27 Highest Paying Affiliate Programs

 

Last updated on November 27, 2020

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What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the online promotion of products and services by affiliates. Affiliates, or publishers, earn commissions from merchants for generating leads and sales. For example, Tom does gadget reviews on his blog. As an Amazon affiliate/associate, he links to products on Amazon. When a person clicks on his link, visits Amazon, and makes a purchase, Tom will receive a commission.

How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

  1. Merchants, or advertisers, use affiliate tracking software to run affiliate programs. The software creates unique links for affiliates to use and monitors them for clicks, conversions, and sales. Affiliate tracking apps use multiple technologies to record activities, such as cookies, pixels, APIs, etc. Merchants also have policies that affiliates must follow, such as not bidding on the merchant’s trademarked terms.
  2. Bloggers, YouTubers, digital marketers, content creators, and other online workers join affiliate programs. Links are given to them to place on their blogs, YouTube videos, email newsletters, and social media posts.
  3. As conversions and transactions occur, affiliates accumulate earnings. Publishers receive their commissions via PayPal, bank account, or other payment option. Usually, commissions must reach a minimum threshold before issuance, for example, $50.

Success in affiliate marketing partly depends on how much a program pays. Therefore, you should consider the commission rate of each affiliate program. I tend to promote high-paying merchants that pay at least 30 percent or $50 per sale. If I sell $100,000 worth of goods, I’ll earn $30,000, for example. By contrast, if I focus on too many programs that pay low or single-digit commission rates, I’ll never achieve my income goals. For instance, at a 5 percent commission rate, I would make $5,000 per $100,000 sold.

It may seem obvious to promote programs that pay well. However, I see many affiliates painstakingly market low-paying programs, for example, Amazon Associates, which tops out at 10 percent. I’m not suggesting affiliates promote programs with huge payouts only, but they need to understand the math on selling $10,000 to $100,000. For example, if you sold one Advanced Shopify plan a month for twelve months, you would earn $7,176 for the year ($598 x 12 months). That amount is probably more rewarding than what many other programs pay for the same effort.

Affiliates typically promote affiliate products and services on YouTube and their websites. On YouTube, adding affiliate links in video descriptions is standard. On blogs and websites, publishers market items in their articles and ad banners. There are also opportunities to promote goods through email marketing and on social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Commissions & Programs

There are three types of commissions and three categories of programs that should be on your radar in affiliate marketing.

Types of Commissions

Flat Rate Commission: A flat rate commission is a fixed amount of money paid for each sale or lead, for example, $10.

Percentage Rate Commission: A percentage-based commission pays an amount of money that varies depending on the final sale. Case in point, a merchant has three subscription plans and will pay affiliates a 30 percent commission on all plans.

Two-Tier Commission: A commission structure that offers an affiliate multiple ways to earn, for example, the affiliate will earn 20 percent on sales and 5 percent on sub-affiliate sales.

Types of Programs

Recurring Commission Affiliate Programs: A recurring commission affiliate program pays a share of each sale or payment for as long as the customer remains active.

High-Ticket Affiliate Programs: A high-ticket affiliate program includes products or services that sell above $1,000.

High-Paying Affiliate Programs: A high-paying affiliate program pays a minimum commission rate of 30 percent or $100 per sale. It might also have performance incentives.

Best High-Paying Affiliate Programs

Let’s review the best high-paying, cost per action (CPA) affiliate programs. Most of these high-paying merchants offer a cookie duration of 30 days or more. To qualify for my list, the merchant must:

  • Have an excellent business reputation
  • Be a top consideration in its market
  • Pay a minimum CPA/commission rate of 30 percent per sale or action
  • Secondarily, provide an opportunity to earn $100, or more, from a purchase, bonus, or volume sales
  • Have favorable payment options and terms

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 and marketing software companies frequently offer the highest affiliate program commission rates.

High-Paying Ecommerce 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

Dropified

Dropified’s software lets sellers put private labels on products and takes care of shipping and tracking orders for dropshipping businesses, allowing sellers to focus on marketing and growing their stores. Learn about the Dropified affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 30%
  • Cookie duration: 60 days
  • Payout threshold: One sale
  • Payment options: PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: FirstPromoter

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

Spocket

Spocket helps drop shippers around the world discover and dropship US/EU based products to scale their businesses. Learn about the Spocket affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to 30%
  • Cookie duration: 90 days
  • Payout threshold: One sale
  • Payment options: PayPal or Stripe
  • Affiliate software/network: PartnerStack

High-Paying Marketing Programs

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

Instapage

Instapage helps you build landing pages for your online marketing and promotion campaigns with ease. Learn about the Instapage affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 30%
  • Cookie duration: 90 days
  • Payout threshold: One sale
  • Payment options: PayPal or Stripe
  • Affiliate software/network: PartnerStack

