Affiliate Recruitment 101: 10 Tips for Growing Your Affiliate Network

Affiliate Recruitment 101: 10 Tips for Growing Your Affiliate Network

Farzad Rashidi

Farzad Rashidi

Lead Innovator at Respona

Affiliate Recruitment 101: 10 Tips for Growing Your Affiliate Network

Affiliate recruitment is a vital part of growing your affiliate network.

Especially since 70% of net new revenue from affiliate marketing programs comes from affiliates that were sourced externally.

Or, in other words, the best affiliates are the ones you find and recruit.

In this article, we’ll be discussing our top 10 tips for finding and recruiting new affiliates.

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What is Affiliate Recruitment?

Affiliate recruitment is the process of finding, inviting, and onboarding new affiliates into your program.

This is typically done through email outreach, in-person events, or social media connections.

Every affiliate recruitment consists of four stages.

Let’s take a look at each one in a bit more detail.


Prospecting is the process of finding potential candidates for your affiliate program.

This can be done both manually or with the help of prospecting tools.

Manual prospecting involves finding bloggers in Google or searching up relevant hashtags or communities on social media.

However, unless your prospect has openly listed their email address on their blog or socials, finding an email address manually can be a challenge.

ryan robinson contact page
Image source: Ryan Robinson

That’s where tools like Respona come into play – with a built-in search engine for finding potential affiliates, and their contact information in one go, saving you tons of time.

Affiliate Offer

Once you have your potential affiliate partner list, it’s time to think about the affiliate offer you’re going to send to them – should they accept your invitation.

An affiliate offer is a proposition presented to potential affiliates that details the terms and benefits of promoting a specific product or service.

hubspot affiliate agreement
Image source: Hubspot

It serves as both an incentive and a contract, outlining what affiliates can expect to earn and what is required of them.

It should include:

  1. Your commission structure;
  2. A comprehensive description of your product or service (that’s being promoted), and unique selling points that will help affiliates market it effectively;
  3. Your marketing assets;
  4. Information about the tracking system or software used;
  5. Payout terms;
  6. Rules, guidelines, support materials;
  7. Affiliate link cookie duration.


Outreach is the term for getting in touch with your prospective affiliates – through email and/or social media.

An outreach sequence consists of your initial pitch, along with one or two follow-ups.

In our experience, a single follow-up email is enough – if you don’t get a response after your second message, sending more follow-ups only increases your chances of getting reported as spam.

Onboarding and Tracking

Affiliate onboarding is the process of welcoming and integrating new affiliates into your affiliate program.

It involves providing them with the necessary tools, resources, and information to start promoting your products or services effectively.

Smooth onboarding helps affiliates feel supported and sets the stage for a successful partnership.

For larger affiliate programs, affiliate management software solutions become necessary to ensure things stay running.

Recruit Blogger Affiliates

Recruiting bloggers as affiliates is the first tip on our list because most blogs – especially those that rank and generate traffic – are monetized.

Either through advertisements or affiliate links, most webmasters turn their websites into a nice little extra revenue stream.

So, it makes perfect sense to find bloggers within your niche, reach out to them, and invite them to become your affiliate.

For example, this Ahrefs review on Style Factory Productions has an affiliate disclosure:

ahrefs review by an affiliate
Image source: Style Factory Productions

Meaning that this blogger would be a suitable candidate for other SEO and affiliate recruitment tools – like us.

We can find more of these opportunities with Respona.

respona campaign templates

Respona has several outreach campaign templates specifically designed for recruiting affiliate partners, including:

  • Product alternatives
  • Competitor mentions
  • Listicle
  • Product review

Let’s go with a product review campaign to find recent posts by other bloggers who may be interested in writing a review for Respona, and joining as an affiliate.

respona product review campaign template

To use the template, just fill out a few simple fields:

  1. Your product’s name.
  2. The name of a competing product and its website URL (will be used to find their reviews).
  3. General keywords that describe your competitor’s product/service. You can use Respona’s AI keyword suggestions to generate additional keyword ideas and expand the search.
  4. A brief description of what sets you apart from the competition and an incentive for them to collaborate with you – such as an invitation to your affiliate program.

Once the fields are filled out, click “Use this template” to get into the campaign editor.

The campaign flow consists of three steps:

  1. Create a sequence
  2. Find opportunities
  3. Review & Launch

Because we used a campaign template, our email sequence is already set up based on some of our inputs on the previous screen.

