the brand's target demographic. This ensures their message reaches the right audience and is delivered from a perspective that resonates with the audience, making the campaign more effective.

Higher conversions

Social proof is a powerful factor in the likelihood of making a purchase after seeing an influencer campaign, because it helps sway undecided consumers in your favor. Similarly, influencers often share interactive content such as giveaways, challenges and live sessions that drive engagement and prompt actions like making purchases or signing up for deals. They also share exclusive discount codes or special offers making it easy to track conversions directly linked to their promotion.

Building trust and authenticity with your audience

Influencers build trust with their followers by sharing personal experiences and opinions that resonate with their audience, making them more relatable. They further increase their credibility by being open about brand partnerships and only promoting products they genuinely support.

Plus, their seemingly unscripted content contrasts with traditional advertisements, making it sound authentic and spontaneous, which fosters personal connection with followers. This trust is further reinforced by how they respond to comments, making their audiences feel valued and heard, thus strengthening the bond. All this combined, helps influencers drive higher conversion rates for brands.

How to create an influencer marketing strategy in 5 steps

While Instagram influencer marketing is a well-known strategy, other platforms like TikTok , YouTube and Snapchat resonate increasingly well with different demographics.

Like any marketing tactic, an influencer program takes thoughtful planning. Here are key factors to consider while developing your influencer marketing strategy.

1. Find influencers and understand their payment structure

Finding the right influencer for your brand is the first step to building a successful influencer marketing strategy. You must invest time in market research to understand your audience’s preferences and choose the right platform to engage them with an influencer collaboration.

This is especially important because each network caters to a specific audience. For example, beauty and fashion brands shine on Instagram and YouTube, while the video game industry dominates Twitch.

Here are some factors to consider when searching for influencers:

  • Does the influencer already post about similar topics related to your service?
  • Are they legit? Scroll through their feed and click through on posts. A poor engagement ratio to follower count and spam-like comments are signs of a fake account or fake followers.
  • Have they worked with similar brands before? Depending on what type of influencer you’re looking for, a seasoned one will be able to show you a press kit that contains a portfolio of their work.

Social listening can assist you in identifying where people are discussing your industry and brand, and to find influential voices within your industry on each platform.

40 Unique Ways To Use Social Listening To Make An Impact On Your Business

Similarly, focus on the type of influencers you want, and plan for their pricing . Whether it’s celebrities with massive followings or micro-influencer s with less than 2,000 followers, do your due diligence because that will determine your budget.

Compensation varies based on platform, influencer types and types of influencer collaborations, so think about the expected ROI of your social influencer marketing campaign. How will you measure the impact of influencer posts on your overall marketing goals? For instance, compare how you would budget for a video production firm creating an ad versus an influencer creating a video. Resources like this Instagram influencer rate map can help you estimate influencer costs based on audience size and industry.

2. Set a budget and management strategy

The next step is to create an influencer marketing budget.

Use an influencer marketing budgeting template to manage your expenses and strategically allocate resources to high-value partnerships. Be sure to account for the time needed to plan, execute and review your influencer program because, unlike automated ad strategies, influencers often juggle multiple partnerships, requiring a more hands-on approach from you.

If your budget allows, consider establishing an ambassador program to diversify and enrich your content. Similar to Fujifilm , which uses ambassadors for new product launches and to highlight new product features.

Whether you engage an influencer marketing agency or not, investing in an all-in-one influencer marketing software is a good idea, helping you sift through suitable influencers, manage pricing negotiations and review and approve content.

3. Decide on campaign goals and messaging

To ensure your influencer strategy succeeds, focus on your campaign's goals and needs. Determine whether you want to reach a new demographic, introduce a new product or highlight your brand values through influencers. Also, explore influencer trends to see what’s resonating in your industry.

Your message is as crucial as your goal. And since influencers target specific audiences, refining your campaign messaging is important for effective content.

Influencer content is typically more conversational and personal, which helps differentiate it from brand-driven or sales-oriented posts. But while it’s important to preserve an influencer’s creativity and uniqueness, ensure their content aligns with your brand values.

4. Establish influencer outreach: How to contact influencers

Your outreach will depend on the type of influencer you’ve chosen. For example, celebrities and macro influencers often work through agencies, so you might have to connect with an agency to reach them. Some may also list their contact information for business inquiries in their bio and have a website that denotes brand partnerships.

Influencer Summer Rayne Oaks has a multi-channel presence including on YouTube where she posts videos like this with one of her brand partners, Gardener's Supply Company.

For example, Summer Rayne Oakes has a multi-channel presence, which is a perk for her brand partners.

For micro-influencers, you could reach out directly in a private message via their social platform.

5. Review and refine your strategy

It’s important to refine and review your strategy so you’ll be more successful with each campaign going forward. Having predetermined milestones where you’ll measure progress can prove very helpful in this.

While these tips serve as a guide to help you craft a well-planned strategy, it's crucial to be aware of common mistakes to avoid in influencer marketing. We’ll dive into those, next.

Influencer marketing mistakes to avoid

Influencer marketing can be highly rewarding — if done right. Sidestep these potential pitfalls to ensure smooth influencer collaborations and successful campaign outcomes.

Failing to define clear goals and KPIs

First things first, know why you’re doing this in the first place. Partnering with an influencer is a big deal — you need to be clear about the purpose and goals of your campaign.

Here are a few ways setting goals in advance can help you:

  • Choose the right influencers: Defining goals helps you identify the specific characteristics and qualities you need in an influencer to achieve those outcomes. For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness, you can find influencers who have a strong presence and reach within your niche.
  • Define and measure success: What does success mean to you? Is it the number of impressions, post engagement or the amount of traffic coming to your website? Define which KPIs and metrics to track both during and after the campaign to assess how well your influencer campaign is performing.
  • Keep everyone on track: Setting clear goals ensures that both the brand and the influencer are working towards a common purpose. This facilitates effective communication and constructive feedback, saving everyone’s valuable time.
  • Hold influencers accountable: Establishing clear expectations and performance benchmarks makes influencers feel responsible. They know the results they need to provide and will focus on creating content that aligns with those goals.

Prioritizing follower count over engagement

A large following doesn't always mean high engagement. It’s entirely possible an influencer has millions of passive followers but very low engagement.

Instead, partner with influencers with an engaged and loyal audience. A handful of people who trust the influencer are more valuable to your brand than thousands of indifferent followers unlikely to convert.

Look at the influencer’s engagement metrics, comments and interactions, as well as past results for other brands to gauge their level of influence and likeability.

Neglecting to research the influencer

Choosing the wrong influencers, including fake influencers , can cost your business valuable time and money. But this hasn’t deterred marketers, with 60% of marketers intending to increase their influencer marketing budget over 2024, the Influencer Marketing Hub states.

An easy fix is to properly research the influencer of your choice, before signing a partnership. Vet influencers and evaluate their influencer media kit to ensure they share your vision and complement your brand’s personality.

Here are some key areas to look into when researching influencers for your brand:

  • Audience demographics: Study the influencer's followers to ensure your campaign reaches the right audience. Analyze factors like age, gender, location and interests (e.g., Millennials who identify as women) to determine if they are likely to become your customers.
  • Interactions, voice and content: Look at the influencer’s engagement rate, the tone of voice they use and the type of content they create. For example, if your brand has a playful, casual image, partnering with an influencer known for their formal, business-oriented content might not be the best fit.
  • Authenticity and influence: Forced partnerships can appear insincere and hurt both your campaign and brand image. Collaborate with influencers who genuinely love your brand and products. Their followers trust them for a reason and you don't want your brand to get in the way of their (and your) credibility.
  • Experience with branded content: Has the influencer worked with other brands in the past? Have they ever worked with your competitors? Carefully scrutinize their content to spot any red flags and gauge the value they can provide.

Writing poorly constructed briefs

Crafting well-structured briefs is key to maximizing your influencer marketing campaigns. A good social media campaign brief equips influencers with the details and resources they need to represent your brand effectively, without being overly restrictive.

Here’s a quick rundown on what to include in your brief:

  • What is the main goal of your campaign? What are you hoping to achieve?
  • What is your company’s background? What is your brand and what product/s are you selling?
  • What are your product’s key benefits, features and differentiators?
  • Who is your target audience? Include an audience persona if you have one.
  • What does your budget look like for this campaign?
  • Do you have a timeline in mind?
  • Do you want the influencer to use your brand assets? Provide them with your logo, colors and fonts if necessary.

