Looking for an easy way to monetize your website traffic? Affiliate marketing is the way to go.
With affiliate marketing, you recommend products or services to your audience and earn a commission on purchases made through your referral links.
Promoting your affiliate links is easy. The hard part is finding good-quality, relevant products that are worth recommending. Ideally, you’ll want to look for something that resonates with your audience and pays a good commission rate.
To make this process a little easier, I’ve compiled a list of the best affiliate marketing networks and platforms on the market.
These platforms connect you with thousands of brands and merchants that offer affiliate programs so you should easily be able to find something that works for you.
Ready? Let’s get started!
ShareASale is my overall top pick. It’s one of the most well-established networks out there and is used by over 225,000 affiliate marketers. Collectively, these affiliates earned over $1 billion on the platform last year.
There are over 16,000 merchants listed on ShareASale’s database — with more added every week — so there’s no shortage of programs to choose from. These merchants include big-name brands like Etsy, BuzzFeed, Wayfair, Reebok, and Honey, as well as smaller, niche retailers.
There’s a good range of products (both digital and physical) spanning 39 consumer categories so no matter what niche you’re operating in, you’ll have no trouble finding a good fit for your audience.
To sort through all your options, you can take advantage of ShareASale’s excellent search and discovery tools. For example, you can filter available affiliate programs by category and see a quick snapshot of all the key information for each offer at a glance on the results page, such as commission rates and average earnings per click (EPC).
ShareASale even rates each merchant based on how profitable their affiliate programs are. You can click on the Power Rank search category to get a list of the top 100 best-performing merchants.
Cookie duration and commission rates vary by the merchant but are generally fairly generous. Expect to earn somewhere between 5% and 20% commission per sale.
Once you’ve found something you like, you can apply to join the program in a couple of clicks, but you’ll need to wait for approval from each merchant individually. This is the case for most affiliate marketplaces.
ShareASale also provides robust reporting features to help you keep track of your affiliate campaign performance. Real-time analytics lets you know instantly whenever you make a new sale or earn a commission. It can help you to find out which of your merchant partners are performing best, detect broken links, and more.
- Wide range of merchants and products (digital and physical)
- Trustworthy and reliable
- Great discovery tools
- $50 minimum payout
- Not as good for global
Awin is another super popular affiliate marketing platform with over 16,500 merchants and 225,000 affiliates.
Awin is actually the parent company behind ShareASale, but the two networks operate independently.
The biggest difference between them is that Awin caters more towards a European and global market, with a greater global reach and better multi-language and multi-currency support, whereas ShareASale caters more towards US-based merchants and affiliate marketers.
Another big difference between the two is that Awin charges affiliates a $5 application fee, whereas it’s free to sign up to ShareASale. This is a bit of a bummer, but it at least gets credited back to your account if/when you’re approved.
Like ShareASale, Awin gives you access to a wide range of affiliate programs for both physical and digital products, across all verticals. This includes programs by big names like Under Armour, StubHub, Etsy, Gymshark, and AliExpress.
Commission rates vary by the merchant but are usually around 5%, and there’s a $20 minimum payout.
- Greater global reach
- Complementary programs to ShareASale
- Low minimum payout
- $5 sign up fee
PartnerStack is more than just an affiliate marketing network. It’s an all-in-one partnership platform that’s purpose-built for SaaS businesses.
If you’re an affiliate marketer looking to promote SaaS (software as a service) products like social media marketing tools, marketing platforms, accounting software etc.,PartnerStack is a great place to start your search.
Unlike the other affiliate platforms we’ve looked at so far, PartnerStack caters exclusively to these types of businesses. They don’t have as many registered merchants as Awin or ShareASale, but there are still over 200 programs on the network to choose from, and all of them are in the SaaS sector.
Some of the big names you might have heard of include Omnisend, Keap CRM, Unbounce, and Sprout Social. You can browse the marketplace for free and enroll in as many programs as you want — there are no sign-up costs or hidden fees to worry about.
There are some really juicy commissions on offer too. It varies from program to program, but some merchants pay as much as 50% commission or $2,000 dollars per sale you generate.
- High commission rates
- Supports flexible commission structures
- Ideal for digital products
- Not as many registered merchants as other platforms
4. Amazon Associates
No roundup of the best affiliate marketing networks would be complete without mentioning Amazon Associates. It’s probably the best-known affiliate program on this list and gives you access to literally millions of products.
