Affiliate Marketing Networks

9 Affiliate Networks You Should Consider for Making Money

Affiliate networks can be valuable to bloggers, video makers, podcasters, application developers, influencers – anyone with an online presence. And there are several you can use right now to make a decent living with your content.

Your digital content can be monetized by referring your visitors to sites and companies willing to pay for the traffic. That relationship works best for both parties when your content is relevant to the product or company.

Affiliate networks pay you for sending buyers to merchant’s sites. That’s typically done by you placing special links on your website.

The links contain a cookie or tracking code that lets the merchant know the visitor came from you. Then if the visitor completes a sale, the merchant pays you a commission.

While you can make money using affiliate links, you’re ultimately driving sales on another site or platform. If you sell a product yourself, affiliate marketing may be less attractive to you.

It all depends on the kind of content you’re creating. For popular bloggers, YouTubers or social media influencers, affiliate marketing can work very well.

If you run a popular site that deals with hot online topics like consumer electronics, affiliate marketing can be very profitable indeed.

Here’s my list of nine affiliate networks that can earn you some money without any up-front costs to you.

1. Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates website

Just about every company on this list will tell you that they are “the #1 affiliate marketing network in the world.” When Amazon Associates says that, it’s actually true. Amazon controls almost half of the U.S. eCommerce market, making it not only one of the best affiliate programs but the best.

The list of products available on Amazon is practically endless. There’s something there to fit just about any website you can think of. And the coolest thing about the Amazon referral cookie is it’s universal.

So if you refer someone to a pair of shoes but they buy a lawnmower instead, you get the commission for the lawnmower. You get a commission on everything the visitor buys while your cookie is valid (24 hours).

Amazon has different versions of their website for different countries. To get paid for referrals to those sites, you have to register as an Associate on each one.

Commission rates: From 1% to 10%, depending on the product category.

Life of your referral cookie: 24 hours. But if someone you referred adds a product to their carts, your cookie lasts for 90 days (for that item).

2. Avangate Affiliate Network

Avangate website

The Avangate Affiliate Network is focused on digital goods and software companies, rather than physical products. And for digital products, Avangate may be the number one affiliate network. With access to more than 22,000 different software products, it’s a must-have for any site that focuses on digital products.

A little later in the list, we’ll talk about another affiliate network for digital goods. While that network puts an emphasis on smaller companies, Avangate provides you with access to the big guns. Avast, Kaspersky, and Bitdefender to name a few high-profile digital product companies.

Commission rates: As high as 50% (and more in some cases).

Life of your referral cookie: 30 to 180 days (set by the merchant).

3. CJ Affiliate

CJ website

CJ Affiliate covers a lot of bases, both physical and digital. Everything from clothing to software to the InterContinental Hotels Group. CJ gives you access to not only thousands of products but three thousand different merchants. That’s a lot. CJ is one of a couple of affiliate mega-networks.

Most affiliate networks (and all large ones) require you to apply to merchants individually from their dashboards. That’s how CJ works.

Once the merchants accept your applications, you can generate links and view statistics for all of them in the CJ dashboard. If you want to sell from sites like Lowes, Overstock, Office Depot, Grammarly, Priceline and GoPro, CJ is for you.

Commission rates: Varies depending on the merchant.

Life of your referral cookie: Varies depending on the merchant.

4. Rakuten Marketing

Rakuten website

No affiliate network list would be complete without Rakuten Marketing. Not quite one of the mega-networks like CJ, Rakuten can still provide you with access to everything from picture frames to printers to pizza and pants. All from major retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, Papa John’s and Macy’s.

Rakuten also has cool back-end features like automatic ad rotation and a data feed that you can use to show product comparisons. Just those two tools can save you time and give you a leg up on the competition.

Commission rates: Varies depending on the merchant.

Life of your referral cookie: Varies depending on the merchant.

5. ShareASale

ShareASale website

ShareASale is one of the most popular affiliate networks out there. And for good reason. They offer affiliate programs for more than 4,500 merchants with physical and digital products. That makes them arguably the world’s largest affiliate network. And more than a thousand of the 4,500 merchants are exclusive to ShareASale.

One of the things I like about ShareASale is the “Green Merchants” category. That may not be terribly surprising since you’re reading the GreenGeeks blog. But if you run a site with an environmental focus, the ability to promote products from only green merchants is huge.

Like CJ, you’ll have to apply to merchants individually. But the variety is wide, as you might expect. Everything from WordPress theme and plugin companies to Warby Parker glasses to official NFL merchandise. Something for everyone, and something for every kind of website to promote.

Commission rates: Varies depending on the merchant.

Life of your referral cookie: Varies depending on the merchant.

6. eBay Partner Network

eBay Partner Network website

I’ve been using eBay since 1998, and I have to admit that I didn’t know about the eBay Partner Network until recently. The eBay Partner Network pays commissions for promoting eBay listings. That gives you an almost endless variety of items to promote.

The Difference between the eBay Partner Network and other affiliate programs is most eBay listings are only available for a limited time. Anywhere from 4 to 30 days.

But if you’re working a platform that changes frequently, say social media as opposed to a blog, eBay can be a viable option.

Another unique angle that the eBay Partner Network provides is the ability to promote used, collectible, and rare items. Something most other affiliate networks can’t offer.

Commission rates: As with many of the programs we’ve discussed, commission varies depending on product categories, but all commissions are between 50% and 70% of eBay’s commission on the sale.

Life of your referral cookie: 24 hours. But if a bid is placed within 24 hours, your cookie lasts until the end of the auction.

7. ClickBank

ClickBank website

ClickBank is another affiliate network that is focused on digital products. There are physical products available too, but ClickBank tends to offer smaller merchants and fewer large companies.