Leadpages

Leadpages enables you to create landing pages, build websites, capture email addresses, and nurture new leads with email marketing automation. Learn about the Leadpages affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to 50%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

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

High-Paying Education Programs

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

Treehouse

Treehouse focuses on technical education. It offers more than one thousand videos created by experts on web design, coding, business, and more. Learn about the Treehouse affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to 50%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

High-Paying Web Hosting Programs

ScalaHosting

Scala Hosting provides high-quality web hosting solutions. Its services include cloud, reseller, and shared hosting. Also, it offers cloud VPS and dedicated servers, domains, and SSL certificates. Learn about the Scala Hosting affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to $200
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $100
  • Payment options: PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: In-house custom

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

Liquid Web

Liquid Web provides managed web hosting and data center solutions. It offers cloud, VPS, dedicated, managed, and private cloud plans. It also owns iThemes Hosting. Learn about the Liquid Web affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to 150%
  • Cookie duration: 90 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

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

High-Paying Webinar Programs

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting facilitates video conferencing and collaboration. Conduct online meetings with up to 250 participants, screen share, and collaborate with HD video conferencing. Learn about the GoToMeeting affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: $100
  • Cookie duration: 45 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

GoToWebinar

Marketing pros turn to GoToWebinar to create captivating online events that build brand awareness and help organizations spread their messages. Learn about the GoToWebinar affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: $100
  • Cookie duration: 45 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

High-Paying Website Programs

BullGuard

BullGuard helps you protect your data, identity, privacy, and computing devices. It sells antivirus and internet security applications. Learn about the BullGuard affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 35%
  • Cookie duration: 60 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

Sucuri

Sucuri is an all-in-one platform for website security, protection, performance, and monitoring. Learn about the Sucuri affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to $210
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account
  • Affiliate software/network: CJ Affiliate

Weebly

Weebly makes it easy to create a high-quality website, blog, or online store. Millions of people use Weebly to bring their unique ideas to life. Learn about the Weebly affiliate program.

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

High-Paying VPN 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

PureVPN

PureVPN specializes in helping internet users to reinforce their online security and privacy by using a virtual private network (VPN). Learn about the PureVPN affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 40%
  • Cookie duration: 60 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account
  • Affiliate software/network: CJ Affiliate

Other High-Paying 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

Evernote

Evernote is the app that keeps your notes organized. Memos are synced so that they’re accessible anywhere and searchable so that you can always find what you need. Learn about the Evernote affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to 70%
  • Cookie duration: 90 days
  • Payout threshold: One sale
  • Payment options: PayPal or Stripe
  • Affiliate software/network: PartnerStack

Envato Elements

Envato Elements is a popular destination for stock videos, royalty-free music, photos, graphics, graphic templates, and more. Learn about the Envato Elements affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: $120
  • Cookie duration: 60 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

Fiverr

Fiverr is the largest online marketplace for freelance services starting. It also offers courses, exclusive benefits, and small business software. Learn about the Fiverr affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: Up to $150
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $100
  • Payment options: PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Cellxpert and CJ Affiliate

Ginger

Ginger makes sure everything you write is mistake-free. It corrects all types of grammatical mistakes, including punctuation, sentence structure, and style. Learn about the Ginger affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 50%
  • 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: 90 days
  • Payout threshold: $50
  • Payment options: Bank account, check, and wire
  • Affiliate software/network: ShareASale, Impact, and CJ Affiliate

InVideo

InVideo helps you transform your content into great videos, including intros, outros, promos, slideshows, and ads. Learn about the InVideo affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 50%
  • Cookie duration: 30 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and 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

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

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

Termly

Termly offers free legal policies to help businesses comply with regulations such as GDPR. Learn about the Termly affiliate program.

  • Commission rate: 35%
  • Cookie duration: 60 days
  • Payout threshold: $10
  • Payment options: Bank account and PayPal
  • Affiliate software/network: Impact

Best Affiliate Networks to Join

Merchants require affiliate marketing tracking software to run their programs. They can develop software to run their campaigns in-house and on their servers. For example, TubeBuddy and Shopify use unique applications that aren’t commercially available. For companies wishing to pay for software, they have two options, i.e., a private portal or an affiliate network.

A private portal application enables a one-to-one relationship between the advertiser and publisher. Private portal applications include Tapfiliate, iDevAffiliate, Post Affiliate Pro, Partnerize, and so forth. Alternatively, affiliate networks bring together thousands of advertisers and publishers in one place. Publishers can review and join multiple affiliate programs via a one-to-many user interface. For example, on ShareASale, I have more than 20 active partnerships.

