I’ll admit, the first affiliate program I ever launched and grew was not my idea. It came from a customer/affiliate that suggested we (the company I worked for at the time) start one.

Did I have any knowledge on how affiliate programs worked? A little.

Would I say I knew enough to start one from scratch? Not so much.

And when I did some searching around online about the right time to start an affiliate program nothing rang through.  Would it work? Is it the right time? I had questions that no one really touched on.

Luckily through starting and managing several affiliate programs, I boiled down some central questions that helped clients before they started their affiliate programs.


Do my current customer’s talk about my product?

This might sound like a strange question and you might be wondering why it has anything to do with starting an affiliate program.  I tend to boil down products and services into two categories:

High WOM Products/Services Low WOM Products/Services

These are products or services that have distinctive qualities or experiences that causes others to share via word-of-mouth


These are products or services that could be useful, but are less talked about via standard word-of-mouth.


While your company might¬†think¬†everyone wants to talk about dryer sheets, ¬†it’s just a product that very little people talk about and therefore an affiliate program might not be your best bet. On the other hand, a software company like Buffer, might solve a core issue that many people have and might talk about: scheduling and posting information to their social media accounts.


What incentive is there for my affiliates to promote?

We often think of affiliate programs under one generic model: They refer a customer your way, and then you pay them for that customer. Affiliate programs under this model is known as a CPA model (Cost-per-acquisition).

But affiliate programs can be more dynamic than that: You can pay affiliates for qualified leads, phone calls, or specific actions within your application.

So how do you come up with an appropriate model?

  • Boil down what is at the crux of your business – is it new accounts? new leads? etc.
  • Ask your customers. Create a survey to see what options they might find attractive and what matters most to them in terms of incentive (money, credit, prizes, etc.).

And lastly…

What are my resources to get an affiliate program started?

Affiliate programs take a lot of work to get started and even more work to manage correctly. It is very important that you have a clear mindset on the various aspects, mainly: money, time, and expertise that goes into it.

Is your commission rate right so that it doesn’t eat into your margins?

Do you or your staff have the time to manage the program?

Is there anyone qualified on the team that could manage the program alone?

These are all very important questions to consider and ones that The Up Foundry can help you answer if your considering a new affiliate program


What has you hung up on starting an affiliate program? Is there any questions you have toiled with or anything that has prevented you from making the jump? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.


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Taylor is the Founder of The Up Foundry. 7+ years starting, managing and growing affiliate programs for Technology, subscription, and SaaS-based companies, Taylor works with clients all over the world to generate millions in sales and revenue from their affiliate programs each year.

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