The way Amazon Associates works is that anyone can sign up as an associate and start earning commission on basically anything sold on Amazon (the largest ecommerce store in the world). That includes both Amazon products and products sold by third-party sellers.
Once you’ve signed up for the affiliate marketing program, all you have to do is open up the product page of the item you want to promote, then grab your unique referral link and start using it. Once a customer clicks your referral link, they enter your cookie window and you earn a commission on any product they purchase off Amazon within the next 24 hours (even if it’s not the product you initially linked to).
For example, let’s say you link out to a computer desk and someone clicks through your link and buys it, plus a bunch of other desk accessories. Not only will you earn a commission on the desk, but also on everything else that was in their shopping cart.
Even if they didn’t buy the desk at all, but bought something completely unrelated a few hours later, you’d still get a payout! And given that Amazon is so popular, this happens more often than you might think.
Another great thing about being an affiliate for Amazon is that you get to leverage the platform’s brand recognition. Amazon is a household name, which means your audience is much more likely to trust the platform and feel safe putting in their payment details. This translates to better conversion rates for you.
Sounds pretty good, right? But what’s the catch? Well, Amazon doesn’t offer as attractive commission rates as most of the other platforms in this list. Rates vary depending on the product category and can be as low as 1%.
For example, you can earn up to 7% on purchases in the Home category, but you’ll earn only 1% on things like video games and computers. Amazon has also been known to slash its commission rates from time to time.
The program is also notorious for its strict affiliate policies. After your first few sales, they will review your Associate account to make sure you’re compliant with their Ts and Cs. If everything isn’t in order, they can close your account.
- Quick and easy sign-up process
- Nearly endless product selection
- High conversion rates (great brand recognition)
- Universal cookie (earn commission on all eligible sales within cookie duration)
- Very low commission rates
- You must register for the program in each country separately
- Strict terms and conditions
5. Walmart Affiliates
If you’re not happy with Amazon’s commission rates, you might want to check out Walmart’s affiliate program instead.
Walmart is a retail giant. It might not hold as great of a share of the online retail market as Amazon, but it commands equally strong brand recognition and has a similarly wide range of products — plus an (arguably) more generous commission structure.
Walmart offers greater commissions than Amazon in certain categories, such as toys. If you’re planning on promoting physical products in these categories, Walmart is probably going to be the better option. As an added bonus, Walmart also offers three-day tracking cookies (Amazon’s lasts just 24 hours).
There are tons of physical products to choose from on Walmart but if you’re hoping to promote digital or SaaS products, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Sign-up is simple and free, and the dashboard is easy to navigate. You can access text links and professionally-designed banners from the weekly newsletter, or generate affiliate links for any product on Walmart in a few clicks.
- Huge product selection
- Longer cookie duration than Amazon
- High conversion rates
- Still fairly low commission rates (but better than Amazon in certain categories)
- No digital products
6. Rakuten Advertising
Rakuten Advertising is a well-known affiliate marketing network that caters to the top end of the market. It connects serious publishers with some of the biggest brands around, including household names like Walmart, Best Buy, Wells Fargo, and Virgin Holidays.
It doesn’t offer access to as wide a range of merchants as some of the other networks on this list (though there are still over 1,000 brands on the platform). But what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality.
Rakuten has also implemented some innovative features to their platform that make your life as an affiliate easier. These include:
- Discovery tools – Rakuten’s Matchmaking AI provides you with data-driven partnership recommendations so you can find programs that are a good fit for your audience.
- Outstanding support – Regular account reviews from the publisher team deliver useful insights, provide you with ongoing strategy support, and can help connect you to the right advertisers.
- Commissioning Suite – You can take advantage of various commissioning models including dynamic commissioning, coupon commissioning, and multi-touch commissioning
- And more!
Commission rates and cookie durations vary depending on the program you sign up for, and the minimum payout is $50.
- Trustworthy and reliable
- Lots of high-end brands
- Excellent support and features
- Not as many merchants as some other platforms
7. CJ Affiliate
CJ Affiliate (formerly known as Commission Junction) is another one of the largest affiliate marketing platforms in the world. It boasts a huge network of hundreds of brands and thousands of publishers, who collectively earn over $1.2 billion every year.
