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The 11 Best Affiliate Programs for Content Creators

Are you looking for the best affiliate marketing programs? Learn more about how you can build your affiliate marketing network!
The 11 Best Affiliate Programs for Content Creators

I accidentally stumbled into affiliate marketing. In 2014, I was in the middle of setting up my first content website. I wanted to change the look and feel of the site using CSS and Photoshop, but I didn't know how to use either. So, I took a series of courses on Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning).

I wrote up my impressions about the course in a review and published it. I didn't think anything more of it until a month or two later.

Then, I noticed the review was attracting lots of traffic, and later a Lynda.com rep invited me into their affiliate partner program. So I added affiliate links and a disclaimer to my review. The following month, I earned over $500 from the program. I used the money to buy a new set of tires for my car.

These days, I promote products and services I use a lot, like Grammarly.

Like many affiliate marketers, I use content marketing and social media to promote products and services. Then, when a reader makes a purchase, I earn a commission on a sale.

Many content creators are looking to earn high commissions on the products and services they promote. Some might even provide recurring commissions. Before you try affiliate marketing, remember these two promotion rules:

  1. Promote products and services only if you use or trust it
  2. Promote a product or service only if it adds value to your audience

Below, I round up the top affiliate marketing programs and networks for content creators. Some of these choices enable content creators to apply to affiliate programs via a marketplace, while others act as an affiliate program on behalf of other companies.

1. Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates is one of the most popular affiliate marketing programs for content creators. You can promote virtually any product on Amazon, although that doesn't mean you should! The Associates program offers a portal that allows members to create new content immediately.

The Amazon Associates program pays a commission on everything in the consumer's shopping cart, not just the product to which you referred them. The commission percentage varies depending on the product the consumer purchases.

Pros

  • Free to become an affiliate partner
  • The user-friendly platform contains Amazon-compliant images and links you can add quickly to content
  • Amazon links tend to convert higher than other affiliate programs

Amazon provides a broad range of categories, including digital products, allowing you to tailor your experience to meet your preferences.

There are multiple banner advertisement sizes for landing pages and numerous share links for social media.

Cons

  • Comparatively low commission rates
  • The program regularly cuts payout rates for affiliates
  • Strict guidelines about what you can and can't say in your content, i.e. no pricing info allowed
  • Amazon Associates dislike email marketing promotions

Payout Information

Amazon Associates doesn't support Paypal. Instead, it offers direct deposit and also a cheque!.

Most of the products used in the Amazon Associates program pay a commission between 2 percent and 4 percent. However, some of them do carry a commission as high as 10 percent.

That said, Amazon Associates has a history of cutting commission rates.

2. ClickBank

ClickBank is an affiliate marketplace that's been around for more than two decades and has over six million users.

It offers some of the highest commission rates for new affiliates and influencers, and the program is relatively easy to join. In addition, it contains lots of great promotion opportunities for content creators and bloggers.

As ClickBank is a global retailer, you can access a wide variety of products. Using the affiliate marketplace, you can increase your sales with a myriad of advertising tools.

Furthermore, you can source products that convert, making it relatively easy for you to try affiliate marketing. I haven't used Clickbank much as an affiliate marketer, but many content creators use it to source affiliates for their digital products.

Pros

  • Many of the merchants promoted by ClickBank offer advertising material for your content.
  • Lots of options for beginners.
  • You don't necessarily require prior approval by a merchant before you can start promoting their products and services.

Cons

  • Because the program is easy to join, expect competition for popular products and services.
  • The analytics tools are relatively outdated.
  • Some of the products and advertisements look spammy

Payout Information

Products sold through Clickbank have high commissions, with some as high as 75 percent.

3. ShareASale (Part of Affiliate Window, or Awin)

Next, you may want to consider the affiliate marketplace ShareASale. It's been around since 2000 and more recently was acquired Affiliate Window. ShareASale contains over 15,000 advertisers and is a good choice for beginners.

It provides a wide variety of tools you can use to search by brand, sector, or keyword to find publishers that are the right fit for you. In short, it's ideal for content creators looking for monetization ideas after building a niche site.

Then, you can use widgets and text links to promote a wide variety of products and services. There are more than that 1600 brands available across 77 separate sectors. You can also keep up-to-date on new product launches and creative ideas for your content.

