Last Updated on February 18, 2022 by Matt Zavadil
If you’re just starting in the world of affiliate marketing, it’s hard to which affiliate marketing programs will work best for your Internet business.
The goal is to make affiliate income without building your own products.
Instead, you simply generate traffic through your blog, YouTube channel, social media accounts, or paid ads…
…and then point your traffic to relevant affiliate offers that pay you commissions.
But, how do you sift through all the different affiliate networks and programs without driving yourself crazy…especially as a beginner affiliate marketer?
In this article, I’ll discuss the different types of affiliate marketing programs available, and provide beginner tips about how to choose the best one for your needs.
What is an Affiliate Program?
An affiliate marketing program is a type of online business where you (the affiliate) promote products or services for someone else (the merchant).
In exchange, the merchant pays you a commission for each sale that you generate.
Affiliate marketing programs can be broken down into two categories: networks and programs.
Affiliate Networks vs Affiliate Programs
An affiliate network is a company that connects merchants with affiliates.
The network provides the infrastructure and tools for both the merchant and the affiliate, as well as administrative support.
Think of an affiliate network like the middleman between a merchant and an affiliate.
This type of structure can be beneficial for beginners because affiliate networks can give you a list of products to promote, as well as provide marketing materials like banners and text links.
CJ Affiliate Network or Clickbank are examples of networks.
However, if you’re an advanced affiliate marketer who knows how to get traffic through organic search or paid ads, it’s best to start working directly with the merchant.
A product or service may also have its own affiliate program that you can join.
This type of affiliate marketing program is run by the merchant, and you become an affiliate by signing up for it.
The best affiliate programs offer more commission opportunities than networks (though this isn’t always the case).
But, because there’s less infrastructure and support, it can be more difficult to get started as an affiliate.
How Do Affiliate Programs Work?
There are three basic steps in the process:
Step One: Find a Product or Service to Promote
You want to promote products or services that are relevant to your target audience.
This means doing enough research and niche analysis so you can find out what kind of content, information, and offers will appeal to the people who visit your site.
For example, if you have a blog about weight loss for women over 35, then you don’t want to promote products about losing weight for children.
It’s not relevant, and it will turn off your audience if they think you’re trying to scam them into buying a product that doesn’t work for their needs.
This brings me to the second step…
Step Two: Create Content That Promotes Your Product or Service
Once you know what to promote, you need to create content that will help your audience learn more about the product or service, and convince them to buy it.
This can be in the form of blog posts, articles, videos, social media updates, or paid ads.
The key is providing valuable information that helps your readers, and not just blatant sales pitches.
People are more likely to trust you and buy from you if they know that you’re helping them, not just trying to make a quick buck.
Step Three: Get Traffic to Your Content
The final step is getting traffic to your content.
This can be done through organic search, paid ads, or social media.
If you’re just starting out as an affiliate marketer, you may want to try paid ads first because it’s easier and less time-consuming than organic search.
However, if your budget is limited then social media might be a better option since many platforms allow free promotion of content.
Types of Affiliate Marketing Programs
You can find a quality affiliate program in almost every niche imaginable. Let’s dive into some of the best affiliate marketing programs to target in your affiliate marketing business.
Best Retail Programs
Retail affiliate programs are a great place to start if you’re looking for products relevant to your audience.
- Amazon Associates
- eBay Partner Network
Each of these companies has a wide selection of products that you can promote.
For example, Amazon offers over a million items in their marketplace, while eBay has more than 100 million listings.
Walmart and Target are two popular brick-and-mortar stores with millions of customers worldwide.
You’ll easily be able to find something relevant to your target audience among these four retailers.
Best Finance Affiliate Programs
If you have a finance blog, then you’ll want to promote programs in this niche.
The best affiliate programs in finance include:
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Capital One 360 Promotions
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Each of these companies offers credit cards, banking products, and other financial services.
You can find an affiliate program that matches your audience’s needs, whether they’re looking for a credit card with no annual fee or one that offers cash back rewards on every purchase.
Best Health and Wellness Programs
If you have a blog about health and wellness, then promoting programs in this niche is a no-brainer.
Some of the best affiliate marketing programs in health and wellness include:
- Nature’s Bounty
- Herbalife International
Each of these companies offers supplements, weight loss products, vitamins, and other health-related items.
Herbalife and Advocate, for instance, are MLM companies, meaning you can expand your money-making ventures into earning from a downline’s sales.
Best Travel Programs
Some of the highest-paying affiliate programs in travel include:
- Airbnb Referral Program
- Hotels.com Rewards Program for Partners
- Booking.com Partner Program
- Expedia Affiliate Network
Each of these companies offers travel-related products and services, such as hotel reservations, flights, car rentals, and more.
Best SaaS Programs
You can make affiliate revenue in the SaaS niche with these programs.