Don’t forget to inform influencers of any words or ideas to avoid in their content. For example, if you’re an eco-friendly brand, let the influencer know that sustainability is a core value and they should avoid using plastic and other such products in their content.

Restricting the influencer's creative freedom

While comprehensive briefs are important, there’s such a thing as too much information.

Avoid going overboard with your guidelines. You don’t need to dictate the influencer’s exact words or actions. Doing so can stifle the influencer's creative freedom, resulting in content that looks scripted and inauthentic.

Some brands also make the mistake of micro-managing every aspect of the content creation process. For example, you don’t need to vet multiple drafts just before they go live.

Remember, influencers are the experts in creating content their audience loves and trusts. Your brand just needs to support them with resources they need to create great content for effective influencer marketing.

Not setting expectations upfront

Establishing clear expectations beforehand enables a smooth, productive collaboration. The result? A successful campaign aligned with your goals.

Make sure you agree on the following items in advance:

  • Timeline and deliverables: Clearly outline the campaign timeline, including start and end dates, as well as any deadlines for content submission and publication. Also, specify the required deliverables, such as the number of posts, stories or videos the influencer needs to create.
  • Payment and terms: Agree on the payment structure, whether it's a one-time fee, ongoing retainer or performance-based compensation. Discuss the payment schedule and any additional terms, such as bonuses for exceptional performance or penalties for missed deadlines.

Focusing on the wrong metrics

Influencer marketing can offer more benefits to your business than merely boosting sales. Fixating only on conversions and revenue data can mislead brands into thinking their campaigns are not working.

Here are some other metrics to consider when measuring the impact of your campaigns:

  • Engagement metrics: Evaluate likes, comments, and shares to understand content resonance and audience interaction.
  • Brand awareness metrics: Measure views, clicks and website traffic to gauge campaign reach and audience interest.
  • Follower growth: Track new followers to determine influencer impact on brand visibility and audience expansion.
  • Inbound leads: Track the number of inquiries and messages your brand gets to analyze the campaign’s impact on inbound lead generation.

How to track influencer marketing campaigns

There are a few ways of measuring the success of your campaign.

If you want to keep a pulse on the content your influencers are creating and interacting with, you can create a specific branded hashtag, like #SproutPartner. The Sprout Social Smart Inbox makes it easy to see what’s being talked about with specific hashtags, or to watch for mentions of specific keywords .

Sprout Smart inbox with Instagram hashtags

Use Sprout’s reporting feature to tag and track campaign-related posts. You can also compare how each post is performing and view metrics such as post engagements, clicks and impressions.

Sprout tag report

Similarly, if you’re aiming for more sales, giving out affiliate codes or tracking links will help you measure the revenue generated from influencers.

Create a successful influencer marketing strategy for your brand

It’s clear—influencers are the new wave in marketing. However, the influencer marketing world is constantly evolving, and in five years may be drastically different from today.

While working with influencers has unique considerations, setting up a campaign is the same as most marketing campaigns: research, set a budget, determine goals, find your influencers, and review and revise. Once you’ve got a hold of the rhythm, creating different influencer marketing campaigns to meet your brand’s various needs will become second nature.

If you need more resources for your team on running influencer campaigns, check out our ultimate guide for running successful social media campaigns .

Influencer Marketing FAQs

The three R’s in influencer marketing strategy are relevance, reach and resonance.

  • Reach alludes to the number of followers the influencer has and the people they can potentially reach with their content.
  • Relevance is how well the influencer’s content aligns with your brand voice, target audience and marketing goals.
  • Resonance is the level of meaningful interactions and connections the influencer’s content creates with their followers, which translates to greater audience loyalty.

An influencer marketing strategy needs meticulous planning. Here are five things you need to keep in mind to ace it.

  • Find influencers and understand their payment structure
  • Set a budget and management strategy
  • Decide on campaign goals and messaging
  • Establish influencer outreach process
  • Review and refine your strategy

Social media influencers collaborate with brands to promote products or services to their followers through sponsored posts, product reviews and endorsements. In doing so, they help shape consumer opinions and purchasing decisions.

Additional resources for Influencer Marketing

  • Influencers
  • Other Platforms

The ultimate playbook to build a Snapchat influencer marketing strategy

  • Social Media Strategy

Influencer pricing: how much influencers really cost

  • Social Media Content

UK Food influencers redefining taste for your brand

Influencer marketing trends across industries

Spotlight on UK beauty influencers for your brand

An Influencer Marketing Toolkit to Kickstart Your Strategy

Influencer relationships (with consumers & brands) are evolving—what does that mean for marketers?

11 best influencer marketing tools you need in 2024

UK fashion influencers redefining style

  • Future of Marketing

The rise of virtual influencers: are they here to stay?

Elevate Your Next Campaign With This Influencer Marketing Brief Template

Powerful UK fitness influencers for your next campaign

Find UK TikTok Influencers for your brand

24 Top YouTube influencers to check out in 2024

  • Social Media Analytics

8 top influencer analytics tools to boost your campaign ROI in 2024

The benefits of influencer marketing (+ what the C-Suite cares about)

Rethinking the influencer-brand relationship

10 metrics to track influencer marketing success in 2024

How to find influencers for your brand’s marketing campaign

How B2B influencer marketing will grow your brand

16 influencer marketing platforms to boost your campaigns in 2024

Mastering Instagram influencer marketing: strategies for success

The complete guide to TikTok influencer marketing

A 6-point framework for maximizing influencer marketing ROI

  • Social Media Trends

22 influencer marketing statistics to guide your brand’s strategy in 2024

7 examples of influencer marketing campaigns

  • Branding & Creative

The ultimate guide to evaluating influencer media kits

Micro-influencer marketing guide: Facts and uses

YouTube influencer marketing guide to boosting brand awareness

The rise of senior influencers: Age is just a number but follower count isn’t

Today’s top TikTok influencers: Inspiration for your brand’s evolving social strategy

Digital creators vs. influencers: What’s the difference?

Why LinkedIn influencer marketing matters for brands

  • Social Media Engagement

What are fake influencers and how can you spot them?

  • Community Management
  • Consumer Goods

Nanoinfluencer marketing 101: How I got 1000 engaged followers in 30 days

Influencer marketing

10 Lessons From Instagram Influencers

Influencer Marketing Ain’t Easy: 5 Client Questions to Answer Before They Ask

Using Sprout Social for Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Build and grow stronger relationships on social

Sprout Social helps you understand and reach your audience, engage your community and measure performance with the only all-in-one social media management platform built for connection.

You are here: Influencer Marketing Hub » Influencer Marketing » The State of Influencer Marketing 2024: Benchmark Report

The State of Influencer Marketing 2024: Benchmark Report

Werner Geyser

The Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report 2024 is our latest overview of the influencer marketing industry. It summarizes the thoughts of more than 3000 marketing agencies, brands, and other relevant professionals regarding the current state of influencer marketing, along with some predictions of how people expect it to move over the next year and into the future. 

The world around us has changed considerably over the last few years. The arrival of Covid in 2020 turned much of the world on its head, with enforced lockdowns and scenes reminiscent of a Hollywood disaster movie. By 2024, however, much of the world has learned to live with Covid but struggled to cope with its financial fallout. We still suffer from supply chain disruptions, a chronic shortage of key workers, and creeping inflation threatening to unsettle the global economy. And that doesn’t even include the effects of Global Warming, associated climatic effects, and wars raging on multiple fronts.

Unsurprisingly, many businesses have struggled to survive in this new environment. And those that have made it this far need to find new ways to market, so they stand out in the minds of consumers. Creator and influencer marketing appear to be more important than ever for connecting brands with their target customers. 

We’ve also seen major advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in recent years. ChatGPT and other generative AI products have made a significant impact in many ways (not just “Deep Fakes” of Hollywood celebrities) and are now prevalent in many products we use daily. Google is experimenting with making AI an integral part of its search engine. Brands involved in influencer marketing can use AI in most phases of the process, from assisting influencer discovery to creating reports at the end of campaigns. If anything, however, we were surprised by how little change there has been in AI usage this year by the marketers who participated in our study, compared to results over the last few reports. 

