How affiliate marketing will boost your online course sales

You’ve put all your love and effort into creating your online course, and it’s finally up and running. Congrats! It’s an amazing feeling.

You do all the right things to promote your shiny new course and get it out to the world. You’re on top of your email marketing blasts and social shoutouts. And the enrolments are coming in – your networks are responding super well.

But after the initial excitement and buzz around your new online course dies down, you find it’s harder to get eyes on your sales page. Your audience has tapped out (for now anyway – they’ll be back when they’re ready!).

This is where affiliate marketing can boost your online course sales. Many clients have told me they’ve found affiliate marketing to be one of the best ways to sell their online courses.

What is affiliate marketing?

If you’ve never heard of affiliate marketing, it’s an advertising model where an affiliate earns a commission for marketing another person’s product.

For example, you ask other people to sell your online course for you, and in exchange, you offer them a commission on every sale they make. It works well when you partner with other companies whose audience consists of the people your online course is designed for.

Hi, lovely!

I’m Alethea & welcome to CloudXS Digital! We help coaches, consultants and service providers grow their impact online with beautiful, conversional, student focused online courses. We share lots of tips and tricks on our blog to help you get started with your online course. You can learn more about working with us to build your online course here.

Online Courses


Digital Marketing


How do you create an affiliate marketing program for an online course?

There are many ways you can create an affiliate marketing program for an online course. You only need to Google ‘affiliate marketing programs’ to see how many are out there.

But let’s chat about using Thinkific (as you should be – it’s the best!). This online course platform has an inbuilt affiliate marketing program you can use.

(Side note example – that link to Thinkific is an affiliate link. If you use that link to sign up, I receive a small commission for leading you to their website).

The Thinkific affiliate marketing program is super easy to set up, and you can create an affiliate program within minutes.

  • You can assign any user on your Thinkific account to the ‘Affiliate’ role on any paid Thinkific plan
  • Your affiliate will have their own unique set of links they can use to direct traffic to your online course landing page
  • Cookies will track if that person buys your online course and will record where they came from (i.e. your affiliate)
  • Your affiliate will then receive your agreed commission

What do successful online course affiliate marketing programs need?

Here are the top 5 things your online course affiliate marketing program should include:

  1. An agreed commission percentage

As a general rule, commissions on affiliate programs are usually between 10-30%, with 20% being the average. You would work this out depending on the cost of your online course and what you can afford to pay out (and still make enough money to cover your costs).

Think of the commission payment as a form of advertising – what’s that worth to you?


  1. A legal agreement

You need to ensure that you, and the other party, are both covered legally should something happen with your affiliate payments. The last thing you want is your affiliate marketing program to cost you more than you earn!

I highly recommend you put this affiliate marketing program agreement from Off Risk Legal Templates in place. Plus I’ve secured you a 10% discount if you use the code: Cloudxs10. 


  1. A program info guide

Create a program guide (downloadable PDF) which includes information about your online course and your business, and who your course is for. Include what affiliates will receive in terms of an affiliate link, commission amount, a discount code (if applicable) and how and when payments will be made to them.

Remember to include what happens during any refund periods (e.g. no affiliate payments are made until after the refund period has lapsed).


  1. How to access the affiliate dashboard

Your affiliate marketing program should have a dashboard where your affiliate can check on sales and payments. You could include this information as part of your info guide or send them a welcome email with this information once they’ve signed up to become an affiliate.


  1. Provide images for use

Even though your affiliates are a third party advertising your online course, you want to ensure they’re using your branding and portraying your business as you would. The best way to stay on brand is to give your affiliates promotional images they can use.

You can also provide your affiliates with suggestions for email marketing and social media marketing.


Does affiliate marketing work if you’ve got more than one online course?

Yes, of course! The more, the merrier.

If you’ve got multiple courses, you need to set up affiliate links for each course or think about creating bundle packages. It means you’ll have to provide your affiliates with multiple links, social media images and copy for email marketing or social posts (if you’re providing that).

It’s up to your affiliates how and when they’ll promote your courses; however, you could guide them by creating suggested schedules.

If your online course has specific start dates, you’ll also need to make this clear to your affiliates so they advertise that course at the right time.


Where do you find affiliates for your online course?

It’s always best that your affiliates are other businesses with a similar audience to yours. For example, it’s no use if your affiliate’s audience is full of teenagers and your online course is ‘How to apply makeup to ageing skin’. You wouldn’t make any sales!

Reach out and invite those with a similar audience:

  • Colleagues
  • Business friends
  • Coaches
  • Clients

Once your affiliates promote your online course to their audience, you instantly get more eyes on your sales page and hopefully get more sales through the door.

Need help with affiliate marketing for your online course?

As Thinkific experts, we’re here to help you build, promote and sell your online course. Please get in touch if you’d like a hand in getting your affiliate marketing program set up within Thinkific.

You’ve gone to the effort of sharing your knowledge in the form of an online course, so now it’s time to up your marketing game and get others doing the selling for you!

Alethea Tuitahi

Alethea Tuitahi

Online Course Designer & Founder


Alethea specialises in creating beautiful, conversional, student focusd online courses. Allowing course creators to deliver their course or program to the world… sans tech frustrations and problems. Need help building your online course? As a Thinkific specialist, Alethea is here to help! Book in a free call here.

Disclosure: Some of the links provided in this blog are affiliate links. I only promote services that I personally use and love. I will be paid a small commission if you use this link to make a purchase.

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