Product Release: New Features for Affiliates and School Owners

Laurence Bradford

| Dec 14, 2017

A fun fact about the Teachable Team? We love to be flies on the wall and see what real Teachable users are asking for. Based on your feedback, one thing is abundantly clear: our affiliate features were long overdue for a much-needed facelift.  

That’s why I’m so excited to announce that this week, we launched new and improved affiliate features for school owners. 

In case you’re not familiar with affiliate marketing, or you haven’t implemented it in your course business yet, here’s how it works: 

Affiliate marketing means leveraging other people (affiliates) to drive sales for your product. For Teachable school owners, that means getting someone else to promote your courses for you. They could do this by featuring your product in emails, webinars, blog posts, etc., and directing their audience to sign up with a special link. In exchange, those affiliates will earn a commission, or percentage of the sale, for every new sale they refer. It’s a win-win. 

Many of our top-performing school owners use affiliate marketing to drive more course sales. Schools like: Making Sense of Cents, Self Publishing Formula, and Kinobody. 

These features are available to all Teachable instructors on Basic plans and up.

The updates we made are designed to help you sell your courses more effectively through affiliate marketing. Since the inception of affiliate features for schools on Teachable, affiliates have brought in over $8.3 million in sales. In November 2017 alone, $564,665 in transactions via Teachable can be attributed to affiliate-driven sales. 

In other words? Taking advantage of the affiliate features and running your own affiliate program is kind of a big deal. 

FYI: The term “affiliate” means 2 different things at Teachable!  

  1. You can get affiliates to promote your courses and earn you both revenue (that’s what this post is about). 
  2. You can be an affiliate for Teachable, and promote the Teachable platform to your following. It’s perfect for anyone who has an audience that might be interested in the Teachable platform.  

In this post, we’re only talking about the first one—using affiliates to promote your Teachable courses. But if you’d like to be an affiliate for Teachable, check it out here:

Back to the update! 

What’s included in the affiliate update release 


Our existing affiliate-related features were good, but we wanted to make them great. Here’s what you can do because of this release:  

  • Course-specific permissions for affiliates: Choose which courses your affiliates can promote. 
  • External link generator for affiliates: Create links for affiliates outside of Teachable. 
  • Custom cookie length setting: Set how long an affiliate's cookie remains active after a user clicks their affiliate link. 
  • Basic analytics for owners & affiliates: View analytics for affiliates and school owners. 
  • Improved affiliate dashboard & a new FAQs page: Keep your affiliates informed.  

These features are available to all Teachable instructors on Basic plans and up. 

Let’s break these down. 

Course-specific permissions for affiliates 

Teachable school owners can now select which courses an affiliate can earn commissions on. This was one of the most requested improvements from school owners. 

Previously, once an affiliate had a referral link from your school, they would earn credit every time they referred a customer to the school, no matter what course they purchased. So maybe an affiliate promoted your lowest value course, but their referral stumbled upon your premium offering. 

With course-specific commission settings, you can now select which courses an affiliate can promote and actually earn a commission, or percentage of your course sale. This is especially beneficial to instructors who have higher-priced courses with a one-on-one component, and don’t want affiliates to earn commission on every course in their school.


External link generator for affiliates 

Teachable makes creating beautiful sales pages easy, but what if you’ve chosen to host a sales page on your own website? Now, you can generate external affiliate links for those pages, even though they don’t live on Teachable. This was another common request we received from school owners.

What does this mean for you? Affiliates can now create tracking links for your non-Teachable web pages that still come into play with your business. For instance, a lead magnet hosted on LeadPages, or a webinar signup URL that is hosted off Teachable. If you use sites and pages outside of Teachable to promote your course, you can still give affiliates credit for making referrals from those domains. This allows more flexibility in deciding how to market your online course. 

link generator.png

Custom cookie length setting 

In the past, once an affiliate had a referral link for your school, they could get credit for selling one of your courses for a full year after the link was clicked through. That’s because their “cookie period” was automatically set to 365 days. But what if you want to control that window? 

Now, you can limit your affiliates to a certain timeframe for promoting and getting credit for a sale, by setting the cookie period anywhere between 1–365 days. 

What does this mean for you? You now have control over cookie periods for your affiliates. You can set affiliate links to stay valid for just a few weeks or for a full year, whatever works for your business.


