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Four Ways to Make More Money With Affiliate Programs

Last updated: January 8, 2020
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In a world where time is money and hard work is time, investing your soft resources wisely is just as important as managing the money you spend. Scaling your day-to-day profits is all about prioritizing your workload so you can gain without the pain. If you already have an active website or social media handle, there’s good news for you: You can earn just by sharing content, as you already do.

In this article, you’ll learn how you can earn through effortless affiliate marketing opportunities, and put a simple strategy behind your promotions to help you earn even more.

What Are Affiliate Programs?

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Affiliate programs create unique business relationships that provide benefits to two major parties:

  • Vendors, who are business owners seeking heightened sales for their products
  • Marketers, who are industry influencers or people with active digital presences

Affiliate marketing occurs when a marketer promotes a vendor’s products through affiliate links, website banners, or other digital assets. A company’s affiliate program is a means of facilitating affiliate marketing when multiple, or even millions, of marketers are involved. By offering marketers the opportunity to make money in return for effective promotion on their website, blog, or social media handles, affiliate programs help business owners take advantage of influencers’ unique networks and receive an ongoing flow of marketers applying to be affiliates.

For anyone with an online presence, affiliate marketing programs are easy opportunities to earn extra cash.

Affiliate Programs vs. Affiliate Networks

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Whereas an affiliate program creates a direct relationship between marketers and the company whose products they are promoting, affiliate networks act as a middle ground for the two. In an affiliate program, a company will designate members of their own team as affiliate managers, allowing them to have more say in their own affiliates. The affiliate network acts as a third party affiliate manager, helping companies save time.

In this scenario, the affiliate network is responsible for building a large network of high-quality affiliates, while also finding clients that want to connect with relevant people who can promote their brand. That said, affiliate networks help you and companies save time by streamlining diverse connections on a single marketing platform.

Also worthy of note is the fact that the term “affiliate network” can also be used to describe a string of companies that refer each other. When referring to the gig economy and in similar contexts, this is usually not the case.

Popular Affiliate Opportunities

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Joining some of the world’s most popular affiliate programs and networks has its perks. Because these are typically run by well-known companies in the digital space, you will likely already have thousands of products to market and existing customers to market to. This makes your job as an affiliate marketer even easier, as you don’t need to take the additional step of selling consumers on the company itself.

Affiliate Programs

Amazon Associates is one of the world’s largest affiliate programs. Having existed for over a decade as an affiliate platform, it allows affiliate marketers to earn up to 10% in advertising fees. Signing up is free and your job is as simple as sharing an affiliate link. Amazon states that it approves affiliates with up-to-date, current content on various platforms who prove they can drive sales.

eBay Partner Network works similarly to Amazon Associates, allowing you to earn by linking out to relevant products. You can earn between 50% to 70% commission for purchases, and even earn per click. Though the approval rate for this partner program isn’t specified, eBay states that it is very high.

In addition to Amazon and eBay, other well-known companies with affiliate programs include Grammarly, which provides extra perks for top affiliates, and TripAdvisor, which offers 50% commission and additional incentive programs.

Affiliate Networks

ClickBank is an online marketplace with thousands of digital products for affiliates to market. With nearly 20 years in the business, it is one of the leading names in affiliate marketing, with opportunities to earn higher commissions than on most other affiliate sites at up to 75% — and that can be recurring commission if you happen to sell a subscription. Anyone can join as an affiliate or vendor.

Rakuten Marketing’s globally recognized affiliate network offers another popular opportunity to earn through affiliate marketing. It boasts experience working with marketers from over 200 countries, and trust from major brands, which means you have the opportunity to work with large corporations, no matter where you’re from. Having an active website or blog can increase the odds that you’ll be accepted.

Other popular affiliate networks include CJ Affiliate, also known as Commission Junction, and Avangate, which focuses on helping clients sell software and similar digital products. SEMrush, a popular SaaS company, also runs its own affiliate program.

Four Affiliate Marketing Strategies

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Popularity doesn’t always mean higher earnings. Often, the best affiliate programs are the ones that have made affiliate marketing a part of their business model, as this guarantees a user-friendly experience and ensures affiliate commissions are locked into the company’s budget.

