Landing Affiliate Marketing Partners

5 minute read Modified:

How to bootstrap a new blog and land marketing partners along the way.

In Initial Commit I explain why I created Hack Cabin. And even though I’ve been blogging for over 8 years on , Hack Cabin is a new domain and blog, with little content to show for itself at the outset. As a result of being new and not having much content, some initial challenges have arisen while attempting to monetize it via affiliate marketing :

  • Gaining organic traffic requires a link building strategy
  • Affiliate marketing partners may be leery about working with new publishers

Let’s briefly discuss each of these challenges and how to deal with them. At the end I’ll summarize what this all means to new publishers trying to land affiliate marketing partners early in a website’s life.

Gaining organic traffic requires a linking build strategy

Even the fastest static websites may not gain traction with Google unless existing sites pass along PageRank via inbound links. Here are some tips to be aware of as you start your link building strategy .

  • Linking back to your site from another site is more useful if there’s no rel="nofollow" attribute attached to the other parties link. If the attribute is present, as is the case with Medium or Disqus, you may not receive any PageRank from those sites.

  • When you do get a link back to your site, be sure the link uses relevant keywords looks natural. In other words, consider using anchor text like landing affiliate partnerships as opposed to click here. Be careful, however, not to overoptimize anchor text. Thanks to Tom Mullaly of for pointing this out to me.

More expert advice the experts. Fili Wiese, former senior Google Search Quality team member, gives some specifics for link building in 2017.
  • You can cold call others to trade links, but it’s easier and more socially acceptable to inspire them to link to your content. A simple method for doing this is to openly recognize others for their great work, offer them something – such as complimentary knowledge – and then, when the iron’s hot, strike with a backlink request to a related post you’ve written.

Affiliate marketing partners are leery about working with new publishers

Since starting this website I’ve joined several affiliate programs. Below is a summary of the experiences, and how I overcame partner rejections.

  • Bluehost: They approved me right away. In fact, I don’t think I even had to go through an approval process. As I mentioned in my Initial Commit post, I used to use Bluehost my for WordPress blogs, but that was years ago.

  • CupidMedia: Like many of the online dates I’ve had, these guys slapped me with a rejection letter at first, which I overcame by assuring them in a response email I’d be filling this site up with quality content. I also provided them a link to my other blog with my appeal.

  • Lonley Planet: This one took two steps. First you have to apply through Affiliate Window (US & CA publishers). Then you need to log into the portal and apply for Lonely Planet. After first being declined by Affiliate Window, a letter suggesting my legitimacy as a publisher helped the change their minds. Once that was done I was able to apply for LonelyPlanet membership and was approved within a couple weeks.

  • Amazon: Though I’d read some horror stories about the Amazon Associates program, I understand it’s possible to make some serious cash . It took me two separate attempts over a period of a few months to become an affiliate partner with Amazon. But I’m already starting to see the rewards.

Amazon Affiliate earnings over 1,694 sessions to Hack Cabin in early 2017
Amazon Affiliate earnings over 1,694 sessions to Hack Cabin in early 2017
  • LifeLock: These guys denied my application within two hours by email stating “we do not feel your site compliments our offers.” I responded to their email indicating my site was new and pointed them to my blog of 8 years. After not receiving a response for several weeks I pinged them and received an email stating they were moving to AffiliateWindow and to try again there.

  • World Nomads: I submitted my application for World Nomads on 25-Jan-17 while putting together my post on Becoming a Digital Nomad in Bali, about 3 months after starting Hack Cabin. These nice chaps approved my account within 12 hours. And I must say, I’m chuffed about it.

  • AND CO: I’ve been a paid user of AND CO for some time. In fact, I find it so useful as a freelancer I promoted deal titled Freelance Invoicing the Smart Way. You can become an AND CO Affiliate via CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction). In my case I was instantly approved.

Read the fine print. Like Amazon, CJ Affiliate has a Service Agreement requiring publisher websites to meet certain requirements. Be sure to read agreements carefully when landing affiliate marketing partners or you may face program ejections and have your earnings rescinded.
  • HomeAway: I’ve used HomeAway to find hotel accommodations during my traveling to Bali. At time of writing they pay 2-3% for verified bookings made using your referral link, and 20% if someone signs-up to list their property on HomeAway using your link. Like AND CO, publishers may sign-up via CJ Affiliate. Except, with HomeAway, I had to wait for manual approval. Eventually I was rejected without reason, and am seeking a response.

  • Namecheap: Namecheap provides domain name registration for as little as $0.88/year. I typically use AWS Route 53 for my domain name registration and renewals, but with AWS I don’t receive commissions whereas with Namecheap is paying out 15% for new customer sign-ups. Approval for Namecheap was easy as pie, and instantaneous after signing up for the Namecheap Affiliate Program .


The takeaway from all of this is new publishers – without existing Web assets they can point to – should work on a link building strategy and building quality content before aggressively seeking affiliate marketing partnerships. Doing so may help save you from otherwise unnecessary rejections. To avoid missed opportunities, take note of potential affiliate opportunities to investigate or pursue while publishing content early on and include it with your content if you can.