Do you own a blog, a YouTube channel or a thriving social media profile? Are you looking to turn this into an income through affiliate marketing? If yes, you may be wondering what the best affiliate marketing programs for affiliates are. Hi, my name is Francisco, and I am the owner of Planet Marketing, a digital marketing agency. My company specializes in Facebook ads, Google Ads, affiliate marketing and remarketing. I have been in business for over 20 years and I have gathered all the information that is needed to set you in the right direction. Not only am I an affiliate for tens of brands whose products and services I sell through this website, but I also run my own affiliate marketing program. So, you can rest assured that I know all about the best programs that affiliates can use to fully monetize their channels. In this article, I am going to;
- Give you an affiliate marketing background.
- Give you the top 10 affiliate marketing programs for affiliates.
- Show you some of the mistakes that affiliates should avoid.
Affiliate Marketing Background
Affiliate marketing is a subject around which I can spend the whole day talking. However, if you already know what affiliate marketing is and if you are only looking for information about the top 10 affiliate marketing programs for affiliates, then by all means feel free to skip this section. I will definitely not hold it against you! Click on this link and you will be taken to the next section. This introduction is only intended for those that are still not sure what affiliate marketing is and how it works.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a program under which merchants engage the services of affiliates to market products and services on their behalf. Affiliates get paid a commission per sale.
Who is involved in affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing, as you can see, is nothing complicated. Indeed, you can view affiliate marketing as an extension of the kind of marketing that has always been around. Remember those 1960s movies and the salesmen who went around annoying the heck out of housewives while trying to push goods loaded in suitcases? Well, affiliate marketing is essentially the same thing. The only difference is that instead of moving around with heavy suitcases, affiliates are a rather sophisticated bunch. They use blogs, social media, YouTube, email and other internet based channels, to market goods and services on behalf of brands. So, who are the major players in affiliate marketing?
Merchants are the first of the major players in affiliate marketing. They are sometimes referred to as vendors or brands. Now, the brand is the entity that’s responsible for coming up with the product or service that’s going to put out onto the market. So, depending on how you look at it, the brand of merchant is the starting point of the affiliate marketing matrix.
Affiliates are another crucial component in affiliate marketing. They are responsible for finding the right markets for the brand’s products and services. It’s important to point out that for there to be successful interaction between the affiliate and the merchant, there needs to be at least some convergence of interest. Let’s say a company is into Sport paraphernalia. Now, though it can hire any affiliate to do marketing on its behalf, it is likely to have greater success by hiring Sports bloggers, as an example. Most people, both affiliates and merchants, make the mistake of thinking affiliate marketing is a hit and miss affair. That couldn’t be further from the truth. What is needed is to find the right audience. And for that to happen, both affiliates and brands need to be on the same wavelength as far as their interests are concerned.
Affiliate networks are the third important component in affiliate marketing. In fact, they are what we are mainly concerned with in this article. Fact of the matter is, it can be difficult for an affiliate to go around looking for appropriate programs to join. Remember what we have just been talking about in the previous section. For an affiliate to succeed at affiliate marketing, they need to market products and services that are in sync with the tone of their channels.
If they are into Sports, then they need to marketing sports products and services. The same applies if they are into other things, such as Digital Marketing. I personally run an affiliate program under which people can sell my Facebook Ads Marketing course, among other things. Now, the best kind of affiliate for these products will be someone who already blogs about Facebook marketing. Getting back to affiliate networks, they serve as the go-between between the affiliate and the brand. Without them, it would difficult for brands and affiliates to formulate meaningful and fruitful relationships.
The customer is a passive player in affiliate marketing. However, he or she is at the core of everything that happens. The business wants to get buyers for its products and services, and the affiliate uses his channels to reach out to people. Amidst all this, the customer benefits from discounts. Affiliates can negotiate deals on behalf of their customers. That’s because the affiliate marketing scene is competitive. So, an affiliate may get ahead by negotiating with a brand for a discount that attracts people to his channel.
How does affiliate marketing work?