I joined Shareasale several years ago, and it's a reliable, trustworthy network. I particularly like the Powerank dashboard. It enables affiliates to browse top converting products and services and get ideas for a niche site.

Pros

  • Real-time reports measure clicks, sales, and other key performance indicators.
  • Offers browser extension tools and plugins that quickly create affiliate product links.
  • A large database of trusted advertisers, helping you maintain a global presence.
  • Access to live chat and phone support when required.

Cons

  • Overwhelming for beginners
  • If you pick a high-converting product, expect serious competition
  • User interface is a bit clunky

Payout Information

The commission varies depending on the product or service you promote, but affiliates are paid twice per month. There is a relatively low threshold to get paid.

4. CJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction)

For more than 15 years, CJ Affiliate has been one of the world's largest affiliate marketing networks. Formerly known as Commission Junction, it provides affiliate marketers access to more than 3,000 merchants ranging from VPN products to Home Depot.

Affiliates need to navigate an approval process by merchants. They expect a professional-looking website or brand. So before applying, create high-quality, relevant content that's already ranking in search engine results.

(Tip: Use a content optimization tool)

Once accepted, content creators gain access to numerous products from established brands. However, as with Shareasale, the trending products and services are popular, so new affiliates should expect competition.

Pros

  • Fast, free, and easy to sign up for the program.
  • Access to a wide variety of banner advertisements, including mobile ads.
  • The program provides you with access to excellent reporting features.
  • The invalid click report enables spotting inactive links
  • You can manage multiple affiliate websites through a single affiliate publisher.

Cons

  • Like with other networks, commission rates are generally lower than in in-house programs
  • Applying for affiliate programs inside of the network is time-consuming and often requires following up

Payout Information

The commission varies widely depending on the product or service you sell. You are paid once per month, and you must have a minimum of $50 in your account to get paid. After that, you are either paid for direct deposit or check.

5. Rakuten Advertising (formerly LinkShare)

The Rakuten Advertising network has been around since 1996. It provides access to over 1,000 merchants. Some of these merchants are popular brands, so you may want to look at what they offer. As a content creator, it is free for you to join, reducing the barrier to entry.

Rakuten is known for its intuitive user interface, making it easy for you to get started. You can also create a rotating ad banner, using only a single snippet of code that makes it easier for you to manage your website. You can also take advantage of exceptional deep-linking tools.

This allows you to direct potential customers to a specific product with ease. Finally, through the sister program Pop shops, you can take advantage of a wide variety of plugins that help you improve the experience of your visitors.

Pros

  • The dashboard is easy to navigate
  • Flexible deep-linking
  • Real-time reporting
  • An exceptional help center with a variety of training tools, online courses, and tutorials

Cons

  • The payout information is sporadic and not as reliable.
  • The merchant network is a bit smaller than others.
  • The reporting features and metrics are not insightful versus other programs.
  • The program payout terms are as competitive as others.
  • It can take several applications to get approved

Payout Information

You are paid once per month, but the date rotates. So you need to stay updated through Rakuten LinkShare to know when your next payout is coming.

6. eBay Partner Network

You may also be interested in the affiliate marketing program through the eBay Partner Network. While not as robust as many of the other options here, you can still promote more than 1 billion eBay listings using affiliate links.

I haven't used the eBay partner network as an affiliate, but it offers access to various products and services that content creators can promote. Furthermore, commissions on products are as high as 70 percent.

Pros

  • Over one billion listings, including physical products.
  • Program is free to join with a low barrier to entry.
  • Access to numerous banners you can use on your affiliate site.

Cons

  • Lots of competition through this program.
  • You only make revenue on the sale if someone purchases that product within 24 hours, so the cookie duration is short.
  • Reporting features are not as robust as other programs.

Payout Information

Affiliate commissions usually fall between 50 and 70 percent, but you are only paid if someone purchases a product within 24 hours of an eBay visit.

7. Impact

Impact (formerly Impact Radius) is another established, dominant network for affiliate marketers. Like CJ and Shareasale, you can browse and apply to over a thousand high-converting programs inside of this platform.

I've also found many product owners and SAAS software companies send new affiliates directly to Impact after applying.

