Creating an affiliate program is one thing, but finding quality affiliates who are going to be the best match for your brand (and convert sales!) is another.
If you’re gearing up to launch a new affiliate program, you’ll know that it’s not as simple as offering kickbacks and publishing an affiliate page online. You can have the best products, platform, tools, and creatives, and your revenue still won’t be significantly affected if you have the wrong people on board! Finding the right people is key, but how do you know where to look?
To help you narrow it down, we’ve compiled some of the best places online (and in the – gasp – real world) where you can find quality affiliates who can really make a difference to your program’s success.
Managing your expectations
Who doesn’t want to know the secret to finding affiliates who bring in tons of sales? Finding the best people for the job (the people who really produce serious results) isn’t easy. The thing is, industry trends show that it’s only a small fraction of affiliates that make the vast majority of the sales – well over 90%, in fact!
How does this affect you? Well, when putting a lot of effort into an affiliate program, it’s important to know what to expect – and the reality is that many of the affiliates who join your program simply won’t bring in any revenue. So let’s look at some of the places you can find affiliates who will make you more money.
Niche affiliate directories
Perhaps the most obvious option is making use of niche affiliate directories, which allow you to post your affiliate program to be seen by a large pool of prospective affiliates who are looking for opportunities within a your niche, in a sense pre-qualifying them for promoting certain types of products. These directories flip the script, enabling affiliates to find you, as opposed to you doing the searching.
Social media networks
With the prominence of social media in society, it follows that social media networks are becoming good sources for affiliates as well. From interest-based groups to direct communication and social listening, there are plenty opportunities for the affiliate savvy.
Here are some ways you can use social media to find quality affiliates:
- Join interest-based and professional groups on Facebook that are related to your industry or niche to see who’s active in the community and what the trending topics are. Interact with group members, share your knowledge, and establish yourself as an authority to attract people looking for affiliate programs.
- Follow Instagram influencers in your industry, interacting with them as well as their followers via likes, comments, and stories. If the influencer has a particularly large following, it can pay off to give them a free product in exchange for a post recommending the product and including an affiliate link.
- Get to know the YouTube stars and gurus within your niche. Since video content is king, YouTubers can make excellent affiliates, taking advantage of the best kind of promotion: using your product for their viewers to see. Keep an eye out for product reviewers in particular!
- Follow industry brands and professionals whose audiences may be interested in your products. For example, if you sell downloadable music theory courses, you might consider getting in touch with professional musicians who give tutorials on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, etc.
- Network on Linkedin to find business professionals, career affiliates, and industry-specific experts who can be approached for affiliate marketing.
Niche podcasts and blogs
With large mailing lists and access to extensive niche audiences, podcasters and bloggers can be some of the best affiliates out there. When was the last time you heard a podcast episode without any mention of a sponsored product? Very often, these experts are looking for new content to share, and that includes promoting products that are relevant to their audiences.
With the personal nature of podcasts in particular (which are often supported by loyal followers), podcasters tend to be seen as authorities whose endorsements mean more than your average person’s. The endorsements can also feel more “natural” and less forced, especially if the product is appropriately relevant to their niche. You can further personalize the affiliate relationship by offering podcasters their own landing page on your site, which inspires action from their base of loyal followers who are eager to support them.
The approach is similar with bloggers, and if you find one interested blogger, you will likely be exposed to others who are in their professional circle. Attracting affiliates this way can create a cascade effect, generating buzz about your products that sparks the interest of various parties with different degrees of separation from the original affiliate.
Many affiliates join affiliate forums in order to learn the tricks of the trade and get support and information from other affiliates and publishers. This can be the perfect place to find good affiliates, as forum members are more likely to be invested in affiliate marketing overall. Think about it – don’t you want to bring on board affiliates who are actively trying to up their game and do well in the industry?
Sometimes the best affiliates are actually other businesses. Do you sell products that work well with, or are often bought along with another site’s products? Does your target audience have an affinity for certain products that are non-competitive with yours? Consider striking a two-way affiliate deal with these product vendors – as long as you’re happy promoting their products as well!
If you want to get sneaky, you can start looking at your competitors. Are they running an affiliate program? If so, what are they offering their affiliates? As far as you can tell, who are their most active affiliates? Can you offer those people a better deal than they’re currently getting? The affiliates of your competitors are already going to be pre-qualified for your niche – and they’re more likely to be interested in your products!
Back to reality
We’ve talked a lot about online communities and other affiliate sources, but it’s important to remember that real life, in-person encounters should still be a part of any digital business – and that extends to affiliate programs, too! Fostering a face-to-face relationship with an affiliate will inspire and motivate them to be active in promoting your business to earn money. Affiliate marketing is, by nature, a people-oriented venture that depends on mutually beneficial relationships to thrive, so consider this in your efforts.
Digital marketing events and meetups
One of the places where you’ll find people more likely to be interested in affiliate marketing is digital marketing events; affiliate marketing is, after all, a subtype of digital marketing. Many attendees of these types of events have some kind of marketing career or digital business, and they’re going to be more privy to affiliate programs as a result. Networking is huge in this scene, and it can be a great place to test out your pitches and try to strike some deals in a relatively low-pressure environment. As opposed to cold-calling people who may or may not be interested in affiliate marketing opportunities, people at digital marketing events and meetups are there precisely because they want to be more involved in such things.
Affiliate and industry conferences
Similarly, affiliate conferences like the Affiliate Summit provide one of the highest concentrations of prospective affiliates, with the advantage of direct, in-person contact. Just like the events and meetups mentioned above, conferences are particularly ripe for creating genuine connections with people who are predisposed to be interested in your program. You might also consider industry conferences, which are often packed with passionate professionals and industry experts, many of whom already seek or participate in brand sponsorships. If your products appeal to the conference audience, you might just be able to find a variety of eager affiliates that have a wide base of fans and loyal supporters themselves.
Recruit from within
Often overlooked, your own customers can make great affiliates; from already using your products to being familiar with your brand style and message, your most loyal customers have the baseline experience (and likely the passion) to represent your products, and they might just be looking for extra sources of income themselves, too! Don’t forget to take advantage of this key group of people in your search.
Diversify your efforts
When it comes to filling out your affiliate base with the best people for the job, remember that there are numerous places to look. Quality affiliates can be much more than just a few superstars from the same market; bringing in people from different perspectives and niche subsects can strengthen your affiliate program, and ultimately, your brand. In order to keep things fresh and evolving, you want to diversify and “think outside the box” to develop a robust program that takes advantage of all that your niche communities have to offer.
Where have you found great affiliates? Have you had any notable experiences with the sources mentioned above? Drop a comment below and let us know!