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What Is an Affiliate Program?

An affiliate program is an advertising model by which you earn a financial reward for assisting the sales of a product, service, or brand through your website. It is rewarding and an excellent opportunity to monetize your blog or website. This advertising model is prevalent in some niches, and when performed correctly, it can lead to significant financial profits. If you have a knack for original content creation and a dedicated audience and wish to learn more about an affiliate program and how to join one, keep reading, as this article is of great use to you. 

How an affiliate program works

Affiliate marketing is expanding continuously and it allows brands as well as affiliates to enjoy a rewarding collaboration with mutual benefits. The brands use incentives to attract new members and build an extensive affiliate network. But the essence of an affiliate program lies in the relationship of trust built between a brand and its affiliates. 

Though financial rewards are of great significance, the success of an affiliate marketing program depends on the relationship of loyalty that is built and nurtured between a brand and its affiliates. Thus, continuous communication and close collaboration are essential. It requires time, effort, and persistence for a brand to establish regular communication, build relationships, and engage with all the members. This engagement allows for a better understanding of the brand itself and the way to promote it more effectively, with zest and passion. 

Maintaining a close collaboration with affiliates means that a brand can oversee and guide the affiliate throughout the process of content creation. Offering advice, best practices, and insights allows for a more accurate representation of the brand and leveraging online promotion.  

Once the affiliate has published great content that resonates with their audience, readers arrive at the website, where some affiliate links have been carefully and strategically placed. Affiliate links are the dedicated links that lead to the brand, service, or product you promote. Each affiliate link bears a unique tracking number that belongs to one affiliate and is used to identify the sales delivered. Here is an example illustrating how an affiliate program works. 

Example of how an affiliate program works

Mind you, it is only an example, and of course, the terms and conditions differ greatly depending on the brand, the program, and the industry. 

After publishing the content you have created, your readers arrive at your website, click on the unique affiliate link, and land on the product website that you are promoting. If, while navigating around the product’s website, your reader makes a purchase, they are converted into a buyer. Then, a percentage of the sale made is allocated to you for successfully forwarding your blog’s traffic to the product’s website. 

Note that the use of cookies supports the uniqueness of the affiliate links, and in most cases, the affiliate cookies have a 30-day life span. Of course, this varies depending on the program. That being said, any sales made within that period are commissioned to your blog, and you get to earn a reward. The reward varies depending on the industry, the number of conversions achieved, and the type of affiliate program. 

Joining an affiliate program can be a brilliant move, especially if you are a blogger, influencer, social media expert, or website owner.

How do affiliate programs benefit brands?

Affiliate programs allow brands to nurture an extensive network of affiliates to interact and engage with them by maintaining a continuous collaboration. This relationship between a brand and its affiliates is advantageous if performed right. Through affiliate marketing programs, the brand gets to create its tribe of dedicated collaborators. These are third-party websites that provide content related to the brand (enhancing SEO) and promote it to an even more specific and dedicated audience. Brands get to enjoy the benefits of content creation, cross-posting, and guest-blogging without producing it themselves. They get to oversee the process and provide the guidelines and the digital assets necessary. Still, they do not have to dedicate any internal resources to actual content creation or promotion. 

Types of affiliate programs 

So what types of affiliate programs are there for one to join? Let us take a closer look. 

  • Content-based programs. This type of affiliate program is heavily based on the creation of content. It includes blogs, news outlets, podcasts, vlogs, and even social media profiles. All these digital assets are committed to creating specific content for a dedicated audience. Some boost sales through paid advertizing, and others bring in excellent results organically. Bloggers, influencers, and podcasters fall under this category.
  • Coupon-site programs. Coupons have always been popular and have always attracted considerable numbers of visitors. It is no wonder why this is a go-to approach for anyone who wants to start with affiliate marketing. This asset usually helps boost a brand’s sales and promotes it organically while also boosting an affiliate’s commission, especially with a dedicated and established audience. 
  • Review-site programs. These affiliate programs are also quite popular and easy to build. By creating a topic-related website, you embark on publishing reviews about products or services that resonate with your audience and are relevant to your chosen topic/niche/ industry. 

How to become an affiliate

Though affiliate programs can help you make a substantial financial profit, they require much work and meticulous planning to operate fruitfully. Becoming an affiliate is easy as all you need to do is sign up. However, becoming a successful affiliate and yielding profit requires hard work. For this, we have compiled some valuable information to help you find your way around affiliate programs and guide you on how to start making a profit. But first, let us begin by clarifying two significant terms:   

Affiliate vs partner – the meaning

An affiliate is an entity connected and often associated with a brand, service, or product through an affiliate partnership or membership. This membership is not unique but part of a wider network. Affiliates get paid a commission for every conversion (sale). Though there are other compensation models, this one appears to be the most popular with affiliate marketing. On the other hand, partner marketing is the type of collaboration between a brand and an entity that follows a different compensation model than the one described previously. Many influencers follow this approach. They get paid a standard fee, regardless of the results they yield. They may or may not deliver a sale, but their compensation model does not depend on the campaign’s success. In other words, affiliate marketing focuses on payments based on the number of successful sales. In contrast, partner marketing revolves around a business collaboration between two entities that have agreed on a standard fee regardless of the results. 