With this in mind, here are four strategies to help you make more money online, whether you’re joining an affiliate program, an affiliate network or both:

1. Seek Higher Commissions

It may be tempting to seek out affiliate programs run by bigger brands. However, to minimize the time you spend per dollar you make, it’s crucial to find the companies that are worth the most per sale. Some points to keep in mind:

  • A lower commission rate for high-cost products may earn you more in the long run.
  • Low-cost products may be easier to sell, if the products aren’t directly related to your niche.
  • Recurring commission at a lower rate may be worth it for the stability.

To simplify your search, you can take a look at our list of high-paying affiliate programs, including Shopify and Amazon Associates, to start comparing commission rates and determine which program or affiliate network is the best choice for you.

2. Build a Trusted Brand

While most affiliate marketing opportunities require an active digital presence, creating a brand with a specific niche can help you in two ways. First, it will increase your engagement and conversion rates by making sure all the content you publish is relevant to your audience. As a result, you’ll get a secondary benefit of being accepted into more affiliate programs.

To build your trusted brand, think about who is already in your network. Are your followers tech-savvy developers who are interested in web hosting platforms? Are you connected to plenty of parents who would be interested in reviews of toys and children’s books? Find the online businesses that sell products your audience will love, sign up for their affiliate programs, and consistently post content about those products in a way that engages your audience.

3. Pay Attention to Analytics

So how do you know what engages your audience? Because most affiliate programs already require you to have an active website or social media presence, the tools are right in front of you. WordPress, Instagram, Facebook, and more all offer free analytics that can help you determine which products you should invest the most time marketing. What affiliate product links are they clicking on the most? What products has the highest conversion rate? Take a look before you decide what to promote next.

Analytics can also help you adjust your affiliate marketing strategy. If your audience is engaging with one post more than another for the same product, this is insight into what content your audience prefers. If using one hashtag decreases your reach, you may choose to swap it out for another to maximize your audience and grow your per-click earnings.

4. Market Beyond Social Media

Social media promotion may be a requirement for most affiliate marketing opportunities, but it is certainly not a limitation. Unless your program’s terms and conditions do not allow it, you can increase your income by taking advantage of any platform your audience is on. If you already have an email marketing strategy for your website, add an affiliate link directly in your newsletter. Cross-post your blog posts to Medium to get a few more eyes there.

If you’re willing to put a little more effort in, read up on general online marketing tips to brainstorm more affiliate marketing strategies, including ways to boost your SEO to get your affiliate link-filled blog posts or landing pages to the front pages of popular search engines.

Affiliate Program FAQs

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Before you start applying for affiliate marketing opportunities or building a strategy to increase your passive income, here are some answers to a few additional questions you may have:

1. How high are approval rates for affiliate marketing applicants?

For most popular affiliate programs, approval rates are fairly high. Regardless of the company, your chances of getting approved by a program or affiliate network is dependent on you fitting the requirements.

2. Are affiliate marketing programs the same as referral programs?

Affiliate programs traditionally differ from referral programs. Referral programs run on a peer-to-peer system, allowing any consumer to make money or gain other rewards simply by referring friends or family to the business. For example, Grubhub’s referral program allows you to earn free food with every new customer you refer.

Affiliate programs are usually limited to industry influencers — as determined by blog click-through rates, email list sizes, social media engagement, or other factors — who sell to a greater audience. Affiliate partners may be required to maintain a minimum conversion rate. Many affiliate programs are more lax nowadays, but at the very least, they require affiliates to have an active website or online presence.

3. How do affiliate programs pay their marketers?

This depends on the company. While some affiliate programs provide commission for every affiliate sale made, others may have a specified dollar amount per click or per lead. How affiliate programs handle the payment itself may also differ. Some may offer direct deposits, while others will go through online payments systems like PayPal or

4. Can I earn more by promoting my own products with affiliate links?

This is not recommended. In many cases, this will be against the affiliate program’s terms and conditions, even if not expressly stated. Regardless, using affiliate links for your own products may not help you much. For example, Udemy alters the percentage of the total revenue you earn based on whether your course is found organically or through an affiliate link.

Make Money Effortlessly

When you need extra cash, but don’t have a lot of spare time, affiliate programs and networks can be your solution. With this guide, we hope your effortless journey as an affiliate marketer is filled with high returns.

If you’re looking for more easy ways to make money outside of your full-time career, check out these passive income opportunities to start earning more.

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