I’m sure by now you already know that affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make a passive income with an online business.
There are thousands of affiliate programs and affiliate networks that you can partner with to promote millions of products or services to your audience.
But where do you start and what program should you use?
The first step is to find a trusted partner to align yourself with, which will allow you to find top quality products that you will feel comfortable offering to your global customer base.
In this post, I will explain the difference between an “affiliate program” and an “affiliate network”, and provide you with my top 5 affiliate networks, where you can find almost an unlimited amount of unique products to offer to your audience.
Affiliate Program or Network: What's The Difference?
Affiliate programs and affiliate networks are both a way for you to earn a commission for promoting a wide range of products or a services of another company.
While successful affiliate marketers can choose to use both, or one or the other when it comes to monetizing their website, there is a difference between the two options even though they sound somewhat similar.
What Is An Affiliate Program?
An affiliate program is a way for you to work directly with the business owner and earn revenue by joining their individual affiliate program. When a company has a self hosted affiliate program, all of the affiliate links, product tracking, and commission payments are handled internally or “in house”.
These programs are usually free to join and are relatively simple for anyone to join and start earning commissions.
You would probably be surprised at just how many companies have an affiliate program as part of their overall business plan.
A few examples of companies that offer an affiliate program are:
- Best Buy
- Apple iTunes
What Is An Affiliate Network?
An affiliate marketing network is a single company that handles the “affiliate programs”for many different companies. Once you join an “affiliate network” you will have access to thousands of affiliate programs from various merchants, all from one platform.
In this case, the affiliate network becomes a third party that acts as a middleman between you, (the affiliate marketer), and the merchant.
Thousands of merchants will outsource their affiliate programs to these affiliate marketing networks and will handle of of the tracking links and the payments.
Even though you joined through a network, most times you will still be required to sign up for each affiliate program individually.
When you join a large network, you can be sure you will always find something of interest that you can promote on your website.
Top 5 Affiliate Networks To Get Started
Each affiliate network is different from each other and will offer varying commission rates, features, and terms of service, so it is up to you to research each network thoroughly before you join.
The following list is just a short list of 5 well known and trusted affiliate networks that you can begin with in no particular order.
1) CJ Affiliate
CJ Affiliate is basically a one stop shop that provides a wide variety of quality name-brand products through multiple affiliate programs, and many pay 10% or more in commissions.
CJ Affiliate makes timely and consistant payments on the 20th of each month, once your account reaches $50.00. For some reason, PayPal is not an option for this network, so payments will be made by direct deposit or a check.
Unfortunately, the one main downside of joining CJ Affiliate is that even though you have a list of programs you can partner with, you must sign up for each affiliate program individually, which can be a time consuming process.
- CJI Affiliate has a very large partner network, with more than three thousand advertising partners that give numerous creative ad sizes and varying affiliate link options.
- They offer a reliable payment scheme, which is a net-20 payment term, making sure you get your commission paid out on time each
- This company has powerful reporting options, which is advantageous for marketers who intent to spend a lot of their time optimizing their sales performance.
- The reporting capabilities are great, but the steep learning curve makes it difficult for newbies to navigate the reporting suite, especially the dashboard and its tools.
- Due to their large clientele of both affiliates and brands, they offer very limited contact support, which can be frustrating for new comers that have a lot of questions and often encounter problem.
- Required to sign up to each individual affiliate program
The founders of ClickBank literally started the company from a garage in San Diego back in 1998, and to date has had more than three billion dollars in sales.
ClickBank is a huge network that provides mostly digital lifestyle products instead of physical products, and most of those products are created by entrepreneurs.
You can find anything from “how to make money online”, to the Red Tea Detox, to “how to get paid playing video games.
If you filter through their expansive list of catagories, you will see that there is a digital product for just about everything imaginable.
Because ClickBank is mostly a digital marketplace for eBooks, software, and training courses, some of the commissions that you can earn could be as high as 75%.
Moreover, ClickBank allows you to join for free, with an easy approval process that automatically gives you access, making it one of the best affiliate networks for beginners. In addition, they have a lot of supporting information to help you like FAQs, walk-throughs, and other instructional videos.
With the large amounts of products to take your pick from, you must be careful what you promote for your business, because quite frankly, they are junk. You definitely don’t want to recommend a garbage product to your audience.
- ClickBank provides payouts more often, which comes with varying kinds of payout options.
- The joint venture program gives you a chance to earn higher profits.
- This is one of the biggest and most robust affiliate programs available in the industry to-date.
- ClickBank stands by they products by enforcing a 60-day, no questions asked money back guarantee on ALL products.
- The basic tier for beginners have an instant approval process.
