Best Affiliate Marketing Programs [For Beginners]

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best affiliate marketing programs for beginners

Best Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners

In this article, I have drawn up a shortlist of some of the best affiliate marketing programs for beginners. I have also done a direct comparison with Amazon vs Aliexpress Affiliate programs.  These are all well-established programs that are easy to sign up for, and will often give help and useful advice to get you started. Ultimately, this makes perfect sense because if you are making money for them, you’re making money yourself!

When you have decided on your niche, it would be worthwhile making a list of the potential products you would like to promote, and finding relevant affiliate programs. You can do this by performing a search on Google by typing ‘{PRODUCT} affiliate program’, or looking up the product on Amazon, eBay or Aliexpress.


What are ‘high ticket’ items?

High ticket items are products or services that have a higher sale value and will yield a higher commission rate. When you promote physical items through affiliate programs like Amazon Associates, commission rates are relatively low. You will need to be promoting high ticket products in order to make a decent living.

what are high ticket products

What constitutes a high ticket product?

If you concentrate on promoting physical products within a particular niche, and you use Amazon as your primary affiliate program. You will receive 6% commission per sale.

If you promote lower value items that typically sell for  $15, then you will only receive 90 cents commission per sale.

You would need to refer a 100 sales a day in order to make $90.  Now, assuming you have built you site up to 1000 visitors a day, and you get a 2% conversion rate (how many of your visitors actually go on to make a purchase). This would mean that 20 sales at 90c commission per sale, would earn you a measly $18. If, on the other hand you promoted products with a sale value of $100, you would only need to make 15 sales to make that $90.

So, you get the idea? Higher ticket items are the way to go if you are promoting physical products through Amazon, Aliexpress or eBay.

What about digital products?

Digital products include things like eBooks, online courses and software. Because of the relative low cost in creating digital products, some vendors are willing to pay very generous commissions to their affiliates.

There are digital products on Clickbank and JVZoo that may sell for $70, but the commission rate is 50%. That means you would only need to refer 3 sales a day to make $105.

promote digital products through affiliate marketing

Ultimately, whether you choose to promote physical products, digital products or both, really depends on your niche and your target audience. Check out the affiliate programs below. I am personally a member of all of them, but the ones that work best for my particular niche are Amazon and Aliexpress.


#1 Amazon Associates

amazon associates affiliate program
Amazon associates have been going since 1996, in fact it is one of the oldest internet affiliate marketing programs going.

Amazon have come a long way since then and they are now the number one eCommerce platform on the planet, and there are literally millions of products to promote in practically every niche you can imagine.

The great thing about Amazon Associates is it is very beginner friendly and it is quick and easy to join, but you will need to familiarise yourself with their terms and conditions first. Amazon pay commission rates of 6% (IMPORTANT SEE BELOW) on physical products and slightly more on digital products like eBooks.

Ideally you want to promote ‘high ticket items’ – these are products with a higher sale value. There are plenty of people out there earning five figure monthly commissions just by using this method.

amazon associates homepage screenshot

The great thing about promoting products from Amazon, is that it is a global household name, and as such has a certain degree of trust amongst consumers. Customers are more likely to purchase from Amazon, as opposed to a relatively obscure company that they have never heard of.

If you are starting off from scratch, it would be worth making sure you have a decent amount of traffic coming to your website as you will need to make at least three confirmed sales within a 180 day period, or your account may be suspended.

What is Amazon OneLink and how many countries are supported?

amazon onelink supported countries

Amazon OneLink enables users of multiple associates accounts to better monetise their international traffic. It works by sending your customers to their local Amazon website when they click on an Amazon.com link. At the moment it only works with text links and you will need to have an Amazon US account to enable this feature.

The only countries currently supported by OneLink are: US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Japan.

Amazon Native Ads

Amazon Native Ads are currently only supported in the US and UK. If a lot of your traffic comes from these countries then it a great way to improve sales.

You can create ad blocks based on search keywords or use their recommended products option – this will show a block of ads to the user, based on their previous browsing on Amazon. You can also customise the ad blocks to show a particular product group.

Amazon Native ads screenshot

The great thing about native ads, is you create the ads on your Amazon US associates page, but if you browse your website in the UK, the ads will show UK products. This can be done without having to use the OneLink code.

You still receive your 6% commission if anyone makes a purchase through a native ad. In the future, Amazon is planning on adding Canada to native ads, and hopefully more countries will follow.

Amazon cuts affiliate commission rates by 50%

With effect from the 21st April 2020 Amazon Associates (US site) cut their commission rates for a lot of products from 6% to 3% effectively halving the revenue some affiliate sites make from Amazon. This hasn’t yet been applied to other territories, but I think that is only a matter of time.