As well as our annual survey collating data related to the influencer marketing industry, the Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report 2024 also incorporates data from HypeAuditor, and our  Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in Influencer Marketing: Racial and Gender Inequalities Report .

The State of Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report 2024:

Notable highlights, survey methodology, influencer marketing expected to be worth $24 billion by the end of 2024, sizeable increase in content in recent years, rate increasing after covid lull, an increasing majority have a standalone budget for content marketing.

  • Nearly 2/3 of Respondents Felt the Impact Of 2023’s Macroeconomic Woes

The Vast Majority of Respondents Believe Influencer Marketing to be Effective

More than 85% of our respondents intend to dedicate a budget to influencer marketing in 2024, nearly 60% of respondents intend to increase their influencer marketing spend in 2024, 26% of respondents intend to spend more than 40% of their marketing budget on influencer marketing, although most brands spend less than $50k on influencer marketing, nearly 15% spend over $500k., firms value working with influencers they know, more than 60% plan to use ai or ml in their influencer campaigns, the main purpose of ai/ml is for influencer identification, tiktok still expected to deliver the best roi for short-form video, strong preference for smaller influencers, more brands now pay influencers than give them free product samples, major change in payment system this year: half of the payments to influencers are made as a percentage of sale, wire transfer is marginally the most popular way to pay influencers, however, other methods are almost as common, nearly 80% of brands track sales from influencer campaigns, email addresses and referral links are the most popular ways to attract sales, 80%+ recognize the high quality of customers from influencer marketing campaigns, more than 60% of respondents have used virtual influencers, 70% measure the roi on their influencer marketing, the most common measure of influencer marketing success is views / reach / impressions, most consider earned media value a good measure of roi, 83% of firms take their influencer marketing spending from their marketing budget, 76% of influencer marketing campaigns are run in-house, 72% of respondents use tools developed in-house to execute influencer marketing campaigns, nearly 60% of all respondents use 3rd-party platforms, the most popular use of influencer platforms is for influencer discovery and communication, tiktok continues to be the most common channel used by most brands engaging in influencer marketing, user generated content (ugc) is the main objective when running an influencer campaign, influencer fraud is still of concern to respondents, increase in respondents who have experienced influencer fraud.

  • Brands are Finding it “Relatively” Easy to Find Appropriate Influencers

The Majority of Firms Have Little Concerns About Brand Safety in Influencer Campaigns

Nearly 75% believe influencer marketing can be automated, content production is now considered most valuable when partnering with influencers, but audience relationship is still valued, more than 60% of respondents prefer their influencer marketing to be campaign-based, the vast majority consider influencer marketing to be a scalable tactic in their marketing ecosystem, views/reach/impressions are now the most important criteria when evaluating influencers, 60%+ of brands work with more than 10 influencers, nearly half of all influencer campaigns are run monthly, finding influencers to participate is again the greatest challenge for those who run campaigns in-house, social media user demographics statistics, the majority of instagram users are aged 25-34.

  • TikTok is the Favorite of 13–24-Year-Olds.

57% of YouTube Viewers Are Male, But Females Dominate the Younger Age Groups

Lifestyle and music top instagram influencer niches, influencer engagement, instagram influencer fraud has continued to decline since 2019, the most-mentioned brands on social media in 2022, target was the most mentioned brand on tiktok in 2022.

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Influencer Marketing: 

Nearly 60% of Influencers Felt They Faced Discrimination

Almost 50% of influencers face discrimination based on their gender.

  • TikTok Provided the Worst Discrimination Faced by Influencers 

Macro- and Mega-Influencers Suffer Most from Discrimination

  • The Influencer Marketing Industry is set to grow to approximately $24 Billion by the end of 2024
  • 63% plan to use AI in executing their influencer campaigns, 55% of these brands will use AI for influencer identification
  • 85% of our survey respondents believe influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing, an increase from previous years
  • 75% admit to having increased the amount of content they produce and share
  • 60% of those respondents who budget for influencer marketing intend to increase their influencer marketing budget over 2024
  • Nearly 1/4 of respondents intend to spend more than 40% of their entire marketing budget on influencer campaigns
  • There is a strong preference for working with small (nano - 44% and micro - 26%) influencers ahead of expensive macro-influencers (17%) and celebrities (13%)
  • It is now the norm to pay influencers (41%), rather than just give them a free product (31%).
  • TikTok (utilized by 69% of brands using influencer marketing) is by far the most popular influencer marketing channel, now well ahead of Instagram (47%), YouTube (33%) and Facebook (28%)
  • The main purpose of running influencer campaigns is to create User Generated Content (56%). Generating sales (23%) is a distant second.

We surveyed approximately 3000 people from a range of backgrounds. 41.9% of our respondents work at marketing agencies (including those specializing in influencer marketing), and 22.3% consider themselves brands (or brand representatives). 5% are PR agencies. We merged the remaining 30.8% as Other, representing a wide range of occupations and sectors.

In the 2022 and 2023 reports, we saw a relative increase in B2B businesses over B2C firms compared to 2021. However, this year we had a noticeable increase in B2C respondents. 73.1% of those surveyed identify as part of the B2C sector (up from 62%), with the remaining 26.9% (down from 38%) running B2B campaigns.

The most popular vertical represented remains Fashion & Beauty (21.6% of respondents, down from last year's 25%). Gaming became the second-most popular sector (11.9%), followed by Sports (8.6%). Also at 8.6%, Travel and Lifestyle was only two-thirds as popular a category for respondents this year than last. Family, Parenting & Home (7.6%) also decreased representation in 2024.  After a big drop last year, Health and Fitness rebounded slightly to a 7.6% share. However, the notable change this year was the expansion of the category we’ve called Other to cover 34.1% of the respondents (more than any individual category). This covers every other vertical imaginable and signifies the variety of respondents we had for our survey. 

We have once again noticed a widespread global response to this year’s survey. 19.5% of respondents came from Asia (APAC) (14% in 2023) and another 19.5% came from the USA (16% in 2023).  14% of our respondents come from Africa (31% in 2023), 10% in South America (4% in 2023), and 8.6% from Europe (8% in 2023). 28.5% describe their location as Other (28% 2023). It is highly likely that most respondents who selected Other come from Canada, Mexico, or other parts of North America.

The bulk of our respondents came from relatively small organizations, with 35.6% representing companies with fewer than ten employees. 21.5% had 10-50 employees, 12.3% 50-100, 14.2% 100-1,000, and 16.4% came from large enterprises with more than 1,000 employees. Overall, this spread is very similar to last year’s sample.

We’ve noticed an increase in the percentage of our respondents who operate eCommerce stores compared to those who don't. For example, 57.6% of the respondents run eCommerce stores versus 42.4% not doing so. This represents a noticeable increase in the percentage of influencer-contracting brands operating eCommerce stores. Last year, 51% of such brands ran eCommerce stores.

This is surprisingly high. Remember that our survey respondents come from various backgrounds – brands, marketing agencies, PR agencies, and "Other." Clearly, eCommerce is increasing in popularity for all types of businesses. Website management systems with eCommerce capabilities, such as Shopify, now make it easy for even small businesses to set up an online store. Consumers now expect to do much of their everyday shopping online, and even many traditional brick-and-mortar stores now make this easy.

However, one thing to be aware of is that the Influencer Marketing Hub now caters to all types of online marketing. A more significant portion of the site is now devoted to articles about eCommerce than in previous years. As a result, we may have a higher percentage of eCommerce marketers (compared to influencer marketers) visiting the site and answering our survey than previously.

Despite concerns that influencer marketing (indeed, all marketing) might decrease due to COVID-19, it didn’t and has continued to increase in popularity since 2020. Initially, some industries, such as tourism and airlines, had to cut back their operations and marketing, but many others adjusted their models to survive in the post-Covid world. Now there is renewed life in these more Covid-affected industries too.

Over the last couple of years, we have experienced a global economic downturn, and increasing inflation rates, making it more difficult for people to pay for their everyday purchases, never mind perceived extras. Firms must compete more fiercely for the consumer’s dollar, pound, or euro. Successful businesses understand the importance of marketing, including influencer marketing, in tough times, and increase their expenditures on this, even when they have to cost-cut expenses elsewhere.

