You’ve taken time to craft and build the ultimate blog, authority site or interactive platform. The content is engaging, rich in information and impressively niche — you’re feeling like a veritable online marketing maestro.
But, if all that hard work doesn’t lead to real (and substantial) dollars in your pocket — your efforts have all been in vain.
The best affiliate programs for beginners turn your content into a sustainable and profitable money machine.
The Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners
- Amazon Associates.
- eBay Partner Network.
- CJ Affiliate (Commission Junction).
What Are Affiliate Programs?
In short, they’re the simplest way to generate income through your website.
For the complete lowdown, check out my What Is Affiliate Marketing article — however, in a nutshell, affiliate programs are the bridge between your content and a retailer’s products.
Ok, if you want to get down to semantics, you could call it a commission system. But that has connotations of door-to-door salespersons hawking household detergents and vacuum cleaners.
I prefer to think of it as a gratuity or thank-you payment process.
You write about a product, website, or service you like — you’ve stoked your reader’s interest, so they check it out and make a purchase — and you receive a small cash payment as a reward.
What to Look for in the Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners
Online vendors want you to be part of their affiliate program — as, it means more sales for them. But, remember, they’re not always acting in your best interests.
If they sign-up two million members, and every one of these eager newbie digital entrepreneurs’ websites leads to one annual sale each — they’re making impressive money. You, however, have just made just one small commission in twelve months.
So, as one of the new-kids-on-the-block, it’s crucial you know what to look for in the best affiliate programs for beginners.
Easy to Join
If a program requires you to jump through numerous hoops before they even consider you as an affiliate — then they’re not one of the best affiliate programs for beginners.
Later down the line, you may wish to go down the more ‘exclusive’ route — but as a newbie, you want to begin generating income as soon as possible.
Furthermore, showing an impressive history of affiliate success with one of the easily accessible companies can enhance your website’s résumé in the future — making your application more tempting for more selective programs.
Straightforward to Use
As an affiliate freshman — you possibly don't possess the programming skills of Larry Page or Satoshi Nakamoto. Hence, if your chosen partner requires you to enter endless streams of code into your website — avoid.
Simple to Understand
The best affiliate programs for beginners will deliver a transparent and uncomplicated commission system.
I always suggest using the ‘one-sentence test.’ That is, can you explain how it works in one simple phrase that, say, your mother could grasp if she asked how you make a living.
Passes the one-sentence test:
‘I earn 10 percent of the retail price of every product sold.’
Fails the one-sentence test:
‘For every third exclusive unit sold in every second bi-annual quarter, I receive 7.56 percent (or $3.29 whichever is the smaller) of the retail price, less taxes and delivery — naturally adjusted to compensate for the Nikkei Dow 255 index.’
Wide Product Range
The best affiliate programs for beginners should offer an extensive array of products. This means that you can promote an interesting variety of content and therefore items on your website (naturally, within a niche) — by signing up to just one or two third parties.
For example, if your online presence centers around gardening — you can use the same program for the majority of these outdoor essentials. This is less time consuming (and makes income-monitoring more straightforward) than signing up to separate schemes for lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and wheelbarrows.
The Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners
Down to business.
Based on the above criteria, here are my ultimate income-generating picks of the best affiliate programs for beginners.
1. Amazon Associates
The granddaddy of all the affiliate programs — well, kind of.
You’ll hear it banded around the internet that Amazon began the online commission-based marketing scheme.
That’s not strictly true.
For trivia nerds, this credit should actually go to PC Flowers and Gifts who, in 1996 (yes kids, we had the internet then, of sorts), paid commission to The Prodigy Network for directing traffic to their site.
Anyways, Amazon was definitely one of the forerunners — and launched in the same year. However, this marketing behemoth undoubtedly defined the rules of affiliates — and became a benchmark for the rest.
Their success, and then for you as a newbie affiliate marketeer, lies in the numbers:
- Eighty-nine percent of consumers trust Amazon more than any other e-commerce site.
- Amazon has 112 million Prime users alone — not including ‘casual’ buyers.
- It retails around 120 million products.