The harsh reality is Amazon don’t really need affiliates like they used to. They are THE global e-commerce superpower and as such can do pretty well much what they want. It’s a shame, because I know countless sites who relied heavily on Amazon.com for their revenue.

The moral of the story is simple – don’t put all your eggs in one basket, use multiple affiliate networks and diversify. Amazon isn’t the be all and end all!

When and how do I get paid?

Products ordered through you Amazon associates affiliate links need to be confirmed delivered – there is a 60-day period, and as long as the customer does not return the product you will be credited with the commission.

Amazon earning dashboard

I earned my first commissions in March and received my first payment at the end of June. Payment is made through direct bank transfer, if you sign-up for Amazon locales in different countries you can be paid by cheque or international bank transfer – your bank will charge you a fee for the currency conversion.


#2 Clickbank

clickbank affiliate network
Clickbank specialise in promoting digital products. There are literally thousands of products to promote, with the most popular niches being Health and fitness, make money online, cooking and DIY.

The great thing about Clickbank is that commission rates can be as high as 70%. There are a lot of people making a very nice living promoting digital products, and I would seriously give it a go.

There are some great resources available to affiliates from some of the product vendors, including promotional material, banner ads, free eBooks, videos, email swipes, landing pages and more.

clickbank homepage screenshot

Another other big plus is they are one of the best established and longest running affiliate networks out there. You will always get paid on time.

There are a couple of downsides to Clickbank. The first one is the more popular digital products have very high competition, so you will have your work cut out for you in order to promote them successfully. The second thing to watch out for are some of the products come across as very ‘scammy’. Thankfully though Clickbank offer all or their customers a 60 day money back guarantee.

Clickbank like to look after their affiliates and offer some excellent courses for beginners. The best one is Clickbank University. If you are serious about affiliate marketing, there is some excellent information on their course. Another great course which specifically focuses on promoting Clickbank products is John Crestani’s Super Affiliate – this program consistently gets amazing results for its students.


#3 JVZOO Affiliates

jvzoo affiliates

JVZOO, like Clickbank specialise in the promotion of digital products, primarily relating to software, health and fitness, e-commerce and affiliate marketing. If you are in the ‘make money online’ niche, then JVZOO is probably one of the first affiliate programs you should join.

jvzoo affiliates page

One great thing about JVZOO, is the free training and resources available to affiliates. Ultimately, if you do well, then so do they. There is also an excellent diversity of good quality products available to promote, and as these are exclusively digital products the commission rates are usually very high.

There are plenty of affiliate marketers earning 5 figures a month just off JVZOO – if you are prepared to put the work in, the earning potential is fantastic!


#4 eBay affiliate

ebay partner network

The eBay partner network is another popular affiliate program. You can promote pretty much anything for sale on eBay including fixed price listings and auctions for used products. Let’s say for example your niche was vintage motorcycle parts, and there was an auction listing for a 1969 Triumph Bonneville engine. You could promote this auction within your blog and if one of your referrals went on to be the winning bidder, then you would receive a small commission.eBay Partner network homepage

As with Amazon, eBay is a household name used by hundreds of millions on people worldwide. There are very few people who haven’t heard of them. They also have a lot of trust as their platform is very biased towards buyer.


#5 Aliexpress Affiliate Program

aliexpress portals affiliate program

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Aliexpress, it is a Chinese online market place where you can buy practically anything from a bracelet through to an electric bike. They have millions of products available from various Chinese-based sellers and suppliers.

Aliexpress affiliate dashboard screenshot

Buying on Aliexpress is generally cheaper than other sites, as you are dealing direct with the manufacturer or supplier. This is one of the reasons it is the platform of choice for small e-commerce stores who use dropshipping as their method of order fulfilment.

The Aliexpress affiliate program is my primary source of income for my niche blog, but I also use Amazon associates and a couple of other affiliate programs. As you can see from the screenshot below, there is great earning potential with the Aliexpress affiliate program.

Aliexpress affiliate earnings

The great thing with Aliexpress, is that it is one platform that ships globally. And supports multiple languages. Some suppliers even have regional distribution centres in the US, EU, Russia and Australia making for much quicker delivery without any customs charges.

Their general commission rates at 7% are slightly higher than eBay and Amazon’s affiliate programs, but the big downside is the $50 maximum commission you can earn off a single item. Because of this commission cap, it isn’t really worth promoting items much above $800, as your commission will stay fixed at $50, even if you sell something for $2000.

On the plus side, their tracking cookies last 3 days compared to Amazon’s 24 hrs. You also earn an extra $4 for every new user you refer (depending on country).

When and how do I get paid?

The payment duration with Aliexpress is similar to Amazon. You will need to set up your international bank payment details in your account settings. Aliexpress pay in US dollars through their Alipay system, and you can withdraw your earnings on or before the 20th of each month.

