Who are Affiliates and What Makes a Good One?

Discover what makes a good affiliate and check out examples of successful ones. Learn about tips on how to find top-performing affiliates.


The concept of affiliate marketing is alluring to a lot of people searching for ways to make money while they sleep. That’s how the practice is introduced to potential affiliates, and that’s what primarily motivates a lot of them. In the United States alone, companies spent $8.2 billion in 2022 only for affiliate marketing.

There’s a lot of room for anyone who wants a slice of that pie, and that’s why you’d find a lot of affiliate wannabes. Unfortunately, not all of them will be well-qualified for your goals. 

So, how do you find the right affiliates and what makes them a great fit? Let’s dive in. 

What are affiliates?

There are three key players in affiliate marketing: the brand (that’s you), the affiliate (this is what you’re looking for), and the buyer (these are your customers). Each key player fulfils a role to make the affiliate program successful. 

The affiliate is in charge of marketing the brand’s products or services. They can be a content creator, marketer, or advertiser. They’re also called a publisher, and their main job is to create attractive promotions to entice potential customers (or buyers). 

Affiliates have built an extensive network and a strong relationship with your target market. They often have their own personal brand that people already trust, and they leverage this trust towards the products they promote. The goal is to get their audience to trust your brand so they become loyal customers.

When they make a successful sale or if they produce a successful lead, then the brand pays them a commission. You can pay them per click, per lead, or per sale. In a pay-per-click program, you reward the affiliate when they send a potential customer from their platform to your website. 

Meanwhile, a pay-per-lead system rewards the affiliate for the number of leads they generate. The buyer must not only visit your website but also perform a specific action like signing up for a newsletter. 

The most common way to reward affiliates is on a pay-per-sale method. You track the exact sales an affiliate produces and reward them with a percentage of the sale price. This is often a more rewarding prospect since classic commissions are typically higher than the rates of a per-click or per-lead model. 

Who can become affiliates?

In reality, anyone can become an affiliate. The beauty of this role is that it’s possible for anybody who has the guts to build and cultivate an audience and then monetise them. However, as a brand, you can’t simply accept anybody. You must define the qualifications of your affiliates since they will be representing your brand. You also want to ensure you have high-quality affiliates who can produce the results you want. 

Ideally, you’d want affiliates who have an engaged and sizeable audience. They must also be invested in their platforms and committed to growing their followers. You also want affiliates whose content matches your brand. For example, if you’re selling baby products, you’d look for mom influencers with family-friendly content. You’ll want to steer clear of any influencer with adult-themed content whose personal branding may not be suited for kids. 

To determine if a person can be a successful affiliate, consider these factors:

  • Authenticity

Successful affiliates are genuinely interested in their niche and develop an expertise that their audience trust. They have established credibility in their field and can attract and retain an audience.

  • Marketing Skills

Affiliates must be able to create engaging and valuable content to promote products and services effectively. These can be blog posts, social media content, videos, and other forms of media that resonate with their audience. 

They must also possess sufficient SEO knowledge to optimise their content for search engines. This will increase their visibility and drive organic traffic to their affiliate links. The most successful affiliates will have an active email list, which they continuously build and maintain. This allows them to nurture relationships with their audience over time and promote products through strategic email campaigns.

  • Consistency

Affiliate marketing may be a passive income source, but that doesn’t mean it’s zero work. Successful affiliates are invested in consistently promoting brands by producing a steady flow of content. They don’t rely on sporadic efforts to keep their audience engaged. 

The best affiliates will track their performance metrics and analyse if they’re hitting conversion goals. They’ll optimise their strategies based on these numbers and adjust promotional methods as needed. Using the best affiliate network softwarecan greatly aid in these tracking and optimization efforts.

  • Compliance 

As a basic requirement, affiliates must adhere to the rules and guidelines you set. This includes ethical promotion practices, compliance with advertising regulations, and transparent disclosure of affiliate relationships. You don’t want a delinquent affiliate who uses dubious methods to promote your brand. Working with this kind of affiliate, while they may drive results, can eventually be harmful to your brand reputation. 

