15 Best Affiliate Programs For Beginners To Earn Money (2023)

When starting an affiliate marketing business, one of the most difficult tasks is searching for the top affiliate programs for newcomers.

After all, you can pick from thousands of affiliate programs, many of which offer generous payouts.

Finding the right affiliate program can get you making affiliate bucks before your site is even “finished,” while picking the wrong one can set you back months.

This is a common inquiry, so let’s spend some time in this post discussing the best affiliate programs for newcomers.

We’ll also try to provide a more nuanced explanation of when it’s better to join an affiliate network rather than build your own in-house program, and when it’s not.

Best Affiliate Marketing Programs For Beginners

Now, let’s check out some of the top affiliate marketing programs for newbies, the ones that will give your online business the best possible shot at making a profit.

1. Amazon Associates

In my opinion, Jeff Bezos is among the smartest people alive today.

His bank balance is the same shape as his name in binary, so he is also extremely wealthy.

That wealth was earned through foresight, such as launching an affiliate program in 1996, making the company one of the earliest online merchants.

In 1996, the Internet did exist, but it was audible when you picked up the phone. If you don’t know what they’re talking about, ask your parents.

Among affiliate marketing programs, the Amazon Affiliate Program (also known as the Amazon Associates Program) has been around the longest. And it covers all of the goods that they offer in their web store, so it’s quite comprehensive. It follows that if you can locate an item on Amazon, you can sell it and keep a percentage of the proceeds.

Books, bullhorns, and everything in between are all fair game; there’s something for everyone.

Since the process of creating an affiliate link in Amazon’s affiliate marketing program is so simple, we typically direct new affiliates there first (s).

  • Cost: Free
  • Type: Affiliate network
  • You get paid: Net 60
  • Payment threshold: $10

2. ClickBank

Another affiliate network that can be considered a “grandparent” is ClickBank, which has been around since 1998.

It’s a classic “rags-to-riches” business tale, with the company having begun as a group of friends chatting in a garage and progressing to annual sales of over $3 billion.

ClickBank’s founders reversed the traditional focus of affiliate marketing by shifting their attention to the sale of digital products while everyone else was still trying to figure out how to ship goods while still making a profit.

Instant gratification, minimal overhead, and collaboration with the artists themselves were the results. Although they never foresaw the rise of social media, their selection of goods is ideal for use with online communities.

All of their digital products can be found in the ClickBank Marketplace, and they also sell some actual goods.

In spite of its usefulness, the Marketplace interface looks like it was last updated in 1998. It’s not a big deal, but it needs to be updated for the modern era.

  • Cost: Free
  • Type: Affiliate network
  • Payment threshold: $50
  • You get paid: Net 60

3. ShareASale

ShareASale is among the most underappreciated affiliate marketing platforms available.

In part, this is because the interface is so dated; it hasn’t been updated since I first created my account many moons ago.

As a result, some would-be affiliate marketers are discouraged.

However, I must say that ShareASale offers some of the most rewarding affiliate programs available. One vendor reportedly paid $350 per closed deal. As for the enlargement products you mentioned, those affiliate programs have nothing to do with them.

Actually, they speak for a network of some 5,000 affiliate programs, most of which promote lesser-known but potentially lucrative businesses rather than household names.

Sometimes keeping things simple is preferable, and that’s certainly the case with the affiliate marketing dashboard.

If you are interested in joining a network, ShareASale is one to consider.

  • Cost: Free
  • Type: Affiliate network
  • Payment threshold: $50
  • You get paid: Net 30

4. CJ Affiliate

I’ve been using CJ Affiliate (formerly known as Commission Junction) since around 2002, making it one of the oldest affiliate networks around.

In contrast to Amazon, CJ Affiliate focuses on both large- and small-scale manufacturers and sellers.

So, as of this writing, they are the representatives of mammoth corporations like Zappos, Walgreens, Verizon, Under Armour, Trip Advisor, Staples, Sonos, Disney Shops, Sears, and Samsung.

in addition to another 2,472 affiliate networks.

