Best Affiliate Programs
There are two main ways of earning money through your blog or website: you can sell a product or service, or you can take an indirect but profitable route and advertise someone else’s products. This is where affiliate programs come into to the picture.
Affiliate programs are agreements between merchants who want to advertise their products or services and another site which benefits from publishing through an image or text linked back to the merchant’s site. These publishers earn commissions when the merchant receives more site visitors, finds a lead or achieves a sale via their site. To find people willing to advertise for them, merchants join third party sites called affiliate networks. These affiliate networks offer several affiliate programs for bloggers or site owners and merchants to choose from.
When site owners or bloggers register on an affiliate network’s site, they choose from a number of merchants who are looking for a site to publish their ads. The site owners put these ads up on their sites. Visitors who click on the ad’s link text or image are then taken to the merchant’s website. When these visitors make a purchase on the merchant’s site, the ad publisher/ site owner gets credit for the sale. Some programs will also let you earn commissions just by visitors clicking on the merchant’s link.
Affiliate programs are so effective since you can leave the ad on your site for several months and all you have to do is wait for visitors to click on the ad. However, to draw a lot of traffic and site visitors, your blog or site needs to be constantly updated with plenty of interesting content.
If you’re ready to dive into affiliate marketing and make more money on your site, here are the 12 best affiliate programs we recommend:
1. Affiliate Window
One of the top affiliate programs in the UK, Affiliate Window, has at least 1,600 merchants and more than 75,000 publishers. The website’s interface is user-friendly and easy to understand, plus, they offer real-time reporting of the publisher’s performance stats. Other benefits of using this site are that the minimum payment amount is relatively low, publishers are paid twice a month and you can choose from several payment methods: wire transfer, direct bank deposit, or check. If you’re looking for free membership, though, Affiliate Window is not for you. New members need to pay a small registration fee.
2. Amazon Associates
Huge online retailer Amazon’s affiliate program, Amazon Associates, is usually near close to the top of the list of the best affiliate networks and it’s easy to see why. There are thousands of merchants to choose from and the brand Amazon itself is recognized all over the world. Signing up is free and most users have reported that Amazon’s interface is the easiest to understand and best for beginners. Their payment methods include Amazon gift certificates, checks, and direct bank deposits, and the minimum payment amount is quite low. The greatest drawback to this network though is the low commissions.
For merchants specializing in digital products like ebooks and online courses, Clickbank is one of the best choices. Being one of the earliest affiliate networks, they’ve established a good name in the industry. The main advantages of this program are that you can promote thousands of items on your website, their commissions offered are significantly higher and you can always count on getting your payment on time. However, to claim your payment, there’s a customer distribution requirement you have to fulfill aside from the minimum payment amount. Moreover, you need to watch out for bad products as some of them can be scams.
4. Commission Junction
CJ Affiliate, which used to be called Commission Junction, is another solidly established and reputable affiliate program. You’ll find most big businesses using CJ Affiliate to market their products. Timely payment is not a problem. Though they have many efficient tracking and reporting features which are ideal for professionals, this may not be very useful for beginners. Another thing to consider is that the system itself needs regular monitoring as it does not update real-time. The minimum payment amount is also higher than average.
5. eBay Partner Network
A close competitor of Amazon’s, eBay Partner Network, is another online retailer known all over the world. The commission rates for getting visitors to sign up on eBay and place a bid on an item can be quite generous. There are also thousands of product offerings which you can choose from, no matter what your niche. All of their payment is done through Paypal which makes the payment process quick and easy. The main disadvantage of using eBay, though, is that they have strict conditions for approval, like a required amount of traffic on your website.
6. Google AdSense
The biggest and most well-known of all affiliate programs, Google AdSense, allows you to earn commissions for clicks, not just for leads or sales. Because it’s tied up with the Google Search engine, you can choose products from thousands of merchants worldwide. Most users also prefer AdSense since they don’t demand a high amount of traffic for your website and they’re currently offering one of the highest commissions in the industry. The main concerns about using AdSense, though, is that the minimum payment amount is higher and you will need to ensure that all content on your website is unique and not duplicated, even if it was actually your content plagiarized by someone else.
A newcomer but steadily growing in popularity, Neverblue offers mostly software products and services. There are more ways to earn as they pay for leads and downloads, as well as sales. Beginners will also appreciate that the sign up process is easy and the interface is very user-friendly. The tracking and reporting system is well-organized and simple to understand. Approval after signing up is another matter, though. It will take time for your application to be approved.
Peerfly is another affiliate program that offers commissions not only for leads and sales, but also specific actions like filling out a form. Users rate Peerfly highly for several reasons. Their software is outstanding as it’s custom-built. They have a diverse number of products advertised and payment is quick and easy once you have the minimum payment amount. However, approval for Peerfly is not easy as they strictly evaluate all applications.
9. Rakuten Affiliate Network
Rakuten Affiliate Network, which acquired LinkShare, has a wide and established client base due to LinkShare already being around for several years. A unique feature of this program is that unlike other programs where you need to check out the network’s site to change and update ads, LinkShare automatically changes your published ads to its different versions, which is ultimately more efficient. Some issues users have with this program, though, is that the products offered are not as varied and advertisers are not as numerous as the bigger affiliate networks.
Currently one of the most popular affiliate networks, ShareASale has more than 4,000 affiliate programs. ShareASale has proven its reliability as a lot of these merchants advertise through ShareASale alone; you won’t see them on other networks. One reason publishers prefer this program is that it makes choosing offers easy with a system that allows you to compare and select the best one. You can also claim your payment easily and quickly once you reach the minimum amount. A slight concern users have with the site though is that its tracking and reporting system is not as easy as other networks.
If you’re looking for more UK-based online retailers, you won’t go wrong with Tradedoubler. They have more than 2,000 merchants from Europe including big names from most industries. Their commissions are based on leads acquired, sales made and specific actions fulfilled. They also require a minimum payment amount and their payment methods are through international checks and direct bank deposits. The main thing to remember about this program is that Tradedoubler’s merchants are those whose target markets are in Europe.
The last name on our list, Zanox, is another affiliate program which is among the best in the UK. There are various ways to earn their commissions, through leads, sales, actions and clicks. One of the great things about Zanox is that it has an exclusive affiliate program with that well-loved site for creative and handmade goods, Etsy. Publishers can receive their payment every month once they reach the minimum payment amount. Their payment methods are through wire transfer, check and direct bank deposit.
If you want to get going with a really good affiliate program, you may opt to try out several of these programs mentioned first. After experiencing the benefits and disadvantages of each one, then you can decide on one you’d like to patronize. Remember to have patience though as profits are also not likely to come in right away. Keep working on improving your website and creating terrific content and both merchants and visitors will be eagerly coming to you.
If you want to know more about innovative home business ideas, head to our Home Based Business section.