Some of the more recognizable merchants on the platform include Barnes & Noble, IHG, Priceline, Overstock, Office Depot, and Grammarly. Affiliate programs are ranked based on their average EPC (Earnings Per Click), so it’s easy to find the best performers.
The initial approval process for CJ affiliate is pretty fast too. It’s free to sign up and you can get on board pretty quickly, but once you’re on the platform, you’ll have to request approval from each merchant you want to promote before you can start earning. You may also lose access to the platform if you don’t make any sales for six months.
Like Rakuten, CJ provides some cutting-edge tools to help with your affiliate marketing efforts, like their innovative Affiliate Personalisation solution, cookieless cross-device journey tracking, detailed analytics, deep-link monetization tools, customizable product widgets, and more.
The minimum payout for direct deposits is $50. Commissions and cookie durations depend on the merchant.
- Useful integrated tools
- Fast initial approval process
- Good range of merchants to choose from
- The dashboard can be complicated to navigate
Pepperjam is an innovative new affiliate network marketed as ‘the next generation affiliate platform’.
Their revolutionary Ascend Affiliate Cloud is designed to automate the time-consuming, repetitive tasks affiliate marketers and publishers have to contend with while also helping you to maximize your partnership opportunities.
The powerful discovery engine helps advertisers to find publishers and influencers that are a good fit for their program, and the fully integrated analytics and reporting tools provide actionable insights that can help you to hone your affiliate marketing strategy.
Some well-known Brands on Pepperjam include Nordstrom Rack, Puma, MSC Industrial Supply Co, Crutchfield, Ace Hardware, and Everlane.
The application process is straightforward enough. When you apply, you’ll need to verify your email, site ownership, and PayPal account. You’ll then typically have to wait 3-5 days for your account to be approved.
Commission rates are variable and the minimum payout is $25. PayPal is the default payment method and the only option for international payments. For local payments, direct deposit is possible but you’ll need to reach out to publisher support to request this, which is a bit of a hassle.
- Powerful discovery engine
- Straightforward approval process
- Great for physical products
- PayPal required for international payments
Avangate is another affiliate network that’s ideal for promoting digital goods.
Unlike most other platforms on this list, you won’t find any physical products on Avangate. However, you will find over 1200 affiliate programs for software solutions and digital goods. This includes programs from top merchants like Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Malwarebytes, and Movavi.
Avangate supports deep linking so you can set up affiliate links that take the customer directly to the checkout, which can help maximize conversion rates. You also get access to extensive analytics covering all the key metrics: clicks, sales, EPC, conversions, refunds, etc. Other cool features include localized shopping carts, automated data feeds, and dedicated support.
Commission rates vary but are generally very generous (as is often the case with digital products) and can be as high as 85%. Cookie durations range from 30 to 180 days depending on the merchant.
You can choose from several payment options including PayPal, wire transfer, and check. However, you won’t be able to cash out until you reach the minimum payout of $100.
- Great for digital goods
- Wide range of SaaS merchant programs
- Generous commission rates
- No physical products
- Minimum payout $100
ClickBank is a great affiliate network to choose if you’re planning to market digital products, as it has a wide range of digital products on offer.
ClickBank is popular with smaller digital merchants such as businesses selling online courses, eBooks, and the like. This is great if you’re looking for niche-specific products that would be highly targeted to your audience. You can also find some physical products on ClickBank too, but they are less common.
ClickBank has a variety of merchants, and they each choose their own commission structure. Some offer flat rates of commission and some offer percentage commissions. The cookie duration is determined by the merchant too, but most have a cookie window of around 30-60 days. Also, the minimum payout amount is $10.
As ClickBank has a lot of smaller merchants using the platform, you may come across some lower-quality product offerings. However, if you scout around and find the right merchants to promote, it can be a really good platform with a lot of earning potential.
- Good selection of digital products
- Weekly payments with a $10 minimum payout
- Some low-quality products and merchants
11. eBay Partner Network
eBay Partner Network is eBay’s dedicated affiliate network. You can use it to earn commissions by promoting products listed on eBay — another ecommerce giant.
What’s great about this is that eBay offers such a wide range of products, so there’s bound to be something on there that would work for just about any business in any niche.
On eBay, you’ll find mostly physical products but there is a small handful of digital products available too. eBay offers affiliate partners between 50% and 70% of the eBay revenue. This isn’t the total purchase price of the product, but rather, a percentage of the commission eBay receives from sellers.
