One way to ensure your online business gets lots of traffic is by participating in an affiliate program. Whether you are selling services or physical or digital products, you will save money by generating one or more affiliate partnerships. The affordability factor is only one of the many reasons merchants and business owners prefer this option over other forms of digital marketing.
In this guide, we will introduce you to the world of affiliate networks and list some of the best affiliate programs there are. Additionally, we will answer common questions about affiliate programs to get you up to speed.
What is an Affiliate Program?
Affiliate programs are websites that contain affiliate links that take the customer to another website. This is a paid partnership that involves three parties – the merchant, the affiliate, and the customer. With the aim of advertising products or services, the merchant pays commission to the affiliate, whose job is to promote whatever the merchant is selling.
When the customer clicks on the link and goes to the merchant’s website to make a purchase, a percentage of the purchase value goes to the affiliate marketer. This is why affiliate marketing is considered a win-win for all – the merchant obtains a new customer, the affiliate gets paid for making that happen. The customer finds something useful they wouldn’t otherwise.
Allowing another website to promote your business this way is much cheaper than financing banner ads, display posters, videos, pop-up ads, or any other forms of digital advertisement.
The reason affiliate programs are much more affordable for the merchant is because they are only obligated to pay if a purchase is made through the affiliate link. This means that if a potential customer clicks on the link, spends some time on the website, and doesn’t end up buying anything, the affiliate won’t receive payment.
The tools for selling affiliate programs can be blogs, product review pages, influencers’ social media, digital magazines, coupon sites, and various other websites.
The sudden increase in the popularity of affiliate programs has led to the development of affiliate networks. They function as business intermediaries, linking different merchants to the best affiliate programs for their niche. By joining an affiliate network, you can connect your business to many brands and customers.
Types of Affiliate Programs
Before you consider what some of the best affiliate programs might be right for your business, put yourself in your target audience’s shoes. Would your customers visit the website you want to employ? Would they be able to figure out how to enter your website through the affiliate links? All of these factors are imperative.
Not only that, but the way your customers carry out online purchases also matters. Would they follow referrals from influencers, or would they need more persuasion? If you target a particular age group, make sure they use the platform where you plan to advertise your products.
Once you’ve conducted your research about your target audience, it’s time to choose the type of affiliate program you think is right for your business. Here are some of the most influential and common forms of affiliate marketing.
Blogs and Websites
If your target audience enjoys reading blogs and spending time on various websites advertising your products, there is always a great option. To attract as much traffic as possible, bloggers and website owners are typically interested in these types of partnerships. Search for bloggers who are willing to review and promote your products.
Product Review Sites
This type of website is especially popular in the affiliate marketing game. That’s because you can be sure that only customers interested in purchasing a particular kind of product will be visiting that product review site. For example, if you are selling household appliances, you can place your link on a web page that says: “Top 20 appliances every household should have.”
Search Engine Marketing
With SEO (search engine optimization), you’re making sure your product/service/website would appear in the search results.
When searching for the right affiliate program, you need to make sure the affiliate marketer is familiar with SEO and knows how to use it properly. That way, when your customers search for the type of merchandise you are selling, your product will pop up first.
Influencers and Social Media
This option is especially suitable for fashion and beauty products, as influencers can advertise your merchandise in loads of creative ways. Always search for an influencer or a social media platform that can connect to your business and understands what it’s about.
For example, if you own a gym equipment store, hire an influencer who likes to talk about fitness and sport. But keep in mind that the more famous the influencer, the bigger the commission rates.
If you want to advertise your business via email, be prepared for less traffic. Many companies and online stores send their customers monthly, or even weekly, emails and newsletters to inform them about new collections or discounts. One major disadvantage of this method is that people either disregard emails in their social tab or go directly to spam.
This is another reliable option for choosing the perfect affiliate program for you. Like with product review pages, people who visit coupon websites are looking for something specific, in most cases. However, this option only works if you are willing to offer discounts for your products or services.
