Affiliate marketing is a simple concept – you use a unique link to sell a product for a brand and make a commission on each sale.
But the devil lies in the details.
This business is full of pieces moving in tandem with each other. It is tough for beginner affiliate marketers to manage all the activities – One of which is choosing the right Affiliate Marketing program.
And that is what this blog post will help you with – it will provide all the information you need to select the right program to start with. This information will help you save time that you might otherwise spend reinventing the wheel.
We analyzed the most common problems that beginners face and crafted a list of affiliate programs based on the below criteria:
Too Long; Didn’t Read?
Criteria for selection of Affiliate Programs for Beginners
1. Ease of Access
As a beginner affiliate marketer, you do not have a subscriber base. This dissuades many affiliate managers from hiring you for their elite programs as you can’t drive immediate large-ticket sales.
That, accompanied by the fact that new affiliates do not know their audience puts you in a tight spot. Affiliate managers are busy folks who won’t spend time on leads without a relevant subscriber base.
The difficulty and rejections that beginners affiliates face with most programs make Ease of Access the primary criteria for selection.
2. Support Available From the Affiliate Program
As a beginner affiliate, I could not figure out why I made no money from the Amazon affiliate link I shared with my family. I was sure that they purchased the product through my link, but the Amazon dashboard stated otherwise.
It was only hours after rummaging through forums that I could figure out the reason. It would have been so easy to reach out to someone from Amazon, find a solution quickly, but that was not an option.
This is just one example of the hurdles that beginner affiliate marketers face. Affiliate programs can be super-confusing – making you feel like a kid in the cockpit.
You need support from the affiliate program to help you find your way. Otherwise, even a trivial roadblock can mean the end of the road for you, as it was for me with Amazon.
I don’t want you to quit, that’s why Support is high in my criteria.
3. Terms of Payment
Affiliate programs have some terms of payment that beginner affiliates may consider unfair. The two main downers are:
1. The actual date of payment
You do not get paid the same day you make a commission. You sure can wait a day or two, but what if I ask you to wait for 3 months? Yes, some programs do that. In fact, a 30 day or 60 day waiting period is quite common.
2. Payment Threshold
Affiliate programs require you to earn a minimum amount before disbursing the funds to your account. Making even $10 is a daunting task for absolute beginners, so waiting till they hit a $100 threshold can be frustrating.
3. Mode of Payment
Some programs offer payment only through Paypal. You need to pay them a fee to withdraw the amount – hurting your bottom line. On the flip side, some programs offer payment through cheque which adds 8-10 days to the payment schedule.
Alright, now you know the rationale behind our recommendations. It’s time to get to the meat of the subject.
Here are the best affiliate programs for beginners
Let’s get into why each of these are the best affiliate programs for you.
1. Amazon Associates Affiliates Program
Amazon associates are probably the most popular affiliate program in the market.
1. It’s super easy to get into the program – there is no entry barrier. You do not need a website, or a social following to sign-up with Amazon.
2. Everyone knows about this brand. So people won’t hesitate to click on your affiliate links. As a beginner with no social proofing, people will have low trust, to begin with, and if you send them to unknown affiliate sites, you probably won’t get many clicks. It’s better to start with Amazon as it offers a trusted brand name.
3. It has a gigantic product collection. You can pick a hot product from almost any niche you can think of, and sell it on your affiliate platform of choice.
4. You get paid for all the products that the customer you drove to Amazon buys, not just the product you linked to. Suppose you linked to product X and drove a customer to it, and they bought products A, B, C as well – you get paid a commission for all 4 products provided the purchase is made within 24 hours.
It’s worth noting that the Amazon associates program is no longer the panacea it once was.
1. The commission rates are abysmally low and they keep getting slashed. Imagine creating content for Amazon for years and finally making a cool $3000 a month, only for the prices to be slashed, and so your income to $1500 a month. That’s a possibility with Amazon.
2. Most buyers take time to fill their baskets before making a purchase. But, Amazon allows for a mere 24-hour cookie – even if you direct someone to Amazon through your affiliate link and they do purchase products, you won’t get your commission if the purchase takes place after 24 hours. Adding to a cart doesn’t make for commission, only a sale does. Quite smart from Amazon, huh?
3. There’s a 180-day threshold – if you don’t make a sale within the span, your application will be withdrawn.
For experienced affiliates, starting an Amazon niche blog is not worth it anymore because it pays so little. But nevertheless, for beginners, it’s an easy way to set foot in the door and make the initial few bucks.
2. Commission Junction (CJ)
CJ is a more focused affiliate program compared to Amazon. It’s free to join CJ, but your account can get deactivated if you do not make a sale in 6 months. So, if you are starting from scratch, you might want to wait before you sign-up with CJ.
