The 7 Best Affiliate Programs & Networks For Beginners

Best Affiliate Programs Networks

You now have your affiliate website setup, got some quality content, and probably even some traffic.

So what now?

Now you need to start the monetization part. Which starts with joining an affiliate program.

Affiliate program? What is that?

Oh, don’t worry. I’ll tell you.

In this post, I will show you 7 of the best affiliate programs and networks you can choose from.

But first, here’s a little sneak peek of what’s inside…

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What affiliate programs and networks are;
  • Choosing the right program;
  • And 7 of the best affiliate programs and networks.

Let’s jump right in.

What is an Affiliate Program?

An affiliate program is a little complicated to explain.

Most people refer it to as a “way for people to make money without selling your own products”. That can’t be right. That would be affiliate marketing, technically.

But according to Webopedia, an affiliate program is an automated marketing program that is designed to help merchants recruit affiliates and offer them the tools they’d need to send them traffic, leads, and customers.

I hope that made sense.

A good example of an affiliate program would be Amazon Associates. They provide all the marketing tools and handle all the payments for their affiliates.

What is an Affiliate Network?

An affiliate network is a little different.

These are third parties that connect the merchant and the affiliate together.

It’s like this:

What is an Affiliate Network

For merchants, it’s like a network full of potential free salespeople.

For affiliates, it’s like a giant network of affiliate programs.

A good example of an affiliate network would be CJ Affiliate or Shareasale. They both handle “the affiliate program duties” for thousands of merchants.

Got it? Alright…

Choosing The Right Affiliate Program(s)

There are plenty of affiliate programs available. Each with different operating policies in place.

The same can be said about their systems which you will be using to set up your referrals with different products.

Payment structures used to pay out your commissions will differ between affiliate programs too, so choose wisely.

Oh, and one more thing:

Don’t join every affiliate program or network you like. You’ll get distracted. So don’t.

Now let’s get into the nitty gritty…

The Best Affiliate Programs and Networks For Beginners

Alright. Let’s do this!

Amazon Associates

The Amazon Logo

With products being listed from over 1.5 million sellers, Amazon is among the largest affiliate marketing programs around.

And it’s one the only non-affiliate-networks on the list.

There are literally tens of thousands of affiliates who have signed up with Amazon for one fundamental reason:

Amazon’s affiliate program is probably the easiest to use, being the most user-friendly affiliate program that makes this list.

The program is used by affiliate professionals and beginners alike.

Advanced features such as API integration is on offer for sophisticated developers. Most affiliates and internet marketers swear by it as one of the best affiliate marketing programs that’s readily available to use and gain from.

The best part about Amazon is, in my opinion, no matter what niche or sub-niche you’re in, Amazon will more than likely have a product or two for you to make money off.


  • Free to sign up.
  • Earning reports that are live and real-time. These reports offer the latest stats on a real-time basis for your affiliate partnership with Amazon.
  • Easy to use.
  • The most flexibility offered: with millions of products to choose from, a diverse portfolio of ads and affiliate links can be produced and used on your website, covering various product departments.
  • Cookies! When someone clicks on your Amazon affiliate link and visits Amazon a couple weeks later, you’ll get commission.


  • Meagre commissions. Amazon Associates offers only 4 percent as a commission to begin with. This means that you’ll have to help sell products at a higher volume to make your operation sustainable.
  • Longer pay cycle. Be prepared to wait for up to two months after the sale has occurred before getting your commission in the form of payments.

Google AdSense

The Google AdSense Logo

Ok, I know it’s technically an ad program, but it made it on this list because it’s been one of the most popular ways to monetize a site for a lot of years.

Google’s “affiliate program”, if you would call it that, is a particular favourite among affiliate markets because of the high rewards and various monetization options offered by AdSense.

Publishers are provided with advertisement units, enabling them to sign up for the program network. Upon doing so, publisher accounts earn money through advertisements posted on their websites or blogs, by Google.

There are rules when you play by Google, however. A strict approval and membership process is enforced and payouts aren’t always easy if you’re running a small business.


  • Minimal traffic qualifications. To get into Google’s good graces as an affiliate member, all you’ll need is a blog or website with unique, fresh content. Even a low-level operation wherein you’re barely getting a hundred or so unique visitors as web traffic is permissible. All it takes to be approved is a quality website with unique content.
  • Plenty of monetization options. Monetize through various means including search, videos, feed, mobile website, online embedded games and more. The money paid out isn’t merely restricted to ads posted on your website alone.
  • Locally based payout methods. Regardless of the country you’re in, AdSense will offer a payment method that’s readily available in your country without having to go through any hurdles or delays.
  • Customer support that’s 24×7 and efficient.


  • A strict code.A single plagiarized article could prove to be the undoing of your AdSense application. Any article that gets flagged by Google as plagiarized will have Google revoking the original content as well as the copied duplicate.
  • Limits on payment structures. The minimum payout amount is $100, which makes it particularly unappealing for beginners and small businesses unless they’re in it for the long run.
  • It will take a lot of traffic and a lot of clicks to make a decent amount of money.

CJ Affiliate (Formerly Commission Junction)

The CJ Affiliate Logo

Popularly known as Commission Junction, CJ Affiliate is easily among the most expansive networks for affiliate marketers. Predictably, the program requires a dedicated influx of time for managing and monitoring a marketer’s dashboard. This is in contrast to programs such as AdSense which can be set up initially, wound up and then set to work on its own accord.

