“Passive income” is an elusive term that often lures office-goers, freelancers, and even entrepreneurs. The idea of making money without any effort seems too lucrative to be true. However, finding a source of sustainable passive income can be challenging. Many people have fallen for fraudulent passive income schemes and lost their hard-earned money in the process.
Thus, if you want to make some extra money on the side, you must tread with caution. There are numerous legitimate ways to earn side income consistently. Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular and cost-effective methods for generating passive income. When done correctly, it can be developed into a self-sustaining business model.
The best part about affiliate marketing is that you can make money even while you’re asleep. However, it does require you to build an engaged audience and find the right products to promote. Additionally, you should strive hard to establish and maintain your image as a reputed and trustworthy content creator. Once your efforts gain momentum, affiliate marketing can be used to generate steady income.
Affiliate marketing also offers a plethora of benefits for brands and product developers. It increases brand awareness, generates leads, and drives conversions. It is particularly useful when you want to launch a new product on the market. Thus, affiliate marketing creates a win-win situation for both marketers and brands.
If you are new to the world of affiliate marketing, the technicalities and terminologies can be a little too overbearing. An effective way of simplifying the process is to use an affiliate marketing platform. Also known as an affiliate network, it acts as a bridge between sellers and affiliate marketers.
In this blog, we will list the best affiliate marketing platforms for beginners. Before we do that, let us delve deeper into the concept of affiliate marketing.
Understanding Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing, also known as performance marketing, refers to the practice of making money by promoting other people’s products. You earn a commission every time someone a sale is attributed to you. This requires you to build your brand and attract a loyal audience. Additionally, you should find products that will hit the right chord with your audience.
The most crucial part of affiliate marketing is to effectively promote a merchant’s products to your audience. You can do this by publishing genuine and insightful product reviews on your blog or YouTube channel. Make sure you include a link to the merchant’s site in your content. It is also crucial to highlight the fact that your review is financially incentivized.
It is worth pointing out that you can promote both tangible and intangible products through affiliate marketing. Tangible products are those that have to be physically created and delivered to a customer. On the other hand, intangible products include services such as consultation and digital products such as software, webinars, e-books, whitepapers, etc.
Traditionally, affiliate marketing involves three parties, as follows:
Image via Affiliate Junction
• The advertiser, also known as a merchant, seller, retailer, or vendor, is the party that develops and/or owns the product. It can be an established brand, an upcoming startup, or a solo entrepreneur.
• The affiliate, also known as a publisher, is the party in charge of promoting the merchant’s products. Every time the affiliate drives a sale, they are rewarded with a commission by the merchant. Many merchants also offer a commission for generating website traffic or leads.
• The audience, sometimes known as the consumer or customer, is the person on the receiving end of the affiliate’s marketing efforts. They are the actual buyers of a merchant’s products. Even the best affiliate marketing program won’t drive conversion in the absence of an engaged audience. It is the affiliate marketer’s responsibility to build this audience.
Many established brands have leveraged affiliate marketing to build brand awareness and increase sales. For instance, Daniel Wellington rose to prominence by harnessing the power of affiliate marketing. The Swedish luxury watch brand gifts DW watches to selected Instagram influencers and assigns a unique code to each one of them.
These influencers are further encouraged to feature DW watches on their Instagram profiles. They can also include the promo code to offer a discount to their followers. Every time someone purchases a DW watch using a promo code, the corresponding influencer earns a commission. This strategy has helped Daniel Wellington promote its brand to a wide and relevant audience and become one of Europe’s fastest-growing companies.
Take a look at the screenshot below:
Image via Instagram
Affiliate marketing is beneficial for brands as well as marketers. Before we discuss further, let us note down a few important terms that you will frequently come across on this blog.
Affiliate Marketing Terminology
If you are an affiliate marketing novice, keeping track of terms like affiliate link, commission, affiliate network, etc. can be difficult. We have already discussed two crucial terms – merchant and affiliate – in the previous sections. Here are a few other important terms you will frequently encounter:
• Affiliate program – It is the overall strategy developed by a merchant to promote their products using affiliate marketing.
• Affiliate link – It is a unique trackable link assigned to an affiliate marketer. It usually contains an ID or username and is used to identify an affiliate. The affiliate promotes this link on their blog, social media profiles, YouTube channel, etc. When someone clicks on the link and eventually makes a purchase, the sale is attributed to that particular affiliate.
Take a look at the example below:
Image via MonetizePros
The affiliate link is an extremely crucial component of every affiliate marketing program. Many merchants also assign unique affiliate codes instead of a link.
• Affiliate commission – It is the amount that is paid to an affiliate for driving website traffic or conversions. It is usually a percentage of the total sale.
• Affiliate agreement – It outlines the working terms and conditions between a merchant and an affiliate. The agreement should clearly mention the deliverables, commission, and timelines. It is a highly critical component of affiliate marketing that helps avoid misunderstandings and legal hassles.
• Affiliate network – An affiliate network or platform is a virtual marketplace that connects sellers and affiliates. It helps simplify the affiliate marketing workflow and makes it more cost-effective. We will discuss more on affiliate networks along with the best examples later in this blog.
Now that we are warming up to the concept of affiliate marketing, let us understand how it works.
How Affiliate Marketing Works: An Overview
In this section, we will discuss how conventional affiliate marketing works, in the absence of an affiliate network. It involves the following steps:
• The merchant develops a product idea and validates it. It is essential to test the market and find out whether there is any demand for the product at all. At this stage, it is equally crucial to identify any competitors.
• Once the idea is validated, the merchant creates the product and launches it.
• The merchant develops an affiliate program outlining the marketing objectives, affiliate commission, and other details.
• The merchant looks for relevant affiliate marketers to promote their product. After that, the merchant approaches shortlisted affiliates and invites them to join the program.
• Affiliate marketers can also search for relevant products and approach merchants for collaboration opportunities. Even if a brand hasn’t advertised an affiliate program, you can email them to check if there is a possibility.
• The affiliate is assigned a unique ID and affiliate link.
• The affiliate promotes the product along with the affiliate link through various channels.
• When a user clicks on the affiliate link and visits the merchant’s website, a cookie is generated that contains the affiliate ID. It is stored on the user’s browsing device for a fixed time period. This helps attribute the resulting website traffic or sale to an affiliate, even if the conversion happens long after a user first clicks on the link.