You do not have to withdraw the full amount. You get charged $15 per withdrawal by Aliexpress and you will also pay a currency conversion fee if your local currency is not in US dollars.

The Aliexpress affiliate program has great earning potential if you have an international audience, with the only real caveat being that some customers may be reluctant to purchase direct from China.

I build all my own links, but if you are looking for a quick and easy way to integrate Aliexpress products into your website, it is worth trying the Aliplugin .

Get the AliPlugin HERE

It should be noted, that Aliexpress no longer gives out their API to affiliates, so if you use this plug-in you will need to join a third party affiliate program that works with Aliexpress – this means your commissions will be marginally lower, but you will be able to integrate products, images and descriptions very quickly indeed.


#6 Market Health Affiliate Program

market health affiliate program

If you are in the very popular health and beauty niche, then Market Health would be a good place to start for some fantastic affiliate offers.

market health affiliate homepage screenshot

Like Clickbank, a lot of these products offer a much higher commission than you would find on other affiliate networks. They also have some very respectable brands as clients. There are usually some affiliate resources available from the vendors, which always helps.

I know for a fact some affiliates are making silly money promoting these products, and as long as you can drive good traffic to these offers, then you can’t go wrong.

If you are new to the world of affiliate marketing or are looking to further monetise an existing website. Joining Amazon associates and Aliexpress express affiliate programs could be a wise move (depending on your niche).


Amazon Associates vs Ailexpress affiliate programs

Amazon associates vs Aliexpress affiliate

Both Amazon and Aliexpress are mammoths of the eCommerce world with the former being substantially larger.

Amazon is currently ranked number 1 in e-commerce and 13th most visited website on the planet, with Aliexpress not far behind at 3rd and 31st respectively – source: SimilarWeb.

The amount of daily visitors, these giants of eCommerce receive is mind boggling! If you can tap in to just a small fraction of this you are on to a winner!


Which Affiliate program is best suited to me?

To decide on whether you should join one affiliate program or another (or both) you first need to understand your target audience. Geography plays an important role, for example: If most of your traffic comes from Europe, Russia and South-East Asia, Aliexpress is very popular there, and Amazon do not have a Russian site. But if a lot of your traffic comes from the USA, Canada, UK and Germany then Amazon makes a lot of sense.

multilingual websites

The best thing to do is analyse your website’s traffic and go from there. I utilise both Amazon associates and Aliexpress affiliate programs on my primary blog as I receive lots of international traffic.

Both Amazon and Aliexpress affiliate programs have their good and bad points. I have listed them below in more detail.


Amazon associates Pros and Cons

Pros:

Promoting products that are being sold through a globally recognised platform like Amazon has benefits: The name engenders trust amongst consumers.

Amazon associates is one of the longest running and most established affiliate programs going –  Bloggers have been making money online for years by simply referring customers to products,  using tried and tested methods like products reviews or comparisons.

Amazon is the global leader in eCommerce and is available in a lot of countries – primarily the US, Canada, UK, EU, Japan, Brazil, Australia and many others.

There are no caps on commission payouts – you get 6% whether you sell an item for $5 or $5000.

Everything on Amazon can be promoted through an affiliate link.

You get paid monthly by direct bank transfer (after the first 60 days).

Their are lots of tools and resources available to affiliates to make selling to your audience easier.

amazon affiliate promotional offers

Amazon native ads can be a great addition to your website. At present, these are only available on Amazon US and UK, but there are plans to add more countries in future. You can custom create ad blocks that match the flow and feel of your content. Users can perform Amazon searches whilst still on your website.

Cookies – If any of your referrals make a purchase within 24 hours of clicking your affiliate link, you will receive the commission, regardless of whether they purchased the original product they clicked on, or something completely unrelated.

Amazon OneLink Geo-targeting. This currently only works in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan. If you write a product review, and include text links to that product within the review and a visitor from Germany clicks on the link. OneLink will redirect them to the product (or similar product) on their local Amazon.

The only downside to this, is you will need to have an Amazon Associates account in all the countries currently supported. You will also need a US account to create the initial tracking link, and you will need to install a small line of code on your website.


Cons

Now Amazon US have cut their commission rates to just 3% you will have to refer a massive amount of traffic to their website in order to make any meaningful income. Especially if you are promoting low ticket items such as books.

It is easy to fall foul of Amazon’s strict operating terms and conditions  – make sure you familiarise yourself with these thoroughly before starting. I have made genuine mistakes in the past and have had my account suspended. If the infringement is minor, you can usually re-apply to join.

24 hour Cookies. This is a fairly narrow window for your referral to make a purchase. This is why it is important to provide decisive and useful information on your blog.

