Fantasy Affiliate Programs

Image Credit: Andrew Magill

Image Credit: Andrew Magill

If you love fantasy sports but aren’t interested in grinding a profit as a player, there’s another way to make money. It’s done by joining the other side of the fantasy game as an advertiser. Send players to fantasy sites and get paid. It’s as simple as that.

One of the great things about getting started in this business is that it doesn’t come with significant startup costs. You can buy a website hosting package and your own .com for as little as $100. Some of the more creative out there can get started without investing anything at all. There are no buildings to lease, employees to hire or lawyers to retain.

I can tell you from experience, you do NOT need a special set of skills to get started. My first affiliate website was in the poker industry and it was an ugly, unfocused mess but I posted interesting articles, people seemed to like what I had to say and I made a little money with it. I’ve learned a lot since then, but I was definitely no expert by any stretch. If I was able to turn it into a career, you can too.

Best Fantasy Affiliate Programs:

Affiliate ProgramCommissions for YouSign Up At:
Up to 30% of net revenue for all referrals
-and-
Additional commissions paid for your referrals' referrals
www.fantasydraft.com
$25 to $35 per signup
-or-
25% to 35% of net revenue for all referrals
www.fanduel.com
15% to 25% of net revenue for all referrals
-and-
40% for first 30 days of each new referral
www.draftkings.com

Actually, there is one special skill you need: perseverance. Success does not come overnight to fantasy affiliates. You’re going to have to put in work, learn new skills, try new things, fail, succeed and keep going. If that doesn’t sound too overwhelming (it’s really not that bad), this just might be for you.

My purpose with this page is to give you a general overview of how fantasy affiliate programs work and then tell you the good and bad points. I think being an affiliate is an awesome thing, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading these words. However, there are some legitimate downsides that you should consider before you quit your day job.

How Fantasy Affiliate Programs Work

The basic idea behind any affiliate program is to give affiliates (that would be you) money in return for referring paying customers to a product or service. In this case, we’re talking about online fantasy sites. Every time you send someone to a fantasy site and that person becomes a real money player, you earn a referral fee.

Referring People

Affiliates make money by referring people to specific fantasy sites. All the major fantasy sites out there have affiliate programs that allow you to sign up for a free account and get to work. Once you have an account, you can log in any time to see your unique affiliate link. This is the link you will give to other people whenever you want to refer people to that specific fantasy site.

The majority of fantasy affiliates refer people by setting up their own websites and writing about fantasy issues. Some sites focus on strategy, others on reviews and so on. Whenever you feel like recommending a certain fantasy site, you insert your unique link and every person who clicks on that link is tagged as having come from you. Those people are your referrals.

Making Money

Fantasy affiliate programs generally come in two flavors: CPA and revenue share. In a CPA (cost per action) model, you are paid a flat fee every time you send a real money player. In a revenue share model, you get paid a percentage of whatever that person earns for the fantasy site. There are pros and cons to both.

The advantage of the CPA model is that your earnings start piling up quickly. If you refer 10 people in your first month at $25 a person, that’s a quick $250. The downside is that you miss out on a lot of potential profit from the people who end up sticking around and becoming high volume players.

The revenue share model gives you a percentage of each referral’s rake for life. The percentage varies from program to program and on how “big” of an affiliate you are, but it generally falls in the 20-35% range. If you refer someone who eventually becomes a serious grinder, that referral might be worth several thousand dollars in lifetime earnings.

There are two downsides to the revenue share model. One is that it takes a lot longer to build a pipeline of players and start earning serious money. The other is that a lot of people just sign up, play a few games and leave and end up being worth just a couple bucks to you.

My preference is the revenue share model. It does take longer before you start earning impressive money, but it’s not like it costs much to run a fantasy website anyways. I’d rather take the long game approach and try to amass a stable of valuable players. Build up a revenue share model and you have passive income that you can rely on from month to month.

What’s Great About Being a Fantasy Affiliate

This is where I sell you on the idea of becoming a fantasy affiliate. The reality is that I have no reason to try and sell you on the idea other than I think it’s awesome and would like to share the idea with others. There are many upsides to being an affiliate for daily fantasy sports sites.

Unlimited Earnings

Fantasy sites don’t mind paying out lots of money to successful affiliates. If you’re successful, it means you’re sending lots of real money players to that site and helping it make a lot of money it wouldn’t have made otherwise. There’s no limit whatsoever to how much money you can make.

Most people start out slow and give up before they reach the big leagues, but it’s possible to make gobs of money as an affiliate. You don’t get paid a flat salary like people who work in normal jobs. You get paid based on your results. The more players you send, the more money you make.