• When a conversion happens, the merchant checks the sales record and the associated cookie to find the affiliate ID. If the cookie contains an affiliate ID, the sale is attributed to the associated affiliate.
• Finally, the affiliate is rewarded with the commission at the end of the mutually agreed payment cycle.
Image via SmartBlogger
It is important here to point out that affiliate marketing requires meticulous monitoring on the merchant’s part. They must keep track of the affiliate links and IDs associated with each transaction. It helps them evaluate the performance of each affiliate and in turn, reward them with suitable compensation.
However, doing this task manually can be challenging. It is particularly difficult when you are working with a large number of affiliate marketers. This emphasizes the need for software that can automatically keep track of all the transactions and the associated affiliates. An affiliate marketing platform offers this and many other benefits.
Here is an overview of how an affiliate network fits in the entire process:
Image via BigCommerce
An affiliate network simplifies the affiliate marketing process. Before we elaborate further, let us quickly analyze whether affiliate marketing is still relevant.
The Importance of Affiliate Marketing
According to Google Trends, the number of Google searches for the term “affiliate marketing” has significantly increased in recent years. This clearly indicates that the popularity of affiliate is consistently growing. Let us find out why.
When you work as an affiliate, you have to promote products that have been created by someone else. This saves you the trouble of going through the process of developing and validating a new idea. That is already taken care of by the merchant or seller. This is particularly useful when you are a beginner who is looking for a profitable side hustle.
The initial setup cost and risk associated with affiliate marketing are quite less. Since you are not the creator or owner of the product, you don’t have to spend any resources on developing it. Even if the product doesn’t attract many paying customers, you don’t stand to lose much. Moreover, you can get started with just a computer and a stable internet connection.
Likewise, an affiliate doesn’t have to worry about providing customer support or handling the physical delivery of products. The merchant handles all the tedious logistical tasks. Let us now see how affiliate marketing benefits merchants and brands.
The biggest advantage of affiliate marketing for brands is that they don’t have to worry about building a rapport with their audience. Affiliate marketers have already done the tough work for you. All you have to do is find genuine and relevant affiliates with a huge following. This is particularly useful when you want to target a new demographic or launch a new product.
Affiliate marketing also helps you connect with a wider audience and win their trust. When a genuine affiliate recommends your brand, it reinforces brand credibility. It even helps with lead generation and drives conversions in the long run. That is why it is one of the most popular methods for customer acquisition.
Affiliates also help drive increased organic traffic to your website. Moreover, when an affiliate includes a link to your website on their blog, it strengthens your inbound link profile. This, in turn, boosts your website’s search engine ranking and increasing your brand’s visibility even further.
The best part is that you only pay an affiliate only when a conversion happens. Unlike other marketing techniques, you don’t have to allot any additional budget for this. It makes affiliate marketing extremely cost-effective and, in turn, improves its return on investment (ROI).
If you are wondering whether your business should consider affiliate marketing, the answer is yes. It lets you leverage the power of someone else’s influence and promote your brand. Likewise, if you want to generate steady passive income, it is high time you try your hands it affiliate marketing. Without further delay, let us now dig deeper into the topic of affiliate marketing platforms.
Understanding Affiliate Marketing Platforms
As discussed previously, an affiliate marketing platform acts as a connector or bridge between merchants and affiliates. Also known as an affiliate network, it is an online marketplace where sellers can sign-up and list all their products. They can also specify the terms of their affiliate program and the commission they will provide. Some networks even let merchants add creatives and promotional texts that can be used by affiliates for marketing.
Likewise, an affiliate can sign-up on the network and get access to all the enlisted products. You can choose from a range of products that will resonate with your audience. When you find a product that you wish to promote, you simply have to apply and go through a verification process. Once you have been accepted, the network assigns an affiliate link to you, which you can then promote.
The affiliate link contains a unique ID that is tracked by the affiliate network. When someone clicks on the link, they are taken to the merchant’s website. If they complete a purchase, the network attributes the sale to the corresponding affiliate and compensates them accordingly.
Both merchants and affiliates are provided with their personal dashboards. They can use these dashboards to keep track of the sales, commissions, and the overall performance of their campaigns. Most affiliate networks also have pre-defined agreements to facilitate collaborations between merchants and affiliates.
You can find a plethora of affiliate marketing platforms on the internet. Some of the most popular ones include Amazon Associates, Commission Junction, Rakuten Affiliate Network, etc. Before we move on to the best affiliate networks in 2019, let us quickly find out why they are so important, after all.
Why You Need An Affiliate Marketing Platform
As discussed previously, an affiliate marketing platform makes the process simple and hassle-free. Both merchants and affiliates can benefit from signing up on an affiliate network.
Benefits for Merchants:
The biggest advantage is that an affiliate network eliminates the need to track affiliate links and transactions manually. A merchant can just sign-in to their dashboard and access this information. It also lets you monitor the performance of each product and the associated marketing campaign. This, in turn, helps you focus on more important things, such as improving the performance of an affiliate program.
Affiliate networks also require every affiliate marketer to go through a verification process. This ensures that you only collaborate with vetted and reliable affiliates. The existence of a pre-defined agreement also helps avoid misunderstandings between both parties.
Moreover, the network monitors every affiliate and ensures that they comply with the terms of your affiliate program. When a suspicious activity or malpractice is detected, you are immediately notified. This helps you quickly deal with adverse situations before they get out of hand.
It is also crucial to point out that an affiliate network provides you with a vast pool of marketers to choose from. This would not have been feasible if you were to find them on your own. Additionally, affiliate networks are cost-effective as they only charge you when a transaction happens.
Benefits for Affiliates:
If you directly approach brands or merchants, you can’t be completely sure of their credibility. This is especially crucial when you are working with a new seller. An affiliate network ensures that you only collaborate with verified and trusted merchants. It also protects you from fraudulent sellers.
Additionally, you get access to a wide range of products from a myriad of sellers located all across the world. This helps you select the best and most relevant products that will appeal to your audience. This might not have been possible if you were to approach every merchant on your own. It also eliminates the need for you to always be on the lookout for new products.
As an affiliate, you can also use a plethora of promotional creatives uploaded by the merchant. This is particularly useful when you are new to affiliate marketing. An affiliate marketing platform also facilitates complete transparency between merchants and affiliates. The ability to track every sale from your dashboard ensures that there is no scope of misunderstanding.
