Interested in affiliate marketing but not sure where to start? With so many affiliate marketing programs to choose from, how can you be sure you’re picking the right one?

Today we’re detailing some of the most popular affiliate marketing programs so you know which one to choose. And when you are running a small business (like a blog), it’s very important to do your research before making any major decision.

Keep reading to learn about the best affiliate programs for small and medium-sized blogs.

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What Exactly is Affiliate Marketing?

In case you aren’t familiar, affiliate marketing is an easy, trouble-free way for bloggers and website owners to make money online. This form of passive income has become quite lucrative for some bloggers and site owners, and you could be one of them.

Even social media sites can promote an affiliate marketing campaign.

As an affiliate marketer, you don’t have to offer any of your own products or services. Rather, you place promotions on your site that link to other merchants’ services or products instead.

You earn revenue from the sales of certain products or clicks on certain services. You never to provide that service or manufacture, buy, or inventory those products.

It’s an easy way to do sales without having to worry about having to go through any of the traditional sales models.

The merchant who actually owns the product or service will handle the logistics. They will take the order, process the order, collect the payment, and ship the product to the customer. But if all you’re doing is linking a customer to a merchant’s site, how exactly do you make money?

Affiliates can sit back and collect money by earning a commission for every product they direct someone to buy. Let’s say you post product reviews on a beauty blog. Your link to a particular product. Your reader decides they’re interested in the product and clicks on the link.

The link takes them to a store where they can buy the product, and if they actually make a purchase, you collect a commission.

That affiliate link allows the merchant to track the sale back to you and reward you with a specific commission for each product sold.

Not all affiliate marketing programs are equal, and some offer benefits that others do not. Some only allow you to link to products.

Some are service-oriented. To help you figure out which is the best one for your blog, check out our list of the six most popular affiliate marketing programs.


Rakuten Marketing

Rakuten Marketing is a well-respected global affiliate network. Through Rakuten, many marketers have enjoyed great success. It allows marketers to engage with shoppers in a unique way, making it ideal for bloggers and influencers online.

Rakuten understands that success comes through partnerships. They connect advertisers with publishers to reach new audiences and influence customers to shop.

In this scenario, the advertisers are the brands or retailers making, selling, and shipping the product. Publishers are the bloggers who wish to promote those products online.

Screenshot of Rakutens publisher solutions

As a blogger, you can influence readers to visit a merchant site to see or buy a product you recommend. This helps the advertiser by getting new traffic and enjoying new customers who will make repeat purchases.

For the past seven years in a row, Rakuten has been voted the #1 Affiliate Marketing Network. This is due, in part, to the fact that they have strict rules and security measures in place. Their Brand Quality and Regulatory Compliance Management Service minimizes risk for brands. It also ensures that the affiliate program is in line with federal regulations and requirements.

With this service, Rakuten monitors suspicious activity and documents risk. They measure the frequency and severity of violations to the platform. They also help to identify opportunities for improvement and remediation when needed.

It is because of this service that so many high-profile brands use Rakuten for affiliate marketing. Sephora, Guess, New Balance, Best Buy, Macy’s, and Lilly Pulitzer are some of the brands who partner with this great affiliate program.


CJ Affiliate by Conversant

CJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction) operates globally and is the largest affiliate network in North America. This California-based network offers a variety of different services for advertisers and publishers.

They also provide the option to self-manage or company-manage your affiliate relationships.

CJ Affiliate provides affiliate, media, and tracking services to track your affiliate programs. Like other affiliate networks, they offer the traditional pay-per-action program. But they also offer a PayPerCall program.

The PayPerCall program ensures that affiliates get paid commission for every lead they generate. It monetizes your existing ad placements and provides an added revenue stream that you won’t get with other programs.

With PayPerCall you’ll have the opportunity to expand both online and offline campaigns.

To become a publisher in the CJ Affiliate network, you’ll need to apply to an individual advertiser program. Your website will need to have solid, engaging content and have a professional look.

You’ll also need a site that draws some traffic. If you don’t generate any commission within a six month period, CJ Affiliates will deactivate your account.


Amazon Associates

With over one million products for sale, it should come as no surprise that Amazon Associates is one of the largest affiliate programs out there. It is also one of the most diverse. Any product on Amazon can be an affiliate product, so the possibilities are endless.

It is a traditional pay-per-sale affiliate program that pays an established commission rate for the sale of every product you drive. But it has one key feature that’s worth pointing out.

Let’s say you direct one of your readers to a specific product on Amazon. If your reader buys the product, you get your commission. But if your reader buys a different product altogether or even ten other products, you’ll still receive a commission on them.

With so many products for customers to choose from, including digital products like eBooks, there’s a good chance they’ll buy more than the one item you sent them there to buy.

The broad range of products available for sale on Amazon means that you’re sure to be able to find products that fit your niche. No matter how specific your blog may be, you can bet that Amazon has a related product somewhere in its catalog of items.