However, let’s take a minute to refine it.

First, let’s check it for spam words.

checking for spam words

Looks like we’ll have to slightly  reword our pitch and remove the words “open”, “free”, and “trial”.

Next, let’s add an unsubscribe link to give our prospects an easy way to opt out from further communication in case they’re not interested.

adding an unsubscribe sentence

Next, let’s change the timing of our follow-up and set it to 5 days instead of seven.

Let’s also keep our follow-up message the only follow-up to avoid being spammy.

changing the follow-up timing

To make our emails feel unique, let’s also add an AI Icebreaker variable.

It will create unique personalizations for every single opportunity in your campaign based on the contents of their websites.

adding an ai icebreaker variable

Once our email sequence is good to go, let’s move on to the next step, which is finding opportunities.

Since we used the “Product review” campaign template, Respona’s search engine is already primed to find websites that have reviewed our competitor, but not us.

respona search engine

It does so by applying advanced search operators to your keywords and entered competitor, namely:

  • Intitle: (only pulls pages that have your competitor’s name in the title)
  • Intext: (only pulls pages that mention your target keyword somewhere in the content)
  • -site (removes pages from your competitor’s site)

No need to edit anything here. Click “Continue” to add some additional SEO filters to fine-tune the results even further.

adding seo filters

Click “Continue” again for some additional settings.

In the first window, you’ll find Respona’s contact search settings. Again, because we’re using a campaign template, the contact finder is already pre-set to find the most relevant decision-makers in your target companies.

So, no need to tweak anything here.

In the next window, you can provide some additional instructions to your AI personalizations, and choose the AI algorithm.

You can use general instructions for tone and style, and provide examples of your previous personalizations to train the AI.

contact finder, ai personalization, and recurring campaign settings

The last option on this screen is to make the search recurring.

If you enable it, Respona will automatically rerun the search – both for bloggers and their contact information at your selected time interval.

Click “Run automation” to start the search for potential affiliates, their email addresses, and personalizing your emails in one go.

Opportunities will start appearing on the screen the moment they are found.

found opportunities

Respona works its magic entirely in the cloud, so you don’t have to sit there and wait for the progress bar to complete.

It will send you an email when everything is ready.

Once all emails are found and AI variables populated, you can move on to the last step: review & launch.

review & launch

Here, you can review all of your AI personalizations and make manual edits where necessary.

Respona also finds your prospects’ LinkedIn addresses, which you can find next to their emails in the right sidebar.

We recommend sending your contacts a connection request on LinkedIn along with your email to increase your chances of getting a reply.

Once your campaign is launched, all that’s left for you to do is look out for responses and onboard new affiliate marketers.

You can do so in Respona’s shared Inbox tab.

It brings all of your connected email accounts into a single interface, eliminating the need to juggle multiple tabs to check your inbox.

respona shared inbox

Recruit Competitor Affiliates

This affiliate recruitment strategy is a little bit more advanced, and requires some additional software – but also offers an increased success rate.

Reaching out to your competitors’ affiliates and recruiting them as your own is one of the best way to grow your affiliate program.

This is because you’re targeting people who are already “in the trenches” of affiliate marketing, and so will most likely be receptive to your invitation.

For this strategy, you’ll need a backlink monitoring tool – either Ahrefs or Semrush.

You’ll be looking for affiliate links in your competitors’ backlink profiles.

Affiliate links stand out from regular backlinks because they have one of the following affiliate tags in them:

  • ?fp_ref
  • ?via
  • ?deal
  • ?_from
  • ?_by
  • ?_get
  • ?_go
  • $r
  • ?ref=
  • ?tap=
  • ?gspk
  • utm_source=partnerstack
  • utm_source=referral
  • ?fpr
  • ?fp_ref=

Every company uses a different tag so it’s just a case of finding which one.

Open Ahrefs (or Semrush or any other backlink monitoring software of your choice) and paste the domain of a competitor in the search bar.

We’ll do as an example: in ahrefs

Next, click on “Backlinks”.

chjecking backlinks with ahrefs

Now is the time to find which affiliate tag Visme is using. For this, you can use the “Target URL contains word or phrase” filter.

A good place to start is to search for a question mark as 90% of the time affiliate tags contain a “?”.