Moreover, all payments are processed by the affiliate network. This ensures that your payouts are released in a timely manner. You don’t have to follow-up with the merchant in case of any unprecedented delays.
Affiliate networks are an indispensable part of every affiliate marketing strategy. It is equally beneficial for merchants as well as sellers. Now that we have established this fact, let us take a closer look at the best affiliate marketing platforms for beginners.
Top Affiliate Marketing Platforms for Beginners
If you run a quick Google search for the term “affiliate marketing platforms”, you will find several options. When you are just starting out, the sheer variety can seem overwhelming. While the basic functionality of all these platforms remains the same, some are better suited for seasoned marketers. It is, therefore, essential to carefully analyze each platform and weigh its pros and cons before you decide to sign-up.
Here is a list of the top affiliate marketing platforms for beginners:
1. Amazon Associates
Amazon, the online retail giant, has established itself as an authority in the e-commerce industry. It is only natural that its affiliate marketing program has also attracted the limelight. Introduced in 1996, Amazon Associates is one of the oldest and most sought-after affiliate marketing platforms. With millions of products to choose from, it is the right platform to kickstart your affiliate marketing journey.
Image via Amazon
The best is that you get access to products from a wide range of sellers across various categories. From something as mainstream as electronics to specialized categories such as handcrafted jewelry – you can choose from a diverse array of products. No matter how niche your audience is, you will find something to grab their attention.
You can sign-up for free and earn up to 12% commission on each qualifying sale. Moreover, you get credited for every purchase your referred traffic makes, even if they don’t buy the product you had initially advertised. Due to the immense variety of products, typical order values on Amazon tend to go quite high. You earn revenue for each product purchased by your referred traffic, irrespective of whether you advertised it.
Let’s say you promote a jar of vegan mayonnaise, and someone clicks on your affiliate link. However, once the user lands on Amazon, they decide to purchase a jar of peanut butter. While they are at it, they also decide to buy a set of knives and cutlery stand. You get to earn a commission for each one of these products.
This flexibility, along with the hassle-free sign-up process, makes Amazon Associates one of the best-suited platforms for beginners. However, it doesn’t support PayPal, limiting the payout options to cheque, bank transfer, and Amazon gift cards. Another drawback is the short cookie duration; each affiliate cookie only lasts for 24 hours. If your referred traffic comes back and makes a purchase after 24 hours, it is not attributed to you.
• Key Highlights – Free and easy sign-up, access to millions of products across numerous categories, up to 12% commission on each qualifying sale.
• Pros – You are credited for every purchase made by your referred traffic, irrespective of whether they buy the advertised product.
• Cons – Only 24-hour affiliate cookie duration, lack of flexible payout options such as PayPal.
2. Affiliate Window
Popularly known as Awin, Affiliate Window boasts of a rich body of more than 15,000 merchants. These include many popular and established brands such as Vodafone, Expedia, Dorothy Perkins, etc. It is not surprising that, in less than two decades, this affiliate network has attracted more than 200,000 publishers.
Image via Awin
Apart from connecting you with big brands and retailers, Affiliate Window provides a simple and user-friendly dashboard. You can use it to view the latest affiliate programs, monitor the performance of your campaigns, and track your commissions. Additionally, the platform provides real-time reports and support cross-device tracking, making things even easier for you.
Affiliate Window also allows relatively lower payment thresholds. It supports multiple currencies and releases payouts twice a month. The affiliate commission varies depending on the merchant and the affiliate program. You also get access to constant customer support through phone and email.
The only catch is that you will have to pay £5 to register as a publisher. Once your credentials are verified, and your account is approved, the amount is refunded. However, there is no clarity on what happens if your application is rejected. On the upside, this ensures that the platform only attracts serious and dedicated affiliate marketers.
Another significant drawback is the lack of a robust online knowledge base. The website doesn’t contain a comprehensive FAQ page that will give you a quick glimpse of how the platform works. The only way to obtain this information is to contact them via email or a phone call. This can be particularly time-consuming when you have a small query.
• Key Highlights – More than 15,000 merchants, including various big brands, variable commission rates.
• Pros – Intuitive and user-friendly dashboard, real-time reporting, flexible payment options in multiple currencies, proactive customer support thorough verification of publishers’ credentials.
• Cons – £5 registration fee for affiliates, lack of online knowledge base.
Registering on ShareASale gives you instant access to more than 3,900 affiliate programs in 40 different categories. You can join programs in various niches, including fashion and retail, home and gardening, etc. The biggest advantage of ShareASale is that it offers a simple, straightforward, and search-friendly platform. You can search for the most suitable affiliate programs and filter the results based on categories, keywords, merchants, etc.
Image via ShareASale
The platform also lets you compare different affiliate programs based on the average commission, reversal rates, etc. Moreover, you can use sophisticated reporting tools to track each affiliate link in real-time. ShareASale also offers additional support in the form of an affiliate development team that recommends the best merchants for you. You can also participate in regular workshops and webinars, making the platform ideal for beginners.
However, the payment threshold, at $50 is quite steep in comparison to other networks. This is of particular concern for newcomers. Additionally, marketers often don’t receive any notification when an affiliate program abruptly shuts down.
• Key Highlights – More than 3,900 affiliate programs across 40 categories, simple interface, proactive and friendly customer support.
• Pros – Dedicated affiliate development team that helps new publishers select the right programs, search-friendly platforms, supports flexible payout options, sophisticated reporting tools.
• Cons – High payment threshold, affiliate marketers aren’t notified about the abrupt closure of ongoing programs.
4. AdWork Media
Are you a blogger or website owner looking for ways to monetize your traffic? Join AdWork Media and choose from more than 2,500 affiliate programs spread across 250 countries. Unlike other platforms, this affiliate network is based on the CPA (cost per action) model. This means you get paid every time a website visitor completed the desired action.
Image via AdWork Media
AdWork Media provides you with a range of automated monetization tools such as Content Locker, Product Locker, Offer Wall, etc. You can use these tools to lock high-value content like e-books, case studies, podcasts, etc. and products like apps, plugins, games, etc. They can also be easily integrated on your website or mobile app using APIs and plugins. The ability to monetize website traffic on any device from any location makes it one of the best-suited affiliate networks for content publishers.
