9 Best Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners!
The massive boom of digital marketing and e-commerce has paved the way for a growing form of marketing known as an affiliate. When the idea of passive income stuck, nowadays, affiliate marketing has become one of the leading tactics to boost sales for businesses and individuals.
“Affiliate marketing has made businesses millions and ordinary people millionaires”, said Bo Bennett.
However, taking a step into this new form requires a certain level of knowledge and effort. Even when you’ve mastered how to do affiliate marketing, or have already set up a website or a blog to kickstart, you still need a trusted merchant to partner with. This is why you need to understand how affiliate programs work and what affiliate program options are optimal for a better success rate as a beginner.
This article will drive you through the concept of affiliate marketing and give you a suggestion list of powerful affiliate programs, to begin with.
Table of content
- Understanding affiliate marketing and affiliate programs
- Choosing the best affiliate programs for beginners
- 10 best affiliate programs for beginners
- Final thoughts
Understanding affiliate marketing and affiliate programs
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a process in which companies (known as advertisers) partners with a third-party affiliate to promote their products, and the partners will get commissions on each link click or sale they generate. Usually, the affiliates would promote their preferred products, then earn some profits from each purchase made. The sales of these purchases will be tracked via affiliate links from the company website.
How does affiliate marketing work?
According to Wikipedia, a powerful affiliate marketing system will involve 4 parties: the merchant, the publisher, the customer, and the network.
This is the unit that creates products and partners with affiliates to boost sales. Merchants are sometimes known as vendors, retailers, creators, or sellers in general. They can be a big company or an individual - but no matter who they are, they just have to produce the goods and let other parties actively involved in the process.
This party is more commonly known as the affiliate. Affiliates can also be individuals or large businesses. An affiliate will promote the affiliate products provided by merchants and try to persuade potential customers into making purchases so that they can get commissions. The commission range varies depending on the product price and the merchants’ or third-party affiliate programs’ affiliate rates. Under proper implementation, an affiliate business can earn up to millions of dollars commission each month.
Affiliates can post the products on any platform they want, but commonly, they’ll publish on a blog or website reviewing the merchants’ products. Using content marketing will generate more trust and credibility, which guarantees a higher conversion rate.
Consumers are the key factor determining whether sales or commissions are generated. Without consumers making purchases, there will be no sales generated for merchants and no commissions shared with publishers.
The network is needed in affiliate marketing as it connects the affiliate to the merchant. The definition of the affiliate network, in this case, usually refers to the affiliate program. The program plays not only the role of a linking bridge but also a third party to promote affiliate products and a database management tool.
Types of affiliate marketing channels
The common practice in affiliate marketing is to engage the audience and convert the engagement into actual sales. But each affiliate marketer can choose a different method to advertise the products. The range is diverse, but the following are some common types of affiliate marketing channels you can consider.
An influencer is an individual whose actions have a huge impact on society’s awareness and behaviors. These behaviors include the purchasing decisions of large market segmentation. Influencers already have a massive following, so it’s easy for them to engage their followers to the seller’s products through their influential social platforms: blog posts, reviews, or simply their interactions with the followers. This type of channel usually benefits from affiliate marketing the most without spending too much effort.
Bloggers are also a type of influencer, but the scale is restricted to a smaller audience. But bloggers focus more on delivering content and moderating the search rankings to get their ideas through the audience. Usually, bloggers will test the sample products or services, then write an overall review to promote the brand to drive more conversions. In other words, bloggers use their words of value to do affiliate marketing.
Large websites might be the most optimal solution if your company plans on engaging a large amount of traffic. These websites will promote products using banners with hidden contextual affiliate links, which can expose a considerable amount of visitors to potential conversions.
How to get paid with affiliate marketing?
There are various methods to get paid with affiliate marketing:
Commission per sale
This is the most commonly used method as the affiliate will get paid a percentage of the sale price when the customers made purchases via the affiliate link. The percentage may vary depending on the commission type that the merchant offers, such as a one-time or recurring commission.
Commission per lead
This method compensates the affiliates based on the conversion leads, which is quite complicated. The affiliate will have to convince consumers to access the merchant’s website and complete a specific activity such as filling out a survey, subscribing to their email list, or downloading trial software.
