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Ranking of the best affiliate marketing programs in 2021

1081 754 Magdalena Kukułka

You can do affiliate marketing with a variety of offers, traffic sources, and methods of promoting products and services. You might think about starting affiliate marketing if you have a popular website, a prospering social media profile or if you have neither of those and just want to start earning some side income.

No matter what your circumstances are, earning affiliate commissions is possible for anyone, and the first step is finding a suitable affiliate program.

If you want to learn more about the best affiliate marketing programs, read the article and see which option suits you best!

Is affiliate marketing still profitable in 2021?

Before we get into details discussing affiliate marketing programs, let’s get this question out of the way. Is affiliate marketing still profitable? Yes, of course, it is. Affiliate marketers all over the world are still starting and succeeding in their media buying efforts.

The competition, however, is huge. Nowadays, despite the worldwide increase in digital literacy and mobile usage, market saturation has reached a point where new joiners need to really put some effort into testing the ground before they can start earning money. Affiliate marketing veterans will say it used to be different in the past and people could make crazy amounts of money if they managed to find a good niche.

Luckily for you, it’s all still possible. Yes, the market is more saturated. Yes, you need to dig deeper to find a gem that will work and yes it might now take more testing/budget to start earning. However, those that don’t get discouraged, are still faced with the possibility of turning a small investment into a nearly passive income allowing them to live comfortably and never have to worry about keeping a 9-5 job.

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How can you promote affiliate programs?

Affiliate programs can be promoted in many different ways. In general, your approach should depend on whether you already have some kind of an audience or not.

If you run a blog, a website, an affiliate site, or any kind of platform that receives daily visits, you can share an affiliate link with that audience and hope they choose to engage in it. Of course, if you want them to become interested in whatever you’re trying to promote it’s best to create content about the offer. Be it a blog post, a video, or a social media post, your task is to convince the chosen audience to purchase the affiliate product.

From the merchant to the end-user

There are many types of affiliate programs and consequently, there are many different affiliate marketing conversion flows. The merchants who own the products are willing to pay a commission to people who manage to sell their products. So, if you want to try your luck, you need to sign up for an affiliate program and pick an offer. You’ll receive a unique affiliate link and every time someone purchases a product after following that link, the merchant will know it’s you who brought on that sale. That’s when you receive your affiliate commission.

You don’t even have to worry that a user might decide on a purchase after arriving at the website through your link but only make the purchase later on. Let us assure you that these links can magically connect the dots and assign the purchase to you up to a certain amount of days after the link was initially clicked on.

Additionally, some merchants might have a set commission rate while others will pay you a different amount depending on product types. If you manage to sell a whole subscription, you might earn a recurring commission for as long as the user stays subscribed, for example to a streaming service or a meal plan.

What are the best affiliate programs in 2021?

It might be very difficult to single out the one best affiliate marketing program mainly because there are a lot of good ones out there. Each program will have different performance or different benefits depending on what traffic you choose to supply and how well you’ll manage to match the audience.

The options below are all reputable and tested programs that work for small and big affiliates alike. Whether you have a particular traffic option in mind already, or you’re open to new challenges and will go wherever the trends will take you, these are the affiliate programs you need to know about.

Amazon Associates

The Amazon Associates affiliate program might be the most popular among bloggers, vloggers, and anyone who reviews things for a living. Anyone can join and anyone can reap the benefits. The commission rates are based on product categories and the programs have special options for both beginners and experienced affiliates.

The Amazon Associates program is one of the best affiliate marketing programs you can join but it also has certain requirements. People accepted into the program are required to abide by very strict regulations concerning the kind of content they’re allowed to publish. In short, Amazon’s program is ideal for people who have their own website or a social media profile and who produce the highest quality of content.

Cookie duration: 24 hours (90 days for items added to the cart)

Payment methods: bank transfer, gift card, check

Best for: website owners, influencers, bloggers

CJ Affiliate

Commission Junction (CJ Affiliate)

CJ Affiliate is a program that allows you to access tens of thousands of merchants and their affiliate products. It’s basically an affiliate program that lets you participate in other smaller affiliate programs. The reasons for choosing such a solution are endless.

