Soccer Manager » Program Manager

Baby Steps for Starting an Affiliate Program

Q: I want to set up an affiliate program for my business, but I really do not know where to start. We have a booking system that clicks from the main site to the reservation form which is on a separate URL. I am new to this affiliate stuff so any advice would be welcome.

A: The first thing you're going to need to figure out who is going to manage your affiliate program. That person will take the lead on all of the elements involved in developing your affiliate program.

There are a few routes you can go when it comes to affiliate program management. You can pull somebody internally at your company into the position, hire an experienced affiliate manager, or outsource to an OPM (outsourced program management).

If you go with a current employee, odds are they don't have a background in affiliate marketing. So you're going to need to get them up to speed ASAP.

I would recommend checking out Anik Singal's Affiliate Manager 1st Edition. This is a robust package of educational materials for affiliate managers. Anik also runs an Affiliate Manager Boot Camp to train affiliates.

Another training seminar is run by industry veteran, Andy Rodriguez. Andy runs the Affiliate Manager Certification Seminar and his site indicates that dates will be announced shortly for the next installment.

And the twice yearly Affiliate Summit conference features educational sessions for affiliate managers of all levels.

Hiring an experienced affiliate manager can be a challenge. The universe of talented and well networked affiliate managers is fairly small, so their compensation tends to be pricey.

Try listing a want ad in the typical places like HotJobs, Monster, Craig's List, as well as the affiliate manager job section on the forum.

Outsourcing an affiliate program is an increasingly popular option. On the plus side, you can get some seasoned pros to run your affiliate program without the bother of a learning curve, vacation time, benefits, etc.

Of course, the outsourced affiliate manager won't be in your office, save for some occasional onsite visits. There are a number of companies that offer this service listed on the Affiliate Buyer's Guide.