This article looks at affiliate marketing from the point of view of the affiliate. If you are looking for an article that talks about the subject from the point of view of the vendor, feel free to read the article in the provided link. So, how does affiliate marketing work from the point of view of the affiliate?
- The affiliate has to come up with a vibrant marketing channel. Many an affiliate has been undone by this fact. A lot of people are under the impression that they are going to start a blog or YouTube channel today and tomorrow they will monetize it using affiliate marketing. Then they will get rich and start living life on beach. That, in any case, is a fallacy. I won’t say it never happens, but if it does happen, it does so on rare occasions. In reality, it takes time for an affiliate to build an audience. Another failing is that people rush to join affiliate marketing programs without bothering to build their audiences first. What then happens is that they get kicked out of most programs after going for more than 3 months without making a single sale. Of course, being kicked out is not catastrophic, since most programs allow you to rejoin. But it still stings. So, you need to come up with a vibrant content distribution network and doing so can take years.
- Next, the affiliate joins an affiliate marketing program. This can be done either directly or via a 3rd part affiliate marketing network. I have already stated that affiliate networks bring affiliates and merchants together. For that, they get paid a commission of the commission that is earned by the affiliate.
- The affiliate picks appropriate programs for marketing through his or her channel. This takes up back to what we have already discussed; the fact that affiliate marketing should not be done in a haphazard manner. Instead, there is need for coherence between the products that the vendor is selling and the audience that the affiliate draws using his or her channel. Just to give an example that’s closer to home, this website specializes in digital marketing. So, it’s only logical that I use it to sell various digital marketing tools on behalf of other brands. If you check, you will notice that I sell web hosting packages, SEO tools and other products. All of these are related to the core thrust of this website. Now, I may suddenly have an epiphany and feel that I now need to sell tiny houses via my website. Doing this would be foolhardy, however. For one thing, I don’t have a tiny houses audience. It would be better, if I wanted to do this, for me to create a new website that I would dedicate entirely to tiny houses.
- The affiliate gets a link for the programs that he wishes to market. The link is unique to the affiliate and serves to identify who is selling what. In other words, brands use these links to track who is selling what when.
- The affiliate embeds the link into content that appears on his or her marketing channel. Let’s say the affiliate is me and I am trying to get you to sign up for Project 24, one of the programs for which I am an affiliate. Project 24 is a course that teaches you how to turn your channel into a money spinning venture. As you can see, I have embedded my affiliate link in the above sentence. Now, should anyone be interested in checking out Project 24, they will do using my link and if they sign up, I will get rewarded.
How are affiliates paid?
There are a couple of ways through which you can get paid if you are an affiliate. Note that I am talking from experience here;
Once off payments
I have already stated that I sell web hosting packages for various companies, including Bluehost, DreamHost and Kinsta, which is the company that I use for this website. All of these companies offer once off payments on affiliate sales. So, if I refer someone to any of the companies today, and that person signs up, then I will be paid an amount that ranges around 100. Afterwards, I will need to make more referrals if I need to earn more money.
Now, this is the kind of payment that I love the most. In fact, I have talked to a number of affiliates and all of them swear by recurring payments on affiliate sales. Just to show you how it works; I am also an affiliate for Shopper Approved, a company that manages online reviews on behalf of various companies around the globe. Now, I have referred quite a number of people to Shopper Approved over the years. The really great thing is that I continue to get paid monthly for these referrals. And I will continue to get paid for as long as each referral remains active. So, as an affiliate, if you are looking for a great way to generate a passive source of income, then nothing beats recurring payments. Make enough referrals and you could very well be set for life!
Top 10 affiliate marketing programs as an affiliate
Okay, now we get to the crux of the matter; what are the top 10 affiliate marketing programs for affiliates? And how many of these should you join? Well, without wasting any more of your time, here are the top 10 affiliate marketing programs for affiliates;
CJ Affiliates is one of the best know affiliate marketing programs that you will be able to find out there. If you are an affiliate and you are looking for a platform that carters for both physical and digital goods.
