How To Choose The Best Affiliate Programs For Beginners

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020 by Early retired mom

Working a 9 to 5 job can be stressful and emotionally draining. You have to bring money to the table, and having a corporate job, or any kind of reliable job for that matter, is quite comforting. 

But, the turnaround point has come.

You have decided that you want to make an additional income stream through your blog so you can leave your stressful job to try to earn a living on your own through affiliate marketing.

But you’re now stuck and overwhelmed with all the options. What are the best affiliate programs for beginners? How do you find them and how do you qualify them? 

Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.

You don’t have to settle for “comforting” because you don’t know how to enter the world of affiliate marketing. I’ll help you understand how everything works.

How to find the best affiliate programs for you, and which programs have the best earning potential. 

You will see that is quite simple once you get the hang of it. It’s 2020 after all.

There are so many ways to make money online with affiliate programs.

And to be honest, affiliate marketing is currently one of the best sources of passive income. Hundreds of people are making tens of thousands of dollars per month only through affiliate programs through their blog and social media accounts, and you can easily become one of them

If you do not have a blog already, I strongly advise starting with Bluehost for only $3.95 a month.

Stick around for a bit, we will discuss all your options below. 

What is affiliate marketing?

The way affiliate programs work is simple: you earn commissions by recommending products through a unique affiliate link. If someone clicks your link and makes a purchase, you earn a commission for it. 

As we live in a digital era, and almost everything is sold online, the affiliate earning opportunities are basically infinite. Anyone with a computer, smartphone, or iPad and access to the Internet can sign up for affiliate programs and turn their hard work into a long-term income. 

How to start affiliate marketing

To maximize your earning potential, you first need to analyze the best affiliate programs for beginners carefully before you enroll.

Each program is different in terms of earning opportunities, ease of use, and time during which a link is viable for a commission, so here is how to choose the best affiliate programs:

Commission 

Logically, the most important thing to check when choosing which affiliate program to enroll in is the commission they offer, or simply, how you make money.

The commission tells you how much you’ll be earning per referral or purchase, so it’s an indicator of how much earning potential a program has. Commissions can be one-time, recurring, or multi-tier commissions. 

  • As their name suggests, one-time commissions are earned through affiliate programs that are earned only once. It’s usually a lump sum that can range anywhere between $200 and $8,000 per sale. 
  • Recurring commissions are commissions earned more than once if a condition is met. The condition may be a single purchase, a purchase higher than a specific sum, or purchasing a subscription or a membership form a specific provider. 
  • Multi-tier commissions are systems through which you can earn commission through your referrals and your referrals’ referrals. 

Cookie lifespan

The second aspect of any affiliate program you should prioritize is the cookie lifespan. Simply put, the cookie lifespan is how long your affiliate link will be valid for. This is a critical factor as some cookies last for only 24 hours, while other cookies last for a whole year. 

Payment Terms

The payment terms are basically how long you will have to wait before the payment is sent to you and the minimum amount you need to have on your account balance to get paid. Most affiliate programs’ payment terms are Net 30, Net 60, or Net 90, which means that the affiliate commission is paid 30, 60, or 90 days after making a sale or becoming otherwise eligible for the affiliate fee. 

The minimum payment threshold varies from program to program and can start as low as $1 but be as high as $100 to be eligible for a payout. 

Ease of use

If you venture deeper into the affiliate world, you will surely come across some affiliate programs that have such complex terms of use that you can’t be sure if you will earn a commission even if you did everything you read in the guide. 

As a beginner, you’d have a better chance of earning a commission if you go with more straightforward affiliate programs that have clear terms and are easier to use. 

Affiliate support

Having a point of contact if you have any uncertainties with your affiliate program is crucial.

You may not understand certain conditions or have issues with parts of the program, so having support that will guide you through everything can be very helpful for your whole affiliate experience (and to make money). 