Aside from a huge selection of brands and products to promote, you also have access to high-quality customer service and all the resources any successful affiliate marketer could need, such as quick and easy affiliate link generation.

In particular, the metrics provided by the CJ Affiliate network are what I find most useful, as they show me whether or not a given affiliate program is profitable.

Wow, that’s a serious time-saver.

You can plan out exactly which affiliate programs you will promote and how much money you can anticipate making from each sale without any element of surprise.

  • Cost: Free
  • Type: Affiliate network
  • Payment threshold: $50
  • You get paid: Net 30

5. Impact

Despite its claims to the contrary, Impact is merely another large affiliate marketing network that has been around for less time than the likes of ClickBank and ShareASale.

But age is just a number, so don’t let Impact’s relative youth discourage you from joining. Commission Junction was developed by its founders, so they must be doing something right!

Like the other major networks, Impact is filled with well-known brands such as Adidas, Airbnb, and HSBC. There were 2,517 brands actively using the platform to expand their customer bases, and more were joining every day.

Considering its (relative) youth in the affiliate marketing space, it comes as no surprise that Impact’s user interface is much more polished than that of established competitors.

But the design is more than skin deep; it has some ingenious, user-friendly features as well.

The “brands to work with instantly” section is fantastic, as it features a complete list of advertisers that provide instant approvals. It’s a great feature that helps novice affiliate marketers get their businesses up and running quickly.

  • Cost: Free
  • Type: Affiliate network
  • Payment threshold: Varies by payment method
  • You get paid: Monthly

6. Rakuten Advertising

Rakuten is an affiliate marketing service provider based in Japan that you have probably never heard of.

Once they bought LinkShare in 2005, they were officially a part of the affiliate marketing industry.

Since then, the Rakuten Linkshare platform has gone from being a market presence to routinely winning awards.

Is it OK if I’m just starting out as an affiliate?

Yes is the simple answer, but I’ll explain why:

  • The layout is standard for affiliate networks.
  • They are the spokespeople for over a thousand companies and brands.
  • Their stores sell everything from novelty items and flowers to computers and office supplies.
  • There is one potential drawback, however: because Rakuten is such a major player in the affiliate marketing world, the approval process can be lengthy, especially if your site receives very little traffic.

So, it’s important to note that Rakuten is a giant in the affiliate marketing industry that most newcomers tend to overlook.

There is a perception among some affiliates that this network is slow to pay out, but I’ve personally never experienced any problems with them.

  • Cost: Free
  • Type: Affiliate network
  • Payment threshold: $50
  • You get paid: Net 30

7. Awin

While the exact number may be unknown, Awin boasts over 16,500 advertisers and 225,000 publishers, making it by far the largest affiliate network available.

Affiliates of the platform made a cool $1 billion in commission in 2020 thanks to the platform’s massive yearly sales of 182 million.

It’s not just a sizable system; it’s also quite possibly the oldest one around. While Awin has only been around since 2017, it has origins in the zanox and Affiliate Window networks, which were both founded in 2000.

In addition to operating its own network, Awin acquired ShareASale, another network on this list, a few years ago. Both have their own merchant networks, but they are independent businesses, so successful affiliates can sign up for either or both.

Not surprisingly, Awin hosts many well-known brands such as those listed above as well as Etsy and Under Armour.

On the other hand, as an affiliate marketer, my favorite aspect of Awin is its dedication to prompt payments. There are a number of its affiliate programs that offer expedited payments, and you will be paid for validated transactions regardless of when Awin is paid by the advertiser.

  • Cost: Free
  • Type: Affiliate network
  • Payment threshold: From $20
  • You get paid: Once or twice a month (you choose)

8. eBay Partner Network

Since everyone is already familiar with eBay, there’s no point in insulting them by providing a brief overview of the site’s history.

What began as a way for individuals to sell the contents of their garages has expanded into a global marketing platform for both small businesses and multinational corporations.

