How To
16 min read

How to Find Affiliate Programs: Everything You Need to Know

Soniya Khubchandani

August 9, 2022

Finding the right affiliate programs for your site can be tricky.

You don't just want any affiliate program to send your visitors to. You need highly targeted visitors that will likely convert into paying customers with a trustworthy affiliate program.

The only problem for marketers is that you must do all the legwork—searching for places to promote your affiliate offer and figuring out other aspects of affiliate marketing.

This can be time-consuming, especially if you have to do it for a niche site setup with the correct themes and plugins for affiliate marketing. After all that effort, you may still not have any reasonable promotional offers or programs.

In this guide, we will answer all the burning questions you have about picking an affiliate program:

  • What is an affiliate marketing program?
  • How do affiliate programs work?
  • How to make money from affiliate programs?
  • Types of affiliate programs to join
  • How to find good affiliate programs for your niche (that aren't Amazon)
  • Tips on evaluating and choosing affiliate programs for your site
  • How to apply and join affiliate programs

Let's get started!

What is an affiliate marketing program?

An affiliate program is an arrangement between a merchant and an affiliate. The merchant offers commissions or other incentives to marketers who refer customers to them.

You can do this in a variety of ways:

  • Reviewing products or software on your website that links to other sites.
  • Promoting courses or eBooks through affiliate networks.
  • Linking to ecommerce products that share a commission with you.


How do affiliate programs work?

How affiliate marketing programs work
Source: https://www.shopify.com/blog/affiliate-marketing 

Affiliate programs are a great way to earn money as a content creator. They work by allowing you to include affiliate links within your posts that redirect to another site, and every time someone buys something from that site after clicking through your link, you earn a commission.

The affiliate program company pays you for every sale you help them make. So let's say you have a blog about fashion and beauty, and you're writing about the best eye shadow palettes on Amazon. You could include a link in your post that says, "Click here to shop my favorite eyeshadow palette," then, when someone clicks on it and buys the product, Amazon will pay you a commission on that sale.

Different types of affiliate programs

  • Pay commissions when someone purchases within a predetermined time of clicking through your link.
  • Pay-per-lead where you share contact information with an affiliate platform.
  • Coupon, loyalty, comparison shopping, or cashback affiliate sites where you offer discounts through affiliate links.

The most common type is where you visitors click on links on your website, social media channels, or emails, and you get a commission if they purchase within a certain time frame using cookies. 

Some affiliate marketers even practice pay-per-click advertising on various networks and search engines to promote an affiliate offer. They have a profitable method if they know the product has a high conversion rate and their commission is higher than the costs per click. 

However, this can be risky as costs per click can fluctuate, as can conversions. Therefore, this isn’t as common as using organic SEO and content marketing to build steady traffic to your website without advertising.

You can also take advantage of special offers like free shipping or other discounts on certain items if available in your area as an affiliate marketer.

Not all affiliate programs are created equal, so it's essential to do your research before choosing one. Some have higher payout rates than others, and some require you to meet a certain threshold before they pay out.

How to make money from affiliate programs

Affiliate programs are a great way to make passive income—and they're not as hard to get into as you might think. Here's how to get started with affiliate marketing.

  1. Find an affiliate program that matches your interests and goals.
  2. Sign up for the program and get approved. You'll need to provide some personal information as well as your website that you’ll be promoting the products.
  3. Browse their available products and services, and choose affiliate products that you think will be best for your audience.
  4. Sign up for the product or service yourself.  This will help verify your identity and show your audience that you tested out the product.
  5. Promote the affiliate product or service on your website, social media profiles, email list, etc., using links that direct customers back to the merchant's site where they can purchase it themselves.
  6. Get paid! Collect your commission payouts once a month or when you reach a certain threshold by direct deposit or another payment method. Promoting a digital product with a monthly subscription may get a recurring commission each month.

