10 Best Affiliate Marketing Platforms for Beginners
Affiliate marketing can feel overwhelming for beginners when you’re just starting out. With so many networks, merchants, products, and tracking links to juggle, it’s tough to know where to start. But here’s the good news – it doesn’t have to be complicated if you start with the right platforms.
This post will walk you through my top recommended affiliate programs for affiliate marketing newbies. I’ll share the key features, benefits, downsides, and earning potential of each platform from my own experience.
By the end, you’ll have a clear idea of the best affiliate options to help you start earning commissions and grow from there. Let’s dive in!
How Affiliate Marketing Works
First, a quick rundown of what affiliate marketing actually is for the uninitiated.
In essence, affiliate marketing platforms connect product creators (merchants) with promoters (you the affiliate). When you send someone to a merchant’s product and they purchase it, you earn a commission.
Affiliate networks facilitate this process. They handle tracking purchases, attributing sales, and paying affiliates their share of the revenue.
As the affiliate, it’s your job to promote great products in a compelling way to your audience and cash in on the sale commissions. The merchant and network take care of the rest.
It’s a win-win-win for everyone involved – the merchant acquires a new customer, the buyer gets a great product, and you as the affiliate earn income helping facilitate the transaction.
10 Best Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners
Alright, now that affiliate marketing 101 is out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff – the best affiliate programs for beginners to join and start earning.
1. Amazon Associates
You really can’t go wrong starting out as an Amazon Associate. As the largest online retailer, pretty much everyone is already shopping there anyway.
Getting approved is a cinch. Just sign up for a free account and you can immediately start linking to products. The Amazon Associate dashboard makes it super simple to generate links or banners and track earnings.
With almost any physical product imaginable available on Amazon, it gives you tons of affiliate opportunities. Their 24-hour cookie duration is also great – you’ll earn commissions even if someone doesn’t buy right after clicking your link.
Commissions vary based on product but are competitive at 4-10% on most items. Amazon’s high order values mean solid payouts. Monthly direct deposits keep the affiliate money flowing smoothly.
Overall, with Amazon handling the hassle of order fulfillment and returns, it’s the easiest and most seamless affiliate program for beginners.
Once you try Amazon, branch out into additional affiliate programs – ShareASale is a great next step.
With over 6,300 merchant partners across every popular niche, they make it easy to diversify your affiliate income stream. I love their homepage featuring trending products and top offers so you can quickly find stuff relevant to your audience.
ShareASale has a simple approval process and interface. I was up and running fast once I applied and got accepted. Their tracking links and reporting dashboard provide the key metrics like clicks, impressions, conversions, and commission rates.
One major perk is that many merchants feature recurring commissions – you earn money on future purchases from the same customers. That builds lasting income from your initial referrals.
Overall, ShareASale opens the door to partnering with tons of cool merchants beyond just Amazon.
If you’re interested in earning commissions promoting digital products and subscription services, ClickBank is a go-to choice.
They excel at making it easy to find and promote informational products like training courses, ebooks, and software. Commissions are generous at 50-75% in most cases.
Since there’s no approval needed, you can browse products, generate a hoplink tracking ID, and start sharing your affiliate links immediately.
ClickBank offers useful analytics on things like conversion rate by traffic source and earnings by product. They have an active community forum for exchanging marketing tactics with other affiliates.
Payments are consistent and reliable every two weeks directly to your bank account. ClickBank does attract lots of low-quality products, so be selective about what you promote. But overall, it’s a newbie-friendly choice.
4. Rakuten Advertising
Formerly known as Ebates, Rakuten has transformed into a massive cashback and affiliate platform.
They make it super easy to earn commissions promoting over 2,500 major brands. We’re talking big names like Nike, Macy’s, Best Buy, Groupon, and more.
Rakuten’s dashboard neatly organizes all the affiliate programs and provides links, coupon codes, banners, and more. You need to apply and get approved for individual merchant programs – but it’s a basic process.
Commissions range from 4-40% based on the retailer. Rakuten also shares big data insights into top converting categories and sales trends to inform your promotions.
They offer large signup bonuses, cashback rewards, and reliable monthly payments to PayPal. For popular retail affiliate opportunities, Rakuten is a winner.