One of the advantages of ClickBank is the smaller merchants tend to pay higher commissions. There are a lot of eBooks, membership sites, and online courses offered. If you can find those kinds of offers that fit your niche, you can earn healthy payouts.

FYI: ClickBank has a bit of a reputation for offering low-quality products. They have tightened up their review process to decrease the number of low-quality merchants, but you’ll still find some.

They’ve also adopted generous return policies in an attempt to improve their image. That’s good for buyers but can cause you to lose commissions.

Downsides aside, ClickBank offers products you won’t find anywhere else. And the commissions are typically above-average.

Commission rates: Varies depending on the merchant.

Life of your referral cookie: Varies depending on the merchant. Typically in the 60-day range.

8. Peerfly

Peerfly website

Peerfly has been around for over a decade but could be considered a “boutique” network, with a smaller staff and fewer available offers than the large networks. The term “fewer” is relative though, as there are typically more than 2,000 live offers from a pool of 8,000.

Some of the Peerfly opportunities pay for lead generation, which is unusual among affiliate networks.

A mix of physical and digital products are available, from a mix of large and small companies. Peerfly being smaller means they’re more hands-on, so new applications aren’t automatically accepted. The process can take three days or more.

Big earners ($5,000+ a week) can be paid weekly, and monthly payouts can be expedited (for a fee).

Commission rates: Varies depending on the merchant.

Life of your referral cookie: Varies depending on the merchant.

9. GreenGeeks Affiliates

GreenGeeks Affiliates website

You knew this was coming, right? But I believe that GreenGeeks is a legitimate entry on this list because The GreenGeeks Affiliates Program has the potential for larger payouts than standard affiliate programs.

For example, if you sell six expensive blenders on Amazon in a month you might see a $25 or $30 affiliate payout. If you can sell six hosting accounts for GreenGeeks, you’ll get a $600 payout.

Even selling a single account for GreenGeeks in a month earns $50. I can’t think of many single items on Amazon that can earn you that kind of commission.

It’s true that selling website hosting isn’t the same as selling blenders. It’s a specialized scene, no doubt about that. But if you have a site that’s focused on hosting, or even occasionally writes about hosting, a GreenGeeks affiliate account can pay big dividends.

You can sign up now and check it out for yourself.

GreenGeeks offers easy-to-drop in banners with your referrer code attached, and the ability to create unique campaign codes so you can track how different methods or locations perform.

Commission rates: From $50 to $100 per account, it varies on the number of accounts referred in a given month.

Life of your referral cookie: Doesn’t expire.

Affiliate Disclosure

Before you start in with one or more of the affiliate programs we’ve discussed, it’s important to know that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has established affiliate disclosure guidelines.

You have to comply with the guidelines if you receive a commission, payment, free products, or discounts in exchange for endorsing a product in any online medium. That means articles, blog posts, social media posts, videos, podcasts, webinars, infographics, and even illustrations.

When you use an affiliate network, you are potentially receiving a commission (and affiliate links are considered endorsements), so you must comply with the FTC guidelines.

The guidelines say that you have to inform visitors or readers that you are being compensated for your endorsement of a product.

If you rate or compare products on your site, it’s okay to also say that the potential commissions don’t affect your findings (if that’s true).

The disclosure doesn’t have to be a lengthy legal statement. You can post a brief line or two letting visitors know that you receive commissions if they click links on your site.

But the statement has to be clear, and it has to be easy to find. The full message has to stand out in a way that is noticeable, and the reader shouldn’t have to scroll to the bottom of the page or click a link to see it.

If you don’t live in the United States, the disclosure laws may still apply to you. The FTC can go after foreign businesses (and I assume individuals) if U.S. citizens are the target of their marketing efforts.

If you want to know more about the specifics of the guidelines, the FTC has a list of answers to common questions. Laws are laws at the end of the day, and it’s in your interest to stay on the right side of them.

Is Affiliate Marketing Right for You?

You could say that affiliate programs are right for anyone who likes to make money. I think it’s safe to say that includes most of us. But there are some things to consider.

Aggressive or overdone affiliate marketing can be alienating. Too much marketing can also be off-putting to certain audiences. And any marketing at all can alienate demanding or critical audiences. Which is why you don’t see affiliate advertising on “occupy” websites.

If our marketing drives away our visitors, we’re defeating the purpose of the marketing (and the website). Most audiences, though, have a tolerance for a certain level of marketing and advertising. We tend to take it for granted these days.

But finding that level as it applies to your audience is crucial. If you have any doubts, start small and increase gradually.

Affiliate Marketing Networks Work if You Work Them

I mentioned earlier that the content of your site has to be relevant to the products you’re marketing. That’s true, but it’s also true that the most successful affiliate marketers spend a lot of time getting the word out.

They do all they can to attract people to their sites and spend time on SEO. They establish themselves as authorities in certain areas.

Anyone can put up a static site with a lot of affiliate links on it. If you don’t promote a site like that, you won’t see many commissions. A celebrity can make $50,000 for tweeting a brand because they have an audience and they have influence.

If you want to be a successful affiliate marketer, you have to do the same thing. On a smaller scale, perhaps, but you still need an audience.

Ten thousand visitors are going to earn you more commissions than 10 will. And the best way to go from 10 visitors to 10,000 is with content that is relevant and useful.

Things change quickly and often online. But one thing never changes: the best way to gain an audience is to provide great content.

That isn’t to say that affiliate links can’t earn more modest amounts of extra cash for smaller sites, they can. In fact, that’s what the vast majority of affiliate marketing does. Makes smaller amounts of money for larger numbers of people.

Any way you approach it, affiliate marketing is a low-risk way to make money from your online presence.

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