How do I start affiliate marketing as a beginner? If you want to make money with affiliate marketing, today I’m sharing the best affiliate programs to help you get started. This list includes the highest paying affiliate programs and free ones to join.
You may have heard of affiliate marketing or wondered how bloggers and social media influencers make money. Perhaps you’re interested in starting your own blog, but you’re not sure how to make money with affiliate marketing.
If you’re like me, you want freedom. Freedom to pursue your passions and live the life you want. Learning how to make money with affiliate marketing has allowed me to leave my 9-5 job and make a full-time living online.
It feels good to wake up and see that I made money while I was sleeping.
I don’t want to spend all my time thinking about money or making money. I’m sure you don’t want to think about money all the time either.
I just want to make enough so that I can afford to live the life I want and do the things I love, such as traveling, exploring the outdoors, making green smoothies for breakfast, and giving my cat the good life.
Perhaps you’ve dreamed about leaving your 9-5 job too or just want to make enough extra money to have peace of mind about your finances.
If you want to start a blog and make money with affiliate marketing, then keeping reading to find out the best affiliate programs for beginners.
This list includes tips for how to get started with affiliate marketing (even if you have no experience), how exactly affiliate marketing works, and the best affiliate networks to join.
If you don’t have a website or blog yet to make money with affiliate marketing, I recommend creating one with WordPress.org.
You can check out my easy step-by-step guide here on how to start an affiliate blog if you’re interested.
For my fellow Canadians, you can head to this in-depth guide on how to start an affiliate blog in Canada.
Are you ready to start making money and join the best affiliate programs in any niche? Yes? Then let’s get started!
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How does affiliate marketing work?
Affiliate marketing is a way for online merchants to increase their sales by allowing others (someone just like you) to earn a commission by recommending the product to others.
To put it simply, affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products or services.
This means if you have a website, you can add affiliate links that lead to the online merchant’s site to track transactions. As an affiliate marketer, you can earn money on product sales without having to create your own products, which makes affiliate marketing very appealing.
You can share products on your blog, website, or social platforms. If you share a product or service that your audience likes and will actually purchase, this can help turn a hobby-blog into a profitable business.
With affiliate marketing, there are three main parties involved:
• The merchant – This is the online store or retailer that sells the product or service.
• The affiliate – This is the website or blog linking to products from the retailer’s site. For example, sharing a product review.
• The consumer – This is the person who visits the affiliate website, clicks the affiliate link to the retailer’s site, and purchases the retailer’s product.
How do bloggers get affiliates?
Bloggers can find companies that offer affiliate programs. Below are the basic steps to start affiliate marketing on a blog or social media platform:
Step 1: Create a website or blog or social media platform.
Step 2: Choose a niche (main topic) for your blog.
Step 3: Search for products in that niche you can promote to your audience.
Step 4: Sign up for their affiliate program.
Step 5: Create content in the form of product reviews, tutorials, resource pages or emails to promote these products. Make sure to add your unique tracking links.
Step 6: Track your conversions to see if your audience purchases these products. If yes, continue to promote. If not, find a different product to promote to your audience.
The key is to only promote products or services that you are familiar with and are relevant to your audience.
If you share poor quality products with your audience or products that don’t relate to their interests, not only will it be tough to make money with affiliate marketing, but you’ll also lose your audience’s trust.
How do I join affiliate programs?
To join an affiliate program, you’ll need to do a simple search online to see if a particular brand offers an affiliate program.
For example, you can join by searching “Brand + affiliate program” to see if they offer an affiliate program. If yes, you can fill out a form to apply.
If you can’t find any information about whether or not a brand offers an affiliate program, you can always try sending them an email to ask. Some brands don’t advertise their affiliate program directly on their website.
You may notice that some brand offers their own self-hosted affiliate program, which is run directly through the retailer’s website.
On the other hand, some brands offer their affiliate program through an affiliate network site. An affiliate network site, such as ShareASale, is a collection of merchants that offer affiliate programs and their unique tracking links in one secure place.
When applying for an affiliate program, some brands have automatic approval – which means you’ll get instant access to their affiliate program and your unique tracking link.
Other programs have to be manually approved, which means it can take a few days for an affiliate manager to review and manually approve your application.
Below are some simple steps you can take to participate in an affiliate marketing program:
1. Start your own website or blog
Most affiliate programs and affiliate networks require you to have a website or blog. It’s possible to join affiliate programs without a website and share links on your social media platforms, however this works best for those with a large and engaged following.
If you currently don’t have a website or blog, but are interested in creating one, I recommend using Bluehost web hosting. This is the same webhost I used to create this blog and they are great for beginners.
Why Bluehost? I’ve been blogging for a few years now and have used 3 different web hosting companies. While there are many web hosting companies available, Bluehost is the best and most affordable choice for new bloggers. Plus, they offer 24/7 support and will provide a free domain name when you sign up today.
With Bluehost, you can get a professional looking website with a SSL certificate for HTTPS (which makes your website secure). Then you can apply to any affiliate program and start making money with your site.
For more information, you can follow this simple step-by-step guide on how to start a website with Bluehost.