If you’re just starting with affiliate marketing programs, it’s recommended that you start with some simpler ones that will allow you to earn a higher commission without having to spend hours researching the products. To help you kickstart your affiliate success, here is our selection of the best affiliate programs for beginners in 2020:

  1. Amazon Associates Affiliate Program
  2. Fiverr Affiliate Program
  3. Commission Junction Affiliate Program
  4. ShareASale Affiliate Program
  5. ClickBank Affiliate Program
  6. ClickFunnels Affiliate Program
  7. Rakuten Marketing Affiliate Program
  8. eBay Partner Network Affiliate Program
  9. ActiveCampaign Affiliate Program
  10. Shopify Affiliate Program
  11. FlexOffers Affiliate Program
  12. Etsy Affiliate Program

Amazon Associates Affiliate Program

Amazon Associates Affiliate Program

Amazon Associates is one of the best affiliate programs for beginners and is also the most popular out there. It is often the first affiliate program beginners start with when they want to make money online. It’s simple, accessible, and everybody knows Amazon, so you won’t have to spend time explaining what the company is to the people that click your links. 

It is very simple to get started with Amazon Associates as an affiliate marketer for beginners. You advertise a product from Amazon, and if someone purchases any product through your affiliate link, you get a cut of the profit.

It’s one of the vastest affiliate programs out there as your get to sell every single product on Amazon, which means the affiliate earning opportunities are infinite. And since it’s very straightforward and easy to use, it’s one of the best affiliate programs to start with. 

So let’s get into the details:

Commission: Different product categories on Amazon Associates come with varying commission rates that can range from 0% up to 10% per sale. Here is a table with the basic rates for specific product categories:

Amazon commission

Cookie Duration: Amazon Associates affiliate links are viable for 24 hours. This means that you will earn a commission for any product that the person buys through your link within 24 hours. 

Payment threshold: Minimum $10

Payment Terms: Net 60

Special Conditions: You need to own and run an active website to be eligible to join. In addition to this, you need to have at least three qualified sales within 180 days to maintain your membership.  

Pros:

  • No minimum traffic required
  • Millions of products to promote
  • Low payment thresholds 

Cons: 

  • Short cookie duration
  • Low commission rates
  • Very competitive 

Fiverr Affiliate Program

Fiverr affiliate program

While Fiverr is known for its earning possibilities as a freelancer, it also has one of the best affiliate programs for beginners.

It’s pretty straightforward and free to use and get started and offers multiple ways of earning, so you can easily take advantage of any program that fits your needs and seems appealing to you. 

Besides earning commission for any referral that signs up as a client through your link and makes a purchase, you can also earn by promoting their courses. Considering there are over 250 categories and more than 3 million digital services you can promote on Fiverr, the earning opportunities are massive. 

Commission: When it comes to commissions, Fiverr has one of the most diverse, if not the most varied affiliate program selection:

  1. You can earn between $15 and $50 through their Fiverr CPA program. When a referral joins through your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you will earn between $14 and $50 depending on the service they purchase. 
  2. Earn 30% per sale of the “Learn from Fiverr” courses that are purchased through your link. 
  3. You can earn $150 for a purchase a buyer makes from a Fiverr Pro.
  4. Earn 50% of the buyer’s purchase from a freelancer enrolled in the Fiverr AND.CO program.

Cookie Duration: The cookies last for 30 days from the first click Fiverr affiliate links.

Payment threshold: Minimum $100

Payment Terms: Net 30

Special conditions: To be eligible to earn a commission through the Fiverr Affiliate Program, the client that makes a purchase has to be a new client, not an existing one. 

Pros:

  • Multiple affiliate marketing programs for beginners
  • Big commissions per-referral
  • Easy to sign up

Cons:

  • High payment threshold
  • Works only on new clients

Commission Junction Affiliate Program – CJ Affiliate

Commission Junction (or CJ Affiliate) is a well known affiliate marketing programs and has been around for over 20 years.

It is one of the first affiliate networks ever to exist.

It has partnered up with some of the world’s leading brands to promote their products: GoPro, Lowes, Overstock, Barnes & Noble, Office Depot, Disney Shops, and many more (over 3,000).

As one of the most profitable online marketplaces, CJ reports having over $15 billion in yearly sales, and out of this profit, $1.8 billion are paid out to affiliates.

