Best Affiliate Marketing Platforms (2017)

Affiliate marketing is a very large industry and has become a key source of online income for many thousands of professional bloggers. With more and more online businesses becoming involved in affiliate marketing, more opportunities have arisen for bloggers, like you and I, to make money with their blog.

With a wide variety of businesses who work direct with affiliates, most affiliate marketers will use an affiliate marketing network to search for offers for their blogs. Though these affiliate platforms will take a small cut of any fees generated, they do serve a valuable purpose in the affiliate marketing climate

  1. Aggregating offers from different vendors
  2. Create a directory or search engine for affiliate marketers to find offers
  3. Handle the administrative duties of running an affiliate network

 

In this post I will go through some of the most popular affiliate marketing platforms.

 

 

ShareASale

 

ShareASale is another one of the large affiliate networks. The Shareashale platform has about 4,000 merchants listed, of which over one thousand of them are exclusive to them.

ShareASale publishes a large amount of data on each of the offers they are running, these include:

  • Earnings per Click
  • Reversal Rates
  • Average Sale Amount
  • Average Commission

 

While these figures aren’t guarantees of payouts you can expect, they’re certainly very helpful in assessing a campaign.

 

The advantages of ShareASale include:

  • Large Partner Network. The 4,000+ merchants include more than 1,000 that are exclusive.

 

  • Easy to Compare Offers. When trying to choose from the various offers available, ShareASale make it very easy to evaluate the best ones based on the metrics.

 

  • Quick Payment Cycle. ShareASale pay out on the 20th of every month, assuming your account balance is more than $50.

 

 

Disadvantages of Shareasale:

  • Clunky Reporting Tools.The ShareASale reporting dashboard feels old, and is harder to navigate than other networks, but it is slowly improving.

 

 

Join Shareasale

 

 

 

CJ Affiliate

 

CJ Affiliate is considered to be the biggest affiliate platforms online; if you have worked in the affiliate marketing space for any amount of time, you’ve probably come across them.

Nearly every major retailer have their affiliate programs on CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction), which makes them as close to a one stop shop as you can get in the affiliate marketing business. Most retailers have multiple ad sizes available for affiliates, which gives you better control of the offers you show on your blog.

With such a wide array of advertisers on the CJ Affiliate platform it makes it relatively easy to compare and segment different offers. Finding the affiliate tracking code to place on your blog is also straightforward; once you’re approved to promote an offer, you can be running lots of different offers on your site in just a few short hours.

 

To summarise, the advantages of the network are:

 

  • Large Partner Network.CJ Affiliate has over three thousand advertising partners, many have lots of creative sizes and various affiliate link options.

 

  • Reliable Payments.They offer a net-20 payment term which means that you’ll get your commission paid out in a timely manner each month.

 

  • Powerful Reporting Options.The reporting suite from CJ Affiliate is pretty impressive, which is a big advantage for marketers who plan to spend a their time optimizing their sales performance.

 

 

Disadvantages of the network include:

 

  • Steep Learning Curve. While the reporting capabilities are great, they’re also quite difficult for beginners to get to grips with. You’ll need to spend time in the dashboard before you’re comfortable navigating the reporting suite and can then start to take full advantage of the tools on offer.

 

  • Limited Customer Support.Due to the large number of affiliates and merchants, it’s understandable that customer support is quite limited. But only having a contact form as the main method to get in touch with the support department can be restrictive.

 

 

Rakuten LinkShare

 

Rakuten LinkShare is considered to be one of the oldest affiliate partner networks, it is now a fair amount smaller than some of the bigger players in the affiliate industry.

There are a few slick features of Rakuten LinkShare that differentiate this platform from the rest. For example, they have the ability to rotate through the various banners automatically for a product which is a huge advantage when trying to optimize your offers. Instead of having to manually select which ad you want to run on your blog, LinkShare lets multiple versions rotate with only one small piece of code.

LinkShare also allows for more flexible “deep linking” to individual merchant landing pages, this allows for increased customization of the types of campaigns you can run.

