7 Best Affiliate Programs of 2020
Affiliate marketing is a great opportunity to make money from your blog or website without the headache of directly buying, selling and delivering products. However, it is important to find the best affiliate programs for you to maximize your profits from affiliate sales.
All of these six programs have established a reputation for being one of the best affiliate programs on the market, and you can feel confident with all options. Remember, the key to generating revenue as an affiliate is to produce quality content that your readers enjoy and find useful, along with leading them through the buyer’s journey.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a way for websites, blog owners, app developers, social media influencers, etc. to make money by promoting a company’s or companies products to their viewers. It is also a tool businesses use to generate more sales through increased exposure produced by the affiliates, who receive a portion of each sale they are responsible for.
The way it works for affiliates is simple: start a blog, website, etc. that generates a fair amount of traffic each month, connect with an affiliate program and its merchants and then advertise the products of the merchants to your visitors. The affiliate then receives a commission for each sale(for cost per action).
Who makes an ideal affiliate marketing candidate
Essentially anyone with an online presence can benefit from affiliate marketing, which is typically free to get started. Several of the more common ways to develop an online presence includes:
- Email marketers
- Social media
- App developers
Each one of these titles generates traffic in their own way. If you are passionate about fitness, travel or even life in general, then you can start a blog describing your experiences and telling your stories. Website owners, including eCommerce, media sties, etc., often generate large traffic as well. If you have thousands of followers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., you may benefit from affiliate marketing as well.
Reasons to consider affiliate marketing
Before we get into the reasons to start affiliate marketing, let’s establish that there is no reason not to start affiliate marketing if you have an online presence. There are platforms that allow you to start for free, and it generates passive income after a little work setting up your account, affiliate links, etc. to get started. With that said, the following are reasons to consider affiliate marketing.
Making more money is never a bad thing, and many increase their monthly income through affiliate marketing, which helps with paying down debt, saving for a vacation or even as a way to work from home as a full-time affiliate. If you already have an online presence, then you should consider generating revenue from affiliate marketing.
Deals on your favorite sites
If money is not what drives you to run your blog, website, social media, etc., then there are still ways to make affiliate marketing worth your while. Affiliate programs such as Amazon Associates offer gift cards, discounts, etc. on purchases from their website. Other major stores such as eBay, Target, Walmart, and REI offer similar opportunities.
No startup fee
This goes back to the reasoning of why not start affiliate marketing. It is free to get started, and many offer easy and immediate acceptance upon application. Additionally, it requires little maintenance after the affiliate links are set up, and you can literally make money while you sleep!
Better user experience
Affiliate marketing does not just benefit you and the merchants, but it also benefits your audience as well. Everyone loves a great deal, and you can provide great products that are relevant to your niche to your visitors, followers, etc., helping them save money while you make money. In other words, affiliate marketing is a win-win-win scenario for everyone involved(affiliate, merchant, consumer).
Top affiliate programs to consider
There are numerous affiliate websites, and it is often difficult to determine which are legitimate. The following are six of the top affiliate programs available to prospective affiliates today:
- CJ Affiliate
- Amazon Associates
- eBay Partners
Each option works well, but it is helpful to learn about the pros and cons of each to determine which is best for you.
ShareASale is one of the largest affiliate programs available, and they have more than 18 years of experience connecting affiliate marketers with merchants. It was recently purchased by Awin, a global affiliate marketing network. Many choose ShareASale due to the easy and free signup process, which only takes several minutes and allows you to easily add multiple websites. We recommend ShareASale to affiliate marketers who are pressed on time and want to quickly add affiliate links to one or more of their websites.
Perhaps the most notable benefit of choosing ShareASale is the easy to use interface. After the free signup, you can easily add affiliate links, track your income, etc. They also offer a large catalog of products to choose from across numerous industries, including auto, sports, apparel, hiking, technology and much more.
ShareASale has a minimum payout of $50, which means you cannot withdraw your earnings if it is a lesser amount. In fact, they may cancel your account if it remains at $25 or less for an extended period of time. Subsequently, it may not be the most ideal for beginners who are still building website traffic.
CJ Affiliate, which is formally known as Commission Junction, first opened in 1988 and is one of the longest-running affiliate programs. They have established a well-respected reputation and reach millions of global customers each month. However, they work to ensure only the best affiliate websites and merchants use their service, and they have a detailed application process. Therefore, it is more ideal for popular, established websites rather than beginners.
