Top 40 Affiliate Marketing Programs

 

Last updated on October 27, 2020

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Affiliate marketing is a performance-based advertising model. An affiliate (publisher) promotes a product or service online and receives compensation for achieving a specific action. A merchant (advertiser) specifies the action, which is usually a valid sale. For example, the merchant will pay an affiliate a 30 percent sales commission. The merchant may use one or multiple cost per action (CPA) and compensation arrangements, such as cost per sale (CPS) and cost per lead (CPL). These are also known as pay per sale and pay per lead.

Affiliate marketing is the promotion of products/services online and payment to affiliates for generating leads and sales.

Affiliate marketing is one of the most lucrative, cost-efficient, and satisfying ways to make money online. Also, there are no limits to how much passive income affiliates can make. Publishers want to promote the top affiliate programs because they can yield more commissions. It’s as simple as that. Other articles highlight “the best programs,” but most of them include random and unvetted merchants that won’t lead to higher earnings. Let’s identify what excellent and profitable affiliate programs have in common.

A Fair Commission Rate

Advertisers who pay single to low double-digit commission rates (or who nickel and dime publishers) aren’t worth your consideration, for example, Amazon Associates. A commission rate starting at 20 percent is what appeals to me. For fixed commissions, I’m open to experimentation. Note: some industries pay low commission rates because they operate on thin margins.

A Fair Cookie Duration

Giving marketers one or a few days to convert traffic is ridiculous and unfair. By contrast, a 30-day conversion period allows for prospects to become customers and affiliates to get credit for their promotional efforts. Although thirty-day referral periods are a standard industry practice, a minimum of 90 days should be commonplace.

Robust Affiliate Tracking Software

Affiliate tracking software is the cornerstone of success, and there are good and bad applications. Reliable tracking, user-friendly dashboards, and robust reporting make for excellent user experiences. Activity data—such as impressions, clicks, and conversions—should be available. Applications that omit activity data and reporting make it difficult to track and evaluate performance.

Other Factors

Other factors you should consider are a program’s earnings per click (EPC), acceptance rate, payout threshold, timeliness and frequency of payments, deep linking capabilities, and affiliate support. You’ll want to partner with merchants/affiliate managers who are intelligent, fair, responsive, and quick to resolve inquiries.

Best Affiliate Programs to Make Money

Let’s review some of the best affiliate programs available. With an array of affiliate networks, 30+ standard program categories, tens of thousands of programs, and terms changing daily; it’s impossible to identify every excellent affiliate program. However, you can use this list and these advertisers as benchmarks because they convert well, pay on time, and offer win-win terms. Regarding networks, I recommend and earn money regularly on ShareASale, Impact, and CJ Affiliate.

A company might not mention an affiliate program on its website but may have one. Merchants typically link to their affiliate programs in their website menus and footers, and some offer programs on multiple networks.

Ecommerce Affiliate Programs

Shopify

Shopify provides everything you need to sell online, on social media, and in person. Create your store, manage products, accept payments, ship, and integrate with other apps. Learn about the Shopify affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 200%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: One sale
  • Payment options: PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: In-house custom

Oberlo

Oberlo is a dropshipping platform that allows you to import third-party products into your Shopify store and ship to customers directly. Learn about the Oberlo affiliate program (to promote Oberlo, you must join Shopify’s affiliate program).

  • Commission rate: 200%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: One sale
  • Payment options: PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: In-house custom

ShippingEasy

ShippingEasy integrates with ecommerce platforms to track orders and shipments, print labels, and save on postage. Learn about the ShippingEasy affiliate program. Learn about the ShippingEasy affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to $149
  • Cookie duration: 45 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

Square

Square helps millions of sellers run their business by providing payment, POS, invoice, scheduling, and payroll solutions. Learn about the Square affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up $202
  • Cookie duration: 45 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

Email Marketing Affiliate Programs

Constant Contact

Constant Contact enables individuals and business owners to create and share professional-looking emails in minutes. Learn about the Constant Contact affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: $105
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account or PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact and CJ Affiliate

GetResponse

GetResponse is an all-in-one digital marketing platform that supports email marketing, automation, campaigns, online surveys, webinars, ecommerce, and CRM. Learn about the GetResponse affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 33%/$100
  • Cookie duration: 120 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: In-house custom and CJ Affiliate

YouTube Affiliate Programs

TubeBuddy

TubeBuddy is the #1 YouTube tool and browser extension for channel management, keyword and tag research, video SEO, competitor insights, bulk processing, marketing, and more. Learn about the TubeBuddy affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to 50%
  • Cookie duration: Lifetime
  • Payout threshold: $0
  • Payment options: PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: In-house custom

VidIQ

VidIQ helps YouTubers and marketers grow their presence and brand on YouTube with a suite of tools for keyword research, SEO, analytics, and more. Learn about the VidIQ affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to 25%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $0
  • Payment options: PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: LeadDyno

