How to Build an Affiliate Network: 10 Steps

Veranika Minina 10 January 2024 Affiliate Network Guide

Table of contents:

  1. What is an affiliate network?
  2. Why should you run your own affiliate network?
  3. What do you need to build an affiliate network: 10 Steps

Affiliate marketing has become a powerful strategy for businesses to promote their products and generate revenue. There are hundreds of affiliate networks in the market, but not all of them can provide marketers with the expected range of services. With a deep understanding of the market and proper network management, it is possible to make good profit. That’s the reason why some experienced affiliates start their own networks.

In this article, we suggest you discuss what an affiliate marketing network is, why you should run your own platform and how to build an affiliate network from scratch. Let’s dive in!

What is an affiliate network?

An affiliate network is a platform that serves as an intermediary between advertisers and affiliate marketers, forging the path for successful affiliate marketing collaborations:

  • Advertisers offer enticing commissions to affiliates in exchange for driving traffic to their products or services;

  • Affiliates, in turn, enthusiastically promote the advertiser’s offers through a myriad of channels, including websites, blogs, social media platforms, and email marketing. 

When a visitor or customer referred by an affiliate completes the desired action — sales, leads, clicks, and so on — the affiliate earns a well-deserved commission.

The essence of affiliate marketing networks is in its ability to provide a centralized platform where advertisers can showcase their diverse affiliate offers, while affiliates can explore and join suitable opportunities with ease. Such networks offer a comprehensive suite of tools and features that empower users to manage affiliate relationships, track performance, and facilitate timely commission payouts. By taking charge of critical tasks like tracking affiliate links, monitoring conversions, and ensuring accurate commission calculations, these networks alleviate the burden on both advertisers and affiliates.

Why should you run your own affiliate network?

Usually, affiliate marketers use two or more affiliate marketing networks at the same time. Even if you run the same offers from affiliate networks, after tests see that the results are different. The reason is that affiliate platforms have different instruments, and sometimes you can lose the traffic because of the infrastructure of the network.

Building an affiliate network from scratch may sound daunting, but with the right approach, it can be a rewarding experience. If you have any background in affiliate or digital marketing, this process will be successful. And here are some reasons why you should start an affiliate network:

  • Revenue Generation: Operating an affiliate network allows earning revenue through various means, such as affiliate commissions, advertisers fees, and value-added tools. As the network grows and attracts more affiliates as well as advertisers, your earning potential can increase;

  • Direct Relationships with Affiliates and Advertisers: When you operate your own affiliate network, you gain direct access to and control over the advertising partners and affiliate marketers you work with. This means you, as a network owner, can carefully select trusted partners, build personal relationships, and have transparent selection processes. By aligning your brand with specialists who share your values, you can enhance the effectiveness of your affiliate marketing efforts;

  • Customized Platform: You can do your research and estimate the affiliate networks to see which tools and features you would like to have. What is more, running your own platform grants you the freedom to customize the network to perfectly match your brand identity. You can design a unique user interface, create special affiliate materials, and tailor the network’s structure and rules to suit your specific goals and preferences;

  • Enhanced Tracking and Reporting Capabilities: Operating your own network provides you with greater control over tracking and reporting. You can implement advanced tracking technologies, integrate with analytics tools, and gain deeper insights into affiliate performance. This level of data granularity allows you to make well-informed decisions, identify top-performing affiliates, optimize campaigns, and refine marketing strategies for even better results.

While running your own affiliate network may require an initial investment in technology, resources, and expertise, it provides long-term benefits. With customization options, flexibility, scalability, and the potential for increased profitability and strategic collaborations, it can be a highly rewarding venture.

What do you need to build an affiliate network: 10 Steps

Building a successful affiliate network requires careful planning, the right software tools, effective communication, and ongoing management. By investing time and resources into these components, you can create a successful affiliate network that drives traffic, boosts sales, and strengthens your brand’s reach.

Let’s dive in and find out how to create an affiliate network as well as where to start it. Here are 10 steps to build your own platform that are necessary to take into consideration.

1. Choose the Main Verticals

Start your journey with research. The task is to find out advertisers and affiliates needs, how they prefer to cooperate. Depending on this data, you can prioritize verticals. Don’t forget niches that you as an affiliate network owner work with. Your relations in the market will also help in choosing the right verticals as you can invite advertisers with top affiliate marketing campaigns in Nutra, Gambling or Finance.