CJ Affiliate is often considered to be the biggest affiliate network available online by many and you’re likely to find every major retailer to have a presence on CJ affiliate. Such efficiency is delivered to beginner affiliate marketers too, with a quick approval process which will have you running plenty of offers on your website in a few short hours.


  • Huge network.There are over 3000 merchant partners for instant access.
  • Customization. Lots of it. The CJ affiliate program will help customize advertisements that’ll fit seamlessly in your blog, regardless of size specifications. Additional reporting capabilities offer enhanced optimization and customization features which is befitting of a top affiliate marketing program.
  • Very good search options. You are able to sift through advertisements and utilize searches to meet your needs.
  • Quality help and support. Their support team is full of friendly representatives who are available online and offline (telephone).
  • Free to join.


  • Not entirely beginner-friendly.With plenty of options and tweaks at hand, it may prove to be daunting for a beginner at first glance. It will take time for new marketers to get accustomed to.

Note: US applicants will have to give CJ their tax or SSN information. Which can be a problem for people who don’t have them (it’s more common than you think).

Rakuten Marketing (LinkShare)

The Rakuten LinkShare Logo

An ever-present since the early days of affiliate marketing, LinkShare is now a part of the Rakuten affiliate network.

LinkShare offers multiple versions of advertisement banners with a simple code, as a distinctive feature.

This keeps you from manually having to choose which ad that’s required to run on your blog, which can be a cumbersome process.


  • Free and easy to sign up.
  • The unique proprietary rotation process. Plenty of time can be saved with the automatic feature of choosing various sized adverts that are best suited for your blog or website.
  • Various means to deep-link. In granting you better control of your marketing links, you can select the specific page where the click redirects to.


  • A small pool. With the network being smaller than many of its competitors, it will inevitably take time to structure a profitable affiliate program.
  • Unpredictable payment system. Commissions are only paid out after merchants pay their dues, which results in an inefficient payment system.


The Shareasale Logo

With nearly 4000 merchants among its ranks, ShareASale makes a big splash as one of the biggest affiliate programs around.

Specific offers that come from a thousand merchants exclusively available at ShareASale can prove to be extra rewarding, with similar offers not available on other platforms from those merchants.


  • Detailed metrics. A large amount of data is available for each offer, which helps in making an informed decision as a marketer. They include: Reversal Rates, Average Commission, Average Sale Amount and Earnings per Click.
  • On time payments. You can expect to have payments made out on the 20th of every month, as long as you have a ShareASale account balance of at least $50.


  • Weathered, dated dashboard. In spite of the attractive metrics at hand, the interface and dashboard to be used at ShareASale feels old, making it not the easiest dashboard to use for beginners or new marketers.


The New Clickbank LogoIf you’re running a tech blog or website, Clickbank is a must have affiliate program.

There are over 12 thousand vendors and a hundred thousand affiliates enrolled in the program. In being more of a payment processing tool with strong implementation of effective affiliate marketing, Clickbank makes a strong case for being among the best affiliate programs.

Most marketers would agree to the notion, with the program’s strong track record of delivering timely payments.

Beginners can get a quick start, with means to configure payments and affiliate programs merely taking minutes to set up.


  • Excellent commission rates.With high payouts due to the type of products sold (predominantly tech and digital), commissions of anywhere between 50 to 75% for every sale is of the norm.
  • Quick, timely payouts. Direct check deposits sent over to you happens at least once a week, giving you quick access to your commissions from even recent sales.
  • Complete 24-hr customer support.


  • Scams. Promoted products can fail to deliver with the established existence of scams on Clickbank. A quick tip: Product returns offered at 10%-20% are readily suspicious so it’s good practice to avoid such products.


The JVZoo Logo

JVZoo is similar to Clickbank. It’s also been said that JVZoo will “kill” Clickbank.

I believe it’ll happen. Someday. Maybe even within a year.

But anyway…

Most of the network’s merchants and affiliates are internet marketers.


  • On time payments. There is rarely a time where they mess this up.
  • A lot of products to choose from if you’re in the internet marketing and blogging niches.
  • They pay affiliates through PayPal. Affiliates get their commissions instantaneously.
  • A good layout. It’s easy to navigate through the site. But they don’t have a mobile version (at the time of writing this).


  • There are a lot of low quality products and services. Choose wisely.
  • The refund process is a little complicated. Likewise, the payment process.
  • As mentioned above, there is no mobile version. Which can suck if you’re on the go.

CPA Networks

What is CPA? CPA stands for cost-per-action.

It’s where an advertiser pays affiliates to get people to the advertiser’s offer and complete a specific action. The “action” can be something like:

  • giving their email address;
  • giving their first (and last) name;
  • giving their phone number;
  • registering for a membership;
  • completing a survey.

For every “action” completed, you can get somewhere as low as $.01 to even $100. It all depends on who the advertiser is, and what the action is.

Here are a few of the most popular and trustworthy CPA networks:


So now you’ve got a list of 10 programs all together to choose from. Which should be more than enough to keep you busy for a few hours.

But remember…

Don’t join them all. Joining every affiliate program you like can get you distracted. Which would mean you wouldn’t get any work done.

End Note: If you’re new to affiliate marketing, I’d recommend getting some affiliate training.


Julian is a blogger, an affiliate, and a niche explorer. He loves everything in internet marketing. He also runs other blogs, such as Blogging Aid, where you can go to learn how to take your blog to the next level. You can also find him sharing tips and resources on Twitter. So check him out.

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