Whoever said that affiliate marketing was an easy way to make money online must’ve had an affiliate marketing course they wanted to sell to you.
If it was that easy, there would be many more successful online entrepreneurs happily making full-time income from the comfort of their homes.
However, it’s not rocket science either.
The cornerstone of any effective affiliate marketing promotion is picking the right affiliate programs and products to promote.
Affiliate Marketing Pitfalls
The problem with learning affiliate marketing from “gurus” and top affiliate marketers is that what works for them won’t necessarily work for you and me.
Chances are we don’t have a huge list of 100K+ subscribers and an unlimited budget to offer great bonuses for any given product launch.
So how are we supposed to compete with them?
We can’t and we shouldn’t.
Truth is we need to work smarter and look for the best affiliate programs that:
- pay the most,
- offer quality MULTIPLE products,
- lifetime commissions for ANY purchase your referral makes,
- and are not too mainstream.
You think I am looking for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
Then read on.
Affiliate Marketing Programs Overview
How do you pick which affiliate marketing offers you are going to promote?
What really matters?
But why would you want to promote a $2K affiliate program that doesn’t convert?
But can you rely on the vendor to provide accurate numbers?
Here are some of the factors I look for when researching the best affiliate programs:
1. Long-term Income Potential
This is a very obvious factor.
Wouldn’t we all rather “sell” once and keep collecting the affiliate paycheck on a monthly basis?
However, just because you become an affiliate for a vendor with a recurring fee structure, doesn’t mean that you’ll be getting recurring commissions for it.
Good example: Hostgator.com.
Even though it’s a monthly service, their affiliate commission structure is based upon the number of sign-ups you drive to them and you’ll be paid a flat fee for each sign-up.
On the other hand, Aweber.com does offer 30% of the monthly fee your referral pays for their services.
2. Cookie duration
How long does the affiliate cookie last?
Follow-up products make additional commissions, IF the cookie is being tracked.
Take Amazon.com, for instance. They’ll pay you commission for ANY product your referral buys from them; HOWEVER, your cookie will last for 24 hours only!
3. Follow-up/Backend products
How good is the backend promotion?
Is it going to increase your bottom line?
4. Refund Rate
Before you promote any offer, ask them what the refund rate is.
5. One Product vs ANY Products
If your referral doesn’t buy the product you are promoting, but buys a different product from the same vendor, do you still get commission?
6. Conversion Rate
How well does the traffic you send to the affiliate program sales page convert into buyers? If the conversion rate is too low, is the sales copy not so great? Is the price too high?
7. Immediate Payment
How long does it take for you to get paid?
The best affiliate marketing programs offer immediate payments for each sale.
8. Second Tier Commissions
Not easy to find, but definitely pays to look for affiliate programs that offer to pay you 2nd tier commissions for each of your referred customers.
It’s almost like creating an affiliate network of your own and getting paid for the work your “affiliates” do.
Best Affiliate Marketing Programs that Pay
This seems to be a good place to distinguish between affiliate marketing programs and affiliate products that you actually promote on your site.
You can pick the best possible affiliate platform there is, BUT if it doesn’t offer any products that are relevant to your niche, it’s useless.
On the other hand, if you found an excellent product to promote on your site, but the product owner uses an off-the-beaten-path affiliate marketing program you’ve never heard of, should you not promote that product?
The quality and relevancy of the product itself definitely trumps what affiliate program powers the sales process.
So keep that in mind when looking into signing up for different programs.
Note: I am currently researching more affiliate marketing opportunities and will be adding them as I find and test them.
The ones below got my stamp of approval.
The Big Three
Sooner or later, you’ll run into a product that’s powered by Clickbank.
It’s one of the largest players on the market and for a reason: it makes it fairly easy for both sellers and affiliate marketers to make money.
Several products I recommend to Traffic Generation Café readers are hosted by Clickbank, and so far I’ve had nothing but:
- timely payments;
- great customer service through emails;
- good experience all around from an affiliate marketer’s point of view.
Commission Junction (cj.com)
Yet another big player used by various retailers and online businesses in a variety of different niches.
Yet another “behemoth” affiliate marketing platform I’ve been using for a long time.
With over 2,500 merchants to choose from, real-time stats, and on-time payments, I have no complaints.
The “Up and Comers”
The following two platforms are mostly used by information product creators.
You can definitely find a few great products there, but you might have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince.
