Set up affiliate terms and conditions


If there are no rules governing your affiliate program, then you leave yourself open to being taken advantage of. 

Your affiliate terms and conditions help empower legitimate affiliates while protecting your business, so they’re something you should put careful consideration into. 

Here’s how to set up your affiliate terms and conditions. 

Why Does Your Program Need Affiliate Terms and Conditions?

Every transaction we make, whether it’s buying groceries at the store, or paying a plumber to fix the sink is governed by a contract. The basic premise of that contract is that you pay an agreed-upon amount in return for a certain service, but it goes much deeper than this. 

Affiliate marketing is transactional: you’re paying a commission for a referral, and so, it too needs to be covered by a contract. Again, the basic premise is that your affiliates receive a certain reward for a specific action, but the details of the relationship are much more intricate than that. 

Your affiliate terms and conditions are the way in which you govern your affiliate relationships and the transactions you have with your program members. 

Without clear guidelines, it’s impossible to build trust and ensure an affiliate program that’s fair to both parties. This means your affiliate terms and conditions should be one of your first priorities when you start your affiliate marketing program

How Do I Create an Affiliate Agreement?

People refer to the contract you enter into with your affiliates in many different ways. You’ll hear it called an affiliate agreement, affiliate terms, affiliate terms and conditions, terms of service, operational agreement, and more. 

Essentially, they’re all talking about the same thing though: a contract that protects both parties. 

So, how should you go about creating affiliate terms and conditions? There are three main options:

  1. Have a lawyer draft your agreement 
  2. Use a terms and conditions generator
  3. Draft the agreement yourself 

There’s nothing stopping you from drafting your affiliate terms and conditions yourself, but when you go to a professional, it can give you that extra peace of mind. Whichever route you choose, there are some basic elements your affiliate terms and conditions are likely to include. 

A Basic Affiliate Terms and Conditions Template 

Your affiliate terms and conditions should serve as a funnel, helping to discourage the bad affiliates and assure good affiliates of the value of your program. To do this, it’s got to be visible and easily understood. 

Of course, you want to be thorough, but it’s also important to use clear language and keep it short enough that people are likely to read it. 

Here are some elements your affiliate terms and conditions are likely to include. 

1. Foreword

The foreword is your introduction. Take this opportunity to welcome affiliates to the program, explain why the agreement is important to them, and encourage them to reach out if they have questions.

foreword

2. Definitions

Affiliate marketing tends to use quite a bit of technical language, so a definitions section can be helpful to avoid any confusion. You don’t need to explain every word, but if you think there are some ambiguous terms used, then clarify them in this section. 

definitions section

3. Summary 

How often do you read the entirety of a legal document? If the answer is every time, then you’re probably in the minority. 

summary

Unfortunately, not everyone will read your terms and conditions, but at least if you offer a summary near the top, then people can get a good feel for what you’re looking for in an affiliate.

Whether the affiliate reads the document or not, they’ll still be bound by the rules, but you want them to understand your wants and needs as much as possible.

Focus on the most important elements of your terms and conditions like:

  • The type of affiliates you will and won’t accept in your program
  • The type of content you do and don’t want your brand to be associated with
  • FTC affiliate disclosures
  • Banned behaviors

This will give readers a quick impression of what your affiliate program is all about. 

4. Enrollment 

The enrollment section should explain the enrollment process and requirements to be considered for your program. 

enrollment

With AffiliateWP, you can make it so affiliate signups need to be manually approved, giving you an opportunity to check the affiliate’s website, socials, and other information to make sure they comply with your requirements. 

Make sure you clearly set out these requirements, and highlight all the behaviors that will exclude affiliates from registration. 

5. Affiliate Disclosure 

Affiliate disclosures are a legal requirement. They’re there to protect consumers, but they also help protect the reputation of your brand, and your affiliates. 

affiliate disclosure

Your affiliate terms and conditions should state that affiliates must disclose that they receive compensation from affiliate links, in line with the FTC guidelines

This is very important for the image of your program, so make sure it’s clearly stated that failure to comply will result in affiliates being removed from the program. 

6. Trademark Policy 

Part of creating a great affiliate marketing program is giving affiliates access to the tools they need to make sales. Generally, this will include a wide range of creatives that might use your trademark. 

trademark policy

It’s important that you have guidelines over how affiliates use your trademarks because when used in the wrong way, they can seriously harm your brand. For instance, you wouldn’t want an affiliate replicating your website (colors, branding, navigation, everything) and then running PPC ads for your brand name to trick people into thinking they’re on your official website. 

