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How to connect and work with an affiliate marketing publisher

By Dustin Howes
May 4, 2023

Affiliate marketing publisher

Every affiliate program in the world wants one big thing for Christmas: more content publishers. The affiliate marketing publisher is the most sought-after character in the affiliate marketing ecosystem. 

There are many reasons why they are so desired, which is why the big affiliate publishers can be difficult to connect with. This article will explore the big reasons to work with them and how to best connect.

*FTC Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. The recommendations below are based on my first-hand experiences and I earn a small commission at no cost to you. You can read my full affiliate disclosure in my privacy policy.

What is an Affiliate Marketing Publisher?

An affiliate marketing publisher, also known as an affiliate marketer or publisher, is an individual or company that promotes a merchant's products or services on its website or other online channels. What defines a publisher from other types of affiliates is content marketing that evaluates the products and services.

The affiliate publisher often works on a performance marketing basis, earning a commission for each sale or action made through their unique affiliate link. The merchant, also known as an advertiser in affiliate marketing, is always trying to figure out how to find affiliate publishers. 

These publishers also may have paid placement opportunities, but this article will be focused on the affiliate publisher that values affiliate marketing as a revenue generator.

Why do merchants want to work with affiliate publishers?

In the world of affiliate marketing, an affiliate marketing publisher is a key player; some would argue the MVP. There are several factors that make them so desirable:

  • Big audience and reach.
  • Authoritative presence.
  • High ranks on search engines.
  • Generate top-of-funnel consumers.

Big audience and reach.

Affiliate publishers usually have well-established websites with an incredible amount of followers, subscribers, and loyal readers. They may be household names from generations past like Hearst and New York Times, which have developed a loyal audience with millions of subscribers that will tune into just about any piece of content that is written.

Tapping into this type of audience is an incredible value to get new eyes on a merchant's product.

Authoritative presence.

With an online presence that goes back decades with hundreds and thousands of content articles, top affiliate publishers can grow website authority.  The more high-quality content that is produced, the higher their website authority will become over time. 

This website authority is often referred to as domain authority or domain rank. The higher the domain rank, the easier it is for their articles to be recognized by search engines.

High ranks on search engines.

With a high authoritative presence, search engines like Google will recognize an affiliate marketing publisher as an authoritative figure and give them a shortcut to articles that rank on top of search results.

For example, if Shane Barker creates a blog post best content writing tools, he will have a much better chance to rank at the top of Google than a blog just starting out. However, even though his domain authority is very high, he is not outranking Linkedin since they have a higher domain authority and keeps their content up to date.

Generate top-of-funnel consumers.

One of the main factors of working with content creators rather than other types of publishers in affiliate marketing is getting new eyes on your brand products. If you want your product to be seen as one of the best, working with these affiliate publishers is an absolute must.

The affiliate publisher can tap into many different genres and niches depending on what they are ranking for organically. These rankings are often utilized by consumers just starting out in the purchase funnel, researching the best products they are looking for.  if your products are up on the top, they're going to take a closer look. If they are not they will be going to your competitors. 

The bottom line here is to work with the affiliate publishers that own the real estate at the top of Google if you want to drive true incremental value in sales.

How do I best connect with an affiliate publisher?

Now that we established the power of working with these affiliate publishers, we can discuss how to best connect with them.

It’s hard. Especially if you are a smaller brand and do not have industry connections. Here are the steps I personally take for each brand I work with:

  1. Identify the top publishers.
  2. Find contact information.
  3. Outreach.

1. Identify the top publishers.

The first step in connecting with an affiliate publisher is to identify those who are a good fit for your brand and products. Look for publishers in your industry who have a similar target audience to your own. 

My favorite eyeball test is to take a common keyword for your product and search for it on Google. The players that are on the top 30 results are the players you want to be friends with.

A better way to do this is by utilizing a keyword search tool like Semrush. This is the most complete SEO tool on the market. It can showcase the most important affiliate publishers that own the most valuable Google real estate for the keywords that matter most to your brand.

You can also search for publishers on affiliate networks list of top partners through their publisher discovery tools. Contrary to popular belief, it really doesn’t matter that much which affiliate network/platform your program is on. According to a study by Affise, 94% of publishers use several affiliate networks at a time. So as long as you use a network that has a great 

2. Find the contact information.

Once you've identified potential publishers, the next step is to find the right contact at the company.

First, find the company behind the website. Some companies own lots of publications; the big ones will make the info public on the about us page in the footer.

I personally like to use Linkedin for this by searching the company. I’ll search for the employees and find someone on the affiliate or partnership team and try to connect. When connecting, make a splash with why you are connecting.

I couple this connection request with an outreach out via email The best way to find an email address is by using Hunter to find the format of the email and sometimes the right person. This is a free Chrome extension and a great time saver. For more time savers, check out my blog post on the best affiliate management software solutions.

3. Outreach.

Once you have the right contact, you are ready for outreach. Keep your initial message short and to the point, introducing yourself and your brand and explaining why you think they would be a good fit for your affiliate program. Be sure to personalize each message and show that you've done your research on their website and audience.

If you get a response 20% of the time, you are doing great! If you don’t follow up with 3-4 more emails over the next few weeks. Don’t stop until you get a hard no. If you don’t get a response, try another contact at that company.

For best practices on how to connect and work with affiliate marketing sites, check out this session of Affiliate Nerd Out with Nick Marchese.


How do I become an affiliate publisher?

The quickest way to become a profitable affiliate publisher is to take an online course that teaches the best tactics. There are hundreds of gurus out there trying to show you how to create a blog. However, many of the mentors out there are showing tactics that worked for them last year. Content for courses needs to be constantly updated to stay relevant. 

There are a select few that are trustworthy enough to earn a recommendation from me. Check out my post on the best affiliate marketing courses. 

Is a publisher the same as an affiliate?

Yes, a publisher is a particular type of affiliate marketer. Affiliate publishers are one of the most sought-after types of partners because they develop content that produces top-of-the-funnel leads for products they believe in. Publishers often create reviews and listicles of products that are the best on the market.

How is an affiliate publisher typically paid?

Affiliate publishers are paid via commission-based sales. The sales are tracked via an affiliate tracking solution where the affiliate earns a certain percentage of the sale (rev share) or a flat fee (CPA) for each referring sale. Once the payment is verified, the tracking platform releases the payment to the affiliate publisher through ACH bank transfer, wire transfer, checks, or Paypal.

Who is the highest paid affiliate marketer?

This is truly impossible to measure. There are millions of affiliates out there and the ones that make the most money are not showing you how much they make. There are huge publications with multiple sites that make millions in revenue each month, but only affiliate networks would be able to tell you how much.

There are solopreneur bloggers that have documented how much they make. Pat Flynn was the originator of the affiliate journey and showed people his income, but once he hit a certain threshold of 6-figures monthly, he had other things to focus on. Adam Enfroy has done a similar journey, but even he discontinued it. 

Wrap it up Dustin.

It's also essential to provide publishers with all the necessary information they need to promote your products effectively. But as you can see in the process above, that takes some time to lead up to. In the end, you will share product descriptions, images, and unique affiliate links. Make it easy for them to find and share this information by creating a dedicated page on your website or sharing it through a content management system.

This process seems simple, but it is much more complicated and time-consuming than you can imagine…unless you have a system.

Want me to show you my methods? 

Join me and the community of affiliate managers at Performance Marketing Manager Mastermind. With over 8 hours of video training modules, you’ll learn the essential skills that affiliate managers need to be successful. You’ll also learn about all the cool tools that affiliate managers are using in 2023 to be efficient in recruiting affiliate marketing publishers.

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