The Best Affiliate Programs For Bloggers in 2017

Post Amazongeddon edition

Perrin Carrell - March 9th 2017

Amazongeddon… March 1, 2017… a day that will live in infamy.

Kidding. Don’t be so dramatic. And this post is not about Amazongeddon. It’s about affiliate programs.

People are freaking out, though, and it’s important to understand why so many affiliates are currently scrambling to find new programs.

So here’s what happened.

The Amazon Associates program has historically awarded affiliate commissions on a volume-based model. The more you sell, the more you earn. It started around 6% and went up to 8.5%.

Amazon is a general goods retailer; they sell everything. And among general goods retailers, 8.5% is pretty high. Hell, 6% is pretty high. It’s been high on purpose because if Amazon attracts the most affiliates, it makes the most money.

However, some categories have significantly lower margins than others. Electronics, for example, are far less profitable than luggage. The margins are simply just slimmer.

More...

So in early 2017, Amazon decided to adjust its affiliate commission rates based on the profitability of its categories.

Some categories made it out intact--staying around 8%--and some even got a boost (luxury beauty, for example, is now at 10%). Most categories, however, got cut, especially for affiliates who were consistently hitting the 8.5% commissions tier. Many got reduced to 4.5% or lower, and a few (like wine) even got reduced to 0%.

Source

Now, it’s not the end of the world (we made a podcast to reassure you).

But it does mean there is suddenly a strong incentive for affiliates to look for and test affiliate programs outside of Amazon.

It’s always been true that combining and testing affiliate programs could make you more money than using Amazon only, but up until now, Amazon has been so ridiculously easy, it’s been worth using Amazon and only Amazon just to avoid the logistical hassle of testing other programs. That's a lot less true now.

So we wrote this: a guide to the best affiliate programs.

What You Will Learn In This Post


  • A section on other general goods retailers and their affiliate programs
  • A detailed look at the major affiliate networks
  • A commentary on several of the biggest affiliate niches as well as a sampling of high-quality affiliate programs for each
  • A tutorial on how to find even more programs for your own niche

In the end, affiliates who’ve been relying on Amazon associates are starting to realize what veteran affiliates have known for a long time: the most successful affiliates are constantly looking for and testing new offers.

This post aims to get you started.

General Product Programs


Amazon Associates

Despite “Amazongeddon,” Amazon Associates is still among the best general affiliate programs around, and it’s what I like to use to start most of my sites.

And that’s for a two key reasons:

  • People love shopping online on Amazon
  • Amazon is really good at converting people

Essential Info

  • Niche: Everything
  • Type: Physical goods
  • Commission rates: 1%-10%
  • Cookie duration: 24 hours
  • EPC: varies wildly
  • Signup: Here

What that really means is that even if commissions were lower than they used to be, Amazon is so good at getting people to buy stuff once they get them on the site, the residual sales (many of which will come from sales in other categories) and holiday spikes still make the program really good overall and better than most everyone else.

There are also plenty of huge markets to get into that still offer great commissions on Amazon.

Additionally, the product selection on Amazon is absolutely massive, and you can find loads of really obscure things to sell.

If you’ve got a car site, for example, and you want to recommend jumper cables, you can pick one of the many hundreds of different brand and models. That’s something even most major retailers can’t match--at least not for every conceivable type of product.

In other words, Amazon is still great, and for most authority sites, it’s where I would start.

PROS


  • Massive selection
  • People love shopping on Amazon
  • Tons of residual sales
  • Big holiday spikes
  • Commissions are still great for lots of categories

CONS


  • Some categories (e.g. wine, PC parts, televisions) got screwed in the latest update
  • Their Terms of Services is extremely hard to understand
  • Some support reps don’t understand the rules
  • Recently ban-happy

Ebay Partner Network

The eBay Partner Network (EPN) is another cool affiliate program that’s been around for a long time, and plenty of marketers have made good money with it.

It’s got a lot of the same advantages that Amazon has--namely that it’s got a huge, well-known brand and really high on-site conversion rates.

Essential Info

  • Niche: Everything
  • Type: Physical goods
  • Commission rates: 50%-70% of auction fees
  • Cookie duration: 24hrs for “Buy It Now,” 10 days for auctions
  • Signup: Here

I don’t have any data for this, but I also suspect the high emotional impact of eBay’s auction system is a major part of their conversion rates and, therefore, is likely also good for affiliate commissions.

Of course, because eBay is an auction-based marketplace and not a straight-up eCommerce store, affiliate commissions behave differently: rather than pay a commission on the final sale price, eBay pays a commission on the fee they charge for the auction.

Here are the rates:

If you’ve never been a part of this kind of structure, it may be tough to understand how that translates to dollars. So, with eBay, I find it’s usually easier to think about EPC instead of commission rates.

In the interest of full disclosure, I couldn’t find very much hard data--or even many people who openly share their EPCs--but from the reports I did find, EPCs seem to range anywhere from $0.10 to $2.00 EPC. That can be more or less than Amazon depending on who you talk to, but the long and short of it is that there’s still some good money there.

PROS


  • High emotional input from customers
  • Incredible product diversity

CONS


  • Some reports of EPCs are low
  • Some readers may not like auctions
  • A given product may not be available at all times

Target

Target.com may be the best overall replacement for people looking for alternatives to the Amazon Associates program.

While their selection of products isn’t as big as Amazon’s they still (obviously) have a massive selection; you just won’t be able to find products for every little nook and cranny of your site, and you might have trouble if you’re in a more obscure niche.

Essential Info

  • Niche: General home goods
  • Type: Physical goods
  • Commission rate: 1%-8% (volume and category based)
  • Cookie duration: 7 days
  • EPC: Unknown
  • Signup: Here

They also aren’t going to have specialized or top-of-the-line goods (e.g. if you’re publishing content about gaming computers, it might be difficult to recommend the mostly average PCs Target sells).