  • Adaptability

The digital landscape is dynamic, and successful affiliates adapt to changes in technology, market trends, and consumer behaviour. Staying informed and being willing to try new strategies can contribute to long-term success.

Examples of Affiliates

Now that you know what makes a good affiliate, let’s look at some concrete examples. Here are some of the most popular types of affiliates.

  • Influencers

Influencers have a ready-made audience that trusts their opinions and recommendations. They leverage their social media presence, whether on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok, to promote products or services to their followers.

Successful influencers align themselves with products that fit their brand and resonate with their audience. Authenticity is crucial for maintaining trust, and influencers often integrate products seamlessly into their content, making recommendations feel genuine.

Island Skin’s Instagram Profile

Leah K is a popular beauty influencer who inspires her audience to choose the right products for their skin type. She has built a decent following among Hawaiian, Asian, and Latina women who share her skin type and look to her for guidance in the best products to try. Because she promotes products tailored to her skin type, she attracts the same set of people who trust her recommendations. 

If you’re working with influencers, or affiliates in general, then you may have considered providing them with coupons that they can share on their website or social media platforms. When someone uses that coupon code, your affiliates will be credited with the referral and earn a commission. 

Aside from giving customers better deals and savings, affiliate coupon codes can attract new customers, nurture customer loyalty, and boost your CTR, conversions, and sales.

Furthermore, by tracking your affiliate coupon codes, you can get valuable insights into your campaign’s performance, which you can use to optimise your marketing strategy and make more informed business decisions. 

Now, tracking coupons can be quite challenging, especially if you’re working with several affiliates. Trackdesk gives you an easier way to monitor your influencer marketing campaigns with its powerful coupons tracking capability. No matter what industry you’re in, you can use trackdesk to conveniently and effectively optimise your affiliate coupon tracking, segment your customers, and gain access to real-time reporting. 

  • Bloggers

Bloggers and content creators often specialise in a particular niche or industry. Their expertise allows them to create in-depth and valuable content, positioning themselves as authorities in their respective fields.

They monetise their work through various channels, including sponsored blog posts, affiliate links within articles, vlogs, email newsletters, and podcasts. They provide valuable information while recommending products or services related to their niche.

Neil Patel Blog

Neil Patel is one of the most successful and well-known bloggers who has made a living from affiliate marketing and eventually ventured into other digital businesses. He covers a wide range of topics centred on digital marketing and provides comprehensive insights on content, social media, email, SEO, paid advertising, and more. He gives hands-on, practical advice and tools that help readers apply theory to practice. This makes him a credible blogger in their eyes, and they trust his recommendations completely. 

  • Social Media Personalities

Social media personalities, whether on platforms like YouTube, X, Facebook, or LinkedIn, often have a broad reach and high engagement rates. This allows them to expose affiliate products to a large and diverse audience, making them ideal for increasing brand awareness.

Unlike influencers who normally promote products that align with their personal brand, social media personalities can promote any service that they believe their audience needs or that will give them a high commission. They can also be a brand themselves comprised of several people. 

They establish trust through consistent and genuine interaction with followers. Social media personalities engage with their audience through comments, direct messages, and interactive content, building a community that is more likely to trust their recommendations.

Babish Culinary Universe YouTube

Babish Culinary Universe takes time off at the start of its video to promote Squarespace. While it may not be relevant to all of its viewers, who are mostly there for the cooking content, Babish has 10 million YouTube subscribers, and some of them may need a website creator. 

  • Industry Experts

Industry experts are individuals with extensive knowledge and experience in a specific field. Their credibility and authority make their recommendations highly valued by their audience. Affiliates in this category often include professionals such as tech experts, finance gurus, or health professionals.

Industry experts often have a targeted audience interested in the specific topics they cover. This focused engagement allows for precise targeting when promoting affiliate products, increasing the likelihood of conversions.

Clever Girl Finance Meet the Founder

Bola Sokunbi, founder of Clever Girl Finance, is one of the most respected personal finance experts whose website gives tons of free resources to help other women become financially literate and achieve financial independence. Aside from the many blogs on her site, you’ll also find articles containing affiliate links for recommendations such as books, tools, and the like. 

