Learning how to do affiliate marketing can be essential to your success as an online entrepreneur. But even if you’ve got your website, ad, or social media platform set up perfectly, you still need a company to partner with. That’s where affiliate programs bridge the gap.
In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about affiliate marketing programs. You’ll learn why they’re needed and read more about some of the best-paying affiliate programs available to you as a newcomer.
But first, you need to know what they are and how they work.
What are affiliate programs?
Affiliate programs, also called associate programs, offer a third-party platform that allows individuals and brands to find and work with each other.
Both parties sign up for the platform, discuss a collaboration, and start to work together.
But behind the scenes, these affiliate programs are complex behemoths that do much more than help merchants and affiliate companies. They also provide some very essential services to both parties.
How do affiliate programs work?
Affiliate programs work by letting individuals or businesses create a profile on their platform and choose the brand they want to promote.
The programs generate a unique link that affiliates can share with their site visitors, customers, and social media followers. When someone clicks the link and purchases from the brand, the affiliate receives a commission.
Companies use affiliate programs to improve their sales. The programs are built on platforms that boast tracking technology to keep track of the affiliates.
The 8 best affiliate programs for beginners
First on the affiliate programs list is Amazon Associates.
Amazon Associates has been one of the top affiliate programs for beginners since 1996. In fact, it was the first online affiliate marketing program in the world.
Since its inception, it’s been helping online marketers make money by advertising to the millions of customers that shop on Amazon each year. When an Amazon affiliate shares a link that leads to a sale, they earn referral fees from the transaction.
And since thousands of businesses are learning how to sell on Amazon each year, the potential for affiliates to grow is seemingly infinite.
To get started as an Amazon affiliate, all you have to do is click the Sign up button on the Amazon Associates page.
Commission rate: Anywhere from 1% to 20%, depending on product type.
Payment cycle: 60 days after the current month ends. Amazon also holds payment until you earn at least $10 as an Amazon Associate.
Payout method: Check, direct deposit, or Amazon gift card.
ClickBank is among the top companies with affiliate programs that appeal to all kinds of marketers. Its affiliate information is completely open to anyone, making it a valuable affiliate platform to consider for your success.
ClickBank started out of a garage in 1998 but quickly grew to become one of the top retailing and affiliate sites in the world. It currently boasts a large number of affiliates who’ve earned billions in commissions promoting ClickBank products.
Because of its success and 20-year history, it’s an excellent option for getting started, no matter your expertise. With tons of products to promote and a wide variety of companies to partner with, it’s hard to pass up.
- Business and investing
- Arts and entertainment
- Green products
- Home and garden
To become a ClickBank affiliate, you’ll need to start an account, input your personal and payment info, and then finalize your account to get started.
Commission rate: Between 50% and 70%, on average.
Payment cycle: Weekly or bi-weekly.
Payout method: Payoneer, wire transfer, check, direct deposit.
eBay offers one of the highest paying affiliate programs on the internet. The eBay Partner Network is where you can sign up to become an eBay affiliate. Commissions are in the 50% to 70% range.
eBay gives affiliates the tools they need to promote eBay’s products with as little fuss as possible. No matter how you choose to market products, eBay’s affiliate program can be put to good use.
Unlike some of the other affiliate marketing programs on this list, as an eBay affiliate, you’ll be working directly with eBay and their products. While you’ll be working to a small degree to help sellers, the primary relationship is between you and eBay.
And just like Amazon, you’ll be working with a platform that businesses want to sell on. With opportunities like eBay dropshipping, growth is virtually assured.
As a bonus, eBay doesn’t require you to work with it exclusively. You can be an eBay affiliate and still work with other merchants and programs to make additional income.
To get started, you’ll need to apply to join its affiliate program, which takes about five minutes. It’s by far one of the easier application processes.
Commission rate: Varies between 50% and 70%, depending on the product type.
Payment cycle: Around the 10th day of each month to accounts that have made more than 10 units of a country’s currency (i.e., $10 US, £10, etc.).
Payout method: PayPal and direct deposit (if the affiliate’s country supports it).
CJ is a 20-year-old affiliate marketing program that has been helping affiliates and merchants since day one.
