How To Build A Huge (& Profitable) Affiliate Network Like ClickFunnels

Want to get ALL the tips that Dave shared with us on the go? Check out the entire podcast episode to learn how Dave Woodward and ClickFunnels have built a massive affiliate network.



Having an affiliate ARMY behind you will help you to make more money than you ever imagined was possible.

That’s why I sat down with Dave Woodward of ClickFunnels—yes, THAT Clickfunnels—and did a deep dive into the secrets he used to build a $22 million a year affiliate business from the ground up!

You're going to learn exactly what ClickFunnels is doing—and how you can implement the same strategies to learn how to build an affiliate network.

First, though, let’s get to know Dave Woodward a bit better.

Who is Dave Woodward?

Dave Woodward is the Chief Business Development Officer at ClickFunnels, and he helped put them on the map! He's also done a lot for the industry and has had a massive impact on how online business is done.

But here's how he got started in digital marketing.

Back in 2007, Dave Woodward got involved with Legendary Marketers—which was the first project that really helped him start making money. While he'd done a few projects before Legendary Marketers, this project was the game-changer he was looking for.

From there, he went on to meet Russell Brunson and started working for ClickFunnels in October/November of 2014 (ClickFunnels started in September of that year).

Dave took over the affiliate program creation at ClickFunnels, and the rest is history!

Clickfunnels Affiliate Program (The Beginning)

ClickFunnels was built primarily through an affiliate program and webinars.

After trying a bunch of different times to get Clickfunnels off the ground, they found success in a webinar based on a presentation that Russell did. They used this webinar for over 2 years.

The Size Of The Program

The size of the Clickfunnels affiliate program is a lot bigger than you may think.

At the bottom of each page run by Clickfunnels is a link that anyone can click that says, “powered by Clickfunnels.” If someone clicks this button and purchases, the page owner makes a commission!

Because of this, every Clickfunnels user is an affiliate, and ClickFunnels pays around 3,000 affiliates per month. For an idea of the scale of the payouts for Clickfunnels’ affiliate program, they've paid out:

  • Over $51 million since the beginning
  • $22 million in 2018 
  • $9 million in 2019 (as of May)

Those are HUGE numbers!

Clickfunnels did about $100 million in revenue in 2018, and about 22% of that was driven by affiliates.

Affiliates get a 40% commission for anything promoted on the front end (and in any of their funnels), while also getting “sticky cookies”. What this means is that if someone buys the book offered upfront and later goes in and purchases something else, the affiliate gets a commission on that product as well.

As you can see, Clickfunnels has built a large and lucrative affiliate army! So, let’s get into how YOU can do the same.

(RELATED: Affiliate Marketing Vs. Product Development)

The 7 Things You Need to Do to Start an Affiliate Program (How to Bring in Your First 100 Affiliates)

Inforgraphic showing 7 tips for how to build an affiliate network

#1. Identify Your Dream 100 Affiliates

To understand the affiliates you want to attract, identify who some of your dream affiliates would be. Personally, I like to shoot for my dream 100 affiliates.

When I'm looking to put together my list of dream affiliates, I start searching for affiliates that would fit well with my niche and the product I'm looking to sell.

Once I've figured out who my top 100 dream affiliates are, I: 

  1. Put them on a list of prospects
  2. Get their contact information 
  3. Build an Excel file
  4. Start reaching out to them

Start targeting your dream affiliates to ensure the right people are selling your products.

#2. Find Out What’s In It For The Affiliate

To attract affiliates, think about what they want and what’s in it for them.

A lot of marketers think it’s all about the money from commissions, but that's actually not often the case.

Affiliates want to provide their customers with value.

If their audience sees your products as valuable, an affiliate will trust you more and become a more loyal affiliate. Think about it this way—would you want to sell your customers something you don’t believe in?

Probably not.

Affiliates can also be motivated by incentives, which are a great way of keeping them on track without making it all about money.

We’ll get to incentives in a little bit.

#3. Realize This Is A Long-Term Play

Your affiliates are looking to sell certain products to their audience. If you keep jumping around to different products, they won’t know where you stand month-to-month—lowering their trust in you.

Don’t try to make money on something one month, and then turn around and sell something completely different the next month.

ClickFunnels affiliates know what they're selling every month, and they appreciate that.

If you have different products that you'd like to sell, make sure they're in the same niche and of the same quality as what you're currently selling. You can always diversify your product base, but you need to keep new products within the same realm of what your affiliates are used to.

#4. Run An Ad

When approaching potential affiliates that haven’t really dealt with internet marketers, keep in mind that some of these prospects may not be willing to jump on board with being an affiliate right away.

However, they may be open to running an ad for you.

Once they see how well the ad works, they may be more open to recurring commissions instead of a one-time fee.

Running an ad can give you a foot in the door and—once they see how much their audience loves your product—you can then pitch the idea of them being an affiliate.

#5. Customize Each Pitch For The Affiliate’s Audience

When you're thinking about how to work with an affiliate, consider their audience.

Remember, they want to sell something that their audience will like. So, consider how you can integrate your product into your dream 100’s affiliate products.

Think about what would best fit for them and how you can best serve their clients.

The more you can integrate your product with theirs, the easier an ongoing relationship with the affiliate will be.

#6. Know Who You're Talking To

There's no “one size fits all” sales technique.

Keep this in mind when you're coming up with your ask for each prospect on your list.

Some people will be used to running affiliate ads, and they may be open to trying out your product. Other prospects may be skeptical because they don't even understand what affiliate marketing is.