From a mere $1.7 billion at the time of this site's beginning in 2016, influencer marketing grew to have an estimated market size of $16.4 billion in 2022. It was then predicted to jump a further 29% to an estimated $21.1 billion in 2023. Despite these already impressive growth figures, the sector is expected to see even more robust expansion, with Influencer Marketing's Hub predicting the market size to reach an estimated $24 billion by the end of 2024 , indicating strong ongoing growth momentum in influencer marketing despite challenging economic conditions.

Influencer Marketing Market Size

Results From Our Survey

We asked our respondents whether they had increased content output over the last two years. A sizable 78.5% of them admit to having upped the amount of content they produce. This is up on last year's 71%. 

After a small fall in increased content last year, most firms realize the insatiable demand for online content. The majority of marketers have increased their content marketing, year after year. Much of this increase in content must be created and delivered by influencers on behalf of brands. 

The types of content shared have changed over time, however. Our most recent Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report found that the most common types of posts on Facebook are now link posts (49.2%), followed by photo posts (30.8%), video posts (17.7%), and in a distant last, status posts (2.3%). On Instagram (business accounts) photo posts (41.7%) are the most popular, followed by video posts (38.2%), and carousel posts (20.0%). Alongside these platforms, the popularity of YouTube has led to a demand for more video posts, and the success of TikTok (and its rivals like Threads) has seen a notable shift towards short video content.

Nearly 2/3 (65.8%) admit to having a standalone budget for content marketing. This figure creeps up each year and is up from 63% last year, 61% in 2022, 59% in 2021, and 55% in our 2020 survey. 

These figures compare with a surprising finding from HubSpot that just 29% of their marketer respondents actively use content marketing, but 50% of marketers plan on increasing their investment in content marketing in 2024. 

Nearly 2/3 of Respondents Felt the Impact Of 2023’s Macroeconomic Woes

The world economy is currently in its most challenging situation since the arrival of influencer marketing. So, it was interesting to see whether the Marketing Departments at our respondent businesses are feeling the pinch. Indeed, 64.7% of our respondent businesses say they felt the impact of macroeconomic circumstances during 2023.

Unsurprisingly, considering the overall positive sentiment expressed about influencer marketing, just over 84.8% of our survey respondents believe influencer marketing is an effective form of marketing, up from 83% last year. 

This statistic has exceeded 80% in each of our surveys since 2017, however, it is still lower than 2022’s 90% support. It is clear that most firms that try influencer marketing are happy with the results and are willing to continue with the practice. However, most influencer marketing partnerships work and result in a win-win situation for all parties.

The general satisfaction felt by firms that have engaged in influencer marketing seems to flow through to their future planning. For example, 85.8% of our respondents indicated that they would be dedicating a budget to influencer marketing in 2024.

This is a moderate increase from last year's 82% result and considerably up from the 37% who claimed they would dedicate a budget in our first survey in 2017. This continuing increase could result from firms increasing marketing to combat the effects of the current global financial crisis and other negative consumer sentiment. 

59.4% of those respondents who budget for influencer marketing intend to increase their influencer marketing budget over the next 12 months. An additional 22.1% indicate that they expect to keep their budgets the same as in 2023. A further 9.3% stated that they were unsure how their influencer marketing budgets would change. This leaves just 9.3% intending to decrease their influencer marketing budgets. 

Marketing Budget Allocation in 2024

These results suggest a sizable spending on influencer marketing in 2024, although at a slower rate than last year. The 9.3% planning to decrease their influencer marketing budget is slightly higher than last year’s 7% figure. 

Although this is still proof that influencer marketing continues to be successful and is now sufficiently mainstream that it can’t be considered just a fad, it may indicate that budgets are stretched in these tough economic times, with some needing to find savings. Brands and marketers still recognize the effectiveness of influencer marketing, however, and don’t appear to be searching for something new. Further evidence of this can be seen in the next statistic.

Influencer marketing is, of course, merely one part of the marketing mix. Most businesses balance their marketing budget across a wide range of media to reach the greatest possible relevant audience. However, as we saw above, nearly 86% of our respondents' firms intend to include some influencer marketing in their mix. 

We notice a continuing trend in firms devoting a sizable percentage of their marketing budget to influencer marketing. Clearly, quite a few brands have found success with their influencer marketing and decided to return for more. 

24.2% of respondents are dedicated fans of influencer marketing, intending to spend more than 40% of their marketing budget on influencer campaigns. This is comparable with 2023’s 23%, but much increased upon 2022’s 5%, 2021's 11%, and 2020's 9%. 

11.5% of respondents (down from 13% in 2023) intend to devote 30-40% of their marketing budget to influencer marketing. An additional 15.8% plan to allocate 20-30% of their total marketing spending to influencer marketing. 

22.4% of respondents expect to spend 10-20% of their marketing budget on influencer marketing this year. 26.1% expect to spend less than 10%, which is higher than last year’s 20%.

Brands of all sizes participate in influencer marketing. Therefore, it should be no surprise to see quite some variation in what firms spend on the activity. 47.4% of the brands surveyed said they spend less than $10K annually on influencer marketing (higher than last year's 43% - these are probably a mix of newcomers dabbling with influencer marketing combined with more seasoned marketers operating with reduced budgets). 20.9% spent between $10K and $50K (down from last year’s 22%). A further 8.9% spent $50K to $100K (noticeably lower than 2023’s 14%), 8.3% $100K to $500K (down from 10%), with a sizable 14.5% spending more than $500K (up from last year’s 11% nearly 4x more than in 2022).

How Much Do Brands Spend on Influencer Marketing

Clearly, the amount that a firm spends depends on its total marketing budget affects the proportion it chooses to devote to influencer marketing. Those brands that opt to work with mega-influencers and celebrities spend more than brands that work alongside micro- or nano-influencers. In 2022 we saw a leveling out of influencer marketing spending, with most brands spending a middling proportion of their marketing budget on influencer marketing. Last year, however, brands moved their spending sums to the extremes. Brands with happy influencer marketing experiences increased the percentage of their marketing budget they spent on the activity. However, brands that experienced less happy outcomes decreased or eliminated spending on the activity, turning their attention to other forms of marketing. This year saw a small movement back towards a more balanced pattern of spending.

We asked our respondents whether they had worked with the same influencers across different campaigns. The majority, 63.2% (61% last year, 57% in 2022) said they had, versus 36.8% (39% last year, 43% in 2022) who claimed to use other influencers for their campaigns (or perhaps had only had one campaign so far). We can now see a clear pattern of brands preferring to work with influencers they know.

One-Off vs Repetitive Influencer Partnerships

Clearly, brands prefer to build relationships with existing influencers rather than go through the entire influencer selection process every time they run a campaign. Of course, some firms will have a range of influencers they call upon depending on the nature of a particular campaign, the products they are trying to promote, and the target market. The 2% increase in firms working with existing influencers probably indicates the natural increase in influencer-business relationships over time. The more successful an influencer campaign is, the greater the likelihood that the parties will want to work together on other campaigns.

Technology is coming to influencer marketing. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have been headlining the news often over the last year. We asked our respondents whether they planned to utilize AI and ML over the next year to identify influencers or create effective campaigns. A very sizable 63% said they would, alongside 27.1% who thought they might. Only 9.9% gave an unequivocal no to this question. Clearly, AI and ML have hit the mainstream.

ML Usage in Influencer Campaigns

We asked those who said they would (or might) use AI/ML in their influencer marketing how they intended to use it. The most popular suggestion (55.8%) was using social media data analytics to identify the most effective influencers for a particular brand or campaign. Although the respondents didn’t clarify this, they presumably intend to work with one of the many influencer platforms  offering influencer identification technology.

Main Purpose of AI/ML

Although somewhat less common, the second most popular intended use of AI in influencer marketing is locating and distributing relevant content (18.6%). The popularity of this has noticeably increased from last year’s 13.3%.

Interestingly, 5.7% of our respondents intend to use AI to identify bogus influencers and engagements, an almost identical percentage as in last year’s results. It will be interesting to see if this figure rises over time, as more people discover what AI can achieve.

Until recently, the name TikTok was synonymous with short-term video, although ardent Snapchat fans may dispute this assessment. However, existing social media companies, YouTube and Meta (Facebook/Instagram) have been hit by the popularity of comparative newcomer, TikTok. Just as Instagram introduced Stories to try and neuter Snapchat, these older social channels have now introduced TikTok-killer features. You will undoubtedly notice YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and even Facebook Reels in your feeds.

