How to Start an affiliate program for your SaaS

It's time to level up your game! Your SaaS needs an affiliate program to grow further. We explore three of the top services for you to run that

How to Start an affiliate program for your SaaS
Photo by Jigar Panchal / Unsplash

You decided! You need to take your company to the next level and need an affiliate program. How to do it? What does it entail "making an affiliate program"? What about staff, what does an affiliate manager actually do? Build in house or use a platform?

This post is to answer some of these questions and guide you through the process of setting up a basic affiliate program. The real hard work will come from you in recruiting and nurturing your partners so they can grow your brand together with you.

What is an affiliate marketing strategy?

Essentially, it is a partnership. You agree with people to pay them a commission on sales for the business they bring you. That simple.

But is it really that simple?

Not really. You need to prepare your company to start a program like that because many things need to be in place for a successful program to flourish. You need to take care of tracking, analytics (to share with partners), mass payments, monitoring, recruiting, marketing and much more.

Although it is a lot of work, it is high-leverage work. You make these assets and the majority of growth comes from the partners. Sometimes you will have to step in to correct course but overall it is a good growth strategy. So let's begin

Build or buy?

Should you build your own system? Very few companies have built their own affiliate program embedded into their product. It makes sense to build when your company operates a platform(in the purest sense) and you have complex integration flows that need to be shared with partners. That is very uncommon. might be one of the few examples that follow this method.

For the rest of us, buying is the best choice. There are dozens of services out there that cater to exactly this. They have the full range of things you'll need to run an affiliate program.

How do I set it up?

Before you start, you'll need to have a couple questions that will define which tools we can choose from:

  • Are you ready to install tracking code on the page for it?
  • What payment processing do you use?

If you answered YES and STRIPE (Paddle also counts), I have good news for you. There are a handful of tools to evaluate. They are all pretty good and I'm going to outline the main pros and cons for each.

Here are the tools


  • Supports Stripe & Paddle payments
  • Payouts are via Wise or Paypal (the affiliate needs to have an account)
  • 0% transaction fees - All plans have a fixed price and different features
  • Offers both Affiliate(non-user refers people) and Referral (user refers a friend)
  • Starts at $49 per month. 14 day free trial
Check it out


  • Supports Stripe & Paddle
  • 0% transaction fees - All plans have a fixed price and different features.
  • There is a free plan, which you only leave after you're making earning $1000 from the program. For as long as you want.
  • Payouts via Paypal
Check it out


  • Supports Stripe, Braintree, Recurly, Chargebee and more
  • Wise and Paypal payouts
  • Plans start at $49 per month
Check it out

You're set!... wait

Setting up the tracking and pipes is just the beginning of the work. Affiliates won't magically sign up (although some of your users might).

Now it's time to consider hiring an Affiliate Program Manager. They will arm your affiliates with assets, trainings and more based on your strategy. Plus they will manage the day to day on network you just set up.

You can also choose to start slow. Set it up, share the link only with people you know and trust will do a good job promoting your brand. But that doesn't last very long.