The biggest benefit, though, is that they still operate on a volume-based fee structure, and it’s pretty generous. Just be aware that they also cap commissions for certain categories.

Baby gear as rates similar to Amazon (4.5%), and health and beauty has terrible commissions, so Target may not be the best choices for folks in these markets; however, for the relatively massive markets of apparel, general home goods, and general outdoor goods, the commission rates are great.

Target’s other selling point is their 7-day cookie--short by niche affiliate standards but pretty long by general-big-brand standards (Amazon’s cookie is one day).

A few other miscellaneous cool things. They report that their average EPC (earnings per 100 clicks) is $12-$13, and they offer good flat fees for people creating baby or wedding registries.

PROS


  • Massive brand recognition
  • Big selection
  • Still on a volume-based model
  • 7-day cookie

CONS


  • Terrible commissions for health and beauty products
  • People love going to target, so they may browse online and shop in person

Jet

Jet.com was (in my opinion) overhyped as the “Amazon killer” when it was released. As ridiculous as that was, they are one of the few online retailers who’s competing with Amazon in a business model that’s similar to Amazon.

In other words, their model is to sell everything.

Essential Info

  • Niche: General home goods (but they sell everything)
  • Type: Physical goods
  • Commission rate: 2.5%
  • Cookie length: Unknown
  • EPC: Unknown
  • Sign up: Here

And they’ve been pretty successful, growing to over 31,000,000 visitors per month. Those aren’t Amazon-level numbers, but it still indicates a strong customer base.

Jet runs their affiliate program through LinkShare, and because they’re one of the few online retailers that sells everything, it’s worth mentioning them as a possible alternative to Amazon.

That said, for my money, they’d likely only be a replace for publishers in the niches with the lowest commission rates. Why?

...mostly because of their commission rates:

If that seems pretty low, it’s because it is (at least compared to most tiers on Amazon); however, the following tiers now have the same or lower rates than this:

  • Video games
  • Video game consoles
  • PCs and PC components
  • DVD and Blu Ray

So if you’re in one of those niches, Jet.com could be worth testing.

PROS


  • They sell everything, so almost anyone in any niche that has physical goods to sell can use the Jet.com affiliate program.
  • It’s probably one of the best replacements for the programs that got really shellacked in the Amazon update.

CONS


  • Unless you’re in one of the lowest Amazon tiers, the commission rate is probably going to be lower.
  • We don’t know how Jet.com converts.

Walmart

I’m adding Walmart mostly for one niche: toys.

Walmart is and has always been a low-margin company that wins business because they usually have the lowest prices, and if you’ve been an affiliate for any length of time, you probably know that low prices are not your friend.

Essential Info

  • Niche: General home goods
  • Type: Physical goods
  • Commission rate: 1%-4%
  • Cookie duration: 3 days
  • EPC: unknown
  • Signup: Here

Because they have such margins, their commissions are understandably low as well.

The commission rates are either 1% or 4% for most categories.

None of those commissions are going to beat other major online retailers except for the one I just mentioned: toys.

Walmart’s toy commissions are 4%, which barely edges out Amazon’s 3%. It also beats Jet’s flat 2.5%, and we’re not sure where toy’s fall in Target’s commission structure.

So Walmart seems to have a slight edge for that one niche. Just a few things to keep in mind…

  • Walmart doesn’t have a huge selection of toys
  • Your residual commissions won’t be as good as they will on Amazon

I wouldn’t recommend Walmart as your primary affiliate program, but it can likely be a good supplement to toy-based affiliate sites (and there are a lot of those).

PROS


  • Among the highest toy commissions
  • 3-day cookie

CONS


  • Lower commissions (and lower prices) than most other places
  • People may not like buying from Walmart

General Affiliate Networks


What’s an affiliate network?

Affiliate networks are third-party platforms (you’ll hear me refer to them as “platforms” below) that help advertisers (often called merchants or vendors) link up with publishers. The bigger platforms can have tens of thousands of merchants and tens of millions of offers.

Most networks also facilitate reporting, analytics, and payouts, making them a good solution for publishers who want to manage multiple affiliate relationships at once.

There are lots of these. I’m only going to cover the biggest ones and the ones I have the most experience with in this section.

Clickbank

ClickBank is easily one of the oldest and most popular affiliate platforms out there. They like to boast on their site that they’ve helped over 200 million products reach customers since their inception.

Their marketplace, is massive, easy to use, and (by all accounts) ever-expanding (although I couldn’t find hard data to support that)..

Essential Info

  • Niche: Everything
  • Type: Digital and physical goods
  • Commission rate: Varies by vendor
  • Cookie duration: Varies by vendor
  • EPC: Varies by vendor
  • Signup: Here

Listings include a “gravity score,” which tells you how many people are currently (or have recently been) making money by promoting a product.

They also have a lot of experience with affiliates and have lots of ways to keep both affiliates and publishers happy. For example, they have a joint venture program, which allows you to set up joint ventures with vendors, something you could also feasibly use for collaborative business deals.

Additionally, they make it pretty easy to promote upsells and products that generate recurring commissions, and from my personal use, I’ve found the interface, user experience, and payments to all be pretty good.

Finally, they’re one of the few I’ve found who have any sort of training. For ClickBank, it’s in the form of a “ClickBank University,” a paid program.

PROS


  • Old, respected, marketplace
  • Finely tuned
  • Lots of perks for affiliates
  • Optional paid training

CONS


  • Physical product selection is limited

CJ (Commission Junction)

CJ affiliate (which used to be Commission Junction) is one of the oldest and most popular affiliate platforms in the world.

Because it’s one of the oldest and most popular, it attracts both very serious affiliates and very serious advertisers.

It also incorporates lots of tools for both, including, by all accounts, some of the best reporting in the game.