Affiliate networks have many advantages. Advertisers can instantly gain access to thousands of affiliates for more exposure compared to private portal software. Some networks allow merchants to promote their programs on the network for additional visibility. Publishers get a single point of entry and the ability to find and join programs across many categories. Benefits for both parties include performance dashboards, reporting, promotional tools, payment processing, and user support.

One disadvantage, however, is that some networks don’t intervene in payment disputes. Suppose you have a commission overdue and report it to the network. They might instruct you to follow up with the merchant because it’s beyond their scope as a software provider.

Affiliate tracking software can be inexpensive or costly. Affiliate network and private portal apps range from under $50 monthly to over $500. Prices depend on tracking technology, software capabilities, number of affiliates, server requests, account activation, and monthly minimums.

Affiliate Network Selection Criteria

Joining the right affiliate network(s) can be the difference between success and failure. Affiliates (and merchants) should consider the following criteria.

The network has reputable merchants. Most affiliates want to promote legitimate and trustworthy companies, products, and services. Networks help in that regard by carefully screening and only accepting merchants with satisfactory ratings. By contrast, networks that have questionable companies and individual sellers can produce terrible outcomes for marketers. You should seek to avoid such networks.

The network has a wide selection of merchants, categories, products, and services. Naturally, affiliates want to optimize their marketing activities by matching products to their audiences and niches. To achieve those goals, publishers must experiment with different advertisers and programs, which can only happen if the network provides enough selection.

Acceptance/approval rates to join programs are high, and turnaround is fast. There’s no point in being on a network that has high application decline rates. Secondly, application turnaround times should be quick; for instance, one to five business days. On some networks, my applications remain pending for months, which prohibits me from moving forward. While merchants are responsible for application decisions and cycle times, networks should encourage and educate merchants on the benefits of inclusion and efficient program management.

The network’s software is efficient. Third-party cookies are under attack by web browsers and privacy initiatives, such as Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Protocol (ITP), which disables and limits third- and first-party cookies. Some affiliate networks use cookieless tracking and other methods to record conversions, while others continue to use inferior tracking technologies. Secondly, a network’s UI should be easy to navigate, intuitive, and frictionless. Reports should be effortless to generate and understand.

The network offers different payment preferences, such as PayPal, direct deposit, cheque, wire transfer, etc. Those options are standard on most networks. Secondly, payout thresholds should be low enough to keep operations flowing and affiliates engaged. A minimum of $50 is typical.

User support is excellent and able to problem-solve efficiently. I haven’t called upon customer support very often, but when I have, some networks are more skilled and helpful than others.

Deep linking is available. Deep linking is the practice by which an affiliate creates a link to a specific page on the merchant’s site. For example, instead of using a generic homepage affiliate link, I can link to an article that relates to my post. Most networks offer deep linking capabilities, but advertisers usually must enable them. Here are examples of a standard link and one that points to a specific page.

  • Generic homepage link > https://website.com?affiliateid3162
  • Deep link > https://website.com/search-engine-optimization-for-beginners?affiliateid3162

Cost Per Action (CPA) Models

Cost per action (CPA) is an online advertising model that pays for a qualifying action such as a sale or lead. For example, the merchant will pay the affiliate a commission rate of 30 percent per sale. Cost per sale (CPS) or pay per sale (PPS) pays an affiliate for each sales conversion. Cost per lead (CPL) or pay per lead (PPL) compensates an affiliate when a new user does one of the following activities:

  • Submit contact info, e.g., name and email address
  • Sign up for a free trial
  • Create an account
  • Register for a webinar or event
  • Download or install an app
  • Request a demo, e.g., a software or product demo
  • Order a card, e.g., a bank or credit card
  • Book/schedule a meeting, appointment, or visit
  • Complete a quote, e.g., a life insurance quote
  • Deposit or transfer funds

Cost per install (CPI) compensates affiliates for installs of apps, extensions, and plugins. Cost per click (CPC) pays a publisher for a user’s click on a banner, link, or text placed by the publisher.

On affiliate networks, you’ll find CPA, CPS, and CPL offers. In some instances, marketers will be eligible to collect CPL and CPS commissions from the same merchant under a two-tier commission plan. CPI and CPC offers are rare on networks.

Let’s review several top affiliate networks that are excellent for bloggers, YouTubers, beginners, and experienced marketers. Networks typically require that new publishers have a website or an active YouTube channel. I have experience with all the networks listed in this post.

Impact

Impact was founded in 2008 by a team of Internet marketing and technology experts who previously founded Commission Junction (CJ Affiliate), Savings.com, and LeadPoint. Their mission is to deliver disruptive innovations in technology and performance marketing to help their clients successfully navigate the digital landscape. It offers marketing solutions for influencers, affiliates, mobile app developers, and marketing agencies.