For the second year running, we asked our respondents about which they believed would deliver the best ROI (although we didn’t show Facebook Reels separately in our survey options). Last year we saw a surprisingly close battle for the top position between TikTok (42%) and Instagram Reels (34%). 

This year, however, TikTok has reasserted itself at the top, with 50.1% support, ahead of 29.9% for Instagram Reels. A much reduced 12% believed YouTube Shorts would deliver the best ROI, alongside the usual diehard Snapchat disciples, with 8% opting for Snapchat Spotlights (who would undoubtedly point out that support for their platform has increased 33% from last year’s 6% figure). We won’t mention the words “margin of error” too loudly.

We asked those of our respondents intending to work with influencers this year the size of influencer (in terms of followers) they were most likely to utilize. If they used more than one type, they had to pick their preferred option.

44% of brands chose nano-influencers (1K-10K followers) as their most likely partners (up from 39%), followed by 25.7% opting for micro-influencers (10K-100K) (down from 30%). 

Far fewer brands choose to place their focus on larger influencers, with 17.4% opting for macro-influencers (100K-1M) (down from 19%), and 12.9% mega / celebrity influencers (up slightly from 12%).

Influencer Preferences

This possibly reflects the reality of a small to medium-sized business. You simply can’t afford the fees charged by macro and mega-influencers. In addition, there are far fewer of these more popular influencers, limiting the number of brands they can work with. However, it may also reflect that nano and micro-influencers have far higher engagement rates than their more famous counterparts and may be better value for money for brands wanting to reach a specific dedicated audience.

There has been a notable change in the answers to this question over time. Previously, those giving free samples outnumbered those paying cash to influencers. In 2022, numbers were approximately equal. However, last year, noticeably more respondents stated that they pay money to influencers, than give them free products. This trend has continued with 40.8% offering monetary rewards, 30.8% giving free product samples, 18.9% giving their influencers a discount on their product or services (presumably more expensive items), and a smaller 9.4% entering their influencers in a giveaway.

Ways To Pay Influencers

While more brands are willing to pay influencers for their marketing services, 40.8% is still a relatively low percentage, much less than half. It is probably a sign of just how many firms work with micro and nano-influencers. These relative newcomers are happy to receive payment in kind rather than cash. Presumably, it is mainly larger firms with more sizable marketing budgets that pay influencers with money. However, this is gradually changing as even nano and micro-influencers begin to understand their worth as advocates for a brand.

As we prepare the State of Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report annually, we don’t generally tend to see major changes in survey results each year. In most cases, movement is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. However, this question saw a significant change in 2023 that has continued this year.

Back in 2022, the most common method (49.6%) was to pay at a flat rate. However, a sizable percentage of other brands (42%) structured their influencer marketing payments more like affiliate marketing payments by paying a percentage of any sales made as a result of the influencer marketing. Payments based on product level (4%) and tiered incentives (4%) were less common.

Infuencer Payment System

For the last two years, however, things have changed considerably. The most common method (49.6%) now is paying as a percentage of sales value. Flat rate payments now just represent 24.1% of sales, with sales based on product level (19%) now five times as popular as in 2022. Those paying by tiered incentives remain low at 7.3%.

It’s hard to understand the reason for such a significant change. Perhaps in these tough economic times brands require a higher level of evidence for the effectiveness of their influencer marketing spending. Possibly more brands engaging in influencer marketing have made increased sales the goal of their campaign, and fewer targeting brand awareness. It will be most interesting to see if this becomes a permanent change.

Isolating those respondents who pay money to influencers, we asked them their preferred payment method. 29.2% chose wire transfer (up from 28% last year), 27.2% paid by PayPal (29% last year), 25.1% said they paid manually (25% last year), and 18.5% a third-party payment service, e.g., Wise (17% last year). Manual payments include payments made by cash on delivery (COD), money orders, bank transfers, and even email money transfers in some locations like Canada. If we look over a longer period, however, there is a clearer shift from PayPal to wire transfer. Between 2022 and 2024 PayPal has fallen proportionately from 34% to 29% to 27.2%. Over the same period wire transfer has increased in popularity from 15% to 28% to 29.2%.

Most Popular Way to Pay Influencers

Payment methods depend very much on the location of the influencers. If they are based in a different country from where you operate, PayPal or something like Wise is much easier than a wire transfer or a manual transaction.

Although there are many potential goals for an influencer marketing campaign, it is clear that the majority of firms now undertake influencer marketing to drive sales. Indeed 79.8% of our survey respondents stated that they track sales from their influencer campaigns.

This is up noticeably from last year’s 74% and ties in with the previous statistic indicating that the most popular basis for influencer payment is now tied to the increased sales an influencer’s activity generates. As influencer marketing has evolved new ways to measure success have developed, with specialist platforms assisting brands alongside a recent revamp of Google Analytics.

Those who tracked sales from their influencer campaigns were asked about their methods of determining these influencer-generated sales. People could select multiple options if they used more than one.

The most common method was to use email addresses (29.9%), closely followed by referral links (28.4%). Other methods used included coupon codes (14.7%) and product SKUs (4.2%). There is a notable group of respondents who select “Other” (21%). These figures are similar to last year’s results.

Most Popular Ways to Attract Sales

Brands carry out influencer marketing for a range of purposes. Some campaigns are designed to increase brand awareness rather than encourage sales. This is because some customers are more lucrative for a business than others – they buy high-margin products and add-ons. In some cases, influencer marketing may bring new customers to the brand, but the additional spending may be less than the cost of running the campaign. 

Our survey respondents are highly optimistic about the value of influencer marketing overall. Most agree that influencer marketing attracts high-quality customers, with 83.8% believing that the quality of customers from influencer marketing campaigns is better than other marketing types. 

This was a new question in 2023, and we found the results somewhat surprising. When asked about whether they had ever used virtual influencers, 60.4% admitted to having done so. A year on, we found even more users of virtual influencers: 62.2%.

A  virtual influencer  is a digital character created using computer graphics software. The character is given a personality and acts on social media platforms as if he/she is an influencer. A study in the US found that 58 percent of respondents followed a virtual influencer . Lu from Magalu became the most famous virtual influencer. Magalu is the biggest retail company in Brazil. Their advertising agency created Lu as a virtual assistant back in 2003 and then built her up as the face of the brand. Over time they created social accounts for her and eventually, she became a powerful influencer. She became a cultural celebrity, trendsetter, fashion icon, and social media diva. Global brands like Adidas, Samsung, and McDonald’s hired her as an influencer – giving her 31 million followers at peak (outstripping Barbie, Lil Miquela, Minnie, and many “real” influencers). The Lu from Megalu campaign appears to be over now, however, as her former social accounts are now named after the current “owner”, Magazine Luiza.

It should come as no surprise that brands have taken notice of this virtual influencer trend and want to make financial arrangements with (the representatives of) these virtual influencers.

We saw above that nearly 80% of our survey respondents stated that they track sales from their influencer campaigns. Therefore, it should be no surprise that a similar number (70%) also measure the ROI from their influencer campaigns. This is slightly down on 2023’s 71%, but better (or equal) to 2022's 70%, 2021's 67%, and 2020's 65% results.

Percentage of Brands Measuring the ROI on Influencer Campaigns

It is somewhat surprising that 30% of firms don't measure their ROI. You would think that every firm would want to know how effective their marketing spending is. At least there is a gradual improvement in this metric, and hopefully, this trend will continue, if not accelerate.

This result shows a marked change from previous years, yet it seems inconsistent with increases in firms tracking sales and paying influencers based on the sales they generate.

In 2019 and preceding years, influencer marketing measurement's focus was relatively evenly balanced between differing campaign goals, but Conversion/Sales was the least-supported reason. However, in 2020 things changed, with Conversions/Sales taking a clear, undisputed lead, which continued in 2021 and 2022. In 2023, however, things changed with nearly half of our respondents stating that they measure the success of an influencer marketing campaign by views/reach/impressions.

This trend continued this year. An even higher 54.3% of our respondents stated that they measure the success of an influencer marketing campaign by views/reach/impressions, 23.5% by engagement or clicks, and just 22.1% by conversions/sales.

Most Common Measure of Influencer Marketing Success

Earned Media Value has become more recognized in recent years as a good measure of influencer campaigns' ROI. We asked our respondents whether they considered it a fair representation. This year, 80.7% favor the measure against 19.3% who don't. This result is similar to last year’s.