How to find affiliate products for your niche

Now that we have established and clarified what an affiliate is and how affiliate marketing works, the next thing we will delve into is finding affiliate products. The products must be relevant to the niche or industry you are interested in. The latter is a significant parameter that you should not ignore. If you are into technology and you are passionate about it, then writing about fitness and health products might not be the best solution for you. Thus, you have to keep in mind that you need to focus on products you are interested in and resonate with your audience.  

It is now time for some extensive online research. Do not limit yourself to search engines alone; instead, expand your search to include big affiliate programs and affiliate directories. Locate the biggest affiliate programs, enroll and familiarize yourself with the processes, products, and terms and conditions each platform carries. A visit to popular affiliate networks and their platforms will allow for a firm grasp of how these platforms operate. 

Next, it is time to start studying the competition. Locate affiliates that focus on the area of your interest and study the products they promote and how they do so. Keep notes and allow yourself to be inspired by the competitors. Not by copying them blindly but by adapting the things you learn to your style of affiliate marketing. Use the knowledge to up your game, study the best practices they have followed and then start putting these ideas and lessons into practice.

What are the affiliate commission rates? 

Having found your niche and the affiliate products that you will promote on your website, one of the things that you need to look into next is the affiliate commission rate. You will enjoy the financial benefits as a successful affiliate and be incentivized to keep trying harder to improve your affiliate marketing endeavors. There is no standard commission rate applying to all industries. In most cases, the commission rate is a percentage of the sale that has been achieved and ranges between 5-30%. Depending on the number of sales you bring in, there might be commission bonuses. Most brands that operate affiliate programs have mapped out sales milestones that offer extra financial benefits and personalized gifts, swags, and even higher commission rates if you yield excellent results on a regular basis.   

What is a pay-per-lead-affiliate program?

So far, the main compensation model we have focused on is the payment of a commission rate to the affiliate that has delivered a sale. However, that is only one of the possible compensation models available. Another model is the pay-per-lead approach (PPL), which is quite popular among marketers. A lead is an entity that meets specific criteria and has strong potential to become a customer. A lead is not a sale, rather, it is a potential buyer. In fact, it is the entity with the most prominent characteristics of being turned into a customer. Subscribers to newsletters are leads or people who voluntarily provide their details to download an ebook or white paper. If these subscribers result from an influencer’s campaign or a paid advertisement through a social media profile, then the affiliate (in this case, the influencer) will be paid per lead. The fee is not fixed and is calculated by the quality of the leads driven by the affiliate. 

What is the best affiliate program to join?                                     

Though this is a quite straightforward question, the answer is rather complex. Due to the plethora of affiliate programs available, defining which suits you best can be daunting. Thus, you need to consider specific parameters that will assist you in choosing the best of the best SaaS affiliate programs for you. 

Start by looking for an affiliate program relevant to the niche you are interested in. That might be retail, online courses, fitness, wellbeing, travel, or hospitality. From there, study the products available, the platforms themselves, the terms and conditions, the joining process, and the assets you will be provided with to embark on your affiliate journey. Some affiliate programs allow for guidelines, best practices, and even webinars and workshops to help you boost your sales. Others offer a wide range of gifts, swags, and bonuses on top of your standard commission rate every time you excel expectations. Due to all these parameters, defining what is the best affiliate program is complicated, and it depends heavily on one’s expertise, skills, and time to dedicate to the project. 

However, one step of the process is relatively easy, and that is how to join an affiliate program. Most of the programs and platforms allow for a hassle-free enrollment process, similar to the one we foster at   

6 affiliate program

All you need to do is share the affiliate link to get people to join and you can earn a 50% commission. After that, every subscription renewal earns you a 20% commission rate.

What are the best affiliate programs available at the moment?

Each industry and niche nurtures numerous affiliate programs, and some of them offer great commission rates, extraordinary bonuses, and swags that cannot be ignored. Let us take a closer look at the best affiliate programs available at the moment. 

  • Marketing. The world of Digital Marketing is constantly expanding, and so are the tools used to assist in the process. From Hubspot to ConvertKit and from GetResponse to Typeform, Digital Marketing features some of the best affiliate programs available at the moment. 
  • Online course platforms. Continuous learning and the need for constant “reskilling” paved the way for powerful and best online course platforms. Content creators with shareable experience and a knack for teaching began building their own courses and sharing them with the world. Not only do these platforms enhance knowledge, but they boast some of the biggest affiliate programs. Teachable is backed by a vast community of creators, and so are LearnWorlds, Kajabi, and Thinkific. 
  • Travel, tourism, and hospitality. The travel industry has always been popular, and though the pandemic took a toll, the industry is recovering steadily. The different niches within the travel industry foster some noteworthy affiliate programs. Whether it is yachting, finding affordable flights, renting a hotel room, or organizing an entire traveling experience, there is an affiliate program for every niche.  
  • Retail. Online shopping appears to be an industry well-suited for affiliate programs; thus, some of the biggest affiliate programs and the highest-paying ones come from retail. Almost every big brand or platform fosters an affiliate program. Amazon, Target, eBay, Shopify, AliExpress, and Etsy are just some of the big players. 

