To make money online as an affiliate marketer, you’re going to need products and services to promote to your audience. That’s where affiliate programs come in.

What is an Affiliate Program?

An affiliate program is a relationship between a merchant and a publisher (affiliate marketer). When a publisher joins an affiliate program, they are provided with a unique affiliate link to place on their website. When somebody clicks on the link, they are directed to the merchant's website.

If they complete a desired action, like purchasing a product, the merchant rewards the affiliate by paying a fee according to the terms of the affiliate program.

For the majority of affiliate programs, merchants pay a commission on the sales generated by the web traffic the affiliate sends to the merchant's website.

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In simple terms, the merchant will pay the publisher for the value (sales, leads, clicks) that the publisher generates for the merchant.

How Does an Affiliate Program/Offer Work?

Amazon was one of the first companies to recognize the opportunity of affiliate marketing, and its affiliate model provides the standard that is widely used in the industry today. Let’s use Amazon Associates as an example and take a look at an affiliate program in action.

Once you’ve signed up to Amazon Associates, you can choose a unique Amazon Associate ID.

Let’s use “mywebsite20” as an example.

After you’ve found a product on Amazon that you want to promote, you will get a unique affiliate link to place on your website. This affiliate link tracks all the traffic and sales that you generate through your website.

Amazon provides an Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) for each product that they sell.

An affiliate link contains the ASIN and your unique Amazon Associates ID.

Here’s what an Amazon affiliate looks like:

Your Amazon Associates ID is the last part of the URL, with the ASIN just before it.

If you write a review for a product, you could add this link to a “Buy on Amazon” button at the bottom of your webpage.

When somebody clicks on the link, they are directed to the product page on Amazon. Your Amazon Associates ID will be tracked for 24 hours after a user clicks on your link. If somebody purchases a product from Amazon within this time, you will receive a commission on the sale.

Affiliate programs have become popular with both merchants and affiliates because they offer advantages for both parties.

For the merchant, they only have to pay a commission to the affiliate when a sale has been generated.

For the affiliate, they can make money online by promoting other people's products without having to deal with stocking, shipping, and processing payment transactions.

How to Find Affiliate Programs

Around 81% of brands use affiliate programs to promote their products. There are 1000s of affiliate programs spread across hundreds of different niches and industries.

When you are looking for an affiliate program to join, it’s essential to be selective and only dedicate your time and effort to the best offers for your audience and your affiliate business.

What Makes a Great Affiliate Program?

When you are looking at potential affiliate programs, you need to consider the following factors:

Conversion Rate

Is the product selling in large numbers? Even if a product offers a high commission, you don’t want to waste your time promoting a product with limited market appeal.


What is the rate of commission? If the product offers a low rate of commission, you’ll need to generate a considerable amount of sales to make your promotion worthwhile.

Quality of the Merchant’s Product Page

How does the landing page compare to the competition? If the product page is of poor quality, the traffic you generate is going to be wasted, and you won't be rewarded with conversions and commission.


Are there lots of competing merchants in the niche? A competitive market signals there is significant consumer demand for the product or service.

Search Volume

How many people are searching for the product or related keywords on Google? The higher the search volume, the more traffic you can drive to your affiliate links, and the more money you can earn.

The Reputation of the Merchant

Does the product have favorable reviews? You don’t want to promote inferior products to your audience and damage your reputation.

Would You Buy the Product Yourself?

If you wouldn’t spend your hard-earned money on the product, think twice before recommending it to your audience.

An experienced affiliate marketer evaluates all these factors when deciding whether to promote a product or service. Now you know what you’re looking for, what are your available options?

Affiliate Networks

You have two options when you join an affiliate program. You can work directly with a merchant and join their affiliate program, or you can join an affiliate network and apply to join an affiliate program through their platform. Around 83% of affiliate marketers prefer to work with affiliate networks.

Affiliate networks act as a middle man for advertisers (merchants) and publishers (affiliates). Merchants add their affiliate program to the network, and publishers apply to join the network and find affiliate programs they want to join. The affiliate network provides the publisher with an affiliate link and handles all of the tracking to ensure conversions are recorded.

