Why modeling tools don’t have affiliate programs?

affiliate hug

One of the most common ways of monetizing a blog is signing up for affiliate programs offered by the tools/companies you talk about on the blog (other typical strategies). The basic idea is simple, every time the company makes a sale thanks to a lead sent from one your blog posts, you get a commission.

Affiliate programs work great in many areas, like WordPress (where almost any major plugin or theme company has one) or the Web Hosting / Site Builders area (read this amazing story on indie hackers about a site builder review site making up to 40K a month). Many blogs on those domains make a substantial part of their income via these programs. Not everybody likes that posts include affiliate links but if the reviews are honest (with or without an affiliate program behind), they are a good opportunity.

The problem is that there are no affiliate programs for modeling tools or similars (code-generators, online drawing tools, …). I just found two exceptions but in general, this seems to be a hopeless monetization strategy for a blog like this one. I dare to say this is not a situation affecting only modeling tools but all kinds of development tools in general (but I’ve not explored this broader market so it’s just a hunch).

I wonder then if I’m right (if not, please leave a comment with pointers to affiliate programs you know, I’d appreciate that) and if so, why is that?. I have a couple of possible explanations but would love to know your thoughts on this (especially if you’re a company selling some kind of modeling tool if you have considered this internally):

  1. The modeling tools market is relatively small (compared with, e.g., the WordPress or web hosting markets) so complex client acquisition strategies are just not worth the effort
  2. Except for very simple and cheap modeling tools, selling a license involves several steps and exchanges with the potential client (including, maybe, on site demos to show the capabilities of a low-code tool on a real client example). Automatic affiliate programs cannot account for such complex marketing funnels. Reseller programs (where the partner, ourselves, in this case, does all the sales work from beginning-to-end) work better in these scenarios and are indeed a frequent option offered by modeling vendors
  3. There are not many modeling blogs. Modeling vendors don’t notice a huge traffic coming from external sites and therefore don’t see the need to optimize and encourage such traffic
  4. Most modeling vendors are still somehow young companies and may not be expert enough on Internet Marketing to analyze their marketing funnels and realize of possible missing opportunities

My personal feeling is that number 2 is the most important factor limiting the existence of affiliate programs for modeling tools (but as I said above, please chime in and give your opinion). Selling anything modeling-related is typically very hard (this is something we even suffer as researchers in the field) so I guess most sales require some human-intervention to convince the client of the value of the tool and, many times, of the value of modeling itself. We’ll keep doing our best to change this!

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