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8 Best Affiliate Programs for Bloggers (An Insider’s Guide)

15 Mins read
Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.

Here at WeAreTheCurious, we have built successful affiliate sites before. You can even check out our post on how we built a niche website being valued at $217,522 after only two years!

So, we know a thing or two about affiliate programs!

In this post, we’ll be reviewing the 8 best affiliate programs for bloggers, and will be breaking them down by requirement and category so that you can find one that’s perfect for you and where you’re at in your affiliate marketing journey.

Why Affiliate Marketing?


There are plenty of ways to monetize your website. From utilizing Google AdSense to filling your site with sponsorships, there really is no wrong way to go about it. Though, we think affiliate marketing is one of the options with the most growth and potential for your blog.

For those website owners who don’t fully understand what affiliate marketing is, that’s okay! Everybody starts out on their journey somewhere, and maybe that first step is reading this guide on the best affiliate programs for bloggers.

Affiliate marketing is when you sell another company or brand’s products to earn a commission. To break it down into a few simple steps, this is what the process looks like:

  1. You find an affiliate product that aligns with your blog
  2. You post a link to the product using a special affiliate link
  3. A visitor on your website notices the product and clicks the link, eventually buying it
  4. You earn a small commission for “referring” somebody to the original product owner

Picking affiliate marketing over other forms of monetization, or as a way to supplement them, is a no-brainer. With the right approach, you can easily integrate affiliate products throughout your posts. Whether you’re writing complete reviews of the products you’re linking to or just highlighting them in your weekly email newsletters, you’re bound to make a few dollars at some point! So, why not maximize on that earning potential?

Another benefit of affiliate marketing is that it can be used regardless of what content creation niche you’re in. As long as there’s some sort of product or service that can be bought, affiliate marketing can work for you!

Affiliate Programs vs. Affiliate Networks


Before we discover the best affiliate programs for bloggers, let’s discuss the difference between affiliate programs and affiliate networks.

Now, both of these support affiliate marketing for the blogger, but they go about it in different ways. Let’s dive into it!

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs are direct relationships with merchants. This is when you find a website, shop owner, or content creator that will pay you to promote their products or services, and they pay your commission (often directly).

Some merchants will have unique affiliate programs that are already up and running. Others won’t, and that’s okay! There’s never any harm in asking if they would enter into an affiliate relationship with you.

There are a few perks to choosing an affiliate program, especially over an affiliate network. Entering into individual affiliate programs over networks tends to be a more selective process. So, you’ll be able to promote products that you actually believe in, and may have more experience dealing with directly.

The biggest downside of choosing an affiliate program is that you have to do most of the legwork. This can be an exciting adventure for many site owners, but it can also be very time-consuming, so be aware of that!

Affiliate Networks

An affiliate network is a third-party platform or directory that helps connect you with merchants and affiliate products that you can promote. You’ll have access to far more affiliate products to link to when compared to an affiliate program.

With an affiliate network, you’ll sign up for a network and have the opportunity to scroll through many different categories of affiliate programs. You have the final say over which ones you use.

Some of the perks of choosing an affiliate network includes:

  • You have access to more products to promote
  • It will save you time
  • It makes it easier to track your affiliate earnings
  • You’ll get more help going through the steps of affiliate marketing
  • They are typically free to join

Sounds perfect, right? While we do love affilaite networks, there are a few downsides that you’ll need to consider.

  • You’ll have to dig through a lot of mediocre affiliate products to find the ones that work for you
  • Your competition is likely on the same networks, so you’ll have a harder time standing out
  • These networks often take a commission fee of their own
  • The commission fee ranges from network to network
Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Picking an Affiliate Program and Affiliate Products


Whether you pick an affiliate program or an affiliate network is often up to personal preference and convenience. What really matters in terms of earning potential is the kind of products you’re choosing.

It’s imperative that you promote products that are relevant for your audience, which means finding affiliate programs and networks for success, as they’ll be the middle-man between you and your visitors (a.k.a. buyers).

There are a few different ways that you can go about picking appropriate affiliate products.

The first is to pick products that you genuinely recommend and think that your readers would love. This is a nice way to go about promoting affiliate products in practice. After all, you actually love the products!

You can get great audience engagement through this, but there are also a few downsides. These include:

  • You’ll eventually run out of products to promote.
  • You may not be able to find affiliate links for all of the products you want to share.
  • You’ll spend too much time reviewing or using products.
  • It can be more expensive.
  • You might not be picking products that your reader actually wants or needs.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.

The next option is to do research on your own. Scroll through other blogs within your niche to determine what they’re posting for affiliate links. You can also spend time browsing through all of the products available to you on your affiliate program or network of choice.

