Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners and Niche Marketers

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What are the best affiliate programs for new marketers?

You are starting your affiliate marketing journey – congratulations. There are many hurdles along the way but stick with it and you can succeed.

The first few steps involve selecting the niche you want to focus on, creating your website and adding some content. You can use our keyword research tools for affiliates to help find the perfect sized niche. And our graphics article to illustrate those great posts Once you have your clean, good-looking, website and some traffic — you can decide what products to promote to your visitors.

What makes an affiliate program good for beginners & niches?

There are some key characteristics to look for in your first affiliate marketing programs:

  • Easy to join – Some affiliate programs take all legitimate marketers. Others are very selective and require your site to have authority, history and a fair amount of traffic.
  • A strong selection of products. This will be somewhat niche specific. You need to find products that resonate with your audience. You need products that your new site can write about and rank in Google and other search engines.
  • Not ad-based. Some affiliate programs are focused on CPC, CP/PPV type affiliates. If you don’t know what those mean don’t worry. Basically, these are programs for people who want to drive traffic with paid ads vs. SEO and organic search traffic.
  • Has Trust. You are new. Few know about your site so you have limited trust. Being an affiliate of well-known companies can benefit you.

Let’s look at some of the best programs for new affiliates. Don’t try to represent too many products or companies. Particularly as a beginner you want to offer lots of valuable information to your audience – and a few select offers. You don’t want to spend all of your time managing affiliate programs and links. Do install PrettyLinks though it makes the management and tracking of links easier and it’s free.

Only recommend products you would buy with 100% confidence. It is easier to build a good reputation than undo a bad one.

Physical Product Affiliate Marketplaces

Physical products make up the backbone for many niche affiliate sites. These are things you buy at Amazon, specialty retail stores etc. Every niche has special products that you can review and recommend. One of the goals for many niche marketers is to be the authority in their corner of the world. One thing that helps is having the perfect products that represent the best of the industry.

Every new affiliate marketer should be an Amazon Associate. They make it very easy to get started and give you 180 days to make 3 sales. You do want to keep an eye out for terms of service compliance. Here’s our write up on staying in compliance with the Amazon affiliate program.

amazon associates

Amazon is the 800lb gorilla in the room. No matter how obscure your niche, with > 500 million products you know that there will be products that are perfect for your audience. Products that you can recommend without hesitation. But the biggest reason for being an Amazon Associate is the trust factor. As you can see from the stats below – everyone buys from Amazon.

Consider these datapoints:

  • Over 2 billion monthly visitors
  • 50% of all US e-commerce is Amazon
  • Over 500 million products in US marketplace
  • 95 million US Amazon Prime members
  • 9 out of 10 consumer use Amazon to price check
  • Prime Day 2018 > 100 million transactions

Shareasale represents a number of brands. many of the programs have auto-sign up. Some do require a review by the individual company affiliate manager.

ShareASale has a good mix of physical product companies and services. They have many household names in their merchant portfolio.

  • Wayfair
  • Eastern Mountain Sport
  • NFL Shop
  • Gymboree
  • Spanx
  • Princeton Review
  • WP Engine

eBay has a very useful affiliate program. Like Amazon, eBay has a 24-hour cookie window. eBay commissions are paid based on the profit that eBay receives for a transaction (not the selling price like Amazon).

Commission Rates ->

ebay commission rate card

The commission schedule pays from 50% to 70%of the fees.  There is a 100% bonus for new or reactivated buyers. eBay also gives you easy access to their API. This lets anyone use products like Prosociate eBay to create affiliate links.

Rakuten used to be known as LinkShare. They have been around since the late 90’s. Not as big as others with approximately 1900 advertisers. The offers are grouped by category for easy discovery.

<- Rakuten Categories

They have a good mix of products with both large brands like Dior and trending companies in tech like TextNow. Their affiliate dashboard and support are well regarded. Many programs require individual sire reviews by advertisers.

Rakuten Advertisers

  • Sharper Image
  • DIOR
  • Bjorn Baby
  • TextNow
  • Omaha Steaks

Commission Junction (CJ), Rakuten, and ShareASale are very similar. It is really a matter of who has the best products for you and which advertisers will accept you. CJ is one of the larger programs so there are many offers to choose from.

CJ Advertiser Search ->

cj

CJ has lots of travel, service and other interesting advertisers. Here’s a sample of their portfolio:

  • Booking.com
  • Cheapoair
  • Art.com
  • As Seen on TV
  • Foerever 21

Digital Products Affiliate Marketplaces

Digital products are things you purchase via electronic download. Plugins, Themes, Fonts, Templates, Training, eBooks, etc. This is a very tricky product area that you should go slowly with. Certainly, there are high-quality software products and other professional digital products. There are also a lot of high-pressure marketers in this space.

digital product affiliate

You need to be careful that you don’t damage your reputation by representing the latest Keto diet and has 3 upsells in the checkout process.