Education Affiliate Programs

360training

360training offers online training and certification courses for industry professionals, for example, food and beverage, health and safety, real estate, and financial services. Learn about the 360training affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 15%
  • Cookie duration: 60 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account
  • Affiliate software/network: CJ Affiliate

Coursera

Coursera offers online courses through partnerships with hundreds of top-ranked universities, including Stanford and Columbia. Learners can take courses, specializations, and degrees. Learn about the Coursera affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to 45%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account
  • Affiliate software/network: Rakuten Advertising

Pluralsight

Pluralsight offers extensive online developer, creative, and IT courses that are taught by industry experts. It offers 6,000+ courses to businesses and individuals. Learn about the Pluralsight affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to 75%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

Financial Affiliate Programs

TransferWise

TransferWise enables people to send and receive money–internationally and locally–at mid-market exchange rates and low fees. All costs are known upfront. Learn about the TransferWise affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Starts at £10
  • Cookie duration: Lifetime
  • Payout threshold: £30
  • Payment options: Bank account
  • Affiliate software/network: Partnerize

M1 Finance

M1 Finance offers a unique combination of automated investing with a high level of customization, allowing clients to create portfolios tailored to their exact needs. Learn about the M1 Finance affiliate program.

  • CPA: Pay per transaction
  • Commission rate: $100
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

Hosting Affiliate Programs

Bluehost

Bluehost is one of the largest website hosting providers and supports millions of websites. Learn about the Bluehost affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: $65
  • Cookie duration: 120 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account
  • Affiliate software/network: in-house custom and CJ Affiliate

HostGator

HostGator is headquartered in Houston and Austin, Texas, with several international offices worldwide. Learn about the HostGator affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: $75
  • Cookie duration: 60 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account
  • Affiliate software/network: CJ Affiliate

Hostinger

Hostinger offers fast and user-friendly web hosting solutions at a price nobody can beat. Learn about the Hostinger affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 60%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account
  • Affiliate software/network: CJ Affiliate and Tune

SiteGround

SiteGround is a leading web hosting company with millions of customers. It offers shared and cloud hosting, dedicated servers, and domain services. Learn about the SiteGround affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to $125
  • Cookie duration: 60 days
  • Payout threshold: One sale
  • Payment options: PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: In-house custom

WP Engine

WP Engine provides managed WordPress hosting for sites around the world. It provides counsel and support to help brands create world-class digital experiences. Learn about the WP Engine affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to $200
  • Cookie duration: 180 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account, check, and wire
  • Affiliate software/network: ShareASale

VPN Affiliate Programs

CyberGhost

CyberGhost VPN shields your data from the prying eyes of authorities and hackers. Learn about the CyberGhost affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 30%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account
  • Affiliate software/network: CJ Affiliate

NordVPN

NordVPN is a top-rated VPN that offers military-grade online security and protection applications. Learn about the NordVPN affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 30%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

Other Top Affiliate Programs

AppSumo

AppSumo is a daily deals website for digitally distributed goods and online services. Learn about the AppSumo affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to 100%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account or PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

Canva

Canva is a graphic-design tool that helps people create images, logos, thumbnails, posters, and more. It provides access to over a million photographs and templates. Learn about the Canva affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to 100%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account or PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

Grammarly

Grammarly offers grammar, punctuation, and spell-checking software to help students, writers, and professionals. Its software checks more than 250 grammar rules. Learn about the Grammarly affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: $0.20
  • Cookie duration: 90 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account, check, and wire
  • Affiliate software/network: ShareASale

iMyFone

iMyFone makes mobile utility software for iOS. It specializes in data recovery, storage management, data transfer, and privacy protection software. Learn about the iMyFone affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 40%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, and Impact

Incfile

Incfile specializes in the formation of business entities. From LLCs to nonprofits, it has assisted more than 150,000 entrepreneurs to form their businesses. Learn about the Incfile affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: $100
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account, check, and wire
  • Affiliate software/network: ShareASale

McAfee

McAfee provides advanced security solutions that protect data and stop threats with an open, predictive, and intelligent-driven approach. Learn about the McAfee affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: $10
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account
  • Affiliate software/network: CJ Affiliate

Morning Brew

Morning Brew is a free daily newsletter that informs its readers of business and tech news in a way that is enjoyable, quick, and fun. Learn about the Morning Brew affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: $3.50
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account or PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

Placeit

Placeit is a mockup and design tool that allows its users to create beautiful visuals and marketing materials instantly and straight from their browsers. Learn about the Placeit affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 50%
  • Cookie duration: 60 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