  • Affiliate Networks

Affiliate networks are intermediaries that connect affiliates (publishers) with merchants (advertisers). These networks provide a platform where affiliates can find and join various affiliate programs. They offer a centralised platform with multiple affiliate programs, providing affiliates with a variety of products or services to promote. They often handle tracking, reporting, and commission payments.

However, affiliates in these networks are typically those just starting in the business. They may not have the same clout or reputation as the other more established personalities listed above. Affiliate networks also impose additional fees and restrictions that can be prohibitive to affiliates. 

To make the most of affiliate networks, it’s best to use VIP or industry-specific ones. This ensures you get the most relevant traffic. Alternatively, you can also build your own proprietary affiliate network where you directly invite people to join your program. 

Why is affiliate marketing lucrative? 

Affiliate marketing allows individuals to earn passive income. Once an affiliate sets up their marketing channels and generates traffic, they can continue to earn commissions on sales without constant, hands-on effort. They can achieve this with minimal upfront costs since they don’t need to create or own the products they promote, reducing the financial risk associated with starting a business.

Affiliate marketing also provides individuals with the flexibility to work from anywhere with an internet connection. Affiliates can choose their working hours and be their own bosses, enjoying a sense of independence. They are not responsible for creating or maintaining products, handling inventory, or providing customer support. This allows them to focus on marketing and promotion without the operational challenges associated with product ownership.

Since they are compensated based on their performance, their income is directly tied to the results they achieve. This incentivises them to optimise their strategies and focus on driving conversions. With the help of the internet, they have the potential to reach a global audience. This broad reach enables them to tap into diverse markets and demographics, increasing the opportunities for sales and commissions.

Tips to find top-performing affiliate marketers

The success of your affiliate marketing program depends on the quality of affiliates you recruit. Here are several tips to find quality affiliates and keep them engaged. 

  • Clearly define your commission structure and make it attractive to potential affiliates. Competitive commissions can be a strong incentive for high-performing affiliates.
  • Actively seek out affiliates who align with your product or service. Target influencers, bloggers, and content creators whose audience matches your target market.
  • Offer additional incentives or bonuses for top performers. Special promotions, increased commission rates for achieving specific milestones, or exclusive offers can motivate affiliates to put in extra effort.
  • Supply affiliates with well-designed and effective marketing materials. This includes banners, graphics, product images, and persuasive copy that makes it easy for affiliates to promote your products.
  • Assign a dedicated affiliate manager who is responsive and accessible. Having a point of contact helps affiliates feel supported and builds a stronger relationship.
  • Avoid delaying commission payments. Timely payments are crucial for maintaining trust and keeping affiliates motivated to promote your products.
  • Don’t make unrealistic promises regarding potential earnings. Be transparent about the earning potential and set realistic expectations to build trust with affiliates.
  • Make it easy for affiliates to join your program, and streamline the approval and onboarding procedures. Don't create a lengthy or complicated onboarding process.

By implementing these tips and avoiding common pitfalls, you can attract, retain, and foster strong relationships with top-performing affiliates.

Recruit and Engage Top Affiliates with the Right Tools

Affiliate marketing is a win-win strategy for brands and publishers. As a brand, you get an instant, well-connected advocate for your products and services. Meanwhile, affiliates get to do what they love and earn passively in the process. 

Finding top-quality affiliates is only half the battle. You still need to run your program efficiently, track affiliate performance, and manage commission payouts. You can achieve all these with the right tools and partners. 

trackdesk’s Partnership Managers Marketplace is your one-stop shop for finding talented individuals who can help run and operate your affiliate marketing program. Meanwhile, trackdesk’s 100% free plan gives you access to affiliate tracking software that you can use to kickstart your affiliate marketing program with zero upfront costs. 

You won’t pay a dime until you generate $5,000 monthly affiliate revenue. It also comes packed with features, including 100+ integrations to all the stuff you need for a successful program. Sign up at trackdesk today, and let’s launch your affiliate marketing program.

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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