Types of affiliate programs to join

High-paying, low-volume affiliate programs 

These niche programs will pay you a higher amount per sale. However, they have a low volume of traffic and converting sales, so it might take longer to earn enough money from this affiliate program.

For example, suppose you run an affiliate program for a niche product, like designer handbags. In that case, there probably aren't many people who visit your website and click on your links to purchase. However, the payout will be pretty high if you do manage to earn a commission on one sale.

Another example of a high-paying affiliate program would be to promote someone’s course that costs thousands of dollars. Fewer people are likely to spend that amount of money, but when they do, you make more money compared to lower-priced products. This is also known as high ticket affiliate marketing.

High-volume, low-paying affiliate programs

These programs have a lot of traffic or sales but aren't as lucrative for affiliates because the commissions are lower than average (usually between 2% and 10%).

For example, if you run an affiliate program for a top-rated product, like an e-book about marketing or a web hosting company, you'll probably get a lot of clicks on your links to purchase. However, because so many affiliates compete for sales (and this product doesn't usually have high margins), most affiliates won't earn much per sale.

Another example of this type of program is being an Amazon Associate that reviews products on your affiliate website that are sold on Amazon. Because so many people are searching Google for reviews when researching to find the best products to buy, and they trust buying from Amazon, there is a ton of volume here. Amazon knows this and offers a lower commission rate than if you go directly to some companies as an affiliate that may pay you a higher commission.

Medium-paying, high-volume, or medium-paying but balanced affiliate programs 

These are the most popular affiliate programs because they offer something to everyone.

These programs have a lot of traffic, but the traffic isn't just focused on one type of product; it's spread across many different kinds of products. This means you can earn money from every sale, even if it's not much.

These are also the most profitable affiliate programs for affiliates because they give you many options.

For example, you might find a program where you can earn a certain amount for every 100 clicks or 10 leads or sales. These programs are great for affiliates who want to make some money but don't have the time to invest in building an extensive list.

The Amazon Associates program could also fit under this type because they offer many products. When a website visitor clicks on your Amazon affiliate link but doesn’t buy the product but finds other products to buy during that session—this results in an affiliate commission since you sent the visitor to them.

But enough about Amazon. Let’s look at finding other affiliate programs to diversify your earnings and show visitors you aren’t biased towards only one program.

How to find good affiliate programs for your niche (that aren't Amazon)

Look at your competition

You can find a lot of great affiliate programs by looking at your competition. If you're in a competitive niche with multiple affiliates, chances are they are making money with affiliate programs, which means you can too.

You can check their websites to see which affiliate networks they're using and then sign up for those same ones.

  • Look at their website to see what products they promote and where they earn revenue.
  • Check out their affiliate disclosure pages since websites are lawfully required to disclose what affiliate programs they are using. 
  • Check out their social media accounts to see if they promote affiliate links there.
  • Check out their blog posts to see what products they're promoting and where they're getting them.
  • Run their site through an SEO analytics tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs to see which sites they are externally linking out to, possibly using link shorteners.

Once you find the affiliate networks, you can use them to find more sites earning revenue from those same companies. This way, you can ensure that you're not missing out on any potential opportunities to earn income from the same companies.

Find affiliate links

Another way to evaluate whether an affiliate program is suitable for your site or not is to check how many people are earning revenue from it. The easiest way to do this is by checking their referring domains. The most popular affiliate networks have thousands of sites earning revenue from them.

So if you see a site with only 50-100 referring domains, it's unlikely that they earn much from their program. But if they have thousands or even millions of sites sending traffic to them, then it's likely that there is a lot of money being made by those affiliates.

Backlink profile of an affiliate program

You can do this by going to SEMRush or Ahrefs and searching for the affiliate program's name. You will see a list of linked sites, which you can use as a reference point for how successful it is.

This will give you an idea of whether or not it's worth your time to apply for the program and how much money your site could earn from it.

Search for company affiliate programs online

FInd affiliate program via Google search

As simple as it sounds, you can simply search for company affiliate programs online. This is a great way to find out what companies currently offer affiliate opportunities and how much they pay their affiliates.