But if you have published content, CJ can be your affiliate program of choice. Here’s why:
1. Large portfolio of merchants and products
Unlike Amazon, where anyone can open a storefront and start selling products, CJ has a more curated collection. The niche products that you will be promoting will be of top quality and will have the support of a brand name.
2. It allows for granular linking
CJ has been in the game for more than a decade now. They have studied the pain points of affiliates and come up with solutions, making the program robust. CJ allows you to generate deep links, product widgets, and more!
3. Excellent customer support
Right from generating basic affiliate links to more complex features of the platform, you get customer support, even as a beginner affiliate.
4. Easy to use
CJ is one of the few affiliate programs with a functional search feature. It’s easy to find product categories relevant to your niche, plus, it’s easy to navigate from any page using the navigation bar.
5. Granular Reporting
CJ’s metrics dashboard is comprehensive. It works in real-time and lets you analyze the finer details of your numbers. You can use the data to improve your performance and sell more.
6. You get paid by CJ, not the merchant
Also, the payment can be done directly without a paywall in between. And, the payment is done immediately, as soon as you cross the threshold, not after 3 months.
1. It has a threshold of $50 for direct deposit.
2. Some merchants have an entry barrier for beginners. So you will have to bob and weave around till you find a merchant who is happy to take you as an affiliate.
With over 16500 merchants, ShareASale is a huge affiliate portal. It naturally has a lot of products spread across niches, so you have a wide sample range to choose from. Here’s are a few more reasons why ShareASale is a one of the best affiliate programs for beginners:
1. They make it very easy to select a product.
Of all the affiliate networks I tried, I found products on ShareASale the fastest. It shows what’s selling and how frequently it’s selling, making the choice easy for affiliates.
2. They manage Affiliate Managers well.
It shows when an affiliate program doesn’t support affiliate managers from product companies. But I always had a pleasant experience working with AMs through ShareASale. This allows AMs to provide you more support and helpful resources.
The only disadvantage I found was the payment schedule. In fact, it’s not that big a disadvantage, but you get paid only on the 20th of every month.
Awin is a huge affiliate portal with more than 16,500 advertisers on it. However, this platform focuses more on physical products than SaaS. So if you are in the software niche, you might have fewer options.
Nevertheless, here’s why Awin is an affiliate friendly program:
1. Awin pays out on the 1st and 15th of every month.
2. Easy to Apply.
3. Good Commission Rates.
Awin charges a £5 screening fee. However, the amount is refundable on your first sale.
5. FlexOffers Affiliate Program
You can use FlexOffers just like any other affiliate program, but it also allows you to be a sub-affiliate. This means FlexOffers signs up with the merchant’s program as an affiliate and lets you use their affiliate links in your content.
So, if you want to work for a brand but are having a tough time getting into their program, FlexOffers can be your backway door. The ease of access makes it one of the best affiliate programs for beginners.
- A smooth approval process if you have a functional website.
- FlexOffers hosts 12000 advertisers and categorizes 500 of them as premium merchants.
- This program provides a link-shortening service – you need not look for a third-party service for this purpose.
- FlexOffers allows bank and wire transfers allowing you to save money on a Paywall.
- FlexOffers features a two-factor authentication security system which no other program does.
- FlexOffers’ dashboard is a bit confusing.
- You need to wait for 2 months for payouts.
- There is a minimum threshold of $25.
- FlexOffers lacks a functional knowledge base, unlike ShareASale. This means you rely on customer support too much as there’s no other way to get answers.
Skimlinks stands out from other Affiliate Programs with its potential to create affiliate links automatically and place them in your content. Essentially, you install a code snippet and let the AI take over. You don’t have to signup for any program or interact with affiliate managers.
Link automation can save you time but if you prefer to insert links manually, Skimlinks allows that too.
- It is easy to sign up on this platform.
- It has more than 25000 merchants making it easy for you to find products in your niche.
- Skimlinks provides highly detailed metrics which help track and optimize your campaign better.
- The program allows you to host sub-affiliates who work for you. It’s similar to the sub-affiliate system with FlexOffers, but here you get sub-affiliates and get to keep 35% of their income for the first 12 months.
- They have a decent knowledge base and customer support.
- Skimlinks keeps 25% of your income, which is a huge margin.
- They have a 90-day payout time frame.
- You can’t withdraw your funds till you hit the $65 mark.
- If you are outside the US or UK, Paypal is the only mode of payment available for you.
7. Fiverr Affiliates
Fiverr is probably the most popular online marketplace. People buy and sell a variety of services there. Fiverr Affiliates is the place for niches that cover marketplaces and service-based industries. It is one of the best affiliate marketing programs for beginners.
