How to Create a Referral Program in WordPress?

Jeniffer| 2018-05-25 SEO, Tutorials, WordPress Comments( 2 )

We have ever talked about Affiliate marketing and our readers could understand the benefit of it. In this post, we will talk about the detailed practice that is affiliate program or here in this guide we called referral program. It is really a good method to engage more people to push your products to a wider range of audience. For beginners, we will introduce an easy way to start a referral program on your WordPress site so as to attract more customers and increase sales.

Why We Use AffiliateWP to Create A Referral Program in WordPress?

In our practice, we will take AffiliateWP as our tool to start the referral program instance in WordPress. If you have to know why we use it, our answer is AffiliateWP is one of the best WordPress plugins for affiliate management. In below, we will make two lists to display the plugin’s advantages and disadvantages of using the plugin to create your referral program.


  • AffiliateWP is extremely easy-to-use and can easily blend in your WordPress websites just as a native application;
  • AffiliateWP regularly starts at $99 per year for a lifetime license, meaning this is an cost-effective tool;
  • AffiliateWP integrates many eCommerce platforms, such as WooCommerce stores, PayPal, Stripe, and Easy Digital Downloads;
  • AffiliateWP has many addons ranging from free ones to paid and 3rd-party addons, which can help you to easily extend it;
  • AffiliateWP can offer you as well as your partners the real-time affiliate tracking along with detailed reports.


  • Different from affiliate networks that already have plenty of affiliate marketers looking for services or products to promote, AffiliateWP plugin has limited reaches;
  • AffiliateWP does not has default fraud detection functionality that affiliate networks have;
  • AffiliateWP does not include automatic payout process, thus you have to send payments manually per month;
  • AddiliateWP has no system for calculating taxes or 1099 forms for payout, meaning you will need to do it by yourself
  • For your affiliate partners, AffiliateWP does not offer the convenience for viewing their reports, and they have to setup their account and login for these reports.

Of course, there are many other options that you can choose from. It’s okay, but in our instance, we will use AffiliateWP to start. In below, we will show you how to create a referral program in WordPress with AffiliateWP.

Create a Referral Program in WordPress with AffiliateWP

In order to use AffiliateWP, you need to install AffiliateWP and activate it. Upon activation, simply visit “Affiliates” >> “Settings” page on which you will be required to enter the license key. The license key can be found from your AffiliateWP account on the plugin site. 

After the license key activation, you need choose a page for the usage of Affiliate Area. Here you will have two options: the one AffiliateWP can automatically create an Affiliate Area page for you, and the other is that you choose one from here to be different.

Then, select a page for Terms of Service. If you have no idea, you can refer to other websites’ affiliate program and their terms to form one of your own. After that, you can choose one here.

Next, check out other settings on this page, and configure them according to your referral program policy. Never forget to save your settings and changes in the end. 

Now, you have accomplished the settings under “General” tab on the “Settings” page. The next is “Integrations” tab. Click on that tab to switch to the “Integrations” section where you will have something to enable. The AffiliateWP will support the currently most popular eCommerce platforms, LMS plugins, membership plugins, and contact form plugins. So, you can choose the one in the list and you are using.

After that, you have finished the “Integrations” tab and you can save your changes by clicking on “Save”. Then, click on “Emails” tab to switch to “Emails” settings. The AffiliateWP plugin allows you to edit the emails you send to your affiliates. For example, you can upload your brand logo, select the email addresses to receive your affiliate emails, and build up your personalized email templates.

On the “Settings” page, the “Music” tab is the last part to configure. Switch to that tab, and you can set up other higher-level settings for your own referral or affiliate programs. You need check the box of the first option under “Music” tab, which allows “users to register affiliate accounts for themselves”. After checking this, your affiliates can sign up for your affiliate or referral program.

Also, you can enable “reCAPTCHA” option to prevent the bots from affiliates registering. 

After you finish your settings, you still have to review each of them to get rid of any errors. The last of the last is to remember to click on “Save” button to save all our setting just made.

Add Links to Your Referral Program in WordPress 

By far, your referral program has been set up well and you can move to the next step to add link to your referral program. This is to allow interested marketers to register your enabled affiliate registration. 

Head over to “Appearance” >> “Menus” page to add “Affiliate Area” page to one of your navigation menus. 

Once you select the navigation mane for your “Affiliate Area” page, marketers can be taken to the page by clicking on that link. Then they can sign up for your affiliates to promote services and products or check their reports by login their affiliate accounts from the page.

Manage Your Referral Program in AffiliateWP

In this guide, we are using AffiliateWP plugin to create the referral program instance for you. And the plugin includes powerful features which can help you run your referral program, manage those affiliates as well as view those program reports effectively in WordPress.

You can go to “Affiliates” >> “Affiliates” page to check those affiliates joined your program.

When you switch to the “Affiliates” page, you can get a list of your affiliates, their usernames, earnings, rates, visits, paid referrals and unpaid referrals. Even better, you can check each affiliate’s details by clicking on each name.

For each sale a referral partner made, you just need go to “Affiliates” >> “Referrals” page. It will show you all referral sales, amount, affiliate partners, and so on. If you find there is a referral being fraudulent, you can simply click on the “Reject” link. 

View Your Reports in AffiliateWP

Your referral program reports are significant to you to manage successful programs. Using AffiliateWP is very simple to check these reports in WordPress. Go to “Affiliates” >> “Affiliates” page that will give you an overall view of your report. 

Besides, AffiliateWP allows you to check the reports in detail. You can view specific period of the report by filtering it, check a certain partner name, and read the report for referrals, affiliates visits and campaigns. 

Send Payments to Your Affiliates

AffiliatesWP in WordPress bring easy management, but it does not have automatic payouts we have said before. So, you need send payments manually. Don’t worry. Even though AffiliateWP does not have automatic payouts, it still makes payouts easy to manage.

When you need to pay our affiliate partners, you just need to go to “Affiliates” >> “Referrals” page. And then press “Generate Payout File” tab. 

Now AffiliateWP will generate the payout file for you and the file is fully compatible with the mass payment system of PayPal. Besides, the payout can also work with many other payment services like Skrill supporting mass payment. In detail, the payout file includes the payment email address and amount of all unpaid referrals. 

That’s all. We have introduces the whole process of creating a referral program with AffiliateWP and how to use it to manage your referral program as a piece of cake. This way is easy to follow, and we hope beginners can successfully start their referral programs in WordPress. Also, welcome other users to share your good experience with us in contribution. 

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All Comments(2)

2018-05-29 09:33
Before reading this article, I have not known the availability of this feature in WordPress. WordPress is a powerful open source software, which still requires me to spend much time learning how to make full use of it. Your step-by-step tutorials have helped me a lot and this one is not an exception. I am really appreciated that you keep up the good work.  
2018-06-11 10:41
Just like affiliate program, referral program is also a chance for me to earn some commissions. AffiliateWP is a tool recommended on this page. Since the pros outweigh the cons, I am also willing to work with it. Thanks for your recommendation!