Basic analytics for owners & affiliates 

With this update, your affiliates now have access to a dashboard that shows their earnings and revenue generated over the last 7 days, 30 days, and all time. 

This means your affiliates will have more insight into how well their promotion efforts are working. They’ll be able to see what works and what doesn’t, and refine their marketing strategies to drive more sales, so everyone wins. 

As a school owner, you can see your affiliates’ all-time earnings, and check exactly how much each affiliate has earned selling your courses. 


Improved affiliate dashboard & a new FAQs page 

Let’s face it: when you start an affiliate marketing relationship with someone, there are a lot of minor details to discuss. We put the most common topics in a new FAQs page, so you don’t have to answer the same questions over and over again. That means you spend less time worrying about the logistics, and your affiliates get a more intuitive experience. 

Along with adding FAQs, we made it easy for affiliates to find important information. In addition to the analytics dashboard for viewing revenue and earnings, they can also generate their own tracking links and see which courses they can earn a commission on (if a school owner specified that they can only earn credit on specific courses).


These features are available to all Teachable instructors on Basic plans and up.

Why use the affiliate program? 

We are so excited to share this news with you. But why is it such a big deal for online course instructors?


Affiliate marketing saves you time 

Most marketing partnerships require a huge time commitment, but using affiliates is the easiest, lowest effort way to make more sales. When your affiliates promote your product, your course gets exposure to new audiences—in other words, you let others do the hard work for you in exchange for a profit share. 

Creating better course content takes time. So does orchestrating a joint venture webinar or another partnership. With affiliate marketing, you can have any number of affiliates promoting your products at once, without doing extra work. In fact, all you need to do to get your affiliates set up is provide them with assets for promoting your products, like copy and language, signup links, any visuals you’d like to provide, and other contextual information. You can set up those assets once and then distribute them to all your affiliates. 

Affiliate marketing is mutually beneficial 

In an affiliate relationship, everyone wins. As a course creator, you earn more because your course is being put in front of an audience that may have otherwise never seen your offerings, and your affiliate gets a kickback from every sale they refer. Your affiliates will get as much out of the relationship as they put into it, so they’ll be highly motivated to do a great job promoting your course so they can earn more. 

Affiliate marketing is scalable 

Affiliate sales act as passive income for instructors: Other people sell your course for you, so you can focus your energy on creating new products, bigger projects, or just relaxing after a big launch. 

You don’t need to do extra work to add more affiliates, sell more courses, and earn more revenue, which makes it a scalable model for growing your online business. 

There’s data to back it up


Affiliate marketing is a proven strategy that already works for Teachable instructors. In November 2017, 12.2% of Teachable schools with at least one sale have generated one or more sales via their affiliate program. With the improvements to our affiliate features, we anticipate that number to skyrocket as more instructors see results from affiliate marketing. 

I could give you anecdotes on why utilizing our affiliate features means good things for your business, but instead let’s go straight to the data. 

Shout out to Ben from Teachable for pulling these numbers for us:  

  1. We found that affiliates can boost product sales by 30–50% (depending on the price of the product). So if you were going to sell 100 courses on your own, by utilizing affiliate marketing you could increase your sales to 150 sales. 
  2. We found that schools using affiliates had up to a 40% increase in all-time school revenue (again, it varied greatly depending on the price of the products they were selling). I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a long list of things I could do with a 40% bump in my income.  

These affiliate updates are good news for Teachable instructors because it means you don’t need to look outside of Teachable or use an external affiliate program to utilize affiliate marketing. Some affiliate tools can cost up to $300 per month. With Teachable, it’s all included in your monthly or annual payment. 

How to use the new features 

Let's take a closer look at the updates. 

How to enable course-specific permissions for affiliates 

By nature, an affiliate relationship means you’re paying your affiliates a portion of any sale they refer. When it comes to parting with your income, we want you to have complete control. You might not want to share affiliate commission on every course - what if one of your courses is super premium and involves 1-on-1 coaching?? We totally get it! 

To take advantage of course restrictions for your affiliates, go to Users > User > Affiliate. Within Course Restrictions, toggle Course Restrictions to be on.


You can then enable commissions on select courses, as it shows below.


This affiliate would now only receive commissions on How to Make Ice Cream! And Whipped Cream 101

And your affiliates will be able to see on their dashboard which of your courses they can earn affiliate commission on.


