Self-hosting Your Affiliate Program vs Using an Affiliate Network

Self-hosted-vs-Managed-Affiliate-Networks

If you’re selling a product or service and want to increase sales, why not try running an affiliate program?

An affiliate program is a proven means whereby you can reward, or pay, anyone who sends a customer your way. This gives others the incentive to promote your products, which helps you increase sales. And there are other benefits to creating an affiliate program for your business.

And, yet, despite the different ways an affiliate program can help you grow your business, many shy away due to the perceived difficulty and number of decisions required for start-up. One area that often deters people from starting an affiliate program is not knowing which service or tool to use and whether to use an in-house, self-hosted solution or to join a managed affiliate network.

We’re here to help you decide whether running your own self-hosted affiliate program or using an affiliate network is the best option for you so you can get your affiliate program up and running and increase sales of your product or service.

Once you chose which way to go, you can select an appropriate tool or service, launch your affiliate program, and start generating sales.

When it comes to deciding between a self-hosted affiliate solution or an affiliate network, the main points to consider are:

  • Ease of use
  • Support
  • Control and autonomy
  • Promotion
  • Credibility
  • Costs

So let’s take a look at each of those areas in detail, to help you decide if joining an affiliate network or using an affiliate tool to host your own in-house program is the best option.

Ease of Use

When it comes to choosing between a self-hosted affiliate tool or hosted solution, be sure to consider ease of use. If you want to host your own affiliate program, you’ll need to choose the right tool, or WordPress plugin, then install and configure it. Also, you’ll be responsible for monitoring the performance of your program to ensure it’s working as it should. On the other hand, joining an established affiliate network takes much of the work off your hands.

Support

While both options provide you with some level of support, a good affiliate network will constantly keep an eye on their system and, in turn, your program. You’ll also have someone to turn to who has instant access to your account should anything go wrong—as will the affiliates promoting your business.

If you choose to self-host your own affiliate program, you’ll be able to give the product support staff access to your site. However, the whole process will be much less responsive, with the onus on you to recognize when things aren’t working as they should.

Control and Autonomy

If you choose a powerful affiliate management tool to self-host your program, you’ll have more control over how your scheme works, compared to joining a hosted service. As there’s no intermediary managing your affiliate program, you have the freedom to define its terms and choose who’s accepted into it.

While using an affiliate network over a self-hosted solution will help you take care of some of the set-up, you’ll have to relinquish a certain amount of control over how your system operates. This will vary from network to network, of course, but if you’d rather have full control over your affiliate program, going down the self-hosted route is your best option.

Promotion

Your affiliate program will only be as successful as your affiliates are. This means that in order for your program to generate enough extra sales to make it worthwhile, you’ll need to recruit a number of high-quality affiliates.

Finding the right affiliates to promote your products can be difficult. One of the advantages of joining an affiliate network over managing your own self-hosted program is that your program will be listed in the network’s directory. There, it can be found by affiliates looking for deals to promote.

If you opt to host your own program, it will be up to you to promote and get exposure for your affiliate scheme. If you have an audience or following already, this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you don’t, promoting your affiliate offer is one more task you’ll need to take on.

Thankfully, there are directories you can submit self-hosted affiliate programs to for help with promotion.

Credibility

If an affiliate program is managed by a reputable network, it’s a good indication they’re promoting a legitimate product or service. With a network, affiliates will also have someone to turn to should there arise any issues with payments or other aspects of their accounts.

If you’re self-hosting your own affiliate program, unless you’re a well-known brand, you’ll have to work to prove your credibility. A few things you can do to build potential affiliates’ confidence in you include activating instant payouts of commissions and publishing testimonials from happy customers, clients, and other affiliates.

While credibility may be an issue for new businesses who want to self-host their own affiliate programs, there’s a way that potential cost savings can help you overcome this issue, as we’ll soon see. It’s also worth remembering that when someone else is managing your program, there’s no guarantee you’ll always be welcome in their network.

Costs

If you want to run your own affiliate program, remember that the best WordPress affiliate management plugins aren’t free. However, despite their initial cost, they can often save you money in the end, compared to using an affiliate network.

Once you’ve paid for a premium affiliate management plugin, apart from any license renewal fees and, of course, affiliate commissions, that’s all you’ll need to pay out.

On the other hand, affiliate networks often have a range of fees, including substantial registration charges, ongoing monthly fees, and commissions taken on each payment you make to your affiliates.

Different networks charge fees in different ways. However, due to the nature of these ongoing fees, in the long term, hosting your own in-house affiliate program is nearly always the more cost-effective option. This is even true when you consider the time it takes to set up and manage your own program. You can then pass these savings on to your affiliates, offering them higher commissions. This can also help defray any objections they may have about working with a business they’re not familiar with.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to self-hosting your affiliate program versus using an affiliate network, there is no outright winner, really.

Provided you choose the right tool, or WordPress affiliate management plugin, you should have no trouble running your own self-hosted affiliate program while also saving money and having more control.

If you aren’t technically inclined or simply don’t mind paying someone else to take care of things, then paying for the privilege of joining an established network may be the best option—provided they’ll have you!

It’s worth mentioning that managing your own self-hosted affiliate program is a lot easier than you may think. Doing it yourself also gives you the freedom of running your program the way you’re most comfortable with.

Of course, we think AffiliateRoyale is a perfect option for those wishing to self-host their affiliate network. You can check out all the details about the AffiliateRoyale WordPress affiliate management plug-in here.

Is joining an affiliate network the best option for your business, or would you rather manage your own self-hosted program? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.