Earned Media Value provides a proxy for the returns on the posts that an influencer has historically given the firms they have worked with. It indicates what an equivalent advertising campaign would cost for the same effect. EMV calculates the worth you receive from content shared by an influencer.

The only negative of using this measure is that the calculation of EMV can be complicated. As such, it can sometimes be difficult for marketers to explain the concepts to their managers.

Another name used for earned media value when related to influencer marketing is influencer media value (IMV), which we have written about in  What Exactly is an Influencer's Media Value .

Presumably, most of the 19% against using the statistic either don't understand it or struggle to communicate its worth to their management team.

This is another statistic that has shown little change over the period we have undertaken this survey (since 2017). 83.2% of the respondents in our survey take their influencer marketing spending from their Marketing Department's budget. The remaining 16.8% take their influencer marketing spending from their PR Department's funds. 

Presumably, the firms in the minority group use influencer marketing predominantly for awareness purposes rather than as a direct means to sell their products or services.

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There has been a small increase in the number of campaigns held in-house this year. 76.2% of our survey respondents (up from 72% last year) claim that they ran their influencer campaigns in-house, with the remaining 23.8% opting to use agencies or managed services for their influencer marketing.

In the past, firms found influencer marketing challenging because they lacked the tools to facilitate the process – organic influencer marketing can be very hit-and-miss, making it frustrating for brands trying to meet their goals. However, many firms now use tools (whether in-house or from third parties) to facilitate the process. For example, they use platforms like Grin, Brandwatch, or Creator.co to discover suitable influencers.

Some brands prefer to use agencies when partnering with micro and nano-influencers because the agencies are more experienced at working with influencers at scale. Also, many larger firms use agencies for all their marketing, including influencer marketing.

In 2022, we introduced a new question asking our respondents whether they used any tools developed in-house to execute their influencer marketing campaigns. The result was that half admitted to using their own tools.

In 2023, we noticed a significant change. 71% of our respondents stated that they used in-house tools for their influencer marketing campaigns, and we saw a similar result this year, with the percentage increasing marginally to 71.8%. 

As influencer marketing becomes more mainstream, more businesses have developer talent in-house with the time and capabilities to develop suitable in-house tools.

Just as more firms use in-house tools for influencer marketing compared to previously, noticeably more also use third-party platforms. When asked whether they use third-party platforms to assist them with their influencer marketing, 57.5% said they did (60.3% in 2023). 

3rd-Party Platform Usage in Influencer Marketing

A clear majority of firms now recognize the advantages of using technology to assist them with their influencer marketing. 

We must also remember that these figures exclude brands that opt to use someone else's technology (an agency) to carry out much of their influencer marketing for them).

The figures in this section show a percentage of those who answered that they use a third-party platform, not the percentage of all survey respondents as a whole.

Influencer platforms initially focused on offering tools to help with influencer discovery . Therefore, it should be no surprise that that is still the most popular use of influencer platforms at 47.9% (although down slightly from last year's 54%).

Other popular uses of the influencer platforms include campaign automation and reporting (35.6%), influencer payments (34.5%), fraud and fake follower analysis (27.8%), paid amplification (24.2%), and conversion attribution (23.2%). An additional 30.9% of respondents use the platforms for some other type of service. The percentage of respondents using the platforms for these purposes has increased in all categories.

Use of Influencer Platforms

Interestingly many of these percentages are lower than in 2022, but the 26% selecting Other is significantly higher. Clearly, the range of services offered by the platforms has expanded, and many firms now use their newer features.

It wasn’t until 2021 that TikTok made its first appearance in our charts, rising from merely being lumped in "Other" in 2020 to 45% usage in 2021. It kept its popularity in 2022, increasing slightly to 46%, but dropping a position to third. In 2023, however, TikTok came into its own, taking over first place, used by 55.5% of brands tapping into it for influencer marketing campaigns. 

However, it has really taken off this year, with even grey-haired marketers understanding the importance of including TikTok in their channel mix and now 68.8% of those respondents who engage in influencer marketing include TikTok in the channels they tap into.

The Most Common Channel Used by Influencer Marketing Brands

From the inception of the IMH Benchmark Report in 2017 until last year Instagram was the network of choice for influencer marketing campaigns. In 2022 it was used by 79% of our respondents for influencer marketing. It is still popular, but this year “only” 46.7% of brands go to Instagram when they decide to participate in influencer marketing, dropping it down to second place. This is the first time we have found fewer than 50% of respondents to include Instagram in their plans.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Instagram was synonymous with influencer marketing. Is it losing its luster? Time will tell.

Surprisingly, Facebook jumped in popularity as an influencer marketing channel in 2023, with 50% of brands working with Facebook influencers, but it fell back to just 27.5% this year. This is interesting, because we saw a resurgence in Facebook popularity in this year’s Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report , indicating a difference in brands’ approaches to Facebook marketing when paying influencers compared to their own marketing efforts. Facebook doesn't have as many high-profile influencers as its more visual counterparts, but it is still relevant, particularly with older audiences, and has a seasoned advertising marketplace.

Many of the other social channels have seen reduced usage for influencer marketing compared to last year. For example, 33.1% of the respondents tapped into YouTube for their campaigns (38.3% last year and 44% in 2022), 9.9% X/Twitter) (14.4% in 2023, 23% in 2022), 9.6% LinkedIn - presumably those involved with B2B companies (10.1% in 2023, 20% in 2022), 7.9% Twitch (6.3% in 2023, 11% in 2022), and a further 14.7% spread across the less popular or more specialist social networks (12.8% in 2023, 7% in 2022). 

X/Twitter’s drop in importance for influencer marketing is notable. Has Elon Musk’s Twitter purchase killed confidence in the platform, or is he a white knight rescuing an already-fading platform?

Bear in mind, the figures here might exceed the usual 100% mark as respondents had the flexibility to select more than one channel for their influencer marketing efforts. This multi-channel approach reflects the diverse strategies brands are adopting in the digital realm.

The answers to this question have changed markedly over the last few years. In 2022 36.7% of our respondents claimed their influencer campaign aimed to increase sales, 35.7% focused on awareness, and 32.8% declared they participated in influencer marketing to build up a library of user-generated content.

By 2023, however, the wish for generating UGC jumped ahead as the main reason for influencer marketing campaigns (45%), with Sales (29%) and Awareness (26%) both noticeably reduced in importance.

This year sees a similar trend to last year but with even more focus on user-generated content. The desire for generating UGC surged further ahead as the main reason for influencer marketing campaigns (55.8%), with Sales (23.2%) and Awareness (21%) both reducing in importance.

Perhaps this is a sign of the increased importance of TikTok to influencer marketing – TikTok is now the natural home of UGC, with many brands engaging influencers to set up dance challenges and the like on their behalf.

Every so often, mainstream media highlights influencer fraud. Luckily there are now many tools to help detect fraudsters, reducing the effects of influencer fraud. Hopefully, it will soon be a chapter in the industry's history. 

However, influencer fraud has not been vanquished from brands' and marketers' minds yet. This year, an increased 71.7% (up from 64%) of firms still have worries about the practice.

Several influencer platforms have recognized this area of concern over the last few years and implemented tools to discover and deter influencer fraud. They may still have work to do to alleviate the fears of brands and marketers, however.

Possibly the main reason for the increase in concern about influencer fraud is that the number of firms that say they have experienced it has risen to 59.8% this year. This is up from 31% in 2022 and 55% in 2023. However, the wording of this question looks at whether a respondent has experienced any influencer fraud in the past, not just in the past year. Therefore, it is not surprising to see this figure increase, despite all the tools now available. Is this a sign of increased influencer marketing fraud levels, or is it an indication that businesses are now better at spotting fake “influencers” with whom they have engaged?

Brands are Finding it “Relatively” Easy to Find Appropriate Influencers

Those who consider finding appropriate influencers to be of “medium” difficulty are still the largest category (41.4% slightly down from 45% in 2023), with 37.7% declaring finding influencers to be easy (37% in 2023), just leaving 21% who considered finding appropriate influencers to be very difficult (18% in 2023). 