7. Promotional Methods

This is another extremely important section in your affiliate terms and conditions. This will govern how affiliates promote your content, and the promises they make in your name. 

promotion policy

Going back to the PPC example, if all your affiliates start bidding on your brand name, then that’s just going to push your costs up. Affiliate marketing should do the opposite, so it’s important to have well-thought-out rules on the promotional methods your affiliates can use. 

Think about:

  • Paid search 
  • Content guidelines
  • Video guidelines
  • Coupons and discounts 
  • Incentivized traffic
  • Mobile apps

You might choose to ban certain practices altogether, but it depends on the nature of your business. 

8. Rights and Obligations 

A large part of any contract is defining what rights and obligations two parties have to each other. In this case, when your affiliates sign up to your program, they have certain rights, but those rights come with responsibilities. 

right to modify the agreement

Your affiliates’ rights and obligations might look like this:

  • The right to compensation within x days of a verified qualifying action 
  • Access to creatives, an affiliate dashboard, analytics, and other affiliate tools
  • Affiliates are obligated to abide by your affiliate terms and conditions and all other applicable laws and regulations
affiliate obligations

In return, you, the merchant have your own rights and obligations:

  • Adjust your program’s terms and conditions as you see fit
  • Monitor your affiliates to ensure they’re following your guidelines
  • Terminate an affiliate’s participation in your program if they’re found to have violated the terms and conditions

9. Warranties and Representations

This section dictates that upon accepting the terms of your affiliate agreement, affiliates have met certain conditions. 

warranties and representations

These will be simple things like having read and understood the agreement, being of legal age to enter the agreement, and accepting that they’re not in violation of any of the rules previously stated. 

10. Payment Policy 

Now we get to the bit your affiliates will be frantically looking for, your payment policy! 

payment policy

This section should set out all details about how you track referrals, what qualifies as a referral, your commission structure, cookie policy, and payment methods. Again, you want to keep it in simple terms, but make sure there’s no room for misinterpretation. 

When your affiliates know exactly what to expect, that’s when they’re most likely to be motivated and engaged, so be open about this information. 

Other Considerations 

There are some extra technical details you might want to include at the end of your affiliate terms and conditions:

  • Terms
  • Disclaimer
  • Liability
  • Indemnification
  • Remedies
  • Limited license

If you’ve got doubts, then the best thing to do is look at a successful affiliate program’s terms and conditions to see what they’re doing. Think about how this matches with your needs, and make changes where needed. 

Setting Up Affiliate Terms and Conditions with AffiliateWP

AffiliateWP is here to help you build a successful affiliate program, and having easily accessible affiliate terms and conditions is a big part of that. 

Creating your terms and conditions couldn’t be easier. 

Step 1: Create a New WordPress Page

Create your affiliate terms and conditions page in WordPress. Remember, you want to keep it simple, so don’t worry about making it look beautiful, just go with a basic layout. 

add an affiliate terms and conditions page

Give your page an accurate title like Affiliate Terms and Conditions, enter your text and hit the Publish button.

Step 2: Automatically Include Your Terms and Conditions on Your Signup Form

Automation is a key part of an affiliate program, and AffiliateWP allows you to automatically include your terms and conditions on your default sign-up form with just a few clicks. 

Hover over Affiliates in the left-hand sidebar and select Settings.

You’ll see a drop-down box titled Terms and Conditions. Open the drop-down menu and select the WordPress page you’ve just created.  

add affiliate terms and conditions

Your default affiliate signup forms will now automatically have a link to your affiliate terms and conditions. 

Note: If you’re using an external form creator such as WPForms, Gravity Forms, or Ninja Forms, then you’ll need to adjust your form settings on their platform. 

Affiliate Terms and Conditions Are Like a Relationship Agreement 

While most of us don’t draft out relationship agreements like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, there are always implied rules that govern our relationships. 

To have successful relationships in business, those rules need to be explicit, rather than implicit, and an affiliate program is no different. 

If you’re going to attract honest affiliates that are going to put their time and effort into your program, then you’ve got to make a clear commitment to your relationship. You should use your affiliate terms and conditions to highlight what your affiliates will receive from the relationship, and the rules they need to abide by.

You get out of an affiliate program what you put into it, so start your relationships off on the right foot by investing in the right tools. Demonstrate what you offer to your affiliates, and in turn, you can set out what you expect from them. 

Get started today!

William Palmer

About the author: William is a technical writer for Awesome Motive. He's passionate about helping small businesses unlock the power of affiliate marketing, and summit the rankings with great SEO. In his spare time, you'll find him exploring the wonderful scenery of Cantabria, Spain.

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