5 Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners in 2021: Affiliate Marketing Guide

If you run a blog or website, you might be on the lookout for a way to monetize your work while simultaneously creating meaningful connections with your audience. Luckily, there’s a way to do both at once:  Affiliate programs.

Not sure how affiliate marketing works? In this article, we’ll explore the purpose of affiliate marketing programs, how to navigate the world of affiliates, and how this marketing approach can change your reach and monetization. 

Are you ready to get going? Let’s go!

What is Affiliate Marketing? 

Affiliate marketing describes the process of an online blogger or content creator earning a commission for promoting products or driving sales for a company. Both parties aim to reach a symbiotic relationship with one another in which the blogger gets fair pay for their promotion; while the company’s products or services receive promotion suitably.

Some online creators choose to work within the affiliate programs of specific merchants, while others prefer to connect with a wide variety of potential business partners through affiliate networks. 

Affiliate networks are essentially third-party hosts that can connect your specific brand and image to a range of companies that might align with your audience. 

Tips to Help You Become Successful with Affiliate Programs

The first step to take when you’re entering the world of affiliate marketing is to determine your brand and audience. The most successful affiliate relationships are built on a strong sense of brand loyalty; essentially, you shouldn’t enter a deal with an affiliate program unless you truly think that their products or services would be relevant to your audience.

Before signing up with an affiliate program or network, make sure to do your research on your potential business partner. Different programs and networks have different structures when it comes to the online creator’s commissions, as well as their responsibilities. It’s important to make an informed decision before signing up with an affiliate.

5 Best Affiliate Programs

Affiliate marketing can be confusing and difficult to navigate. That’s why we’ve compiled useful information about some of the most popular affiliate programs and networks today, as well as the pros and cons that online creators have experienced while working with them. 

ShareASale 

ShareASale is one of the best affiliate programs within the Awin network. Designed as an innovative platform on which merchants and affiliates can work profitably together, ShareASale has a large reach with upwards of 15,000 merchants and a wide variety of affiliate companies. 

Pros 

ShareASale has been a mainstay in the world of affiliate marketing for a while. The process of applying for the program is relatively straightforward, which makes it a good option for beginners. Plus, ShareASale provides a wide selection of distinct offers for different types of content creators. 

Cons 

The interface of ShareASale’s portal is somewhat outdated, which can make it difficult for beginners and regular users alike to navigate. Therefore, keeping track of your metrics and maintaining a clear relationship with affiliate partners might be somewhat difficult. 

Clickbank 

Clickbank is a major affiliate network that has been in business for over 20 years. It has upwards of 6 million global clients. Clickbank offers some of the most competitive commission rates, along with easy requirements to be able to join. 

Pros 

New merchants with Clickbank are able to start promoting and earning fast without a long approval process. Many of the offers found on Clickbank include recurring commissions, which can be great for online creators that are looking to design automated systems for promotion. 

Cons 

Due to Clickbank’s popularity, the competition on the platform can be a detriment to new merchants. Generally, the most easily promoted companies and products are already saturated by previous affiliates. Also, Clickbank’s online interface has been reported to be outdated with less useful metrics for tracking than other programs or networks. 

Amazon Associates 

Amazon Associates was one of the first and best affiliate programs and is still going strong today. Unlike affiliate networks that connect creators to multiple companies, Amazon Associates only handles affiliate partnerships between creators and Amazon itself. 

Pros 

The Amazon Associates program makes it easy for beginners to get their foot in the door of affiliate marketing. The program is well-designed and easy to use and it’s known for always paying its partners on time. Plus, Amazon’s significant product diversity allows creators of all kinds to develop a productive affiliate relationship with the program. 

Cons 

The Amazon Associates terms of service are somewhat more strict than most other affiliate programs. Though policy issues can generally be resolved quickly, their frequency can be a turnoff for some creators, especially those that are new to affiliate marketing. 

eBay Partner Program 

The eBay Partner Program is one of the Internet’s highest paying programs for affiliate marketing. The program is competitive and allows clients to work with as many other programs simultaneously as they’d like. 

Pros 

The eBay Partner Program pays regularly and on time with efficient PayPal payments. Affiliate links are easily generated and tracked. 

Cons 

eBay’s business model of used items draws in a relatively limited audience. eBay auctions sometimes continue longer than affiliate links last, which leads to incorrect compensation for the merchant. 

Commission Junction (CJ)

Commission Junction is often referenced as a great affiliate network with which to get started. The network has been running for more than 20 years and promotes products worldwide. 

Pros 

CJ makes it easy for new merchants to connect with a wide range of brands to suit their niche. Generally, CJ users find the interface to be user-friendly and efficient. 

Cons

The types of products that merchants can promote are more restricted with CJ than with other major affiliate networks. Plus, users have found brands to disappear from the program at random, which can wreak havoc on affiliate analytics, as well as income. 

Where to Go from Here 

Though affiliate marketing programs can be complex, working with trusted brands can help to bring your online presence (as well as your income) to a whole new level. 
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