It can also be helpful to search for a specific company's affiliate program and see what others have said about it. You can better understand the pros and cons of working with that company.

You can also search for "best affiliate programs + [your niche]" or something similar, bringing up a list of the most popular and profitable affiliate programs on the web. These are worth looking into because they are already established, popular, and profitable.

Ask on marketing forums or Reddit

Another good way to find the best affiliate programs is to ask the people in your niche. You can do this on marketing forums or Reddit, for example. Post a question about what affiliate programs are worth joining and what isn't, and allow people to answer it with their own affiliate partnership experiences and opinions.

Asking peers on Reddit

It's important to note that you should only ask for advice about legitimate affiliate programs, not those requiring you to sign up as a vendor first. Look at what people are saying about the program. If you see that someone has written an entire review about a particular affiliate program, this can be helpful for your decision-making process. Read through what they have to say about it and see if their experience matches up with yours.

Check affiliate directories

Some affiliate programs have directories that list all of their affiliates. This is a great place to start, as it's usually populated by people who are already successful in the industry and have chosen to promote this program.

This will give you some information on the program itself, such as how much it pays out to affiliates and whether or not it has a reputation for being reliable.

It also allows you to compare different options and see what features are most important to you.

If you follow these tips, it should be easy for you to find a good affiliate program. Just remember that hundreds of them are out there, so don't get discouraged if the first one doesn't work out.

Tips on evaluating and choosing affiliate programs for your site

While there are many legitimate affiliate programs, there are also some that are not. Here are a few tips to help you evaluate and choose the best affiliate programs for your site.

Affiliate commission and payout structure

The first thing you should do is look at the affiliate commission rate and payout structure. The commissions paid out by the merchant should be clearly stated in terms of service or TOS. You don't have to worry about anyone hiding their rates—they are usually public information.

Let's see what the difference between commission and payout is.

The commission is the percentage of sales an affiliate gets for referring customers to a merchant. For example, if you are an Amazon affiliate and someone buys a product through your link on your site, you could get 5% of that sale. Amazon offers different rates depending on the product category, which you can see below, so keep this in mind that product commission percentages will vary.

Amazon Affiliate commission rate
Source: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/help/node/topic/GRXPHT8U84RAYDXZ 

On the other hand, the payout is the amount of money you get from a merchant. For example, if Amazon is your affiliate and you made $100 in product sales revenue through your link, you get $5 from the 5% commission rate.

Now, let's go over the commission and payout structure you should consider when selecting an affiliate program.

  • Look for affiliate programs that offer decent commissions (between 10% and 50%), reasonable payout structures, and reasonable payout structures. Some affiliate programs pay higher commissions if you meet specific conversion goals or manage many affiliates; others have a tiered system where you earn more as your sales increase. Consider these incentives when choosing an affiliate program to promote on your site.
  • Search for affiliate programs that offer a variety of products or services to promote so that you can diversify your revenue streams.
  • Look for affiliate programs with a good reputation in their industry because this will make it easier for you to attract customers who trust the brands they represent. 
  • Try to find affiliate programs that pay out regularly, so you can count on a steady income stream.
  • Look for affiliate programs that offer tools and resources to make promoting their products easier, such as banner ads, landing pages, and email marketing campaigns.

Consider the product pricing

Selling high-priced products as an affiliate allows you to earn more money per sale, which can help you reach even higher earning potential. However, this model also requires that you attract customers who are willing to spend more on a product than they would if they were going through a retailer.

If the products are too expensive, they may be outside your target customer's budget. Look for affiliate programs that offer a range of pricing options so you can promote products within your customers' price range.

For example, an online retailer may offer affiliate programs for low-priced and high-priced products. You can promote the low-cost items when you're trying to attract customers who are just starting and looking for deals while also promoting higher-priced items that appeal to people with more money to spend.