But one more important thing is trends. Of course, you can run a network with the verticals that only you like. But in this case, your platform can be less successful and popular, because neither advertisers nor affiliates will be interested in it. That’s why we recommend to follow the trends in the market and choose the niches that will bring as many affiliates as possible to your network with good offers and traffic.

2. Choose the Right Affiliate Software

If you want to create an affiliate network, don’t forget to select the best affiliate tracking software as it’s the foundation. Look for a reliable and feature-rich platform that offers accurate tracking, robust reporting, commission management, and affiliate management capabilities. Research and compare different options to find the software that best aligns with your specific needs and budget. Real-time tracking capabilities raise up your affiliate platform, encouraging active engagement and focus from your affiliate partners.

Definitely, you can use an off-the-shelf application/software to create and manage an affiliate network. Such options as Affise are quite common today and available to everyone. However, the set of tools may seem insufficient to you. And in this case you can develop the platform yourself, adding the tools that you think are important to you. Remember that creating an affiliate network from scratch will take you much more time and costs.

3. Create an Attractive Reward Program

The notion that affiliates choose a platform solely on affiliate commissions is only partially true. Payouts are certainly important, but it’s not enough to keep affiliates in the network. Therefore, it is important to show that your network is worth it by offering them an effective long-term incentive system in the form of a Reward Program or Referral Program.

Adding tiered rewards and incentive goals can increase affiliate motivation and performance. Also, by utilizing a management system, your affiliates will be able to track their performance in earning commissions and rewards. This monitoring will motivate affiliates to put more effort and promote the offers more actively.

4. Provide Real-Time Reports

When you start an affiliate marketing network, remember that for affiliates real-time reports are crucial as statistics show their performance. And you should not only provide statistics and analytics to brands and partners, but also use them yourself. For affiliate marketing network owners, these tools allow you to manage unstructured data from a huge number of sources. You can track which publishers are showing higher conversion rates and which campaigns are performing better.

With this information at your fingertips, you can make effective decisions. In addition, your network becomes a facilitator of information, acting as a link between affiliates. This is why choosing the right affiliate marketing software is so important.

5. Develop a Commission Structure

Choose commission types that align with your business goals and incentivize partners to perform well. Consider whether you want to offer a percentage of sales, fixed amount per referral, or a hybrid model. Additionally, think about implementing performance-based incentives such as tiered commissions or bonuses for achieving specific targets.

First of all, we recommend you to do some research. Investigate what commission structures are commonly used in your industry and analyze the commission rates offered by your competitors. This will give you a reference point to understand the prevailing practices and help you remain competitive. However, keep in mind that your commission structure should also align with your unique business needs and objectives.

6. Attract Trusted and Experienced Advertisers

Develop a strategy to attract advertisers who will join your network and with whom you will be able to maintain long-lasting relationships. A few tips will help you to promote your affiliate platform and invite partners:

  • Personal Connections: You can attract advertisers from third-party affiliate platforms. If you know reliable colleagues, you can also invite them to try a new platform. Provide them with some exclusives, and they will provide you with exclusive offers, too. Many advertisers at affiliate marketing forums are always ready to try something new, and take this kind of chance, if they know you a little bit better. What is more, you can promote your affiliate marketing network at conferences thanks to small talks with new people, affiliate marketing forums. And don’t forget to provide them with the benefits of the platform as it’s important to demonstrate this value to potential partners;

  • Reach Out to Brands Directly: Identify brands that align with your target market and reach out to them directly. Craft a compelling pitch that highlights the benefits of joining your affiliate network, such as access to a motivated affiliate base, increased brand visibility, and potential sales growth. Emphasize the value you can provide to their marketing efforts and how your network can help them reach their goals;

  • Leverage Social Media and Online Communities: Engage with industry-specific social media groups, forums, and communities where advertisers might be active. Contribute valuable insights, establish yourself as an industry expert, and build relationships with potential advertisers. Share information about your affiliate network and its advantages, demonstrating how it can benefit advertisers. What is more, highlight success stories of affiliates who have achieved significant results through your network. Testimonials and case studies can demonstrate the value and credibility of your affiliate marketing network to potential advertisers.

Attracting advertisers who have been using trusted networks for years is not easy. But if you make the effort, your platform will be an opportunity for them to discover new ways to promote your products. And it’s really necessary to pay as much attention as possible to finding reliable advertisers because they provide affiliates with offers that are the most crucial thing for developing a new affiliate marketing network.

