I get a lot of questions about where to start out in affiliate marketing and what sort of products to promote. Honestly this really depends on your niche as to which route you’ll take, but I wanted to write up a guide to some of the best affiliate marketing programs for 2018 and beyond.
Remember, affiliate marketing is referring your audience to other company’s products or services for a commission instead of trying to sell your own. The way in which marketers go about achieving this will vary as there are many different affiliate marketing strategies – however there are a few main categories of products they can offer.
What are the best affiliate programs for 2018?
Having been involved in affiliate marketing since 2013, I’ve seen the landscape evolve over time. Not all the same platforms exist now that did back then, and it’s important to keep up. I wanted to put together a list of current platforms you can use for affiliate marketing and break down which category they fall into.
But first let’s discuss physical vs digital products
Digital Products – this is anything that would be entirely digitally based (domain and web hosting, online programs, subscriptions, ebooks) This could also loosely include things like CPA offers or coupon codes.
Physical Goods – this is pretty self explanatory – any type of product you’d order online and have shipped to your home (clothing, furniture, electronics, home decor, food… really anything!)
Some networks have a wide range of companies they associate with that include both physical products (many retail stores) and others are exclusive digital or CPA networks – let’s break this down further within the article.
Many companies will join a larger affiliate network instead of trying to manage it on their own. For example, Best Buy has an affiliate promote within the Rakuten Network. If you try to sign up for their affiliate program, you will first need to be approved to the Rakuten network. There’s a big advantage for both the advertiser and affiliate in this scenario – the advertiser gets additional exposure and more people to promote their products, while the affiliate gets a combined place to keep track of sales and earnings, as well as a combined paycheck that includes every company they are promoting within that same network.
Broad Affiliate Networks
- Rakuten – (formerly Linkshare)
- CJ Affiliate – (formerly Commission Junction)
- Pepperjam Network
This is by no means an all inclusive list, but it does highlight some of the dominating networks out there that have been around for a long time and still going strong. These particular networks aren’t as simple to use or get accepted into as some of the digital product niches (like Clickbank, for example) as you do need to apply for each company you want to affiliate with separately and some companies are more selective than others.
The good thing about these networks is a wide variety of products are available to promote – clothing, home decor, food, insurance, domain and hosting, ebooks… just to name a few!
Digital Product Networks
- Clickbank – read my review
These are easier to start using and get accepted into, and they offer very high commissions but they only offer a very selective range of digital products. For this reason they are extremely popular for beginners in affiliate marketing, however, they tend to be less than reputable products so a lot of what is going on is people promoting products simply for commissions with no consideration of quality. You really need to be careful with what you promote in these type of networks if you want to have a good reputation and make sales.
CPA Affiliate Networks (cost per action)
- Panthera Network
These affiliate networks are a little different because you are getting paid for the visitor taking some type of action rather than buying a product. This is typically sending leads to companies. For example, the user fills out some type of form, such as inquiring about car insurance, or signs up to a free trial offer of a product or service – as an affiliate you will get paid a certain dollar amount each time that happens.
Individual Affiliate Networks
- Amazon Associates – read my review
- Ebay Partner Network – this is harder to get accepted into than Amazon, but it is much the same
What affiliate networks are best to join?
Amazon Associates is a really great program for physical products (especially for beginners) because they have a great reputation and a large variety of niches, while remaining relatively easy to get accepted.
CJ and Rakuten are also great to work with as they offer a wide variety of companies and unique options, but certain companies within these networks may be more difficult to join, and their platform isn’t as straightforward. It can be more confusing for newbies to use, but overall they are still good options.
Clickbank is probably the easiest to get accepted as there really isn’t a standard for acceptance (you can just apply) but it also offers pretty selective digital products and is hard to find ones of quality. It also depends on your niche as to if this sort of network would even be relevant.
Again, this totally depends on your niche and what products you are promoting to your audience. The cool thing about this is you don’t only have to stick to just one – you can promote from multiple networks and companies. You can have a mix of digital and physical product offers on your site if it works for you. The best strategy is to offer things of quality and test what types of products work best.
These programs are by no means a complete write up of every affiliate network available to you to use, but it can give you an idea of where to start. A golden rule of affiliate marketing is to not overdo the product offers, but you can still offer a range of products providing you have great content to compliment them. If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing, check out my top recommended training.