Affiliate Programs

An affiliate program is the merchant’s program for promoting their products and services through affiliate publishers.

The merchant pays the publisher a fee for every sale that they help to generate through their promotion.

When you join an affiliate program, you are given a unique affiliate link. This affiliate link tracks all of the traffic you send to the merchant's website using cookies. When somebody clicks on your affiliate link and completes a purchase, you are paid a commission on the sale.

Even if somebody doesn’t immediately purchase a product after clicking your affiliate link, you are still credited with the sale as long as it occurs within the cookie duration.

The cookie duration refers to the amount of time a user’s online activity is tracked after clicking the affiliate link.

For example, Amazon offers a cookie duration of 24 hours. To earn commission on Amazon sales, a user will need to complete their purchase within 24 hours of clicking your affiliate link.

So what are the best affiliate programs to join as you start your new career as an affiliate marketer?

In no particular order, let’s take a look at the best affiliate networks for beginners.

Best Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners

1. Amazon Associates

Commission: 1-10%
Cookie Duration: 24 hours

Amazon is the biggest name in ecommerce, with physical products in every niche you can think of - Amazon currently sells over 12 million different products.

Amazon is already a household name with a 49% share of the total U.S. ecommerce market, and according to a recent survey, 90% of consumers price check on Amazon before making a purchase. People feel comfortable shopping with Amazon, so you don’t need to work too hard to establish credibility or trust in the merchant.

Amazon Associates is the name of its affiliate program, and they offer commissions of 1% to 10% depending on the product category. The highest paying categories are cosmetics and clothing, with both offering a 10% rate of commission.

Because Amazon offers so many different products, you will always find products to promote that fit your niche.

While the cookie duration is limited to 24 hours, you will receive a commission on every product in the user’s cart when they complete a purchase. If you promote car cleaning products for $30 and somebody clicks your affiliate link and goes on to purchase a $2,000 TV, you will still receive a commission.

This is also great for learning more about your market and finding new products to promote. By earning commissions on other products that your website visitors add to their cart, you can identify new items that your audience are interested in and that you can promote on your website.

2. eBay Partner Network

Commission: 50-70% of auction fees.
Cookie Duration: 24 hours for "buy it now" items, 10 days for auction items.

Another established name in ecommerce, eBay’s affiliate program enables you to promote over 1 billion eBay listings so you’ll always find relevant products to promote in your niche.

eBay’s affiliate program has a different structure to Amazon. While Amazon pays you a commission on the sale price, eBay pays you a commission of 50% to 70% of the auction fees that eBay charges the seller.

3. Target

Commission: 1-8% 
Cookie Duration: 7 days

While Target doesn’t offer the extensive range of products you can find on Amazon or eBay, it’s still a well-known brand with a broad range of products.

Target has a different commission structure to most affiliate programs. You are paid a higher rate of commission for higher volume purchases. As the number of items purchased increases, so does your rate of commission.

The only product category exempt from the volume commission structure is the Health and Beauty product category - commission is limited to 1% regardless of the volume of purchase.

While Amazon and eBay are ecommerce giants, Target has a large brick and mortar presence. This can have a negative impact on affiliate commissions as people often check pricing online before visiting the store in person to complete the purchase. However, Target sells some high ticket items and is a well-known brand, so you can earn large affiliate commissions if you choose the right products to promote.

4. MaxBounty

Commission: Depends on the merchant.
Cookie Duration: Depends on the merchant.

MaxBounty is a popular affiliate network that has been around for a long time. The majority of its offers run on a cost per action (CPA) affiliate structure. You are paid a commission when one of your referrals completes a desired action on the merchant's website.

There are over 2000 active campaigns on MaxBounty, with affiliate offers across a huge range of niches, including finance, dating, diet, gaming, fitness, and more. Whatever niche you’re in, you’ll find an offer that will be of interest to your audience.

As an affiliate, you’ll have access to the intuitive MaxBounty dashboard and comprehensive reporting analytics.

5. ClickBank

Commission: Depends on the merchant.
Cookie Duration: Depends on the merchant.

ClickBank has been a mainstay for affiliate marketers for over 20 years and pays out millions of dollars to its affiliates every year.

