How to Start an Affiliate Network from Scratch

A good affiliate network can connect affiliates to the ideal advertisers within the niche of their choice. We'll show you how to build such a network.


Affiliate marketing spend is predicted to go over $4.3 billion by 2024. As more businesses go online to market their products, advertising can become more costly and difficult to manage. The rise of affiliate marketing opens an avenue for brands to allow devoted clients to earn a commission through promoting their products on their respective social media platforms.

Affiliate marketing proves to be an effective strategy for increasing sales and establishing brand awareness. But how, exactly, can an individual or brand engage in affiliate marketing? Where do you begin looking for the best commission rates or affiliate partners with an active following?

Affiliate networks can solve such dilemmas by catering to both brands and affiliate partners. An affiliate network presents profitable opportunities for a brand and affiliate marketer to engage with their preferred vertical without spending hours scouring the Internet.

What is an Affiliate Network?

An affiliate network connects publishers (affiliates) and merchants (advertisers). It plays an intermediary role; affiliates can join and generate income from affiliate programs within their area of interest, while merchants can broaden audience reach and enable customers to profit from promoting their affiliate programs.

A good affiliate network can connect affiliates to the ideal advertisers within their chosen niche. An affiliate network will focus on specific niches in the early stages to build trust and reputation between brands and affiliates. As it grows, an affiliate network can engage with affiliate marketers, brands, and product offers from various niches.

Why should you Build an Affiliate Network?

As a seasoned affiliate marketer, you may have considered establishing a marketplace for brands and affiliates to engage in mutually beneficial relations. Your reputation and success in affiliate marketing for some of the market’s biggest brands lend you the knowledge to strategize a successful affiliate marketing program.

With the audience’s trust, you gain the confidence to bridge the gap between brands and affiliate marketers. Affiliate marketing programs are increasing, but affiliates are always looking for rewarding commissions and bonuses. On the other hand, brands face the challenge of locating affiliates with a strong following and user engagement. You want to contribute to improving the affiliate marketing experience for both parties, and building your very own affiliate network may be the solution.

Benefits of an Affiliate Network

Cost-efficient advertising

Advertisers allocate a budget for advertising their products and services. Static ads, sales copy, video ads, and more can be costly without a guaranteed return on investment.

Affiliate networks help alleviate advertisers of this burden with flexible advertising models, like cost per acquisition (CPA) and cost per click. Advertisers need only to pay whenever an advertising material generates clicks or visits.

Despite several technical fees from participating in an affiliate network, advertisers still manage their budgets efficiently. Affiliate networks provide real-time reporting on marketing campaigns' progress and affiliates' performance. By carefully considering these figures, advertisers can also set the appropriate commission rates to pay and motivate affiliate partners.

Knowledgeable and trusted affiliate partners

A direct affiliate marketing program faces the challenge of recruiting reliable affiliates. Through an affiliate network, advertisers can engage several affiliates immediately without undergoing time-consuming profile checks on every affiliate’s experience and skills.

Affiliates interested in joining an affiliate network must qualify for the approval process. That being said, advertisers can rest assured they are working with partners that have an exemplary background in digital marketing, advertising, and engagement.

Affiliate networks also cater to specific verticals for both advertisers and publishers. This allows for quick recruitment and onboarding of partners, as affiliates are already knowledgeable or, at the very least, familiar with the products and services an advertiser has to offer.

Convenient sales and performance tracking

Monitoring day-to-day results and progress can be a mundane activity. Fortunately, technology offers quick and accurate solutions to keep advertisers up-to-date with their marketing campaigns. Affiliate networks feature a dashboard with a convenient overview of impressions, sales, clicks, and successful conversions.

You can customize reports to include key performance indicators that matter most to you, such as the strength of your marketing campaign strategy against your competitors and affiliate partner competency. With real-time tracking and insights, advertisers cut down the time it would typically take them with market research. Finally, affiliate networks also support quick and easy optimization of marketing campaigns.

Diverse marketing strategies

Bloggers and influencers hold the trust of countless individuals online. Their personality and content keep their audience engaged. In the eyes of advertisers, this strong trust is a powerful marketing tool to promote their products and expand their audience reach.

Advertisers can establish a partnership with esteemed online personalities through an affiliate network. Influencers engage across multiple social media platforms, so advertisers can expect to expand their audience reach and double their sales; such is the power of influencer marketing.

Brand awareness boost

Traditional advertising, especially for smaller brands, can prove to be complicated. The eCommerce industry is only getting saturated by the minute, and putting your name out there amid more prominent brands seems futile.