Lifetime Commissions

If you go with a revenue share deal, you earn commission for the lifetime of your referrals. Most referrals are casual players, but you will capture the occasional long term grinder. A single referral can earn you money for months and even years in some cases.

And if you ever move on to something else, you will continue earning money off past referrals through no effort of your own. Over time, earnings will drop off as even your most loyal referrals move on to other things. But as long as your old referrals remain active, you continue earning.

Passive Income

Passive income is the best type of income. Once you have a website that earns referrals, your website works 24/7 even while you’re gone. I’m at the point now where I earn money while I’m sleeping, while I’m eating lunch and while I’m on vacation. You do need to maintain your business, but you’re no longer paid strictly for your time like you are at most jobs. This is awesome.

That’s the other nice thing about passive income – you don’t have to trade your time for money. It’s easier to increase your income when you don’t have to trade each hour for pay. Your passive income stream remains relatively steady while you work on other things.

Be Your Own Boss

It’s a great feeling to wake up in the morning and not have to clock in, attend useless meetings and deal with frustrating middle management types. Your destiny is in your own hands. You make your own decisions, plot your own path and build your business however you want.

If you get sick, you don’t have to feel bad about calling in. If your girlfriend or a family member has an emergency, you can tend to them without asking for time off. You can go on vacations when you want, take breaks when you need them and save a load of gas money not having to drive to the office every morning.

Fantasy Sports is Legal in the United States

Online fantasy is one of the few forms of real money gaming that is 100% legal in the United States (outside a few states where the law isn’t clear). You can run this business in the open, get a business checking account without answering awkward questions and be paid via PayPal, electronic bank transfer or paper check.

This may not sound like a big deal, but it’s huge for affiliates who know what it’s like to deal with online gambling and poker. There are no questions about the legality of what you do.

Get In Early

We’re in the middle of a boom phase in online fantasy here in the United States. Sites like FanDuel and DraftKings are approaching billion dollar valuations after having been worth a fraction of that just a few years ago. The time to get in on the business is right now.

Getting in early gives you the opportunity to grow with the industry. The Fantasy Sports Trade Association estimates that 41.5 million people play traditional year-long fantasy leagues every year in the US alone. There are a lot of people out there who understand fantasy sports but haven’t yet made the switch to online fantasy. The opportunity is huge.

What’s Not so Great

Now that I’ve built up the whole idea of being a fantasy sports affiliate, it’s time to throw a little cold water on the dream. Yes, there are some drawbacks to being an affiliate. I don’t think these drawbacks are serious enough to make it a bad deal, but they are worth knowing so that you go in with realistic expectations and avoid any nasty surprises.

It’s Hard Work

There’s no way around it. Being a successful fantasy affiliate requires hard work and dedication. It’s just like starting any other business. You don’t have a support structure like you would at a normal job. Once you make the decision to enter the business… that’s it. Nothing suddenly happens. There’s nobody there to give you direction or tell you where to start. It’s all on you.

You’re going to have to figure out how to set up your website, how to write articles that people find interesting and how to run a successful advertising campaign. On a positive note, none of these things is actually all that difficult on its own. Google will take you a long ways. The real hard work comes later when you already know all the basics and realize that the rest of your day will consist of grinding it out in front of the computer.

The good news is that I can tell you this is the most rewarding hard work you’ll ever do. It is immensely satisfying to bust your tail all day on a project that is 100% yours and will benefit you. You’re not filling out TPS reports and answering phone calls just to fund your boss’s next vacation. Every single thing you do benefits you.

There Are No Guarantees

The greatest benefit to receiving a flat salary at a regular job is that it’s pretty reliable. You know exactly how much you’re going to be paid, when you’ll be paid and can plan accordingly. When you’re self-employed, nobody sends you a handy little paycheck every two weeks. You only earn what you produce. Sometimes you eat steak for dinner and others you microwave yet another package of ramen noodles.

Stiff Competition

Sometimes you can slack off at a normal job and get away with it. This is not the case when it comes to affiliating for goods and services online. Even though fantasy is in the middle of a growth phase right now, a lot of people are wising up to the opportunity. You’re going to have to work hard and be unique to out-compete the competition and carve out a lucrative niche for yourself.

You’re at the Mercy of Affiliate Programs

This is perhaps the greatest downside of all in any affiliate business. If an affiliate program suddenly changes its terms or shuts down, there’s little recourse available to you. You just have to take the hit and find a new partner. This shouldn’t be a problem if you stick with established, reputable companies but it can be an issue if you find yourself working with smaller, lesser-known startups.