This method has a few benefits when compared to the previous one. You’ll have more insight into the competition and more confidence that you’re picking products that your visitors want. Though, there are still a few downsides:

  • You have to spend a lot of time doing your own research, which can be time consuming.
  • You might only be getting results from a small corner of your niche.

So what exactly is the best method? How can you stay true to your brand, do research, and save time? Well, by paying somebody to do it for you, of course!

We have to go with SEMrush when it comes to competitive analysis for affiliate marketing. This tool offers a number of features, from keyword tracking to backlink research at the touch of a button. You can do competitive analysis, which will help you reverse engineer what others in your niche are promoting and what topics they’re covering.

Yes, SEMrush will help with affiliate marketing. But it can also help boost overall traffic to your site, visitor engagement, and more. This will especially come in handy if you use various types of monetization for your blog.

The Pro plan for SEMrush is $99.95 per month. This option might sound a little expensive at first, and we agree that it’s a lot for regular use. However, you don’t need to use it forever! SEMrush can help you get access to what types of affiliate products your competitors are using. Once you get a better handle on what you’re looking for, you can decide to stick with SEMrush or go without!

Click here to start using SEMrush today!

The Best Affiliate Networks for Bloggers


Now that you know what affiliate networks and programs are, and how you can make sure you’re picking the right products, it’s time to take a look at which affiliate networks are out there!

ShareASale

Image courtesy of ShareASale.

ShareASale allows you to create an affiliate account with the intention of monetizing your website content. This network has various perks, including:

  • An easy-to-use platform.
  • Transparent and easy-to-track reporting.
  • The ability to build relationships with partners.

Another benefit of choosing ShareASale is that they have leading brands within their nextwork. Some of these include:

  • Etsy
  • deluxe
  • Nectar
  • minted

ShareASale also uses a unique commission hierarchy. With the right patience and time, you can be earning lots of money in no time!

Click here to start using ShareASale today.

ClickBank

Image courtesy of ClickBank.

ClickBank is one of the best known and longest lasting affiliate marketplace out there. They work on a massive scale, ensuring that you never run out of potential brands to partner with.

In addition to using ClickBank as an affiliate source, you can also buy straight from the site, and sell your own items! So, no matter where you find yourself in the seller to consumer world, ClickBank will work with you.

Some perks of using ClickBank include:

  • The ability to buy and sell.
  • You can use it to automate your business.
  • It has affiliates in various categories.
  • On-time payouts.
  • Recurring commissions.

Depending on the brand that you partner with through ClickBank, your commissions can be as high as 90%. That’s not bad for a form of monetization!

Click here to start using ClickBank today.

CJ Affiliate

Image courtesy of CJ Affiliates.

Are you looking for an affiliate network that makes your site feel more luxurious? CJ Affiliate works on an easy-to-use, user-friendly platform, but they still manage to make your site look complete. They have also been around the block a few times, and began their affiliate journey back in 1998. So, you know they’ve seen and tried it all!

This affiliate network also seeks to build a bridge between their affiliate network and your site. They don’t just want to throw random products at you in the hopes that one will stick. Rather, they want to look at your unique niche and figure out what the best way to move forward is.

Some of the benefits of choosing this affiliate network include:

  • There are various big brands that you can use as affiliates.
  • There are higher ticket items to help you get bigger commissions.
  • It’s easy to use.
  • Their payments are always timely.

Click here to start using CJ Affiliate and get started on your monetization journey!

Amazon Associates

Affiliate marketing program - Amazon Associates
Image courtesy of Amazon.

Amazon Associates is perhaps one of the best known affiliate networks for the common blogger. After all, they are connected to the mega-company that is Amazon!

What Amazon Associates offers that is so enticing is the ability to sell through Amazon. Almost everybody has made a purchase from this site before, so users already trust it, know their policies, and have an existing account. This means a higher conversion rate, and it also means that you have an enormous catalog of affiliate products to link to!

You can also use Amazon Affiliates as a total beginner. You just need a content-creating website to get started, and you’re off!

Our favorite perks of using Amazon Associates include:

  • It’s easy to use and sign up.
  • There is an endless amount of products to link to.
  • It’s appropriate for virtually every niche.
  • It’s a well-known platform that you’ve already used.

Amazon Associates does tend to have a lower commission than other affiliate networks. A lot of their products are also cheaper on average, meaning you have to sell more to make as much as you would on other platforms. Regardless of these downsides, we still think it’s a worthy option in the list of the best affiliate programs for bloggers.

Check out Amazon Associates here.

Rakuten

Image courtesy of Rakuten.