Scroll until you spot a link that has a question mark with one of the aforementioned affiliate tags.

Looks like Visme is using the “?ref” tag:

finding affiliate tags

So, let’s replace the question mark in the filter with the full affiliate tag, and enable the “one link per domain” filter so we’re left with the list of all of Visme’s affiliate links:

using the affiliate tag filter

784 unique affiliates!

In terms of speed, this strategy is the most efficient in this entire eBook – as you can see, you can find hundreds of potential affiliates in a couple of minutes or so.

Now, just export the sheet in the UTF-8 format and import it into the outreach tool of your choice (like Respona) to automatically find contact info and send outreach emails.

Create an Affiliate Landing Page

Creating an affiliate landing page is more of an inbound strategy, but an important one nonetheless.

A dedicated affiliate landing page serves as a centralized hub where potential affiliates can find all the necessary information about your program.

A good affiliate landing page provides clear, compelling reasons for why affiliates should join you, ultimately increasing your conversion rates.

This page allows you to present your value proposition effectively, highlighting unique selling points like competitive commission rates, timely payouts, and marketing support.

Semrush’s affiliate landing page is a prime example of an enticing affiliate program.

semrush affiliate landing page example
Image source: Semrush

It’s visually attractive, and most importantly, informative.

Within seconds, potential affiliates know:

  • What’s the commission structure like;
  • That there are multiple affiliate tiers;
  • What kinds of affiliates Semrush is looking for;
  • The answers to all of the most frequently asked questions.
semrush affiliate tiers
Image source: Semrush

Recruit Influencers

Similar to bloggers, influencers in most cases monetize their social media platform presence, and so make for ideal affiliate marketers.

However, influencer marketing is definitely more B2C oriented, whereas bloggers make for good B2B affiliates.

A bigger influencer following doesn’t necessarily translate into better conversions – the most important thing is if their audience aligns with your target market.

You can manually search up accounts on your chosen social platforms, or seek the help of social listening tools like SparkToro to quickly export prominent content creator lists, along with all their metrics.

sparktoro homepage
Image source: SparkToro

Affiliate Networks and Marketplaces

Affiliate networks and marketplaces can be a quick way to expand your affiliate program.

Platforms such as ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, and Rakuten Marketing, offer the advantage of convenience and scalability.

These platforms provide access to a large pool of potential affiliates who are actively seeking programs to join. The infrastructure of these networks often includes robust tracking, reporting tools, and payment processing, which can save you significant time and effort.

Moreover, these networks usually uphold certain standards that can lend credibility to your program, making it easier to attract high-quality affiliates quickly.

 However, the downside is that using these networks typically comes with additional costs, such as setup fees, monthly charges, and commissions to the platform itself.

You may also face competition from other advertisers on the same network, which can dilute your visibility and make it harder to stand out.

shareasale homepage
Image source: ShareASale

On the other hand, manually sourcing affiliates allows for a more tailored and direct approach.

This method gives you complete control over the partner recruitment process and enables you to build personal relationships with your affiliates.

Think of it this way: manual outreach brings in great affiliates slowly, but these networks help you get a lot of okay affiliates quickly.

Optimize and Promote Your Content

Making sure your content is seen by people is another important way of attracting good affiliates.

Ranking high on search engine results pages not only brings valuable traffic to your website that may convert into sales, but also establishes your business as an authority within your niche,

And being seen as an authority or thought leader is bound to attract would-be affiliates.

Optimizing your content for search engines involves:

  • Keyword research and optimization;
  • Site speed and core vitals;
  • Technical SEO;
  • Obtaining high-quality backlinks.

Respona can help you with the link building part – with over a dozen campaign templates designed for different link building strategies.

respona all campaign templates

Networking Events

Sometimes, the best way to spark up a collaboration is to meet someone in person.

Networking events are a great way to meet and recruit potential affiliates because they offer face-to-face interactions, which can significantly enhance trust and rapport.

Take the Affiliate Summit or Milan’s Affiliate Expo Conference as an example – which is coming up in a week (as of writing this article):

milan affiliate expo
Image source: Affiliate Expo

These events gather industry professionals, influencers, and potential partners in one place, providing a unique opportunity to showcase your brand, discuss your affiliate program in-depth, and answer questions immediately.

Personal connections fostered at networking events often lead to stronger, more committed affiliations, as the personal touch adds a layer of credibility and mutual understanding that is hard to achieve through digital communication alone.