How to Get Started

So, you’ve read through everything so far and my list of cons didn’t scare you off. Excellent. Now it’s time to get started. I don’t intend this to be a comprehensive guide that covers every single thing you need to know. I’ll leave it to Google to fill in the thousand details associated with setting up a website, writing useful content and all that other good stuff.

This section will cover the very basics to at least give you some sort of starting point and an idea of how this goes. Also know that what I explain next is only one of the many ways to get involved in the business. Other people may have other methods. This is what I know.

1. Sign up for a couple of affiliate programs

This is the easy part. It’s free to join an affiliate program and you don’t need to pass any tests to be qualified. All you need to do is visit a couple of your favorite fantasy sports sites and look for the little “affiliates” link somewhere on the front page.

Here are a few that I recommend:

FanDuel and DraftKings are two solid options for the new affiliate. These are the two largest fantasy sites on the market. They have the most name recognition and both are running major advertising campaigns on TV, radio and the web. You won’t find it too hard to sell prospective players on either site.

FantasyDraft.com has a unique referral program that allows you to not only refer players, but also other affiliates down through several levels of referrals. Whenever you convince someone to sign up under you at FantasyDraft, you also earn a small share of that person’s referrals.

Yes, those are my my referral links above. If you’ve found this guide useful, use my link to visit any of those affiliate programs and I’ll get credit for referring you as an affiliate. Doing so will not cut into your earnings in any way.

As a side note, take a look at how I’ve written this guide. This page serves as an example of what you might one day do as an affiliate. You write useful content, give people information they can use and insert your own affiliate links when appropriate. Your reader gets something useful and you get to put your link in front of people.

2. Get Your Links

Log in to your affiliate account at any of the fantasy sites you signed up for and look for your unique tracking links. These are the links that you will put in front of other people. Whenever someone clicks on one of your links, you get credit for sending that player.

3. Set Up a Website

Setting up a website is just one of the many ways to put your affiliate link in front of other people. There are other ways to do this (refer people via e-mail, share your link with your real-world fantasy league – get creative), but this is how I do it.

Setting up and maintaining a website is super easy these days. All you need is a hosting account from a reputable host. My personal favorite is BlueHost.com. They will give you a year of hosting a free domain name of your choice.

Your domain name is the address people will type into the browser to visit your website. You can make up any domain name you want as long as someone else hasn’t already registered that name. For example, you could register BobsFantasyWebsite.com and use that. Don’t stress too much over this part. Just pick something that’s somewhat descriptive and memorable.

You’ll be asked to choose a domain name during the signup phase at BlueHost. After you pick your brand new .com and pay for the hosting, you’re the proud new owner of your very own .com website. This is always a cool feeling the first time around.

My next piece of advice is to install WordPress on your website. WordPress is a free content management system that makes it super easy to make your website look nice, publish content and do other things. Just log in to your BlueHost account and visit the Control Panel, look for the “WordPress” icon. It takes about two clicks to install WordPress.

4. Publish High Quality Content

After you have your own .com complete with WordPress, it’s time to get to work. This is the hardest part of all. Spend a little time, write an introduction and then start publishing content. WordPress is nice because you can just type things in on the backend and they’ll appear on your website.

Publishing content is how you get noticed, connect with your readers and start earning referrals. Let’s say you decide to start with a basic review of FanDuel. In that case, you would write about your experience and opinion of FanDuel. Insert your unique affiliate link somewhere in the content and tell people to visit FanDuel by clicking on that link.

The possibilities here are endless, and that’s what makes it feel overwhelming at first. The best thing I can tell you is to just start writing and publishing stuff. Write whatever you want about fantasy sports and stick in the occasional referral link. Connect with your readers, give them useful or entertaining content and be yourself.

Your ultimate goal may be to general referrals for your affiliate program, but your primary goal with content is to give readers a reason to visit you. Talk strategy, write reviews, entertain and inform. The main thing is to just start writing. Your writing and ability to come up with topic ideas will improve with practice.

5. Use Google

I’ve glossed over many small details, but that’s only because I have complete faith in your ability to figure this all out. Google is an awesome resource so use it. Don’t understand something I said earlier? Google it. Having problems installing WordPress? Google it. I have found that there aren’t very many questions that can’t be answered with a quick search.

Now it’s time to set you free. Don’t worry if you still have a million questions. That’s completely normal – it just means you’re exactly where you should be at this early stage. The best thing you can do is just get started. Play around with ideas, sign up for a couple of affiliate accounts and register for a hosting account somewhere. Getting your hands dirty is the best way to learn the ropes. Don’t worry, you won’t break the internet.