14 Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners

Affiliate marketing is an excellent way to make money — whether that’s a side income or a full-time income — by creating content for a niche you like (or love). When you specifically choose the best affiliate programs for beginners, you can get started fast without too much of a learning curve.

Affiliate marketing programs and networks reward you for promoting products and services to your audience. While you don’t get all of the profits every time a purchase is made, you can get a percentage of the sale. And enough sales, especially when the order value is high, can really add up over time.

In this article, we’re going to tell you about some of the best affiliate marketing programs for beginners so you can kickstart your business and start earning.

Note that affiliate marketing programs are for individual brands, while affiliate networks have a lot of programs to choose from and apply to. We’ll cover both.

14 Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners

To narrow our list down to just the best affiliate programs for beginners, we chose high-rated affiliate programs and networks that had low barriers to entry and felt easy enough to use for those with limited experience.

Amazon Associates

One of the most popular and best affiliate programs for beginners is Amazon Associates because there are millions of affiliate products across every niche you can find on Amazon.

You can earn up to 10% in commission for qualifying purchases. Unfortunately, the cookie is extremely short at only 24 hours, which can make it more challenging, especially for newbies.

Avangate

For content creators who want to promote digital products, the Avangate Affiliate Network is a solid choice. The marketplace has hundreds of digital products in various categories, including business, design, security and more.

While commission rate and cookie duration are determined by the product you choose to promote, some commissions are as high as 50%. The standard cookie duration seems to be 30 days.

Awin

Awin is a super popular (and large) affiliate network with products from top brands like Under Armour and Viator. It’s known for fast and frequent payments, which is why it’s particularly great for new marketers who want payouts ASAP.

The commission rate and cookie duration will vary based on the advertiser. You can see details about the brand’s affiliate terms in your dashboard.

BigCommerce

If you’re in the business or e-commerce niche, you won’t find a better commission rate than BigCommerce offers, which is why it’s amongst the best affiliate programs for beginners.

The company is an e-commerce platform that sells software to retailers that helps them with everything from building and optimizing an online store to marketing and security.

The affiliate program pays a 200% commission on a new customer’s first monthly payment, as well as $1,500 for a new enterprise customer. While the cookie duration isn’t disclosed on the BigCommerce affiliate program landing page, online reports say it’s 90 days.

Bluehost

Bluehost is a leading service for registering domain names and setting up website hosting. If you create or maintain websites for people or businesses, you may be able to generate affiliate income by promoting Bluehosts’ services.

The affiliate program pays $65 for each qualified referral, and you’ll get ads and banners to put on your website. The cookie duration is 90 days.

ClickBank

ClickBank is one of the oldest affiliate marketing networks around. The marketplace focuses on digital products, though you can find some physical products here as well.

The commission, cookie and other specifics depend on the product you choose to promote. You can get a brief overview of the product in the marketplace, and then you can learn more by clicking through to the dedicated affiliate page.

An example of a program among the best affiliate programs for beginners.

Commission Junction (CJ)

Commission Junction, which is often referred to as simply CJ, has a lot of big brands that you can apply to partner with for affiliate marketing, like Blue Apron, Disney, Overstock and TurboTax.

After joining Commission Junction, you can apply for the affiliate marketing programs that interest you. Acceptance and program specifics will depend on the brand(s) you choose.

ConvertKit

ConvertKit is a powerful email marketing platform for creators who want to use a newsletter to reach, grow and monetize their audience.

The ConvertKit affiliate program pays a 30% commission, and you can get recurring payments for 24 months for each person who signs up. The cookie duration is not disclosed.

Coursera

Coursera is an online learning platform that offers courses, degree programs, certifications and more across a variety of disciplines. Affiliate marketers can promote all sorts of courses using banners and text links.

The Coursera affiliate program pays up to a 45% commission when users make a purchase. That’s the high end of commissions — some are lower at 15%, while others may be somewhere in the middle. The cookie duration is 30 days.

FlexOffers

The main benefit of FlexOffers is that it has a lot of affiliate programs from top brands like Dell, Hulu, Microsoft, Nike and Sephora. By joining FlexOffers, you can apply to the affiliate programs that make the most sense for your business. Affiliate program specifics will depend on the brand you partner with.

