Setting up a DIY Affiliate Scheme

The part of the Case Study I wrote that received the most comments and questions from readers, was the section where I talked about how we set up an affiliate scheme with a car hire company who didn’t run one. My thanks to Don Power, who said “You should post about it!” So here we go:


Assume most businesses don’t understand affiliate schemes

It’s important to remember this. Although we understand the intricacies of these schemes, most businesses don’t. So plan to take time to explain the process to them.

Start with your readers

Think about what they are buying already. If you have a guitar blog, the answer might be plectrums and sheet music. If you run a fitness blog, supplements and gym membership.

For us, as a travel blog, it was car hire – we knew that many people coming to our blog for information about the island, were planning on hiring a car here.

Decide who can provide the product or service they need

Once you know what your readers are buying, think about local businesses who can fulfill that need. You probably already recommend them to your friends anyway!

You have to be sensible about this, though. You need to choose a product that can be delivered to your readers!

Above all, to maintain your reputation, whatever you’re going to offer needs to be good quality, sensibly priced, and you need to know that your new business partner can deliver a good service.

We researched thoroughly, and talked to readers and friends, and came up with the best car hire company on the basis of car quality, service and the fact that there were no hidden extras in their pricing. They weren’t the cheapest, but the overall package was the best.

Approach Them

Make an appointment to go and see your target business. And go with a fall back – if they don’t like the idea of paying you commission, or don’t have enough margin to do so, then offer them an advertising deal.

It goes without saying that your pitch should focus on the benefits for their business, not yours. What you are offering them is reach. Tell them about your traffic. Maybe survey your readers first to get a feel for how many of these products they buy.

Don’t get web techie! Page views mean something to us, they don’t to most businesses. Talk visitors. We were able to tell the car hire company that we were getting 1000 visitors a day to our site, and that from research we knew that about 30% were contemplating a trip to the island within the next three months. That’s some potential for them!

The Offer

What you’re offering them is incremental business. Another point of contact that they may not already be getting. An edge. Explain that your readers trust you, and that if you recommend them as a “partner” they are much more likely to buy.

Ideally get something special or additional for your readers. In our case the car hire company agreed to allow two drivers free, and free child seats and booster cushions. They were also happy to allow our readers to book without having to pay a deposit and go through a lengthy phone call to confirm credit card details.

The Commission

This is about good old fashioned negotiation! Bear in mind that they need to keep a reasonable margin for themselves, but try to get the best deal you can on commission.

We asked for 10%, and they readily agreed. We also arranged that people who are part of our membership site got an additional 5% discount.

The Process


Although it’s possible to set something up using a shopping cart process, it’s complicated and not easy to explain to conventional businesses.

I would advise you to use a simple enquiry form on your site. It does mean work for you, but it’s easy enough to deal with, and you are earning money! It’s really the only way to stay in control of the clients you are passing on to the business.

Our readers fill in an enquiry form with what they want. We then reply with the price and tell them how to book – in our case an email booking is fine. Once they do reserve a car, we simply confirm to them and the car hire company, and enter the details in our spreadsheet.

Each month we invoice for our commission.

The Selling

If you’re going to do this, I would urge you to stick to one supplier. You can then use words like “partner” when you talk about them. Start with a post about the business or service. You can see ours here: Car Hire Lanzarote and then make sure you regularly refer back to that post in the future. Your aim should be to rank well for the keywords over time.

By all means put a banner up as well, although we have found people don’t click them!

Finally, set up an Autoresponder in your email sequence mentioning the product or service. Ours goes out about a month after readers join our list.

This has worked particularly well for both us and the car hire company, and as I mentioned in the case study, readers often then choose to use our links for other things like insurance and accommodation, for example.

Is this something you could implement on your blog?

If you haven’t read the full case study, you’ll find it’s full of detailed information like this. And it’s free! You can download your copy here: Case Study – taking a blog from zero to a full time income in one year


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