Best High Paying Affiliate Programs
There are thousands of affiliate programs available for your online business. Among other things, your choice should depend on the type of business you have. Here are some of the best affiliate programs, grouped into some of the most prevalent categories.
Web Hosting Affiliate Programs
When you first start your online business or a blog, you should choose a web host. Web hosting is one of the most important categories for affiliate markets because they offer the highest payouts. Here are some of our top picks:
The fact that Bluehost works with more than two million websites is proof that their marketing services are top-notch.
Affiliate marketers can make $65 per sale, and the cookie duration is 45 days. Shared hosting amounts to $3.95 a month, while for online stores, the monthly fee is $12.95. If you have a WordPress blog, your monthly fee would only be $9.95. Joining this affiliate program is entirely free.
HostGator offers shared hosting, website building, WordPress hosting, with the option to register and transfer domains. As an affiliate marketer, you can sign up for free and collect payouts from $65 to $125 per sign-up.
Cookie duration goes up to 60 days, increasing your chances to receive credit for referrals. This program is much more affordable for web hosting and building, with starting plans from $3 to $4 a month.
Another favorite among affiliate marketers, WP Engine offers some of the highest commission rates – even $200 per sign-up. Cookie duration even lasts for 180 days, providing a low-risk chance that your referral traffic will go by unseen.
For startup hosting, the fees cost $25, and for professional online businesses, it’s $49. Even though recurring fees for WP Engine are pricier than for other affiliate programs, partnering with this platform will definitely bring your business success.
This affiliate web hosting program is an excellent choice for emerging businesses and e-commerce websites. It offers a performance tracking system, 24/7 support service, various hosting packages, and many more features. Businesses can start with $10 a month, but the most popular pricing package that Cloudways offers costs $42 a month.
Website Building Affiliate Programs
When you start your online business, it’s essential to find the right website builder. These types of programs help you build your brand’s presence, taking into account your budget, image, and overall goals.
Here are some of the best affiliate programs for website building:
This web building platform is the most prevalent and profitable option for e-commerce businesses. In fact, Shopify supports over one million businesses worldwide.
Your monthly fees start from $29 a month. Apart from web building, Shopify offers some other features: web hosting, customization tools, various creative templates, analytics dashboards, and many other options. It’s free to join as an affiliate marketer.
As one of the most popular web building platforms, Wix offers 500 templates, free web hosting services, 24/7 customer service, and the opportunity to manage and grow your online business.
Affiliate marketers can earn up to $100 per premium sales, and the cookie duration on this program lasts for 30 days. With loads of helpful marketing tools, Wix helps you create the foundations of your website.
Affiliate marketers can earn up to 200% for their referrals after the first monthly payment. Cookie duration goes up to 90 days, which is excellent for your commission rates. As one of the best e-commerce platforms, BigCommerce supports over 60,000 e-commerce websites all over the world. They offer customizable web design tools, powerful SEO features, and other useful web building options.
With a 120-day cookie duration and recurring commission rates of 30%, Weebly is a great web builder platform and has over 40 million partnerships.
Apart from the option of building your business website, Weebly helps you every step of the way with helpful SEO features, various designs and templates, and inventory management options. It’s an excellent option for beginner business owners.
Marketing and Business Affiliate Programs
If you’re starting an online business that focuses on marketing, then these are the best affiliate programs for you.
If you want to monetize your website, HubSpot might be the right option for you. HubSpot offers different types of services – marketing, sales, customer service, and content management software.
Affiliate marketers can earn up to $1,000 per product and a starting commission of $250 a month. Over 100,000 websites are partnered with HubSpot across 120 countries. The starter pricing package is $45 a month, and the professional package is $800.
This digital service offers different commission plans, special promotions, and member benefits. Affiliate marketers earn from $15 to $150 for every new customer.
With five and a half million users, some of Fiverr’s partnerships include Google, Netflix, PayPal, Facebook, and many more. Fiverr offers smart marketing tools, quality content, intuitive dashboards, and professional support.