MaxBounty

MaxBounty has a different structure than other affiliate programs. Instead of only paying a commission when a user makes a purchase, you can decide on the action that makes the most sense for you and get paid when users take that action. This type of cost-per-action (CPA) structure can be more lucrative than a sale-based earnings structure.

Brands that partner with MaxBounty include AARP, Enterprise, Noom and Walmart.

NordVPN

If you’re a YouTube watcher, you may have seen your favorite creators do an ad break for NordVPN. This virtual private network (VPN) service allows for safe, private internet access via encryption.

The affiliate program offers commissions ranging from 30% to 100%, and the cookie duration is 30 days, which is why it’s earned its place among the best affiliate programs for beginners.

The NordVPN commission structure.

Semrush

Semrush is an all-in-one marketing and SEO platform that makes some of the best tools in the industry.

Its affiliate program offers $200 per sale, and you even get $10 for each free trial a user signs up for. The cookie duration is extra long, too, at 120 days.

Additionally, Semrush will provide promotional materials, and high-performing marketers can get bonuses on top of their earnings.

ShareASale

ShareASale has a huge selection of 25K brands across a broad range of sectors, and you can apply for different affiliate programs once you sign up. Brands in the ShareASale network include Etsy, Allbirds and Reebok.

While ShareASale is a less popular affiliate marketing network than its competitors, it has an impressive number of brands, many of which have higher-than-average payouts.

How To Choose the Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners

When considering an affiliate marketing network to join, consider the brands they partner with, how easy the platform is to use and the quality of customer support. Since you can only access some information before signing up for the service, you may not know how everything works until you go through the sign-up process.

When looking for the best affiliate programs for beginners to join, whether you’re considering stand-alone programs, brands that are part of a network, or both, there are a few details to consider:

Commission Structure and Percentage

Typically, affiliate programs pay per sale, so you’ll want to look at the commission you’ll make on each purchase. It’s not uncommon to see a low commission of around 5%, but obviously, the higher the commission, the more you can make.

Some brands will even offer commissions of 50% or more, and we’ve seen offers as high as 100% and even 200%.

These offers aren’t necessarily too good to be true, but read the fine print. It may be that there’s an extra-high commission on the first sale and then normal-sized commissions on subsequent purchases by that customer.

You may also come across programs that pay per action or make revenue share (RevShare) payments, which may or may not be worth it for you based on the product, your audience, your goals, etc.

Average Order Value

Most affiliate programs will give you an idea of the brand’s average order value. This can help you figure out how much you’ll make per sale.

A company with a high order value may offer a lower commission, but that can still equate to a nice-sized payout.

However, a company with a low order value that also offers a low commission may be more of a red flag, at least until you’re a more established affiliate marketer.

Cookie Duration

The tracking cookie is how the affiliate program knows which customers have clicked on your affiliate links and then gone through with a purchase. The cookie duration refers to how long the customer has between clicking on your link and making a qualifying purchase so that you can earn a commission.

For example, a 30-day cookie means that if the user clicks your affiliate link and then makes a purchase from the brand within 30 days, you’ll earn a commission.

Some brands have very short cookies — for example, the Amazon Associates cookie is only 24 hours. Others will have a 365-day cookie.

While longer cookies are more convenient to affiliate marketers than short cookies, you don’t need to automatically say “no” to brands that offer short cookie durations. Just make sure the cookie aligns with your business.

For example, travel brands tend to have longer cookies because travelers may take time to book a trip. Online retailers, on the other hand, often have shorter cookies because those purchase decisions are made faster.

Payout Threshold and Schedule

While when you get paid isn’t as important as how much you get paid, it’s still a consideration. When you get paid by an affiliate program depends on two things: the payout minimum and the deposit schedule.

The payout minimum is the amount you have to have earned before you can get paid. Some companies have small minimums like $25, while others will need you to have $100 or more in your account before a payment can be made.

Also, different affiliate programs will have varying payment schedules. Some will pay every other week, and others will pay monthly, for example.

Wrapping Up

Affiliate marketing can be a great income stream for content creators who are passionate about and experienced in their chosen niche.

When you’re just starting out, it’s smart to choose the best affiliate programs for beginners because you’ll be able to get set up with them quickly and learn as you go. From there, you can always look into new programs and networks to vary your affiliate income.

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