Commission per click
The program will give incentives to the affiliates if they successfully navigate the customer from their site to the merchant’s websites. This means that the commission will be paid based on the number of web traffic generated.
About affiliate programs
Affiliate programs (or affiliate networks) are simply third-party platforms that connect affiliates with merchants. Affiliates and merchants, through these platforms, can find each other and start working.
However, affiliate programs are more than just a “meet-and-greet” destination for affiliates and merchants. These programs will help keep track of the data exchange between both parties. While these programs help affiliates record sales and data of millions of customers, they also help merchants to track the revenue generated as well as the amount of commission paid to the affiliates.
Choosing the best affiliate programs for beginners
When you do initial research on affiliate programs, you tend to get overwhelmed with options and not know where to start. Therefore, you must set some criteria in advance to get to the right path.
Here are some criteria you should consider when choosing affiliate programs as a beginner:
When doing affiliates, commissions are foremost the most critical factor to consider. You should not look at the displayed rates but the type of commission offered. Differentiating these types of commissions will help you identify your income goal and reach it faster. For example, the one-time commission often comes in high rates from 20-70%, but you will only get it once for each project then start looking for others to keep your income stable. Recurring commissions’ rates are relatively lower, but as long as your customer stays loyal, you’ll get a stable monthly income.
Usually, long-established and widely-trusted affiliate programs will have a professional system (including both automated software or human resources) to manage the affiliates and make sure the referring process goes well. If you’re opting for programs with no affiliate support, you must make sure you have their contact in case of unexpected problems occurrence, or just consider changing the platform.
Ease of use
For beginners who are as blank as a paper, it will be more convenient to try applications with a simple operating process. But in fact, this factor matters the least as an easy-to-use program will still do no good if their commission schedules are not transparent and their support is poor. In some cases, complex-usability platforms might be a “useful challenge” to help you study affiliates faster.
10 best affiliate programs for beginners
Amazon Associates is the leading determinant in the boom of affiliate marketing since 1996. It is actually the very first affiliate marketing program to exist in the market. For years, the program has been helping affiliate marketers earn profits from advertising products to Amazon customers. Affiliates will share a link that leads to an Amazon product and get the commission for each sale made through the link.
Getting started with Amazon Affiliate is easy. All you need to do is to click on the “Join Now For Free” button on the main page, register (or sign in) your Amazon account, and fill out the required information.
After adding your personal information, the program will ask you which blog, apps, or websites you’re planning to promote. You will also be asked about your niche, your intended affiliate products, or how you will drive traffic and monetization. Once your account is verified with payment and tax info, you can start searching for products in the search bar and get links for your chosen products to share in your promotions.
The commission you get for each sale ranges from 1% to 10%, which is quite a lot if you can generate large amounts of sales. However, remember that the cookies only last 24 hours, so the purchases made after that will not be attributed to you. Overall, Amazon Associates is a great place to get started before you go for more.
eBay Partner Network
eBay Partner Network does its affiliates all good. This decade-long affiliate program provides all the tools packages to help their publishers market. In other words, eBay Partner Network promotes win-win partnerships rather than just thinks for their sales and profits.
eBay usually calls their affiliates publishers. As a publisher, you will work directly with eBay products rather than working with a certain seller. After completing the basic process of account registration and verification, the publisher can start finding products to promote, creating traceable affiliate links using the program’s tools, and then sharing these links to any platforms.
When customers click on your links, they will be directed to the eBay listings. And after they make a purchase, sales will be recorded and tracked back to your affiliate links, in which you will receive a commission amount. However, eBay’s commission rates are relatively low, scheduled from 1% to 5% per sale, not to mention that the duration of the cookies is only 24 hours, and you have to get at least $10 commission to get paid monthly. But one big plus is that you will get doubled commission if your buyer is a new eBay user or hasn’t bought from eBay for at least 12 months. All in all, eBay Partner Network is still an ideal place to practice affiliate marketing as it’s low-risk guaranteed, and there are no strict entry requirements.
With its long history of over two decades, ClickBank Affiliate has been a potent tool to help beginners look for products to sell, especially digital products. The program offers a free search tool without account registration, opening up a reference source for those in the first phase. With an enormous amount of products provided and a diversity of merchants to partner with, ClickBank is undoubtedly one of the leading acts in the affiliate market.
