The best affiliate programs allow you to monetize your website, enabling you to earn passive income. The best affiliate marketing programs are easy to use and let you create hassle-free transactions.
For the merchant, these programs offer an economical and effective way to market their products or services.
What are the Best Affiliate Programs?
An affiliate or associate program is an arrangement where a merchant pays an affiliate website a commission to drive traffic to their site and are paid according to a particular agreement. This can be done using platforms like social media, blogs, and product integration. Depending on the agreement, an affiliate can be paid based on an actual sale made through their link or it can be based on the number of people who visit the merchant’s site using the affiliate’s link.
Here are some of the affiliate programs:
- CJ Affiliate
- Amazon Affiliate Program
- Ebay Partner Network
- Fiverr Affiliates Program
1. CJ Affiliate
Formerly known as Commission Junction, CJ Affiliate is geared toward more experienced affiliate marketers. It’s been in the industry for around 20 years, and has over 300 brands to choose from like Overstock, Office Depot, and Lowes. They also partner with publication brands like CNN, Time, and BuzzFeed.
The program offers functionality with tools like widgets that you can embed on your site, deep link automation for automatic monetization, and real-time monitoring of transactions. It has a cookie length of 45 days and lets you earn up to $300 with every account.
The program does have a selective application process. Your website has to be worthy of being considered a partner based on categories like traffic, content quality, and site optimization, and the second stage entails applying individually to each vendor.
- Annual growth in commissions (43 percent)
- Free and easy to join
- Offers monthly payments
- High competition
Amazon Associates is ideal for beginners and has an excellent marketplace to help you find potential leads. It’s easy to use and has a customized linking tool that makes recommending products easier.
The program lets you earn up to 10 percent in commissions and gives you the opportunity to earn commissions for any other purchases made on Amazon within the cookie length. Unlike other programs, its single sign up process lets you do a one-time application, after which you’re free to promote any product.
- Competitive conversion rates
- Easy application process
- Lets you promote any product on Amazon
- Short cookie length (24 hours)
This is one of the largest affiliate networks, with around 4,000 merchants available in 40 different categories. The network has been around for two decades and was recently acquired by Awin, another affiliate program on our list.
It has a user-friendly interface and offers support for affiliates with multiple websites. It also utilizes a helpful Power Rank system that lets you know which vendors are the most popular. Plus, ShareASale publishes data on their offers, including earnings per click and average commission, helping you better assess campaigns.
- Over 1,000 exclusive merchants
- Allows comparing offers
- Consistent payout
- High payout threshold ($50)
Like Amazon, eBay offers a wide range of products . The eBay Partner Network is exclusive to the site and gives you commission for clickthroughs that result in sales.
As an affiliate, you can earn 50 to 70 percent of auction fees which are based on the product category and not on the sale price. In terms of commission, partners can earn a percentage of the revenues earned by eBay for every purchase made.
The program has two cookie lengths: one for “buy it now items” which lasts for 24 hours, while the other is for auction items, with a cookie length of 10 days.
- Offers free-to-use link generators
- Millions of active buyers
- Billions of listings
- Uses an auction model for sales
Awin is one of the biggest affiliate networks, with over 15,000 advertisers and 200,000 active publishers. It has a largely European base with a rapidly growing U.S. network. It’s currently active in 11 countries and is geared toward financial, retails, sports, and lifestyle products.
The network also features digital and physical products, with commissions depending on the campaign and the merchant. It charges a $5 fee for applications, which is added to your account once you’re an affiliate.
- Wide range of products and services
- Cookie lengths set by the advertiser
- Lower payout threshold at $20
- Difficult to track commission rates
Primarily a tech company, Impact provides automation to its affiliates, encouraging enterprise growth.
It’s geared toward businesses and offers a Partnership Cloud that makes it easy for them to recruit and manage affiliate partners.