My favorite affiliate feature of JVZoo.com is instant payments. As in, “I sell it today, I get paid today“.
You still have to be approved by every individual seller, but once you are approved by them, you can market any product they offer.
Very similar to JVZoo.com
I call “conglomerates” affiliate marketing platforms that bring multiple affiliate programs under one roof.
So instead of keeping track of several affiliate programs, making sure the tracking is accurate, you get paid on time, etc, you can choose to use a “conglomerate” affiliate platform to do that for you.
A platform like that will automatically convert your non-affiliate links into affiliate links or even convert certain keyword phrases within your content into affiliate links.
Could be pretty handy.
Of course, there’s a price to pay for convenience: these platforms will take a small chunk out of your commission for being your “middle man”.
- Includes thousands of merchants – including the ones that you and I would never otherwise qualify for like Nordstrom, Macy’s, Canon, HP, Sketchers, Target, Bebe; you name it.
- Includes Amazon.com - if you live in one of those states where Amazon affiliate program is not available, you can still use it through Skimlinks.
- Streamlines all your commissions.
- Easy to use – just link to merchants in your posts and Skimlinks will do the rest. Or they’ll even do it for you – like I am sure they’ll do in this post; those are called “Skimwords”.
VigLink.com – another conglomerate similar to Skimlinks.com.
Stay in the Know: Affiliate Product Launches
Knowing about upcoming affiliate launches is a must when building an affiliate marketing driven business.
Here are a few suggestions:
JVNotifyPro.com - a great resource to look through upcoming launches.
jvlaunchcalendar.com – various launches, including WarriorForum, JVZoo, Clickbank, and others.
WarriorPlus.com - WarriorForum launches
Each affiliate marketing platform has its own marketplace as well.
“Boutique” Affiliate Marketing Programs
For those of you who don’t feel like sifting through a bunch of affiliate marketing programs looking for solid products to promote, I have a few suggestions.
These are internet marketing specific programs that offer quality, quantity, and great payouts.
Important things to know:
Great introductory low-cost upfront products ($7 – $20 price range).
- How To Syphon Off Massive FREE Traffic With Pictures on Pinterest
- Rank Almost ANY YouTube Video #1 on GOOGLE in 3 Days Flat!
- How to Make Google Your Biggest Affiliate
- FreshKey: The Ultimate Amazon Spy Tool
Continuity membership program (recurring commissions – always great to have):
Constantly tested upsell sales funnel.
Fairly frequent new product launches.
The newest one AuthorityROI launches in a few days.
Generally very high conversion rates.
Strong follow-up autoresponder series.
The Marketing Tools give you ad copy, buttons, banners and other promotional materials, so you don’t have to do any thinking (although I do strongly recommend you use your own brain to tailor all affiliate campaigns to your specific niche and readership.
Commissions vary from 33 to 75% from product to product.
Commissions are paid on or around the 15th of each month for the previous month.
Each month, 20% of your earned commission are withheld for refunds.
Payment threshold: $100.00 USD or greater for the applicable payment period.
Accounts with balances less than $100.00 USD AND that have had 60 days of inactivity will be paid out on the following payment period after the 60 days.
Affiliate payments are made by check. PayPal payments are available for international affiliates; 2.5% transaction fee will be withheld.
You have to submit an appropriate W9/W8 form to get paid.
Digital Marketer Cons:
Ryan Deiss happens to be very well-connected and well-promoted by many super affiliates.
In short, you’ll be competing with people who have 100+K email lists and high-end bonus products to offer.
Nevertheless, I’ve seen a steady stream of income from promoting Ryan’s products and think this is a great place to start.
If you want to know more about affiliate marketing and how to make a great passive income by becoming a supre affiliate, I strongly recommend you check out AffiloBlueprint.
Not only you’ll get to look over the shoulder of someone who HAS built multiple profitable affiliate websites (Mark Ling), but also:
- learn how to build gorgeous looking affilate sites without any technical knowledge;
- optimize those sites for first-page rankings;
- how to “Google-prove” them;
- how to drive targeted traffic;
- the exact follow-up email sequence you can use;
- and more.
I also suggest you join:
Affilorama – web’s largest affiliate marketing community.
Affiliate marketing is not about working harder; it’s about working smarter.
Find the best affiliate marketing programs that pay and you are about a quarter of the way there.
The rest will come down to how smart you are about choosing quality products relevant to your specific niche.
Do you know of any great affiliate programs? Do share in comments.