Finding a good affiliate program is crucial in monetizing your website. With a good affiliate program your can effortlessly double / triple / multiply your revenue. On the other hand, if you choose to promote a less than decent affiliate product then all your efforts could be made in vain and nobody will purchase it at the end of the day…
There are a lot of affiliate programs – basically almost every product that you can buy online probably have an affiliate program that you can join. But if you are just starting to build up your website, as part of researching the niche you must make sure that there are affiliate products out there that fit into your niche.
Disclaimer: this page contains affiliate links. If you’d like to know what it means you can read the full Affiliate Disclosure, or watch these videos that explain affiliate marketing in detail (registration needed)
There are two scenarios. You have a product in mind that you’d like to promote (or more), but you don’t know if there is an affiliate program available for you to join.
Second scenario: you have a niche but you don’t know what products worth promoting and where to find them (or have run out of products and looking for more).
In this post I quickly run through what you must look out for when looking for suitable affiliate products and what are the most common affiliate programs that you can access even as a beginner (a lot of affiliate programs require a minimum number of visitors / followers before you can join).
These will work if you don’t know what affiliate product you want to promote – you can browse or search for merchants and have a look around at their website. It will work too if you already have a product in mind, but you don’t know if the merchant has an affiliate program.
What you must look out for when comparing affiliate programs?
Payment time can be an issue if you need money quick, you make the sales but a lengthy process prevents you from getting your money. Payment time can vary from 14 days to 180 days, which can be painful if you expect that money much earlier. Even if the affiliate program tells you that average payment processing time is 90 days, until you receive a few commissions you must suspect that actual payment processing time may be much-much longer.
I know it sounds trivial, but make sure that at least one payment method offered by the affiliate program is available in your country. Not so much of an issue if you are based in the US, UK or Western Europe, but can cause difficulties if you find it out months down the line that you can’t get your commission because of this.
It is worth checking that payment threshold can vary depending on the country you are in and the payment method you choose. As a beginner, don’t be surprised if the first few months of commissions won’t reach the payment threshold, and you won’t get your money.
Minimum threshold to join
Almost every affiliate program has a minimum requirement to join their program, even if they say that they don’t have any. So if you are just starting your blog and planning to monetize it as soon as possible by promoting affiliate products, then its worth checking that the program you would like to join does not have a minimum of 25k visitors or something like this as a minimum requirement.
T&C’s for promotion
Also worth checking what’s allowed and what’s not. you may think that it will be easy to earn a few bucks with you 53k follower on instagram, but if the product(s) you promote don’t allow direct placement on social media that you better think of a different monetization method (or a different affiliate program).
Most (in)famous affiliate merchant is Amazon with their strict (and sometimes silly) rules. I have collected the 10 most common ways you can breach the rules of the Amazon Associates T&C’s in this article – 10 Ways To Get Your Amazon Affiliate Account Banned.
Commission rate vs. EPC
Most affiliate marketers focus on the Commission rate…obviously, the higher the better, right? Well, not always…Even if you can potentially earn 50% on a product (that’s a pretty high commission rate), if no-one buys it (conversion rate is poor), you won’t earn a dime.
As opposed to the commission rate, the EPC – earns per click – tells you how well the product sells. This counts in a lot of factors – the sales copy of the product, quality of the product, ease of completing the purchase etc. Especially with physical products, in the fashion industry for example, a low EPC can be a tell-tale sign that something is off. It can be that the merchant doesn’t offer free-delivery, or perhaps they don’t offer home-delivery at all.
You can also easily predict your earnings based on big data and compare your website’s performance to the average. If your EPC is lower than what’s the average, its sign that you may want to improve the way you promote that product.
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Unfortunately you cannot have the luxury to pick the one that have the longest cookie duration (cookie duration is the period after someone clicked on your affiliate link that you would earn a commission on any purchase that person made. It can vary between 1 day and 365 days, typical cookie duration is 30 or 60 days.)
But you must be aware of the cookie duration because it will affect the way you promote products, and the type of products you promote.
Amazon for example have a 24 hour cookie window. Basically you have one day to make someone purchase something on Amazon after they have clicked on your link. Luckily, most people do buy stuff on Amazon on a daily basis.
So whatever you promote, your ultimate goal must be to get that that click. It does not matter whether your visitor buys that actual product you promote, or buys something else, you get the commission. So with Amazon, just for the sake of this example, there is no point pushing one particular product, especially if that is in a higher price range (above $150): less and less people spend more than $150 on a hunch.
With a longer cookie duration your ultimate goal should be to ‘cook slow’. Build up that trust, communicate on various channels, especially through email. Provide value and slowly but surely understand what your audience wants. You have plenty of time. You don’t have to sell anything upfront, but to ensure that a) you get the click b) you get the email address.
If you get these basics right, you can’t really shoot yourself in the foot by picking a wrong affiliate product.
Now where to find those affiliate programs & products?
1st option – Amazon / eBay / any online retail store
Amazon, eBay and the big players in the online retail market have their own affiliate programs. One of the most popular is Amazon’s affiliate program called Amazon Associates. Its international, anyone can join (as far as I know).
As I mentioned, they are quite picky in who they keep, so if you may find your account suspended easily if you are not careful.
In comparison to Amazon Associates, I found eBay’s Partner Network better in terms of conversions, speed of payment and rules of promoting products on eBay. If you are a beginner in affiliate marketing you may find my post on beginner friendly affiliate programs interesting, you can check it out here: The Best Affiliate Programs and Networks (These Worked for Me)
2nd option – Google “retailer’s name” + affiliate program
Probably the easiest way to find affiliate programs if you carry out a basic Google search. It will find the link on the merchants website where you can join their affiliate program (if they have one), or it will lead you to the website of the affiliate network who manage the merchant’s affiliate program.
3rd option – WA’s Affiliate Program Finder
If you are a member of Wealthy Affiliate (free account with full access for 14 days if you register through this link (aff link)), you can use the Affiliate Program finder. You can simply search by categories, name, commission rate, keyword etc. so you can easily filter down for the ones that you are interested in. It would also show how other affiliate marketers have rated that affiliate program, giving you a nice heads up by the experts if the program is worthy of your time or not.
At the moment there are only 4 or 5 affiliate networks have been made searchable on this Affiliate Program finder, but it still means thousands of merchants you can select from.
4th alternative – skimlinks’s Merchant finder
If you haven’t heard of skimlinks, you should definitely check them out. They allow you to promote products from a wide range of affiliate networks (like Awin or CJ) by simply placing a short script on your website. You don’t need to join all the different networks separately, you don’t need to create unique links to every product you promote on you blog. It is all done (and tracked) automatically. Sadly, skimlinks takes a 20% cap off your commission, so you pay the price for convenience.
On the other hand, you can get skimlinks to keep track of all your Amazon affiliate links – so even if Amazon have kicked you out of their program you can still earn commission through Amazon links (no cap of Amazon links).
What makes skimlinks really powerful for new affiliate marketers is that you can access affiliate programs that you could not access or would not allow to join otherwise.
If you want to know more about Affiliate networks & programs for beginners, I highly recommend this post. It is based on my experience with affiliate networks as a complete newbie not just in affiliate marketing but blogging…
If you have any questions, feel free to shoot them at me!
If you are ready to learn more about affiliate marketing, how it works and how you can earn money with affiliate marketing, you must check out this training program:
It is free to join and I can guarantee that you can take away a lot from it…a website with targeted content that is ready to earn you commission for example!