What is Affiliate Marketing?
Before delving into the best programs you can use to earn money from affiliate marketing, we’ll give you a quick briefing to what affiliate marketing is.
There are three parties involved in the affiliate marketing process:
The merchant is the person or company behind the product that you’re linking the customers with.
The Affiliate (You)
This is where you come in. A lot of products and services benefit from content creators including affiliate links in their content – it helps their product sell.
For this service, you’ll earn a certain amount of money per successful purchase using your link.
You must have either a blog or website where you can share the links to promote products. Usually, it’s best to create content around the product links, so your site gets traffic and people gain something from it.
A popular way affiliates do this is by writing “Top 10” articles.
You want to get a good level of traffic to your site so more people can see the links. See our article “Affiliate Marketing Tips” for some tips on how you can increase traffic to your site.
The customer is your audience. You’re providing links in content for customers to read through. When the customer clicks the link and purchases the product, you earn a certain amount of money.
You want to design your content so it’s readable and interesting to the customer.
Generating traffic is the key to affiliate marketing.
Usually, it’s best to disclose to the customer that your content includes affiliate links.
Affiliate programs provide a third-party platform that allows these three parties to work together.
Merchants and affiliates sign up for the platform/ program, share details and work together to sell products.
Certain information is tracked using the programs, such as:
- How many people click the link
- How many people purchase a product using the link
- Revenue generated by an affiliate
- How many people see and click on a banner ad
This allows the merchant to see progress and the affiliate to get paid the correct amount.
For more information, liaise with other affiliate marketers. There are various places online where marketers share their knowledge, such as Niche Affiliate Empires.
Amazon Associates Program is one of the most well-known and most used affiliate marketing programs.
It has dominated the scene since 1996 and was the first online affiliate marketing program in the world. It’s completely free to join, and there are endless products that you can be an affiliate for.
Consumers will use Amazon for pretty much anything. As seen in their logo, they sell everything from A-Z. Whether your niche is makeup brushes or pet supplies – it’s bound to be sold on Amazon.
How Do I Use It?
- First of all, you’ll need an Amazon account. If you don’t have one, register using either your mobile number or your email address – then you’ll be required to enter some other basic information about yourself (name, age – that kind of thing).
- You’ll then be required to fill in some more specific information, such as what your niche is, your platforms and how you intend to generate traffic on your site. Then you’ll need to verify your identity.
- The final step is setting up your payment information and tax details, so you can start earning money to your selected bank account.
- Once the account is all set up, you’re ready to go. Start by entering your niche, or a specific product into the search bar at the top of your dashboard.
- Then, have a look through the results and select the product you’d like to promote in your content.
- You must then click “get link” to receive the amazon affiliate link – and this link should be included on your site/ in your content.
- Amazon is a trusted website worldwide
- Approx 1.6 mil products to choose from
- Easy to customize
- Cookies only last 24 hours
- Not PayPal compatible
eBay Partner Network
Like Amazon, eBay is an online marketplace that sells all things under the sun. It’s more known for its auction option, but eBay also sells millions of products at a set price (if the product says “Buy It Now”).
At any one time, there are over 1 billion listings – with so many products available, it’s a great place for beginners to start.
How Do I Use It?
- eBay Partner Network is entirely free to join, but first, you need an eBay account.
- It’s super easy to create an EPN (eBay Partner Network) account. Either sign in using your eBay account, or register. You’ll be required to enter some basic details (phone number, country of residence – that kind of thing) and then you’re done.
- One of the requirements to sign up for EPN is that your online platform must not include “adult, illegal, or restricted” content.
- After joining the network, just search for a product that you want to promote and include on your blog/ website.
- Then, create a trackable affiliate link. EPN (eBay Partner Network) offers easy-to-use tools that you can use to create a trackable link.
- Finally, include the link in your content on your website/ blog. The better your site is, the more traffic you’re likely to get – which means more people will be clicking your link.
You’ll earn money if a customer purchases the product within 24 hours of clicking your affiliate link. This works for both “Buy It Now” products and auction products. With auctions, the customer must bid on the auction within that 24 hour time period, and win it within 10 calendar days.
You can get paid straight to your bank account, or via PayPal. It will be every month, provided you meet the $10 minimum.
- A commission can be between 40% and 80%
- Super easy to navigate
- Lots of products available to choose from
- Auctions can last longer than the affiliate cookies, so be wary and always check the auction times
ClickBank is an online retailer that’s popular worldwide. The company began in a garage in 1998, and since then has grown to become one of the most popular stores for digital products in the world.
Since its humble beginning, the company has paid out more than $4 billion dollars in affiliate commissions. With Clickbank, you can earn commissions as high as 75%. The maximum you can earn per sale is $150.
It’s important to note that although the commission rates for ClickBank can be high, the products sold can be of low quality, making it harder to sell. With the products that are of good quality, you’re likely to experience a lot of competition.
How Do I Use It?
- Sign up to be an affiliate for Clickbank. This process is quick and easy, and most importantly – it’s free.
- Find a product you want to promote. When you’re browsing, be sure to check out the gravity score. Gravity is the metric that’s used to show how well a product is currently selling – the higher the gravity score, the better. Once you’ve communicated with the merchant (the seller), then move on to step 3.