Furthermore, networking events allow for real-time feedback and collaboration, making it easier to tailor your pitch and build meaningful partnerships on the spot.

Get Listed on Directories

Affiliate directories like are a great (and free) way to put your affiliate program in front of more potential partner affiliates because they serve as centralized platforms where affiliates actively seek new programs to join.

By listing your program in these directories, you can tap into a targeted audience of affiliates who are already looking for opportunities, increasing your visibility without any cost.

Additionally, these directories often have filters and categorizations, allowing your program to be easily discovered by affiliates within your specific niche, further enhancing the chances of attracting the right affiliates.
Image source:

Paid Ads

If you have the budget, you can target your ideal affiliates directly by running PPC campaigns to recruit them.

The process starts with identifying your target audience—those individuals or organizations likely to become successful affiliates.

Platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and LinkedIn Ads offer sophisticated targeting options that allow you to reach these potential affiliates based on specific criteria such as interests, behaviors, and demographics.

facebook ads hoimepage
Image source: Meta

Once your audience is defined, the next step is to craft compelling ad copy.

Your ads should highlight the unique benefits of your affiliate program, such as competitive affiliate commission rates, timely payouts, and available digital marketing resources.

Using strong calls-to-action (CTAs) encourages potential affiliates to click on your ad and learn more about your program.

Turn Customers into Affiliates

Existing customers often make the best affiliates because they have firsthand experience with your products or services and can speak authentically about their benefits.

Their genuine enthusiasm and personal testimonials can be incredibly persuasive to potential new customers. Additionally, satisfied customers likely already have a network of friends, family, or followers who trust their recommendations, making it easier for them to influence others.

To turn a customer into an affiliate, start by identifying those who are highly engaged and have had a positive experience with your brand.

You can use customer satisfaction surveys, product reviews, or purchase history to pinpoint ideal candidates. Reach out to them directly, expressing appreciation for their loyalty and introducing the affiliate opportunity.

Highlight the benefits of becoming an affiliate, such as earning commissions, receiving exclusive discounts, or gaining access to special promotions.

Link building cheat sheet

Link building cheat sheet

Gain access to the 3-step strategy we use to earn over 86 high-quality backlinks each month.

Download for free

Now Over to You

So, there you have it.

The best way to recruit affiliates is to use a variety of approaches to find and contact potential affiliates for your programs – both inbound and outbound.

You should also create a compelling landing page, or even dip your toes into PPC if your budget allows.

Need help growing your affiliate program?

Don’t hesitate to start your 14-day free trial of Respona to see how we can help first-hand.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is affiliate recruitment?

Affiliate recruitment involves identifying, attracting, and onboarding individuals or businesses to promote your products or services in exchange for a commission.

It is a critical part of building a successful affiliate program, as it helps expand your reach and drive sales through a network of motivated partners.

How do I find high-quality affiliates for my program?

To find relevant affiliates, leverage your existing network, engage with industry influencers, and utilize affiliate networks and marketplaces.

Additionally, focus on creating valuable content and providing clear benefits to attract affiliates who are genuinely interested in your niche.

How can I make my affiliate program attractive to potential recruits?

Offer competitive commission rates, transparent terms, and timely payouts.

Provide affiliates with comprehensive marketing resources, personalized support, and performance-based incentives to keep them motivated and successful.

What are the best platforms for affiliate recruitment?

Popular platforms for affiliate recruitment include affiliate networks like ShareASale, Commission Junction, and Rakuten Marketing.

Additionally, social media platforms, LinkedIn, relevant online forums, and outreach tools like Respona can be effective for finding and engaging potential affiliates.

How do I ensure my newly recruited affiliates remain active and productive?

Maintain regular communication and provide ongoing support, resources, and training to help them succeed.

Utilize performance tracking tools to monitor their progress, offer performance-based incentives, and create a community through newsletters, webinars, and other engagement activities to keep them motivated and informed.

You can also hire an affiliate manager who will help you with these tasks.

Farzad Rashidi

Article by

Farzad Rashidi

Farzad Rashidi is the lead innovator at Respona, the all-in-one digital PR and link-building software that combines personalization with productivity. He also runs the marketing efforts at Visme, where he helped the company gain over 12 million active users and pass 2M monthly organic traffic.

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