The ultimate guide to finding profitable affiliates

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There are plenty of high-quality affiliates, also known as publishers, available to help you promote your brand and products.

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Finding the right affiliates to suit your brand can be challenging, but with a little research and effort you will be able to recognize them. 

Adding a link to your affiliate program on your website is always a good way to start attracting suitable affiliates. Like your products though, this link won’t promote itself or decide which affiliates will bring in the most sales. As with any other selling opportunity, it takes work. The effort though will pay off in the long term, as gaining profitable affiliates allows you a direct route to their customers.

Profitable affiliates are highly sought after and can be very selective on who they work with. Let’s look at the most effective techniques to not only get in contact with profitable affiliates for your products but ensure they want to work with you to promote your product.

Start with your product

Test it, test it, then test again. Your product should convert and your audience should want to purchase it. Promotion takes time and effort, but to attract the top affiliates you need to experience a conversion rate of at least 1% and preferably much higher.

Successful affiliates’ promotional spots are in high demand and if a product is not performing well, they will readjust their strategy. However, a good product will not only attract movers and shakers, but also the affiliates who are less likely to help your product sell, so a well-converting product is only the start of the process.

Treat your affiliate program as another selling package

Although your focus may be on selling and marketing your product to customers, you also need to sell it to affiliates. With thousands of retailers in the industry, it’s important to make your affiliate program stand out from the crowd. As we’ve already mentioned, this process starts with the product but you also need to create an irresistible marketing plan that resonates with affiliates.

Finding the right people

The first step to finding the top affiliates is to find those who are interested in what you do and fit in with your branding. There are various ways you can connect with leads, including:

Use a well-respected affiliate network platform

To connect with an audience, you need to hang out in the same areas. In this case, your audience is affiliates and you will find a huge majority of them on affiliate network platforms. These act as places where publishers and advertisers can connect easily rather than have to seek each other out on their own.

There are many to choose from but if you are looking to attract high-caliber affiliates use well-known and well-respected platforms like Awin. Awin covers a range of industries and a huge array of genres, brands and products including finance, retail, shopping, telco, travel and much more.

With 83% of advertisers using them, affiliate networks are often the first place publishers look for potential products so make sure you have a presence.

Look to your customer base

The people who love your products are your best salespeople, so why not ask them if they want to sell them for you? Send out an email to your customer base and tell them you are looking for affiliates. Follow it up with a short email sequence, making sure they know they could make some extra money by recommending your products.

Influence the influencers

In all marketing campaigns influencers are becoming more and more important, so it is worth using this method to acquire quality affiliates. Although it takes time to build a relationship with the movers and shakers of the online world and get to the point where you can ask them to promote your products as affiliates, the high return on the work you have put in is worth the wait.

Online presence

Be careful not to spam people, but never miss an occasion to promote your affiliate program. Add a link on your website to your sign up page, put it in your email signature, build relationships on social media, groups and forums, and when the time is right invite them onto your affiliate program.

Use your blog to good advantage, or guest blog on authoritative websites. Show how your product or service could solve a problem, and invite people to share your blog.

You can also use paid advertising, including pay-per-click, and via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Having a decent landing page to convert your leads can be a great asset, detailing all the benefits of becoming an affiliate. The landing page can be used on all your lead generation campaigns, so the work completed upfront on this can be utilized over and over again. If you are keen to get leads for your affiliate program quickly, this may be the best path for you.

Networking communities

Online is an effective method of connecting, but you should never forget those face-to-face meetings. Speak to everyone you meet about your products and let them know you are looking for affiliates. Networking events, conferences, meetings – all of these are potential recruiting platforms.

Attending affiliate conferences, or other affiliate events, can yield good results. At the very least, you will have an opportunity to learn more about running an affiliate program and gain knowledge on the wider affiliate industry. Take a look at Awin’s seasonal calendar for inspiration.


Traditional methods still work and have a place to play, depending on your market and your target audience. If you have the budget, consider sending a tailored package with sample products so that publishers are able to try out your products, encouraging them to become affiliates on your program.

Build a reputation

Patience is key when it comes to working with the top affiliates.  As previously mentioned, they can carefully select their partners, so why should they work with you? The answer comes down to building a reputation.

Proving that you are passionate about your product and your affiliate program is a key factor in how to find affiliate marketing partners. When you start the process of building relationships they will be drawn to your passion, and therefore more interested in working with you long term. Affiliates prefer to work with advertisers who are committed to their partners and ensuring their affiliate program works for all parties.

Building a reputation is rarely a quick process. You need to spend time working on your presence. Establish a blog and through it offer your audiences something of value. Develop your own following, and then convert them to customers. Perhaps become an affiliate for other products, and learn the techniques required. Be someone in your industry who others start to notice.

Recruiting the best

You’ve followed the advice above and now have access to a large group of potential affiliates. The next step is to work out which are worth your investment. Now is the time to learn how to find top affiliates.

Vet your potential affiliates

Do some work behind the scenes to discover who exactly you are dealing with. If affiliates are running their own website, make sure it is a quality website that matches what you are selling. An authoritative website that commands respect is the best type. Partner with reputable affiliates, as this will reflect on your product.

Request information on their promotional techniques. Do they have a big email database that they market to, or a blog with a big audience? Or perhaps they have a big presence on social media or prefer to work with paid promotion. Not only will this give you a good idea of their activity and how successful they are, but you can also check their methods are in keeping with your product and brand.

Learn from network relationships. Awin’s account management team will be able to provide advice while the compliance team will vet potential publishers. A new affiliate publisher may not yet have a reputation to refer to; in this case go with your instincts, based on what information is available to decide whether they are a good fit. You can always test new relationships within the affiliate channel, and this can be a great method to uncover new emerging affiliate talent in the online space.

Motivate and reward

When working with smaller affiliates, long-tail publishers or specifically on content programs, discovering who is motivated to work hard is crucial to finding profitable affiliates. One strategy you can employ is to offer some sort of awards program. This could be higher commissions, freebies, or a performance bonus ... whatever best suits your product. You could also introduce the best performer award, and each month announce the winner to your team of affiliates. Gaining a public accolade can be just as motivating as monetary awards. It’s important to be generous and make sure your affiliates know that the more they sell, the higher they climb up the bonus ladder.

Be supportive

The more your affiliates struggle with the housekeeping aspects the less likely they will be to keep pushing your product, so make it as easy as possible for them. Provide an advertiser profile that is easy to navigate and shares all the information they could possibly need, including all the answers to their questions. However, keep it succinct as well. Busy and successful affiliates working across many advertisers don’t have time to sift through unnecessary information.

A  final word

Running an affiliate program can make you lots of sales and a great income, but only if you optimize your program and ensure you can work with affiliates that really complement your brand and products. You know how to get leads and how to market your program, as well as how to vet potential partners. Yet the biggest aspect of recruiting the best affiliates is your product must convert, and convert well.

Providing top affiliates compelling performance data using Awin’s platform and comprehensive tracking options helps to create a deeper desire for them to work with you. Test how it converts across as many platforms as you can, including paid and organic traffic sources. This investment could see a massive return, so is worth every penny you spend.

And finally, time is often your answer. As your affiliate program establishes and grows, you will be able to see who is working with you to promote your products. Going forward, invest your time in these, and they will invest in you.

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