The Best Affiliate Programs and Networks (These Worked for Me)

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On your journey of becoming an affiliate marketer, joining the first affiliate program or network is a cornerstone moment in monetising your new blog. While there are more affiliate programs out there than you can imagine, in my experience the best affiliate programs for bloggers are the ones that;

  • Are Free to join
  • Have a wide range of products and merchants to fit your niche
  • Have a low payment threshold
  • Pay quickly
There are a few factors you need to consider, that can determine how much money you will earn with the affiliate program you have chosen

In terms of commission rates, especially for a new blogger, the best affiliate programs would have higher commission rates to allow you to make money even with little traffic. But the thing is: these programs are often very popular, meaning that a lot of other, more experienced affiliate marketers would promote those high paying products as well.

As for choosing the best affiliate program, another important factor to consider is cookie duration. What is cookie duration?

Essentially, it is the time until a person, who clicked through your affiliate link, must make a purchase on the site for you to get a commission.

Lookout for cookie duration when choosing an affiliate program. The longer the better.
Lookout for cookie duration when choosing an affiliate program. The longer the better.

The longer the better, however cookie duration can vary from 24 hours to 365 days or longer.

Okay, let’s see the best affiliate programs and network for bloggers from beginners to advanced marketers.

Best Affiliate Programs If You Have a Blog – Amazon Associates and beyond

You’d expect that I would start with Amazon Associates, but to be honest I have never been impressed with it. Maybe it is a UK thing, it may be the niches that I am in, but Amazon Associates has never produced great results for me. I included it in the list as the last one that I can recommend, as others apparently have much better results with it in different niches. But there is another beginner-friendly affiliate program that I think is 100x better than Amazon’s.

1. eBay Partner Network

Cost: Free to join at
Commission Rate: 50-70% of eBay’s revenue
Commission structure: Earn commission after each qualified sale
Cookie duration: 24 hours
Payment Threshold: $10 / £10 / E10

The eBay Partner Network is my favourite beginner-friendly affiliate program, it pays much higher commissions than Amazon on the same number of clicks. Sadly, the cookie duration is only 24 hours, but even then just the sheer amount of people who use eBay on a daily basis gets you a nice commission on products that you don’t even promote.

There are a lot of bonus surprises that make it ideal to join for new bloggers;

  • Double commission in the first 3 months. It means that you earn more in commission than eBay earns on that sale. I think its very generous of them.
  • No minimum number of qualifying sales to remain in the program. Unlike Amazon. You can join as early as you want, you won’t get kicked out if you can’t make enough sales for the following months.
  • +100% Bonus on new and reactivated customers. Although you can’t really target these people, but even after the initial first few months you will see earnings that are way higher than what eBay has earned with that sale

If there is one thing, that I don’t like about EPN is that the affiliate links are very ugly and long. If you join EPN you better off using some plugin (on wordpress) like PrettyLinks to make those links more appealing to click through.

2. Skimlinks

Cost: free to join at
Commission Rate: depending on the merchant, usually around 5%
Commission structure: CPS (earn commission after each qualified sale)
Cookie duration: varies by merchant, typically around 30 days
Payment Threshold: $50

Skimlinks is another favourite of mine. It is very easy to install it on your WordPress blog, and it turns every link into an affiliate link. So, it is super-easy to use, you just copy and paste the product url to your blogpost and skimlinks will do the rest. It works on other platforms as well, but then you’d need to create your affiliate links one by one. If you are blogging on wordpress, Skimlinks is a seamless solution to monetise every click on your website.

Skimlinks is a great affiliate network for beginners: easy to join, easy to install, easy to earn money with
Skimlinks is a great affiliate network for beginners: easy to join, easy to install, easy to earn money with

They work with more than 48,000 merchants worldwide (from well-known high street brands to lesser-known boutique retailers), so there is a pretty good chance that you can find plenty of products to promote. You can find merchants on Skimlinks that normally work with other affiliate networks like AWin.

Even if you don’t find, or don’t think to look for a merchant, or forget to join their program, Skimlinks will recognise an accidentally placed link on your website, finds the merchant and assigns the click to you.

With Skimlinks, you do not have to join 3-4 different affiliate networks (with $50 payment threshold on each), you can have them all under one platform. It means that you will reach the minimum payment threshold much sooner.

Another great thing about Skimlinks that once you are approved by them (and it is pretty easy to get approved as long as you have a genuine website and quality content), you don’t have to re-apply with the individual merchants again (unlike in AWin – I have a handful of applications to join a merchant’s program that are still pending on AWin, yet I have been earning the commissions through Skimlink for months now).

What I don’t like about Skimlinks? The commission rates are slightly lower, as Skimlinks take their share too (like 4% instead of 5% for the same merchant on another network). Also, as they are the middlemen, they don’t pay you until they get paid. So whereas the normal payment times are around 60 days on other networks, Skimlinks adds an extra month on top of it…

3. Clickbank

Cost: free to join
Commission Rate: depending on the merchant, up to 100%
Commission structure: CPS (earn commission after each qualified sale)
Cookie duration: varies by merchant, typically 30-60 days
Payment Threshold: $10
Clickbank has been an evergreen affiliate program, thanks to the wide variety of products that anyone can promote and the high commission rates. Clickbank is a unique platform with resources for merchants to build a high converting sales funnel, so it is a win-win for merchants and affiliate marketers.

The Clickbank Marketplace. A plethora of digital products to promote.
The Clickbank Marketplace. A plethora of digital products to promote.