Rakuten is a unique affiliate network to consider. The brand itself does everything when it comes to advertising, and exists to help people get closer to saving money. Their affiliate program is there to help bring the trustworthy seller to customers, and you’re their missing piece!

Despite being a global and internationally known company, Rakuten tries their best to connect you with local sellers. This helps make your site feel more exclusive in its affiliate offers, while also keeping you close to home.

Some other perks of this affiliate network includes:

  • Great commission opportunities.
  • An easy-to-understand publisher dashboard.
  • Easy matchmaking between partners.
  • An accessible mobile tracking app.

Take a look at Rakuten’s affiliate program here!

Walmart

Image courtesy of Walmart.

Like with Amazon, Walmart offers users the opportunity to work with a brand that’s recognized as a mega influencer everywhere around the world. Readers already know the brand, and have familiarity with it. So, it’s easy to encourage them to buy from it!

Walmart’s affiliate program is incredibly simple to use and to sign up for. They have lower commission rates than competitors, but it is easier to sell with their commissions structure.

Walmart’s affiliate program brings benefits that include:

  • Free membership.
  • Payments go through quickly.
  • Free newsletters for affiliate members.
  • Regular contests for affiliate members.

Click here to apply for Walmart’s affiliate program and get to making money!

Target

Image courtesy of Target.

We all know and love Walmart for its easy shopping, low prices, and great stock. While it still reigns as the king of casual shopping, it has a pretty fierce competitor fighting alongside it. That competitor is, of course, Target!

Target has its own affiliate program that is worthy of attention. They offer a commission of up to 8%, which is pretty competitive compared to other affiliates! They may not cater to as many niches as Walmart, but they’re still big enough to draw attention to plenty of websites.

Worldwide site owners will need to be wary, though. One of the requirements for this affiliate program is that your membership needs to be mostly US-based.

Other benefits of Target’s affiliate program include:

  • It’s easy to join.
  • It’s 100% free to join.
  • They have a great variety in advertising banners.
  • They offer products at various price ranges.

Click here to learn more and decide of Target’s affiliate program is the right one for you.

Overstock

Image courtesy of Overstock.

Another lesser known affiliate program in the world of online marketing is Overstock. Given company’s great plans and offers, it makes us wonder why they aren’t talked about as much!

Overstock offers users a pretty solid commission of up to 6%. Their niches are specifically targeted to people who can sell home goods, clothing, and electronics. This will fit most niches, but not all. So, proceed with caution!

Other benefits include:

  • A 14-day referral period.
  • Weekly deals.
  • Exclusive, Overstock-only partners.
  • An easy-to-browse website.

Click here to start posting affiliate links from Overstock right away!

Best Affiliate Programs by Niche


We have examined 8 platforms in our list of the best affiliate programs for bloggers. That’s a lot to think about! Of course, we know that the core attribute of any great affiliate marketer is understanding their niche.

To break things down and make choosing affiliate programs easier, we have picked out our favorite affiliate program for some of the most popular website niches out there.

The Best Program for Lifestyle Bloggers

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Lifestyle bloggers touch a lot of different categories, and that’s because we know that each lifestyle is different from the next! It’s important to pick an affiliate program that offers products that you’ll want to use in your everyday life. You don’t just want to throw out expensive products and hope that something sticks!

We have to go with Target when it comes to the best program for lifestyle bloggers. You can promote products that your readers might already be thinking about buying, and may even have some experience using them yourself!

Eager to find out more about the ins and outs of starting a lifestyle blog? Learn how to start one here!

The Best Program for Music Bloggers

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

The music blogger might be anybody from a concert photographer to a piano teacher. So, you should have an affiliate that offers everything from expensive camera gear to musical instruments.

We pick Amazon Associates for music bloggers. It’s hard to compete with a website that sells pretty much everything, so we need to go with the pick that is suited for such a huge niche.

Read our complete guide on starting a music blog here for more inspiration!

The Best Program for Photography Bloggers

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Photography blogs demand a certain level of luxury, even for the most casual bloggers. We’re going to have to pick Rakuten’s affiliate program, thanks to their ability to create such impressive relationships between seller, buyer, and the middle man!

Take a look at our guide on starting a photography blog here for more tips.

The Best Program for Food Bloggers

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Plenty of the affiliate programs that we mentioned sell food-related products. But what better place to go for food blogging than one of the biggest grocery locations in America?

Walmart is our top pick for food bloggers. You can promote food, food accessories, and everything you could need to run a food blog!

Want more advice on starting a good food blog? Take a look at our thorough guide here.