Essential Info

  • Niche: Everything
  • Type: Digital and physical goods
  • Commission rate: Varies by vendor
  • Cookie duration: Varies by vendor
  • EPC: unknown
  • Signup: Here

Additionally, because they are a marketplace and not a retailer, you can find loads of good products--both digital and physical--for pretty much every niche, and a good chunk of them will probably be from big brands. Here’s just a small sampling from the health equipment results.

Of course, because this isn’t a one-stop shop, it usually means publishers (you) will need to build content around products rather than simply targeting good keyword and finding whatever products fit the article (a major advantage of places like Amazon).

The biggest benefit of CJ, of course, is the incredible diversity of digital goods--especially infoproducts and software, which make it possible to earn money outside of the physical product-dominated world of Amazon.

PROS


  • Very well-respected
  • Excellent backend (tools and reporting)
  • Good mix of physical and digital goods
  • No special website requirements to sign up

CONS


  • Still not a one-stop shop
  • Doesn't seem to have the infoproduct selection of a network like ClickBank

Viglink

Viglink is a pretty innovative platform that monetizes your blog with very little effort. Here’s how it works.

It scans your content for any mention of a product. Then, it turns that product--no matter where it is (blog post or page or whatever--into an affiliate link.

Readers can then click on the link, and you’ll get a commission if they buy.

Essential Info

  • Niche: Everything
  • Type: Digital and physical goods
  • Commission rate: Varies by vendor
  • Cookie duration: Varies by vendor
  • EPC: $0.06 - $1.80
  • Signup: Here

The appealing part for a lot of people is that they send people to the best merchants dynamically.

In other words, at the time of the click, it runs through all the merchants for that particular product and attempts to make your reader to the one that converts the best and/or pays the most commission.

Last I heard, they had around 50,000 merchants, which is a pretty good selection.

PROS


  • Dynamically changes all links on your site
  • Dynamically chooses the best merchant
  • Access to lots of merchants with physical goods
  • Good way to promote merchants you otherwise can’t

CONS


  • You still need to apply with lots of merchants
  • Might be able to make more money applying to merchants directly

Here’s the one major downside according to our friend Jon Dykstra from FatStacks, who uses Viglink and was kind enough to give me a quote.

Jon Dykstra

“My beef with VigLink is that just because you're accepted into VigLink does not mean you're automatically accepted to promote all merchants affiliate with VigLink. You still need to apply individually to many merchants. This in my mind defeats the purpose and the main benefit of this type of affiliate service. Fortunately Skimlinks operates differently; once accepted into Skimlinks you can promote any merchant without further red tape.”

Skimlinks

Skimlinks is a platform similar to Viglink. They have a bunch of merchants on board, and you can create links for any of them while keeping all the reporting and a analytics in the Skimlinks dashboard.

Here’s the big benefit, though: once you’re approved at Skimlinks, you’re automatically approved for every single merchant in the program. No need to apply to any of them.

Essential Info

  • Niche: Everything
  • Type: Digital and physical goods
  • Commission rate: Varies by vendor
  • Cookie duration: Varies by vendor
  • EPC: Varies by vendor
  • Signup: Here

Aside from saving time, it allows websites who couldn’t get accepted at certain merchants to promote them anyway. If that seems ethically grey, remember that all of these merchants have agreed to do this with Skimlinks.

This is especially good for people who have been banned from certain merchants.

Of course, the primary disadvantage is that Skimlinks is going to want a small cut of the business, so you’re not going the get the rates you’d normally get from the merchants directly most of the time.

Jon Dykstra also had some good stuff to say about Skimlinks:

Jon Dykstra

“I use them not as most people do, but instead as a backup merchant.

What I don't do is deploy Skimlinks sitewide which changes all affiliate links to Skimlinks. I tested this and earned quite a bit less.

What I do instead is when I want to promote a particular merchant with whom I don't have an affiliate account for whatever reason, I create a custom Skimlink for that merchant. Also, if a particular merchant is a preferred or elite merchant with Skimlinks, the commission can be very good. AliExpress is an example.​”

Here’s another quote from, Sebastian Schäffer, an AuthorityHacker Pro member who uses it extensively:

Sebastian Schäffer

“...Skimlinks is a solid solution if you either got banned from Amazon or if you don't want to bother with affiliate related things (signing up to networks, setting up links) at all. Easy to install, they even have a wordpress plugin and you get a paycheck at the end of the month. Their dashboard is ok but not great and you lack ways to really dive deep into the data but that is probably something the target audience doesn't really care about too much. That being said you will leave A LOT of revenue on the table using Skimlinks just because they take a large chunk of your commissions.”

PROS


  • Automatic approval for every merchant
  • Great selection of huge retail merchants

CONS


  • You’ll likely earn less than you would directly from the merchants

Shareasale

Shareasale is one of the biggest affiliate platforms out there (although not the biggest), with over 4,000 offers available.

As of this writing (according to my own dashboard), of those 4,000 merchants, 1,073 are exclusive to ShareASale, so you won’t be able to find them anywhere else.

This is actually why I started using ShareASale: a few products I wanted to promote used ShareASale exclusively, something you might find in more esoteric niches.

Essential Info

  • Niche: Everything
  • Type: Digital and physical goods
  • Commission rate: Varies by vendor
  • Cookie duration: Varies by vendor
  • EPC: Varies by vendor
  • Signup: Here

I don’t have any data on this, but they also seem to dabble more in physical goods than platforms like CJ, which focus a lot on digital goods (although there are still digital goods on ShareASale.

The main complaint about ShareASale is that the dashboard is a bit antiquated, and it’s difficult to contact both them and their merchants.

Vin from WordAgents echoes this:

Vincent D'Eletto

“ShareASale is solid. Been using them since 2013. Biggest problems with them is the interface is a little dated / wonky. It's also difficult to deal directly with the advertisers. You think you're speaking to an advertiser rep, but it's really just someone from SAS. You have to use a special (hard to find) contact form to contact the advertiser....and it's rare you get a direct response from them.”