7. Attract Affiliate Partners

The next step after attracting advertising partners and replenishing your base of offers is attracting affiliates. The first thing you can do is to promote your network on the right channels and platforms.

Landing pages will help you in successful promotion. Therefore, on them we recommend to be sure to tell potential partners about:

  • the number of offers;
  • verticals you work with;
  • commissions and rewards;
  • frequency of receiving money: daily, weekly, twice a month, once a month;
  • prohibited sources of traffic, violations and termination of cooperation;
  • payment methods.

This is the bare minimum. It is also important to mention your advantages and differences from other affiliate networks, i.e. demonstrate your unique selling proposition. Using these simple methods you will be able to attract numerous affiliates.

8. Provide Marketing Resources and Build Relationships

Equip your advertisers and affiliates with the necessary tools and resources to effectively promote offers. Create a range of marketing collateral, including banners, text links, email templates, product images, and landing pages. Ensure these materials are professionally designed, branded, and regularly updated to support your affiliates’ marketing efforts. Some affiliate networks offer materials created by their own design team. It may be useful for you to have such a team, too.

Build strong relationships with your advertisers and affiliates by providing personalized support, regular communication, and timely feedback. Offer guidance, answer questions, and address any concerns promptly. By cultivating a positive and supportive environment, you can foster loyalty, long-term partnerships as well as keep partners in your affiliate network.

9. Establish Clear Terms and Conditions

Craft clear and comprehensive terms and conditions for your affiliate network. Outline the rules, responsibilities, and expectations for both you and your partners. Cover aspects such as network fees, payment net terms, promotional guidelines, prohibited activities, and compliance requirements. Make these terms easily accessible to all affiliates and ensure they are regularly reviewed and updated.

10. Monitor Compliance and Prevent Fraud

Implement measures to monitor affiliate activities and ensure compliance with your network’s terms and conditions. Regularly review affiliate websites, promotional materials, and marketing tactics to identify any violations or potential fraudulent activities. Utilize fraud detection tools and establish clear guidelines to prevent fraudulent behavior within your affiliate network.

There are some advices how to prevent fraud in affiliate marketing network:

  • Implement a Robust Vetting Process: Some networks don’t verify affiliates during registration and therefore have to provide additional costs for verification of their traffic quality. That is why we recommend establishing a thorough vetting process for new affiliates. Require them to provide detailed information about their marketing methods, traffic sources, and experience. Verify their identity and legitimacy by conducting background checks and reviewing their websites or promotional materials. This initial screening helps ensure that only reputable marketers are accepted into your affiliate network;

  • Monitor and Analyze Traffic Quality: Analyze the quality of traffic generated by affiliates. Monitor metrics such as bounce rates, time spent on site, and conversion rates to identify any discrepancies. High bounce rates, low engagement, or poor conversion rates may indicate low-quality or fraudulent traffic sources. Regularly review traffic data and collaborate with affiliates to address any concerns or issues;

  • Offer Fraud Detection Tools and Training: Provide partners with access to fraud detection tools and resources to help them identify and prevent fraud. Educate them about common fraud techniques and warning signs. Offer training materials, webinars, or workshops to promote best practices and raise awareness about fraud prevention within your affiliate network.

By implementing these simple strategies, maintaining a proactive approach, you can significantly reduce the risk of fraud and create a secure environment for both advertisers and affiliates.


Although building your own affiliate network requires a lot of force and investments, it can become a great possibility to scale your online business. Careful planning, effective communication, and ongoing optimization are key points. By defining objectives of affiliate platforms, recruiting the right advertisers and affiliates, providing valuable resources, nurturing relationships, and continuously tracking performance, you can create a thriving affiliate marketing network that drives significant growth for your business. Embrace the power of affiliate marketing business and unlock its potential to take your brand to new heights as well as create a steady stream of relatively passive income as an affiliate marketer.

Veranika Minina
Veranika Minina is a fan of affiliate marketing. Veranika's articles are carefully crafted to simplify complex concepts, making them accessible to beginners while also offering fresh perspectives about CPA-networks for experienced marketers. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned marketer, Veranika's writings are sure to inspire, educate, and motivate, guiding you towards a profitable affiliate marketing journey.
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