CJ Affiliate makes it easy for you to see which program is currently bringing profit to others who advertise it and it’s a benefit impossible to overlook. Also, they represent some of the biggest internationally known brands for various areas of life, including e-commerce so they really are perfect for every season regardless of your preferred niche.

Cookie duration: varied, set by the merchant

Payment methods: direct deposit, check, or Payoneer

Best for: beginner to advanced affiliate marketers

Clickbank

ClickBank

Clickbank is one of the biggest global retailers and a huge affiliate marketplace. In structure, it is similar to CJ Affiliate. It offers a multitude of programs and products to advertise and the commission rate varies depending on the worth of the product.

The biggest upside of Clickbank is that you can advertise their products just about anywhere. Display traffic, email marketing, social media content, YouTube, Pinterest, or ad exchanges, anything works and anything can make you money. The variety of products is also a big plus. Affiliate links from Clickbank will fit any type of audience and there are plenty of programs available that offer a recurring commission rate.

Cookie duration: 60 days

Payment methods: direct deposit, wire, and check

Best for: complete beginners, social media ads (such as Facebook or Pinterest)

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Rakuten Advertising

If Amazon and eBay programs are not enough for you, you can try Rakuten Marketing which gives you the possibility to advertise from such giants as Walmart or Best Buy. The choice of offers is huge however, as a result, Rakuten Advertising is not ideal for complete beginners. If you want to join you’ll need to prove that you do in fact have some previous experience.

Additionally, the Rakuten LinkShare panel might give you a somewhat steep learning curve however once you do get over the complexity of the platform, you’ll gain access to some of the best offers on the market.

Cookie duration: varied

Payment methods: check, direct deposit, PayPal

Best for: website/blog owners, intermediate affiliates

eBay

eBay Partner Network

Just like Amazon, the eBay partner network needs no introduction. It might be a bit less popular but it is not in any way worse. In fact, both beginner and professional media buyers should consider this as one of the best options.

eBay partner network gives you access to hundreds of offers from direct merchants only. Again, the number of available programs is impressive, and quite often the commission rate is relatively high as well. It’s one of the best affiliate programs for other reasons as well. There’s a low entry threshold, it works similarly to Amazon and you can even receive payments via PayPal.

The only downside? 24-hour cookies. This means sometimes people will learn about a product thanks to your advertisements but you won’t earn a commission because they’ll make the decision to buy it after 24 hours.

Cookie duration: 24 hours

Payment methods: Electronic Funds Transfer or PayPal

Best for: beginner and intermediate affiliates with a following

awin

Awin

Awin is one of the best affiliate programs out there because it’s versatile, has many options, and is overall a reputable and long-standing affiliate platform. Additionally, their blog, market insights, and news & events sections offer so many valuable insights, tutorials, and informative articles you can easily join with little to no experiences of that particular form of affiliate marketing and you’ll learn to promote affiliate links in no time.

The platform is especially beneficial if you’re a blogger as most of their information is aimed at that kind of a publisher. Additionally, they have their own plugin to help any up-and-coming bloggers track their results.

Cookie duration: 30 days

Payment methods: wire, SEPA, BACS, domestic payments for chosen countries

Best for: bloggers, social media marketing

flex offers

FlexOffers

Flex offers is an affiliate network with thousands of affiliate programs available. FlexOffers gives all of their publishers dedicated affiliate managers and the categories for available programs range from entertainment, sport, and fitness, travel, nutra to electronics, careers, and cars.

This is, again, one of the best affiliate programs for anyone but especially for website owners. The commission rates are attractive and the FlexRev$hare program gives publishers additional opportunities to earn by referring other publishers and earning a small commission rate for their earnings. FlexOffers is filled with programs for recurring commissions and if you have a website about a particular niche, you’ll be able to get affiliate links that suit your audience perfectly.