 

The advantages of LinkShare are:

 

  • Ad Rotation. This may seem like a pretty minor feature, but it can make a significant difference when it comes to optimizing your ads.
  • Deep Linking Options.LinkShare lets you choose the page you want to send your traffic to on their site, giving you more flexibility for promoting different affiliate offers.

 

Disadvantages include:

 

  • A Much Smaller Network. LinkShare have around 1,000 partners – this is considerably fewer than the bigger networks like CJ Affiliate or ShareASale.
  • Unpredictable Payments to Affiliates.Rakuten LinkShare only pay out to their affiliates once the commissions are collected from their partners.

 

 

Amazon Associates

 

By quite a large margin Amazon has the largest affiliate marketing program out there, with products from more than 1.5 million sellers. Amazon has the most easy-to-use technology of all the affiliate programs I will be reviewing today. Beginners to affiliate marketing with even the most limited technical expertise will have no problems in getting up and running with the Amazon associates program, while more experienced marketers can create custom tools and websites with the APIs and advanced implementations available to them. The great thing about Amazon is that anything from kids toys to laptops can generate sales if they are purchased through any Amazon affiliate link.

The major drawback of the Amazon affiliate network is the commission structure. Their commissions start out as low as 4% for smaller affiliates, yet they can be as high as 9% for high traffic affiliates. Also as most of the products which are sold on Amazon are physical goods, you will have very few options to refer sales that generate a recurring monthly income.

If you are interested about starting your own Amazon affiliate site then check out my free Amazon guide today.

 

Advantages include:

 

  • Easy to Use. Amazon’s interface is user friendly, for both beginners and experienced affiliates.

 

  • Very Flexible. Millions of items can be bought via Amazon, giving your ads and links a much wider appeal to your visitors.

 

Disadvantages can include:

 

  • Low Commission Rates. Commissions starting out from 4% which mean that you will need to generate a higher volume of sales in order to make your online business more sustainable.

 

  • Long Payment Cycles. Amazon’s affiliate payment terms mean you won’t get your money for more than 60 days after a sale has occured.

 

In Summary

There are no hard and fast rules against using several different affiliate networks all at the same time on your site, and I would suggest that you do so for best practice. Although it can add a bit of extra work running multiple accounts, this method will allow you to compare the many features of the different affiliate platforms directly.

It’s also worth pointing out that many large merchants will make the use of various affiliate marketing platforms to sell their products, therefore having accounts with different networks can be useful in finding the best performing offers. If you want to keep it simple by just working with a single network, then ShareASale or even CJ Affiliate is probably your best option.

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Jamie

My name is Jamie Spencer and I have spent the past 5 years building money making blogs. After growing tired of the 9-5, commuting and never seeing my family I decided that I wanted to make some changes and launched my first blog. Since then I have launched lots of successful niche blogs and after selling my survivalist blog I decided to teach other people how to do the same.
43 Comments
  • Tom Jackson
    Posted at 07:22h, 27 April Reply

    Thanks for sharing useful stuff. This is my first visit to your blog which seems to be attractive & willing to learn in a simple manner, keep going

  • Abdul Majeed Siddiqui
    Posted at 20:08h, 26 May Reply

    First of all, your website design is fabulous. Nice to find that amazon associated working as great affiliate networks. Thanks for sharing such a great post. Keep it up. I’ve bookmarked your site :D

  • Shege
    Posted at 01:55h, 19 September Reply

    Thanks for this post. I’ve learnt something new today. I’ve heard about CJ and Shareasale so I’d give them a try. Amazon seems to pay off well if you have a relatively high traffic website.

  • Jason
    Posted at 04:17h, 03 November Reply

    AVOID using the RedHotPie Affiliate program, They take all your traffic and referrals and DO NOT PAY YOU A CENT

  • Thibault
    Posted at 11:21h, 16 November Reply

    Hi Jamie, do you know affiliate network that offers a decent commission on jewelry? I’m currently promoting BlueNile, Biamotti and Zales, managing them is rather complicated (each has it’s own program) and apart from Biamotti, all the others have a rather low commission (around 5%).