If you're walking in on a tough sell, consider decreasing your ask. If you can get them in on a micro-commitment, you can build them up from there.

#7. Keep In Mind That This Is A Relationship Business

Affiliates don’t want to feel like they're being used or that you're trying to make a quick buck off of them.

Every businessperson wants to trust the people that they're doing business with. If your affiliates or potential affiliates don’t trust you, your business relationship won’t last long.

The more trustworthy and authentic you are, the more likely affiliates will be to stick around and continue doing business with you.

(RELATED: How To Start Affiliate Marketing (+ Best Affiliate Marketing Programs)

Finding Your Incentives

When people think of incentives for affiliates, they often think of commissions.

This is a BIG mistake!

While commissions are great, they often aren’t enough for an affiliate to stick around. If you want to build a network, you DON’T want an affiliate that promotes once or twice and then is done.

You want them to stick around.

With the right incentives, you can attract high-quality affiliates that stick around for years instead of days or weeks.

When considering incentives, think of both short- and long-term incentives.

#1. Long-Term Incentives

Long-term incentives are meant to keep your affiliates engaged and focused.

When I say “long-term,” I don’t mean a couple of weeks or a month. I mean ongoing incentive programs that build up to a bigger prize and keep the affiliate working hard for a major payoff.

An example is the “Dream Car Award” that ClickFunnels put on.


Description of the dream car program from ClickFunnels


With this incentive, affiliates qualify for more money each month for having a certain amount of people that have Clickfunnels accounts through their affiliate ID. Affiliates are able to track how close they are to winning a dream car (with a little blue Corvette that slides based on how many people have their affiliate ID).

If affiliates drop below their goals, Clickfunnels reaches out to see how they can help.

While you don’t need to have anything as big as a car as an incentive, you can still have long-term incentives that make sense to your brand and the affiliates following you.

Long-term incentives allow for an ongoing relationship with affiliates, and they help affiliates to better connect with you.

#2. Short-Term Incentives

Along with long-term incentives, have short-term incentives to keep your affiliates engaged in (you guessed it) the short-term.

One example of this is monthly challenges that provide the winner with different prizes. If you can connect with your affiliates in a deeper way with these prizes, that’s even better.

Dave mentioned a short-term challenge in which an affiliate could win a “Blue Yeti” microphone.


Screenshot of the Blue Yeti microphone on Amazon


Why a Blue Yeti?

Russell used a Blue Yeti for his podcast, so followers of his podcast had seen that before. He knew that giving away that microphone would be perfect for Clickfunnels affiliates because it was something fans could associate with Russell.

In turn, that brings them closer to the ClickFunnels brand.

Even if you give away something silly that someone ends up putting on their desk,  they’ll think of your company every time they see it.

Make sure your prizes are more than just cash, and give your affiliates some incentives to shoot for. Doing so helps motivate them and builds positive associations with your brand.

#3. Use Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are a great tool for B- and C-tier affiliates. These are your everyday affiliates that may not provide a ton of sales but are still bringing in money.

Facebook Groups are a great place for affiliates to share with each other and build a community. Affiliates in these groups can share tips, make goals and talk about their successes.


Screenshot of the ClickFunnels Facebook page


One way to boost sales is to encourage people to post snapshots of their success and how much they're making selling your product. These snapshots help create social proof—which can be both a strong incentive and can show others in the group that lots of money can be made by selling your product.

Also, encourage your incentive winners to post pictures of the things they win. This creates a buzz in the group, with people asking the winner how they won that prize.

#4. Facebook Live

A great way to motivate your affiliates is to do Facebook Lives in your Facebook Group regularly. Once a week is generally enough, but if you want to do more, that’s great too! By getting on Facebook Live, you show your affiliates you're invested in their success.

You can also give them tips and answer questions during the live stream.


Screenshot of a ClickFunnels Q&A on Facebook Live


Before you start using Facebook Live, though, make sure your affiliates are making money.

Not only does this create social proof, but it also provides credibility.

You don’t want to jump on Facebook Live and get a million questions about why no one is making any money yet!

#5. Affiliate Resources

While your affiliates want to make money and you want your affiliates to make money, they don’t always understand what they need to do to be successful.

If your affiliates don’t know what they're doing, they're more likely to give up or underperform. This means less money for both your affiliates and you.

That’s why you’ll want to have affiliate resources read.

Part of running a successful affiliate business is training your affiliates. The more your affiliates know about your product and how to properly sell it, the more successful they'll be.


Example of an affiliate resource from ClickFunnels


This is especially so for people that are brand new to affiliate marketing. These new marketers may have no idea how to run an affiliate marketing business, and your resources can be a game-changer for them.

Not only can your resources help them make more sales, but it will also build brand trust and loyalty.

They'll be grateful to you for helping their business grow and thrive, and they’ll likely pass that information along to other beginner affiliate marketers that need some advice when it comes to growing their business.

While some people provide affiliate resources that make for good boilerplates, encourage people using your resources to take those boilerplates and make them their own.

The boilerplates are just templates.

If an affiliate wants to make as much money as possible, they need to personalize any resources that you provide for them. Start working on some resources for your affiliates, and if you have the availability, help them a little along the way.

Actually, a great way to help your affiliates is through Facebook Live.

Now That You Know How To Build An Affiliate Network

Your business can build an entire army of affiliates that will go out there and make you massive amounts of money if you follow the tips that David Woodward has outlined for you.

Take these tips into consideration, and start building your $22 million a year business!

(Note: Want to get ALL the tips that Dave shared with us on the go? Check out the entire podcast episode to learn how Dave Woodward and ClickFunnels have built a massive affiliate network.)