With so many options available, it’s hard to pick the most profitable affiliate programs. What you can do is maximize your affiliate marketing strategy and learn from the best.
As an affiliate marketer, you get paid to recommend products to customers via tracked links and refer other marketers, but is there such a thing as profitable affiliate programs for everybody?
You have probably seen many articles and success stories written by affiliate publishers making considerable sums of money by collaborating with brands and participating in affiliate programs and networks.
The first questions that come to mind when reading that type of content are:
-“Are affiliate programs legit?”
-“Are affiliate programs worth it?”
Well, for once, affiliate marketing is legit, and we have written about its technicalities in a previous article here.
One of the most known free affiliate programs is Amazon Affiliates which pays a percentage of whatever purchase a reader makes via your referral links. However, the Amazon Affiliate program has its shortcomings.
To cut to the chase, affiliate programs do work, and some of them pay well. However, there is no shortage of misconceptions, wrong assumptions, and myths here. Let’s take a look.
The mirage of profitable affiliate programs that pay you to do nothing
Profitable affiliate programs won’t pay you to do anything. Indeed, affiliate marketing is a form of self-employment, a type of business, if you want, where the initial overhead is low. You sell a product without minding about stocks, shipping, customer support, and so on.
While this type of business might bring you sustainable and solid income streams in the long term, there is no secret method of getting rich quickly. Even if you look for articles about affiliate programs that pay the most, you still won’t have a surefire formula to success.
The way we see it, there are four crucial points of sustaining a long-term solid stream of income from affiliate marketing, and it doesn’t have to do with profitable affiliate programs. No, it has to do with strategy, work, and good content that brings value.
This is an essential factor before starting affiliate marketing. It is a multi-dimensional component: product research, web traffic research, audience research, research about the various affiliate program’s benefits, and commissions.
In engagement, content, and delivery. Avoid any irregularities or mismatches between your usual voice, content, and the products you promote through affiliate links.
Are essential and need to be maintained. It would help if you worked on keeping a good relationship with your audience, and with the affiliate networks or brands you’re collaborating with. It takes hours and hours of networking to do that, and it is not easy work.
Understanding and using SEO
Is a big part of keeping traffic flowing to your website and boosting your social media influence. Your focus should never switch from growing your blog. Affiliate marketing is just a way to monetize growth.
These four steps are how you make profitable affiliate programs work for you. Nevertheless, affiliate marketing may not work for every business, and here are five reasons why.
Are affiliate programs profitable?
As with any business, you might run into some issues and drawbacks. The main blocks in the road that we have identified are:
There is a funny saying belonging to English writer William Penn, that “time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” Affiliate marketing does take valuable time. It takes time to generate a certain amount of traffic to join some affiliate programs and generate income.
It takes time to research the best affiliate programs for beginners, especially when you are just getting started in the business. You will also spend a lot of time searching for the right products to promote via affiliate links, monitoring these products, tracking the progress, and all that maintenance work.
So, yes, time might be your biggest enemy or greatest ally in affiliate marketing. It depends on how you use it.
Issues with payments might arise in affiliate marketing. Usually, it has to do with “cookies hijacking”. Some companies fail to pay their affiliate marketers because of cookie fraud.
The most-used technique is called cookie stuffing, and according to Wikipedia, it refers to users receiving a third-party cookie unrelated to the website they’ve just visited.
The users are not aware of this, and if later on they visit that specific website and make a transaction, then the cookie stuffer will get paid. This is an illegitimate scheme that some people might benefit from.
You can basically earn a commission for a specific sale without any effort of promoting that sale, and this can be detrimental to all the honest, hard-working affiliate marketers out there.
Very little control
No matter what profitable affiliate program you’re part of, you might struggle with a lack of control at times. You don’t have anything to say in how a product or service is delivered, and if a company you’re promoting has problems, your credibility will also suffer.
This is why you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of research when creating affiliate links and deciding on the products you want to promote.
The competition is tough, especially if you’re just getting started. Many affiliates will promote the same products as you, and chances are you might compete for the same type of audience and potential customers.
Specific affiliate programs and networks will also require a minimum traffic value at sign-up. So you need to make sure you’re always one step ahead of your competition in terms of traffic and audience.
You will only know how many sales you made of a specific product, but you won’t know who made the purchase. This will make it challenging to ensure recurring sales of the best-performing products.
Why affiliate programs CAN prove profitable
No overhead cost
If you were wondering if affiliate programs are free, yes, they are; most of them. So, you won’t have to invest too much money into it. This makes affiliate marketing a good home business to start on your own time.