PROS


  • Lots of merchants
  • Been around a lot time
  • Big list of exclusive merchants

CONS


  • Interface is old and clunky
  • Difficult to contact merchants
  • Difficult to contact support

Peerfly

Peerfly isn’t quite as big as some of the other platforms (they have 2,000 live offers), but they’re still plenty big.

It’s a CPA network only, which is why their merchant roster isn’t quite as extensive as some of the other big guys.

Here’s the reason a lot of people like Peerfly, though: they guarantee to match or exceed payounts from any other network.

Essential Info

  • Niche: Everything
  • Type: Digital and physical goods
  • Commission rate: Varies by vendor
  • Cookie duration: Varies by vendor
  • EPC: Varies by vendor
  • Signup: Here

This makes the commission rates pretty high most of hte time (or at least as high as you’ll find anywhere else).

One upside for a lot of publishers is their payout options.

They offer optional advanced payments--as frequently as every week--but you’ll have to work it out with your affiliate manager. In addition to that, they payout through PayPal, which is relatively common but isn’t offered everywhere.

One possible downside is that you have to be active to keep your account; if you don’t make sales, you’ll be suspended (although it’s pretty easy to get reinstated).

PROS


  • Payout matching program to guarantee high payouts
  • Great payment options

CONS


  • Merchant roster isn’t as big as elsewhere
  • Can be suspected for inactivity

AWin (Affiliate Window)

AffiliateWindow is similar to platforms like CJ and ShareASale, but they’re headquartered in Europe, making for a slightly different merchant roster and a slightly easier time for EU-based publishers.

Of course, they still do have plenty of merchants in the US.

Essential Info

  • Niche: Everything
  • Type: Digital and physical goods
  • Commission rate: Varies by vendor
  • Cookie duration: Varies by vendor
  • EPC: Varies by vendor
  • Signup: Here

At 1,500 merchants, they’re not quite as big as some of the other networks, but the selection is still respectable. That said, their primary sectors are finance, retail shopping, telcos and services, and travel.

One major upside for smaller publishers is the low payout threshold. You can get a check if you earn as little as $20. They also payout twice a month, which isn't’ the most aggressive payout schedule on this list but is still very respectable.

Finally, they offer lots of bells and whistles for affiliates, like a real-time discount code feed and cross-platform tracking.

As for drawbacks, the main complaint we found was the dashboard. This is a quick quote from AuthorityHacker Pro member Megan Marrs:

Megan Marrs

“Affiliate Window: I hate Affiliate Window's dashboard. It feels very cumbersome to me and a bit overwhelming.”

PROS


  • EU-based, making it EU publisher-friendly
  • Low payout threshold
  • Quick payout schedule
  • Nice features for affiliates

CONS


  • Only 1,500 merchants and only some in the US
  • Confusing dashboard

FlexOffers

With over 10,000 advertisers, FlexOffers is another huge platform that helps affiliates promote a wide range of products.

So they’re big. They’re also serious about growing; they’ve got something called the FlexRev program, which is essentially a referral program for publishers to refer other publishers and then get a % of their commissions, which is honestly pretty cool and a good idea.

Essential Info

  • Niche: Everything
  • Type: Digital and physical goods
  • Commission rate: Varies by vendor
  • Cookie duration: Varies by vendor
  • EPC: Varies by vendor
  • Signup: Here

They also have over 20 million products in a wide range of markets.

This is purely anecdotal, but when I’ve come across private companies that don’t host their own affiliate programs and instead opted to use a third-party platform, it’s seemed to me that FlexOffers was represented disproportionately, making it seem like the place to find ways to promote all those weird little niche products (again, anecdotally).

They’re also home to plenty of big brands.

Since the last time I used them, they’ve also apparently gone through a redesign that vastly imporoved their UI and UX, which is a plus.

PROS


  • Massive platform with tons of publishers
  • Redesign helped their UI and UX
  • Lots of nichey products and programs
  • Publisher referral program could be great for the right people

CONS


  • Slightly annoying application process
  • Difficult to find some offers
  • Anecdotal, but seems to have slightly higher occurrence of invalid data (e.g. “N/A” EPC values)

Other Similar Platforms

Of course, there are tons of general platforms out there. We wanted to devote detailed descriptions to the best of them. The platforms below are platforms I either haven’t used, our members haven’t used, aren’t as big as the others, or have a major glaring flaw that ranks them slightly lower.

That absolutely does not mean they are bad. They’re still worth checking out, especially if they have specific merchants you want to promote.

Haven’t used them or heard much about them.

I’ve used them, and they were good, but I’ve recently been getting phishing warnings from Chrome.

Big and big brands, but our users report terrible UX & UI.

AH Pro member Adam Connell likes them but mentioned that “One issue with the marketplace is that you can see programs/payouts at a glance, but some advertisers show 'out of funds' when you click for more info.”

Haven’t used them or heard much about them.

Haven’t used them or heard much about them.

Haven’t used them or heard much about them.

Big Affiliate Programs by Niche


Outdoors

For our purposes, “outdoors” covers outdoor related hobbies and gear--stuff like hunting, camping, fishing, climbing, etc.

There are lots of Amazon affiliates in this space, mostly because it’s a strong hobby (i.e. passion) niche with tons of products. Which is good, since tons of these big stores are very general in nature, making it possible for big outdoors sites to possibly even pick one or two stores to recommend (this, in turn, might have other advantages, too, like negotiating better rates with those brands).

Lastly, at least from a physical-goods standpoint, the programs in this market still have pretty good commissions--some (but certainly not all) go as high as 10% on a volume based model, which could potentially outperform Amazon.

REI has massive brand recognition on its side and offers a wide variety of products. They run their program through AvantLink. They give 5% commission on a 30-day cookie.

Another massive brand in the outdoor space. They also run their program through AvantLink, awarding 3% commissions on a 14-day cookie. That might not sound too hot, but their average order is $130.