If all these industries have sparked your interest, and you wish to seek out more opportunities, check the top 10 best niches for affiliate marketing in 2022. It will provide you with a spherical view of the trendy industries and niches.  

How to find the biggest affiliate network, and how to join it?  

At this point, we will delve deeper into the world of affiliate programs. So, it is time we examined how to find the biggest affiliate networks and how to join them. 

The process is far from difficult, though, this too requires one to put time into studying and cross-checking the pros and cons. A simple online search will help you uncover at least a handful of some of the biggest affiliate networks: Amazon, ClickBank, ShareASale, and eBay, to name but a few. From there, it is best that you go through the terms and conditions each has set to familiarize yourself with them and spare yourself any unpleasant surprises. Check the reviews of these platforms online, read about them and the best practices applied and decide appropriately after taking your needs and skills in mind. 

One thing is sure with most affiliate programs available: joining them is a simple, 3-step process.

What are the highest-paid affiliate programs?             

There are tens of thousands of affiliate programs available, but you definitely want to join an affiliate program that pays well and allows for recurrent rewards. For example, the affiliate program compensates 50% for every new subscription delivered by an affiliate and 20% for every renewal. On average, you should receive from $150 up to $500 per customer over their stay with

Consequently, before joining an affiliate program it is advisable to check for potential recurrent rewards and bonuses. That being said, keep reading to find a selection of the highest-paid affiliate programs. 

  • Web hosting. Web hosting is a highly competitive industry and has been on the rise for the past ten years. Managed WordPress hosting brands foster not only a multitude of affiliate programs but also some of the highest-paid ones. Kinsta and Flywheel have a commission rate that can reach up to $500, with WP Engine up to $200. Other WordPress hosting brands such as Liquid Web, Siteground, and Bluehost have rates that are around $60 per commission. 
  • WordPress Themes.  WordPress, in general, is a popular niche for affiliate programs. WordPress-related services such as platforms where you can get access to themes and plugins nurture some of the highest-paid affiliate programs popular with users. Thrive Themes is an online platform that sells WordPress themes and plugins, and it boasts one of the most popular affiliate programs in the niche. With an active affiliate community of almost 22,000 members, the platform allows for a 35% commission rate. Another example from the buzzing WordPress ecosystem is Elementor. It is a website-building tool, installed on over 10M websites. The commission rate is 50%, and if you bring in more than 200+ active monthly users, then the bonus for the commission rate is over $12.5K.
  • Digital Marketing tools. Just as WordPress and all the related services are top-paying for affiliate programs, so are several popular and useful Digital Marketing platforms. They have focused on developing tools that automate and optimize the marketing processes, thus becoming useful and popular with anyone working, using, and exploring Digital Marketing. Among the highest-paying affiliate programs is Hubspot’s affiliate program with an average of $276, SEMRush, AppSumo, and Sendiblue with an average of $100. 
  • Online Shopping Platforms. Online shopping platforms offer noteworthy commission rates since these are increased due to the fierce competition. Shopify pays up to $2000, while BigCommerce has a 200% commission rate. These are attractive numbers that cannot be ignored. 
  • Online Freelance Platforms. The rise of remote work has allowed for new opportunities not only in recruitment and hiring but also in entrepreneurship and marketing. Many online freelance platforms are available, and many of these have strong affiliate programs. Fiverr, the popular freelance platform, nurtures a high-paying affiliate program. The commission payout can reach up to $1000 with no referral limit.  

Where to look for the highest paying affiliate programs?                 

With a multitude of affiliate programs available, making up your mind can be overwhelming. Fear not, as some solutions and practices can help you make an informed decision. Start by performing an online search regarding the highest paying affiliate programs of the industry you are interested in. Join social media groups and communities related to affiliate marketing and look for helpful information there. 

The field of affiliate marketing has expanded significantly, and so there are many relevant and useful blogs and newsletters you can follow. This way, not only will you be informed about the highest paying affiliate programs, but you will also be educated and guided on how to pursue better results. Lastly, trawl through affiliate directories, compare and contrast relevant programs, and note those that pay the highest. 

Choosing an affiliate program might be a complex process, and building a successful one requires passion, a knack for content creation and dedication to delivering results. This detailed article has broken down what is an affiliate program and has provided some valuable tips and suggestions for making an informed decision. Affiliate programs are a great way to earn some extra income and, in many cases enticing financial rewards. As there is a strong incentive and fierce competition, use the information provided in this article to become a successful affiliate. Best of luck!

  • Inna Shevchenko

    Head of Product Marketing at with over 15 years of versatile marketing experience under my belt. I am a strong believer in customer-centric marketing focusing on delivering value to users. Thus, my goal is to help businesses and individuals gain the most from their data using reliable and easy-to-use tools. In addition, I am a music lover🎵 and travel enthusiast✈️

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