  • Main regions targeted: United States
  • Merchants: 1,600+
  • Niche strengths: Computers, consumer electronics, financial services, retail, jewelry and watches, and accessories
  • Deep linking: Yes
  • Payment frequency: Multiple times monthly
  • Payment methods: Direct deposit and PayPal
  • Minimum payout amount: $10
  • Programs: CPS and CPL
  • EPC program data: No

Sign Up for Impact

ShareASale

ShareASale has been in business for 20 years, exclusively as an affiliate marketing network. It serves as a low-cost way to grow sales through performance marketing. In January 2017, Awin acquired ShareASale to expand its international opportunities to domestic advertisers and publishers. ShareASale is one of the top networks for CPL offers.

  • Main regions targeted: United States
  • Merchants: 15,000+ (across Awin and ShareASale)
  • Niche strengths: Accessories, clothing, computers, consumer electronics, health, home and garden, gifts, art and photography, and sports
  • Deep linking: Yes
  • Payment frequency: On the 20th of each month
  • Payment methods: Direct deposit, check, and wire transfer
  • Minimum payout amount: $50
  • Programs: CPS and CPL
  • EPC program data: Yes

Sign Up for ShareASale

CJ Affiliate

With 20+ years of experience, CJ Affiliate is one of the most trusted and established names in affiliate marketing. They are passionate about using data to drive growth for their clients. CJ Affiliate is a part of the Publicis Media Groupe. It has 14 offices across the United States, Europe, and India.

  • Main regions targeted: The United States and Europe
  • Merchants: 2,900+
  • Niche strengths: Clothing and apparel, health and wellness, travel, retail, computers, and electronics
  • Deep linking: Yes
  • Payment frequency: Monthly
  • Payment methods: Direct deposit, check, and Payoneer
  • Minimum payout amount: $50
  • Programs: CPS, CPL, and Pay Per Call
  • EPC program data: Yes

Sign Up for CJ Affiliate

FlexOffers

FlexOffers provides comprehensive solutions to advertisers and publishers via marketing tools, data delivery options, and advanced payment solutions through NET 7. Through their FlexRev-$hare program, affiliates can refer publishers and earn up to 50 percent of the profits made by FlexOffers.

  • Main regions targeted: The United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Europe
  • Merchants: 12,000+
  • Niche strengths: Credit cards, clothing and accessories, consumer electronics, digital products, health and wellness, home and garden, and travel
  • Deep linking: Yes
  • Payment frequency: Net 60 days
  • Payment methods: Direct deposit, check, wire transfer, and PayPal
  • Minimum payout amount: $25
  • Programs: CPS and CPL
  • EPC program data: Yes

Sign Up for FlexOffers

PartnerStack

PartnerStack enables companies to reach more customers through partnerships. Their platform enables some of the fastest-growing companies and start-ups with the tools required to build, manage, and scale channel partner programs. PartnerStack is a newer player on the block, having launched in 2015.

  • Main regions targeted: United States
  • Merchants: 150+
  • Niche strengths: Social media, marketing, website services, and productivity tools
  • Deep linking: Yes
  • Payment frequency: On the 13th of each month
  • Payment methods: PayPal and Stripe
  • Minimum payout amount: $25
  • Programs: mostly CPS
  • EPC program data: No

Sign Up for PartnerStack

Rakuten Advertising

Rakuten Advertising is a global provider of marketing, advertising, and technology services. Rakuten Advertising brings together a unique media inventory, global affiliate network, advanced machine learning, and rich consumer insights to deliver results that increase brand awareness and marketing performance.

  • Main regions targeted: The United States and Japan
  • Merchants: 2,100+
  • Niche strengths: Accessories, clothing, computers, consumer electronics, and health
  • Deep linking: Yes
  • Payment frequency: Monthly
  • Payment methods: PayPal, direct deposit, and check
  • Minimum payout amount: $50
  • Programs: mostly CPS
  • EPC program data: No

Sign Up for Rakuten Advertising

Awin

With over 20 years of experience, Awin is the result of mergers and acquisitions of Affiliate Window, Zanox, affilinet, and ShareASale. Its parent companies are Axel Springer and United Internet. Awin has over 14,000 advertisers and 200,000 publishers on its platforms. The website is available in 12 languages.

Awin creates trusted partnerships to drive growth. Their global affiliate marketing network empowers advertisers and publishers of all sizes to grow their businesses online.