I think this is a great find. I’d never heard of them, but they sell virtually all outdoor goods and have the best commissions in the niche: up to 10% on a volume-based tier model. Their cookie lasts 7 days.

BassPro isn’t just a fishing store; they also sell hunting, boating, shooting and camping gear. The give affiliates a flat 5% commission.

This looks like one of the most promising affiliate programs I found in this space. CJ reports an 8% commission, while their site says “up to 10%,” which likely means 8% is the average. That’s especially good when you look at the price of their products. Cookie duration is 21 days.

Health & Fitness

In health and fitness markets, affiliate programs seem to fall into two main categories: supplements and equipment. Both can be profitable--due mainly to large order sizes (equipment), high commissions (supplements) or recurring sales (supplements).

Products that don’t fall into those two categories are usually either infoproducts (like Venus Factor) or workout programs (like P90X), which can also be profitable but don’t necessarily represent the product variety that supplements and equipment might.

This market also has the advantage of featuring lots of products that you either can’t find on Amazon or that people would might rather buy directly from the manufacturer (e.g. a BowFlex).

A mainstay of the fitness market and seen as a source of info from industry experts, making it a great place to point customers. They pay 15% for new customers and 5% for returning customers; however the each cookie is only good for one transaction.

Another major brand in the supplement space. GNC uses Pepperjam to handle the backend of their program. You can earn up to 12% commission on a 45-day cookie.

WorkoutWarehouse is a fitness equipment retailer with a surprisingly generous commission rate, especially considering how expensive equipment is. Commission starts at 8% and goes all the way up to 11%.

GNC’s rival and another major brand. Vitamine Shoppe runs through CJ and awards 9% commissions “to most affiliates.”

I don’t know much about them, but I wanted to list them as one example of the many smaller supplement companies trying to compete with the big boys by offering insane commissions. How insane? 60%.

This is a big brand with a smaller product line, but it’s been around since (I think) the 90s, and their primary product is immensely popular? Commissions are 7%, but the average order is over $2,000.

Electronics

Electronics are weird because commission rates will vary so much between each of the sub-niches. Printers, for example, typically offer commission rates in the double digits, while computers and video game consoles tend to offer very low commission rates.

Additionally, many of the major brands in this space have terrible commissions; BestBuy offers 0% commission on a major chunk of its product lines.

So here’s the trick: check individual brands. Some will be higher, and some will be lower, but you’ll be able to find some gems in there if you poke around enough. Also, if you’re looking to build a new site, consider some of the niches in which commission rates are high (like printing).

Obviously, I can’t list programs for every brand--or even every sub-niche--below, so I’m just going to give you a sampling of some of the interesting ones I found.

Commissions aren’t great here, but they’re better than Amazon for a few categories, and they’re very good for a few products. For example, you can earn 5% commission on a Surface and 2% commission on video game consoles (double Amazon’s 1%).

You’ll have to find this one on CJ, since it doesn’t appear to be on their site. Still, it’s a good example of the rather crazy commission rates in the printer industry: 25% on a 45-day cookie.

A good example of one of those gems. Garmin offers 8% commission on their products, blowing the typical 1%-2% of their competitors (as far as I saw) out of the water. They’re on FlexOffers and CJ.

Not a great affiliate program if you’re recommending whole PC systems, but definitely a good one for peripherals, since they offer 7% commission.

This is one of the better general consumer electronic affiliate programs I found. They offer 1%-10% tiered commission with an average (according to CJ) 6% commission and a 30-day cookie.

Sports

Like with electronics, the trick with sports is to look at sub-niche stores and, occasionally, to specific brands.

There are quite a few general sporting goods stores in this niche, but commission rates can sometimes be lower, and a few have made some drastic changes to their programs (and not for the better).

Dick’s Sporting Goods, for example, which used to payout a reported $130 EPC, reduced their cookie duration to just 5 hours. So, for sports, it’ll likely pay to find nichier programs.

This was the best general sporting good retailer I found. They sell pretty much everything and focus on expensive, name-brand products. They also offer up to 8% commission (CJ reports 6%) with a 7-day cookie.

This is a big, general sporting goods store that sells pretty much everything. It offers a 5% commission, which barely edges out Amazon’s 4.5% on sporting goods, which may or may not be wroth it depending on Modell’s average order size, etc.

Another good general sports retailer. Commissions here seem great, too: 10%-14% on a 60-day cookie.

A good example of a sport-specific retailer with better-than-average commission rates: tiered payouts from 7%-10%.

Golf is a huge niche, and there’s no shortage of retailers. This is just one. Commission rates are a flat 6% on a 30-day cookie.

Pets

It’s slightly tougher to find programs in the pets space--but in a good way: it’s only because Amazon is still really competitive here and still beat out the major players in terms of commission rates.

Outside of Amazon, there’s not a lot out there. There are only a few big info products. There are also only a few subscription boxes, but these tend to be really hot right now.

A big, general pet supplies retailer. They match Amazon on comimssions (8%) but beat them (as most people do) on cookie length: 7 days.

CesarsWay is, of course, a dog-only pet shop, but in addition to dog supplies, they also sell training material, and Cesar is by far the biggest brand in this space. Commissions are 5%-8% (which is great for a DVD), and cookies last 35 days.

This is a pet supplement shop, and, like many other kinds of supplements, they offer pretty good commissions: 10%.

BarkBox is one of the new and hot pet-based subscription boxes to have come out in the last few years. As far as I can tell, there’s no commission here, but they pay a very respectable $14 per lead.

Home Goods​

Like pets, Amazon remains competitive with all home good categories except appliances (they offer 8% commissions for furniture, home improvement, home, and pantry categories, while they offer 4.5% for their kitchen category).

Some of the opportunity in this niche is going to be referring people to luxury brands that have higher order values than we might seen on Amazon. I can’t disclose the person or the site, but one of my colleagues is in one of these niches and reported significant revenue increases from testing other affiliate programs against Amazon--before Amazongeddon.

