Bloggers make money by cultivating an audience, and then offering products or services that are appealing to that audience. Affiliate marketing is just a faster way of doing this without creating the products/services yourself, after which you are paid on a commission basis. Your work is to find a trusted company or individual looking to advertise their products or services, and then introduce those particular products/services to your readers.
Any sale generated through your blog equates to a commission on a per customer basis. Affiliate marketing has several benefits:
- It allows you to monetize your blog sooner than when creating your own products from scratch
- It gives you an idea of what products are appealing to your audience, thus reducing the risk of failure when you launch your own products in the future
- It helps develop a loyal customer base at an early time
- It is easy to implement – all you have to do is share the link with your audience, and everything else (including setting up payments, providing customer service, and tracking sales) is handled by the merchant.
- You don’t need a support team or specialized expertise to implement any affiliate program, as long as you are familiar with your topic niche and know the right types of products to recommend to your audience.
With that in mind, it is important to note that there are countless affiliate programs out there and choosing the best one can be tougher than expected. Here is our selection of the top five affiliate programs available today:
LinkShare is one of the largest affiliate networks in the world, boasting at least 10 million affiliate partnerships. It is recognized for its international capabilities, support quality, and platform strength. LinkShare gives you access to more than 2,500 affiliate programs and allows you to decide whether to manage the service on your own or have the company control every aspect of your affiliate channel.
Arguably the most popular affiliate platform in this list, Amazon carries over one million products in its arsenal. This essentially means that there are products related to virtually every niche. In fact, there are people who work on Amazon products alone and earn a very decent income. The only quandary is that they have a relatively low commission rate, of between 4 and 6 percent on most products. If you want to make a good commission, you will have to promote high price products. The upside is that the service is trusted by people and it is not difficult to generate a sale. If you sell more than one product at the same time, you can earn up to 8.5 percent commission.
Sharesale is a very convenient platform for both merchants and affiliates. Based in Chicago, this company has been in the affiliate marketing business for over 16 years now. It has over 2,500 merchant programs, making it a great option for affiliates to work with. Some of its most appealing qualities include performance, plenty of positive reviews, and shelving high converting products.
ClickBank makes it on our list of the top five affiliate programs for bloggers because of its friendliness towards newbies. If you are an amateur blogger and want to join the world of affiliate programming, ClickBank is one of the most secure platforms you can find. It has a very easy registration and approval process, and you can earn up to 75 percent commission promoting products. This is attributed to its high popularity and demand for the products on the website. The best part is that it gives you several options to promote a variety of products in numerous ways.
Although it operates globally, Commission Junction is extremely popular in North America especially due to its ability to establish a balance between merchants, affiliates, and the network. Apart from affiliate services, they also offer media and tracking programs. If you decide to go for this option, you can choose either company-managed or self-management services for your affiliate relationships. You will also have access to a convenient PayPerCall system that helps ensure you get paid a commission for any leads you generate. This will boost your income on existing ad placements and give you the opportunity to expand your promotional campaigns.
Recently, affiliate marketing has received a bad reputation due to unethical marketers frustrating their readers with junk ads and offers that don’t really apply to them. The importance of trust cannot be overemphasized. It takes time and a lot of effort to build an audience that trusts you – and betraying their confidence can lose them in a matter of days. So anytime you are tempted to venture into the darker sides of affiliate marketing, just keep in mind that you are risking losing the audience you have worked so hard to nurture. It’s not worth it!