This affiliate program is great for marketers and publishers who want to monetize their business and grow their brands’ presence. With 211,000 active users and 150 million sales in 2019, Awin is best suited for content creators, influencers, and website owners. This platform also offers various promotional and advertising tools, commission flexibility, cross-device tracking, and various other marketing features.
This platform offers a pay-per-lead payment method, meaning that affiliate marketers get paid €5 for referring a customer to create an account and €100 for a paid subscription. The 90-day cookie duration enhances the chances of affiliates receiving commissions. SendinBlue is an affiliate program that’s intended for agencies and bloggers. The first month is free, the Lite subscription is $25, while the Premium package costs $65 a month.
Retail Affiliate Programs
Affiliate marketing is perhaps the most at home with retailers and online shop owners. Among other things, reaching out to different affiliate programs will boost your chances of growing your audience and your brand’s presence. Here are some of the best affiliate programs for retailers.
As one of the most popular online shopping websites, Amazon is the biggest affiliate marketing program on the web. The Amazon Associates program helps bloggers, creators, and publishers increase their website traffic. Commission rates for affiliate marketers range from 1% to 10%. However, cookie duration is only 24 hours. Since Amazon is so widespread and versatile, it’s easy to partner with virtually any type of retail website.
Similar to Amazon, eBay offers a wide variety of products in all retail categories. This global commerce leader offers commission rates from 50% to 70% of auction fees and a cookie duration of 24 hours for “buy it now” products, while auction products have a 10-day cookie life.
Some of the services eBay Partner Network offers are designing ads and digital campaigns, increasing website traffic for a bigger inflow, and various other optimization and performance tools.
Partnering with Target will bring your website an increase in traffic and sales. Affiliate marketers earn from 1% to 8% of sales commission per product. Additionally, the more products your customers buy through your affiliate links, the bigger your commission rates. However, this doesn’t apply to products from the health and beauty categories. Cookie life lasts for seven days on Target affiliate programs.
ShareASale is a part of Awin, and it also offers different solution packages for merchants, affiliates and agencies. With over 15,200 merchants and 211,000 publishers, ShareASale is a great affiliate program for any type of retail business. This affiliate platform offers custom tools, cutting-edge technology, and various pricing packages, and other valuable features. This option is excellent for all types of retail businesses.
Travel Affiliate Programs
Travel affiliate programs are best suited for travel blogs, travel review sites, or any other website that regularly posts about travel destinations, vacation packages, airline tickets, hotels, restaurants, travel equipment, etc. By joining an affiliate program, you can earn additional revenue and increase your blog traffic. Here are some of our top picks for travel affiliate programs:
TripAdvisor is the biggest and most popular travel review site. With 795 million reviews and 1.4 location suggestions, you can find virtually any destination holiday on TripAdvisor. Affiliate marketers earn a commission of 50%, based on the pay-per-click policy. All you need your customers to do is click on the link or ad on your website, and you will earn from $0.15 to $0.75 per click.
BoatBookings Charter Yacht Partner & Affiliate Program is a platform used by people who charter yachts and sailing boats. The commission rates of affiliate partners amount to 20% and an additional 10% for recurring customers. Cookie life on this affiliate platform lasts for 30 days. The commission is received when customers either click on the affiliate links or fill out the inquiry form.
This affiliate program is ideal for travel blogs that incorporate travel package deals into their website. Travelpayouts offers different travel services – hotels, flights, car rental, various vacation activities, tours, insurance, etc. Other travel platforms like Booking.com, Airbnb, and rentalcars.com are also partnered with Travelpayouts, along with 80 other travel affiliate programs. Affiliate marketers earn a commission that’s up to 80%.
Similar to how BoatBookings works with yachts, Cheapflights offers different airline ticket deals. Cookie duration is limited to one session, and affiliate marketers earn up to $0.45 per click on a computer and $0.25 on a phone or tablet.