The other big opportunities here are going to be in specific product sub-niches that offer higher commissions; mattresses, for example, are notoriously profitable.

This is one of the better programs I found in my research (they’re being aggressive while introducing their affiliate program). Commissions are 10% for all products, which is insane for furniture, and “high performers” get 13%. Cookies last 45 days. Sign up on CJ.

As far as affiliate programs go, Hayneedle is probalby one of the better general home goods stores out there. They list commissions at 3%-8%, but CJ lists 8%, which may indicate payouts are on the high end of that spectrum. The cookie duration is 30 days.

CuisineArt is a big brand with lots of product lines in the low-mid price range. However, they sell lots of appliances, and their commission rate is 10%, which beats out Amazon’s kitchen category pretty thoroughly. Cookies last 45 days, and you can find them on CJ.

A good example of how companies selling more speicifc products beat general retailers. Commissions here are 15%, and cookies expire after 60 days.

And here’s similar example but with vacuums. Commissions here start at 10% with an AOV of $200 and a 90 cookie.

Babies

Let’s wrap up our niches with babies. This is another massive niche in which Amazon lost a bit of ground with the update.

It’s still not a super high-commission market, although there are some good opportunities with more specific sub-niches. There’s also a few interesting opportunities with unique products and gifts.

Finally, although some of them seem pretty sleazy to me, there are quite a few infoproducts in the pregnancy niche, and they pay pretty well.

EroBaby isn’t a huge store by any means, but they still have a good selection of product lines, focusing on stuff that maximizes a parent’s ergonomic comfort. They have among the highest commissions I found in this market: 10%.

CornerStork is a baby gift retailer (think, like, baby shower-type stuff). They also have strong commissions: 12% on a 120-day cookie.

ABaby focuses mainly on baby furniture but offers a few other things as well. They pay out 8% on each sale, and their cookies last 45 days.

Giggle is one of the truly general baby retailers I found. They don’t have the strongest commissions (3%-6%), but they do have a solid AOV of $135.

This is one of those may-or-may-not-be-sleazy infoproducts. I don’t know much about pregnancy, or I could tell you more. Of course, because it’s an infoproduct, commissions are really high: 75% with an average commission of about $36. You can find this one on ClickBank.

Finding Your Own Programs


I’m no superman, though, guys. I can’t give you a list of every program out there. The programs above are just a sampling of the best ones I could find.

But here’s a secret I’ve told you before: there are affiliate programs for everything.

Literally. I have not yet come across a niche for which there weren’t multiple affiliate programs to tinker with and test against each other. And it’s important to find these programs; it’s just like testing ad networks--you need to test lots of programs to find the best combination for your specific site.

Let’s look at how to I like to them.

Method #1: Straight Up Just Google It

This is the most obvious as well as the easiest.

It’s a good place to start if you already have an idea of what you want to sell or if you already have an established site that makes sales.

Just use this query: “[niche/product] affiliate program.”

In that “[niche/product]” spot, you’ll usually want to check for:

  • Broad niches
  • Sub-niches
  • Product types
  • Specific popular products

Here’s an example.

Suppose we had a weightlifting site. We might try the following queries:

  • “weightlifting affiliate program”
  • “gym affiliate program”
  • “fitness equipment affiliate program”
  • “bowflex affiliate program”
  • Etc.

Your results will probably include lists of programs on blogs, programs listed on networks, and programs published on retailer websites:

None of these is better than the other, really. You’ll just have to poke around and try to find which offers the best combination of:

  • Products your readers want
  • Commission rates
  • EPC
  • Affiliate resources

Method #2: Leverage the Networks

This is probably one of my favorite ways to look for programs, because this is often where companies turn first: the large affiliate networks.

If I’m selling physical products, I usually start with:

If I think I want to recommend infoproducts, I usually start with ClickBank.

The big advantage of this method being able to simply browse entire categories and see all the data in one place.

And that’s what you do: log into a network and filter results by the appropriate category. For example, here’s what CJ’s beauty category.

As another example, here’s what you might find in ClickBank’s cooking category.

Method #3: Monitor the competition

We’re big fans of keeping an eye on the competition here at Authority Hacker, it works for keyword research, it works for link building, and it also works for monetisation, including affiliate marketing!

There are several areas you should be monitoring to find what programs your competitors are pushing:

  • Their emails (build a catch all inbox)
  • Their blog content (subscribe to their feeds)
  • Their ranking keywords. (Ahrefs reports)
  • Their ads

Then what?

The idea, then, is to find a bunch of different affiliate programs you can test on your own site.

This, of course, is difficult to demonstrate, since every site is different, and you’ll be writing about and selling different things.

But in general, I toss programs that I might want to test into a simple spreadsheet.

And that’s it!

After that, it’s mostly a matter of mixing, matching, and testing (which would be even more difficult to demonstrate).

But the bottom line is this: there are so many affiliate programs out there, you stand to make a lot of money by simply finding and testing the ones available in your niche.

Over to You…

How do you find programs? Are you diversifying like I am? If so, how’s it going? Let me know in the comments!

Perrin Carrell
 

Hey there :) I'm Perrin, part of the Authority Hacker team. When I'm not blogging about Internet Marketing here, I help businesses improve their online presence, and, of course, I run a couple profitable blogs of my own.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 61 comments
Ferzy - March 9, 2017

Amazing content again Perrin, I can’t wait to get started to research a couple of alternatives you mentioned.
What I found is that it’s a bit of a hassle to modify affiliate links and recommend products without knowing before hand how well a program converts (might be worse than the low commission Amazon), so it’s like shooting in the dark here, but I guess we have to do the effort if we want to find an improvement over Amazon.

Just wanted to say congratulations for being on top of things here, from being one of the first blogs to announce the new amazon change, to being one of the first blogs (if not the first) to recommend good alternatives, really shows your dedication and expertise in this space.