Like Amazon, eBay’s cookie window lasts 24 hours. This means you’ll earn commission on any purchase made or any bids made within that 24 hours. If an auction lasts longer than 24 hours, you’ll still earn a commission if the winning bid was made during your cookie window.
When you earn commissions through eBay, you can cash out as soon as your earnings reach $10.
- Wide range of products
- Low payout amount
- 24-hour cookie duration
- Commissions are given as a % of eBays revenue rather than order value
12. Refersion Marketplace
Refersion Marketplace is a lesser-known affiliate network that aims to connect content creators with brands that are willing to pay high commissions.
The marketplace was created by Refersion, a well-known affiliate marketing, and tracking software company. On the platform, commissions rates and cookie durations vary from brand to brand.
On average, commission rates vary between 5% and 15% per sale. Most brands offer quite lengthy cookie windows, with some even offering as much as 90 days. Brands using Refersion include names like Stately Wear, Plants by People, and Area Home. On the whole, you’ll find mainly physical products for you to market on Refersion.
Refersion Marketplace also boasts that they offer transparent brand relationships so that you can work with the brands, and create a marketing relationship that is successful. You can contact the brands you work with directly through social media and email to discuss products, sponsorships, and more.
Another perk with Refersion is their first-party cookie tracking. This advanced tracking means that brands can adequately track exactly which affiliate partners are driving sales, and this means that marketers never miss out on hard-earned commission.
As Refersion isn’t as well known as some of the other affiliate networks out there, the brands available on the platform are a little more obscure, and often cater to smaller niches. However, if you’re running a niche blog, and you need specialized products to offer to your readers, then Refersion Marketplace may be a good place to find them.
- High commission rates for some products
- Long cookie windows for some products
- Niche brands and products
- Smaller network of brands
Best affiliate networks – FAQs
That concludes our roundup of the top affiliate marketing networks. Before we wrap up, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the best affiliate marketing networks and affiliate marketing in general.
How do I join an affiliate network?
The first thing you’ll need to do is choose a suitable affiliate network that’s a good fit for you. All of the options in this list are worth considering but you should start with the one that you think suits your niche and that you meet the minimum approval requirements for.
You may need to have a certain amount of website traffic or — if you’re an influencer — a certain number of followers in order to be eligible to sign up.
Once you’ve made your choice, head to the affiliate network website to sign up. Every signup process is different but you’ll typically be asked to provide details such as your blog URL or social media handles.
Once you’ve completed your application, simply wait for your account to be approved and you’re good to go. This might take a few days, depending on the network’s approval timescales.
What is the best affiliate network for digital products?
Most affiliate networks on this list feature a huge number of digital products that you might want to promote. If you’re unsure which to choose, ShareASale is always a good option. They partner with a wide range of brands that sell digital products, including plenty of hosting providers, WordPress plugin and theme companies, etc.
How much do affiliate networks charge?
It varies from affiliate network to affiliate network, but for affiliates, joining an affiliate network is usually (but not always) free. However, if you’re a brand looking to use a platform or network to set up your own affiliate program, then you may be charged an initial set-up fee or monthly/annual fees.
Is affiliate marketing worth it?
When done right, affiliate marketing can be very lucrative — but it’s a lot of work. The success of your efforts will depend on how relevant the products you choose are to your audience and how big your audience is.
To make real money from affiliate marketing, you need to constantly optimize your website to increase your traffic, clicks, and conversions. The greater your traffic and conversion rate, the more money you’ll make.
Choosing the right affiliate marketing network for your business
There’s a lot to consider when choosing an affiliate marketing network.
Most importantly, you’ll need to think carefully about your niche and what kind of products you want to sell. Aside from that, you’ll also want to think about things like approval requirements, fees, average commission rates, cookie windows, reporting tools, etc.
If you’re not sure which one to choose, then you can’t go wrong with any of our top 3 picks. Here they are again in case you need a reminder:
- ShareASale – Best overall affiliate marketing platform.
- Awin – Another great affiliate marketing network, especially if you have a global audience.
- PartnerStack – The best choice if you want to promote digital goods/SaaS products.
And remember: you’re not limited to just one network — you can join as many as you like! If you can’t find a program that’s a good fit for you on one network, move on to the next and keep looking.
Want to learn more? Find out how to get more organic search traffic with these 7 popular SEO tools, and check out the 10 marketing channels your business needs to invest in.
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