Affiliate networks boast a global reputation, trusted by brands and affiliates. Joining an affiliate network saves merchants on spending valuable resources to build connections and strengthen brand exposure. Affiliates market to unique audiences; for an advertiser, this is a golden opportunity to market to an untapped audience or marketing channel.

Real-time ROI

Measuring and improving return on investment is second nature in an affiliate network. Affiliate networks equip advertisers and publishers with tracking and management tools for quick and accurate sales, growth, and affiliate performance analysis.

What do you Need to Start an Affiliate Network from Scratch?

An affiliate network begins with marketing it in the right direction. Connections are this platform's lifeblood; therefore, getting the right affiliates and advertisers on board is a must. Before you launch your affiliate network, take note of these important components:


Advertisers, or merchants, can range from big, reputable brands to emerging companies and startups. Advertisers engage in affiliate marketing because it is more profitable than conventional advertising. Advertisers broaden their audience reach through an affiliate network and raise conversion rates.


Also known as publishers, affiliates can be virtually anyone seeking to make passive income through affiliate marketing. Trusted affiliates include influencers and bloggers; an online presence and an established following are essential to an affiliate marketer's success. Affiliates participate in affiliate programs within their niche and promote their links, discount codes, and the like to their audience.

Affiliate program landing page

An affiliate program landing page is a call-to-action webpage from your own website. Upon clicking on a link shared across social media platforms, potential affiliates will be redirected to the affiliate program landing page. Here, all necessary information about the affiliate network is listed down, including the terms and conditions, commission rate, and payout processes.

Affiliate marketing and tracking software

Monitoring several processes between advertisers and affiliates is more challenging than monitoring your performance across the affiliate programs you have joined. With affiliate tracking software, keep track of your affiliates’ performance, payment schedules, and rewards. Often integrated with affiliate marketing program solutions, these tracking tools give you up-to-date and accurate reports on profits, performance, and market activity.

How to Start Your Own Affiliate Network

Begin by looking for advertisers. In starting an affiliate network, it is important to know which advertisers you prefer. Naming several established brands can be easy; however, considering your niche should be the priority. Limit your search for advertisers according to the vertical you wish to engage with. Affiliate marketing opportunities are ripe in almost every vertical, including health and wellness, beauty, finance, gaming, crypto, and eCommerce.

As an up-and-coming affiliate network, finding enthusiastic brands can be challenging. Connecting with smaller yet professional companies with attractive product offers is highly suggested. In this way, you can leverage your reputation as an affiliate network catering to your chosen niche.

Build your affiliate program landing page.

After marketing your network to advertisers, you will want to start inviting affiliates. An excellent way to get affiliates on board is through an affiliate program landing page. This landing page will inform potential affiliate marketing partners about the nature and mechanics of your affiliate network and the benefits they will gain in participating.

Ideally, your affiliate program landing page is a webpage of your official website. Your website should be hosted with an acquired domain name and property security certificates. An established website commands authority and authenticity online.

Landing pages make for convenient marketing and web traffic generation. During recruitment and publisher onboarding, your website will come in handy to inform affiliates of your brand’s mission, standards, and guidelines. With a website to refer to and a detailed landing page, you will not only convince the best affiliate marketers to participate in your affiliate network; but you will also improve your brand’s SEO and boost brand awareness.

Protect your affiliate network with anti-fraud tools.

Fraudulent activity on the Internet is prevalent, especially in the eCommerce industry. In affiliate marketing, affiliate partners commonly share links with their audience. Affiliate management software refers to the number of clicks monitoring performance and conversion rates. However, suspicious activity such as abnormal clicks, user visits, and bot traffic can affect an affiliate’s reputation and, consequently, that of the affiliate program or network.

It is crucial to set up a security solution to deflect fraud from affecting your affiliate network. Most affiliate management and tracking software have built-in security solutions to detect ad fraud and block suspicious activity.

Trackdesk features automated fraud detection and prevention to protect your affiliate network from the costly damages of ad fraud. Trackdesk runs anti-fraud and security protocols 24/7 to keep affiliate networks maintained and up-to-date, even while you’re offline.

Attract affiliates

After putting out your brand to advertisers, it is time to get publishers and affiliates to participate in your network. If you have prior experience as an affiliate marketer, you know affiliates can choose to join a direct affiliate marketing program or to connect with brand offers through an affiliate network. Use this knowledge to craft an irresistible offer that affiliates, beginners or an expert cannot simply turn down.