While ClickBank does offer plenty of physical products, it’s the digital products that make it so appealing to affiliate marketers. Digital products usually provide a much higher rate of commission compared to physical products - some ClickBank offers provide commissions of up to 75%.

With digital products in every niche from sports and parenting to digital marketing and real estate, you can find plenty of high paying relevant offers to promote to your audience.

6. CJ Affiliate

Commission: Depends on the merchant.
Cookie Duration: Depends on the merchant.

CJ Affiliate is a great affiliate network for beginners for two reasons. First, There’s a massive range of affiliate offers, so you’ll always find a relevant product to promote.

Second, CJ Affiliate provides a heap of great tools and reporting options to track your performance and help you improve as an affiliate marketer and generate more commissions.

Affiliate link generation is a beginner-friendly process, and you can access real-time data through your dashboard to track your commissions.

Loads of household brands use CJ Affiliate to promote their products, and you can find offers from top names in almost every niche you can think of.

7. ShareASale

Commission: Depends on the merchant.
Cookie Duration: Depends on the merchant.

ShareASale is one of the most popular affiliate networks with an excellent reputation for customer support and a host of affiliate offers that are exclusive to the network. Affiliates can currently access over 3,900 different merchants across over 40 different categories, with over 1000 merchants working exclusively with ShareASale.

They have been around for decades, so you don’t need to worry about them disappearing overnight, and they provide exceptional customer support if you have any problems and need some help.

As an affiliate, you’ll have your own dashboard and be able to access real-time reporting to monitor your performance and see your progress.

8. Market Health

Commission: Up to 50% depending on the product.
Cookie Duration: 30 days

If you’re looking for affiliate offers in the health and beauty niche, Market Health is the biggest integrated online marketing company in the industry. Founded way back in 1998, Market Health has steadily grown to be a major player in health and beauty.

You’ll find over 200 different products to promote, with rates of commission up to 50% for digital products. Once you sign up, you can access your dashboard to track the performance of your links, and you’ll also be provided with banners and landing pages to help you to boost your sales.

A great feature of Market Health is the recurring income from affiliate sales. Once you’ve referred a customer, you’ll receive a commission on future purchases, not just the initial sale. That’s a great way to boost your affiliate income.

9. Giddyup

Commission: Depends on the merchant.
Cookie Duration: Depends on the merchant.

Back in 2018, Inc 5000 listed GiddyUp as the 33rd fastest-growing marketing company in the USA. GiddyUp is an excellent network for beginner affiliate marketers because they go above and beyond to make their campaigns as effective as possible.

Every campaign is continually tested and optimized to increase performance, payments are made weekly, and every campaign is exclusive to GiddyUp.

You’ll find physical and digital products to promote from brands like Dollar Beard Club, TrackR, and FIXD. They work with innovative global brands in particular niches, so if you are focused on a really specific niche, GiddyUp is an excellent network for you.

10. Murad

Commission: 11%
Cookie Duration: 7 days

If you want to promote skin care and beauty products, Murad is a great affiliate program to join. Murad offers a flat commission of 11% on all of their skincare, anti-aging, and beauty products.

The average order value for Murad is $90, so you can expect to earn around $10 for every sale that you generate.

Murad provides affiliates with text affiliate links and attractive banner ads to promote their products. They regularly run free shipping and product promotions to help you drive more traffic from your affiliate website and boost conversions. You’ll need to sign up to the CJ Affiliate network to apply to join the Murad affiliate program.

11. Boatbookings

Commission: 20% + 10% for returning customers
Cookie Duration: 30 days

If you are focused on the travel or vacation niche, your website visitors might be interested in chartering a yacht from Boatbookings. This affiliate program enables you to promote boat rental, luxury yacht vacations, and sailing boat hire.

Boatbookings receives a commission on the charter value of the boating trips and rentals on its website. When you refer somebody to Boatbookings, and they make a purchase, you receive 20% of the commission that boatbookings receives. If one of your referrals returns to the site and completes a second purchase, you receive an extra 10% in commission.

