You’ve taken time to craft and build the ultimate blog, authority site or interactive platform. The content is engaging, rich in information and impressively niche — you’re feeling like a veritable online marketing maestro.
But, if all that hard work doesn’t lead to real (and substantial) dollars in your pocket — your efforts have all been in vain.
The best affiliate programs for beginners turn your content into a sustainable and profitable money machine.
The Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners
In short, they’re the simplest way to generate income through your website.
For the complete lowdown, stay tuned for my What Is Affiliate Marketing article — however, in a nutshell, affiliate programs are the bridge between your content and a retailer’s products.
Ok, if you want to get down to semantics, you could call it a commission system. But that has connotations of door-to-door salespersons hawking household detergents and vacuum cleaners.
I prefer to think of it as a gratuity or thank-you payment process.
You write about a product, website, or service you like — you’ve stoked your reader’s interest, so they check it out and make a purchase — and you receive a small cash payment as a reward.
Online vendors want you to be part of their affiliate program — as, it means more sales for them. But, remember, they’re not always acting in your best interests.
If they sign-up two million members, and every one of these eager newbie digital entrepreneurs’ websites leads to one annual sale each — they’re making impressive money. You, however, have just made just one small commission in twelve months.
So, as one of the new-kids-on-the-block, it’s crucial you know what to look for in the best affiliate programs for beginners.
If a program requires you to jump through numerous hoops before they even consider you as an affiliate — then they’re not one of the best affiliate programs for beginners.
Later down the line, you may wish to go down the more ‘exclusive’ route — but as a newbie, you want to begin generating income as soon as possible.
Furthermore, showing an impressive history of affiliate success with one of the easily accessible companies can enhance your website’s résumé in the future — making your application more tempting for more selective programs.
As an affiliate freshman — you possibly don’t possess the programming skills of Larry Page or Satoshi Nakamoto. Hence, if your chosen partner requires you to enter endless streams of code into your website — avoid.
The best affiliate programs for beginners will deliver a transparent and uncomplicated commission system.
I always suggest using the ‘one-sentence test.’ That is, can you explain how it works in one simple phrase that, say, your mother could grasp if she asked how you make a living.
Passes the one-sentence test:
‘I earn 10 percent of the retail price of every product sold.’
Fails the one-sentence test:
‘For every third exclusive unit sold in every second bi-annual quarter, I receive 7.56 percent (or $3.29 whichever is the smaller) of the retail price, less taxes and delivery — naturally adjusted to compensate for the Nikkei Dow 255 index.’
The best affiliate programs for beginners should offer an extensive array of products. This means that you can promote an interesting variety of content and therefore items on your website (naturally, within a niche) — by signing up to just one or two third parties.
For example, if your online presence centers around gardening — you can use the same program for the majority of these outdoor essentials. This is less time consuming (and makes income-monitoring more straightforward) than signing up to separate schemes for lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and wheelbarrows.
Down to business.
Based on the above criteria, here are my ultimate income-generating picks of the best affiliate programs for beginners.
The granddaddy of all the affiliate programs — well, kind of.
You’ll hear it banded around the internet that Amazon began the online commission-based marketing scheme.
That’s not strictly true.
For trivia nerds, this credit should actually go to PC Flowers and Gifts who, in 1996 (yes kids, we had the internet then, of sorts), paid commission to The Prodigy Network for directing traffic to their site.
Anyways, Amazon was definitely one of the forerunners — and launched in the same year. However, this marketing behemoth undoubtedly defined the rules of affiliates — and became a benchmark for the rest.
Their success, and then for you as a newbie affiliate marketeer, lies in the numbers:
The last point is invaluable for the online initiate — with that volume of items — the chances are they have something relevant to your niche.
And, an additional reason that Amazon is one of the best affiliate programs for beginners — the customers you direct to the site don’t have to buy the product you’re promoting. They click to look at your suggested best-ever soup ladle — but instead end up buying a 30-foot yacht — you receive commission on the latter.
Another one of the forerunners of the affiliate revolution.
Starting in 1998 from a small garage in San Diego, California — it has grown to boast over 200 million customers in 190 countries around the world.
The concept, like many of the world’s greatest inventions, came from trying to solve a problem. In this case, how to deliver goods worldwide while not losing profit on shipping costs. The answer — only retail digital products (although to be fair, it has now begun to branch into some physical items).
It’s not just its market share and a vast array of content that makes it so desirable for the online entrepreneur. The reason that it’s one of the best affiliate programs for beginners is that it can provide welcome inspiration on what products to promote.
Through its marketplace — you can see what items are ‘hot’ (i.e., how well they’re selling) through its Gravity Score.
Don’t worry — I’m not suggesting you spend your time on content that promotes someone’s old shoes or a broken food blender.
Surprisingly, eighty percent of all the products on eBay are new — despite its (unfair) image of an online garage sale. Combine that with 182 million users and an eye-watering 1.4 billion listings, and it’s apparent why it’s one of the best affiliate programs for beginners.
eBay itself, not the retailers, manage the scheme — so you’re not dealing with Hank’s sister in Connecticut.
There are no exclusivity clauses — so it’s an ideal program to combine with another affiliate method such as Amazon. Furthermore, with signing up for the scheme only taking around five minutes — many happy users say it’s the easiest application process of them all.
Since 1998, Commission Junction has been at the forefront of affiliate marketing.
Unlike some other schemes, it doesn’t tend to retail products from the lesser-known manufacturers — instead, it (currently) concentrates on the more famous brands such as GoPro, Disney, UnderArmor and Samsung — and, around 3000 others.
Ranked the number one Affiliate Market Vendor by Internet Retailer — its intuitive dashboard and vast spectrum of information on trending products make it one of the best affiliate programs for beginners.
That said, it’s probably best to migrate to this system after gaining a few month’s experience in one of the more basic programs such as Amazon.
My final advice — don’t run before you can walk.
The best affiliate programs for beginners allow you to commence generating income from your content without any prior experience.
And, while your passive turnover is growing — and your site is building an impressive history of success — you can then, if you wish, start to seek out and approach seriously niche individual retailers.
The sooner you sign up with one of the above schemes — the quicker the revenue will hit your bank.
So, don’t procrastinate to affiliate!