Over the past 5 years I have used affiliate networks throughout the many changing businesses I’ve experimented with. The top three niches I dabbled in were lifestyle & DIY, personal development and bridal gowns – yes really!
Affiliate networks were how I made my first few dollars online. I can remember the first cheque I ever received in the mail for $169 dollars. I felt like a pro. I was officially a big girl. Now I could sit back, relax and let my millions roll in.. 😂
Some niches were profitable, some not so much. To be honest, I didn’t utilize the affiliate networks half as much as a could have. If I did, there’s a high possibility this income report would have had an extra zero or two added in the title! Regardless of that, my point is, whatever niche you’re in, you can bet that there is an affiliate network for you and your business.
So in todays post I want to share with you the 4 affiliate networks I used to make my first dollars online (over $1486!) and how you can use them for your business as well.
Note: If you want to learn how to make money through affiliate marketing, I recommend checking out my brand new course Affiliate Affluence where I teach you exactly how to go from making $0 – $500 in 30 days with a very small audience + strategies to continuously increase your affiliate income month by month.
4 AFFILIATE NETWORKS TO JOIN
I would recommend all bloggers whether new or seasoned to join Skimlinks. Why? It is the easiest way for any blogger to get started because once you’ve applied and been accepted, all you need to do is embed their code into your website, and then any product you link to is automatically converted into an affiliate link! I haven’t had the chance to really shake things up with Skimlinks – I definitely plan to in the near future – and while I’ve earned a modest $40, don’t let that turn you off, I wasn’t using Skimlinks as much as the other networks because it was still quite new when I experimented with it.
Another super awesome benefit to Skimlinks is that unlike most affiliate networks where they have a payment threshold you have to hit before you can get paid out – usually $100+ – Skimlinks pays out on each sale! Meaning, if you make $17 through your affiliate link, once the payment has cleared, $17 is sent straight to your paypal account! And with access to some very popular brands that they have, it’s a no-brainer that Skimlinks should be one of the first affiliate networks on your list.
Popular Advertisers: ASOS, eBay, Nordstrom, Sephora, Zappos, Anthropologie, Canon, Dell, Hotels.com
CJ by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction) was the very first affiliate network I applied to. To be honest at the time I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I was still in the middle of my online business course and didn’t quite understand how affiliate marketing worked yet. It turned out that CJ was one of the largest affiliate networks out there – and still is! Once I was accepted, I fished through the advertisers related to bridal gowns and applied to every single program there was.
Once you’ve applied, you’ll need to apply to the programs that fit your niche and then once the advertisers have accepted you into their program, you can use their advertising material to promote their products. Some of the advertisers can be a little picky, but once you’re in, you’re in, and you can start earning the second you’re accepted.
Popular Advertisers: Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Bed Bath & Beyond, Free People, Sears, Kmart, Trip Advisor, Expedia
Shareasale is like the cool cousin to CJ. You have access to hundreds of advertisers who are a lot more lenient on accepting new bloggers who have no blogging history whatsoever, whereas CJ can be a bit uptight at times. This is mainly because Shareasale hosts a lot more merchants with smaller companies i.e independents. I joined a few random programs on here, mostly bridal related, however I did use some of the indie companies for my Lifestyle & DIY blog. I didn’t have as much success with these types of products as I did with the bridal side of things. Ce la vie. But I’d definitely recommend Shareasale for newbie bloggers who are wanting to get their feet wet and earn while they learn.
Popular Advertisers: Adidas, Domino, Julep, Modcloth, Reebok, Craftsy, LuLu’s, Shutterfly, Viator, Weebly, Namecheap, WP Engine
E-Junkie was the most profitable affiliate network for me, and this was because you can sell your own products as well as affiliate products. Initially when I joined, I promoted ebooks and courses from Problogger, yTravel Blog, I Quit Sugar and Pinch of Yum, all of these advertisers have since moved on. After that I decided to sell my own products. I created several different ebooks over time. One with green smoothie recipes, another one based on self-love principles and a personal development course that helped women become more vibrant. 😅
As embarrassing as that was, it was an awesome way to experiment with products. I’m still surprised people bought them! I mean, they weren’t the most beautifully designed pieces of work after all. But it was a great learning curve, one that showed me that if you want to make larger dollars quicker, creating your own products is the way to go. So in saying that, I probably wouldn’t recommend E-Junkie as an affiliate network any longer, as there are other stronger candidates out there, but I would definitely recommend it for selling your own products – and it only cost $5 a month to do so.
Things to be aware of:
- When you apply to an advertiser, be sure to find out the percentage they are offering you for each sale you bring them. If it’s less than 5%, walk away, it’s not worth it.
- Pay attention to the cookie length for each advertiser. Some will have over 160 days, some will have under 30. A good rule of thumb is choose the advertisers with a cookie length of 60 days or over.
- Some advertisers will accept any website into their affiliate programs, while others will have set requirements i.e traffic, content etc.
WHAT ABOUT AMAZON ASSOCIATES?
I haven’t personally used Amazon Associates yet. Say whaaaat? True story. But I know for a fact that it is one of the best affiliate networks you could join (under Skimlinks in my opinion 😉) because they sell everything you could think of and it’s an extremely trusted brand.
If you’re not entirely convinced yet, check out Darren Rowse’s article The Ultimate Guide to Making Money from Amazons Affiliate Program.
To conclude: After 5 years of experimenting, having almost $1500 to show for it isn’t the worst outcome. Knowing what I know now, I think it’s extremely important to plan your affiliate marketing strategy, promote the advertisers and products that you’ve either used yourself, know someone who swears by them or you believe in 1000%. If you do those two things consistently and brilliantly, you will be making a nice little side income – hey, maybe even a full time wage! – completely passively.
Now it’s your turn: Have you used affiliate networks before? If so, which do you recommend? And if you have not, which network will you join after reading this post? Let your affiliate network/marketing questions rip!