WordPress Product Affiliate Programs Done Right

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Over the past 5 years, I've looked at a ton of affiliate programs and sign up pages for WordPress products. Let me tell you something: most of them suck. Do you want to introduce an affiliate program for your plugin that doesn't suck? I can't do better than point you to the Ninja Forms affiliate program, which is awesome in multiple ways. Lets dig deeper.
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Over the past 5 years, I’ve looked at a ton of affiliate programs and sign up pages for WordPress products. Let me tell you something: most of them suck.

Do you want to introduce an affiliate program for your plugin that doesn’t suck? I can’t do better than point you to the Ninja Forms affiliate program, which is awesome in multiple ways. Lets dig deeper.

Become an Affiliate   Ninja Forms

Break Things Down Clearly

WP Ninjas do an awesome job at breaking down the how and why of the affiliate program. Make sure you mention which kind of affiliate you’re looking to partner with. Remember to describe what is allowed and what is not allowed.

Specify that people can’t sign up for the affiliate program just to get a discount on their own purchase. Even better, manually approve each applicant into your affiliate program, that way you can screen them and see that they are the ideal people to promote your product.

Use the Right Affiliate Management Plugin

AffiliateWP   Affiliate Marketing Plugin for WordPress

The best affiliate program management plugin for WordPress is AffiliateWP, period. It’s a plugin created by Pippin Williamson & co. This is the same team that brought you Easy Digital Downloads and Restrict Content Pro. If you’re already using EDD to sell your plugin (and why wouldn’t you?) it’s an obvious choice to also use AffiliateWP to manage your affiliate program. It can also be used with any platform however, so you’re not forced to use EDD in any way.

A Generous Performance Based Commission Structure

Ninja Forms clearly delineates four commission rates depending on the affiliates’ performance. Very few plugin developers have implemented something similar, although I’ve encountered this before with hosting affiliate programs.

affiliate commission structure

It’s logical, you want to help your highest earners, because they are the ones who are driving the most traffic to you. In the general affiliate marketing industry, the top earners carve out their own terms personally with the sellers, but there’s no reason not to provide a clear progression and incentivise your affiliates right from the get go.

Pay On Time

Remember that for many of your affiliates this is their main income and so they highly appreciate being paid on time. Make sure you let your affiliates know exactly what day the payments will be made (e.g. first Friday of the month), how (e.g. Paypal) and if there are any minimum payout balances that need to be reached.

What’s Allowed and What’s Not

Make it clear what you accept and what you don’t. For this I’ll make reference to the terms of another plugin (Envira Gallery), see below:

Coupon and Deal Sites

Envira Gallery occassionally offers coupon to select affiliates and to our newsletter subscribers. If you’re not pre-approved / assigned a branded coupon, then you’re not allowed to promote the coupon. Below are the terms that apply for any affiliate who is considering the promotion of our products in relation to a deal or coupon:

  • Affiliates may not use misleading text on affiliate links, buttons or images to imply that anything besides currently authorized deals to the specific affiliate.
  • Affiliates may not bid on Envira Gallery Coupons, Envira Gallery Discounts or other phrases implying coupons are available.
  • Affiliates may not generate pop-ups, pop-unders, iframes, frames, or any other seen or unseen actions that set affiliate cookies unless the user has expressed a clear and explicit interest in activating a specific savings by clicking on a clearly marked link, button or image for that particular coupon or deal. Your link must send the visitor to the merchant site.
  • User must be able to see coupon/deal/savings information and details before an affiliate cookie is set (i.e. “click here to see coupons and open a window to merchant site” is NOT allowed).
  • Affiliate sites may not have “Click for (or to see) Deal/Coupon” or any variation, when there are no coupons or deals available, and the click opens the merchant site or sets a cookie. Affiliates with such text on the merchant landing page will be removed from the program immediately.

Pay Per Click (PPC) Policy

PPC bidding is NOT allowed without prior written permission.

Easy Application Process

Give your prospective affiliates an easy way to sign up to your program. This usually involves a form, so as one might expect the Ninja Forms program does not disappoint in this area. If you need any tax documents submitted, make sure you let people know and give them links to where they can get them from.

That’s it, one of the best examples of affiliate program descriptions and applications I’ve come across. James Laws has also written about the WP Ninjas onboarding process, it’s a great read. If you are thinking of starting an affiliate program for your plugin, be sure to take a some cues from WP Ninjas!

Jean Galea

Jean Galea is an investor, entrepreneur, and blogger. He is the founder of WP Mayor, the plugins WP RSS Aggregator and Spotlight, as well as the Mastermind.fm podcast. His personal blog can be found at jeangalea.com.

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Jean,

    Thanks for the article. I wonder if in-house or third party is the right way to go.

    PS. The WP Ninjas onboarding process link is broken. It should go here: and redirect to wpmayor.com

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