Therefore, this airline affiliate program focuses on attracting traffic, as opposed to recurring customers. Affiliates also receive various tools, such as banners, text links, travel widgets, and many more features.
Fashion Affiliate Programs
If you want to work with fashion affiliate programs, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Firstly, your brand’s image is a huge factor, as you should have your own niche to help you connect with various fashion companies. Secondly, if you are an influencer or a fashion blogger, your personal style needs to march your brand.
Fashion affiliate programs constitute clothing brands, shoes, accessories, and similar. Here are some of our top picks for fashion affiliate platforms.
Nordstrom affiliates receive promotional benefits, exclusive offers, and various product assortments. Signing up for this affiliate program is entirely free. Cookies remain on your affiliate platform for seven days to track your visitors’ activity.
Affiliate marketers receive commission rates from 2% to 20% after a customer purchased something from the Nordstrom website. This is a pay-per-click deal, and therefore, only your referrals matter.
Zaful is a popular online clothing shop that follows all the latest trends. It offers affiliate partnerships with individuals, agencies, and influencers. Affiliate marketers can earn up to 30% commission by collaborating with Zaful.
You can even select your preferred method of making money (earn by promoting, easy sharing, and referring). It doesn’t cost anything to join this affiliate program.
This fashion affiliate platform is actually a part of the ShareASale network. The Warby Parker platform sells sunglasses. With a 45-day cookie duration, affiliate marketers can earn up to 20% commission per purchased item and even 50% for “Home Try Ons.” Affiliates can also receive $10 when they invite someone else to join the affiliate program, and they accept.
Beauty and Cosmetics Affiliate Programs
The beauty industry is becoming more and more prevalent online. Millions of people visit YouTube channels, beauty blogs, product review sites, and social media platforms to find out the latest beauty trends and tutorials. That’s why beauty and cosmetics affiliate programs aim to collaborate with influencers and beauty bloggers the most.
Here are some of our favorite pics for this category.
Yves Rocher is a cosmetics line that sells organic beauty products, skincare, haircare, body and bath products, and much more. If you want to work as an affiliate marketer for this fashion brand, be prepared for a 15% commission rate and 30-day cookies that track your customers’ activity. Marketers also receive customizable digital marketing tools, like banners and other advertisement features.
Avon offers different beauty products such as fragrance, body and bath products, skincare, and other make-up brands. With an average commission rate of 3%, affiliate marketers can earn up to 10%. Avon has over 240,000 representatives all over the world. Signing up is free, of course.
Specifically aiming at influencers and beauty bloggers, the Madison Reed affiliate program offers every new marketer a $10 referral bonus. Cookie duration is 30 days on this fashion platform. You are also entitled to special benefits, such as promotions and exclusive newsletters.
Fitness Affiliate Programs
These affiliate programs are aimed at fitness bloggers, coaches, bodybuilders, personal trainers, or even influencers passionate about fitness. Fitness affiliate platforms are actually one of the highest paying types of affiliate programs.
Affiliate managers receive a commission of 15% for new customers and an additional 5% for repeat customers. However, cookie duration on Bodybuilding.com is only nine days.
Bowflex is a fitness affiliate platform for losing weight. You can sign up for free and receive monthly commission checks based on the pay-per-sale principle. Commission rates amount to $7 on average.
Weight Watchers is aimed at people who are interested in buying different sets of weights. Affiliate marketers earn an average of $10 per sale.
Education Affiliate Programs
If you publish a blog or any type of content, you can get paid to collaborate with education affiliate platforms. Here are some of our favorites.
Kajabi is a great platform to design your own online course, marketing campaign, or any other type of page. You can get a 30% commission for your referrals.
Skillshare offers courses in various categories, such as animation, design, illustration, lifestyle, etc. Cookie duration is 30 days, and affiliates earn $10 per sale.
Teachable is another website that helps you create online courses. Affiliate marketers receive a 30% commission per referral.
What is the Best Affiliate Marketing Program for Beginners?
