How to start an affiliate program: Network vs. Self run

Welcome to the world of affiliate marketing.

A lot of people, including me in my early days, have had similar thoughts and ideas when they entered the wonderful (but often also very confusing) world of affiliate marketing. Think questions like: Where to begin? How do I set-up? Which form suits my objectives? And what the hell is a tracking pixel?

We at Tapfiliate understand that getting set-up and managing your own campaign(s) can provoke a lot of these kind of questions. This is something we, people who work in affiliate marketing, sometimes (read: always) forget.

That’s where I come in!

I will try to tackle every possible item, insight, and obstacle there can be in the world of affiliate marketing. And I will try to answer all possible questions as I stumble along ;-) So let me try to walk you through it all, without you zoning out to Kanye West VS Marvel VS CapCom

So let’s go back to where it all began:

“Why should I even consider starting with affiliate marketing?”

The most important reason to start with affiliate marketing is to boost your online sales. It’s as simple as that.

The beauty of affiliate marketing is that you do this on a no-cure, no-pay basis with your affiliates. These affiliates will become the online ambassadors of your brand and will become an important piece of the puzzle. The match is pretty obvious when you think of it: Affiliates have an (often clear) audience, and you have the objective to sell your product to that same audience. When you combine these, you get a high potential commercial combination. Combine that with a good product / audience fit and you will get great conversion ratios and thus great success for you and your affiliates.

Network vs. Self run

The nr.1 question at every affiliate campaign kick-off:

“Which possible options out there suit my objectives?”

Now there are multiple ways to do this dance.

One-way, let’s call it “the traditional way”, is where you run your campaign via an affiliate network. Doing it this way, puts the responsibility of the success of your campaign(s) in the network’s hands. This comes at a price though..:

  • You pay a start-up fee.
  • You pay a commission (10-30%) to the network for every sale made via the campaign
  • You will be legally restricted to work directly with your affiliates.

This option is perfect for online entrepreneurs who are not looking for a long term investment in the affiliate channel, and don’t want the extra work.

The second way, let’s call it “the way cooler, more awesome way” to do affiliate marketing, is to set-up and manage your own campaigns and is coincidentally also what we at Tapfiliate help you do best ;-)

This form of affiliate marketing allows you as a merchant/advertiser to create, track and optimize your own affiliate programs. This means first of all, that you don’t need to pay any start-up fees. Just sign up and go.

Secondly, you won’t pay any network commissions, all profit can be shared with your affiliates. This means you have a 10% to 30% cost reduction on every sale. We hear from a lot of our customers, who switch from network affiliate marketing, to self run, that they split this amount with their affiliates. This way they will save money, and their affiliates will be even more enticed to promote the advertiser’s products, which gives them a great competitive edge versus their competitors.

Thirdly, you bring in your own affiliates and recruit them while you go. This lets you build your own tribe of affiliates, which are yours and yours to use. Whenever, wherever and forever. Creating significant added value for your current, and perhaps future, online business ventures.

By now you must have figured out which way we prefer. If you are considering harnessing the power of affiliate marketing for your online business, why not invest in your own network, build a long-term business relationship with your affiliates and take control of your brand’s online presence?

By the way, this doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the value of networks within the market. We know there’s enough room for the both of us ;-) Besides that, network & self-run campaigns can also be used together at the same time.


Now, seeing as this is the first post of this series, Beau thought it would be appropriate to go for a great classy look. We think she’s done quite alright :)

_Photo credit: Alice M_ahran

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