What Is A Two-Tier Affiliate Program?

A two-tier affiliate program is an affiliate model that allows you to make commissions not only on your own sales but the sales from others (your sub-affiliates) that you bring into the program as an affiliate. 

A typical structure would look like this:

  • 1st Tier = 25% commissions on all direct sales generated from your referrals
  • 2nd Tier = 10% commissions on your sub-affiliate referrals

Typically multi-tier programs go two levels deep but there are some that go to the third tier and beyond where you’re making commissions on your sub-affiliate affiliates too. I’ve seen affiliate tiers go as deep as five levels but deeper is not always better. In fact, I would avoid any program that goes deeper than two tiers for reasons I’ll explain below.

What Tiered Affiliate Programs Are Not:

Multi-tier affiliate programs are not, and I repeat ARE NOT, the same thing as multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes. As you probably know I am not a fan of MLM programs.

What To Expect When Promoting Two-Tier Programs:

When new affiliate marketers learn about two-tier affiliate programs they usually get very excited.  After all, it sounds like all you have to do is promote a good tiered affiliate program to a small army of other affiliates and then sit back on the beach while they pad your bank account with sub-affiliate commissions every day. Awesome right! Well… not exactly.

Here’s the problem: The fact is that 90% and probably more of your sub-affiliates will never earn a dime of commissions.


Because the majority of them will be thinking about the beach scenario I just explained and will focus only on signing up their own sub-affiliates who continue to sign up more and more people. Since everyone is simply recruiting instead of selling nobody earns money. There has to be product sales somewhere along the line to get everyone paid. Without sales you’re getting a percentage of nothing. Everyone in hierarchy is chasing their tail.

Reality Check:

So how do you make any money on the 2nd tier? With the exception of snagging a rare super-affiliate to sell underneath you the very best way to make money on the 2nd tier is to simply do the work yourself:

Always promote the affiliate product, not the affiliate program.

Spend the majority of your time and effort selling the affiliate products yourself and treat any second tier commissions as a nice bonus. Further, make sure you encourage all of your sub-affiliates to do the same. You WILL eventually start raking in some effortless 2nd-tier bucks.

Another idea, one that I don’t use* but works extremely well, is to help your sub-affiliates get started and train them how to effectively promote your affiliated products. The more successful you make them the more money you in turn will make.

*Not because I don’t care but due to a lack of time. I’m not a mentor, but I can help you find one if you need one. (earning a small commission along the way of course!)  Contact me.

Two-Tier Tips:

  • As stated above – Rule #1 is to promote to product first, not the program.
  • Choose good quality products and services that convert well. I know… duh. But it had to be said.
  • Read the fine print carefully to determine if the second-tier compensation is calculated as a straight percentage (% of revenue generated by sub-affiliates, or a percentage of a percentage of earnings generated by your sub-affiliates). A lot of two-tier affiliate programs suck so make sure you know what you’re promoting and how they’re paying you. If in doubt, reach out to their affiliate manager and ask.
  • Make sure you tell your potential sub-affiliates that your cut of their earnings is paid by the vendor – not them. That way they’ll have no reason to circumvent your two-tier affiliate link to join the program.
Two-Tier Affiliates

Recommended Two-Tier Affiliate Programs:

I’m going to recommend a few two-tier programs that I’ve personally made money with:

FlexOffers: A true premiere affiliate marketing network that offers tiers and more than 10,000 products to sell in dozens of industries.

SellHealth: A tiered program for anti-aging and sexual health products. These are hot selling products and SellHealth always pays.

WPEngine – two-tier program for a managed WordPress hosting company. Great product and they always pay as well.

ShareASaleOne of the best affiliate networks where you’ll find a ton of products and services to promote. They’re extremely reliable and their reporting is robust. 

If you’ve had success with two tier affiliate programs please share your experiences below including any programs that you would recommend.

More two-tier affiliate programs

Affiliate Disclosure
Disclosure: The operator of this website is a 3rd party marketer with a material connection to product/service providers appearing on this site in that we are compensated for sales made through our affiliate links.

If you have any questions please contact me (Bill) at beachroulette @ gmail.com.


  1. John Baile

    AirportService.com has a True 2 Tier White Label Affiliate Partner Program. This allows the Master Agent to make revenue on their Sub Affiliates. This is the way most 2 tiered programs should work.

    • bill

      Thanks John. I’ll take a look at it. Sincerely – Bill

  2. Oduokpe

    Hello Bill, I use PPC to promote affiliated products I get about 40 to 50 clicks a day but I don’t make any sale. As an Experienced Affiliate marketer, how many clicks do I need in order to get a sale for Non-CPA products. and how many clicks do I need to get an Action (like free Sign Up, download, etc)

    • bill

      It depends upon the quality of traffic your getting and the conversion rate of the offer. If you’re paying for clicks your might want to consider directing that traffic to a squeeze page to start collecting names and email addresses so you have multiple sales opps for each customer. Sincerely – Bill

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  4. Harunur

    Great post.Many times i though earn by affiliate program but can’t find way.now i think find an idea.i think affiliate program is better than adsence or others earning