One of the best parts of affiliate marketing is how many products and services you can promote to your audience. Although it's not the only form of monetization and not all products or services are created equal… We still believe it's the easiest way to start off. There are two types of affiliate programs: private and public. In this specific scenario – we'll be reviewing public networks.
What You'll Learn Today
Before we get started, I wanted to highlight a few things that are important…
1) Every niche has a certain way of monetizing their content – but there are many creative ways to create money as well. Most of the time, it’ll be either through affiliate marketing or advertising. See how your competitors are making money and ask yourself ‘would it make sense to follow in their footsteps?'
2) What's your content about?
Are you writing ‘How-To’ articles or do you concentrate purely on product reviews? Product reviews would be based on affiliate networks and how-to articles are monetized through either AdSense or affiliate marketing as well. In general, when you hear about affiliate marketing – what you are really doing is performance marketing.
Always try and evoke your reader to take action.
3) As you browse through FAQ's of the different affiliate networks, you'll notice the words ‘Publisher’ and ‘Advertiser’ being thrown around. You as the affiliate marketer, would be the publisher because you're putting out content. The Advertiser is the company selling the product or service and paying a commission based on the performance of a certain task by the prospect in your audience. Normally, this would be the sale of a product on Amazon let's say.
How often is the affiliate network going to pay you? What is the time frame between the sale of the product and your commission?
Many networks include tools to create banners and a great affiliate network should have an easy to understand control panel and interface.
Are you able to provide an affiliate link that goes directly to a product, and not just to the homepage? It would be a hassle if you could only direct people to Amazon's home page and tried to encourage to search for the product themselves. Hoping they would find the one that you recommended.
How is support going to communicate with you? Is there a phone number for you to call? You want to be sure they are legitimate and if there are any issues with your account that they are able to communicate with you by phone. Although this isn't necessary, it's something that I feel should be considered in the very least.
Many of the networks have a minimum amount you have to create in your account before they will deposit commissions. Often times, there’s also a minimum that needs to be held in order to be in good standing. Similar to a bank account.
Which Affiliate Networks Should We Pay Attention To?
We should all be familiar with the Amazon Associates program, it's one of the longest-running, and consumers have trusted the site for years. Trust leads to higher conversions and it's almost the perfect network to get your feet wet with affiliate marketing.
Although Amazon sells physical products that naturally come with lower margins, compared to digital goods – it’s probably the network with the highest conversion rates. We don't see that changing anytime soon either. You could have hundreds of visitors a day clicking through your affiliate links but if they are guided into a sales page that isn’t optimized to convert – then you are wasting your readers time, your money, and the other resources needed to create a well-oil affiliate machine.
Amazon is a multi-billion dollar business and us as marketers benefit from that as well. It's our job to get buyers onto Amazon and they’ll take care of the rest. We get a commission if the sale is made in 24 hours and better yet, it’s on anything they purchase. Even if it's not related to our product at all.
Imagine recommending a Stainless Steel Flask on your wedding niche website, but getting paid for a $600 hot tub cover. Amazing right?
CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction)
This is one of, if not the largest affiliate network compared to Amazon. It bolsters relationships with some of the best brands in the world and have many offers to choose from. Everything runs through a Cost-Per-Acquisition style of advertising which means you would get paid based on a specific action that the advertiser set out. Only then are you paid. Many marketers have taken advantage of both CJ Affiliate and Amazon at the same time.
Similar to CJ Affiliate in that they have many large brands, but they also have a big range of smaller merchants too. Affiliates at first will be offered a limited membership and you'll only be able to use Pay-Per-Lead and Pay-Per-Sale offers but after your first payment, you can select from Pay-Per-Click offers as well. Payments are monthly and this is a trusted affiliate network.
Rakuten Affiliate Network (formerly Linkshare)
These guys work similarly to CJ Affiliate, in that they are a CPA network. You get paid on a specific action, not only a sale. We wrote an entire post on what CPA marketing is here.
Rakuten has been around for a long time but their payment schedules are known to be unpredictable because they give their advertisers too much freedom as for when to pay their publishers. So every advertiser has a different payment schedule.
This is another large network that focuses on information products – you can literally find almost every niche in the world here and it's relatively easy to apply and become an affiliate. The payments are usually weekly or bi-weekly and the commissions are high because they are digital products. It's often a great compliment to Amazon. Some of the products also include recurring commissions, so you'll benefit each and every month.
ClickBank also offers a very long 60 day Cookie period. They've also created a feature called “Gravity” to help affiliates know what is selling well right now on their platform. Although ClickBank is great for affiliates, it's also great for advertisers because they benefit from a tried and testing shopping cart with lots of bells and whistles to encourage buying.
This a network that started out helping advertisers in the financial space but has expanded to larger brands in plenty of categories. They are known to have great payment schedules that cater to publishers and their support tools are reviewed highly. One handicap would be that they are also known to be a sub-affiliate. This means that they are affiliates of private networks that aren't open to the public. FlexOffers takes a cut as the middleman but this is nothing new in the business but it's something to be aware of.
If you have purchased anything in the internet marketing space, it was probably listed on JVzoo. This network is rampant with new products and to be honest, there's a lot of crap on there. But there's also some really, really great products too. We just have to be reminded that in the internet marketing space, you are going to be shown a lot of stuff that isn't quality. But just like Clickbank, since the products are largely digital – you'll get a higher commission and this network is one of the few that offers payouts through Paypal. Most networks require a direct deposit into your bank. It's just a matter of preference of course and PayPal helps to keep your accounting simpler. And if you are in internet marketing, you'll be using PayPal a lot.
Suggested Readings:Can You Make Money on JVZoo
Our Recommended Top Affiliate Program
Amazon. Hands down, It's the simplest network to get started with, the conversions are great and they have everything on there. The easiest thing for you to do when starting out and even in the future is to go for the low hanging fruit. Amazon is filled with niches in every category and will continue to be a leader in the future. The e-commerce giant is in a great place right now and they're making huge strides to compete globally with their logistics operations. Whether it’s Arts & Crafts or Kite Boarding – it’s on Amazon.
If you are confused about the right niche to enter, let us do the heavy lifting and start off with some keyword research. We build niche sites for all types of marketers, from single site owners to experienced affiliate marketers with hundreds of portfolio of sites.