How to Promote an Online Course with Affiliate Marketing?

Your online course might be the best in your niche, but it is only worthwhile if you can promote it. Considering the fierce competition, you are going to face in the industry, bringing your brand name to the front is very important, but it is going to cost you a fortune. 

If you are looking for how to promote your online course and increase sales, it is going to be an expensive affair. But not all course creators have an extensive budget to splurge on paid marketing. 

This is where you must play smart by leveraging the promotion techniques that are cost-efficient and performs best. There are marketing strategies that aren’t costly but still hold the power to bring you more course sales. 

Yes, we are going to talk about using affiliate marketing for online courses.

Are you creating your online course marketing plan, and is affiliate marketing on your list?

You are about to discover one of the most powerful ways to grow your online course sale. Keep reading.

What is Online Course Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is one of the world’s popular marketing strategies to generate passive earnings over the Internet, and you can apply it when selling online courses as well.

So what is affiliate marketing, especially when you are looking for how to promote your online course?

Affiliate marketing is a promotion strategy where a business rewards a website for each customer listed through promotions on the site with a fee.

The affiliate marketing industry is set to grow to approximately $15.7 billion by 2024

How do you earn by implementing affiliate marketing in your courses? When the clients who purchase your online courses purchase from a business, you get an incentive or a sales commission. 

In this model, affiliates typically receive a unique affiliate link or tracking code that they can share with the prospects through different channels like websites, social channels, or even through email marketing.

When a user clicks the link and sign up for the online course or buys a product, the affiliate gets a share of the same.

Examples of Affiliate Marketing in Online Courses

Affiliate marketing has a long history in both the non-digital and digital space. Let’s take the example of insurance representatives who used to sell insurance policies of popular companies. They receive a commission from the insurance company whenever they sell insurance to someone. 

Affiliate marketing is exactly the same, except that the sales occur online. And there is no limit to the number of products you can sell as an affiliate.

What products can you sell on your online courses through affiliate marketing?

When it comes to affiliate marketing for online courses, whatever can be sold can serve as an affiliate product. 

Here are some ideas:

  • You can be an Amazon affiliate and sell Amazon products related to the topic your online course is made and earn a percentage of the sale. 
  • Get your students to promote your online course to get new students to buy your course.
  • Experts related to the online course you are selling can be ideal affiliates to promote your online course.

And now, let’s see some examples of affiliate marketing from course-selling websites

Affiliate marketing program of Skillshare

As you might be familiar, Skillshare is a popular course-selling platform hosting an extensive range of online courses on various topics.

Many social media personalities leverage the affiliate program of Skillshare, and it comes with both free trial signups and paid subscriptions.

Affiliate marketing program of Udemy

Udemy, as you know, is a leading destination for online course creators to sell their courses and monetize their knowledge. Udemy welcomes affiliate partners to promote products that create new possibilities everywhere.

Affiliate program of Coursera

Coursera’s affiliate program attracts many users worldwide as it offers attractive offers like 10% to 45% commission with many bonuses for best performance.

By hosting a variety of online courses around different topics, affiliates can track the traffic they send to the website, helping them to understand the performance of their campaigns.

Steps on How to Promote an Online Course with Affiliate Marketing

Promoting your online course through affiliate marketing can be an effective way to reach a wider audience and generate more sales.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to promote an online course using affiliate marketing:

Find affiliates

Start recruiting affiliates for your online course marketing activities by reaching out to relevant individuals, bloggers, influencers, and website owners who have an audience that aligns with your target market. You can also use affiliate networks to find affiliates interested in promoting educational products. Provide them with all the necessary information about your course and the benefits of joining your affiliate program.

Here are some simple tips for finding the right online course affiliates.

  • Search and find for content creators around your subject area. 
  • Look for affiliates in niche social channels related to your online course topic.
  • Open an application on your website inviting affiliates. 

Define attractive commission rates

When creating your online course marketing plan, you need to decide how much you should pay your affiliates. Finding the right affiliate marketing commission rate is a balancing act. If the commission you set is too low, it could be difficult to get affiliates, and if it’s high, it could eat up your profits. 

Here is how you can set the right affiliate commission rate:

Choose the basic type of affiliate commission

Choosing the type of reward for your course promotion is a key decision when implementing affiliate marketing in online courses. Cash payments are enticing rewards as it helps people earn a passive income. But in your case, you can offer people course incentives or more depending on your services. 

After choosing the reward, you must choose whether you want to offer it as a flat rate or percentage based. Flat rate commissions are pre-set rates where you offer fixed amount commissions. This works if you sell a few specific products.

Percentage commissions are most common in affiliate programs, and the average commission rates range between 5% to 30%. This works great if you sell various products, motivating affiliates to market them with higher order value.

Analyze your competitor’s commission rates

While conducting market research as a part of your background work, list some of your direct competitors who are running affiliate campaigns.  

See what they are offering and how they structure their affiliate commissions. 

You may ask yourself the following questions to get clarity:

  • What actions trigger payouts to affiliate commissions? Is it a lead, a sale or something else?
  • Do they offer bonuses for top-performing affiliates?
  • Are their affiliate commissions a set amount or a percentage of the sale?
  • Do they provide tired affiliate commissions?

Choose whether you will offer commission bonuses

Commission bonuses are an excellent way to reward top affiliates and give a boost to your affiliate programs. Consider offering commission bonuses or valuable gifts to affiliates who meet revenue goals. You can also provide a tiered commission structure where people who earn a certain commission amount unlock a higher commission rate.

Use affiliate software to set up your affiliate program

Affiliate software makes it easy for partners and affiliates to track the campaigns and understand what’s happening with their referrals.

It makes your job easier by helping you:

  • Track affiliate sales and have control over affiliate data.
  • Customize and run your affiliate program.

Create affiliate marketing materials

Provide your affiliates with promotional materials they can use to promote your course effectively. This can include banners, graphics, email templates, social media posts, and pre-written promotional content. Ensure these materials highlight your course’s key benefits and features and include unique affiliate tracking links.

Monitor affiliate performance

Use your affiliate marketing platform or tracking software to monitor the performance of your affiliates. Track metrics such as clicks, conversions, and sales generated by each affiliate. This data will help you identify your top-performing affiliates and optimize your marketing efforts accordingly.

Run targeted campaigns

Collaborate with your affiliates to run targeted campaigns such as email marketing, social media promotions, webinars, or joint ventures. These campaigns can help generate buzz, create urgency, and drive conversions. Provide your affiliates with specific campaign materials and ensure they are properly incentivized to participate.


Building a successful affiliate marketing program takes time and effort. Building relationships with your affiliates, offering attractive incentives, and providing ongoing support is crucial for long-term success. 

To keep their affiliates truly motivated, you will have to pay out commissions in a timely manner regardless of the rate and conditions you set.

By leveraging affiliate marketing, you can expand the reach of your online course and drive more sales from a diverse range of promotional channels.

Start leveraging affiliate marketing in online courses to hike your sales effectively!

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