Did you know that out of eBay’s total 1.4 billion listings, over 80% are for brand-new products?

This is more than just a flea market for unwanted items.

As a result, while many inexperienced marketers quickly sign up for an Amazon Associates account (which isn’t a bad idea), far fewer ever consider joining eBay’s affiliate program.

In addition, eBay handles their affiliate program in-house, so there are no intermediaries.

Furthermore, you’ll have the opportunity to network with their affiliate management team, which could prove invaluable to your business down the road.

Despite its flaws, the eBay Partner Network (EPN) is a good place for new affiliates to get their feet wet, often in conjunction with the Amazon Associates Program.

  • Cost: Free
  • Type: Merchant
  • Payment threshold: $10
  • You get paid: Net 30

9. Etsy Affiliate Program

The Etsy program combines elements of affiliate and direct marketing.

This is because the majority of sellers on the site are individuals like crafters, vintage dealers, and artists, with some “creep” from foreign producers.

So, in a nutshell, it’s a kind of affiliate program specifically geared toward independent business owners.

Etsy is the undisputed leader in the online marketplace for handmade and vintage goods. In just a few short years, they went from infancy to the stock market.

What fascinates me about Etsy is the fact that such a large percentage of people I know have either shopped on Etsy or are using it to sell their own creations.

As a side note, the screenshot above is a hint about my first ever purchase from Etsy, which I made while writing this.

Etsy has an affiliate program where you can make money by reviewing and linking to products you find on the site. Then, you’ll earn 4% commission on sales made by your referrals.

Is this, then, a good affiliate program to begin with? Etsy may not be a way to retire rich, but it does present a significant opportunity for financial success.

  • Cost: Free
  • Type: Merchant (via Awin)
  • Payment threshold: $50
  • You get paid: Net 30

10. Fiverr Affiliate Program

If you ask around amongst other affiliate marketers, I’m willing to bet that most of them will agree that selling services is much simpler than selling products.

A simple list of service providers is all that is needed to satisfy an audience.

Graphic design, marketing, writing, video and animation, music, programming, business, lifestyle, and industries are just some of the areas that Fiverr has capitalized on by expanding on this basic idea.

You can join their program on CJ.com, but for the sake of clarity, we’ll be discussing their internal affiliate program instead.

It could be one of the most lucrative affiliate programs available. Depending on the type of service provider you recommend through the Fiverr affiliate program, you can earn as much as $150 for every customer you bring in.

And unlike other affiliate programs, Fiverr gives you multiple paths to monetization, including a 30% cut of sales for referring customers to their “Learn from Fiverr” courses.

Popular “lifestyle” services such as arts and crafts, tarot readings, and even relationship advice have recently been added to this gig platform, which originally focused on selling digital services such as WordPress installations and backlink building.

It only takes 30 seconds to sign up for their affiliate program, which only requires your name, email address, and a password.

  • Cost: Free
  • Type: Merchant
  • Payment threshold: $100
  • You get paid: Net 30

11. PepperJam

PepperJam isn’t necessarily a household name.

However, they have been around for a while in the affiliate marketing sector, and in 2009, eBay bought them out.

Finally, in 2016, they were released once more under the PepperJam label.

They are not only the face of well-known companies like Puma, Nordstrom, Orion, and Lindt, but also of many smaller, more specialized ones.

  • Offer types: CPS
  • Payment options: Net 60
  • Payment terms: PayPal – you have to contact support for other options.
  • Payment threshold: $25

12. Refersion Marketplace

Simply put, Refersion is an affiliate network that I just recently discovered.

The fact that they have only existed since 2015 explains why I had never heard of them before. On the other hand, they’ve brought on 17,000 new advertisers in that time.

Even the largest networks in the industry have trouble attracting more than a few hundred retailers.

The Refersion Marketplace makes up for its lack of visual appeal through the sheer number of ads it features.

  • Offer types: CPS
  • Payment options: PayPal
  • Payment terms: Dependant on an advertiser
  • Payment threshold: Dependant on an advertiser

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