- Create a customized HopLink. A HopLink is a referral tracking URL, that links the customer with the merchant’s site while informing ClickBank that the customer was directed using the link provided by you – the affiliate.
You can use either the link provided on the marketplace or HopLink Shield. Click “promote” next to the product, enter your details, and copy the link given to you.
- Use the link in your content to promote the product. Whatever method you use to do this, whether it’s a blog, website, social media or email, be sure that the HopLink is included in all promotional content.
- Promotes recurring commissions
- Plenty of resources to help you get started
- Wide range of products
- Lots of low-quality products that can spam your feed
Shopify Affiliate Program
The Shopify Affiliate Program is popular with entrepreneurs who are getting started in the business. As the affiliate program is free and easy to use, it’s super popular with beginners.
Shopify is a subscription to software that allows people to create your own website, and use their shopping cart to sell, ship and manage your products.
Their service gives entrepreneurs an easy to use admin panel, that they can use to add products, process orders and enter information about the store.
The affiliate program allows affiliates to earn money with each referral that purchases a subscription.
The average amount earned by each affiliate is $58 for each user who registers with a paid plan using the affiliate link provided.
How Do I Use It?
- Create an account. This is a quick process where you enter your full name, email address and create a password. You’ll then need to enter the name of your business/ website, and mention which other e-commerce platforms that you have worked with.
- Include the affiliate link in your content. Your affiliate link will direct customers to Shopify for them to register for a paid plan. Your link will include a 30-day tracking cookie, meaning if somebody clicks on the link and signs up for a free trial within 30 days, you’ll receive credit for the referral.
You’re best including the link every time you mention Shopify in your content – and you may benefit from writing your content around Shopify.
- Now for the best step – getting paid! In the sign-up process, you would’ve been asked for your PayPal details. You can only get paid via PayPal, and payments are made in US Dollars. For any credits created between the 1st and the 15th, you’ll get paid within five business days from the 15th day of the month.
For any credits created after the 16th to the end of the month, you’ll get paid within five business days after the last day of the month.
- Great if you already have high traffic/ a big following
- PayPal compatible
- Set paydays
- Can be hard to get people to sign up to a paid subscription
- Only pay in US Dollars
Rakuten Affiliate Program
Rakuten is a Japanese internet marketing company – one of the largest in the world. The name “Rakuten” means “optimism” in the Japanese language. This is a highly rated program and a great choice for beginner affiliate marketers.
The Rakuten Affiliate Program was voted Blue Book’s top affiliate network for SEVEN years in a row, proving their credibility.
If you’re unsure whether you’ll actually earn any money using this program, then consider this: Rakuten has paid out over $800 million to affiliates, and more than 10 million members have signed up for their cashback program.
The program is also free to join, making it a top choice amongst affiliates.
How Do I Use It?
- Create an account. Just like most other affiliate programs, you need to have a valid account to be an affiliate. You’ll need to include your website/ blog information, as well as personal details such as full name, date of birth, etc.
- Search through the products. To see all the products and merchants, click “programs” from the dashboard. You’ll then see a load of categories – click one that you are interested in. You can browse through the merchant’s profile, and see the products they offer.
- Once you’ve found a product you’re happy to promote, you need to click the “Apply” button on the right of the product description. The merchant must accept your application to become an affiliate for their product. If your content isn’t up to scratch, you’ll likely be turned down by the merchant.
- Use the link to promote the product. The content must be great and suited, and you’ll be advised of the commission rates beforehand.
- Easy to use, especially for beginners
- Thousands of merchants to choose from
- Free to use
- Can’t use PayPal
- Very selective during the application process
CJ Affiliate (Commission Junction)
Commision Junction is an established affiliate marketplace, with thousands of products to choose from to promote. The business sheds out $1.8 billion annually to publishers, and there are over 4.8 million business relationships created using this site on a yearly basis.
Some clients of CJ Affiliate include:
- Barnes & Noble
- Office Depot
How Do I Use It?
- Sign up for a free account. You’ll need a valid email address that you use to verify your identity. You then choose your country of residence, which determined whether you’ll be paid in dollars, sterling, euros, krona, etc.
You’ll then need to include information about your company and website. There are some terms and conditions that you’ll need to have a read of before completing the registration.
- Navigate to the ‘Advertisers’ tab and search through the many niche’s available. From accessories to web services, there’s plenty of options when it comes to choosing your niche.
- See the potential merchant partners, and check out their EPC (Earnings per click). Your blog/ site will need to generate a lot of traffic to earn money using earnings per click – as it’s technically earnings per 100 clicks. This is more suited if you already have a big following, either on a blog or on social media.
- Continue to find merchants and offers that match your audience – and keep earning money!
- Solid reputation with well-known clients
- Merchants can seek you out, improving the networking side of things
- Perfect for bloggers and social media marketers
- The application could get declined
- Strong competition with other publishers
Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll know which program will be best for you and your blog or website. It’s still best to sign up and see what each one offers you, as everyone listed here is free and suited to beginners.
Choosing an affiliate marketing program is the first step to earning money online. The program you use should have a decent commission rate and low competition – especially for beginners.
Make sure you choose a program that sells products you’re interested in. If you’re interested in the product, it’s a lot easier to promote.
Have you used any of these programs before? Do you recommend any we haven’t listed? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this with your marketing friends.
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