  • Main regions targeted: Europe
  • Merchants: 15,000+ (across Awin and ShareASale)
  • Niche strengths: Finance, insurance, retail, shopping, telecommunications, services, and travel
  • Deep linking: Yes
  • Payment frequency: Twice a month
  • Payment methods: Direct deposit, check, and international wire
  • Minimum payout amount: €20/£20/$20
  • Programs: CPS and CPL
  • EPC program data: Yes

Sign Up for Awin

Ebay Partner Network

eBay is an ecommerce company that connects buyers and sellers globally. It offers an online auction model where users can purchase products by bidding and buying at set prices. Featured product categories include fashion, home accessories, electronics, motors, collectibles, stationery, and more.

The eBay Partner Network (EPN) is a way to earn money by referring customers to eBay. Bloggers, YouTubers, marketers, and influencers use affiliate links to advertise products listed on eBay. When customers click on those links and purchase products, affiliates can earn commissions (or referral fees).

EPN is not an affiliate network; it’s eBay’s affiliate program. Many people think EPN is an affiliate network because of the word “network” in its name. Although affiliates can promote millions of products, they can’t partner with individual merchants or sellers. The program was self-hosted for years but now operates on Impact through a private portal UI. Read my review of EPN.

  • Programs: CPS
  • Commission rate: Up to 5%
  • Cookie duration: 24 hours
  • Niche strengths: Clothing, computers, consumer electronics, collectibles and art, home and garden, sporting goods, and toys
  • Deep linking: Yes
  • Payment frequency: Monthly
  • Payment methods: Direct deposit and PayPal
  • Minimum payout amount: $10

Sign Up for EPN

Amazon Associates

Amazon is a global ecommerce juggernaut. It generates billions in sales annually, and it ships millions of different products around the world. It competes in various industries, including online and offline retail, consumer electronics, entertainment, gaming, home services, publishing, web services, product fulfillment, and more.

The Amazon affiliate program, also known as Amazon Associates, is a way to earn money by referring customers to Amazon. Amazon Associates is one of the first programs many new bloggers and affiliate marketers come across. It’s also one of the most popular affiliate programs worldwide.

Like EPN, Amazon Associates is not an affiliate network. Affiliates can’t join programs but can promote millions of products from many well-known companies. The program is self-hosted and uses in-house affiliate tracking software. Read my review of Amazon Associates.

  • Programs: CPS and CPL
  • Commission rate: Up to 10%
  • Cookie duration: 24 hours
  • Niche strengths: Books, clothing, computers, consumer electronics, home and garden, sporting goods, and toys
  • Deep linking: Yes
  • Payment frequency: Monthly
  • Payment methods: Direct deposit and check
  • Minimum payout amount: $10

Sign Up for Amazon Associates

How to Choose Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs aren’t created equally. Some are excellent, while others are terrible. Being able to distinguish one from another is how affiliates become successful. Let’s review the critical factors that determine the viability of an affiliate program and merchant.

Conversion Rate

The best performing merchants frequently convert traffic and leads into sales. A conversion rate specifies the frequency at which a user becomes a lead or paying customer. Suppose a website gets 100 visitors. If one of those people make a purchase, the conversion rate will be 1 percent.

Many affiliate tracking apps and networks provide conversion rates on their dashboards and through reporting. Affiliates can also manually calculate. Anything above a conversion rate of half a percent is satisfactory. Marketers should not expect conversion rates of 2 percent or more.

Earnings Per Click

Earnings per click (EPC) indicates how much money an affiliate program is generating per click. For example, a merchant registers 1,000 unique clicks and generates $50 in sales. Its EPC will be $0.05. EPC can also represent how much an affiliate is making per click.

EPC data is available on many affiliate networks, and a comparison can be made between similar merchants, products, and services. A low EPC might suggest that the merchant’s conversion rate is low, the merchant is new, or there are tracking issues.

Without EPC or conversion rate data, it’s impossible to conclude how a merchant is performing. Therefore, you must be able to view performance data, including clicks and sales.

Commission Rate

A commission rate of 20 percent, or more, is what I seek. Regarding fixed commissions, I’m open-minded. An advertiser who pays well wants to:

  • Scale its program and revenues
  • Build profitable and mutually beneficial relationships
  • Reward affiliates for their activities

Merchants who pay less than 20 percent don’t grab my attention and active participation. I avoid advertisers who pay single to low double-digit commission rates (or who nickel and dime publishers).

Note: Some industries and sectors pay low commission rates because they operate on thin margins, for example, clothing merchants.

Cookie Duration

Giving marketers one or a few days to convert traffic is ridiculous and unfair. By contrast, a 30-day cookie duration allows for prospects to become customers and affiliates to get credit for their promotional efforts.

Although thirty-day referral periods are a performance marketing standard, a minimum of 90 days would be more beneficial to each party. I focus on merchants that provide ample time to convert.