5. CJ Affiliate by Conversant
For access to leading advertisers across nearly every niche, CJ Affiliate is a powerful choice.
They work with over 3,000 big brands in retail, travel, food, entertainment, and more. Some partners include Apple, Walmart, Airbnb, Levi’s, and TripAdvisor.
The real value CJ provides is robust reporting and data tools to optimize your promotions. You can segment performance by product, publisher source, geography, and much more.
Commissions vary depending on the advertiser but are competitive at 5-30% on average.
CJ Affiliate has been around for over 20 years and has a reputation for timely payments and dedicated support. If you want exposure to big household-name merchants, CJ is the way to go.
IMPACT stands for International Marketing and Performance Assessment Company & Trade. Yeah, it’s kind of a bland and corporate name.
But their technology and performance tracking capabilities are second to none. That’s what gives them the “impact” (see what I did there?).
Their platform seamlessly integrates with tools like Google Analytics and major ad networks. This allows for incredibly detailed performance measurement and attribution.
IMPACT provides dedicated affiliate managers, quality fraud screening, and on-time payments every month. Lots of big global brands across many verticals work with Impact.
While it appeals most to advanced affiliate marketers, Impact does offer plenty of beginner-friendly training resources and features to ramp up with.
7. eBay Partner Network (EPN)
Tap into one of the world’s largest online retailers and auction marketplaces through eBay Partner Network.
With EPN, you can promote over 1.5 billion (yes, billion!) product listings from eBay’s enormous catalog. They have healthy commission rates between 50-70% depending on the category.
eBay already attracts tons of buyer intent and purchase activity. Smartly promoting relevant auctions and discounted items through EPN allows you to capitalize on that existing demand.
Because eBay has so many product niches covered, the platform offers plenty of options regardless of your audience’s interests.
EPN makes it easy to share links, create product galleries, and track your metrics through their intuitive dashboard.
Definitely check eBay Partner Network out for an additional commerce-focused program.
If you want exposure to thousands of affiliate programs across every topic, Avantlink is a good choice.
Their diverse merchant portfolio spans categories like home, health, travel, finance, and more – so plenty to pick from.
I like Avantlink for its strong analytics and forecasting tools. You can see estimated future earnings beyond just current period reporting. These insights help optimize your marketing initiatives.
Payouts are sent promptly each month once you hit the $100 minimum threshold. Payment reliability is solid.
Avantlink does require a 15,000 monthly visit minimum for approval. But if you have the audience size, they provide quality programs and respectable commissions averaging 4-15%.
As the name suggests, FlexOffers provides flexible affiliate marketing solutions regardless of your niche.
They curate offers across verticals like retail, gaming, finance, health, subscription services, and more.
FlexOffers makes it easy to browse products based on your website content and audience interests. You can filter by commission rate, geo-targeting, and conversion potential.
Once approved, they supply all the banners, links, and tracking you need. The dashboard neatly organizes performance metrics and insights.
Payouts are sent promptly each month and the $50 minimum cashout is beginner-friendly.
For diversity across niches beyond just physical products, FlexOffers is worth exploring.
Last but not least, Pepperjam serves up a solid array of affiliate opportunities through an easy-to-use dashboard.
Their staples are major retailers, particularly in the fashion space. But Pepperjam also provides access to supplements, travel, entertainment, and misc services.
Some useful features include real-time tracking of clicks, conversions, and sales. Pepperjam also supplies promo codes and coupon options to help boost conversions.
Commissions average around 5% but vary based on merchant terms. One downside is the short 24-hour cookies but offsets with recurring earning options.
For a streamlined interface to browse niche affiliate programs, Pepperjam hits the spot.
Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of the leading affiliate marketing platforms available and their key differences.
My top tips are to start with Amazon for broad retail products, then expand into additional programs like ShareASale and ClickBank for diversity.
Focus on choosing reputable merchants delivering high-quality products that actually help your audience. Transparency about affiliate relationships is key throughout the process.
At the end of the day, delivering genuine value through your content and referrals is how to build success over the long haul as an affiliate marketer. Patience and persistence pay off.
The platforms here make it easy to get up and running earning commissions. Avoid get-rich-quick gimmicks and stick to reputable programs for sustainable income.
That’s my two cents for getting started. Now go out there, take action, and start seeing the affiliate results roll in!