With about 1,200 respondents including Advertisers, Publishers, and Agencies, CJ Affiliate was once again selected as the Network of Choice for Publishers—more than any other network combined.

AffiliateBenchmarks, an affiliate marketing research division of House of Kaizen, recently released the results of its eleventh annual survey for 2019. 

2019 AffiliateBenchmarks: CJ is Network of Choice

While this program is recommended as a second or third to start with, it has some of the most versatile affiliate product collections out there, which is why it has earned a top spot in our list of best affiliate programs for beginners.

Commission: Varies by product.

Cookie Duration: CJ Affiliate uses cookie-less tracking, which means it tracks the user’s data on multiple devices and then stores it through a script or another program, not cookies.

Payment threshold: Minimum $50 for direct bank deposits and minimum $100 for check payouts.

Payment Terms: Net 20

Special conditions: A $10 fee is charged if you do not earn a commission in 6 months, so be sure to remain active as a CJ affiliate.

Pros:

  • Thousands of products to promote
  • Partners with top brands
  • Superb affiliate customer service

Cons:

  • You have to have a website to join
  • High payment threshold 
  • Very competitive
  • You have to be active or pay an inactivity fee

ShareASale Affiliate Program

ShareASale Affiliate

Although the interface of ShareASale could use a bit of TLC, don’t let it fool you. Affiliate marketers can earn between $300 to $350 from a single sale on it, so it’s well worth investing your time and effort into some of its affiliate products.

In fact, there are over 5,000 different affiliate products to profit from on the website. Still, it’s not so popular as some other affiliate marketing programs because they focus on emerging brands that are not yet as popular as the brands on CJ Affiliate but are very profitable and liquid. 

There are some top brands, but don’t rush to apply to their affiliate programs. Other budding companies often offer higher commissions, so make sure you analyze your options before applying.

Commission: Varies between 2% to 8% per sale

Cookie Duration: Varies between 30 and 160 days

Payment threshold: Minimum $50

Payment Terms: From Net 30 to Net 90

Special conditions: There is a security fee of $5 when you join, but it’s refunded once you get accepted into the program.

Pros:

  • Thousands of products to promote
  • Higher commission programs
  • Reliable tracking and analytic reports

Cons:

  • Outdated interface
  • You have to have a website to join
  • You have to apply to individual merchants

ClickBank Affiliate Program

Click Bank affiliate program

While most affiliate marketing programs are focused on big brand names, ClickBank’s Affiliate Program takes a different approach. They focus on relatively unknown but up and coming digital products from small businesses and independent entrepreneurs.

If you’re an affiliate marketing guru and an enthusiast for digital products, ClickBank is, without doubt, the best affiliate program for beginners network you should consider joining. 

If you don’t know anything about digital products, ClickBank is still an affiliate marketing program you can most certainly benefit from. It offers free resources you can study and practical guides teaching you how to find a product you can promote and how to promote it.

They have a convenient gravity score that ranges between 0 and 100 and tells you how competitive a product is. The higher the score, the more competitive the product is. 

Commission: Up to 75% for a single purchase

Cookie Duration: 60 days

Payment threshold: Minimum $100 by default, but you can change it to any sum between $10 and $1,000,000.

Payment Terms: From Net 30 to Net 60

Special conditions: None. Anyone can join ClickBank Affiliate Program, with or without a website.

Pros:

  • Convenient gravity score telling how well a product sells
  • Anyone can join, no website required
  • Offers free study resources 
  • No delivery and shipping complications (digital products)

Cons:

  • Outdated interface
  • Focused on digital products only
  • Some high refund rates

ClickFunnels Affiliate Program

ClickFunnels Affiliate Program

ClickFunnels has one of the most profitable affiliate network programs for beginners. Thanks to its multi-tier commission system, you can earn hundreds, even thousands of dollars by working on their affiliate platform and escape the 9 to 5 world once and for all. 

It works on a second-tier commission system, which means you earn a commission for any referral you recommend and a commission for any referral that referral recommends. 