- Shopify Partner Program
Best Email Marketing Programs
Here are other affiliate programs when you can promote email software:
- Constant Contact
Best Web Hosting Programs
Many web hosting programs come with a dedicated affiliate manager to help you earn money online inside this niche
- Bluehost affiliate program
Each of these web hosting companies is some of the most popular and well-known in the industry.
Best WordPress Programs
WordPress is an extremely popular website platform and WPEngine may be the best affiliate program in the niche:
- WPEngine Partner Program
- Astra Theme
- Elementor Pro
- OptinMonster Referral Program
Best Website Builder Programs
Like WordPress, website builders are popular tools used by many people to create their websites.
Some of the best website builder programs include:
- Weebly Partner Program
Best SEO Programs
SEO is an evergreen topic that’s always in demand.
- Moz Pro
- SEMrush Ambassador Program
Each of these companies offers powerful tools to help you with your SEO efforts.
Best Marketing Software Programs
Best Online Education Programs
You can find a wealth of online education programs to promote on your blog.
Each of these companies offers access to a wide range of video courses that can help you improve your skills in various areas.
Best VPN Programs
Affiliate marketing programs for VPNs are a great way to monetize your blog.
Here are some of the best VPN programs:
- PrivateInternetAccess (PIA)
- ExpressVPN Ambassador Program
Best Design & Creative Tools Programs
If you have a blog about design and creative tools, then these programs can help you monetize your content.
- Adobe Creative Cloud Referral Program
Best Digital Marketing Tools
Promoting these digital marketing programs will help you earn money online in this niche.
- Majestic SEO
- Raven Tools
Best Online Job Site Programs
You can earn money online by promoting these programs in your blog.
- Simply Hired
CareerBuilder.com Affiliate Program
Best Social Media Management Tools
If you’re interested in social media marketing, then promoting these programs is a great way to make money online.
- Sprout Social Ambassador Program
Best CRM Programs
- Salesforce Partner Program
- ZohoCRM Partner Program
- FreshBooks Referral Program
Best E-Commerce Programs
If you teach about eCommerce, then promoting these programs can help you earn money online.
- WooCommerce Partner Program
- Shopify Partner Program
- BigCartel Referral Program
Best Finance & Accounting Tools Programs
- QuickBooks Online
- Xero Referral Partner Program
- Wave Accounting
If you run an Internet business around productivity, then promoting these programs can help you.
- Todoist Ambassador Programme
- Asana Pioneer Programme
Best Project Management & Team Collaboration Tools
- Basecamp Affiliate Program
- Podio Referral Partner Program
- Teamwork Projects
Best Time Tracking & Billing Tools Programs
Harvest Partner Program
FreshBooks Referral Program
Best Online Storage Tools & Services Programs
Interested in monetizing your blog around online storage?
- Dropbox Referral Program
- Box Ambassador Program
- OneDrive Affiliate Program
Best Gaming Programs
- Astro Gaming
What Does Recurring Payment Mean?
When you work with affiliate managers, you’ll see that some products offer a one-time payment or a recurring payment.
One-time payments are just that – once you earn your commission, the money is yours and there’s no more obligation on your part.
Recurring payments, on the other hand, mean that you’ll continue to get paid as long as the customer you referred remains a paying customer.
Pros and Cons of Recurring Payments
The big advantage of recurring payments is that you can keep earning as long as your customer stays with the company.
This means that in some cases, it’s possible to earn a lot more money with recurring payments.
On the flip side, though, if you start referring customers and then they leave after just one month, you’ll have a lot less money than if there had been just one commission payment.
Talk to your affiliate manager to see how well they retain customers.
Pros and Cons of One-Time Payouts
One-time payments are more straightforward – you get paid once, and that’s it.
This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.
From the affiliate’s point of view, one-time payments mean that they don’t have to worry about anything else after they’ve been paid.
However, one-time payments can also lead to lower earnings overall, since you only get paid once for each customer that you refer.
Best Recurring Affiliate Programs
- Elegant Themes
How to Choose the Best Affiliate Marketing Program
When you’re looking for an affiliate program, it’s important to choose one that’s a good fit for your blog and your audience.
Here are a few tips for choosing the best affiliate program:
- Choose an affiliate program that offers products or services that match your blog topic.
- Look for programs with high commissions and recurring payments.
- Choose programs that offer an affiliate link to a product or service you already know, use, and love.
- Pick programs with top affiliate marketers who can help teach you how to sell their products or services.
How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing
Is affiliate marketing worth it?
The first step is deciding what kind of product or service you want to promote.
Then find an affiliate program for that type of offer and sign up for it so you can start making money as an affiliate.
Once you’re signed up, it’s time to start promoting! Share your affiliate link on social media, in your blog posts, and in emails to your subscribers.
Remember, the more effort you put into marketing the products or services offered through your affiliate program, the more money you’ll make.