    • Jamie
      Posted at 13:06h, 16 November Reply

      Unfortunately for you , that particular niche has never been a big payer when it comes to commissions. Also these products are high ticket prices, so volumes will be small.
      You’d probably make more money promoting folding bikes over engagement rings.

  • Ivan
    Posted at 07:33h, 01 December Reply

    Hi Jamie. As a merchant, we are working with Shareasale, CJ, Tradetracker and so on.
    Is there any other network you will recommand for expand?

  • MUKESH MAJUMDER
    Posted at 18:45h, 27 December Reply

    Nice one.. yes, CJ affiliate is the best one. few days ago I registered on Cj affiliate, it has some awesome Ads for different ads company, you can use any Ads according to your desires…

  • Joramir
    Posted at 21:51h, 10 January Reply

    I did launch my affiliate marketing site and I was having trouble making sales unto it. I do hope that after applying what you said will make my site better. Many thanks to you for sharing those tips.

    • Jamie
      Posted at 14:25h, 11 January Reply

      Good luck Joramir – with affiliate marketing there’s no over night results – consistency is key. Keep working at it

  • Natalie P
    Posted at 23:02h, 18 January Reply

    For me I would choose a program with Recurring commission. You can build a real passive income. Its the best way to go! One suggestion is contact companies who sell services and ask if you can sell their service for them. Sometimes popular affiliate programs like these have just way too many people trying to sell their service. I personally went to sitecare.ca and asked them if I could sell their service and I couldn’t be happier! So find a service you believe in and go for it!

  • DNN
    Posted at 22:01h, 29 January Reply

    Affiliate marketing has now invaded Hollywood? We know it invaded US politics in Washington as some politicians (current and retired) are silent affiliate marketers or in MLM. Maybe we can look forward to hearing in the next few years about more celebrities going from actors and actresses to home-based affiliate marketers. Wouldn’t that be something?

  • Dgdewet
    Posted at 14:48h, 06 February Reply

    Hopefully I can get sales now on my affiliate blog. I haven’t made any sales on it yet, but will try what you said. Many Thanks

  • Kelly
    Posted at 06:01h, 04 March Reply

    Jamie, why do information and software product producers avoid accepting new affiliates to sell their products?. Some require affiliates to have made 100+ sales before they’ll let them sell their products. What do the producers have to lose by letting the newbie affiliates try to sell their products?

  • Kevin Nosworthy
    Posted at 14:37h, 15 March Reply

    I do hope to see some positive changes to my sites performance after following what you’ve said.
    Many thanks for your sound advice. Looking forward to you posting more tips about affiliate marketing. Thanks again.

  • Amie Faal
    Posted at 19:22h, 16 March Reply

    Hi Jamie. How can I get in touch? I need a mentor.

    • Jamie
      Posted at 09:35h, 17 March Reply

      Hi Amie

      If you have a question for me then i’m happy for you to contact me through my contact form on this page https://makeawebsitehub.com/about-me/

      I do not offer a mentor service.

      Thanks

      Jamie

  • Mike Temples
    Posted at 06:54h, 28 March Reply

    You are a big help to me. I just made my blog and started doing affiliate marketing however I am struggling on the next step. I don’t know how will make people buy through my blog. It’s frustrating you know. What you said lifted up my spirit and I wish I can see sales next month or so. Cheers!

    • Jamie
      Posted at 08:24h, 28 March Reply

      Hi Mike

      Why not email me your URL and I can give you some feedback on where you might need to do a bit more work.

      Thanks

      Jamie

  • Swee Matthews
    Posted at 08:26h, 28 March Reply

    Hi, your article is brilliant. You’re an expert! I can’t wait to try it to my affiliate sites and hoping to read more affiliate marketing tips from you soon. Cheers!

  • Johan Herrmann
    Posted at 19:30h, 01 April Reply

    Hi Jamie! Awesome post. I just started an online shop (Ukulele and accessories) using Shopify and drop shipping with Aliexpress. Do you recommend I join an affiliate network to help drive traffic to my site? Thanks a lot for you input!

    • Jamie
      Posted at 13:26h, 04 April Reply

      Johann

      Affiliates might be a very good way to gain sales and traffic to your site.