- It’s easy to get accepted into their program.
- Fiverr Affiliates offers a variety of commission structures.
- It’s a huge marketplace, you will have a lot of services to choose from and add a deep link to.
- It has a cookie duration of 1-year which is quite generous.
- You don’t get commissions for referring Fiverr services to people who already have a Fiverr account.
- Navigation is not intuitive but they have a decent knowledge base to guide you.
- They have a payment threshold of $100.
Clickbank is the OG of the Affiliate world. It’s been around since 1998 and focused predominantly on digital products, and still does so.
- Clickbank has a low entry barrier and a straightforward signup process.
- A direct deposit payment for most countries.
- It hosts a lot of products with high commission rates.
- Clickbank has a slightly complex registration process.
- You need at least 5 sales before you receive a payment from Clickbank.
- They have a payment threshold of $50.
- Certain programs have a refund policy with a long-term return validity.
9. Rakuten Marketing (Linkshare)
With a presence in 200 countries, Rakuten Marketing hosts some of the highest-paying affiliate programs from top brands.
- Simple sign-up process.
- An easy-to-use interface.
- It has a robust knowledge base and a functional customer support system. In fact, you can leverage chat and email support from anywhere across the globe.
- You need an active website to sign up.
- You get the payment 60 days after you earn it.
- This program has a $50 payment threshold. It’s not a very big number but beginner affiliates can find it challenging to make 50 bucks.
- It’s hard to select products because Rakuten Marketing does not reveal the EPC for any merchant affiliate program.
10. Ebay Partner Network
Like Amazon, eBay is another big player in the eCommerce domain. It has millions of users and a wide product range spread across niches.
- eBay offers an electronic fund transfer.
- It has a threshold of just $10.
- It caters well to ultra-niche websites.
- eBay offers a 24-hour cookie – a very short attribution window.
- Commission rates range from 1%-4%. Also, they have a cap on certain product categories, you can earn more than that even if your commission rate exceeds the threshold.
Impact is a fairly new affiliate portal with more than 2000 merchants enlisted on it. But it is still a good affiliate program for beginners.
- It has a ‘brands to work with instantly’ section that allows you to find merchant programs with immediate approval.
- Impact has an interactive interface.
- You can find brands across many niches.
- Allows for direct transfer payment.
- You get paid monthly.
Impact has fewer merchants than most affiliate programs listed here.
Merchants who are listed on Etsy are individual traders. It is for artists who sell handmade products and personalized items. This means you won’t find too many brands enlisted on Etsy but it is a really good platform for offbeat niche websites.
- You get paid monthly.
- Etsy has an intuitive interface.
- It has a diverse product range.
- The commission rate is just 4%.
- There is a payment threshold of $50.
Choose any of these Affiliate Programs as a Beginner
|Affiliate Program||Cookie Duration||Payment Threshold||Payment Timeline|
|Amazon||24 Hours||$10||60 Days|
|CJ||30 Days||$50||30 Days|
|ShareASale||1 Year||$50||20th Day|
|Awin||30 Days||$20||1st or 15th Day|
|FlexOffers||30 Days||$25||60 Days|
|Skimlinks||1 Year||$65||90 Days|
|Fiverr||1 Year||$100||30 Days|
|Clickbank||60 Days||$50||60 Days|
|Rakuten||1 Year||$50||60 Days|
|Ebay||24 Hours||$10||30 Days|
|Impact||7 Days||$25||30 Days|
|Etsy||30 Days||$50||30 Days|
How do I start affiliate marketing as a beginner?
The first step is finding a niche and identifying the platform where you want to build a following. You should then create content to address the pain points for your target audience before you sign up with an affiliate network.
There are a few other steps in between that you must take care of while getting started with affiliate marketing.
Can beginners do affiliate marketing?
Yes, they can. But beginners should not expect immediate success. Affiliate marketing can surely earn a decent income but it’s a long road to success. You need to create great quality content that your target audience finds helpful. This way you build a following which generates a sustainable income. The whole process may take months, if not a year.
Best ways to do affiliate marketing as a beginner without a website?
As a beginner, It’s tough to do affiliate marketing without a website because you do not have a brand name to start with. Also, many social platforms do not entertain affiliate links.
But if that’s the route beginners want to take, they should start with Pinterest. This platform now allows affiliate links from many networks and marketplaces.
Alright, now you know which affiliate programs are the best for beginners.
You can be choosy with platforms or sign-up with many of them, the choice is yours.
But remember, please do not focus on earning money for at least a few months. Rather, create content that is helpful for your readers and choose affiliate marketing programs that accept you easily, have a low payment threshold, and pay on time.
Once you get going, you can switch to high paying merchant programs on more elite affiliate platforms.