The last point is invaluable for the online initiate — with that volume of items — the chances are they have something relevant to your niche.
And, an additional reason that Amazon is one of the best affiliate programs for beginners — the customers you direct to the site don’t have to buy the product you’re promoting. They click to look at your suggested best-ever soup ladle — but instead end up buying a 30-foot yacht — you receive commission on the latter.
- Best of the best affiliate programs for beginners.
- Free to join.
- Up to ten percent commission.
- Click per sale structure.
- 24-hour payment cookie duration.
- Trusted and with a vast number of products.
- Easy link creation — no coding.
- User-friendly dashboard.
- Low payout threshold.
- Category commission rates often change.
- Not compatible with PayPal.
Another one of the forerunners of the affiliate revolution.
Starting in 1998 from a small garage in San Diego, California — it has grown to boast over 200 million customers in 190 countries around the world.
The concept, like many of the world’s greatest inventions, came from trying to solve a problem. In this case, how to deliver goods worldwide while not losing profit on shipping costs. The answer — only retail digital products (although to be fair, it has now begun to branch into some physical items).
It’s not just its market share and a vast array of content that makes it so desirable for the online entrepreneur. The reason that it's one of the best affiliate programs for beginners is that it can provide welcome inspiration on what products to promote.
Through its marketplace — you can see what items are ‘hot’ (i.e., how well they’re selling) through its Gravity Score.
- Up to 75 percent commission.
- Simple to join.
- Recurring commission opportunities.
- You don’t need a website — you can use a social media account.
- Wide array of digital products.
- Simple link creation.
- Founded in 1998 — and the website looks as if the owners haven’t updated it since.
3. eBay Partner Network
Don’t worry — I’m not suggesting you spend your time on content that promotes someone’s old shoes or a broken food blender.
Surprisingly, eighty percent of all the products on eBay are new — despite its (unfair) image of an online garage sale. Combine that with 182 million users and an eye-watering 1.4 billion listings, and it's apparent why it's one of the best affiliate programs for beginners.
eBay itself, not the retailers, manage the scheme — so you’re not dealing with Hank’s sister in Connecticut.
There are no exclusivity clauses — so it's an ideal program to combine with another affiliate method such as Amazon. Furthermore, with signing up for the scheme only taking around five minutes — many happy users say it’s the easiest application process of them all.
- Actively welcomes affiliate newbies.
- Commission rates can reach up to 70 percent.
- Low $10 payout.
- Compatible with PayPal.
- Simple link generation.
- You can use your existing eBay account to apply.
- Auction items may last longer than the cookies — meaning no payment.
- Substantial number of ‘fake’ products.
4. Commission Junction (CJ Affiliate)
Since 1998, Commission Junction has been at the forefront of affiliate marketing.
Unlike some other schemes, it doesn’t tend to retail products from the lesser-known manufacturers — instead, it (currently) concentrates on the more famous brands such as GoPro, Disney, UnderArmor and Samsung — and, around 3000 others.
Ranked the number one Affiliate Market Vendor by Internet Retailer — its intuitive dashboard and vast spectrum of information on trending products make it one of the best affiliate programs for beginners.
That said, it’s probably best to migrate to this system after gaining a few month’s experience in one of the more basic programs such as Amazon.
- Respected company with over twenty years of history.
- One of the best affiliate programs for beginners seeking famous brands.
- Complexity (and profit) grows as you become more experienced.
- Indicates current popular and profitable niches and products.
- Includes tutorials for the newbie.
- You can easily transfer the program to others — useful if you’re considering an eventual exit strategy.
- Large brands frequently come and go.
- Although it encompasses a wide group of merchants — not all will approve you.
- Customer care is only available through email — which can be slow.
Closing the Deal
My final advice — don’t run before you can walk.
The best affiliate programs for beginners allow you to commence generating income from your content without any prior experience.
And, while your passive turnover is growing — and your site is building an impressive history of success — you can then, if you wish, start to seek out and approach seriously niche individual retailers.
The sooner you sign up with one of the above schemes — the quicker the revenue will hit your bank.
So, don’t procrastinate to affiliate!