CJ Affiliate offers quality products and vendors, and they are trusted by some of the biggest names in just about every industry. They also offer detailed analytics such as real-time transaction monitoring, along with features embedded product widgets and deep link automation.
The most notable drawback to CJ Affiliate is the difficult acceptance process. CJ Affiliate screens applicants and verifies the legitimacy and popularity of prospective affiliates. After acceptance, the affiliate must apply individually to each vendor, which makes the process take even longer.
Amazon is the largest e-commerce platform, and it has more than 100 million Amazon Prime subscribers with many more that use the platform regularly. They also offer an Amazon Associates platform that allows anyone to become an affiliate and profit off of each sale they help make. Amazon Associates makes it easy to add affiliate links to your website or blog, and the sign-up process is free and easy. We recommend Amazon Associates to affiliates who understand the ins and outs of Amazon shopping, particularly those who shop on Amazon themselves.
The massive size of the Amazon marketplace is very appealing to many affiliates as you can essentially find, add and make money off of any product you have in mind. They also have an easy application and sign-up process, which is free and allows just about anyone to join.
Amazon Associates is great for beginners, but it does not provide the most generous commission rates, and the most you will ever generate from a sale is 10 percent. They also do not have a digital payment system, and they instead payout via check, Amazon gift card or bank transfer.
Depending on the type of products you plan to advertise and the importance of a wide selection of products to choose from, you will likely either love or hate ClickBank. There is a lot to love, such as incredibly generous commission rates and an easy to use interface, but there are some drawbacks as well. We recommend ClickBank to those who are relatively new to affiliate marketing and have the intention to primarily advertising digital products(ebooks, etc.)
ClickBank has the highest commission rates of any affiliate program you will find, which is a huge advantage as ClickBank affiliates are able to make more money off of fewer sales. ClickBank University also offers instructional information to help you get started on your affiliate marketing journey.
The primary and rather significant drawback to ClickBank is the inability to sell non-digital products. They primarily sell eBooks. While this works well for blogs that are related to a category such as self-improvement, instruction guides or another specific niche, it may not be ideal for those who prefer to advertise other forms of products.
Only sell digital products
JVZoo is one of the fastest-growing affiliate programs, and they have a unique approach to affiliate marketing. Their marketplace primarily consists of Software as a Service(SaaS) products. Subsequently, they are ideal for software and technology blogs and websites, although they may work well for other industries as well. They also have an easy, immediate and direct payment system through PayPal, which makes it perfect for affiliates looking for a simple and quick payout structure.
The immediate payment structure is a huge advantage. Whereas other top affiliate programs may require a minimum withdrawal, you immediately receive your commission for sales you are partly responsible for. They also offer a recruitment program for other affiliates, which provides users with an opportunity to make even more money.
While many prefer PayPal as a payment method, JVZoo does not offer its users any other payout structure. Therefore, those who are looking for a direct bank deposit, check or another form payment may choose to look elsewhere. Also, JVZoo is rather specific with its products(SaaS products), so the marketplace is somewhat limited.
eBay, similarly to Amazon, is one of the largest eCommerce marketplaces available, and they offer an eBay Partners program to allow essentially anyone to profit it off of eBay sales. eBay is convenient and easy to get started with, which makes it great for those who are new to affiliate marketing. The sign-up process is also free and you do not have to apply to individual vendors. We recommend eBay Partners to those who prefer an extensive collection of products to choose from, especially affiliates who currently use eBay for shopping purposes and understand how it works.
eBay has a massive collection of products from numerous vendors, so there is no shortage of high-quality and affordable products to market on your website or blog. It is also very easy to add the affiliate links to your website or blog, and you can easily track your earnings in your eBay Partners account.
eBay Partners may not offer as generous of commission rates as other sites such as CJ Affiliates, but they provide an opportunity to sell more products overall. Another issue some affiliates have with eBay Partners is with auction sells, and affiliates do not receive a commission on auctions that last more than ten days.
Target is a great alternative for affiliates who want an alternative to Amazon Associates or eBay Partners. They have an extensive inventory of products, and you can advertise any of their products on your blog, website or social media to receive a commission of the sale. Target Affiliate is ideal for those who shop at Target and want reputable name recognition with the products they promote.