12. TripAdvisor

Commission: 50%
Cookie Duration: Session

TripAdvisor is one of the biggest names in travel and hotel reviews, helping millions of people to find great places to stay, visit, and eat around the world. Aside from the reviews, the site offers a travel aggregator, comparing hotel prices from over 200 different hotel booking websites to help people find the cheapest deals online.

While other affiliate programs reward you with a commission on completed purchases, TripAdvisor operates on a different affiliate model. You receive 50% of the commission that is generated when your referral clicks on a link or ad on the TripAdvisor website. While this means you don’t have to wait for somebody to make a purchase, it does limit your commission per referral.

You’ll earn around $0.15 to $0.80 per click, but the cookie duration only lasts for the duration of the session. While this is a much smaller commission than the hundreds of dollars you can receive from Boatbookings, you will be paid for every click, which can build up quickly.

You will need to join the CJ Affiliate network to apply to join TripAdvisor’s affiliate program.

13. Bluehost

Commission: $65 to $100 per sale
Cookie Duration: 90 days

Bluehost’s affiliate program is very popular with affiliate marketers, and for a good reason. Bluehost’s web hosting starts at $2.95 per month, with yearly plans starting at $65. While the price barrier is low, you will receive a hefty commission for every sale that you generate.

You will be credited with any purchases for 45 days after a user clicks on your affiliate link. Bluehost also provides you with attractive banner ads as well as standard affiliate text links to help you generate sales.

The only negative worth mentioning is that you will need to earn at least $100 before you can release your payment.

14. Capitalist Exploits

Commission: 50%
Cookie Duration: 365 days

If you’re operating in the finance and investment niche, Capitalist Exploits is a great affiliate program for you to join. Capitalist Exploits provides trading advice and recommendations to help people make the most of their financial market investments.

You’ll need to provide high-quality financial content to attract an audience of financial advisers, wealth consultants, and people with money to invest, but you will be rewarded with high payouts and high rates of commission for your referrals.

Capital Exploits provide a flat 50% rate of commission on every product they offer, with their products ranging from $1,575 up to $3,499 annually. For every referral that you generate, you are guaranteed to bring home at least $787.50. To help you generate sales, Capital Exploits provide you with exclusive paid trials to offer to your audience. The tracking cookie lasts for a whole year, so if anybody clicks your link and goes on to purchase a product within the next 365 days, you will receive credit for the referral.

15. Teachable

Commission: 30% lifetime commission
Cookie Duration: 90 days

Teachable is one of the top names in e-learning. Over 23 million people have used their courses to learn about everything from Google Ads to blacksmithing. Whatever niche you are in, you’ll find something your audience is interested in among the 257,000 active online courses available on Teachable.

The affiliate program offers a 30% commission on the monthly subscription fee. Fees start at $29 per month and can reach up to $499 per month, so it’s possible to earn up to $149.70 a month per referral.

16. HostGator

Commission: $65 to $125 per sale
Cookie Duration: 60 days

HostGator is a great affiliate program for beginners. Once you sign up, you’ll receive a dedicated account manager to help you make the most of the program and get access to email templates, article content, and other marketing collateral to help you generate sales. They also offer customized landing pages and exclusive offers so that you can provide your audience with deals that they won't find anywhere else.

They offer a tiered commission structure, so the more referrals that you generate, the more you will earn in commission. The basic rate is $65 per sale for the first five referrals in a month, increasing to $125 per sale if you generate over 20 referrals in a month.



Commission: Flat 30% recurring commission
Cookie Duration: 30 days

Pabbly is an online platform offering multiple marketing & business management services for app integration, workflow automation, subscription-billing, email marketing, and form building.

With the Pabbly Affiliate Program, you can earn a lifetime recurring and flat commissions on every sale. They use a 30 days cookie period and 60 days payout period.

How to Choose the Right Affiliate Program for You?

Now you know some of the best affiliate programs for beginners, you need to choose the right affiliate for you and your audience. Here’s a step by step guide to help you make the right choice for your new affiliate career:

Step 1 - Is it a Proven Product Other Affiliates are Earning Great Commissions From?

You don’t want to waste your time promoting a product that is going to struggle to generate sales and commissions. Depending on the affiliate network that you join, there are a few ways you can check the profitability of a product before you start promoting it.