Cookie duration: 30 day

Payment methods: bank transfer, wire transfer, check, PayPal

Best for: bloggers and website owners

affiliaxe

AffiliaXe

AffiliaXe is yet another program that collects thousands of merchants and offers so you can pick whatever you feel suits you best. Unfortunately, they focus on catering to the needs of experienced affiliates so their approval process is very strict. If you manage to prove you do have experience and are capable of handling their offers, you will thrive at this network.

The offers are high quality and they often have high commission rates. There is a sign-on bonus and the programs connect you with many merchants and products including antivirus software, web hosting services, apps, nutra programs, and others.

Cookie duration: 30 or 60 days

Payment Methods: PayPal, Payoneer, ACH (US Only), or bank wire

Best for: experienced affiliates

Sharesale

ShareASale

ShareASale is an affiliate network that adopts a similar model to Amazon Associates except that the products you’re allowed to promote are not limited to Amazon or any single retailer. In fact, ShareASale allows you to promote just about anything, from services, software, programs, shops, to digital and physical products of any kind. Targeting mainly small and medium-sized businesses, it’s friendly to both newbies and professionals alike and allows for business-to-business promotions.

Lastly, the ShareASale affiliate program has an outstanding reputation of never missing payments and always doing its best to avert a crisis or any smallest misunderstanding. By joining one of their programs you can be sure to receive top-quality service.

Cookie duration: varied

Payment methods: Auto-deposit, Paypal, Wire, ACH, Check

Best for: Anyone (but plus points if you have a website)


You don’t have your own website? There’s nothing to worry about. Affiliate marketing without a website is perfectly possible.

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How to pick the best affiliate marketing programs for beginners?

As a beginner to affiliate marketing, you might be interested in slightly different things than a professional affiliate. The best affiliate programs, despite often being beginner-friendly, might not be the optimal choice for you.

There are numerous questions you need to ask yourself before you pick a program. Although in the case of promoting offers through an audience that you already have there isn’t much risk involved, you should still consider what kind of affiliate programs are really worth putting your effort into.

Things you should consider before picking an affiliate program:

1. How are you going to promote it?

Do you have your own website? If not – do you have an audience? It doesn’t matter whether you’re a YouTuber making vlogs, if you have a successful social media profile (or even profiles), or maybe you’re just very active on a niche forum and people are looking up to you. You need to think about what your audience expects from you. If you’re a beauty Instagrammer posting daily tips you might do well promoting an affiliate program selling makeup products with 24-hour cookie duration.

On the other hand, if you have a motoring blog and you post some detailed reviews once a week, you might expect your visitors to come back periodically and the vast majority of them wouldn’t be interested in beauty products. In this case, you can opt for offers that a typical petrolhead would like with a long cookie duration.

Lastly, if you’re a complete newbie, looking for an affiliate marketing program that can be promoted using ad exchange platforms, and other paid traffic options, you need to check whether the affiliate program doesn’t require you to have a website.

2. How big is your audience?

This can definitely be a dealbreaker for many people. While it’s enough in most affiliate programs to have a website with steady traffic, sometimes you will encounter more exclusive programs that require you to have a set amount of daily visitors to even be accepted into the program. The thing is, sometimes you won’t find out what’s required of you to join so the best thing you can do is track the performance of your affiliate websites and profiles, apply to networks and see if you meet the requirements.

3. Do you have previous experience?

Quite often, the proof of previous experience is what can make you a good candidate for a publisher. Some of the best affiliate programs out there (such as AffiliaXe or Flexoffers) require some kind of proof of experience. They might call you so you could tell them more about the products you normally advertise, the affiliate networks you’ve joined, how you prepare your marketing materials, and what niches you normally work with.

Sometimes, you’ll need to provide affiliate network references and in some cases, you will only be accepted if you receive an invitation from someone trusted by the affiliate managers of the program.

If you’re an individual with little experience and you won’t be accepted into your top choices, there’s nothing to worry about. You can join other newbie-friendly programs and gain experience which you can then use to apply again.

4. Can you invest money into promoting the program?

Sometimes having websites or social media profiles is just not enough to promote affiliate programs successfully. Sometimes you’ll need to prepare and receive a recurring commission on a single offer that might require changing your strategies, ads and producing more content.