Moreover, the platform generates daily performance reports that let you track your campaigns. In addition to 7-day customer support, a performance manager is assigned to every publisher. This helps beginners get the hang of the platform and improve their campaigns. The network also provides bonuses to publishers based on their performance.
AdWork Media supports multiple payment options, such as PayPal, direct bank transfer, and Bitcoin. Payments are released on a weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly basis. However, the payment threshold, at $35, is quite high for beginners.
It is also worth mentioning that not all publisher accounts are approved by the platform. You should only sign-up on the platform once your website/blog/product is completely ready. Otherwise, your application will be rejected.
• Key Highlights – CPA affiliate network, ideal for content publishers who want to monetize website traffic, diverse array of automated monetization tools.
• Pros – Dedicated performance manager for each publisher, daily performance reports; flexibility in terms of payment schedule and mode, 7-day customer support.
• Cons – Relatively higher payment threshold, strict verification process for publishers.
Boasting of a prestigious clientele including brands like Microsoft, Apple, American Express, etc., MaxBounty is one of the most reputed affiliate networks. It is primarily known for being a CPA affiliate network with high-converting campaigns. You can choose from more than 2000 affiliate programs in various categories.
Image via MaxBounty
What sets MaxBounty apart from other platforms is the impeccable customer support. Additionally, a friendly affiliate manager is assigned to each account, ensuring that you are handheld through the entire process. You also get access to the extensive knowledge base and can join online workshops to further hone your affiliate marketing skills.
Just like most modern affiliate networks, MaxBounty supports various payment modes including PayPal, Payoneer, and Bitcoin. However, the payment threshold of $100 is extremely high for beginners. Moreover, while you can sign-up for free, your account undergoes rigorous verification. If you don’t have a functional website or if the source of your website traffic appears questionable, your account may be rejected.
• Key Highlights – CPA affiliate network with high-converting offers, rich clientele including established brands.
• Pros – Super-friendly customer support with a dedicated affiliate manager, flawless campaign tracking tools, simple and intuitive platform, flexible payment modes.
• Cons – Extremely high payment threshold, strict registration process (may not be suitable for novices).
This prominent affiliate marketing platform connects more than 2000 active merchants with 180,000 publishers. With offices in the UK and multiple European countries, Tradedoubler attracts many big brands including Philips, Puma, HP, etc. It has also been rated by mThink as one of the top affiliate networks in 2019.
Image via Tradedoubler
Founded in 1999, Tradedoubler connects brands with affiliate marketing from various countries. However, if you want to sign-up as a publisher, you should have a significantly large European audience. The platform offers affiliate programs based on various models including CPS (cost per sale), CPL (cost per lead), and CPA. Moreover, publishers can add multiple affiliate websites in the same account, making it easier to track and manage them.
You can use advanced reporting tools to monitor and improve campaign performance. You also get access to round-the-clock customer support. Tradedoubler also supports multiple currencies to facilitate international payouts.
The key distinguishing feature of Tradedoubler is its ability to track conversions and sales without cookies. As more internet users have started disabling cookies on their web browsers, cookieless tracking is a boon for affiliate marketers. It also supports cross-device tracking and can be accessed on mobile devices too.
The only slight drawback of Tradedoubler is that it doesn’t support digital payment models like PayPal, Payoneer, etc. All payments are made through BACS (Bank Automated Clearing System). This requires you to have a UK bank account or apply for international payments.
• Key Highlights – Reputed clientele, supports various affiliate marketing models including CPS, CPL, and CPA, cookieless tracking.
• Pros – Round-the-clock customer support, cross-device tracking with mobile support, allows a publisher to add multiple affiliate websites.
• Cons – Lack of digital payment options, requires you to have a significantly large European audience.
7. Commission Junction
Popularly known as CJ Affiliate, Commission Junction is one of the oldest and largest affiliate marketing networks. Most big brands and established merchants use it to advertise their products. This makes it one of the best platforms to start with affiliate marketing.
Image via CJ Affiliate
You can choose from a wide range of affiliate programs based on CPS, CPL, and CPA models. As a publisher, you also get access to a plethora of promotional materials such as banners, texts, display ads, etc. You can also use sophisticated tracking tools to monitor campaign performance and earnings.
You can sign-up for free on Commission Junction. While publisher accounts are almost instantly approved, you have to manually apply to individual affiliate programs. Moreover, every merchant is free to add their own terms and conditions. This lack of standardization requires you to spend a lot of time understanding the dynamics of each merchant.
Commission Junction is known for pulling the plug on inactive affiliate accounts. Therefore, you must ensure that you regularly log in to your account and apply for affiliate programs. Additionally, it doesn’t support modern payment methods like PayPal.
• Key Highlights – One of the largest and oldest affiliate networks, used by many established merchants.
• Pros – Advanced real-time tracking, free and instant sign-up process, reliable payment platform.
• Cons – Lack of modern payment modes, no standardization of terms and conditions, you have to apply and get approved for every affiliate program you want to join.
8. Rakuten Affiliate Network
When an affiliate network is ranked #1 by mThink eight times in a row, you know it is a big deal. With over 1,000 reputed merchants from all over the world, Rakuten Affiliate Network can boost your affiliate marketing venture. You can choose to promote a plethora of affiliate programs and diverse product categories.
Image via Rakuten Marketing
Operating in more than 200 countries, Rakuten provides payments in 25 currencies. This ensures that you get paid easily irrespective of where you are based out of. The platform is fairly easy to use and involves a free sign-up process. The advanced search feature lets you easily find the most relevant merchant and affiliate programs.
Rakuten also lets you create different types of promotional content, including rotating ads. You also get access to detailed reports outlining the performance of every campaign. However, you need to submit separate applications for each affiliate program you wish to join.
Unlike most modern affiliate networks, Rakuten doesn’t support digital payment methods like PayPal. Moreover, the platform only pays affiliates when it gets paid by the corresponding merchants. This often leads to unprecedented delays, making the payment schedule unreliable.
• Key Highlights – Top-rated affiliate marketing network, wide range of products and affiliate programs.
• Pros – Free and easy sign-up, user-friendly interface, ability to create different types of ads including rotating ads, advanced campaign monitoring.
• Cons – Lack of PayPal support, unpredictable payment schedule, you have to apply individually to each affiliate program.