ClickFunnels’s affiliate marketing program’s biggest downside is that you have to purchase an affiliate plan to be eligible to start earning from them. The basic plan costs $97, with other plans costing even higher. 

Commission: 20% to 40% recurring on all sales, 5% on other products, and bonuses for sales 

Cookie Duration: 30 days

Payment threshold: Minimum $100

Payment Terms: Net 15 

Special conditions: The contract is terminated if you earn no commission for 12 months.

Pros:

  • Huge earning opportunity
  • Multi-tier commission system

Cons:

  • It’s pay to join
  • High payment threshold

Rakuten Marketing Affiliate Program

Rakuten has been voted as the top affiliate network for eight years, which is enough to tell you that their affiliate program is really one of the best ones out there. Their website has over 1000 advertisers, among which are names like Sephora, PacSun, Ray-Ban, Virgin, New Balance, and many others. 

Rakuten affiliate program

However, it hasn’t earned one of the first spots in our list of best affiliate programs for beginners because it’s not entirely for affiliate beginners. Yes, it’s really simple to use and can be very profitable, but the application process is slightly stricter than other affiliate programs, so your website needs to show higher traffic to be eligible to enroll in Rakuten’s Marketing Affiliate program.

Commission: Varies up to $50 per single sale

Cookie Duration: Varies by product

Payment threshold: Minimum $1

Payment Terms: Net 7, but as advertisers are invoiced monthly, you may receive your funds later.

Special conditions: You need to own and run an active website with medium or high traffic to be eligible to join. Websites with small traffic often get rejected for the affiliate program. 

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Over 1000 merchants
  • Offers free study resources 
  • Low payment threshold

Cons:

  • Strict joining requirements (requires showing website traffic) 
  • You have to apply to individual merchants

eBay Partner Network Affiliate Program

eBay Affiliate Program

eBay Partner Network is deservingly among the best affiliate programs for beginners because you can promote over 1.4 billion products from their website to over 180 million buyers from 190 markets worldwide. 

While the 5% maximum commission and cookie duration of only 24 hours may seem a bit unattractive, they have a variety of programs and promotions that double up the earning possibilities. In addition to this, they have a variety of tools designed to help affiliate marketers promote products more efficiently. 

Commission: 1% to 5% depending on the category and subcategory of products. The rate cards (commission rates) change periodically, so make sure to check them regularly on the following link. Here are the current rate cards valid as of August 24, 2020:

eBay commission

Cookie Duration: 24 hours

Payment threshold: Minimum 10 of any of your chosen currency. 

Payment Terms: Net 30, on the 10th of each month 

Special conditions: Because eBay works based on product auctions and bids, if a buyer places a bid on a product through your affiliate link and wins that auction within ten days, you will receive your commission.

Pros:

  • Over 1.4 billion products to promote
  • Anyone can join
  • Clear commission rates

Cons:

  • Short cookie duration
  • Changing commission rates

ActiveCampaign Affiliate Partner Program

ActiveCampaign Marketplace

The ActiveCampaign affiliate program has a huge earning potential. If you want to earn from promoting affiliate products, it’s a great place to start as a beginner affiliate marketer. It has a multi-tier commission system that can make you thousands of dollars per month based on the monthly recurring revenue (MRR) of currently active referral accounts. 

There are four types of partners that can enroll in ActiveCampaign’s Affiliate Partner Program:

  • Affiliate partners that earn a commission based on new subscribers that purchase the Services using their referral link. 
  • Agency partners that resell ActiveCampaign Services to new subscribers
  • Resell partners that resell ActiveCampaign Services to their own customers
  • Third-Party Application Partners work directly with ActiveCampaign to develop software tools to integrate and customize the ActiveCampaign services they offer with their existing software infrastructure. 

Commission: ActiveCampaign’s affiliate marketing program has a multi-tier commission system: 

  • Silver Tier is the starting tier where affiliates that have referred $100 worth of new business in the last three months earn 20% commission.
  • Gold Tier: 25% commission for affiliates that have referred $100 worth of new business in the last three months or have $500 of active accounts.
  • Platinum Tier: 30% commission for affiliates that have referred $500 worth of new business in the last three months or have $2,000 worth of active accounts.

