Affiliate Programs: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

Simon is a former UK call-centre worker who has gone on to build several highly successful affiliate marketing businesses in various different niches & become officially recognized as a Super Affiliate by the world's largest affiliate marketing training platform. He has since relocated to Thailand & now teaches affiliate marketing to others through Commission Academy.

Welcome to the ultimate guide to affiliate programs where you’ll learn:

  • What affiliate programs are
  • How they work
  • How to find the best affiliate programs
  • How you can apply and get approved
  • The best way to start earning commissions

And much more…

Thanks to affiliate programs, you can build a real online business and generate a steady stream of daily commissions. Read this if you want to learn more and start earning!

Tap here to access our Commission Academy crash course – step-by-step training designed to walk you through how to launch your very own thriving online business.

What Is An Affiliate Program?

Affiliate programs are what online stores use to recruit affiliates who send customers their way in return for a commission on each sale. They make it possible for people like you and me to promote other people’s products online and make money without having to become product creators.

There are 10,000s affiliate programs out there with 550 million+ products and services. You name it, they’ll be an affiliate program for it – hairdryers, clothes, lawnmowers, online courses, fridges, flights, groceries, phones – anything you can buy online.

Big-name brands like Amazon, Apple, Honda, H&M and Yamaha all run affiliate programs that are free to join and you can most definitely earn a full-time income online selling their stuff!

big brands that have affiliate programs
Some of the many companies that have affiliate programs.

Whether you want to create a solid side hustle or a booming online empire, affiliate programs mean you can promote any kinds of products you want in any niche you want – the possibilities are endless and the earning potential limitless!

How Do Affiliate Programs Work?

There are different types of affiliate programs with varying commission structures. cookie durations and payment schedules but essentially, all affiliate programs work by giving approved affiliates access to products with unique affiliate links, tracking their sales and issuing payments.

Affiliate programs have three major players:

  • The affiliate
  • The online store
  • The customer

The Affiliate

Affiliate marketing done right is a win for affiliates who promote a product they like and earn a percentage of each sale they make. Affiliates can grab their link, check their stats and update payment details through the affiliate program they signed up to.

The Online Store

Over 80% of companies (also called merchants) now run affiliate programs because they know having a team of affiliates promoting their products makes good business sense. Statistics show that having an affiliate program increases sales and revenue by at least 16%.

And it’s no wonder… we’re spending more online than ever before to the point where many stores don’t even have a physical location. Online is where it’s at and with an affiliate program, they sell more without expensive advertising costs.

The Customer

And last but not least, we have the customer, the person clicking your links and proceeding to checkout. If you’ve ever bought anything online, chances are you bought it through an affiliate link. The customer benefits because affiliates help them find the best products they’re looking for.

What Percentage Do Affiliate Programs Pay?

Commission rates can vary depending on the industry and type of products. The average commission rate for affiliate programs is between 5% and 30%. Personally, I’ve seen commission rates range from 1% to 90%.

Digital product affiliate programs tend to pay out more (often between 50% and 75%) because the cost to manufacture is so next to none.

Some affiliate programs run a tiered commission structure so the more items you sell, the higher your percentage.

How Do You Find The Best Affiliate Programs?

An easy way to find affiliate programs is to simply type in whatever your niche is, plus “affiliate program”.

So let’s say I have a website and a YouTube channel dedicated to fishing and I want to promote fishing equipment. I’m just going to go ahead and type “fishing affiliate programs” into Google.

This is going to give you pages and pages of affiliate program ideas with products you can promote:

how to find affiliate programs

You could then sign up for any of these and instantly be able to promote a large range of fishing equipment like rods, reels, lures and bait etc.

An even easier way to find the best affiliate programs?

Check out our top picks:

As you can see, there are endless affiliate program options available and they’re not hard to find!

Over time you’ll be able to build several income streams from a single website promoting several related products your audience would definitely be interested in buying.

3 Affiliate Program Examples

1. Amazon

Amazon’s affiliate program is the largest in the world… by far! Amazon has a staggering half a billion products and that number’s only growing by the day. Some affiliates make $150,000 a year from this program alone.

affiliate program examples

Although Amazon doesn’t offer the best commission rates (between 1 and 10%) and only a 24-hour cookie (meaning you get credit for the sale if the customer buys within 24 hours of clicking your link), their wide product range and the fact they’re a huge household name people trust makes up for it.

And the good thing about Amazon is you get “full cart orders”, meaning you get commissions for everything a customer buys. So if someone clicks through your link for dog food and ends up buying a washing machine as well, you get commissions for both.

2. Clickbank

ClickBank’s affiliate program is also very well known and they’ve paid out more than $4.2 billion in commissions.

Become an affiliate and you’ll have access to a ton of digital products like online courses and ebooks in categories like cooking, photography, sewing and fitness and you can get up to a 75% commission rate.

clickbank affiliate program

Clickbank is good because they offer a wide variety of products available in its marketplace and a 60-day cookie. They have a lot of products that offer recurring monthly commissions too.

The only downside is they have a reputation for allowing vendors to sell affiliate marketing scams through their site so do proper research before putting your name to any product.

3. eBay

Everyone knows eBay and through the eBay affiliate program, you can earn 1% to 4% on any one of the 1.4 billion items listed on their site as an affiliate.

ebay affiliate program

Like Amazon, eBay offers a 24-hour cookie and you get paid commissions on any items they buy when they click through your link so the earnings really can add up.

These are just a few affiliate program examples but trust me when I say there are affiliate programs out there for literally any product or service you can think of!