Along with the extensive collection of products, Target has significant name recognition, and most feel confident purchasing from Target. They also make the signup process easy, and their website features a detailed FAQ section to help you understand key information as it relates to affiliate marketing with Target.
The commission rates are not typically as high with Target Affiliates as other markets, although it is more or less the same as eBay Partners and Amazon Associates. Another issue is that Target is perhaps known more for its in-person locations rather than an online presence, and visitors may see a product they like and pick it up in person, in which case the affiliate does not get a commission.
Clickbooth is a unique service that connects affiliates with advertisers directly, rather than the affiliate having to actively seek great deals from advertisers themselves. They get great deals for affiliates, including in verticals such as financial, home services, health, beauty and more. Clickbooth is ideal for experienced affiliates, email marketers, app developers, etc.
Clickbooth takes pride in paying fast and in full every time. They also offer various payment strategies, including cost per action, cost per click and much more. Affiliates also have an account manager, which helps the affiliate optimize his or her strategy to generate the most profit.
Although beginners are welcomed to start their affiliate program through Clickbooth, it is designed more for experienced affiliates. They help affiliates with products in more than twenty verticals, but they may not have the same volume as Amazon Associates, although the commission affiliates receive is likely much higher.
There is a lot to love about Skimlinks and perhaps a lot that is not ideal. Skimlinks offers products to advertise in essentially every niche you can think of, and you are automatically approved upon applications. Subsequently, it is great for beginners who may not get accepted into other programs or for affiliates who were banned from Amazon Associates or another service.
The automatic approval process is a huge advantage. To make it even better, you are not just accepted as an affiliate upon application, but you are able to advertise for every vendor – meaning there is no need for applying individually to each merchant. They also have a large selection of merchants and provide great data and analysis reports.
Along with automatic approval comes a fairly predictably downside, which is lower commission rates. Skimlinks requires a fairly hefty cut of the pay and the commission rate is typically far below what many other affiliate programs have to offer.
FlexOffers has more than 20 million products to choose from and merchants in every niche, They also separate themselves by offering a publisher referral program, which allows affiliates to receive a commission of the sales someone they referred gets. FlexOffers is ideal for affiliates with a range of publisher contacts and wants a large inventory of products to choose from.
The most obvious advantage is a large number of advertisers across dozens of platforms, which makes finding great deals to offer your viewers easy. If you know of affiliates you can bring over to FlexOffers, then you can create a substantial passive income as you will receive a portion of their sales as well.
The application process is somewhat complex and confusing for many. The user experience leaves something to be desired as well, and they may not provide the same quality in reporting and analytics that other sites offer.
VigLink is an innovative affiliate program that is ahead of the game in a lot of ways. They offer a unique system in which they scan your blog(or website, etc.) for product mentions, and then turns the product mention into an affiliate link. VigLink is ideal for those who do not mind or prefer applying to each merchant individually and want a variety of merchants to choose from.
The primary advantage of VigLink is the ability to change all product mentions on your blog or website to affiliate links, saving you time and making you money. They also have more than 50,000 merchants and offer the ability to advertise both digital and physical goods.
The main drawback is having to apply to each merchant separately, rather than automatic approval of all merchants upon acceptance into the program. To make the most money possible, it is best to apply to as many merchants as you can to find the best deals, commission rates, etc.
How to choose the best affiliate program for you
The best affiliate program is subjective, and what works for one affiliate may not work well for another. To make the most informed decision possible, take the following factors into consideration:
- What is the purpose of your blog or website?
- How much traffic does your blog or website receive?
- What payout structure do you prefer?
- What type of products do you intend to advertise?
- How important is the commission rate per sale?
By answering these questions, you should have a better sense of which of the best affiliate programs is ideal. For more established blogs and websites, affiliate programs such as CJ Affiliate might work well, whereas those who are new to affiliate marketing might prefer Amazon Associates, eBay Partners or ShareASale. For those who intend to advertise digital products or software, ClickBank or JVZoo might be the most appropriate top affiliate program.
The success of your affiliate marketing efforts may also depend on content distribution, and the more strategies you can implement and the more platforms you reach the better chance you have to generate more affiliate revenue.
The bottom line
Not all top affiliate programs are created equal, and some offer more generous commission rates, have a larger and broader marketplace of products and make the sign-up and payment process easier. By learning more about the best affiliate programs currently available and determining which one suits your needs and preferences the best, you can make a more informed decision as to which platform is most appropriate to use.