The benefits of building your own affiliate program

affiliate programs marketing membership communities monetization sales Apr 26, 2023

Not long ago, I was watching a video by another online entrepreneur who was taking the time to give viewers a breakdown of his income streams.  I find videos like that helpful and interesting, and I’m glad there are people who are willing to be transparent enough to share them.

As I was watching that video, I tried to predict this particular entrepreneur’s income streams before he shared them.  I guessed most of his sources of income correctly, but I was surprised at the order in which they ranked.  My assumption was that his own intellectual property was going to be the primary driver of his income, but I was incorrect.  In fact, more than 60% of his monthly income came from one source.  He was an affiliate for an online service that paid him handsomely for his recommendations.

In one sense, this surprised me, but in another sense, this seemed perfectly logical.  Affiliate programs are a great way to market a product, and they’re also a great way to earn income online whether or not you have products or services of your own.

When I founded Platform Launchers back in 2021, I wanted to introduce it to as many people as I could, but I didn’t want to spend a fortune doing so.  As you’ve probably heard me say before, my typical approach when I’m starting something new is to keep things lean and frugal, particularly in the early days of operation.  I planned to apply that philosophy to the Platform Launchers online platform as well, but I knew I needed to be prepared to spend money if I was going to build this business.

I could have allocated funds to an advertising budget, and there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with doing that, but I decided to dedicate 100% of my advertising budget toward building an affiliate program instead.  Part of my reasoning was personal in that it made me feel good to pay those who helped me build this business.  Part of my reasoning was practical in that I wanted to teach people how to earn “Internet money,” and in many instances, I knew this would help me become the very first person to pay some of our members an online income.  I wanted this experience to help shatter any limiting beliefs that had them convinced they couldn’t earn income online.

I frequently recommend to others that they figure out a way to incorporate an affiliate program into their online platform, and I have several specific reasons for doing so.

First of all, it’s a great way to reward your advocates.  There are people who truly enjoy the content you create and the help you provide.  They’re already talking about it with others, and they’re already sharing the insights they’ve learned from you with people who operate in their circles.  Without even realizing it, many of them are doing you a huge favor by creating goodwill and a good reputation for your business.  Wouldn’t it be nice to reward them for the kindness they’re showing you?  If people join your membership because of an advocate’s recommendation, doesn’t it feel right to say thank you with a financial gift?

Second, it incentivizes others to share about your product or service.  The more generous you choose to be, the greater the incentive you’ll create for others to share.  I like seeing people share affiliate commissions of at least 10% with those who share about their business.  Personally, I aim for 20% when I’m paying my affiliates, but I have at least one product that I pay a 50% commission for sharing.  Offering generous commissions will most definitely help inspire others to share the word about what you’re building.

Third, it can be much less expensive than traditional advertising because you’re only paying when it actually helps you find a customer.  Traditional advertising isn’t always as targeted or efficient as an affiliate program can be.  There’s no guarantee that buying a billboard along the highway is going to help me sell my product or service.  Renting that sign might be a complete waste of money.  But when it comes to affiliate marketing, you’re only paying money when money comes in.  That’s a great way to keep your marketing budget from devouring your profits.  The money you spend with affiliate marketing has a guaranteed return on investment.  Traditional advertising can’t make that kind of promise.

When it comes to membership communities, I’m convinced an affiliate program helps you connect with higher-quality members because they’ve already been vetted by your current members.  Years ago when I was directing a summer camp, I used to ask the staff to recommend people that I should hire in future years.  We always had a great staff because our staff only recommended people that they personally wanted to work with.  The same principle applies to membership communities.  You’ll discover that an affiliate program can actually contribute to the health and culture of your online community because your current members will most likely make recommendations to people they’re already certain will be a great fit.

If you have a membership community, lead a mastermind, sell courses, or offer other digital products and services, I’d like you to consider the benefits of creating an affiliate program to reward your biggest advocates.  It’s truly a win/win scenario.  It’s a genuine way to say thank you to those who are willing to partner with you in building your business, and it’s a great way to spread the word about what you offer without breaking your budget.


Platform Development and Monetization Tips

On Wednesday mornings, I send an email with platform development and monetization tips.  If you'd like to receive it, enter your info. below.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.