How to change the cookie period for an affiliate 

In the past, affiliates received credit for selling your course for a full year after their affiliate link was visited because their “cookie period” was automatically set to 365 days. Now, you can limit your affiliates to a certain timeframe for promoting and getting credit for a sale, by setting the cookie period anywhere between 1–365 days. 

These features are available to all Teachable instructors on Basic plans and up.

To do this, go to Settings > General > Affiliates within your admin area. Set the number of days you wish the cookie period to last.

custom cookie length.gif

Please note that the set affiliate cookie period is applicable only to students who have not signed up to the school yet. After student enrollment occurs, affiliate tracking is handled differently. Learn more here. 

How to generate an external link 

This allows affiliates to create affiliate tracking URLs on custom domains, off their Teachable domain. This is helpful if you have assets on other websites, like a WordPress blog, LeadPages, Instapage, a webinar provider, etc. 

To allow affiliates to use the custom link generator, you must first enable it to be on for them inside Settings > General > Affiliates, as shown below.


As an owner, that is all you have to do to turn on the link generator for affiliates. Now, inside the affiliate dashboard, your affiliates will be able to generate their own tracking links with any domain.


This special URL is a redirect. Meaning it will take someone to the appropriate final destination—but first passes through an affiliate cookie for tracking any sales that may occur later. 

We recommend providing your affiliate(s) with URLs they can turn into affiliate tracking links to share with their audience. 

How to interpret analytics in the affiliate dashboard 

In the past, it wasn’t so simple for affiliates to see how much they earned. If an affiliate wanted to see their all-time commissions and referrals, they would have to export their transactions into a CSV file and run a SUM calculation. Yikes. 

In this release we are taking steps in the right direction by making it easy for affiliates to see selling information immediately upon login, in their dashboard. 


Instead of fumbling in a spreadsheet, an affiliate can see how much they have earned in commissions and driven in course sales in the last 7 days, 30 days, and for all time. 

We also added similar information for school owners about a particular affiliate’s performance. You can find it in Users > User > Information > Stats. 

You can still find individual affiliate transaction information inside Transactions > History by using the Affiliate filter, and exporting it accordingly. 


We are still working towards improving reporting and analytics on Teachable as a whole, and especially related to affiliates. We know this is an area for improvement, and something we hope to build upon further in 2018 and beyond. 

Where to find the new FAQs and updated affiliate dashboard 

We redesigned the affiliate dashboard and FAQ section to save you and your affiliates time When affiliates log in, they can see:  

  • Which courses they are eligible to earn commission on 
  • The custom link-generator 
  • Their analytics  

We also added a brand new FAQ screen for affiliates in their affiliate admin area.


Here affiliates can easily find answers to common questions about how the affiliate program works. It includes information on attribution, payouts, setting notifications, and generating affiliate tracking links. 

These features are available to all Teachable instructors on Basic plans and up.

What’s coming next 

We’ve come a long way since first introducing affiliate features for school owners to leverage within the product. But we have more exciting changes on our roadmap! 

Over the coming months we’ll be improving the way school owners can add and manage users across the board—including affiliates. We’ll also continue to build upon improved reporting for school owners. And we hope to add better analytics for both affiliates and owners, like click tracking. 

How to start taking advantage of the affiliate program


It’s easy to set up affiliates within your school. (Remember: you’ll need to be on a Basic plan or above to take advantage of affiliate features!) 

When it comes to adding a new affiliate, you’ll need to make sure they’re added to your site as a User. Unless you’re on a Business plan and have bulk importing capabilities, this means that the user must sign up for your school first. 

Once the person you’d like to make an affiliate is a user on your school, inside your admin area, click “Users” on the sidebar. Then select this User from the table that you’d like to make an affiliate. 

affiliate example.png

Once you’ve clicked into their profile, select Affiliate from the submenu. All that’s left to do is activate them as an affiliate! From there, you can adjust their commission rate (shown below) and select whether they can earn attribution for all courses or just select ones. 

select affilates.png

For more information on how to get started with the Teachable affiliate program, check out this guide. 

Are you utilizing affiliates in your online business? What do you think of our updates? And more importantly: what would you like to see next? Let us know in the comments!

Laurence Bradford is an Associate Product Manager at Teachable. Outside of Teachable, Laurence manages, a blog for people teaching themselves how to code.