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    Perrin Carrell - March 9, 2017

    Appreciate the kind words; our mission is to be as useful to you as possible :)

    And yep–testing affiliate programs definitely a hassle. Gael needs to do a big CRO post at some point. That’d be the next post I’d write myself if I was comfortable talking about it at all, but I’m still learning myself.

    Reply
Pritom Roy - March 9, 2017

Hey Perrin,
It’a just awesome content after the recent update from amazon. Just bookmarked it. Will help for my sites.

Thanks

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    Perrin Carrell - March 9, 2017

    Thanks man :) It mostly just means the “REAL” IMers will be doing a bit more work to earn the money everyone else is leaving on the table :P

    Reply
Josh Shogren - March 9, 2017

Great post Perrin! I think one of the biggest problems that rarely gets talked about are the nexus laws that restrict certain states from being accepted into an affiliate program. Currently, those states are Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia.

Unfortunately, I live in Washington and I’m unable to join over half of the networks that I wish to. I think this is something that is going to continue to be a problem for people that live in the US as more and more states are adopting these laws. This might be a topic worth discussing at some point on AH

Good post,

Josh

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    Perrin Carrell - March 9, 2017

    Yep; annoying for sure. The easy solution is just to register an LLC in a different state, but I’ve never done it, so it could have its own problems. Something to look into, though :)

    Reply
      Kurt - March 9, 2017

      This is extremely viable suggestion BTW for a company with no W2 employees, I’ve got my LLC in Wyoming, it can be a one day process.

      Reply
Guillaume - March 9, 2017

Great stuff!
I have a sustainable tourism platform in Barcelona, Spain and have recently started an affiliate program. It’s nice to understand what affiliates are looking for and what’s on offer elsewhere. Thank you for a great source of ideas ;)

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Luke Gibson - March 9, 2017

Is digital video games simply the physical copy vs the electronic copy that you download?

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Dan - March 9, 2017

Hey Perrin,

It’s a bit embarrassing that I’ve been doing this for as long as I have and I’ve never tried a single alternative aff. program. Do most (all?) retailers aside from Amazon offer commissions on any purchase or just the product/page you refer them to?

Great list, we’ve signed up for a few of them already but Sportman Guide was a great find!

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Ree Klein - March 9, 2017

Wow, Perrin, that was a monster post and it’s jammed full of AWESOME information! It appears that when you guys get lemons…just make lemonade! Thanks for sharing your positive attitude and killer info :)

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    Perrin Carrell - March 9, 2017

    Thanks, Ree :) Yea — check out the podcast we recorded. I think that even if Amazon revenue is dipping some, there’s a LOT of opportunity being created in other areas.

    Reply
Jeff - March 9, 2017

Why the Chewy.com omission?

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    Perrin Carrell - March 9, 2017

    It’s a great program but virtually impossible to get into.

    Reply
      Jeff - March 10, 2017

      Gotcha, glad you got in at least. Guess that’s part of why Amazon was so attractive, they’ll take ANYBODY as long you can make a sale. I think readers are going to find it hard to get into alot of these programs listed.

      Reply
Ivo - March 9, 2017

Great post Perrin. Will be trying SkimLinks soon (as a secondary option to Amazon).

I know it’s part of Shareasale, but Wayfair might be worth mentioning. They’re a huge site (mainly home & garden and pets) and actually have a better selection than Amazon in a lot of categories. I used them successfully on an old home furnishings site I had since Amazon’s selection of products was lacking in this particular niche. 5% commission on everything with a 30-day cookie and easy to get approved from what I remember.

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Les Lieurance - March 9, 2017

fyi… WorldWide no longer is an active merchant on cj.com.

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Tom Woods - March 9, 2017

Hi Perrin,

What a timely post I got to read from you. I was almost getting ready to ponder upon a affiliate site comprising mainly items from Amazon. But after reading this post my horizon has just expanded much farther and I would have a ready reference guide for myself to steer from here now.

Thanks.

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Niccolea - March 9, 2017

THIS IS *PERFECT* … I had only just recently FINALLY gotten the hang of Amazon and making some money on it when I saw my totals PLUMMET to 1-4%!!! :-/
I am already signed up for eBay, Target, and Walmart. I am ClickBank challenged, but I will try to figure it out!
THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!

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Jim - March 9, 2017

Great overall look at the current state of things. Was a little surprised to see a “possibly sleazy” mention for CJ, but NOT Clickbank… there are TONS of fairly sleazy products on Clickbank from my last look compared to CJ. Commissions are super high on CB (digital/info) products, of course, but the quality on offer there can be far lower than most items on CJ and others.

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    Perrin Carrell - March 10, 2017

    Agreed; I’m actually going to take the “possibly sleazy” line out, since tons of big brands use them, and there are loads of good products on there.

    And thanks for the notes on Skimlinks :)

    Reply
Arbaz Khan - March 10, 2017

Hey Perrin, This is a great post!
I have been using Amazon for a while now and, since I never made huge number of sales, I am not seeing any decline in my earnings. It’s been pretty steady.
Also, if you use Viglinks or Skimlinks, you will have to use the the dynamic links sitewide to see proper commissions, otherwise they are not that good, IMO. I have used Shareasale and if you can get used to the dashboard, then there are some really amazing offers, with super-high EPCs, that will help you make great commissions.

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gudtalent chrisent - March 10, 2017

this is a great list…
i have insurance blog and am having issues with best affiliate platform to sign up for. most of the websites mentioned in this list are not into insurance except CJ.

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Matthew - March 10, 2017

One Question on Skimlinks: Do they consider the country/state of the visitor for delivery? So if you got a visitor from canada and one from the states, do they get different links on the same product if the shops do not ship internationally?

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Nicky - March 10, 2017

What an amazing article! Thanks so much Perrin. I will be coming back to this one often!