For newcomers, ClickBank offers numerous affiliate resources to study; for example, some useful guides on how to find the right products to promote. ClickBank has a so-called gravity score, which indicates the selling power of each product. The higher the gravity score, the more competitive the product is. Scores from 50 to 100 are fine enough.
Operating ClickBank is simple. First, insert your personal, payment, and tax information to create an account and verify it. Then, to start looking for products, you can get right to the marketplace. Here, you can search for specific items and see the results. There might be a few options pop up, with product title and description included. Once you find the preferred products, click on the “Promote” button on the page, then copy and paste the URL link on the screen anywhere you want to engage.
Once people click on your link and buy the product, you’ll get commissions. Many products on ClickBank offer high commissions up to 75% of the product price, and some products even offer recurring commissions and upsell to boost your total earnings. With the low entry requirements and attractive rates offered, ClickBank is totally worth a try for beginners.
CJ (Commission Junction) Affiliate
CJ Affiliate, which was rebranded from Commission Junction by Conversant, is one of the very first affiliate programs to exist. With its history of over 20 years in the market, CJ Affiliate has been the most helpful partner with many merchants and gained credibility from several publishers since the beginning.
CJ Affiliate focuses its work as a direct partner with merchants rather than just an affiliate application, and that’s why they claim to be more favored by companies than other competitor sites. Especially, product category niches on CJ are extremely inclusive, with more than 3,000 big and small recognizable brands over the market such as Samsung, J.Crew, GoPro, etc.
Unlike other programs on the list, getting started with CJ Affiliate is quite complicated. First of all, complete your basic information and Network Profile. Spend more effort into building your network profile because it’s like a resume that determines whether merchants want to partner with you. Once you’ve done this process, you can direct to the “Advertisers” tab where you can see a list of potential merchants to browse through.
Taking a closer look, you’ll see that all the options include EPC, which is short for Earnings Per Click. This is one CJ policy where all affiliate commissions are based on EPC, meaning that traffic is the core determinant in the game. Once you’ve chosen the right merchant, click on the “Join Program” button, and wait for the approval. The approval times vary depending on each merchant, but it usually doesn’t take too long.
When your application gets approved, navigate to the “Links” tab and get different link options for your affiliate marketing effort. Now that your CJ Affiliate links are ready to generate sales, and you just have to keep looking for other potential merchants.
Commissions on CJ vary up to 30%, but the payment terms are a bit complex. The program is more suitable for bloggers or influencers than for beginners because of the EPC policy. But we still suggest beginners give a try to challenge your ability and be more adaptive to this platform.
Rakuten Affiliate has been an outstanding name in the market since Rakuten decided to venture into affiliate marketing in 2005. The program has been voted as the number one affiliate marketing network for conclusively 7 years thanks to its advancement in technology.
It’s easy to join the Rakuten Affiliate. After finishing the account registration process on the main homepage, you can jump straight into finding products and merchants to promote. But remember that Rakuten is selective, and your account can be suspended anytime if it violates any rules. Next, select the “Programs” tab to start finding merchants and affiliate links.
Start by searching for your product niches, and once you’ve found a suitable merchant, proceed with the proposal and wait for the approval. After getting approved, the process is pretty simple as you’ll just have to find the matching content/product to generate links and start promoting to earn as an affiliate. Commissions from Rakuten can get up to $50 per sale.
As mentioned, joining Rakuten Affiliate is not complicated - but it’s not friendly for newcomers. Rakuten often rejects websites with less traffic. But it’s still a good option if you want to verify your income sources and prove yourself as an affiliate marketer.
ClickFunnels offers a cloud-based website marketing platform that allows any business sizes from different industries to generate leads and sales. ClickFunnels is one of the most generous affiliate programs admitted by both beginners and pro affiliates. This application is the right place to diversify your income streams.
However, this program is not free to access. There are 3 pricing plans available, starting from $97/month for the basic plan. But the price is not even a tiny bit compared to the possible income you can earn. Newbies who are certain about their promoting ability can consider giving ClickFunnels a try.