Payments

Payment processing involves how and when to receive commissions. “How” refers to the options given to affiliates to receive their commissions, such as a bank, PayPal, cheque, and so on. “When” refers to the payout threshold and timeliness of payments. For instance, GetResponse has a limit of $50 and pays in the month following the month of the account referral.

Many merchants have reasonable thresholds of zero to $100. On affiliate networks, $50 is the standard. A low payout threshold keeps affiliates motivated and engaged. Alternatively, companies with limited payout options or high thresholds are the ones I usually don’t join or promote.

Affiliate Marketing Software

Affiliate tracking software is the cornerstone of success, and there are excellent and abysmal applications in the market. Reliable tracking, user-friendly dashboards, and robust reporting make for superior user experiences. Activity data—such as impressions, clicks, conversion rates, and sales—should be available. Applications that omit activity data and reporting make it difficult to track and evaluate performance. The Impact affiliate network serves as my benchmark for affiliate tracking software. I avoid programs that use FirstPromoter, Everflow, and a few others.

Deep Linking

Deep linking is the practice by which an affiliate creates a link to a specific page on the merchant’s site. For example, instead of using a generic homepage affiliate link, I can link to an article that relates to my post. Deep linking has the potential to increase conversion rates because traffic is sent to targeted landing pages. Many affiliate tracking apps offer deep linking, but advertisers must enable.

Program Management

Merchants that are committed to the growth of their affiliate sales will assign someone to the task. An affiliate manager can make or break a program, and I’m happy to leave or skip programs that employ the wrong person/agency to run things. Most affiliate managers who I deal with are pleasant and responsive. However, I do come across boneheads who have no clue what they’re doing.

Terms & Policies

A program’s terms and policies are worth reading because you want to ensure they align with your marketing ideas, goals, and activities. Also, you want to abide by the merchant’s rules to avoid disciplinary action. For instance, most merchants prohibit publishers from using specific keywords for search engine marketing (SEM) because affiliates may increase bid prices.

Free Trials & Plans

I like merchants that offer free trials and plans. They allow users to experience products and services without barriers. If the merchant’s goods are excellent, users will convert. My most profitable partners fall into this group.

Marketing Materials

Advertising materials can help increase brand awareness and conversion rates. Merchants should offer marketing materials that are useful, appealing, and proven through split testing. I’ve gotten excited about programs only to be disappointed by their marketing materials, creative assets, and banners.

Company Status

A company’s or person’s reputation is everything, and I focus on promoting companies that attract terrific customer reviews. For example, I’m comfortable marketing TransferWise because it has an “Excellent” rating on Trustpilot based on thousands of reviews. Secondly, marketplace dominance is something I consider because I want to promote winners, not losers. I want my audience to try and buy goods on the way up, not down. Case in point, that’s why I promote Shopify over its competitors, including BigCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, ClickFunnels, and so forth.

How to Increase Your Commissions

High-paying affiliate programs are only as good as your conversion rates.

Affiliate marketing is straightforward. If you get enough clicks, your conversions and commissions will take care of themselves. However, it isn’t as simple as that. As an affiliate, you must continuously create exciting and engaging content. You must compete with and outsmart thousands of publishers in your niche. You must conquer changes, trends, and challenges that threaten your income, for example, Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention protocol. You must select profitable programs and merchants that seek mutually beneficial outcomes. Finally, you must implement effective tactics to increase your commissions.

Let’s review several affiliate marketing strategies and website ideas that will help boost your conversions, sales, and earnings. Also, read these posts for Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram affiliate marketing tactics.

Make Affiliate Marketing a Top Priority

Affiliate marketing is either one of your top priorities, or it isn’t. Dedicated and successful affiliates often work full-time and spend most of it creating content and sending traffic to merchants. By contrast, some affiliates limit their activities to a few hours weekly. They might also juggle multiple business ventures that don’t relate to affiliate marketing, for example, freelancing.

Directing traffic to where money can be made–merchant sites–should be your primary goal. Also, many affiliates make money through their blogs and YouTube channels, so building up those digital assets should be the focus. On the other hand, many marketers send traffic to their social media profiles as much as they do merchants. Getting more Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram followers should be a distant second or third priority, or not one at all, depending on your strategy.

Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

What is your top source for traffic? Most of my traffic is “organic” and flows from search engines. That is by design and how you likely came to my site.

A few years ago, I took an SEO course on Coursera. SEO is arguably the most critical skill an online worker/marketer can possess because search functionality is everywhere, including Google, YouTube, Amazon, and Fiverr. Understanding and implementing SEO activities will increase your impressions, click-throughs, clicks, conversions, and so on. Focusing on other traffic sources, such as social media and email marketing, likely won’t be enough to reach your goals. I attribute most of my success to SEO.