- Utilizes automated nurture campaigns
- Cross platform tracking
- Helps eliminate fraud
- Focused on businesses
ClickBank has over six million digital products in different categories and a global reach of 200 million. It focuses on digital products but expanded its offers to include physical goods and offers commissions between 40 to 75 percent.
It’s free to sign up and is an ideal platform for affiliates in the B2C niche. Cookie duration usually depends on the product, but isn’t infinite.
- High commissions
- Regular payouts
- Great source of recurring income
- Can have low quality offerings
Skimlinks is designed primarily for bloggers who want to monetize their blog, giving you the chance to work with over 24,000 merchants. It has a single sign up scheme that lets you work with any merchant on the platform upon successful application.
It offers both physical and digital products, with commission rates varying by merchant. It does have Preferred Partner and VIP programs that can give you up to 100 percent in commissions.
- Uses a WordPress plugin
- Works with most websites
- Easy to use platform
- Cookie life depends on merchants
Ideal for more experienced affiliates, PartnerStack focuses on promoting software products and tools. It features a unique interface that’s easy to use without compromising speed and UI.
Joining is easy—once you’ve created your account, you can immediately start browsing the network for available brands to promote.
- High growth potential
- Reasonable minimum payout at $25
- Free to join
- Fewer brands
Shopify has over 500,000 stores globally and is one of the top platforms for dropshipping. If you run a website with an audience that’s focused on ecommerce, Shopify can be a great resource for affiliates.
Affiliates can earn up to 200 percent in commission and the long cookie life of 30 days gives you more opportunities to earn commissions.
- Provides Shopify shop support
- Free to join
- Free content to promote
- Niche target
Recognized as one of the largest digital services marketplace in the world, Fiverr is active in over 190 countries, with more than 11 million users. Services available can vary from logo designing to programming.
It has over 250 categories with over three million digital services you can choose to promote. Affiliates can earn a commission ranging from $15 to $50, along with a $10 CPA and 10 percent RevShare (hybrid model). Cookie life is at 30 days.
- Generous commission plan
- User-friendly interface
- Offers creative assets to help promotions
- Commissions depend on services promoted
Types of Affiliate Programs
Affiliate programs can be classified into three main types:
These program types often involve niche products with high payouts. Given their nature, you’re more likely to have competition.
These involve highly-popular products with lower payouts. This might put off some affiliates, but there is an advantage to this program type.
While the payout may be low, these programs often have a wide selection of products you can choose from to promote on your platform. For it to work however, you’ll need high traffic.
These programs are a combination of the two previously mentioned types. These feature highly popular products that generate high commissions.
When choosing a program type, consider your audience and the platforms they’ll most likely to use. It helps to create a buyer persona that lets you create an image of your target audience to optimize your marketing approach.
How do I Join an Affiliate Program?
Deciding to join an affiliate marketing program will largely depend on your niche and level of expertise.
The process of joining can be broken down into these simple steps:
Find a platform that works for you
While you can do affiliate marketing on several different platforms like social media or YouTube, focusing on where you’re comfortable will make it easier for you to build your audience, which can potentially increase your commissions.
Determine your niche
Find out which products or services you want to promote by determining your niche. Identify your target market by asking yourself questions like:
- What topics do I want to write about?
- What am I an expert on?
- Is there a constant demand for my niche?
- Are there any affiliate programs for my niche?
Find a product or service to promote
Make sure that it’s something that you can stand behind. It also helps if you choose a product or service that’s trustworthy and has great vendor support.
Conduct a search for an affiliate program that includes the product you want to promote
Identify which programs help you promote your selected products. This is where affiliate marketing programs come into play, where they stand as middlemen to help build a relationship between the merchant and the affiliate.
Check if your selected merchant uses an affiliate program that you’re thinking of joining. Also consider the commission that you’ll be earning from the program, as well as the support it comes with.
Select the type of programs you want to join
Choose to join an affiliate program that you’re comfortable working with. There are three main types you can choose from: high-paying low-volume programs, low-paying high-volume one, and high-paying high-volume types.