FlexOffers is one of the most trusted affiliate marketing platforms for both publishers and advertisers. While publishers can sign-up for free on the network, merchants have to pay $500 as a one-time registration fee. Additionally, they have to pay a deposit fee of $100. This ensures that only reliable and reputed merchants sign-up on the network.
Image via FlexOffers
As a publisher, you can choose from more than 12,000 affiliate programs. FlexOffers boasts of an illustrious clientele, including big brands like Nike, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, etc. The best part is that the registration process is fairly simple and quick. However, you need to have a functional website/blog or provide the details of your traffic sources.
A dedicated account manager is assigned to every publisher to help you select the best affiliate programs. Additionally, they assist you while negotiating the commissions and payment terms with different merchants. The platform also has a ticketing system that lets you report any issues you might be facing. You can also get in touch with their efficient customer support via phone and email.
Another major advantage of FlexOffers is that the platform is extremely user-friendly. Apart from searching for the best merchants and offers, you also get access to promotional banners and creatives uploaded by advertisers. This lets you focus on publishing good content instead of working on developing marketing collaterals for sellers. You can also access detailed real-time reports to track the progress of your campaigns.
FlexOffers also has a lucrative referral program wherein you can make money by bringing other publishers on board. You are rewarded with a percentage of the commission earned by every referred publisher. The payment schedule is also fairly straightforward; you get paid within 30 days of a sale/conversion. Top-performing publishers may also be qualified for payment on a Net7 basis, i.e., they get paid within 7 days of a sale/conversion.
However, FlexOffers has very strict rules against fraudulent publishers and scammers. The platform regularly monitors the source of your traffic. If any suspicious activity is detected, your account might be suspended.
• Key Highlights: Reliable and user-friendly platform, more than 12,000 affiliate programs from various merchants including reputed brands, referral program for publishers.
• Pros: Real-time tracking, efficient customer support including ticketing system, dedicated account manager for every publisher, reliable and timely payment system.
• Cons: Not free for advertisers, publishers must provide accurate information about the source of their traffic.
ClickBank is an online marketplace dedicated to digital products. As an affiliate marketer, you can choose from thousands of products such as website templates, software plugins, e-books, webinars, etc. These products are available across various niches, including health, beauty, gardening, entertainment, business, politics, etc. You can also create your digital products and list them on ClickBank.
Image via ClickBank
What distinguishes ClickBank from other affiliate networks is the high commission rates offered by most merchants. This is because there are no production, shipping, or other logistical costs associated with the products. You can expect to earn a commission of 70% or higher per conversion. This makes ClickBank one of the most popular affiliate marketing platforms for content creators.
It is also worth mentioning that the platform lets you choose your payment schedule and threshold. You can opt for a weekly or bi-weekly payout. However, you should be careful while specifying the threshold. Payments are made using various methods, including digital wallets like Payoneer.
The platform offers powerful reporting tools to help you monitor your links, commissions, etc. Moreover, most reputed products come with a money-back guarantee, helping to drive more conversions. ClickBank also has an extensive knowledge base to help beginners sail through the platform.
However, despite hosting numerous digital products, the ClickBank interface appears to be quite dated. The promotional materials like banners and email marketing templates hosted on the platform also lack sophistication. The biggest drawback of ClickBank is that it also hosts a plethora of low-quality products bordering on scammy content. As a publisher, you should be particularly cautious when selecting products you’d like to promote.
• Key Highlights: Reputed platform for selling and promoting digital products, you can choose from numerous products across diverse niches.
• Pros: Higher commission rates in comparison to other platforms, comprehensive knowledge base, advanced tracking tools, flexible payment schedule and threshold.
• Cons: Dated interface and promotional creatives, abundance of low-quality and unreliable products.
Most affiliate networks take weeks or even months to pay their publishers. What if there is a platform that offers instant payment to affiliate marketers? This is exactly what sets JVZoo apart from other affiliate marketing platforms. It uses PayPal’s adaptive payment technology to transfer your payment as soon as a conversion happens.
Image via JVZoo
Launched in 2011, JVZoo is a popular affiliate network for promoting and selling digital products. The instant payment feature makes it suitable for new affiliate marketers. It hosts more than 9.5 million products across 22 categories including e-commerce, business, health/fitness, etc. It has been featured on the Inc 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S., two years in a row.
You can choose from a wide range of virtual products such as newsletter subscriptions, software, e-books, etc. It is also integrated with Warrior Forum, the largest online forum where internet marketers post offers and deals for their products. The platform also provides additional support to merchants in terms of handling refunds and bonuses.
The JVZoo Marketplace has a simple and intuitive interface and is easily navigable. However, the layout is unappealing and non-responsive. It also offers higher commission rates than other affiliate marketing networks.
Image via JVZoo
As with any online marketplace, quality-control is a major issue with JVZoo. There are a lot of low-quality, valueless, and unreliable content floating around on the platform. Most of these products make false or ridiculous claims like “make money fast” or “earn $100 a day”. If you are a beginner, you should be particularly wary of such products.
Moreover, you have to individually apply to each affiliate program. Make sure you provide extensive details of how you will promote the product. JVZoo offers a paid course for both merchants and publishers. It teaches the basics of affiliate marketing and various effective techniques to make money online.
There have been instances when merchants have completely abandoned their products sometime after launching them. They may have moved on to develop other products without providing support for customers of their existing products. When you, as a publisher, promote such products, it can jeopardize your reputation and credibility. Therefore, you should be extremely careful when applying to affiliate programs on JVZoo.
• Key Highlights: Affiliate marketing platform dedicated to digital products, recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies by Inc 5000, for two consecutive years, higher commission rates.
• Pros: Instant payment using PayPal’s adaptive payment system, integrated with Warrior Forum, user-friendly interface.
• Cons: Non-responsive website design, many valueless and scammy products on the platform, publishers have to apply individually for each program, merchants often provide no support to existing customers.
If you are a blogger, you likely already use many outbound links in your content. Many of these links redirect your readers to merchant and product websites. What if there was a way to monetize these outbound links with minimal effort. VigLink, now known as Sovrn //Commerce lets you earn revenue from your blog posts by converting outbound links into affiliate links.