At least 3 confirmed sales are required within a 180 day period otherwise your account will be suspended. You can re-apply straight away, but it is better to make sure you have a consistent stream of traffic to start with. I recommend building your blog, attracting your audience, and then joining affiliate programs.

You can only apply to the affiliate programs in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Japan (as a non-resident). Other countries require you to be a resident (Australia for example).


Conclusion

As you can see there are quite a few pros and cons, but In light of recent events, I think it may be likely in the future that Amazon stops its affiliate program altogether. So make sure you have alternatives. For the time being it’s still worth promoting their products, but you will have your work cut out to earn any decent income.. There are many bloggers out there who will continue to make a decent income from being an Amazon associate. The main thing to remember is only promote higher value products, and make sure Amazon isn’t your only source off affiliate income.


Aliexpress Affiliate pros and cons

Pros

Aliexpress is one website that ships globally. It doesn’t matter if your blog visitor is from Brazil or Kazakhstan, if they click on a link they will be taken to the product page in their native language and currency.

The 7% commission rates are significantly better than Amazon.com (3%) and if you refer a new buyer, you get a bonus of $4 (this varies from country to country).

3 day tracking cookies – you have a much better chance of making a sale, even if it wasn’t the original product clicked on.

Regular payouts – after 60 days, you can access your earnings usually on or before the 20th of every month. Payment is made by international bank transfer from Alipay – I am in the UK and when I request a withdrawal, it is usually in my local bank account the next working day. The only time this can be delayed is during Chinese public holidays (like Chinese New Year celebrations).

There are literally millions of products to choose from.

Some sellers on Aliexpress now have regional fulfilment centres in all the major areas, like Europe, North America, Russia and Australia. This will increase the likelihood of your referral making a purchase.

Aliexpress screenshot

Cons:

As a Global platform, Aliexpress isn’t as trusted in some countries as Amazon. Some customers are concerned about delivery times and returning faulty items. If you are promoting Aliexpress products, do your homework and check the seller’s feedback rating thoroughly.

$50 commission cap – this is the maximum you can earn from a single product sale. For example: If you refer a sale to a product that costs $1000, you will only get $50, if you referred a sale for a similar product on Amazon, you would receive $60. Therefore, there is no incentive to promote anything above the $800 mark.

Unlike Amazon, not all the products or sellers on Aliexpress are supported by the affiliate program. Individual suppliers may choose whether or not they participate in the affiliate program. The problem is, this can change on a week to week basis. Product ‘A’ from seller ‘B’ may be promoted one month, then the following month the seller may not be participating.

Aliexpress do say, that if this is the case, the visitor will be redirected to a similar ‘promoted product’. However, I have noticed that unless I check and refresh my affiliate links regularly, I sometimes get a dip in commissions when this happens.

Another big issue related to the above, is if your referral clicks on a link for product ‘A’ and then decides to purchase the same product from a different seller. If that seller is not currently promoted, then you will not receive a commission for that sale.

There are some third-party affiliate marketing platforms available like AliPlugin, these used to require the Aliexpress API key (application programming interface), so they could import product information direct from Aliexpress to your website. This was a quick and easy way to add products to your affiliate blog.

aliplugin screenshot

As of March 2020 Aliexpress have reinstated access to their API program, there are conditions for applicants, but at least you can now apply again.


Conclusion

The Aliexpress affiliate program is very beginner-friendly and it can be very lucrative, especially if you are promoting products in the $100 – $800 range, but it does have its downsides.

I have done well out of being an Aliexpress affiliate so far, but once you get into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the program, you start to understand the negatives. All in all, it’s a good program, but it is still quite young in comparison to Amazon Associates. I can only assume (and hope), things will improve with time.

If you have a global audience, then I would say it is definitely worth joining. There doesn’t appear to be a time limit on how many sales you make. If your primary audience is in the US or UK, then it would still be worth joining, but I would make sure I joined other affiliate programs as well.

If you want to add products to your blog quickly, then the AliPlugin does the job very well, but I personally haven’t tested it with the latest API, and if you can’t get an API you will need to join a third party affiliate platform like Admitad.


So Which is Better – Amazon Associates or Aliexpress Portals Affiliate Program?

To be honest, there’s no clear winner. As I have stated before, both programs have their advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I would have the best of both worlds (and I do).

In my particular niche, I earn a lot more from Aliexpress than all the other Amazon affiliate programs together. But what works for me, may not necessarily work for you.

In view of recent cuts to Amazon commission rates in the US and possible cuts to their commissions in other locales, Aliexpress looks far more tempting.

Basically do your research, and find out what works best for you. If you have a global audience then I would definitely recommend joining both programs. If you are more localised, for example North America, then I would stick with Amazon, but factor in Aliexpress and eBay partner network.

That’s it for now. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Thanks for reading!

 

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