8 Best Affiliate Marketing Programs for 2021

by Ashley Barnett
*Some of the links below may be from our sponsors. My full disclosure statement.*

In terms of making money with your blog, affiliate marketing is one of the most popular strategies.

Blogging lends itself well to affiliate marketing. Users are already on their phones or computers and are reading an article specifically about the product. It's an easy transition to buying. Much more so than say, podcasting, where the listener has to remember the affiliate link next time they are at their computer. Or even social media where the user might not be in the mood to convert right then.

With blogging, you've got an audience that is interested in the topic and already using the device they need to shop.

Combining affiliate marketing with display ads and your own products means you'll have well-diversified revenue to your site, which can, hopefully, withstand the ever-changing winds of the internet.

To help you get started, this guide covers the best affiliate marketing programs you can use to make money blogging, regardless of your niche or experience as an affiliate marketer.

The Best Affiliate Marketing Networks for Bloggers

If you want to make money blogging but want to expand beyond display advertising, affiliate marketing is for you.

And, with this list of the best affiliate marketing networks, you can find thousands of companies to partner with to diversify your blogging revenue.

1. Impact

If you want a robust affiliate marketing platform that has partners for practically any blogging niche, Impact is for you.

This affiliate network has thousands of brands in categories like apparel, electronics, finance, home goods, pets, and travel. You can also promote global brands, like Adidas, Airbnb, Lenovo, and Uber.

After you sign up, it takes several days for Impact to review your account and approve you. Some affiliates also get a phone call, and you submit information about how you plan to promote offers.

What I like about Impact is that finding brands to work with is simple once you get approved. You can search the brand catalog and request to partner with relevant companies in your niche. 

Once you’re approved, you create affiliate links right from a central dashboard and add them to your blog posts; no need to dig through some clunky backend to create tracking links.

  • Pros: Intuitive UI; high-quality brands.
  • Cons: Some brands are slow to pay.
  • Payment Options: Electronic funds transfer and PayPal.
  • Payment Terms & Threshold: Get paid on the 1st or 15th of every month or when you earn at least $10.

Apply to join Impact here.

Related: How Much Do Bloggers Make?

2. CJ

CJ, formerly known as Commission Junction, is one of the most popular affiliate networks for bloggers there is.

CJ has over 3,000 advertisers, including massive brands like Disney, Expedia, Nike, Samsung, and Verizon. When you apply, you add your blog as a property, and you can add additional websites as new properties and manage all of your affiliate links from a single CJ account.

You can also add a description of your blog, how you promote offers, and documents like a media kit to your account. 

In my experience, filling out your profile leads to a lot of CJ advertisers reaching out with partnership requests. Many are relevant, while others aren’t, but it’s nice that some of the work is done for you.

  • Pros: Advertisers frequently reach out first.
  • Cons: Sometimes random companies ask to partner.
  • Payment Options: Direct deposit, check, or Payoneer.
  • Payment Terms & Threshold: Get paid at the end of the month if you have at least $50 in your cleared fund balance.

Apply to join CJ here.

3. FlexOffers

With over 11,000 plus advertisers, FlexOffers is one of the largest affiliate networks. While this scale means FlexOffers has a lot of lesser-known partners and some lackluster digital products, you can also work with brands like:

  • Asos
  • Hello Fresh
  • JC Penny
  • Macy’s
  • Marshalls
  • PetSmart

When you sign up for FlexOffers, you add your blog as a traffic source. FlexOffers reviews your website and has to approve it before you can promote offers. You shouldn’t have issues with approval unless you don’t have enough blog content or your site is brand new and not indexed on search engines. 

Following approval, you request to work with brands, although some brands accept publishers automatically.

I like FlexOffers because dozens of new advertisers join daily, and many advertisers also boost their rates to attract new affiliates. I find the link-building tool is a bit clunky compared to Impact, but most affiliates have a range of text links and banners you can use for promotion.

