So, you’re considering an affiliate-marketing program as a means to monetize your blog or add another income stream to your e-commerce site. But which networks offer the highest-quality products and present the best revenue opportunities? Good question.
Here’s a look at four leaders in the field:
- Amazon Associates — Amazon sells millions of products (books, music, electronics, toys, and more) that fit into virtually any niche, so its affiliate marketing program is a natural choice for almost anyone. Comparatively speaking, its payouts are generous, too: They vary based on product type and sales volume, but commission rates start at 4 percent and can reach up to 15 percent for specific product lines. However, note that Amazon’s program is now illegal in several states (although there are some work-arounds).
- Commission Junction — This site serves as a clearinghouse for thousands of companies and small businesses looking to get into the affiliate business. It offers myriad affiliate programs, but you must apply separately to each one. Payout rates vary wildly, up to 50 percent, and some commissions are based on leads or clicks vs. sales. Frustratingly, Commission Junction deducts $10 from your accrued earnings for every month in which you don’t actively earn commissions; if you let your account lapse, your income could get wiped out.
- LinkShare — Like Commission Junction, LinkShare provides access to affiliate-marketing opportunities from a variety of companies, including Buy.com. LinkShare’s site features an easy-to-read publisher dashboard that keeps you apprised of the latest offers from your merchant partners and gives you real-time access to your earning data. According to the site, commission rates typically reach up to 20 percent.
- ShareASale — ShareASale provides access to more than 3,300 separate merchant affiliate programs in many vertical markets, including food, apparel, and home and garden. The network has smaller brands than most of its competitors, but many affiliate partners offer high payouts: The stationary company Tinyprints offers 10% commission on sales, or $5 per lead; while PerkStreet Financial Commissions offers as much as $50 a sale. The Affluent Blogger’s Aiden Clinton speaks highly of ShareASale’s intuitive web interface, asserting that it is particularly convenient for companies that run multiple websites. ShareASale also offers referral bonuses for signing up new affiliate marketers.
Of course, when using any affiliate program, you’ll be most successful if you think about the needs and desires of your existing audience — and provide reviews of and links to products that you know will interest them. In a future post, we’ll cover exactly how to do that.