2. Set up a PayPal account or bank account
When you join an affiliate program, you’ll need a way to receive money. This can be done through PayPal or your bank account.
3. Find and join an affiliate program
There are many free affiliate programs and affiliate networks available. Some popular affiliate networks that you may want to consider joining include ShareASale, AWIN, CJ Affiliate, Flexoffers, Impact Radius, and Rakuten Advertising.
4. Decide which offers you would like to promote
Once you’ve joined these affiliate networks, you can see which affiliate programs are available. You can apply to join programs that target the same audience as your website or blog.
For example, if you have a fashion blog, you’ll want to join popular fashion affiliate programs, such as Stella & Dot. This is what your audience is most interested in and most likely to purchase.
5. Get your unique affiliate link for each offer you wish to promote
Once you’ve been accepted into an affiliate program, you can grab your unique tracking link to share on your website, blog or social media platforms.
6. Make money!
Each time someone makes a purchase through your links, you’ll earn a commission. YAY!
Commission rates vary dramatically. For example, on the low end some companies offer 5% of the sale. On the high-end, some companies offer 50% (or more) of the sale.
Some affiliate programs offer a flat-rate per sale instead of a percentage.
What are the requirements to join affiliate programs?
To join an affiliate program, most require you to have a website or blog and a way to receive money. This is usually through a PayPal account or a bank account.
While you can apply to programs without a website, you’ll need to have at least one main social media platform, such as Instagram or YouTube, where you can share the retailer’s products.
Best affiliate networks for bloggers
Affiliate networks act as the middleman between merchants that sell products (“publishers”) and bloggers who promote these products (“affiliates”).
When you join an affiliate network, such as ShareASale, you can search through all the merchants and apply to join their affiliate program in one place.
Why I love affiliate networks – Because you can access your unique tracking links, compare the commissions you’ve earned across different programs, and get payments all in one place.
With all that said, below are some of the best affiliate networks for bloggers.
ShareASale is one of the most popular affiliate networks. They offer over 15,000 brands across different categories such as fashion, fitness, travel, personal finance, software, food and drink, home and garden, and more.
Once you’ve signed up, you can browse the different merchants on the ShareASale portal and apply individually to the programs.
Some popular affiliate programs you may want to consider applying for through ShareASale include:
Stella & Dot – Earn 12% for sale for new customers and 5% per sale for returning. You can also earn $100 per Stylist referral. This company can be good for fashion and lifestyle bloggers.
Fashionphile – Earn 5% commission on product sales and $50 for each new buyer you send them. You don’t need a website or blog to sign up. You can promote Fashionphile through your Instagram or personal Facebook account. This is one of the best affiliate programs for beginners without a website.
California Wine Club – Earn 15% per sale and the average sale is $168, which is means you’ll earn around $27 per sale. Many people enjoy belonging to a monthly wine club or sending this subscription box as a gift.
Grill Masters Club – Earn 10% per sale. This is a popular monthly subscription box that delivers rubs, sauces, marinade, and accessories for grilling and BBQing. Great for food and lifestyle bloggers.
WP Engine – Earn $200 per referral or 100% of the customer’s first month payment (whichever is higher). Plus, you can earn up to $1,500 in bonus commissions each month. WP Engine is a popular managed WordPress hosting platform.
These are just a few examples to give you some ideas. No matter what your website, blog or social media platform is about, you will find something on ShareASale that your audience will find helpful and actually purchase.
Amazon Associates is one of the largest affiliate marketing programs in the world. It’s popular because there are millions of products and programs available on Amazon, so it’s easy for bloggers and content creators (like you), to find something on Amazon that’s relevant to your audience.
Plus, many people already trust and shop from Amazon, which can make it easier to make a sale.
After signing up, you can browse products and programs to share with your audience. Amazon offers customized linking tools that you can share on your blog, website, or social media platform.
You can earn up to 10% in associate commissions from qualifying purchases and programs. In addition, you can earn a commission on ANY qualifying items placed in a customer’s Shopping Cart within 24 hours of their arrival at Amazon.com via your unique tracking link.
This means that if someone clicks on your Amazon associates link, fills their cart up with $100 worth of goodies and makes a purchase – you can earn a commission of the entire sale.
You can also earn a commission of their sale even if they don’t end up buying the product that you initially linked to.
Ultimate Bundles works with popular eBook and eCourse creators to sell massive digital packages on topics such as Blogging, Healthy Living, Business, Homemaking, Productivity, Decluttering, Personal Finance, Homeschooling and more.
When I first started my blog, I bought the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit through Ultimate Bundles. This was a game-changer for my blog, because I was able to get instant access to over $7,000 worth of blogging eBooks and eCourses for just $97.
After being a happy customer of Ultimate Bundles, I signed up for their affiliate program to share their awesome products with others.
What you’ll love about being an affiliate with Ultimate Bundles is that they offer free marketing training before every bundle sale. This is one of the best affiliate programs to make money.
This means even if you’re a brand new blogger and know nothing about affiliate marketing, you can get all the tools you need to be a successful affiliate. This includes an email swipe copy, social media swipe copy, banners, images and affiliate links, and other support for your promotion.