What do I Need to Consider When Choosing an Affiliate Program to Join?
While choosing the best affiliate program to use isn’t exactly complicated, knowing what you need to look for in an affiliate program will help you make more informed decisions. Consider these factors when choosing affiliate marketing programs:
Affiliate Programs Commission
Determine the commission or percentage you get with every sale. Try to find out what factors can influence your commission as a marketer, such as the volume of sales generated or if the commission is the same for every product.
In some cases, commissions from the same merchant may vary, as some merchants can have niche products or harder-to-sell items that have a higher commission.
How relevant are the products or services you want to promote to your niche? Find products relevant to your expertise, as well as products that are evergreen or have a constant demand.
While this may seem restrictive, this can be taken as an opportunity for you to be creative. Say you’re running a blog on healthcare. While you can always choose to promote items that are useful in your niche, you can also choose to support a service like healthcare insurance.
A cookie length is a referral period, or the amount of time an affiliate is eligible for a commission following the referral. It’s a crucial factor to consider and one that can greatly affect your income.
Affiliate programs differ in their cookie length. Some can have a 24-hour cookie life—and if a user visits your website and clicks on a referral link that’s past its cookie length, then you won’t earn any commission for that sale.
Standard cookie length can be anywhere from 30 to 90 days. Affiliate programs vary in their cookie guidelines, so it’s best to choose one that works to your advantage.
Payout condition varies from one affiliate program to another. Some may offer payment on a monthly basis and some have a threshold or a minimum payout before you can get paid. Most programs employ a standard minimum payout of $50.
You can’t get paid if you don’t meet a certain threshold even if you’ve worked really hard. This can be disheartening, especially for beginners. This is why it’s imperative to check an affiliate program’s payout conditions.
Also take into account the payout methods that affiliate marketing programs use, check whether or not the employed payout methods work for your country.
Product or Network Reputation
Research on an affiliate program prior to joining, and make sure you’re promoting a reputable product or network. By ensuring you’re endorsing only trustworthy goods and services, you’re building valuable trust with your audience.
Moreover, when choosing an affiliate program, it’s best to play it safe and go for ones that are long-established and have high traffic.
Transactions may experience issues, and this is where exceptional vendor support is crucial.
There are many ways that merchants can support affiliates, from providing 24/7 assistance to offering marketing materials you can use on your page.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the highest paying affiliate program?
The highest paying programs often vary by niche. Consider these:
What is the best affiliate marketing program for beginners?
There are several best affiliate marketing programs ideal for beginners. When choosing, find a program that’s easy to join, easy to use, has numerous merchants to select from, and delivers timely payouts.
Here are some of the top affiliate programs for beginners:
- Amazon Associates
- CJ Affiliate
Are affiliate programs worth it?
Affiliate programs can be worth it, but they take plenty of time and effort. Most of them are easy to use and have simple guidelines that make it easy for you to get started right away.
Are affiliate programs legit?
Although affiliate programs are in fact legitimate businesses, you still have to be wary about affiliate marketing scams that run along the lines of pay-to-join or get-rich-quick programs.
Most credible affiliate programs are free to join and while affiliate marketing does pay off, it usually takes time and effort before you can see tangible results.
What are the most popular affiliate marketing networks?
When you conduct a search for the most popular networks, lists often vary in terms of their criteria for selection. However, these are some of the most oft-cited top affiliate networks online:
- CJ Affiliate
- Amazon Associates
- Ebay Partner Network
Should I pay to join an affiliate program?
Most affiliate programs are free to join, and some programs don’t require any prior experience. However, some programs do require you to make a purchase before you can have access to higher paying commissions.
Can I do affiliate marketing without a website?
The short answer is yes. You can do affiliate marketing using other platforms like social media, eBooks, online communities, and YouTube.
However, having a website is still advantageous. A website lets you customize a landing page, potentially leading to increased conversions through more information and increased credibility for your online presence.
What is a good affiliate commission?
A good commission rate is somewhere between five percent to 30 percent.