Cookie Duration: 90 days

Payment threshold: Minimum $100

Payment Terms: Net 60 

Special conditions: You have to be an ActiveCampaign client before you can become an ActiveCampaign affiliate partner. 

Pros:

  • Multiple earning programs 
  • Multi-tier commission system
  • Promotional tools available

Cons:

  • Expensive premium products
  • Complicated purchase tracking
  • Some functionality issues
  • High payment threshold

Shopify Partner Affiliate Program

Shopify Partners

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms and a back-end platform for over half a million websites. 

When a referral signs up for Shopify through your link, you receive a commission twice for the full value of the merchant’s subscription fee in the respective month. Shopify reports that “Affiliates can earn an average of $58 for each user who signs up for a paid plan with your unique affiliate link.”

As one of the most frequently used e-commerce platforms, it’s a great place to start off to develop your affiliate promotion skills and earn some extra cash. 

Commission: Depends on the program, but up to $2,400 per sale for the Standard Plan and $2,000 per sale with the Shopify Plus Plan. 

Cookie Duration: 30 days

Payment threshold: Minimum $25 

Payment Terms: Net 15

Special conditions: You need to own and run an active website to be eligible to join. 

Pros:

  • Several affiliate programs 
  • The commission is paid twice
  • Millions of product to promote

Cons:

  • Very competitive
  • Hard to sell

FlexOffers

FlexOffers affiliate program

As perhaps one of the biggest affiliate networks, FlexOffers is relatively similar to CJ Affiliate. It currently has over 12,000 merchants in their system through which affiliates can earn, but unlike CJ, affiliates don’t have to apply directly to the merchant.

FlexOffers does that as a “sub-affiliate,” which means they join to the merchant’s affiliate programs directly, and you sign up through them, which makes both you and FlexOffers an affiliate marketer. 

They are basically a middleman who saves you the time you otherwise would have to spend to apply to each merchant separately.  

Commission: Varies by product and depends on the commission FlexOffer takes

Cookie Duration: 30 days

Payment threshold: Minimum $50

Payment Terms: Net 60

Special conditions: You need to own and run an active website to be eligible to join. 

Pros:

  • Time-saving (you don’t apply to merchants directly) 
  • Thousands of products to promote

Cons:

  • Lower payouts because the commission is split
  • Complicated signup process

Etsy Affiliate Program

Etsy Affiliate Program

Etsy is an affiliate network for independent crafters, artists, and vintage traders and the largest one of its kind.  

Being an Etsy affiliate is not only financially rewarding but emotionally rewarding as well. You’re purchasing from individual sellers and crafters, so you may be helping a single mother pay her bills, a young student to pay her/his college tuition, or an elder have a more comfortable retirement.

Commission: 4% of any purchase during the cookie duration period

Cookie Duration: 30 days

Payment threshold: Minimum $50

Payment Terms: Net 30

Special conditions: You need to own and run an active website to be eligible to join. You can also find other eligibility requirements on the following link under the ”Eligibility and Enrollment in Etsy’s Affiliates Program” section. 

Pros:

  • Longer cookie duration compared to similar websites
  • You’re supporting independent crafters and product creators
  • Affiliate program is available in English, German, and French 

Cons:

  • Successful vendors often leave the platform
  • Have to keep track of constant changes

Conclusion

Earning from home is no longer a privilege only some people have. Anyone with a smartphone, PC, or tablet, and access to the Internet can quickly become their own boss, including you. 

Yes, you. 

There is no need to stay on that job you hate and feel miserable because you like the comfort of your monthly paycheck. All you need is a blog and if you do not have one I strongly advise starting with Bluehost for only $3.95 a month.

Affiliate programs out there are waiting for people just like you. People that want to get out of the corporate cage and take their life into their own hands.

Concerned that the affiliate program won’t work? Move on to the next one! There are so many affiliate earning opportunities out there that the risk is as minimal as it can be. 

Go on, do it! I know you can.


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