ShareASale

ShareASale is a leading affiliate network with the tools and technology to support advertisers and publishers. It pays $150 for qualifying merchant signups and $30 for qualifying affiliate signups. Learn about the ShareASale affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to $150
  • Cookie duration: 60 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account, check, and wire
  • Affiliate software/network: ShareASale

STDcheck

STDcheck takes the embarrassment and hassles out of conventional STD testing. It provides fast, affordable, and private STD testing to adults and minors at thousands of locations nationwide. Learn about the STDcheck affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 40%
  • Cookie duration: 45 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account
  • Affiliate software/network: CJ Affiliate

Thinkific

Thinkific is an all-in-one online course platform that empowers anyone to create, market, and sell excellent e-learning experiences. Learn about the Thinkific affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 20%
  • Cookie duration: 90 days
  • Payout threshold: One sale
  • Payment options: PayPal or Stripe
  • Affiliate software/network: PartnerStack

Thrive Themes

Thrive Themes sells conversion-focused WordPress themes and plugins to get more leads, subscribers, and sales. Learn about the Thrive Themes affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to 35%
  • Cookie duration: Two years
  • Payout threshold: $20
  • Payment options: PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: iDevAffiliate

Zenefits

Zenefits offers a comprehensive and mobile HR experience to simplify human resources. Learn about the Zenefits affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: $25
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account or PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

How to Get Started in Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is an exciting and rapidly growing industry. It’s one of the most rewarding ways to make money online, and there is no limit to how much passive income you can make. It’s fun and challenging. It requires strategy, creativity, and effort.

I’ve been an affiliate marketer for years, so I know what the position entails. Here are some ideas and steps to help you get started.

Learn & Keep Learning

Lifelong learning and developing new skills are the paths to take. Successful affiliates are well-rounded critical thinkers who understand digital marketing, including search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing, and social media marketing. They also understand web design, blogging, ecommerce, money matters, sales, and more. Affiliates who use YouTube understand video production.

Identify your strengths, weaknesses, and what you must learn. Then, create a learning plan to develop your skills. There are many free and paid educational resources, for example, blogs, YouTube videos, and e-learning sites, such as Coursera and Pluralsight. You won’t become a super affiliate overnight, but perhaps one day if you keep at it.

Understand the Fundamentals

What affiliate marketing is and how it works is straightforward. You’ll want to understand concepts like tracking, deep linking, earnings per click (EPC), and so forth. Rakuten Advertising, a top-rated affiliate network, has a glossary that’s worth skimming. You might also take a course or watch a few videos on YouTube to help build your foundation.

Consider What It Will Take to Succeed

Have you thought about what it will take to succeed in affiliate marketing? Have you scanned the landscape to see what publishers are doing? You should. Like any job, the role of an affiliate marketer requires hard work and commitment. If you’re starting out, expect to work full-time. Part-time hours might come later.

You’ll need traffic. Traffic in marketing circles equates to visitors and users to a website. For example, 1,000 people visit your blog each month.

Conversions and commissions are a numbers game. Therefore, the more traffic you get, the more clicks and sales you can expect. Most publishers use a combination of marketing/sales strategies and techniques to get traffic.

Suppose you want to make $1,000 to $5,000 a month. You must get enough visitors to your blog, YouTube channel, or social media profile to reach your income target. Here’s an example of how much money you could make, given monthly traffic of 50,000 visitors.

Monthly statistics:

  • Traffic: 50,000 users
  • Clicks: 40,000 (80 percent of users click at least once)
  • Conversion rate: 0.25%
  • Sales: 100
  • Average commission: $25
  • Income: $2,500

See how easy it is to hit your target. But wait! The world isn’t perfect, and neither are examples and what-if scenarios. Here are some items to consider:

  • Summer months and holiday seasons typically experience less traffic, clicks, and conversions.
  • Conversion rates fluctuate for any number of reasons, for instance, changing market trends, new pricing, new competitors, and changes to a product or service.
  • A product that converts today might not do well in a year or two.
  • A merchant can change its terms or deactivate its program.
  • Your website can go offline because of technical issues. Merchant sites can go down too.

I’ve experienced all of the above and realize that many variables impact my results. That’s the nature of marketing and sales. Therefore, I apply conservative estimates like a conversion rate of 0.10 to 0.30 percent and an average commission of $20. Naturally, what-if scenarios and estimates will vary among affiliates because we promote different items and focus on different niches.

Set Realistic Goals

No matter the online business, sales are a result of traffic. If you don’t have a website or aren’t getting enough visitors, it’s unrealistic to forecast commissions in the thousands. You should base your targets and forecasts on how much traffic you receive. Secondly, you should be conservative with your projections to avoid disappointment. Kidding yourself won’t increase your conversion rates, but traffic and dedication will.

Select a Target Market

Choose a market segment for your marketing activities. A market segment is a group of people who share one or more common characteristics, for example, college-educated females aged 25 to 45 or stay-at-home dads living in the United States.