If you’re serious about monetizing your website or blog, Amazon Associates is worth looking into.

While Amazon is very upfront about their commission structure, you will notice lower percentages compared to some of the higher commisions from some of the better-paying affiliate programs.

On the plus side, their linking tools is very user-friendly. It’s easy to integrate into your site. You can view a variety of different reporting tools to track your progress, traffic, earnings, trends, and history.

Check out this post to learn everything you need to know about the Amazon Affiliates Program.


Google AdSense

Were you interested in trying the Google Affiliate Network but didn’t get a chance to sign up before they shut it down? Don’t worry – the Google AdSense program may be a perfect fit for you.

Google AdSense differs from other affiliate programs for the fact that it is not a pay-per-sale program. Rather than linking to products in your posts, you choose actual ads that you want to show up on your website.

Talk to successful bloggers and other experts and you’ll hear some controversy around this subject. Some people hate how ads look on their site. Those who want to monetize their blog don’t seem to mind it. So you must make that decision for yourself.

Screenshot of a page from Google AdSense How It Works

One of the reasons why some bloggers don’t like to have ads on their site is the lack of control they feel they have over those ads. But in the case of Google AdSense, you will have some measure of control. You can decide how and where ads appear on your site.

You can select the ad formats you like and block the ones you don’t like. You can also control the quality of the ads, which is a unique feature to AdSense.

When you allow AdSense to run ads on your blog, it’s an easy way to bring in some extra cash. If you don’t feel like writing posts and reviews to generate clicks on your links, it’s a passive way to earn some revenue.

If you prefer to review and recommend products within your posts, this might not be the best affiliate marketing program for you.


PeerFly.com

PeerFly.com is a PPA network that has its own proprietary software system. This program works differently than Rakuten and Amazon Associates, as it provides you with a variety of offers to choose from.

Some of the brands they’re promoting at the moment include UBER, Gamefly, Fiverr, and CBS. As an advertiser, you can choose from the offers available and promote only the ones that suit your blog or site.

PeerFly.com accepts publishers from all over the world and has a presence in over 165 countries. It is recognized as one of the best programs for its popularity with both advertisers and publishers.

It’s also known for its great staff, easy-to-use platform, and dedicated account management service.

With thousands of merchant offers to choose from, PeerFly has something for everyone. They care about customer service and communication, and they’re well-respected for being easy to work with.

As part of the PeerFly guarantee, they promise to match or pay even more commissions than any other affiliate network. Depending on how your account is set up, you can earn payments every 30, every 15, or even every seven days.


MaxBounty

As an affiliate publisher with MaxBounty, you’ll enjoy a cost-per-action (CPA) scenario. With MaxBounty you don’t have to promote a product or have a customer buy that product in order for you to get paid.

Instead, you’ll get paid when your readers decide to click on an ad that takes them to a survey, a way to check their credit, or a variety of other services.

These services and tasks range from clicking on a mortgage ad to receive a loan quote to clicking on a dating site or downloading a game. You can also send your readers to relevant subscription services.

Screenshot of the Max Bounty website

For example, if you blog about dogs, you can link your readers to a BarkBox subscription. Have a tech blog? Encourage your readers to click a link to enter a sweepstake to win a 4K TV or a Roomba.

The offers are wide and varied, making it easy to find an offer or an ad in your niche.

MaxBounty has a good reputation among its affiliates. Publishers appreciate that commissions are paid on a weekly basis and find it easy to add relevant ads to their site. In the past few years, the platform has gotten a variety of strong reviews and positive write-ups.


Picking the Right Network

Like anything important, you’ve got to do your research before you dive in head first. If you’re interested in affiliate marketing, make sure you understand the ins and outs of the business model before you enlist. If you do it right, there’s a lot of money to be made.

But if you’re concerned about the way your blog will look or how it will be perceived, you’ll need to find the program that’s right for you. It’s important to understand what different affiliate programs have to offer, how much you can earn, and how much control they’ll have on your site.

  • Are you a blogger who loves to write, review products, and make product recommendations? Consider traditional pay-per-sale programs such as Rakuten and Amazon Associates. You’ll promote and link to a product in a blog post, and when customers click to buy that product you’ll earn a commission.
  • If you prefer to run actual ads on your blog, Google AdSense is a great option. You can select the type of ads and the ad formats you like, and when a reader clicks on the ad you’ll earn a commission. It’s a great option if you don’t want to include links or post reviews. If you don’t mind having ads appear on your blog, this one is worth checking out.
  • If you’d rather link your readers to offers, contests, surveys, and services, check out MaxBounty. Here you can link your readers to everything from sweepstakes giveaways to car insurance quotes.With MaxBounty it’s easy to find relevant offers that make sense for your blog and your audience.

Do your research, understand your limitations, and decide how much or how little control you need.

With some patience, good readership, and high-quality content, you’ll be earning some passive income in no time!

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