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Every business owner knows about affiliate marketing, but how many of you have put it on the backburner of a “to do” list? When you’re working in ecommerce, there are endless ways to make money. A lot of business owners have the wrong impression that affiliate marketing will take a lot of time, and since you’re already so busy with trying to get things done, you keep putting it off.
However, you might be surprised to learn that finding the right affiliate company for your company can help you make extra money without a ton of extra work. Instead of having to spend weeks hunting down the best programs, we’re going to outline some of our favorites so you can start making money right away.
How affiliate programs work
Affiliate programs give you a percentage of each sale. There are some well-known affiliate programs such as Amazon’s program, where you can get a percentage of anything sold on Amazon using your unique link. On top of that, there are plenty of options out there that offer a wide variety of affiliate percentages.
Each company might offer different percentages of sales depending on what you sell, too. Even on big ones like Amazon, there are different tiers of percentages depending on what item is being sold.
Most affiliate programs work through cookies in a browser. For example, if someone clicks your unique tracking link, for the next 30 days anything they buy on the brands’ site, you will get a commission on.
There is no current standard for how long the cookies last, so some offer anywhere from within a week to two months. This could be a factor you’ll want to consider when it comes to selling online.
How affiliate networks work
Affiliate networks are usually an advanced form of affiliate programs.
While affiliate programs are usually between you and the brand, affiliate networks are generally between you and a network which can have a handful of programs under its umbrella.
Usually, affiliate networks have the strictest rules when it comes to approving people. They’re often based around having a certain amount of website traffic or a social media following.
The benefit of using a network is that instead of having to apply to each individual company to join their affiliate program, by getting approved for the network you immediately have access to all of their programs. You’ll also have the added benefit of having companies reach out to you directly for affiliate opportunities.
Companies can still reach out independently, which usually happens with a growing following, but it happens more often once you’re part of an affiliate network.
Why companies offer affiliate programs
The biggest benefits companies receive by offering affiliate programs is that it’s essentially free marketing for them. When you allow other people to sell your products, it’s a win-win for both sides. The company gets additional sales and the affiliate marketer gets a percentage of sales.
This keeps companies motivated to push affiliate sales since it’s a form of revenue and the more they mention it, the more likely their audience is to buy from them.
There are a lot of blogs out there that strictly make money from their affiliate commissions. This way, they don’t have to come up with their own product to sell they can simply market other people’s products or services.
As you can imagine, if you are an ecommerce company this could be a great additional source of revenue on top of your own sales.
How to find a good fit for an affiliate program
Generally, you want to find affiliate programs that make sense for your brand. If you’re a clothing company, it would make logical sense to find affiliate companies that sell shoes, accessories, hats, bags, etc.
On the flip side, it wouldn’t make sense to find affiliate companies that sell something like dog leashes because it’s hard to tie in and your audience might feel like you’re just trying to make money.
When you find a natural fit, your audience will be excited to see what you’re promoting and they’re more primed to make a purchase since you already have built an audience in a particular niche.
Some things you’ll want to keep track of before you apply for an affiliate program:
- How long they allow cookies to stay in the browser
- The percentage of commissions
- Rules to get accepted
- How long they take to pay out
You’ll also want to make sure you fit within the rules that the company has for their affiliate partner, something we’ll cover next.
How to apply for an affiliate program
Every affiliate program has different requirements and needs for their programs. Some, you’ll simply need to create an account and then from there, you’re set to go. For others, you’ll need to be approved before you can start selling their products.
Some brands want as many people to access their affiliate program as possible, and others want to keep it exclusive so they’re only working with trusted companies and influencers.
Others have rules implemented after a sale is made. For example, Amazon’s affiliate program is easy to sign up for, but once you make your first sale your site will be looked into to see if you are following their rules as part of their affiliate program. If you’re not, this can lead to being denied and not making a commission from that sale. If you’re denied, you’ll have to start over and try to get another sale in order to be considered again.
Affiliate programs to consider
Now that you know how affiliate programs and networks work, we’ll walk you through some of the best options so you can start including them in your revenue plans.
General affiliate programs
Amazon Associates – Get a % of anything your customers buy from amazon, up to 10%. Cookie duration is 24 hours unless someone adds the product to their cart, which then you get 90 days.
Ebay Partner Network – Similar to the huge selection on Amazon, Ebay offers a ton of products in a ton of niches. Cookie duration is 24 hours.
Target – Generally sells home goods, and offers a cookie duration of 7 days. Up to 8% commission.
Walmart – Offers cookies for up to 3 days.
Clickbank – Offerings vary by seller, but some of the highest commissions are 75%.
ShareASale – Offers 30-day cookies and up to 6% commissions.
CJ – Formerly known as Commission Junction, it’s a huge affiliate marketing network.
Best technology and gaming affiliate programs
Microsoft – Offers up to 10% commission and 14 day cookies. This includes their computers and also apps along with Xbox and games.
Bluehost – Earn $65 for each person you sign up to use Bluehost for website hosting.
SEMRUSH – Payments twice a month once you reach the minimum threshold. Has a 10-year cookie life option.
Fitbit – Take advantage of the current trend of fitness trackers.
DJI Drones – Drones are another popular trend right now. Offers 5% commissions.
Apple – An application is required, but there’s no doubt Apple products are top-notch sellers.
Beauty and skincare affiliate programs
At Amazon, beauty is one of the top commission sellers. If you’re looking for more, here are some great options.
Tarte Cosmetics – A well-known and growing beauty brand.
Ulta – Get access to other promotions such as buy one get one and online coupon codes.
Sephora – Requires a review of your site to be approved, but has over 13,000 top-quality products to sell.
Estee Lauder – One of the oldest and well-known beauty brands on the market. Offers 10% commission.
Health and wellness affiliate programs
GNC – Earn 5% commission on supplements.
MyProtein – Earn 8% commission with a 30-day cookie window.
Bodybuilding.com – As one of the biggest sites in the health space, you can earn on both their supplements and also their subscription-based service.
Weight Watchers – Earn a commission for every subscription to their program.
ACE – Ace offers fitness certifications, which you can earn a commission on.
Home improvement affiliate programs
Home Depot – One of the biggest stores in the U.S. for home improvement items.
Build.com – Up to 5% commission with 10 day cookies.
Burke Decor – Up to 10% commission and 45 day cookies.
There are a ton of ways for business owners to make money online, and affiliate marketing should be something all brands look into using. Hopefully you found an affiliate program that sparks your interest.