Pros

  • Insightful reporting for affiliates
  • Lots of great products and services to promote
  • Responsive support

Cons

  • You may get better terms negotiating directly with a product or software provider
  • Less user-friendly than other affiliate programs
  • Not for beginners as you need a content website that ranks

Payout Information

Payout is to your bank account or via PayPal once you reach a certain threshold.

If you're building a content website and don't have time or the inclination to manage relationships with multiple affiliates, consider Skimlinks. This network provides access to affiliate programs from over 24,000 companies.

Content publishers apply directly to Skimlinks and verify their WordPress website or digital property by installing some code.

Once accepted, Skimlinks prompts users to add an affiliate script to their site. This script automatically generates affiliate links across your content. Skimlinks then pays out on behalf of other affiliates each month. If you like, you can turn off this autogeneration feature and add affiliate links manually. It's a relatively user-friendly process once your site is verified.

Pros

  • Quick and easy to create product links
  • Skimlinks can add affiliate links across your site automatically

Cons

  • Signing up requires a content website
  • Payout terms lower than going direct
  • Excess scripts can affect site speed

Payout Information

Payout is to your bank account every 30 days.

This affiliate network works similarly to Skimlinks by offering affiliate marketing tools for content publishers.

Again, apply direct, add some code and then install a script. Cover Commerce then inserts affiliate links automatically across your WordPress website. You can also browse trending products on its dashboard and identify what converts.

Interestingly, many companies with affiliate programs on Shareasale, CJ, and Impact, are also on Sovern Commerce and Skimlinks.

Both Sovern and Skimlinks are good options if you're running more than one website with traffic and want to monetize quickly and easily.

Pros

  • Quick and easy to create product links
  • Sovern Commerce can add affiliate links across your site automatically

Cons

  • Signing up requires a content website
  • Payout terms lower than going direct
  • Excess scripts can affect site speed

Payout Information

Payout is to your bank account every 30 days.

10. Flexoffers

Flexoffers is another affiliate network comparable to Impact, Awin, and CJ. It contains over 500 options for affiliates looking for physical products and SAAS products to promote

However, content creators need to apply for affiliate programs inside Flexoffers directly, which is time-consuming and often requires following up. You also need a professional website with content that's ranking.

Pros

  • Lots of great products
  • Relatively user-friendly

Cons

  • Sign-up process is cumbersome
  • Some affiliates complain about the payout terms
  • Not for beginners as you need a website that ranks

Payout Information

Payout terms are every 30 days.

11. In-house Affiliate Programs

If you use a product or software by a well-known brand, chances are they have an affiliate program. Google the brand name and "affiliate program" or "partner program" to find out. For example, hosting providers like Bluehost have affiliate programs that content publishers can apply directly to.

Usually, a company's programs pays out at a higher rate versus via an affiliate, although expect competition if it's well-known.

Similarly, if you recently purchased and enjoyed an online course, chances are the course creator offers an affiliate program for a referral. Ask them, apply and then create content about what you learn from the course. Again, the payout terms for affiliates promoting courses are much higher than traditional programs.

Pros

  • Generous commission rates and rewards for top affiliates
  • Requires more work on behalf of the content creator in terms of sourcing programs and creating content

Cons

  • Hard to identify conversion rates  of individual affiliate programs
  • Geared towards creators with a large email list

Payout Information

Payout terms vary by company, but it's usually every 60 days and over Paypal.

Best Affiliate Programs: The Final Word

These are a few of the best affiliate programs for content creators looking to generate passive income through their monetization and marketing efforts. They'll also help you earn more from flipping a website.

If you're a content creator or publisher and have an audience but no product, consider promoting something you use and trust as part of your business. Create content about how this particular product or service helps you and explain what problems it can solve for your audience. Remember to disclose that you're an affiliate.

Get it right, and affiliate marketing will help you supplement existing income while providing value to your audience.

FAQs

How do I select the products and services I want to promote?

Consider what your followers are interested in and what you know best. That way, you can create effective content and promotions for your audience and get paid for doing it.

How do I make money as an affiliate marketer?

You earn a commission on the products and services you sell for the merchants by applying for in-house affiliate programs or by joining an affiliate network.

How are affiliate marketers paid?

It depends on the terms of the program. Some of them pay through PayPal, while others pay using a physical check or direct deposit to your bank account.