If you sign up to ClickBank, you can see how well a product is selling by the ‘gravity’ rating it is assigned. Gravity rating is based on the number of sales made and how recently those sales were made.

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A high gravity rating means there are lots of people promoting the product and competing in the niche, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The more competition, the more demand there is in the niche, and the more likely you are to earn commissions. You want to choose a product that has a gravity rating of at least 20.

If you are looking for products to promote on Amazon, you can use the number of reviews a product has an indicator of the number of sales the product is generating. For example, the following product has over 1000 reviews, indicating that the likelihood of more sales is high.

You’ll also want to check the date of the reviews. You don’t want to start promoting a product that is on the decline and seeing fewer and fewer sales with each passing day.

Google Trends is a great tool you can use to check the profitability of a niche and the likelihood of sales and commissions. Enter the name of the product or the broader niche to see how many people are searching for it on Google. Is the search volume increasing?

For example, a Google Trends search for ‘waffle maker’ reveals that more and more people are searching for the product on Google, with a sharp yearly increase around the holiday season.

Don’t rush into anything. Do your research to ensure that there is market demand before you dedicate your time and resources to promoting a product.

Step 2 – Compare Commission and Payment Options

Just because an affiliate program offers the highest rates of commission in your niche, it doesn't always mean it will be a good fit for you. Check out the payment threshold, payment schedule, and payment options to ensure that you know how and when you can expect to receive payment form the merchant.

Will you receive all of the commission, or does the merchant charge a payment processing fee?

Step 3 – Look at the Merchant's Reputation with Affiliates

Will you have an account manager to help you get started with the program? Is there contact information so that you can get in touch if you have any problems?

See what other affiliates are saying about the merchant online. Some programs draw you in with high commission but offer a terrible service if you need to resolve an issue. You don’t want to be missing out on sales for days while you wait for a response. If the merchant has a bad reputation with affiliates, think twice before you get involved and invest your time and energy.

Step 4 – Read the Affiliate Terms & Conditions

How many times have you accepted terms and conditions without even giving them a cursory glance? You don’t have to go through the document word by word, but you do want to pay attention to the important bits:

  • Advertising policy and guidelines - does the merchant require you to abide by FTC guidelines?
  • Cookie duration - how long after the first click will you receive credit for the sales you generate?
  • Product returns - what is the returns policy, and how does it affect your commission/chargeback?

Step 5 – Onboarding Process and Affiliate Management

You don’t want to invest your time and effort in an affiliate program that is going to cause you hassle and problems further down the line.

  • Is the affiliate dashboard intuitive and easy to use?
  • Are your clicks and sales tracked for you?
  • Will you receive an email notification of any sales?
  • Do they provide learning materials and tutorials to help get started with the program?

There are thousands of affiliate programs and millions of products to promote. The above list should provide you a look at what's out there without overwhelming you with the scale and possibility of what's possible.

Do your research and find products that appeal to your audience. If you are rejected the first time you apply to an affiliate program, take on board any feedback and make your website more effective at generating sales and earning commission to progress as an affiliate marketer.


Carlos Alfonso Garcia 9 years ago
Hi, my name is Carlos, and I would appreciate if you might give me a comment about this doubt: There are already thousands of good content websites, on every niche you might think, getting traffic day by day, and products suitable for the kind of people going to those sites. Why would I need a brand new website to compite, if I can make a CPC banner campaign aiming to those sites, with the right product for the right demographic and the right niche? Thank you !!!!
Melissa Johnson 9 years ago
Hi, Carlos!

You make a great point. However, one problem you'll likely encounter is that many consumers have developed "Banner Blindness" -- their eyes essentially glaze over advertisements, especially banner ads. That's not to say a paid advertising campaign wouldn't be effective, but you'll certainly be limiting yourself.

Organic traffic pointed at a website is incredibly powerful. Google puts a LOT of faith in the organic results, and so do consumers. Plus, having your own site gives you the ability to do things like build an email list, which you can use to recommend all sorts of products once your subscribers learn to trust you. That opens you up to more opportunities. The same goes with building a social media following.