Remember that the best affiliates are invested in different verticals across multiple social media platforms and communities. Market your affiliate network within the niche and/or the related niches you chose. Interested affiliate partners will not only be knowledgeable about the mechanics of affiliate marketing but also share an enthusiasm for the products they will be promoting.

Entice affiliate marketers to sign up for your affiliate network with your affiliate program landing page. This call-to-action page and your business website contain all the essential information affiliates need to know and understand about your brand.

Expound on the terms and conditions, payment methods, commission models, cookie duration, and rewards a potential affiliate can expect from your offer. Finally, differentiate your brand from competitors. Do you have flexible payout processes? Or perhaps, you offer recurring commissions? Highlight your brand’s best features to recruit reliable and trustworthy affiliates.

Affiliate recruitment is among the most challenging parts of building an affiliate network. Merchants want to work with affiliates that can boost their product offers and expand their audience reach. Thus, as an affiliate network, it is a must to obtain a rich database of affiliate partners on various platforms.

Affiliates can be anyone – a blogger, a social media influencer, or a loyal customer. The diversity of skills and audience personas each affiliate brings to the table must be equipped with the right tools to propel their affiliate marketing campaigns.

Trackdesk presents a broad range of tools and functions to aid affiliate partners in managing and tracking their performance. Daily reports, market insights, and flexible commission models empower affiliates to boost their marketing skills and conversion rates. Trackdesk is also looking forward to integrating discount vouchers and coupons to raise referral rates and clicks.

Pay and reward affiliates for their hard work.

Affiliate marketing is favoured by many because of the conceived passive income generation. While valid to some extent, affiliate marketers work hard in marketing their affiliate links on different channels. Affiliate marketers take the time to develop creative ways of marketing, be it through ads, sales copy, or web content.

Earning their keep of the commissions of their hard work is a default feature in affiliate marketing. Thus, it isn’t enough to raise commission rates. As an affiliate network, preserving the satisfaction and welfare of your affiliates is a top priority. The best incentives motivate affiliate partners to elevate their marketing strategy and improve performance. Generous rewards also keep the best publishers working with you for the long term.

Affiliate networks cannot dictate how a publisher should work to increase profits. Every affiliate works at their own pace and experience; thus, rewards can be offered on a tiered model to motivate affiliates to improve their performance.

Trackdesk offers flexible commission models to reward persevering affiliates. Customize reward payouts and private bonuses as you see fit. This will encourage publishers to optimize their marketing strategy and nurture long and harmonious relationships. After all, you want the best affiliates to stick around for as long as possible.

Track progress and manage campaigns.

Affiliate marketing doesn’t stop at sharing affiliate links and increasing conversion rates. Keeping track of performance is as crucial as getting your first web page visit for the month. As a passive revenue stream, it can be easy for advertisers and publishers to overlook the results and effectiveness of affiliate marketing.

Hence, tracking day-to-day performance is pivotal to determining the success of an affiliate network in the long run. Actionable data reports and analytics provide key insights about publisher performance, marketing campaign progress, and payment schedules. Monitoring progress across months helps determine which campaign performed exceptionally well and which requires more optimization for better results.

Trackdesk features a comprehensive dashboard where advertisers and affiliates can overview the number of clicks, impressions, and sales reached. Users can generate reports on their payments, incentives, and marketing strategies from the dashboard.

Make a profitable income with your affiliate network.

Finally, after optimizing the features and processes of your affiliate network, it is time to let it do its work as programmed. Constant maintenance and performance checks are still necessary despite automated workflows to ensure that advertising campaigns are properly run and affiliates are receiving their payments and rewards regularly.

Affiliate marketing requires time and patience. With a good reputation among merchants and publishers, you will make a profitable income out of your affiliate network.

An affiliate network acts as a middleman between advertisers and affiliate partners. Advertisers can market their products and services without starting an affiliate marketing program, while affiliates can select the offers they wish to promote and earn a commission. Affiliate networks offer easy access to the best affiliate marketers and generous commission payouts.

Your One-Stop-Shop for Everything Affiliate Marketing

Trackdesk offers a turn-key solution for different verticals to boost sales and increase market growth with affiliate marketing. With a convenient dashboard, advanced security, and easy tech stack integration, trackdesk transforms affiliate marketing into a manageable, sustainable source of income. Request a demo for your affiliate marketing needs today, or try our 14-day free trial.

Geri Mileva

I have a passion for storytelling. I believe that a good story delivers value while capturing, influencing, and sustaining its intended audience. This has always been, and always will be, my primary aim as a writer.

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