According to its website, the company works with twice as many Internet Retailer 500 companies than any other affiliate program. CJ also boasts that merchants favor its site twice as much as other affiliate marketing programs.
And when you take a closer look at everything it has to offer, that claim seems to hold up quite nicely. Here’s the vast list of niches you can find on the site, not to mention the all-inclusive “other” category.
So with a reputation like that, it’s not hard to see why it should be high on your list when considering which affiliate program to choose.
GiddyUp is suitable for beginners because it offers an affiliate manager and helpful tools to assist you with different aspects of its program.
You can partner with over 150 DTC (direct to consumer) brands across a range of verticals, including travel, electronics, health and wellness, and more. GiddyUp’s affiliates get exclusive access to these ecommerce businesses.
The company also provides a creative library to assist your digital marketing campaigns, robust tracking, and real-time data, so you can analyze your performance month over month.
Monitoring your performance can help you identify opportunities for improvement and earn more commission in the future.
Commission rate: Varies based on referral types.
Payment cycle: The 1st and 15th of each month. You must earn at least $25 in order to make a withdrawal.
Payout method: Foreign bank transfers, ACH, and checks.
Impact is one of the few affiliate marketing programs that connects individuals with top brands like Airbnb, Uber, Adidas, and more. It’s known for its automation tools to help streamline your campaigns and generate more sales.
You can join and manage partnerships with these companies for free—the brands span various categories, including beauty, travel, retail, fitness, and others.
After signing up with Impact, you get access to a marketplace where you find top brands and contact their affiliate managers directly.
Impact generally pays by CPA (cost-per-action), which means you’ll get a commission when your audience buys something through your affiliate link.
Commission rate: Varies depending on the brand.
Payment cycle: You can decide which day you want to withdraw your affiliate earnings each month.
Payout method: BACS, PayPal, or direct transfer.
Awin is another top affiliate program for beginners. It doesn’t require you to have a website—you can join using any of your social media profiles, like Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube.
All affiliates applying to Awin undergo a compliance check verifying their details. You must also make a $5 deposit to join the program, which Awin will reimburse once you reach your first payment threshold.
Awin offers access to over 21,200 brands, including leading brands and household names. You can visit the company’s advertiser directory and search for any program you want to join, or contact someone from the brand to discuss a collaboration.
Commission rate: Varies based on rates decided by individual sellers.
Payment cycle: On the 1st and 15th of the month for the previous month’s commissions. You need to earn at least $20 in order to cash out.
Payout method: ACH, BACS, or international wire transfer.
Last, but not least, is the Rakuten affiliate publisher program. This program has the third-largest market share of affiliate networks, at 7.25%.
Rakuten is connected to over 2,500 different retail brands that sell all kinds of products. Find the item and merchant that suits you best, and then click on the Apply button to proceed.
One of the more unique elements of the Rakuten affiliate program is that most of the companies are heavily involved in the affiliate screening process. If you’re not a good fit, don’t be surprised if the answer comes back no.
But once you’ve gotten approval, the rest of the process is simple. Find the offer that fits your content or ad, generate your link, and then start earning money as an affiliate.
Commission rate: Varies based on the partner merchant’s commission rates.
Payment cycle: Rakuten pays out 90 days after it has been paid by the merchants. You must also earn a minimum of $50 in commissions in order to receive your payment.
Payout method: Check or direct deposit.
Summary: 8 best affiliate programs for beginners in 2023
Now that you know a bit more about some of the top affiliate programs for beginners, take some time to explore them for yourself. Discovering the best affiliate program and brand for your niche may take time, but it will be worth it. Just be sure to do your homework and avoid any potential scams.
In summary, here are the top 8 affiliate programs for beginners to make money in 2023:
- Amazon Associates
- eBay Partner Program
- Commission Junction (CJ)
- Rakuten Affiliate
Once you’ve picked an affiliate marketing program, you’ll have completed your journey into affiliate marketing. You’ll officially have your dream side hustle, which may one day take you to new heights.
Were you aware of these affiliate marketing programs? What does your approach look like? Let us know by leaving a comment below.