As an affiliate for Ultimate Bundles, you can earn 40% on every sale or up to 70% if you’re a contributor.
Flexoffers offers over 12,000 affiliate programs in 25+ different categories. The website is easy to navigate to find relevant affiliate programs to apply for individually.
With Flexoffers, you’ll get paid on a NET 60 basis, or if you’re a top performer on the platform you can get paid via NET 7.
Some popular affiliate programs you may want to consider applying for on Flexoffers include:
Crocs – Earn 10% per sale excluding limited edition collaborations. This can be a good option for fashion or lifestyle bloggers.
Bulova – Earn 8% per sale. This can be a good option for fashion bloggers.
HBO Max – Earn $17 on a 6-month prepaid subscription or $10.20 per monthly subscription.
Freshly – Earn $32 per Freshly Fit sale or $19.20 per order on all other sales. This is a popular meal kit delivery service.
Acorns – Earn $24 per investment account lead.
CJ Affiliate (formerly known as Commission Junction) is a popular affiliate network. They pay out $1.8 billion annually to their affiliates. If you’re interested in promoting some of the world’s biggest brands, CJ affiliate can be a great choice.
Some popular affiliate programs you may want to consider applying for on CJ Affiliate include:
Zappos – Earn 7% commission per sale for new customers. This can be a good option for fashion or lifestyle bloggers.
TripAdvisor – Earn up to 40% commission per sale. This can be a good option for travel bloggers.
Revolve – Earn 5% commission per sale. This can be a good option for fashion bloggers.
Hotels.com – Earn 4% per sale. This can be a good option for travel bloggers.
HelloFresh – Earn $10 per order. This can be a good option for lifestyle or food bloggers.
eHarmony – Earn 30% per sale. This can be good for relationship or lifestyle bloggers.
Sunglass Hut – Earn 6% per sale. This can be a good option for fashion or lifestyle bloggers.
I don’t use CJ affiliate as much anymore, but sometimes I wake up to see a big commission like the one shown below. This was from a couple of years ago, when one of my travel posts went viral.
Types of affiliate marketing programs
There are a few different types of affiliate programs that use different payment terms.
One tier: You get a commission when a sale is generated through your affiliate link.
For example, if you promote Shopify to your audience, you can earn an average of $58 for each person who signs up for a paid Shopify plan using your unique referral link.
Shopify is an all-in-one commerce platform that makes it easy to start or grow a business. I use Shopify to run the Mint Notion Shop and really like it.
Two-tier: You get a commission when you refer other affiliates and they start making sales.
Climbing tiers: You can increase your commissions as you make more sales.
Recurring commissions: You earn a commission for as long as people are signed up for that subscription service. Some popular affiliate programs that offer recurring commissions include:
Convertkit – This is a one of the best email marketing tools for online creators and bloggers. I have been using Convertkit for the past few years to manage my email list and love them.
As an affiliate for Converkit, you can earn a 30% commission for every person who signs up to Convertkit through your affiliate link. You’ll earn this commission every month for as long as their Convertkit account is active.
Below is an example of how much you can make per month when 20 people join Converkit through your tracking link on the beginner plan.
Leadpages – Earn up to 50% recurring commissions for as long as your referral remains a Leadpages customer. I’ve been using Leadpages for the past few years to create landing pages for my website. This is one of the best top paying affiliate programs.
Thinkific – Earn up to $1,700 per referral per year. You can also earn 30% recurring commission on all monthly or annual paid plans for as long as the new subscriber pays for Thinkific. This company is an excellent choice for those who want to create and sell an online course.
Pay Per Lead: You get a commission each time someone provides his/her contact information on the advertiser’s website.
Sitewide Commissions: You can get a commission no matter what someone buys on the advertiser’s website. Amazon’s affiliate program offers sitewide commission.
Best affiliate marketing programs for beginners – Final Note
As you can see, affiliate marketing can be a great way to make extra money through your website, blog or social media platform.
No matter which best affiliate program you decide to join, you’ll certainly find something that’s high-paying and relevant to your audience’s interests.
When choosing an affiliate program to join, I recommend asking yourself the following questions:
• Do I use this product?
• Will the majority of my audience benefit from using this product?
• Is this product affordable for my target audience?
• What is the commission rate for this product?
The answer to these questions can help you decide what to promote to your readers and if it’s a good fit for your blog.
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways for websites, bloggers and social media influencers to make money online.
The first step is to create your affiliate website on WordPress.org.
To build your affiliate site, you can get started with Bluehost for as low as $2.95 per month.
Then you can run your own advertisements, affiliate links or product sales with a blog using Bluehost.
If you need more guidance, you can sign up below for my free blogging course for beginners. It’ll show you how to create and launch a money-making blog in 5 days.
And if you’re interested in making money faster, consider taking an online course about affiliate marketing. For beginners, I recommend Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
I signed up for this course when my blog was making $0 per month. When I first started blogging, I didn’t know anything about affiliate marketing or how to make money with a blog.
Within two weeks of implementing the strategies I learned in the course, I was able to earn my investment back and more. In less than a year, I was able to scale my affiliate income to over $8,000 per month.
To learn more, you can check out Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing here.
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