If you have your own audience and you can promote affiliate links on a daily basis by just including them in your posts – that’s great, you might not need to invest money. But if you choose to engage with a demanding program that sells best through paid traffic, you will need money to invest.

Even if you only intend to place a product link on your one or many websites, you might still need to invest money into SEO tools and plugins that will make your site and links visible and ranking in search engines. There are often hidden costs associated with affiliate marketing and unless they’re already accounted for in running your affiliate website, you should be prepared.

5. Are you in it for the long haul or just testing?

There are programs out there that only start to really pay off when you’ve been doing them for a while. If your mind is set on affiliate marketing and you are aware of the benefits and downside and the potential traffic costs, you should focus on affiliate programs that give you extra benefits.

These benefits might include an additional affiliate commission for sales made by users you’ve referred to (Paxful), or increasing commission for your efforts and time spent on promoting their offers. Kind of like loyalty programs, you might say.

The best affiliate marketing programs for beginners are also those that offer shorter payout periods. While Net 60 might not bother you as much when you have plenty of income streams, if you’re a beginner trying to keep the cash flow, you might opt for a payout period of Net 30 or shorter (PMAffiliates for example has a Net15 payout schedule).

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Zeropark recommendations

You can find all sorts of products to advertise if you know where to look. Zeropark wants to make it easy for you to find good affiliate programs and affiliate networks so we did our research for you. Actually, we went one step further and made a deal with our top choice programs to get you (our client) special benefits.

If you want to join the best affiliate networks and programs, all you have to do is visit our Deals & Offers page and pick whatever you feel suits you best. We might have some recommendations.

Looking for a special deal? Look below!

GG.bet is an affiliate program offering high revenue share deals and a platform that helps you measure data. Additionally, you can count on them to provide any affiliate marketer with design resources and any help they might need promoting their products. Oh yes, and most importantly, they cover sports betting activities for all of the biggest online and traditional sports events so you won’t run out of the occasions to promote their offers.

Black Hawk Survival is a leading company with outdoor, tactical, and survival gear. That’s also what makes them a very universal affiliate program to promote. You can fit the products thematically with all kinds of travel and hobby niches but you can also promote them with pop, push, or domain redirect traffic. There’s a 30-day cookie duration and a base commission of 15%… Unless you are a Zeropark client, then we might have a special something for you.

OneHash is yet another gambling/gaming/casino affiliate program with a special deal for affiliate marketers using Zeropark. Although the products offered are digital, the commission rate you can make from promoting them is very real. Once again, these are the kind of offers that can perform well with any kind of traffic and with audiences with varied preferences. Whether you’re an affiliate marketer using paid traffic or you just want to place the affiliate link on your website, this program is for you.

Direct Affiliate has the most exclusive selection of in-house nutra products in Europe. If you’re into cash on delivery offers, you will surely find something for yourself. Any affiliate marketer with some basic experience in this type of offer can join the program and earn a steady commission rate. Just take the offer URL and place it on your site or landing page.

BongaCash might not be for everyone as it’s an adult webcam site, however, the conditions of the affiliate program make it worth joining. Lifetime revenue share, bonus for referred affiliates, pay per email structure (yeah, you’ll get paid every time somebody confirms their sign up) make it a very attractive affiliate program. And that’s not even including the bonuses you get for being a Zeropark client.

Hopefully, all that talk about bonuses and benefits makes you really eager to check out the Offers and Deals tab and start reaping the benefits of being a ZP client.

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Conclusions

There are many types of affiliate marketers and many types of affiliate programs. Whether you have your own affiliate company, site, or social media profile you can take affiliate links and join programs for beginners that will help you learn your first commission.

Website or not, your choices are plenty. Amazon Associates. Rakuten Advertising, CJ Affiliate, eBay partner network, Flexoffers, ShareASale, Awin, or Shopify, Bongacash, and gg.bet. That’s not even all the options. While this article presents the most popular choices, you can read up on your own and find whatever suits you best.

Make sure to consider the 5 points before focusing on a network. Once you know what you need, pick an affiliate program and start driving traffic to it.

 

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