The Best Program for Beauty Bloggers

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Beauty is a complex blogging niche to work within. There are so many different ways that you can go with this niche, so it’s important to have an affiliate network or program that provides everything you need to please your visitors.

We have to give our top affiliate program for beauty bloggers selection to ClickBank. They have such a massive selection of products that it’ll be impossible not to find something that works for you!

Find out more about beauty blogging and the different paths that you can take here.

The Best Program for Travel Blogging

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Travel blogging gives you the opportunity to promote everything from small travel accessories to big ticket items like vacations and getaways. That’s why we have to pick ShareASale as our recommendation for travel blogging.

ShareASale gives you the opportunity to become an affiliate with some pretty big companies. Help your visitors travel the world with ShareASale!

Want to create travel blog? Your first step is clicking here to find out more about how it’s done.

The Best Program for Fashion Bloggers

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Picking the best affiliate programs for bloggers when it comes to fashion blogging is tricky. Some fashion bloggers follow particular niches of fashion while others focus on the massive industry itself. So, we have to pick an affiliate network that has everything: Amazon Associates.

Want more advice on starting a fashion blog? Click here!

The Best Program for Marketing Bloggers

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Are you like WeAreTheCurious and aim to help your visitors learn more about marketing? Well, if that’s the case, then we encourage you to try your hand at all of the affiliate programs out there. Not only will this give you plenty of opportunities for affiliate marketing, but you’ll also learn a thing or two when it comes to teaching your visitors how to market.

Though, if we had to pick one, we’d give it to CJ Affiliate for the marketing bloggers out there. Their commission structure and ability to get paid in such an efficient way is hard to beat!

Questions & Answers About the Best Affiliate Programs for Bloggers


Affiliate marketing is a massive online industry to break into. Fortunately, all of the best affiliate programs for bloggers are designed with you and your ease of use in mind.

We know you have some questions before you start, and we’re here to answer them!

How Do I Make Money with Affiliate Marketing?

A lot of people look at affiliate marketing and get concerned about how the money is made. You aren’t selling your own product, and you don’t deal with any inventory. Where’s the cash coming from?

When you use an affiliate link, you are connecting your website to the product. Each time somebody clicks on one of your affiliate links (a link to a product that you post within your content) and buys the item, you earn a small commission on the earnings.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Imagine a suitcase that costs exactly $100. If you’re a travel blogger, you may write a post about your upcoming trip to China and share an affiliate link to a suitcase that you think would be good for such a trip. With a commission of 6%, you’ll earn $6 for every suitcase that sells from your affiliate link!

True, $6 doesn’t sound like a lot. But when you have a lot of affiliate links distributed throughout your posts, and enough traffic coming in, then you can have money coming in from plenty of items. That $6 may become $600 from promoting just that one suitcase all over your site – or you may be getting an average of $20 per link when you have dozens of links up!

How Much Do Bloggers Earn From Affiliate Marketing?

Most people who start monetizing their website are eager to know how much money they’ll make. And this is a pretty fair question to have. After all, we want to make money!

The truth is that you won’t be making thousands of dollars right away when it comes to affiliate marketing. You need to put time and effort into figuring out what products your visitors respond to and how to place them throughout your content.

A recent study found that 9% of users made more than $50,000 off of affiliate marketing in the year surveyed. That’s a pretty impressive number! With enough careful planning and dedication, you can end up in that 9%.

What Are The Requirements to Join Affiliate Programs?

A lot of beginners fear that they need a massive following to start affiliate marketing. Luckily for many of us, that’s not true! The requirements to join most affiliate programs include:

  • You need to post regular content.
  • Your content needs to be original.
  • Your content must follow their community guidelines.

Some affiliate networks (like Target) will ask that your viewers be predominantly from America. Other platforms (like Amazon Associates) require you to make some sales to keep your account active. In the case of Amazon Associates, you need to make at least one sale through an affiliate link within your first 180 days.

Affiliate programs are typically free to start using. They make their profits from taking a small fee from your overall commission. You shouldn’t have to worry about paying an affiliate program.

The Best Affiliate Programs for Bloggers Can Change Your Life


There is a lot of money to be made in affiliate marketing. You’ll also be able to explore new forms of content creation, marketing, and ways to engage with your viewers!

When it comes to selecting an affiliate program, it all comes down to picking the right blogging niche and figuring out how to find products that will work with your following. This may take some time. You may want to take the time to explore each affiliate program in depth before you stick with one (or more than one).

We hope that our guide on the best affiliate programs for bloggers can encourage you to keep trying to benefit from affiliate marketing! There are plenty of affiliate programs out there, and we are confident that you’ll land on the one that works for you!

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