How Easy it is for Brands to Find Appropriate Influencers

Perhaps the best way to look at this statistic is that 79% don't consider it very difficult to find appropriate influencers. This suggests that brands benefit from having more platforms and other influencer discovery tools available than ever (as well as influencer agencies for those wishing to outsource the entire process). Firms frequently reuse influencers with whom they have worked in the past. Some brands still struggle to find suitable influencers, however, perhaps because they are unwilling to pay for the relevant tools or platforms. 

This statistic suggests that influencer platforms and agencies can still do a better job at marketing their services of discovering and reaching out to potential influencers.

A headline-making issue in past years was influencers acting in a way deemed inappropriate by the brands they represent. For example, Logan Paul once faced criticism over a tasteless video he shared, and brands wondered whether they should continue their connection with him. YouTube has also implemented stricter rules for channels targeting children after concerns about the suitability of some content.

The key to successful influencer marketing is matching your brand with influencers whose fans are similar to your preferred customers and whose values match your own.

An unchanged 36% of our respondents believe that brand safety is always a concern, although 33.7% acknowledge that brand safety could occasionally be a concern when running an influencer marketing campaign. 

The remaining 30.3% believe it is not really a concern. Presumably, this last group has mastered the art of finding appropriate influencers for their brands, and they have little concern about incongruent values.

A contentious issue in influencer marketing in the past was the amount of automation you can successfully use. Some people believe you can automate virtually everything from influencer selection to influencer payment. Others value the personal touch and think influencer marketing is a hands-on process.

This year there has been a small decrease in the respondents believing that automation plays a vital role in influencer marketing (73.4%, down from 77% last year). Most businesses using influencer marketing are happy to use tools and platforms (or work with agencies that do so) nowadays. Initial suspicions about AI and automation have dramatically lessened over the last few years. This small reduction may be antipathy towards the widespread use of AI nowadays.

The most important factor when partnering with influencers for survey respondents is content production at 37.1% (similar to last year's 36%). This ties in with the view that user-generated content is the primary objective when running an influencer campaign. 

22.9% of the survey respondents believed audience relationships to be the most valuable factor when considering collaborating with a particular influencer. This is noticeably down on last year’s 29%, and considerably down on 2022’s 51%. Those favoring this option see little value in working with somebody who doesn't really influence their audience or perhaps has an excellent relationship – but has the wrong audience for that brand. 

The third popular reason favored by 18.1% of our respondents (up from 17%) found for working with influencers is distribution. Although this is lower than the other options, it connects with audience relationships – influencers use their audience to distribute content relating to a brand.

7.5% of our respondents opted for attribution and tracking (7.4% in 2023). This ties in with those who worked with influencers to generate sales for their partner businesses.

We have seen more brands cultivating long-term relationships with influencers in recent times. Yet, most brands still think in terms of influencer marketing campaigns. Once they complete one campaign, they plan, organize, and schedule another one. Brands find that influencers they have worked for on previous campaigns are more genuine. Despite this, a significant 62.9% of influencer marketing relationships are campaign-based (up slightly from 60% in 2023), with only 37.1% "always on" (40% last year). 

This preference towards a campaign-based approach could represent brands entering the industry, dipping their toes in the water before making long-term commitments to influencers. Alternatively, they may run multiple campaigns, customizing their selection of influencers for each campaign, depending on the target market. Time will tell whether the nature of brand-influencer relationships changes in any significant way.

One of the most significant advantages of influencer marketing over social activity using official company accounts is the ease of scaling the activity. If you want to create a more extensive campaign, all you need to do is work with more influencers, particularly those with larger followings – as long as they remain relevant to your niche.

While organic influencer marketing may be challenging to scale because of the time needed for influencer identification and wooing, there are approximately 18,900 influencer marketing-related services/companies worldwide that businesses can use to help scale their efforts. Many of these operate globally and accept clients from anywhere in the world.

56.9% of our respondents believe that influencer marketing is definitely a scalable tactic in their marketing ecosystem, and a further 27.2% think it is somewhat of a scalable tactic. Only 15.9% disagree totally with the sentiment. The vast majority recognize that influencer marketing is, to some extent, a scalable tactic in their marketing ecosystem.

We have regularly seen that businesses have a variety of objectives when they create influencer marketing campaigns. While the criteria by which our survey respondents evaluate influencers do not precisely match their differing goals, there is some clear correlation.

We noticed last year that brands had changed their most common reasons for working with influencers, and this also flowed through to how they evaluate the success of influencers in meeting goals. This pattern continued this year, although to a slightly lesser extent.

32.9% of our respondents consider views/reach/impressions to be the most important criterion (35% last year), while 21.1% opted for content type/category (compared to 19% last year). 

A consistent 18.4% preferred to focus on Sales (18% in 2023). Almost as popular with 16.4% support was engagement or clicks (17% in 2023). This was a major decrease from 2022, when 39% opted for this category, ahead of everything else. 

The remaining 11% of the respondents have different ideas on this topic, opting for Other as the most important criterion when evaluating influencers.

Most Popular Way to Pay influencers

We asked those respondents engaged in influencer marketing how many influencers they had worked with over the last year. This year we noticed the continuation of a gradual movement towards working with greater influencer numbers. 37.6% of our respondents stated that they had worked with 0-10 influencers (39% last year). A further 19% had worked with 10-50 influencers (21%) and 15.2% had worked with 50-100 influencers (16%).

Some brands prefer to engage in influencer marketing on an even larger scale, with 13.5% of those surveyed collaborating with 100-1000 influencers (11%). For the second year running, we saw an increase in the number of those working with influencers on a massive scale, with 14.7% working with more than 1,000 influencers, compared to 12% last year (and just 3% in 2022). 

How Many Influencers do Brands Work With

These figures probably indicate just how many brands now collaborate with multiple nano- and micro-influencers, rather than just a few macro-influencers and celebrities.

We saw a gradual movement in favor of quarterly campaigns over many years, to the point where it was the most popular campaign type in 2022, but in 2023 the longer campaign period fell dramatically out of fashion. 

Of those who operate discrete influencer campaigns, 49% (48% in 2023 and 34% in 2022) now prefer to run them monthly. A further 15% (18% in 2023 and 35% in 2022) run quarterly campaigns. Just 14.4% (15% in 2023 and 14% in 2022) prefer to organize campaigns annually. These later companies are probably brands that like the "always-on" approach to influencer marketing. The remaining 21.5% (19% in 2023 and 18% in 2022) take a different approach and only run campaigns whenever they launch a new product.

We asked those survey respondents who ran campaigns in-house what they saw as the greatest challenges they faced. Apart from a blip in 2022, the most significant challenge has consistently been finding influencers to participate in their campaigns, and it remains the main problem faced this year Despite the increase in usage of both internally developed and external tools to ease the discovery process, 29.8% of respondents ranked this as their top concern, although that is down from 36.3% last year. 

Another area of high concern to our respondents is processing payments to influencers on 17.1% (up slightly from 15.3% last year). This is followed by managing the contracts/deadlines of the campaign 13.9% (13.2% in 2023)

We saw a continued drop in 2022’s top concern, measuring ROI and campaign results, with 13.6% opting for it (14.9% in 2023, 28.1% in 2022). 

There must be a variety of new concerns now, however, as the second-highest category this year was Other with 21.2% support (14.2% in 2023). 

Our partner, HypeAuditor , provides much of the data for the next section.

This section highlights statistics that emphasize the types of people most likely to use social media. When you are searching for influencers to promote your brands, you will want to focus on those influencers who are followed by the type of people most likely to be interested in your products or services. The social media network where each influencer has gained the most fame impacts this – clearly, you want to work with popular people on the same social networks where your potential customers spend their time. Remember, just because you spend time on a particular social network doesn't mean that your customers do too, particularly if they are of a different demographic than yourself.

As with last year, the majority of Instagram users are people aged 25-34 (46.81%), followed by 18–24-year-olds (33.17%). In both cases, more females than males use Instagram, although the difference is less for 25–34-year-olds: 18-24 yr-olds (56% female: 44% male), 25-34 yr-olds (52% female:48% male).

For the second year, however, we notice that there are more male Instagram users than females in (almost) all older age groups. For example, the ratio of Instagram users aged 45-54 is 32% female:68% male, although this is based on low overall numbers. Does this indicate that older males are more likely to have an interest in graphics, design, and photography than their female counterparts?

We saw elsewhere in this report that Instagram has lost its spot as the “Top Dog” influencer marketing platform to TikTok. This is possibly a reflection of a lack of interest from Generation Alpha and a reduction in Generation Z – only 4.27% of 13–17-year-old females and 3.11% of 13–17-year-old males now use Instagram. This must have Meta wondering.