Track Your Income in a Spreadsheet

Signing into affiliate networks and checking commissions isn’t the same as tracking your income. By recording your earnings monthly, you’ll be able to spot trends and opportunities among your merchants. For instance, I noticed a downward trend in revenues for a specific advertiser, so I stopped promoting it (I also analyzed the causes, which justified my action). Similarly, when you identify uptrends and positive developments, you should increase your promotional efforts for those merchants and goods.

Here’s an example of an income report.

JanuaryFebruaryMarch
Affiliate network #1 $           – $  576.00 $               –
Affiliate network #2 $           – $           – $     350.00
Affiliate network #3 $           – $           – $               –
Merchant #1 $           – $           – $     413.00
Merchant #2 $  233.00 $    86.50 $     172.00
Merchant #3 $  175.00 $  115.00 $        77.25
Total $  408.00 $  777.50 $  1,012.25

Note: You don’t have to record your earnings to publish “income reports” on your website. Some affiliates post their earnings reports to hype up themselves while their results might be fraudulent.

Promote the Best Merchants, Programs, & Products

Affiliates should seek mutually beneficial relationships with merchants that have high-converting products. Also, marketers should join rewarding programs that pay high commission rates with cookie periods of 30 days or more. For example, GetResponse pays a recurring commission of 33 percent per sale. By contrast, you aren’t going to succeed with companies and programs that pay low commission rates and have short cookie durations. For example, Amazon Associates pays up to 10 percent and has a 24-hour cookie, which produces mostly win-lose outcomes for affiliates. Moreover, affiliates should avoid partnering with companies that have bad reputations or suspect business practices.

Focus on a Handful of Merchants

I have hundreds of affiliate partnerships but routinely focus on promoting eight to ten merchants. I call this exclusive group my “affiliate nexus” or “nexus.” By targeting a few merchants, I strengthen my relationships and increase my familiarity with them, which helps with content creation and marketing. Also, most of the content I create includes or relates to my nexus companies.

Some publishers (bloggers, YouTubers, influencers, etc.) concentrate on one or two programs, whereas others focus on too many. Committing to one or two programs puts your income at risk. A merchant could deactivate its program, lower its commission rate, get crushed by new entrants, or go belly up. Any of those scenarios would cause your commissions to decrease significantly. Alternatively, focusing on too many advertisers weakens your efforts and progress.

Another way to think about it is which “20 percent” of advertisers will satisfy your income goals? The 80-20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, suggests that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results. The concept applies to many facets of life. For example, you likely spend 80 percent of your time with 20 percent of your friends. You wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time. Twenty percent of Americans control 80 percent of the wealth.

Use High-Earning Links & Banners

Many affiliate networks allow users to sort through a merchant’s links and banners by earnings per click (EPC). Earnings per click indicate how a program or link is performing by dividing the total revenues by total clicks for a period. Naturally, it’s a wise idea to use links that are converting and performing well.

EPC Sorting Feature

Quit Programs Periodically

Letting go of poor performers frees up time to focus on winners and new opportunities. Also, remaining in programs for the sake of “keeping your options open” tends to be pointless and inefficient. I prefer to stay active with profitable merchants and deactivate unprofitable ones. For instance, I recently ended 70 percent of my affiliate partnerships because they were underperforming, unrelated to my niche, paid low commission rates, or had low EPCs.

Add Enough Affiliate Links to Each Post

The number of affiliate links you include on each page is critical. You must add a minimum of ten links to stack the odds in your favor. Conversely, adding one or two links will not result in enough clicks and conversions. To increase your link count, you can:

  • Link to helpful content. Deep linking is the practice by which an affiliate creates a link to a specific page on the merchant’s site. Many affiliate tracking apps have deep linking features.
  • Link to articles that support or relate to your post, for example, case studies and examples.
  • Add advertising banners.

Note: Don’t only add links for the sake of increasing your count. Your links should appear natural and be useful to readers.

Encourage Readers to Act

Reading is a passive and unengaging activity for many people. Therefore, occasionally prompting your audience to act will increase their engagement and clicks.

A call to action (CTA) is a word, phrase, or sentence that encourages a reader to take a specific action, for example, learn more, buy now, start your free trial, and click here (click here is slightly outdated). CTAs appear as text and images, such as a “Buy It Now” button.

8 Call-to-Action Tips Getting Real Results for Marketers Right Now

Add a Resources or “Tools” Page

Many marketers and publishers have “tools” pages that feature the products, services, and apps they use. Those pages attract visitors because people want to know what others are using. An excellent tools page will list five to fifteen items with brief descriptions. The page is typically added to a site’s primary menu.