- Their refund policy improves client conversion rates, but it can eat into your income.
- There is very strong competition from other affiliates that offer the same
- Be careful to inspect the products because some digital products are low in quality
- If you are a newbie, initial payments are made via check only. It is only after a certain number of sales can you get paid via PayPal or wire transfer.
- They offer a very limited range of physical goods.
3) eBay Partner Network
One of the major players in the affiliate network world is the eBay Partner Network. As of right now, there are over 1.2 billion items, from electronics, fashion, home goods, and collectables that you can offer to your customer base.
An eBay partner can earn a commission of ebay’s revenue, usually between 50 to 70 percent, depending on what items were purchased. You will earn a commission every time you direct someone to eBay and they end up making a purchase within 24 hours.
Getting paid is easy with eBay. Once you reach the minimum for payment, which is $10.00, you will be paid every month.
- A vast number of global product open you up to a million different possibilities.
- They payment scheme is straightforward, ensuring you get paid for every concrete action that is generated from your site.
- There is ease of use through the free link generators and widgets.
- Short cookie duration time of 24 hours
4) Amazon Associates
Amazon is one of the pioneers in the e-shopping industry so it doesn’t come as a surprise that they have the biggest affiliate marketing program in the industry. After all, they have products coming from almost two million sellers around the globe, and has the most user-friendly technology of all the affiliate programs in the industry today.
Newbies to affiliate marketing will not struggle to be up and running with the Amazon Associates program because technical expertise is not required. For those who are more experienced, they can use the advance settings to create custom tools and special functions.
With Amazon, you have a wide array of products to choose from ranging from kids toys to techie gadgets, so you can surely find something that will suit your own website or blog.
In fact, if you were to ask every successful internet marketer what was their first affiliate program or network they joined, and where they made their first dollar, the majority of them would say it was Amazon.
Because of the shear amount of products that are available, the Amazon Associates network is a great way to start earning some revenue.
- Easy to use interface that even newbies can navigate.
- With millions of items available on Amazon, you will be sure to find something suitable for your site.
- Secure and reliable payments.
- Low commission rates.
- Little chance of generating recurring monthly income.
- Long payment cycles that can take up to 60 days.
Operating exclusively as an affiliate network, ShareASale has been in business for 19 years, and was recently acquired by Adwin in 2017 to provide more international resources and technology to domestic affiliate marketers.
Virtually any type of business can join their network, and they have over 4,000 partners to work with, and 1000 of them are exclusive to ShareASale.
Signing up with ShareASale is a simple process consisting of a few steps and will only take a couple of minutes to complete.
The threshold for payments is when your account reaches $50.00, and will be paid out on the 20th of every month through direct deposit into your bank account, or a check.
ShareASale is a large network with thousands of merchants and products to choose from, and user friendly, which makes this a great network to join for a new affiliate marketer.
- Large exclusive market of big fortune 500 companies.
- Timely payouts
- Responsive customer support system in place.
- Very easy to use interface that won’t overwhelm you.
- Higher minimum maintaining balance can be a deterrent to newbies.
- No Paypal payouts
- Your account can get deleted for being inactive.
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
Earning a passive income with affiliate marketing is no doubt a great way to begin your online business journey. You wouldn’t think that deciding on what products or services you would like to promote and build your online business around would be so difficult, but often times it is.
The good news is that by choosing to partner with one or more of the five affiliate networks listed above, you can literary take your pick from millions of unique and different products.
Just remember to pick a niche that is of interest to you, and not just for the amount of money you can potentially make with the commissions.
Going after a product just because of a high commission percentage, instead of something that you already interested in, and have some previous knowledge about, will usually lead to failure.
It is hard to stay focused and work on a business every day if you are not passionate about your niche.
I am not going to sugar-coat this. Making money with internet marketing is simply the BEST way to make money online, but it is hard work. Affiliate marketing is not easy, but it really is a SIMPLE four step process that is being used by thousands of successful people around the world.
It’s time to get started!
If you are ready to dive in and make a serious effort and a commitment to your success, I would highly encourage you to read about my #1 recommended affiliate marketing training here.
Once you get inside, you will have all the tools and training that are required to take your ideas and grow them into a long term profitable online business.
If you completely new to affiliate marketing and have no idea how and where to start, or you already have a website or a blog, and you are having trouble getting visitors and traffic to your site, you will definitely want to read more about it.
Oh, just one more thing. After you read my full review on this training platform and you think it’s something you would like to try, you most definitely can.
In fact, it will not cost you a single penny to try it out, and you can test drive it for as long as you wish, and no credit card or personal information is needed.
I sincerely hope you take my advice and check out what so many other affiliate marketers around the globe are using to achieve their online success.
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