TikTok is the Favorite of 13–24-Year-Olds.

Anyone who thought TikTok was just a flash in the pan, ready to fade away as the next trend arrived, doesn’t understand the power of TikTok to hook its audience. If you want to reach 13-24-year-old females it is where you should focus your marketing. 24.27% of TikTok’s audience are 18–24-year-old females and 17.04% are 13–17-year-old females. Surprisingly, males take to TikTok later, with more 25–34-year-olds liking it (15.74% compared to 11.77% for females of that age), as they do with Instagram. 

TikTok Demographics

Also, like Instagram, there are more older TikTok male users (albeit still a very small percentage overall) than female users.

As with Instagram and TikTok, more young females watch YouTube videos than males: Females 13-24 (26%) vs Males 13-24 (22%). However, in all other age groups, males are more likely to view YouTube videos.

Maybe this is because of the inherently passive nature of YouTube compared to TikTok – you can easily view YouTube videos like a traditional television – but you almost feel compelled to engage when watching TikTok videos.

We commented last year, how almost 1 in 5 YouTube views came from male Millennials (25–34-year-olds). This year, that group loves YouTube even more, and now watches 22.2% of all YouTube views.

The most common niche in which Instagram influencers posted in 2020, 2021, and 2022 was Lifestyle. This is no great surprise when you consider which influencers are the best known to most people. In addition, lifestyle is an easy niche to share captivating, vivid images. 

However, we have seen an interesting change in second place. The inherently non-visual category of Music now takes second place, with Beauty dropping to third. Is this a sign of Instagram’s male users having an impact?

Third-placed Beauty is highly visual, however, making it an ideal subject for posting on Instagram. Also, when you consider Instagram's core audience is still 25-34 females, it is hardly surprising that beauty influencers would remain relatively popular on the platform.

Instagram Influencer Engagement Fell to Lowest Level in Five Years

In all the time we have reported on influencer marketing, we have observed a general pattern of Instagram accounts with large numbers of followers having a lower engagement rate than accounts with fewer followers. This is logical – it is much harder for popular influencers to reply to every comment and engage as closely with each follower as smaller Instagrammers. This is because people only have limited time to engage. Also, many people deliberately choose to follow popular influencers passively, happily "lurking," and viewing shared images without active participation.

We have seen a general reduction in engagement over the last few years, however, particularly for large accounts. Indeed, engagement for accounts with over a million followers (0.95%) is now less than half what it was in 2018 (1.97%).

Average engagement overall now stands at 2.05%, down from 2.18% in 2021. However, it is close to 2019’s pre-Covid rate of 2.08%. 

TikTok Engagement is Considerably Higher Compared to Other Social Networks, Even for Large Influencers

We have observed elsewhere in this Benchmark Report how TikTok has now become the platform of choice for influencer marketing. Not bad for a social channel that we lumped under “Other” until a couple of years ago. One reason for this is undoubtedly the platform’s phenomenally high comparative engagement rates.

We’ve just written about how Instagram’s engagement rates range from 0.95% for accounts with over 100K followers to 4.21% for accounts with fewer than 5K followers. In comparison, TikTok’s largest accounts with over 1M followers average 10.53% engagement, and small accounts with 1K-5K followers have an incredible 15.04% engagement. No wonder more brands are wanting involvement there.

In one way, however, TikTok has become more “normal”. Last year, we reported the oddity that large TikTok accounts had better engagement than smaller accounts. This year, as we showed above, engagement levels picked up for the smaller accounts, meaning that TikTok now exhibits the normal distribution pattern again.

Larger YouTube Channels Have Better Engagement Than Smaller Channels

While TikTok may have returned to its usual engagement distribution pattern, YouTube hasn’t (quite) yet. Larger YouTube channels have higher engagement rates than smaller channels. Technically, channels with 100K-1M followers have the highest engagement rate (3.47%), but huge YouTube influencers (1M+ followers) aren't far behind (3.40%). In comparison, small YouTube channels with just 1K-5K followers only manage an engagement of 1.90%.

YouTube Engagement Rates

In those heady pre-Covid days, influencer fraud became a significant discussion point. Indeed, there was a danger that influencer fraud could stop the still-nascent industry in its tracks. 

Since then, there have been many tools and platforms developed that brands can use to detect influencer fraud. As a result, the percentage of influencer accounts impacted by fraud fell across the board. By 2021 it was just less than 50%. Rates fell further in 2022, reaching 36.68% on average. Unsurprisingly influencer fraud has had a much greater impact on larger Instagram accounts than on small ones, where fraudsters have less to gain.

As the data indicates, it is still a problem for some influencers, however. Also, as we saw in our Benchmark survey, more brands are now admitting to having been affected by fraud than ever before.  It is advisable, therefore, that all brands use the available tools to ensure influencer authenticity when searching for suitable influencers.

Despite us lumping everything together as 'influencer fraud", in some cases, the influencers are the victims, not the perpetrators. For this report, we consider "influencers impacted by fraud" to be Instagram accounts with over 1000 followers with growth anomalies or inauthentic engagement (comments and likes from bots, giveaway comments, comments from Pods, etc.) Not all influencers impacted by fraud do so on purpose. On average, 36.8% of influencers globally are affected by fraud. This is down somewhat from last year’s 49.23%.

Most Mentioned Brands for 2022

Zara Was the Most Mentioned Brand on Instagram in 2022 … Apart from Instagram Itself

Although Zara’s Instagram numbers were smaller than last year, they will be loving the 182K Instagram mentions they received in 2022. Of course, it helped that it had nearly 66K influencers posting and sharing about their products, with a combined reach of more than 1.2 billion people. 

However, after a quiet 2021, Instagram once again took the engagement lead on its platform in 2022, with 327K mentions, 86K influencers, and an estimated reach of 1.8 billion.

The Most Mentioned Brands On Instagram in 2022

We commented last year on how pleased YouTube must be to have the tenth most mentions on social rival Instagram.  Well, this year YouTube improve on this, coming in eighth place.

In 2021, TikTok saw an interesting cross-brand trend, with the streamer, Netflix, being the most mentioned brand on the platform. When people weren't watching videos on Netflix, they were talking and making videos about what they'd streamed on TikTok. 

Alas, Netflix couldn’t quite repeat the feat in 2022, however, although they almost did, being the second-most mentioned brand. 

Top place in 2022 went to retail goliath, Target, which received 14,720 mentions compared to Netflix’s 11,520. 

Notably, however, Netflix’s 31M followers swamped Target’s 2.1 million.

The Most Mentioned Brands On TikTok in 2022

Highlights from our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in Influencer Marketing: Racial and Gender Inequalities Report .

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Influencer Marketing: 

We asked our influencers whether they feel they have ever been discriminated against (as an influencer) on any social platform. 58.3% stated they had, leaving 41.7% who hadn't.

Influencer Discrimination

When asked to highlight an area of discrimination the respondents felt they had faced, 47.73% believed they had suffered from gender discrimination. Physical feature discrimination (21.75%) followed this, then racial discrimination (13.29%), political discrimination (9.06%), and sexual discrimination (8.16%). 

TikTok Provided the Worst Discrimination Faced by Influencers 

We asked influencers to name a channel where they encountered discrimination. Significantly more than half of those respondents who had faced discrimination received it on TikTok (58.42%), compared to YouTube (13.62%), Instagram (12.9%), and Facebook (10.04%). 

We have seen elsewhere in this report that TikTok has been increasingly important for brands wishing to engage in influencer marketing. Yet is it not always an easy platform to establish yourself as an influencer, particularly if you are outside the “norm”. 

Macro-influencers (81.25%) and Mega-Influencers (69.7%) are most likely to report facing discrimination than smaller, less popular influencers. This is possibly a reflection of their fame – they are more visible than most, making them greater targets for “haters.” 

Wrapping Things Up

In earlier versions of this benchmark report, we always used to observe that influencer marketing was still a relatively new industry, enjoying its time as the “next big thing”. Even we, the strong influencer marketing champions that we are, wondered just how long it would last until some new “shiny new object” came along. Yet, as we can see from this, our eighth annual State of Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report, the industry is as strong as ever, and the participants are still as optimistic about the success of their campaigns.

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