Be genuine. Some publishers add goods only to generate commissions. For example, an affiliate who uses one hosting company but lists multiple companies. Publishers who recommend multiple tools from the same category are likely putting profits before people, which is a practice you should avoid.

Add a Notification Bar

A notification bar is a rectangular element that appears at the top of a website. Users typically use notification bars to collect email addresses, highlight deals, and special offers.

WordPress users have many free options, including Top Bar, Simple Banner, and WPFront Notification Bar. Premium options include Thrive Themes and OptinMonster.

Get Creative with Widgets

Featuring ad banners and opt-in forms in your widgets are so ten years ago. That doesn’t mean banners and forms aren’t useful, but there are more creative ways to use widgets. Case in point, I use my footer widgets to feature “trending” articles (all are affiliate links). Let your imagination run wild.

Use the ThirstyAffiliates WordPress Plugin

The ThirstyAffiliates plugin is a must-have for affiliates who use WordPress. It allows users to manage, cloak, and track links from a central place. Free and pro versions are available. The pro version includes robust features, including automatic keyword linking, advanced reporting, CSV import/export, and more. By efficiently managing your affiliate links, you can focus on more critical revenue-generating activities.

Use the FooGallery WordPress Plugin

Instead of adding banners to posts the conventional way—Add Media—I insert and manage banners with the FooGallery image gallery plugin. The plugin comes with many robust features and customizations. Changes that I make to my banners/images automatically update throughout my site. That’s much better and more efficient than having to replace banners one-by-one. Also, I can quickly update my banners to promote limited-time deals and sales events. The following is a banner I setup with FooGallery.

Add Affiliate Links to Email Marketing Campaigns

Most email marketing companies have affiliate marketing policies in their terms and conditions. For instance, MailerLite states,

Affiliate Marketing and Affiliate Links are two different things. Affiliate Marketing is prohibited in MailerLite, but Affiliate Links are fine in most cases.

  • Affiliate Marketing (Prohibited)- is a type of business where you earn a commission by promoting other company’s products. We don’t allow this activity because there’s no direct relationship between you and your subscribers. You are not allowed to send unrelated offers to your subscribers or pretend to be another brand.
  • Affiliate Links (Allowed) – is a way to recommend products or services to your subscribers in your campaigns. Advertisement for another company (Affiliate Link) can only appear under your branding and be clearly presented as a special offer from another company. Moreover, the offer has to be related to your content and meet subscriber expectations. You are not allowed to send emails with links to content that is prohibited in our Terms of Use. Campaigns with blacklisted links will be stopped automatically and we may be forced to close the account permanently.

You must be careful when adding links to your emails and consider the context. However, don’t be too cautious because you’ll lose out on marketing opportunities. If you subscribe to my email list, you’ll see how I combine email marketing with affiliate links.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are affiliate networks free to join?

Affiliate networks are free to join for publishers, but advertisers must pay to use. If a network demands a fee, run the other way.

How many networks should I join?

You should join as many networks as you require to access the merchants and items that you want to promote.

What affiliate network is the best?

The best affiliate network is the one that provides you with the merchants and programs to support your goals. My favorite networks are Impact, ShareASale, and CJ Affiliate.

What should I do if my application gets declined?

If your application gets declined to join a network or program, send an email for more information. Some advertisers are selective and have specific requirements for publishers to meet; for example, the publisher must have a United States home address.

Do affiliate networks have rules to follow?

Yes, they do. The rules are in the partnership agreement, terms and conditions, or terms of service. Advertisers also have terms and policies to follow; for instance, the affiliate cannot bid on trademarked terms. Failure to abide by network and advertiser rules can lead to immediate account suspension or termination.

Is ClickBank legit?

ClickBank is a legit company. However, it tends to attract get-rich-quick internet marketers and “fake gurus.” Secondly, affiliates are unlikely to find reputable companies on ClickBank. In the few dealings I’ve had with them, I’ve been disappointed.

What’s the best affiliate program?

There are many excellent affiliate programs that pay high commission rates. For example, Shopify pays up to $2,000 per sale, whereas TubeBuddy pays recurring commissions of up to 50 percent. Therefore, the best affiliate program depends on the niche or category.

Is affiliate marketing a scam?

Affiliate marketing is not a scam. It’s a legit advertising model that compensates affiliates for sending traffic to websites. Merchants pay affiliates for sales and leads. However, some merchants intentionally defraud affiliates by not providing factual activity data or compensating marketers for their efforts.

How much can you make with affiliate marketing?

Affiliates can earn hundreds to thousands monthly, depending on how much traffic they send to advertisers. Some affiliates report making $10,000+ per month. However, it can take months or years to make a sizable income.

 

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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158% Increase in Affiliate Commissions

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