You should also consider the type of product you're promoting. The products that are most often chosen as affiliates are ones that people use daily, such as electronics, fashion accessories, and household goods. If you sell something more specialized or seasonal, you may struggle to attract enough affiliate partners and sales to make it worth your while.

However, if you have a niche product in high demand, you'll have an easier time attracting affiliates. Even if it's not the most practical accessory to promote and sell, people may be willing to pay more if it's something they want.

Look at their conversion rates

Different affiliate programs have different conversion rates, and some are better than others. The best affiliate programs will have high conversion rates, meaning many visitors sign up for the offer. If you see that a site has a low conversion rate or no conversions, it might not be worth your time.

For example, a program with a 5% conversion rate means that for every 100 clicks on your affiliate link, five people end up buying something from you. Whereas if you're promoting a program with a 10% conversion rate, for every 100 clicks on your affiliate link, 10 people end up buying something from you.

Hence, finding affiliate programs with a high conversion rate is crucial.

If you are promoting an offer that is not converting well, it could be for a few reasons.

  • The offer is not targeted to your audience (i.e., they are looking for something else).
  • There are more than one offer on the same page (i.e., other affiliates may have links on the page).
  • The offer is not well promoted or advertised.
  • The offer is old and no longer converting (i.e., the conversion rate drops over time).
  • The offer doesn't provide enough value.
  • The offer is new and needs time to build up a following (i.e., not enough traffic).
  • The offer has been out there for a while, and people have already bought it.

The reasons can be endless, but it is crucial to identify when it's time to move on. This will keep you from wasting time trying to promote something that won't convert no matter what you do.

Affiliate network metrics

Every affiliate network has metrics that they use to measure the success of its affiliates. These metrics are essential to know because they will tell you how much traffic and sales you need to qualify for different levels of payouts.

Check affiliate network metrics
Source: Unsplash

It's also important to know what qualifies as a conversion when tracking your performance to report on it accurately. These metrics are usually broken down into two categories: performance and payment.

Performance metrics

  • Clicks
  • Sales
  • Conversion rates

They give you an idea of how well you're doing as an affiliate on that network compared to other affiliates.

Payment metrics

  • Payouts
  • Fees
  • Commissions that you'll be paid

They give you an idea of how much you can make from that network and how much it will cost to run your affiliate marketing campaigns.

Therefore, while selecting the affiliate program, you should always ensure that it provides enough information to help you understand how well your campaigns perform. If a network doesn't give you access to these metrics, it's probably not worth working with them.

The most important thing is to stay focused. 

Choosing a network with good performance and payment metrics may be best if you're just starting. In this way, you can work on building your website while still earning money from affiliate marketing.

Affiliate program reviews and reputation

While it's not a must to check the affiliate program reviews of a network before joining, it's still important to do so. You don't want to end up with an unreliable network that doesn't pay its affiliates on time or doesn't pay them at all.

Affiliate program reviews can help you determine which networks are more reputable than others. They also provide insight into how successful other affiliates are when working with certain affiliate networks and can give you ideas on what kind of offers work best for different networks.

These reviews will give you an idea of how well the network is performing and whether it's a good affiliate partner for your website or not. Some things to keep in mind when reading through these reviews include:

  • Average payout percentage
  • Commission structure
  • How easy it is to get approved
  • How long does it take to get paid
  • Cost of joining

Some affiliate programs are known to be challenging to work with, slow to pay out, and unreliable. You may want to steer clear of these networks and choose one with a good reputation.

Customer support

It is another thing to consider when choosing an affiliate network. Some networks offer 24/7 support, while others only provide support from an affiliate manager during business hours. Some affiliate partners have live chat features that can be very helpful if you have issues with your account.

The best affiliate networks have a dedicated team to help you with any issues. This can be very helpful if you are just starting and have questions about how things work.

If you are planning to build a long-term business, choosing an affiliate network that offers great customer support is important. You might also want to consider whether the company actively supports its affiliates with marketing material or ways to help you increase your affiliate revenue.