2. Don’t have to deal with physical products
You are not working on manufacturing or delivering anything and don’t deal with the risks associated with that. Don’t have to worry about shipping, stocks, and customer service.
This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. As you have seen, on the one hand, you don’t have much control over the product or service you’re promoting. On the other hand, you don’t have any unforeseen additional costs.
Affiliate marketing is a job you can work on from anywhere, anytime. All you need is an internet connection.
It can serve as a source of additional income
You can start small at first, for there are no significant overhead costs. You can set an objective of a few dollars a day as a supplemental income and see how you build from that.
There is one last thing we’d like to mention here. Check the legal requirements every time.
While most of your readers will understand that you get a commission from a specific affiliate link, you will have to state that clearly. If you write a review or film a video about your favorite espresso maker and leave a link in the description, you are legally bound to state that portions of that sale go into your bank account.
Affiliate programs examples and success stories
To get you inspired, let’s look at some of the most successful affiliate marketers out there at the moment and their affiliate marketing websites.
This guy started in affiliate marketing in 2008. In November 2008, he presumably reached $8000 in income from affiliate links. From 2008 to 2013, he earned $50,000 a month. He is quite a legend in affiliate marketing.
He started with Google AdSense when it used to pay well. Today, Patt Flynn is a successful marketer, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur. Still to this day, a considerable part of his income comes from affiliate marketing.
He runs his own company called Finch Media Ltd. He started with forums at the age of 12, and by the age of 16, he had learned to monetize them with Clickbank. From there on, everything is history.
She founded the Affiliate Summit Corporation in 2003 on a $400 investment. The company provides trade shows, conferences, and magazines on how to succeed in affiliate marketing.
He began his affiliate marketing career with the Amazon Affiliate Program. Then he started with the WebSponsors affiliate program and launched his own blog in 2007. Zac Johnson is allegedly making $100,000 a year without creating a product of his own.
Best affiliate marketing websites
Let’s keep on the inspirational road with these examples of successful affiliate websites and their affiliate marketing approach.
They do reviews of financial products, from credit cards to mortgages or insurance. The user interface is easy to use and navigate, and its content is valuable. Even if they operate in a highly competitive market, they’ve managed to be on top all this time.
They target a very tricky keyword, and they have great success: “best credit card” or “best credit card rates”.
Their website is built around a tool that helps you find the best credit card for you, and you are presented with dozens of options with ratings and other details that will help you make the decision.
They also update their content frequently. For example, the blog article “Best Credit Cards of April 2021” will be updated monthly to say “Best Credit Cards of May 2021” and so on.
It requires quite a bit of work, and there is undoubtedly a whole team behind it.
As the title suggests, their website helps people make the right financial decision in different scenarios. The site has been up since 2003, and they get as many as 8 million visits every month.
Its key mission is to provide financial education for the masses, and it has managed to do so for years. Some of their top content is related to information about credit scores or how to earn extra income for travel.
The site has only affiliate links, and no advertising or sponsored posts. Their monetization tactics include:
- Calculators such as loan calculators. If you use it, and you most surely will, for it is easy to use, and click on any of the financial products mentioned there, they will get a commission.
- Cheap guides provide users with the best affordable products in a specific category, such as laptops or phones. They get a cut of the purchase of each product mentioned in the article
- Recommended coupons and deals for several retailers
- Best of guides, where they recommend the best products or services in a specific financial area and get a cut of the sales as well
It is an excellent review website for electronics, gadgets, and other consumer goods. It has been founded by Brian Lam from Gizmodo. The Wirecutter likes to do unusual reviews, where they put to tough tests, and the audience seems to like it. Are kind of the “Mythbusters for gadgets”.
They are very open about their monetization model, which they explain on their Support page. They make money on affiliate commissions through Amazon and BestBuy. No advertisements or sponsored posts are accepted. Their main types of content revolve around three categories:
- Best of X – where they review the best products in a specific category. Each product comes with an Amazon link
- Answering questions such as “Which laptop should I buy in 2021?”
- Others – Skimlinks, maybe some sorts of advertisements, although they are not clear.
The site has been acquired by the New York Times.
We hope these examples have answered your question about profitable affiliate programs. Yes, they can work. The primary source of income is from recommending products and services to your growing audience.
Affiliate programs can also be MLM, to the extent that you can also refer other marketers and get a commission of the commission they make from sales.
MLM affiliate programs such as Clickbank, Share-a-Sale, or Commission Junction have this sort of two-tier payment type.
There is no “ultimate best affiliate program” out there. So questions such as “Is Clickbank the best or Amazon?” are not really relevant. The best and most profitable affiliate programs bring you good revenue and match your website niche. Those are the best.