Your target market can be broad or niche/narrow. Affiliates frequently target people they can relate to and who have similar characteristics, passions, and interests. Case in point, my target audience includes male and female digital nomads, remote workers, global citizens, online marketers, freelancers, self-employed persons, and so forth.

Choose Primary & Secondary Platforms

As an affiliate, you need digital properties and platforms to deploy links. After all, you must place links somewhere. Primary platforms include websites, blogs, and YouTube channels. For example, many YouTubers add affiliate links to their channels, descriptions, and videos. Secondary platforms include email marketing, landing page funnels, and social media networks.

A primary platform will enable you to get enough traffic whereas only using secondary channels will likely lead to failure, for example, only posting affiliate links on Facebook. You might be able to get enough clicks on social media alone, but it’s highly unlikely. Most marketers promote through multiple avenues. However, you can spread yourself thin by focusing on too many activities. I stick mostly to one primary and one secondary platform. Lastly, some channels are better than others for generating sales, depending on your target market and niche.

Plan & Execute

With your platforms chosen; you need a plan. Your plan should outline what you’ll do daily/weekly to reach your content/traffic goals. For bloggers, it could be posting twice a week, and for YouTubers, it might be uploading two to five videos. As you create your content and add affiliate links, consider the FTC’s disclosure guidelines. Transparency is a way to increase trust in your brand and recommendations.

You can be broad or narrow with your blogs and videos. I recommend picking four to six related categories that you want to cover to give yourself options, for example, health, fitness, lifestyle, and nutrition. One or two categories may yield very few topics to cover.

Search & Join Affiliate Programs in Your Niche

Consider which products/services appeal to your target market and join a few programs, like five to ten. The top affiliate marketing networks have more than thirty program categories, such as automotive, clothing, computers, education, business, travel, and so on. Networks make it convenient for publishers to review, apply, and join programs. Private portals and in-house affiliate software apps are available too. Once you get the hang of things, participate in as many programs as you can manage efficiently.

Having a website makes getting accepted into programs a lot easier for four reasons.

  1. A website ties you to a digital asset and online platform.
  2. A site creates a level of accountability and credibility.
  3. Affiliate managers can accurately track and analyze data from your site.
  4. Your site can be reviewed for compliance.

Many affiliate managers check to see if publishers have websites. They do this to weed out uncommitted marketers and potential bad actors. If you don’t have a site, you don’t exist in the minds of most managers. A social media profile is not equivalent to a website, whereas a robust YouTube channel might do the trick.

An affiliate manager can decline your request/application. Reasons for declines vary, and you can email the program manager for more details. You want to ensure it isn’t because you don’t have a website since you might not get a second chance to register.

Your website can be simple and should have a few standard pages such as an about page. Also, it helps to have some content published before you begin applying for programs.

Can you do affiliate marketing without a website? Yes, a website isn’t mandatory but having one will increase your program approval rates. The critical question is, what portion of high earning affiliates operate without a site? Probably a low percentage in the single digits.

Track Your Results

Traffic and income are two items you should monitor because they indicate how you’re performing. I track my income on a spreadsheet. When I receive payments, I record them. I check affiliate networks and programs weekly, depending on my activities and expectations.

Google Analytics (GA) is a suite of free tools to track and analyze website data. It’s an essential tool for affiliates and online marketers. It measures five traffic sources, i.e., organic search, direct, referral, social media, and email. Suppose five people click on a search engine result and come to my site. GA will record that. Google provides free training for GA, and I recommend taking Google Analytics for Beginners.

Review, Reflect, & Pivot

Like any business, you should review and reflect on your plans, activities, and results. Each month I assess my traffic, income, marketing strategy, search engine rankings, website design and functionality, competitors, and existing content. Additionally, if a program starts producing above-average commissions, I’ll focus on it more.

Pivoting and changing priorities is a way of life for many affiliates, entrepreneurs, and ambitious individuals. As you review your activities and experiment, be open to change and new opportunities. For example, you might start off as a travel vlogger than shift to blogging because you prefer writing. I’ve made hundreds of big and small pivots with more forthcoming.

Emulate Successful Affiliates

Find affiliates to emulate. It’s difficult to know what affiliates are doing well. Many marketers publish fraudulent income reports, whereas others rent homes/cars for YouTube videos to imply they’ve “made it.” (Some marketers will do anything to gain your trust and loyalty.)

Successful affiliates create fantastic/insightful content and attract thousands of visitors to their platforms. Although not completely reliable, you can get a sense of a site’s traffic through SimilarWeb and Alexa.

 

Chad Tennant

Chad is a digital marketer, consultant, and publisher. At Digital Fodder, he offers insights and strategies concerning online marketing, ecommerce, working online, YouTube, and more. At Partnercade, he helps companies grow their affiliate program revenues and partnerships. Connect or start a conversation with Chad on LinkedIn.

 
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