Joining CJ affiliates is fairly simple. Sign up and you should be good to go in no time.
CJ Affiliates is big, and you won’t have problems finding appropriate programs for your channel. Was I to join, as an example, I would find that there are tens of web hosting companies on there that I can promote via my site.
The following are the CJ Affiliates cons;
Not so easy to use
The CJ Affiliates dashboard, in my experience, feels clunky at times. Maybe it was my computer or my internet but it definitely felt like there were too many programs running at once with the result that I had all the time in the world to put my feet up and relax while waiting for a simple click to bring forth the desired information.
The 180 days rule
To be fair, this is a rule that’s pretty universal across the affiliate marketing scene. If you don’t make any sales within 180 days, you get booted out of the program. This is what happens to a lot of affiliates when it comes to CJ Affiliates. The problem for many is one that I have already outlined above; they create their blogs or YouTube channels today and tomorrow, they rush to join a hundred affiliate marketing programs.
That, in any case, is a recipe for disappointment. For one thing, it takes time to build an audience and you are going to have difficult doing it the right way if you have an eye on the purse right from the word go. What you need to do, instead, is to start off with a clean slate. Don’t burden your new audience and your site with affiliate links at the beginning. Only do so when you have established a meaningful audience.
Amazon Associates is another popular program as far as affiliate marketing is concerned. The really great thing about Amazon Associates is that it offers you the chance to market thousands of products. Within this mix, nobody is going to say they couldn’t find appropriate products for their sites.
Joining Amazon Associates is simple enough. They used to require a phone number through which to send a confirmation code, which presented challenges for international affiliates, but that appears to have been done away with.
- You won’t have a shortage of products to market.
- They have the lowest payment thresholds that you will be able to find out there. They will pay you even a few cents at the end of the month.
The following are some of the Amazon Associates cons;
- Amazon Associates mostly carters for physical goods. So, you won’t have much luck if you are into digital goods.
- They will kick you out if you don’t make 3 sales within 180 days. The good news is that rejoining is easy. However, you will probably get a different affiliate ID, meaning you will need to go back to your content to replace the old ID with the new one.
- Their pixel only lasts one day, which is a bummer, particularly for capital goods. Nobody is going to buy a boat or a tiny house, as an example, without deliberating for several weeks.
ClickBank is another top affiliate marketing program for affiliates. In fact, my own affiliate marketing program is listed on ClickBank. They mainly deal with digital programs; such as my DIY Facebook Ads Marketing Course and my Google Ads Setup Plan. So, if you would like to market digital programs using your website, social media or YouTube, then ClickBank should be your first port of call.
They have a wide range of digital products that you can sell. So, no matter the nature of your site, if you are into digital products, you will be able to find them on the platform.
If you are into physical products, then you are probably better off signing up with other affiliate marketing programs, such as CJ Affiliates or Amazon Associates.
There is also the perception that almost anybody can list their program at ClickBank. So, some of the programs that are on there can be rather questionable in terms of quality. As an affiliate, you need to be discerning enough to know what to and what not to try and sell to your audience.
2checkout is huge, as far as affiliates are concerned. The platform currently plays host to a staggering 50000 affiliates. So, what does that mean for you as an affiliate?
Considering its size, you can be sure that 2checkout is home to some of the best merchants that can be found out there.
The competition can be tough, particularly if you are a small affiliate who is just setting out. 2checkout only goes to show that you need to find a niche that you can explore without feeling crowded by the over 50000 other affiliates.
Affiliate marketing, if you are just beginning, can quickly begin to seem like an intractable venture. You sit there without making any sales and you begin wondering whether or not anyone is actually selling anything. The good news is that, with Awin, you can be sure that affiliate marketing actually works. The company generated 147m in sales in 2019. A large chunk of this revenue will be going to affiliates. The figures are not really surprising, considering the following;
- Awin is probably the world’s biggest affiliate marketing platform. The platform plays host to over 230000 affiliates
- There are 16500 merchants on the platform.