Yes, there's competition, but by building your own site, you can create your own brand and build a reputation for being knowledgeable and trustworthy, instead of just hiding behind a CPC campaign, where you'll be invisible.

I hope this gives you some food for thought!
Rui Santos 9 years ago
Hi Carlos

I agree with Melissa's advice that in building your own website enables you to create your own brand and an online platform for all your marketing. It is also crucial in helping you to build your own list with all your marketing activities, so that you in the long term you will not only be able to sell an item once to a customer, but a well designed website with valuable content will enable you to sell many items, to many customers over and over if you do it well.

Rui Santos
Thabiso 8 years ago
Hi. Clickbank sends cheques as a form of payment and me being in Botswana is extremely difficult coz I have to wait close to two months too. And the direct deposit won't work too. Anyone know of an affiliate program similar to clickbank? One that targets worldwide audience like clickbank?
Melissa Johnson 8 years ago
Hi there!

For SaleHoo, we use ClickBank. However, we have done some research on ClickBank alternatives:

Hope this helps!
Jordan Mortimer 7 years ago
Is it possible to be a member of multiple affiliate networks?
Justin Golschneider 7 years ago
Hi Jordan! It's entirely possible, and it's fairly common for affiliates to join both ClickBank and Commission Junction, for example. I haven't heard of any affiliate networks requiring exclusive contracts.
Marcus 7 years ago

Can you please answer at next 2 questions:

If the affiliate link redirect the visitor from my site to the merchant site on the first page and not to a specific product than how can I promote more specific products from the same merchant (or from different merchants) in one article/on the same page?

2. If I would like to take care only of research, building and entertaining the design of the website, design banners etc for promoting the products via social media, ... and managing the business, ... but not doing anything regarding content, newsletters, articles (just hire people to do it for me) do you think is worth trying to become an affiliate marketer? And if yes than what budget do you think I need monthly?

Thank you in advance,
Justin Golschneider 7 years ago
Hi again, Marcus!

1. Vendors typically provide you with a specific link for each specific product, though some may also provide a different link just for their homepage if they have a lot of products to sell. You can use as many different links as you want on one page.

2. Absolutely! Hiring other people to do the grunt work for you is often the best way to get the highest return on your investment, as your time is valuable when you're the boss. You may also get better results by hiring people who specialize in a certain field, like writing, than you would by trying to do it yourself.

Your monthly budget will depend on a lot of variables, but I wouldn't expect to pay less than $20 per article/newsletter (people who charge less generally aren't very good writers). If you want to create a successful authority site, I would budget at least $240 a month (minimum of two articles and one newsletter per week).
Omri Ulanovski 7 years ago
I've been reading allot about affiliate and still I don't understand something. Can I do it even if I don't have a website? Do I have to own a website or is there a different kind of affiliate that I can do?
Justin Golschneider 7 years ago
Hi Omri! It is possible to do affiliate marketing without having a website. Here's an article and video about it:

However, having a website is highly recommended. A lot of affiliate programs require you to have a website before they'll accept you, and websites allow you to use more elaborate sales techniques.
Viv de Veyra 7 years ago
Hi, I just tried to sign up for Clickbank but got the message that they cannot offer me an account at this time. Has anybody else reported the same issue? Any idea why this happened?
Richelle Monfort 7 years ago
Hello Viv, This seems to be a common issue and the best way for you to resolve this is to contact ClickBank support directly so they can assist you accordingly - All the best!
7 years ago
Since most people know of the big affiliate sites like ClickBank, JVZoo and the Warrior Form, here is how you find products that most affiliates don't know exist. What you do is, go to Google and type in: “affiliate programs +” (type of products you are looking for. Example,
“affiliate programs + camping equipment” Doing this is where you find products that most affiliates don't know about!
Lexie Clark 6 years ago
I am struggling to find an affiliate source for my website, which lists remote and work from home opportunities that are not scams and have been tested by myself. How can I get a kickback when an applicant clicks on my link that sends the to apply for Blue Cross?
Alicia Taylor 4 years ago
Great article, thank you! I'm not a beginner in affiliate marketing and, personally, I prefer in-house programs. Not networks. Now I'm using AliDropship and Cloudways affiliate programs, those are quite good too.



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