Clickbank

Clickbank is probably the best known of the digital goods marketplaces. Check out our complete detailed article about ClickBank .  There are some good products and there are lots of bad ones. Or products with high-pressure sales tactics Lots of autoloading videos and fake scarcity with countdown clocks etc. There are some niches where this is fine even effective.

There are many where your visitor will bounce away from ClickBank offers and never return.

JvZoo

Very similar to ClickBank in both products and caution. One thing different about JV Zoo is that you are paid by the publisher – not by the marketplace. At Clickbank, you are paid by Clickbank directly.

SAAS Affiliate Products

You may have an opportunity in your niche to promote a Software as a Service product. Like hosting, these products pay high commissions. Their offerings are paid monthly so they have a high lifetime earnings component. They pay well for new customer acquisitions. Most of these companies have direct affiliate programs others can be found in marketplaces like ShareASale, Rakuten, and CJ.

Another advantage to SaaS products is that they often have recurring payments. So you get paid every month as long as the customer uses the service. Check out our big list of recurring product affiliate programs.

saas affiliate programs

Most of these companies have direct affiliate programs others can be found in marketplaces like ShareASale, Rakuten, and CJ. Here are some examples to give you an idea of the types of offers.

BuilderAll

A funnel SaaS product for Internet Marketers. It is a very saturated affiliate area so you can research it and see how people present offers.

Click Funnels

One of the first cloud-based SaaS products or sales funnels. It is not unusual for an affiliate to have a complete offer as a funnel.

SEM Rush

Is an SEO tool. SEM Rush and Ahrefs are the two most common all-in-one type SEO tools.

Shutterstock

ShutterSTock is a stock photo service. With the rise of copywriting trolls, everyone should use licensed or Creative Commons licensed images. Here is our list of free graphics libraries.

ebates

eBates is the site that gives you back some of their affiliate commission as you shop. The coupon clippers of our generation shop there. A nice easy few dollars, low-pressure affiliate offer that is beneficial to most audiences.

Hosting Affiliate Offers

Almost all affiliates have a hosting company they do business with. Your site’s performance is a key metric in your onpage SEO setup. Never skimp on hosting. Find a host that will support you and your site. Very few of us are in a position to manage our own hosting. Even those that are your time is likely better spent on content and content promotion.

Hosting affiliate opportunities

People love to hear your story. How you got started. What your plans and goals are. The more people are involved with your site the more trust you will have.

Find a great hosting company. Don’t buy the cheapest service. Consider managed WordPress like wpEngine. Then become an affiliate for them and write about your hosting setup, past horror stories etc.

Hosting commissions are very high because of the large lifetime value of a hosting customer.

It would only take 2 or 3 hosting commissions per year to pay for premium hosting. I would consider any of the following and their affiliate program:

  • wpEngine – The leader in Managed WordPress Hosting. The affiliate program is run via ShareASale.
  • BlueHost– Rock Solid hosting. The affiliate program is r
  • liquid web – Great support. A little more expensive. Affiliate program is
  • Site Ground – Rock Solid hosting. at good prices Affiliate program is

Automated Affiliate Networks:

The final two are actually a little different. These products actually just look at your content, find a complimentary affiliate product and create an affiliate link. They are taking links from information keyword posts as well as buying ones so the conversion rate tends to be low. Best for high volume sites.

vigLink Skimlinks

How does it work?

Adding Skimlinks or VigLink is as easy as installing a plug-in or pasting in a short bit of Javascript into your php template.

Once installed and enabled, all outgoing links will be tracked for a commission. You don’t need to add links with your affiliate id or create Pretty Links. You can override Amazon affiliate links. Though Viglink has many more merchant Skimlinks has a better European network.

VigLink

VigLink is the larger of these two automated affiliate systems. Some program highlights:

  • They have instant approval so no hassle there.
  • Your commission rate is 75%
  • Paypal or Check payouts.
  • WordPress Plugin available
  • Most merchants

Skimlinks

Skimlinks works the same way as VigLink. There are a few program differences.

  • 2-3 days for approval
  • Your commission rate is 75%
  • Paypal, Bank Transfer or Check payouts.
  • Lots of widgets
  • WordPress Plugin available

Summary

Affiliate marketing is a viable way to make money online. You need to create an audience and then find great products to represent to them. Here are some key points to consider.

  • Some advertisers are fussier than others when you deal with marketplaces like Rakuten or CJ and ShareASale. Many are near automatic if you have a legitimate site.
  • Amazon’s program may not pay the best, but you will always be able to find obscure or mainstream products for your niche,. These are good conversation points in your content management strategy.
  • For some niches, info-products like those found on ClickBank are a good fit. For many, there is a risk of being associated with sketchy products. Know your audience.
  • Hosting and SaaS affiliate programs pay very well $100 and $200 offers are not unusual. These are a good category of offers to have in your affiliate portfolio. Content marketing topics can easily be developed around them for your niche …“My journey from shared hosting to wpEngine”, etc.

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