Image via VigLink
All you have to do is sign-up on the network and paste a line of code in the source code of your blog. Thereafter, VigLink automatically adds relevant affiliate links in your content whenever a product or merchant is mentioned. Additionally, it also converts any outbound product links into trackable affiliate links. This, in turn, helps track the conversions driven by your content and ensures that you are compensated with suitable compensation.
Another interesting feature is its Anywhere tool that lets you monetize product links in your social media posts. This is particularly useful for new bloggers who actively promote their content on social media to build their audience. VigLink has more than 30,000 merchants, including various reputed brands. The best part is that it always assigns the highest paying merchant to your content, thus ensuring that you earn more revenue.
The platform also offers advanced tracking tools that let you keep an eye on the sales and commission. It helps you identify the blog posts that are generating more revenue. You can also find the gaps in your existing content and develop new techniques to improve them.
• Key Highlights: Simple and effective way to monetize blog posts, automatically converts outbound links and product/brand mentions into affiliate links, attracts more than 30,000 reputed and reliable merchants.
• Pros: Instant sign-up and easy setup, automatic monetization tools work across multiple platforms including social media, sophisticated tracking tools, automatically assigns the highest paying merchant, supports digital payment methods like PayPal.
13. eBay Affiliate Program
eBay’s in-house affiliate marketing platform, formally known as eBay Partners Network, is a good starting point for beginners. All you have to do is register yourself as a publisher. Thereafter, you can generate affiliate links to promote products by various merchants. If you are a seller on eBay, you can promote your products as well.
Image via eBay
The platform rewards you with a commission for every qualifying transaction , i.e., when a user buys a product or places a bid. eBay pays you between 50% and 70% of its revenue for every transaction. You can earn even higher commissions when a new or reactivated user completes a purchase. You can also use sophisticated tracking and reporting tools to analyze your campaigns, products, merchants, etc.
As with any online marketplace, eBay lets you choose from a plethora of products in different categories. Irrespective of the niche and genre of your content, you will find something that will appeal to your audience. The network also allows flexible payment options like PayPal, direct bank transfer, etc. and support a low payment threshold ($10). Payouts are released once a month.
However, eBay only allows a 24-hour cookie duration. This duration is significantly less than the time it takes for most auction on the platform to be completed. Additionally, many users wait until the last moment to place their bids. Thus, if your referred traffic bids on a product after the first 24-hours of clicking on the affiliate link, you don’t get any credit.
While eBay has a comprehensive FAQ page, it lacks the impressive support features offered by most modern affiliate networks. For instance, there is no dedicated account manager to handhold new publishers through the platform.
• Key Highlights: eBay’s in-house affiliate network, available to eBay sellers as well as outsiders, a wide variety of products.
• Pros: Hassle-free sign-up, user-friendly dashboard with impressive reporting tools, commission rates go up to 50% to 70% of eBay’s revenue per sale, commission increases when you refer a new or reactivated user, low-payment threshold.
• Cons: 24-hour cookie duration (far less than the time taken for most auctions to complete), lack of a dedicated account manager.
Launched in 2009, Peerfly is a beginner-friendly affiliate network based on the CPA pricing model. The platform hosts more than 2,000 affiliate programs from over 75,000 active merchants. It is accessible to sellers and publishers from all over the world. It is not surprising that Peerfly ranked second on mThink’s list of top CPA platforms in 2016.
Image via Peerfly
The network provides free training and tools that help new affiliate marketers get the hang of the process. Peerfly’s website also features a detailed FAQ page that clarifies any doubt advertisers and publishers may have before signing up. Moreover, a dedicated manager is assigned to each merchant and affiliate. Unlike some of its competitors, Peerfly’s customer support team is extremely responsive and helpful.
Apart from the user-friendly interface, you also get access to reliable tracking tools. Peerfly claims to offer higher payouts than other affiliate marketing platforms. Payment options are flexible, including PayPal, Payoneer, check, Bitcoin, etc. You can also choose among weekly, biweekly, and monthly payment schedule.
The only catch is that Peerfly has an extremely strict registration process. The network thoroughly verifies your credentials and analyzes your reliability. It is recommended that you provide genuine details of your marketing tactics and traffic sources.
• Key Highlights: Beginner-friendly CPA-based affiliate network, more than 2000 active offers from 75,000+ merchants.
• Pros: Free training and tools for publishers, dedicated account manager, flexible payment modes and schedule, responsive customer support.
• Cons: Strict registration process, abundance of suspicious and spammy offers.
15. 2Checkout (Avangate Network)
2Checkout is a reliable and widely-used payment gateway. It also offers an impeccable affiliate marketing platform named Avangate Network. With more than 22,000 products to choose from, this affiliate network is solely dedicated to digital goods. It has been consistently featured on mThink’s list of the best CPS affiliate networks.
Image via Avangate Network
Avangate lets you choose from a plethora of digital products from all over the world. These products mainly include software and online services. Avangate’s clientele includes many reputed and acclaimed brands such as Kaspersky, Bitdefender, HP, etc. The top-notch quality of products sets this platform apart from other networks for digital goods.
The platform is intuitive and user-friendly, making it suitable for beginners. You can sign-up for free and get started as soon as your account is approved. Avangate also has a fairly robust knowledge base to help you at every step. Their proactive customer support team also works round-the-clock to resolve any issues you might be facing.
Additionally, you get access to sophisticated tools that help you monitor the progress of your campaigns. You can take a look at various parameters such as earnings per click, commission rates, etc. You can also embed deep links in your content that will take a reader directly to the checkout page. Additionally, you can customize a merchant’s payment template and include your branding to create a smooth shopping experience for your readers.
As with most affiliate networks for virtual products, Avangate offers high commission rates (up to 75%). The payment system is extremely flexible and reliable. Payouts are released via different methods, including PayPal. However, the monthly payment schedule and a high threshold ($100) can be a deterrent for beginners.
• Key Highlights: Globally-acclaimed CPS affiliate network for digital goods, more than 22,000 products from reputed brands, simple and user-friendly interface.
• Pros: Free and instant sign-up for publishers, 24×7 customer support, comprehensive knowledge base, advanced tracking and reporting tools, high commission rates, multiple payment options including PayPal.
• Cons: High payment threshold ($100), supports only monthly payouts.
Clickbooth has been rated as the best CPA affiliate network by mThink, for three consecutive years. The award-winning affiliate marketing platform is known for its global reach and affiliate-friendly technology. Content creators can choose from thousands of affiliate programs in diverse niches, including insurance, finance, health, etc. The best part is that most of these advertisers and programs are exclusive to Clickbooth.