  • Pros: Massive network with many high-quality brands.
  • Cons: fees $26 wire transfer, 2% PayPal 3% check.
  • Payment Options: Check, PayPal, and wire transfer.
  • Payment Terms & Threshold: Get paid at the end of the month. Check and PayPal require $25, and wire transfer requires $1,000.

Apply to join FlexOffers here.

4. Amazon Associates

The Amazon Associates program is one of the most popular ways to make money blogging, especially if you’re new to affiliate marketing.

There are several reasons for this, but the two main ones are trust and Amazon’s generous cookie policy. People already shop on Amazon, so it isn’t difficult to convince them to buy the products you recommend. And, Amazon pays you if the person you referred to Amazon buys anything within 24 hours of visiting Amazon from your blog.

That’s right: people don’t even need to buy the products you're recommending for you to earn. As long as you drive traffic to Amazon that converts, you get paid.

Granted, Amazon isn’t the most lucrative affiliate network if you promote products in the lower-tier commission categories, like electronics.

But, most beginner bloggers can get into the program without significant website traffic. A central dashboard lets you search for Amazon products to promote, and since it’s Amazon, there’s no shortage of products.

You need to generate three sales within your first 180 days to remain in the program. Additionally, Amazon looks for unique content and certain blog pages, like a privacy policy and affiliate disclosure, so don’t apply until your blog is up and running.

  • Pros: Generous cookie policy; people already shop on Amazon.
  • Cons: Low payouts for many categories.
  • Payment Options: Check, direct deposit, or Amazon gift cards.
  • Payment Terms & Threshold: Amazon pays monthly; $100 for check payments and $10 for direct deposit or gift card.

Apply for Amazon Affiliates here.

5. ShareASale

ShareASale is another robust affiliate network for bloggers that has over 4,000 merchants and a range of physical and digital products to promote. You can find small companies to work with, as well as behemoths like Etsy, Groupon, the NBA, and Reebok.

Signing up for ShareASale is also simple. The process requires entering an email and password, submitting your blog’s URL, confirming your email address, and setting up a payment option.

ShareASale can sometimes take a while to approve your blog, and I have friends who have had blogs banned or rejected without reason. But, most ShareASale reviews are positive, and once you’re approved, you request to promote offers from its extensive catalog of partners.

  • Pros: High-quality brands.
  • Cons: Slow approval process for some bloggers.
  • Payment Options: Check, direct deposit, and Payoneer.
  • Payment Terms & Threshold: Payments process on the 20th of every month and you need at least $50 to get paid.

Apply for ShareASale here.

6. Awin

Awin actually owns ShareASale, but there are still plenty of reasons to join the parent company as an affiliate marketer.

With over 16,000 advertisers, Awin is one of the larger affiliate networks bloggers can take advantage of. Notable partners include AliExpress, Etsy, HP, Lemonade, and Under Armor, but you can find hundreds of brands in dozens of niches.

In my experience, Awin also has more global offers than other affiliate networks, and you can filter for offers by continent, which is useful if you have significant international traffic.

You have to submit your blog for approval like other affiliate networks and then apply individually to promote offers. Awin also charges a $5 deposit that you receive back with your first payment.

  • Pros: More global offers than most affiliate networks.
  • Cons: $5 deposit and the UI is a bit clunky.
  • Payment Options: ACH, international wire transfers, and various domestic payment options that vary depending on your country of residence.
  • Payment Terms & Threshold: You choose if you want payment once or twice a month and the minimum threshold is $20.

Apply for Awin here.

7. eBay Partner Network

The eBay Partner Network lets you earn commissions for promoting the over 1.4 billion listings that are on eBay. Yes, that's a billion with a “b.”

The program is similar to Amazon Associates because you get paid a commission when your readers buy eBay products. Like Amazon, the cookie duration is 24 hours, and you get paid if someone buys a product you’re promoting or anything else on eBay. You can also get paid if someone places a winning bid within 24 hours and ends up buying the product when the auction expires.

eBay pays affiliates between 1% to 6% depending on the product category, so it’s once again similar to Amazon. According to some affiliates, it’s more difficult to get into the eBay Partner Network than Amazon, so that’s the main downside. 