We have provided you with our top affiliate program picks. If you are just beginning your journey as an online business owner and you’re wondering which affiliate program you should choose, then let us help you. Here are some factors you should take into consideration when joining an affiliate business.
The Commission Rate
When a merchant sets up an affiliate program, he agrees to pay a certain commission for the advertising service. The average affiliate commission rates go from 5% to 30%, although there are businesses that are willing to offer more. The commissions mainly depend on the business, the price of the products, and its development.
Cookies on affiliate websites are used to track sales. Their typical duration is 30 days, but they can last from 7 to 90 days.
A cookie’s duration is an important factor because it denotes how long it will stay on the affiliate program after someone clicks on the affiliate link. If a customer makes a purchase after 30 days, the affiliate won’t receive payment.
Earnings per Click
This refers to the average profit an affiliate marketer earns when someone clicks on the affiliate links. However, the majority of affiliate marketers only get paid if a customer actually makes a purchase. Therefore, the “earnings per click” term mainly refers to the method of measuring your earning potential.
Here are our most recommended affiliate programs for beginners:
- Amazon Associates
- Etsy Affiliate Program
- Commission Junction
Are Affiliate Programs Free?
If you are a business owner looking to advertise your product/service and you want to do so with an affiliate program, you are obligated to offer compensation to the participants. After all, affiliate programs are another form of digital marketing. No matter how you choose to advertise your product, it will always come with expenses.
On the other hand, if you are an affiliate marketer and want to make money by promoting other websites and products, you should expect your own set of expenses. Keep in mind that it usually doesn’t cost anything to join affiliate programs and affiliate networks.
However, you need to pay for monthly fees and the cost of running your platform. If you join an affiliate network, you have to pay a recurring membership fee as well.
How Do Affiliates Get Paid?
Running an affiliate program shouldn’t be your primary source of income but rather an additional inflow. That’s because it can be challenging to predict whether your next month’s traffic will be sufficient.
There are different ways affiliate marketers receive profit for their marketing services:
Pay per Sale
This method accounts for the majority of merchant-affiliate partnership deals. It denotes that the affiliate will only get paid when a customer clicks on the affiliate link and makes a purchase. Only clicking on the link and window shopping can’t benefit affiliate managers.
Pay per Lead
This option is also possible for affiliate programs. Not only does the customer need to click on the affiliate link and go to the merchant’s website, but they must also perform some sort of activity. This could include signing up for newsletters, downloading a file, filling out forms, etc.
Pay per Click
Although rare, this payment method requires the customer to click on the affiliate link and go to the merchant’s website. No matter what the customer does afterward won’t impact the affiliate’s commission rate.
Do I Need a Website to Be an Affiliate Marketer?
The two most important things you need as a beginner affiliate marketer are an audience and a niche. Technically, you don’t need a website to begin promoting products.
One option is to use your social media. Once you gain enough followers and engagement, businesses and brands will reach out to you. Influencers usually receive a sample of the product as well. You can use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and other social media platforms to become a successful affiliate marketer.
Another option is to join an affiliate network. By doing so, you will reach a wider audience and a more significant number of brands. Here are some great affiliate networks you can start off with:
- CJ Affiliate
- Rakuten Marketing
- Amazon Associates
What are the Requirements to Join Affiliate Programs?
It depends on the type of affiliate program you want to run.
Influencers just need a wide audience and a bank account. They also usually require a specific brand that other businesses can relate to. If you want to establish a self-hosted affiliate program, you need to create your own website.
So make sure you can cover all the costs of starting your platform before you begin. If you want to join an affiliate network, you are required to have your own website, as well as a bank account.
Once you have completed all the necessary steps, visit the website that you want to work with. With affiliate software tools, search for “Brand + Affiliate program.” When you find the program you are interested in, the following step is usually to fill out a form. Now you can apply.
While the majority of affiliate programs accept newcomers manually, some will only accept affiliate managers.
Find the Affiliate Program That Works for You
The most important part of joining an affiliate program is finding something that genuinely interests you and something that will add value to your online business.