Cookie duration

The cookie duration refers to how long the affiliate tracking cookie stays on your website. Some programs have a concise period (5 days), while others can last up to 6 months or even longer.

You want your affiliate links to last as long as possible, so it's a good idea to avoid companies that only offer short-term cookies.

Some networks offer up to 90 days of cookie duration. This will help you establish a good reputation among your visitors and give them plenty of time to make purchases from your site.

Cookie duration is one of the most important factors when choosing an affiliate network. It's not just about how long you can get paid for your traffic but also how much value it will bring to your website and business.

How to apply and join affiliate programs

There are two ways to join an affiliate program:

  • Signing up directly with the company.
  • Signing up with an affiliate network that has access to many different companies' programs.

A direct sign-up means the company will pay you for each affiliate sale made through your link, whereas signing up with an affiliate network means paying you a commission on all sales made through their member's links.

Signing up directly with a company may be more beneficial in the long run because it allows for more flexibility regarding where and how often your links appear (for example, if you have purchased space on another site).

However, if you are just starting as an affiliate marketer, it is probably best to sign up with an affiliate network. An affiliate network will provide access to many different programs and allow you to build up your reputation before jumping into the deep end of direct marketing.

Steps to join an affiliate program

  1. Find an affiliate program that you are interested in joining.
  2. Read the terms and conditions thoroughly and make sure they are acceptable to you. If not, find another program!
  3. Sign up for the program and complete your profile page.
  4. Create a unique tracking link for each program you join to easily track how much revenue is coming from each one (this will help with reporting).
  5. Promote your tracking links through social media, email marketing, and any other means that you have at your disposal.
  6. Monitor the results of each program and make adjustments as needed (e.g., change the link if it is not converting well).

Getting started with affiliate programs for your niche site

Once you have selected the affiliate program, you can start creating a website and writing content. A great affiliate program usually has many products, so you can choose whatever fits your niche.

For example, if you're a travel blogger, you can create content around travel accessories like luggage, backpacks, etc.

Creating high-quality affiliate content is essential for building trust with your audience. You can write about different topics related to the affiliate program and its products, like why you love them or how they can be helpful for them.

If you are struggling to create good content, try out Copy.ai. It's an Ai writing tool that can write content for you. You just need to give it the topic, keywords, and a few sentences about what you want to say. It will write an article for you with relevant information and text structure. You can also use the tool to create video scripts, emails, or social media content.

Once your website is ready and you've written some content, it's time to promote your site. You can use social media, email marketing platforms like MailChimp or ConvertKit, or other marketing tools to reach your target audience.

What are some of the best affiliate marketing programs and networks?

There are hundreds of affiliate marketing programs in all kinds of niches that promote physical and digital products or services. While this isn’t the extensive list of the best affiliate marketing programs, here are some of the most popular and reputable affiliate programs.

  • CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction)
  • ShareASale
  • Affiliaxe
  • Amazon Associates
  • ClickBank
  • eBay Partner Network
  • Fiverr
  • Impact
  • Rakuten LinkShare
  • M4trix Network
  • Algo Affiliates
  • Awin 
  • Refersion
  • PepperJam
  • FlexOffers
  • MaxBounty

Follow the tips above to figure out what niches you want to work with and affiliate products you want to promote. All of the above have been around for a long time, have great customer service, and don’t have any issues paying out. That should make it easier to find the affiliate programs for you so you can be on your way to a life of passive income!

Wrapping up how to find affiliate programs

There are several ways to find affiliate programs. The most important thing is to understand what you are getting into.

Affiliate marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Building an online business that generates passive income for years to come takes time, effort, and skill. The best way to start is by creating a website and building an audience. Once you have created value for your readers, they will be more likely to click on your affiliate links.

So, what are you waiting for? Build your website today and start earning money!

Ready to level-up?

Write 10x faster, engage your audience, & never struggle with the blank page again.

Get Started for Free
No credit card required
7-day trial of Pro
90+ content types to explore