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Debbie Gartner - March 10, 2017

Wow, this is great info. I lucked out a bit…or maybe it wasn’t quite as bad as I initially thought, as many of mine are classified as home. But, some of my items and the jointly bought items took a hit. I really do miss the variable pricing. Thanks for the tips. There are 2-3 that I’m going to check out real soon.

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Pav - March 10, 2017

Solid post. Thanks for making this list. I used VigLink before but haven’t had good results. Probably because of my low traffic problem.

I’ll give it a shot again.
Amazon is dope, even with their new commision rates.

I want to point out that the tables look like ass on mobile devices. Why don’t you guys optimize for mobile more?

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    Perrin Carrell - March 10, 2017

    Thanks!

    I actually just made that observation about the tables myself. We’ll have to make a template to use from here on out. :)

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David - March 12, 2017

Everything is perfect until you realized that this all work better for UnitedStates or Europe but what about latam ? I am running a business in the fitness industry and we get more than 300,000 visits every month and we are not making almost any profit from affiliates. And we don´t know if people don´t buy or they don´t trust that system.

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Naveen Kulkarni - March 12, 2017

Fantastic compilation Perin! While I had heard almost 50% about the programs already, the other ones are new to me -, especially the category based affiliate programs. Again, some of them would be limited to geographical location depending upon their delivery options.

AmazonGeddon is REAL – I see a drop of 50% or more in March already:-(

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Bhuboy - March 12, 2017

Great post, thanks for this, since I am just starting building my stage 1 site, I will stick to the lessons and amazon first. But, will bookmark this, because I am sure this will come handy in the future.

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Chris - March 13, 2017

I have a question not related to your affiliate post.

What program/app do you use for the arrows and graphics on your images?

Thanks,

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Megan Marrs - March 15, 2017

Haha I’m such a Debby Downer. To be fair, it looks like Affiliate Window is starting to update their design so here’s hoping I change my tune soon! :)

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Ais - March 18, 2017

Hi Perrin,

Thanks for sharing so much knowledge. It was the perfect guide for me to understand affiliate program in a comprehensive way.

I was interested in joining the Amazon associate program but the update rolled out. I haven’t started work as an Amazon affiliate so I was just curious to ask that is it fine if we send traffic only from social media platforms? Does Amazon allow only social traffic like Pinterest, Instagram? Will it result in a ban if we don’t add much content rather make it look like an e-commerce store?

Hope I could get the answer to my questions. Thanks in advance!

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tata - March 21, 2017

Thanks Perrin Carrell for your sharing!
Your website is difference from others which ONLY came out with one thing which all same.
If i’m google search, u will be my top page.

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John Devlin - April 6, 2017

When you haven’t done the work looking for affiliate programs and you should have done, then a post like this comes along. What a life safer!

Thanks man.

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Elka - April 13, 2017

What about iherb.com?

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Aurélien - April 18, 2017

Hi ! very nice content gael ! I learned a lot of things for my future sites.
Your name sonds like french ? Are you ? :)

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Linda Smith - May 5, 2017

Bookmarking this one so I can read more of your articles. You have given the best and most up-to-date information I have seen in a long time. Keep up the good work!! I know Amazon associates are looking for alternatives to Amazon since they have changed their fee schedule and have gone nuts with closing down associate sites,so I will pass this site on to those leaving Amazon, or simply are looking for alternatives.

I use several of these affiliate programs. Viglink and Target(which you sign up and end up with IMPACT RADIUS, get confusing, but they respond quickly to assist you with any problems. However, I am not making sales with Target.

Viglink, Target also have product images now. In fact, you can download product images from Target and upload to your site as long as you link the image back to Target which is something I have verified through Target program itself.

Viglink is now providing images, etc in their Trends.

Skimlinks has a product search, Share A Sale has a way to use product images, etc depending on what seller allows.

I am associate with Amazon.

The downfall seems to be that people do not buy products that you promote with affiliate networks/programs other than Amazon. Walmart program is through Linkshare now Rakuten. This program has bad rep for associates being paid bc claim is that associate does not get paid til merchant pays program. I have avoided this program for that reason.

Share A Sale doesn’t seem to partner with major merchants, but drop shippers instead. 2 years and 1 product sold. I couldn’t find it on Amazon.

One thing I do is check prices of product, merchant through other programs and price on Amazon.

When I use Viglink, Skimlinks, I stick to major retailers. I can walk into Walmart myself, but I also have to drive 30 miles to nearest store. Some areas no longer have some of the big retailers any longer resulting in people shop elsewhere, or online.

I have been told people will buy from Amazon before anybody else online. I have no idea as to how to get sales beyond Amazon.

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Mary Greene - June 12, 2017

Perrin and Gael, thanks for your dazzling affiliate program details. Are you trying to make Neil Patel look like a slacker?!

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Tam M. - July 16, 2017

Amazing article! Dude, you seriously rock. The amount of time you’ve dedicated to researching this impresses me more than words can express. I’m sharing this with everyone!

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Twibbi - August 17, 2017

Great and complete overview of best affiliate programs. Thanks for sharing, Perrin.

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Squirrel - August 19, 2017

Great article! I set up my store site today, after planning it for a year. Amazon was my choice because in the pst I did well with them. Amazon is CLOSING their program in October :(. Every affiliate program for big retailers pays low commission plus doesn’t have the items I want to promote. I’m majorly disappointed in Amazon.

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    Perrin Carrell - August 21, 2017

    They are just discontinuing the aStore (which no one uses anyway); they are not closing the whole affiliate program :)

    Reply
Herry Hermawan - September 3, 2017

Great article..thanks for sharing…but i need your advice..if you dont mind..i run site with amazon affiliate and can i run this site with other affiliate network like wayfair or CJ in same time, like one product review article with 2 option purchase place, amazon and wayfair. Or doing like that make my site banned from Amazon or other affiliate network. Please give me your advice for that problem because i read in Amazon User Aggrement,i not find about use other affiliate in same site…thanks for your advice

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