It is easy to join, you just pick a product and generate your affiliate link (called HopLink) that takes the prospective buyer straight to the vendors sales page. These pages are usually highly optimised, high-converting sales funnels with plenty of up-selling options. So, even if you promote a $15 dollar ebook on ‘How to read you Starsign’ (and earn $5 with that), the buyer will be offered a lot of higher-ticket products, ie a personalised horoscope for £250 (you earn $75).

The Clickbank platform is pretty easy to set up and use, and you can promote as many products as you like. Most of the products are digital products, and is a goldmine especially if you are in a life-style niche.

Why I don’t like Clickbank?

The quality of the products can vary a lot, and what I mean here is there is a lot of garbage that you should not even start promoting. So do your research beforehand, try it out, read reviews about it (if there are any), see what others say about the product.

When you picking a product to promote you should also look for the Gravity Score (the higher the better): it reflects the number of people who has earned commission with the product in the last 30 days. You must also consider the return rate: a high return rate can indicate that the product is poor-quality.

But my biggest issue with Clickbank though,  is that a lot of ‘gurus’ promote it like if it was easy to earn money with Clickbank from scratch. If you have a website or youtube channel already, and you’d like to monetise it, then Clickbank is great. But if you just get up one day and think ‘oh, I’d like to make money online today…’ then Clickbank is not going to work, unless you have a moderate size budget for paid advertising and you can nail it before 10AM. 

4. Amazon Associates

Cost: free to join at
Commission Rate: varies by product category, typically 3%-6%
Commission structure: CPS (earn commission after each qualified sale)
Cookie duration: 24 hours or 30 days
Payment Threshold: $10 / £25

Lastly, Amazon Associates. I already told that Amazon is not my favourite, but it was great when I was starting out. The complain I hear the most often is that the affiliate needs to have 3 qualifying sales in the first 3 months in order to be permanently accepted. If you have some traffic already, then it should not be an issue, otherwise you may struggle to get those 3 sales. So, it’s better to wait a bit before joining Amazon Associates, until you have built up some traffic.

My other issue with Amazon Associates is the low commission rate combined with the short cookie duration. You literally need to sell thousands of dollars’ worth of products in order to make some visible income. (I.e. to make $50 with an average commission rate of 5% you must sell $1000 worth of products.

Having said that, on one of my niche sites the first sale I made was a £400 item, I earned £13.42 in commission, but then I removed the Amazon links for a while until traffic builds up.

Amazon Affiliate Program earnings with a new website
Amazon Affiliate Program earnings with a new website

But, for the sake of the argument, with an average basket value of $50 (people tend to think more than a day to spend more, but you would not get commissions for those sales) you’d need 20 sales a month consistently. It translates to roughly around 500-700 clicks on your links, that’s much more in search engine clicks. It takes at least 5-6 months to get this amount of traffic with a new website.)

Amazon Associates can be funny if you can't produce enough sales when you start out. It is a great affiliate program though, once you have decent traffic.
Amazon Associates can be funny if you can’t produce enough sales when you start out. It is a great affiliate program though, once you have decent traffic.

In certain niches it can be alright, and if you already have traffic Amazon Associates can be great and I know that people can earn $2-3000 a month easily just as an affiliate for Amazon.

But in comparison to eBay Partner Network I am less in favour of Amazon Associates.

To say something about the positives too: Amazon Associates has a great user interface, it is easy to create affiliate links, widgets, banners etc. And people spend their money on Amazon anyways on a daily basis, so why wouldn’t you earn some money then? (As I said, I had different experience but it may be down to the niche…)

You can also promote ebooks (with much higher commission rate), services such as prime membership, audiobooks on Audible (you get $5 for a free referral), handmade items for 10% commission, Amazon Music for $3.50 per free referral and a lot more.

Amazon Associates also has plenty of resources to help beginner affiliate marketers, so there is a lot you can leverage as an affiliate for them.

Related post: Where can you learn affiliate marketing for free?

Other Affiliate Programs and Networks

There are plenty of other affiliate networks you can join, I listed them under Resources. If you still can’t find the affiliate program that fits your niche the best, then try search Google [your niche or vendor’s name] + [affiliate program] or [referral program].

There are a lot of vendors who decided not to join any affiliate network.
Even if you don’t find anything, it may be worth writing to the vendor directly to see what they have, very few of them will say no to an offer where someone would like to promote their products.

Find affiliate programs on a search hub like the one Wealthy Affiliate has
Find affiliate programs on a search hub like the one Wealthy Affiliate has

Another option you have is to search for affiliate programs on a bespoke hub such as the one Wealthy Affiliate has. You can filter down your search by categories or search phrases. It tells you the average commission rates and shows ratings made by other affiliate marketers. It makes life a lot easier.

Related post: How Much Can You Earn in Your First Year of Affiliate Marketing? (Real-life Example)


Based on my experience, the best affiliate marketing platform for new bloggers is eBay Partner Network. There are no minimum number of qualifying sales, eBay is a popular platform that people use daily, and thanks to the welcome bonuses you can earn a nice commission with only a few sales.

As your website grows, you can join Amazon Associates or some of the bigger affiliate networks. I recommend Skimlinks because it is really easy to install and use; and has great reporting features. You usually need less traffic to be approved than you need for other affiliate networks, yet you’ll gain access to those vendors as well.

Clickbank is super-easy to join and there are plenty of merchants, but you need to be careful and thorough with your research before you commit to promote any of them.

What is you experience? How easy it is to find affiliate programs in your niche?