Rakuten Advertising is another top affiliate marketing program for affiliates. The company recently changed its name from Rakuten Marketing to Rakuten Advertising. The program is open for bloggers, influencers, app developers or businesses. It’s designed to help publishers monetize digital content.
If you are an affiliate, then FlexOffers is another great affiliate marketing program that you should consider joining. At present, FlexOffers plays host to over 12000 affiliate programs. So, you probably won’t have much difficulty finding the right fit for your channel. FlexOffers deals with both physical and digital goods.
The really unique thing about FlexOffers, from an affiliate’s point of view, is that each affiliate gets assigned an affiliate manager. This individual is there to give you all the guidance that you need to make your venture a successful one. If you think you don’t need an affiliate marketing manager, then you would be very mistaken. Most affiliates make a host of mistakes right from the onset; and having your own affiliate marketing manager will go a long way in ensuring that you turn your venture into asucess.
RevenueWire is another great affiliate marketing program for affiliates. RevenueWire works best if you are into digital products. The great thing about RevenueWire is that it gives you an exposure to top class advertisers and has some of the best payouts that you will be able to find out there.
ShareASale was recently acquired by Awin, though it remains a standalone entity. The company is another of the big affiliate networks that you should consider joining. ShareASale is great for physical products. You can find anything on the platform, from luxury goods to beauty products. With over 5000 vendors, you are sure to find products within your niche on the platform.
The payout threshold is $50. This may appear not to be much, but if you are a new publisher, you may have a hard time hitting this threshold. Like CJ affiliates, your account will also be deleted if you do not make sales to the tune of over $25 within a prescribed time-frame.
JVZoo has emerged as one of the most popular affiliate marketing programs over the past few years. That’s despite the fact that they are comparatively a new kid on the blog. From an affiliate’s standpoint, one of the great thing about JVZoo is that they will pay you via PayPal as soon as you make a sale. So, you don’t have to wait months to get your money. Should you recruit other affiliates to JVZoo, you will also get paid whenever they make a sale. You will also get a commission if a person that has clicked on your link purchases another product, other than the one in the link.
- Payments are only made through PayPal
- A buyer can request a refund, in which case the commission will be taken back.
- They are mainly into digital products.
Mistakes that all affiliates should avoid
I have already mentioned that I have been an affiliate for a long time. In all that time, I have gathered a number of useful affiliate marketing tips. Here are the mistakes that all publishers need to avoid if they are to have any success through affiliate marketing;
- Don’t create a general site: It’s all very good to want to talk about everything, but creating a general website or YouTube channel is not the most advisable option. What you need to do is to be focused on a particular subject. As an example, I focus on Digital Marketing. I could go further and focus on one aspect, eg Facebook Marketing. Doing this allows you to create a loyal following and to become an authority as far as search engines are concerned.
- Don’t rush to join affiliate marketing programs: This is something that I have already alluded to in the above discussion. It’s no use for you to join every program that’s out there when you do not have the critical mass in terms of an audience. Most people, in their joy at creating their own YouTube channel or blog, rush to join ALL the affiliate marketing programs that are out there. They are soon disappointed.
- You don’t need to join ALL affiliate marketing programs that are out there: In fact, you can get by even if you join only one. As an example, we noted that FlexOffers, one of the best affiliate marketing programs for affiliates, has over 12000 merchants. Surely, if you sign up, you will be able to find what you are looking for. You are not going to say I couldn’t find a program that fit my site from the 12000 that are on offer. That’s impossible! Now, if there is really a company that you wish to market and if it’s only to be found on one platform, then by all means, feel free to join that one as well.
- Concentrate on a few products: This is another mistake that beginners to affiliate marketing make; they want to sell everything. Let’s say you have joined CJ Affiliates and you find that there are 10 web hosting companies on there. Now, which ones should you start promoting? Well, many affiliates want to promote ALL of them, which is clearly not advisable. What you need to do is focus on one or two companies, preferably those with which you have an experience. That way, you will be able to do them justice in terms of content creation.