But if you regularly promote products like apparel, collectibles, electronics, and home goods, this is one of the best affiliate marketing networks to join.

  • Pros: Promote millions of products; earn up to 6% commission.
  • Cons: Difficult approval process.
  • Payment Options: Direct deposit and PayPal.
  • Payment Terms & Threshold: You get paid every month if you have at least $10 in your balance.

Apply for eBay Partner Network here.

8. ClickBank

ClickBank is one of the oldest affiliate marketing networks in the game and began in 1998. But while many popular affiliate marketing networks focus on partnering with brands, ClickBank is more product-focused.

As a ClickBank affiliate, you can earn up to 90% commission for promoting specific products. Commonly, this includes:

  • Courses
  • Coaching programs
  • Digital downloads
  • eBooks
  • Subscriptions
  • Supplements

The main downside to ClickBank is that many products are frankly garbage; think weight loss supplements that don’t work or online business courses that are get-rich-quick schemes. Many ClickBank products also have spammy-looking landing pages and are quite aggressively promoted by affiliates.

But, with the product catalog depth, you can still find reputable physical and digital products to promote, and ClickBank commissions are typically higher than most other affiliate networks.

  • Pros: High commissions for many products.
  • Cons: Many products and services are low-quality.
  • Payment Options: Direct deposit, check, Payoneer, and PayPal.
  • Payment Terms & Threshold: You can opt for weekly payments on Wednesday and the lowest payment threshold is $10.

Apply to join ClickBank here.

What to do if You Get Rejected

Most of the networks themselves are fairly easy to get into if you have a legitimate blog set up. If for some reason you get rejected from the network you can email and ask why — but you probably won't get a response.

But getting into the network doesn't mean you'll have instant access to every company inside. You may also need to be approved for the specific companies you wish to promote. Every company has different requirements and not all programs are open all the time.

If you get rejected from a specific company it's best if you can find a contact in that company's affiliate department. Find a blogging friend who is in the program and see if they can provide you with some contact information. If you can get a real human to take a look at your site you might get some insight as to what to do to get in.

You can also meet representatives of companies at conferences. They can also give you insight as to how to get into their programs.

In the meantime, just work to keep growing your blog. At the end of the day, companies want bloggers who will convert traffic into sales for them — and they don't want bloggers who won't. So if you can show solid traffic and an engaged audience you'll have a better shot.

Related: 8 Things Not to Worry About when Starting a Blog

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which Affiliate Marketing Network Is Best For Beginners?

New bloggers often start with Amazon Associates since it’s easy to get approved and it works for most blogging niches. Plus, you only have to make three sales within 180 days to remain in the program.

2. Which Affiliate Network Is Best Overall?

Choosing the best affiliate marketing platform depends on your niche and affiliate marketing experience.

For example, networks like Impact and ShareASale are some of the best affiliate marketing networks for bloggers who want to promote offers within their content and SEO. In contrast, many affiliates use paid traffic and social media to promote ClickBank offers.

3. Can I Do Affiliate Marketing Without A Website?

You can technically do affiliate marketing without starting a blog, but it’s going to be difficult. Many top affiliate marketing networks don’t allow direct linking to offers from email, social media, or forums. This means you have to have your own website where you funnel traffic that converts.

Personally, I think blogging is critical for long-term affiliate marketing success. A blog helps you build a brand people trust and promote offers more effectively. Plus, as you grow your blog traffic, you can always incorporate other monetization methods, like selling courses or your own products.

Summary

Affiliate marketing isn’t easy, and it takes time to find the right network, offers, and to grow your blog so you can generate sales in the first place.

However, the best affiliate marketing platforms have well-known companies to partner with. If you mix in affiliate offers with things like display ads and sponsored posts, you can diversify your blogging revenue and generate meaningful income for years to come.

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