Image via Clickbooth
Clickbooth allows publishers to sign-up for free and takes at most 72 hours to approve new accounts. The best part is that it is not mandatory for you to have a website. This makes Clickbooth ideal for new affiliate marketers. The platform also has an Affiliate Rewards Program that rewards top-performing publishers with incentives.
Clickbooth has very strict compliance policies to safeguard advertisers against fraudulent affiliates. While this is good news for merchants, it requires publishers to be even more cautious. You have to get every promotional banner, mailer, etc. approved by Clickbooth before you start promoting it.
Beginners can use Clickbooth’s extensive knowledge base to get started. A dedicated account manager is also assigned to handhold you through the process. The only minor drawback is that you can’t reach their customer support through phone or email. You have to raise a ticket on their website and wait for them to respond.
Unlike its competitors, Clickbooth doesn’t hold your payment until the merchant pays them. Payments are rolled out on a weekly or monthly basis using various modes such as PayPal, check, wire transfer, etc. You can discuss the payment options in detail with your account manager.
• Key Highlights: Award-winning CPA affiliate network, connects publishers and advertisers from all over the world, affiliate-friendly technology, strict compliance policies.
• Pros: New accounts are approved within 72 hours, website is not a mandatory requirement for account approval, reliable and timely payment system, supports multiple payment modes including PayPal, dedicated account manager for every publisher.
• Cons: Limited customer support options, all promotional materials have to be approved by Clickbooth before you start using them.
Previously known as CPA Empire, Affiliate.com is one of the most underrated affiliate marketing platforms. It is based on the CPA pricing model and offers high commission rates. You can access top-performing affiliate programs in different categories from more than 100 countries. The registration process is simple and quick, making it suitable for beginners.
Image via Affiliate.com
Moreover, an experienced account manager is assigned to every account. This helps new publishers identify the right affiliate programs and negotiate their commissions. Additionally, you can also seek the account manager’s help to design promotional creatives for your campaigns.
What makes Affiliate.com truly beginner-friendly is its flexible payment policy. The platform pays you on a Net20 basis, provided you have earned $100 or more in commissions. Experienced publishers earning $1000 or more every week can also request weekly payment. The payment threshold, however, can be a problem if you are just starting out.
• Key Highlights: Beginner-friendly affiliate network based on the CPA pricing model, previously known as CPA Empire, offers high commission rates.
• Pros: Dedicated account manager to help you select the right offers and design compelling creatives, top-performing offers from reputed merchants in more than 100 countries, reliable payment on Net20 basis.
• Cons: High payment threshold (100$) for beginners.
18. Target Affiliates
Target has dominated the brick and mortar retail space in the U.S. for many years. It is home to a massive collection of products across diverse categories like apparel, home, health, etc. It is only natural that its in-house affiliate program titled Target Affiliates is highly sought-after by brands and publishers.
Image via Target
When you join Target Affiliates, you can earn up to 8% commission per sale. However, the commission varies depending on product categories. Some of the most popular categories include home and outdoor living, apparel and accessories, health and beauty, etc. If your audience pertains to a different niche, you may not earn very high commissions. That said, Target Affiliates lets you choose from a wide variety of attractive products.
Getting started with Target Affiliates is pretty straightforward. You can also contact their dedicated affiliate marketing team to resolve any problem you face. The website also features a comprehensive FAQ page. Additionally, you can subscribe to the weekly newsletter and receive updates about the latest offers and sales opportunities.
The biggest advantage of Target Affiliates is that it supports 7-day tracking cookies. This means you get credited for any purchase that happens within 7 days of a user clicking on the affiliate link. Moreover, if a user completes more than one purchase during the 7-day window, you get compensated for all qualifying transactions. This feature sets it apart from other retail-based affiliate networks.
Moreover, you get access to more than 150 up-to-date banners and other promotional materials. This saves you plenty of time and effort and lets you focus on publishing high-quality content. Affiliates with multiple websites can also easily register on the platform. All you have to do is list all your existing websites while signing up.
The only drawback is that you must have a significantly large US-based audience. Moreover, while some categories offer very high commissions, others are associated with terribly low commission rates.
• Key Highlights: Target’s in-house affiliate marketing platform, gives you access to a diverse range of products.
• Pros: 7-day cookies duration, publishers are credited for every qualifying transaction during the 7-day window, easy sign-up process for affiliates with multiple websites.
• Cons: Requires you to have a large US-based audience, commission rates vary depending on product categories.
WarriorPlus is an online marketplace for software and information products (like e-books, guides, etc.). As a content creator, you can leverage the platform in two ways. If you have developed your digital products, you can list them on the platform. Likewise, if you want to monetize your blog traffic, you can find the best products to promote on your blog.
Image via WarriorPlus
WarriorPlus gives you access to thousands of high-quality virtual products, many of them being educational and informational. The platform is extremely transparent and provides you with complete details of the sellers. You can sign-up for free; WarriorPlus claims that the registration process takes only 60 seconds.
However, the platform requires you to apply individually for every affiliate program. While some merchants approve your request right away, others may take a while before responding. You can use sophisticated reporting tools to keep an eye on your ongoing campaigns. The experienced customer support team is always eager to help you out.
WarriorPlus supports new-age payment methods, including PayPal and Stripe. However, you should have at least 5 qualifying transactions before your payment can be released. Additionally, the payment schedule is unpredictable, as you only get paid once WarriorPlus receives the payment from the merchant.
• Key Highlights: Popular online marketplace for digital products, hosts thousands of high-quality products including software, e-books, case studies, etc.
• Pros: Free and instant sign-up, supports multiple payment modes, proactive customer support.
• Cons: You need at least 5 qualifying transactions before you are eligible for payouts, unpredictable payment schedule, you have to seek individual approval for every affiliate program.
Launched in 2004, LinkConnector is a reliable and trusted affiliate marketing platform. Its reputed clientele includes globally renowned brands like Disney Store and Writer’s Digest. You can select from a wide variety of high-converting affiliate programs in different niches, including fashion, beauty, health, etc.