What Are The Best Affiliate Programs For Beginners?

If you’re just starting with affiliate marketing, the best advice I can give you is to be specific about the type of products you want to promote going forward.

When deciding on the best affiliate programs to apply for, pick an affiliate marketing niche (i.e. a target audience) first. This should always be your starting point. From there, you can decide what types of products your audience will appreciate.

ALWAYS think of your audience first.

Don’t make the schoolboy error of picking affiliate programs just because they’re high paying or have high conversion rates. It’ll be an uphill struggle. You’ll find it a lot easier and make a lot more money if you’re in a niche you love and you’re promoting relevant products your target demographic needs and wants.

Think about it:

Are you going to make more sales by trying to convince someone to buy something they don’t want or by giving people exactly what they want?

Exactly! 😎

That being said, the 3 affiliate program examples I gave you are a good place to start because with those alone you already have the ability to promote billions of different products and make money no matter your niche.

Here are a few more best affiliate programs for beginners:

These are the best affiliate programs for newbies (in my view at least) because they have a wide range of products and solid commission rates.

The Best Way To Promote Affiliate Programs?

Some newbie affiliate marketers make the mistake of spamming their affiliate links all over Facebook…

Yeah, good luck with that!

You’ll make no sales and get your account blocked – not exactly the best strategy to build your financial future on!

Others go down the Google/YouTube/Facebook ads route…

This can work really well if you know how to run a successful ad campaign, write good sales copy and create a profitable sales funnel – all skills that take time to develop. Try running paid ads as a beginner and you’ll quickly burn through your advertising budget.

No getting around it – you need a website, and it’s easy to launch one.

This is why here at Commission Academy, we focus on showing you how to get 100% free and organic traffic (through search engines) so you can be earning as you’re learning.

We teach students 4 simple steps to success:

1. Building a website around a specific niche
2. Create helpful and relevant content
3. Get Google rankings and traffic
4. Sell lots of the right kinds of products and make money!

This is the same formula YOU can use to launch a highly successful and profitable affiliate marketing business.

Grab our free step-by-step affiliate marketing crash course and get started HERE »

Affiliate Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can You Have Multiple Affiliate Programs On One Website?

Yes, you can absolutely! That’s one of the many reasons I love affiliate marketing so much! 😍

You could promote a dozen different affiliate programs on a single blog post and 1,000s of affiliate programs on a single website. There really is no limit to how many products you can promote as an affiliate.

That doesn’t mean you should go out there and sign up to every affiliate program going though! I recommend you focus on one affiliate program first, get your earnings consistent and then, as you build your site out, scale up your income by adding more products and building multiple income streams over time.

Affiliate Programs & Affiliate Networks: What’s The Difference?

Affiliate programs are standalone programs run by an online store and affiliate networks are centralised databases of sometimes 1,000s of affiliate programs. Both affiliate programs and affiliate networks make it easy to get affiliate links, track your stats and sales and receive payments.

The top affiliate networks are:

Should I Promote Low Or High Ticket Affiliate Programs?

Whether it’s high or low ticket, pick an affiliate program that has products that make the most sense to your target audience. Do that and your conversion rate will be higher.

I see many people obsess over high-ticket affiliate programs and I get it – the idea of earning $100s or $1000s per sale is enticing, but it’s also why most affiliate marketers fail

Don’t get me wrong, the products you sell play a huge part in how much you can earn as an affiliate, but it’s not the only part…

It’s also how many sales you make; market products that are too expensive and you might make very few sales whereas a lower-priced item might get more click-throughs and make you better off.

Do You Need A Website Before Applying To Affiliate Programs?

Yes, 99% of affiliate programs require you to have a website as part of their application process that’s relevant to the affiliate marketing niche, an about page, affiliate disclosure and good quality content that offers value to readers.

Affiliate program owners just want to see you’re a serious affiliate who will represent them and their products well and generate sales.

How Many Posts Do You Need Before Applying?

Each affiliate program has slightly different terms and requirements. I’d say as a general rule, have at least 20-30 posts before starting to apply for affiliate programs, but the more the better. You can always keep publishing and go back and add affiliate links later.

What Do You Do If Your Affiliate Application Is Rejected?

If your affiliate application is rejected, don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. The best thing to do is find out exactly what the reasons are and work towards meeting their requirements so you can apply again at a later date or look for an alternative affiliate program.

Have A Question Or Need Any Help?

Dale and I are real people (I promise!) and wherever you are on your journey, we’d love to talk to you about anything that’s going to help you achieve massive affiliate marketing success! 🎯

Go ahead and contact us or drop us a line in the comments and we’ll get right back to you!

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8 thoughts on “Affiliate Programs: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide”

  1. Hello Dale and Simon
    I am an elderly woman and I am really CONFUSED about affiliate marketing!!!!!
    I think there are too many things to learn and it gets so tiresome!!!!!!!
    Please help me start step by step,the easiest way possible!!!!!!!!
    Everything nowadays is designed for the FAST AND YOUNG–We old People are TOTALLY FORGOTTEN!!!!!!

    So disappointed
    Stella Mugore

    • Hello – there aren’t too many things to learn, there are just too many people pushing different methods. Once you stick with ONE method, you’ll be fine. Sign up for our free step-by-step training course (the link is above).

  2. Hello Dale and Simon
    I joined you once before and I just got to nervous because I know nothing about affiliated marketing or online business. I’m an older person and I would like to learn to help with my retirement in a few years. Anyway my question is can I join commission academy again? I’m ready this time to give it all I’ve got to learn. Thank you Terrie


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