ShareASale is one of the most user-friendly and straightforward affiliate programs which is suitable for beginners to learn how to play. The program remains the same URL and the same interface or layout for the past years, which sounds unprofessional at first, but brings a lot of accessibility to newcomers.
Signing up on ShareASale is totally easy - just fill out the queries, agree with the terms and conditions, and wait for the approval. It usually takes within 24 hours to get your account approved and verified for legitimation.
Finding the right program to promote on ShareASale is pretty interesting. In total, around 5000 merchants are using ShareASale for their affiliate marketing network, but they’re usually small and medium enterprises rather than bigger ones. This is actually a plus since small businesses tend to be hungrier for money, and they’re less likely to reject websites with less traffic, which is an opportunity for fresher affiliates to grow. You can sort these merchants by many search parameters, for example, by affiliate programs, auto-approval, EPC greater than, or Commission rate greater than. With this search filter, it will not take long until you find your suitable piece.
Once you’ve chosen your program, you can start creating affiliate links with ShareASale’s ready tools, and promote these links on any platform. Commissions on ShareASale vary from 2% to 8% - not really attractive but acceptable to get the first-hand experience.
Tired of promoting products? Then breathe in a new fresh air by promoting services instead. Fiverr is the leading marketplace for freelance services and offers services for customers worldwide. Fiverr, however, is more like an affiliate program because when you sign up to one portal, you will simultaneously get access to other services to promote.
It’s not difficult to get started with Fiverr affiliate. Just create a Fiverr affiliate account, choose the type of services you want to promote, then get the affiliate links. Fiverr’s commissions are based on the flat CPA (Commission Per Action) structure. It means that when you suggest a certain service to a new customer, you’ll receive a commission as soon as the transaction for that service is made.
Different Fiverr services will come with different commission rates, ranging from $15 to $50. For example, promoting video and animation, or game development can earn you a $50 referral, while only 30% commission is paid for online private lessons. However, note that this is a one-time payment, and you’ll only get a commission from new customers only. Overall, this is a great commission structure compared to other freelance service sites, and it is a good place for newbies to start.
ActiveCampaign is a cloud software platform for small and medium enterprises. The company offers automation software, with its SaaS platform, for businesses to provide better customer experience, including email marketing, sales automation, or CRM systems.
ActiveCampaign does run an affiliate program to give publishers bonuses on promoting the company and its products. To sign up for ActiveCampaign’s affiliate program, just simply create an account and log in. When you sign up for the program, you’ll be given a unique affiliate link, and you’ll get commissions based on the number of clicks and transactions made. Just introduce ActiveCampaign, and you’ll get up to 30% recurring commissions on referrals.
You will only earn commissions for paid accounts - accounts refunded or paid for with ActiveCampaign credit will not get the payment. The ActiveCampaign program also offers a tiered commission structure in which you can get higher commission rates by generating more sales. These tiers include Silver-tier (20% commission), Gold-tier (25% commission), and Platinum-tier (30% commission).
Overall, the ActiveCampaign affiliate program is a worthwhile application with low risks and high returns as you’ll earn the recurring commission without paying extra fees. This is a good option for beginners to start with doing affiliate with the least damages.
Build your own affiliate system
Rather than using a third-party system, you can create your own affiliate program by using a built-in affiliate extension.
Unlike the affiliate programs mentioned above, an affiliate extension is a solution added directly to an online store and operates as a built-in system within the store. This is not a third-party program. After installing this extension to your eCommerce store, you can create different affiliate programs and have full control over them in the same way a third-party affiliate service offers.
If you are running a Magento 2 store, we would like to recommend Magento 2 Affiliate extension - an effective solution for online stores to build and maintain successful affiliate programs.
With this solution, you are entirely in charge of building your own affiliate programs, managing the affiliate members and their activities related to your affiliate programs. It’s also easy to get started with this extension through a stress-free installation and thoroughly-guided step-by-step configuration.
Now that we’ve guided you through an overview of affiliate marketing, it’s your turn to discover it yourself. Learning about how to allocate your affiliate marketing effort wisely and choosing the right affiliate program might take some time, but the results will be rewarded. You can consider our suggestions for affiliate programs, or find your own program that best suits your niche and affiliate goals. Whatever program you choose, make sure to take full advantage of it not to let your effort be wasted.