Image via LinkConnector
Just like any sophisticated affiliate network, LinkConnector offers dedicated customer support and several real-time tracking tools. It also lets you choose from different pricing models like CPA, CPS, CPL, etc. Apart from affiliate links, the platform also provides you with private coupon codes. This makes it easier for you to promote the associated products on social media.
The biggest advantage of LinkConnector is that it leverages naked link technology. A naked link looks like a normal link that is still trackable but doesn’t have to be routed via the affiliate network. These links are often more effective in driving conversions. Moreover, using naked links also helps with search engine optimization (SEO).
It is important to point out that LinkConnector is more of a merchant-friendly platform. They have a zero-tolerance fraud policy and often reject publisher accounts that don’t meet their compliance standards. Additionally, merchants are often given the liberty to control exactly where their links are displayed on an affiliate’s website.
• Key Highlights: Merchant-friendly affiliate network with reputed international clientele, zero-tolerance fraud policy.
• Pros: Supports naked links and promo codes, dedicated customer support team, flexible pricing models, sophisticated reporting tools that support real-time tracking.
• Cons: Many publisher accounts are rejected due to non-compliance, merchants can control where and how their links are displayed.
Do you dread the thought of applying to numerous affiliate programs, only to get rejected by merchants? As a beginner, getting accepted into affiliate programs can be challenging. This is where Skimlinks helps you by connecting you with the most suitable merchants. Moreover, it automatically converts your regular, product links and product/brand name mentions into affiliate links.
Image via Skimlinks
You can easily sign-up for free on Skimlinks. Your account is approved after a thorough verification process. Make sure you provide genuine details about your website, marketing strategies, and traffic sources. Thereafter, you just have to install a small code on your website/blog.
Skimlinks connects you with more than 48,000 merchants and gives you valuable insights about the brands that will appeal to your audience. Payment is released at the end of each month and is supported in multiple methods, including PayPal.
However, Skimlinks takes a 25% share of your total earnings. This is higher than most affiliate networks. Additionally, Skimlinks doesn’t support real-time tracking. Their customer support is also not as flawless as other platforms.
• Key Highlights: Automated content monetization platform, suitable for beginners.
• Pros: Eliminates the need to apply for affiliate programs, easy to use, timely payment.
• Cons: Lack of real-time tracking, delayed customer support response, claims 25% share of your total earnings.
This brings us to the end of our list of the best affiliate marketing platforms for beginners. However, the sheer amount of choice in terms of affiliate networks can still be overwhelming. How do you select the one that is best for you?
Here are our top five favorite affiliate marketing platform:
Our Favorite Picks
Want to find the best network to kickstart your affiliate marketing journey. Read on to find out which one to select:
If you are looking for a quick way to make money, Clickbank is the right fit for you. With commission rates of 70% or higher, it is definitely worth a try. You can also choose from a wide range of valuable digital products to resonate with your audience.
The ability to set your payment schedule and threshold is a huge benefit for beginners. The comprehensive knowledge base and proactive customer support ensure that you never face any problems.
Rakuten Affiliate Network
With so many awards and accolades, Rakuten is unarguably one of the most trusted affiliate marketing platforms. The abundance of products across different categories ensures that you find something to attract your audience. You can leverage various promotional materials, including banners and rotating ads.
The platform is user-friendly and lets you easily find the most suitable merchants. Rakuten also has a massive global reach and supports payments in multiple currencies. You can connect with merchants in any part of the world, which is what makes Rakuten a truly international affiliate marketing platform.
Being one of the oldest affiliate marketing platforms, Commission Junction (CJ Affiliate) commands authority and credibility. It is a trusted platform and attracts several reputed brands. Also, many of the merchants and their affiliate programs are exclusive to Commission Junction. This makes it a highly-sought after affiliate network.
While most platforms focus on a specific pricing model, CJ Affiliate lets you choose from CPA, CPC, CPL, CPS, etc. The ability to track your campaigns in real-time helps you identify any gaps and improve them. The hassle-free and instant sign-up process makes it the ideal platform to embark on your affiliate marketing journey.
Every affiliate marketer, new or experienced, has heard of Amazon Associates. This goes on to prove the immense popularity of Amazon’s affiliate program. What distinguishes it from other affiliate networks is the sheer variety of products. No matter how specific your audience, you will find something to lure them.
The simple platform serves as the ideal base for first-timers who are just trying their hands at affiliate marketing. The best part is that you can earn a commission for every qualifying purchase made by your referred traffic. It doesn’t matter whether it is the product that you have advertised in the first place. This helps maximize your earnings.
Another advantage of joining the network is that Amazon is already an established authority in online retail. Therefore, when your audience comes across their products on your website, they are more likely to click. This increases your conversion rates even further.
If you are looking for a beginner-friendly affiliate marketing platform, don’t look beyond ShareASale. Apart from the user-friendly interface and sophisticated tracking tools, ShareASale handholds you in your affiliate marketing journey. You are provided with a dedicated affiliate development team that assists you at every step. You can also get additional support in the form of workshops, training, webinars, etc.
Another distinguishing feature of ShareASale is its search-friendliness. You can find the most relevant affiliate programs by filtering the search results using keywords, categories, merchants, etc. You can even sort the results based on when a program was added on the network. With more than 3,900 programs across 40 categories, it offers plenty of product choices.
An affiliate marketing platform is a crucial component that helps both merchants and marketers. It facilitates transparency and trust between advertisers and publishers. Moreover, it eliminates the need to manually track every transaction and its associated cookies, thus simplifying the overall process. If you are about to embark on your journey of affiliate marketing, such a network will ensure that the road ahead is smooth.
When you search the internet for affiliate marketing platforms, you will be flooded with choices. However, not all of these platforms are reliable and worth your time. It is, therefore, crucial to thoroughly analyze the platform before you decide to join it. Take a look at their terms and FAQs to gain a better understanding of the working process.
It is also essential to consider whether the platform is suitable for your niche. For instance, certain bloggers can benefit more from networks that are exclusively dedicated to digital products. Identify the needs and wants of your audience and select a platform that offers relevant and appealing products for them.
What are your favorite affiliate marketing platforms? Share your views in the comments section below.
Richa describes herself as an avid dreamer and a curious soul! She is a certified Content & Search Marketing Specialist from Digital Marketer, USA. With an experience of 5+ years as a content marketer and researcher, she is in love with Digital Breakthroughs, Content Marketing, Startup Strategies and so much more.