      Good luck

      Jamie

  • yii lighting
    Posted at 06:27h, 19 April Reply

    Hello Jamie,

    This is Simon, thank you for your post, it is very helpful for me. However, we are a lighting company, and we are plan to try the Affiliate Website to increase our sale. But it seem that there are many different Affiliate website to be chose and some of them also need pay some fee to begin, so as we just begin to do this, which website is your recommend ?
    CJ or Sharesale ? or others ?

    • Jamie
      Posted at 08:47h, 19 April Reply

      I would say Shareasale is better for small businesses as the start up costs are very little and the support you get is pretty awesome.

      Their affiliate tracking and management technology is very good and easy to understand and use. Their affiliate managers are really good as well and will guide you as to what you need to do to make a successful affiliate scheme for your business.

      Shareasalehttps://makeawebsitehub.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php#comments-form

  • Mark Sandman
    Posted at 16:19h, 19 April Reply

    Hi Jamie- Great post! Have you heard of Pepperjam? I’m curious how they stack up to these other affiliate networks.

    • Jamie
      Posted at 09:31h, 20 April Reply

      I haven’t. I’ll check them out. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Ketan Jharbade
    Posted at 10:25h, 28 April Reply

    Hey Jamie!

    My name is Ketan Jharbade and I just started a website beststuff4you using WordPress.

    I have joined amazon associates program and you are right, they pay very little commission to you.

    Can you suggest what else can I do so I can earn online?

    • Jamie
      Posted at 08:58h, 02 May Reply

      Hi Ketan

      I’d stick with Amazon if I were you. All of my Amazon sites only have Amazon affiliate links. If you use Google Adsense display ads on your site, you’re literally taking people away from your site for the sake of just a few cents with these type of ads. If you direct them just to Amazon, then you have a greater chance of earning more money from that click.

      Build a website for either Amazon or Adsense, never both. In my experience, it just doesn’t work.

  • Linda Smith
    Posted at 15:43h, 03 May Reply

    Amazon has changed. The tier method for commissions, The days of 1-6 at 4%, 7-30 at 6%. 31 – 110 at 6.5%, are over. The tier method ended March 1, 2017.

    Products are now put in a category. The commission will be based on the category each product has been placed in whether or not the category is correct. For instance, I had a sale for a child riding toy tractor. Instead of it being in toys category which would have only earned me 3%, it was actually placed in lawn and garden category which I then actually earned 8% instead.

    I have seen 2 identical items ordered, maybe one has long sleeves, the other short sleeves, that end up in 2 different categories resulting in 2 different commissions earned.

    Amazon does not care that products are put in the wrong category which in part is because Amazon may not allow a seller to use certain categories that are actually the appropriate ones for the products being sold by seller.

    I have lost money since the new commission schedule has gone into affect. The associates also say they are losing money, a lot of it, who have discussed this on the Amazon Discussion Board.

    Unfortunately, for me, it seems that people will not order products I list from Share A Sale, Viglink etc even if the seller is a major retailer, but they will order same product if I promote it from the Amazon site.

    • Jamie
      Posted at 09:20h, 04 May Reply

      It’s a bit of a set back, but I think you can still make decent cash on Amazon if you target the right products. I’ve seen a dip in income of around 10 to 15%, but this just makes me more determined to get more traffic. More traffic = more clicks = more Amazon commission.

  • David Vu
    Posted at 02:26h, 09 May Reply

    Thank you so much for your post! I am going to start my affiliate trip in next weeks. So how do you think about some networks such as JVzoo, W+, Zaxaa, Paykickstart,.. Should I join them??

    • Jamie
      Posted at 11:16h, 10 May Reply

      Probably best to make sure you have your site ready first before you sign up.

  • Brandon Snyder
    Posted at 18:54h, 12 May Reply

    Great article, thank you! I have a health & fitness business that I have launched that sells specialized training programs in a digital download format. I looked initially at Clickbank, but they require payment of their fees on all sales–regardless of whether they came through Clickbank affiliates or not.

    My question, which platform would you recommend for a start-up digital download company?

    I don’t mind some startup costs, but the CJ site quoted me $1,500 just to get started! Ouch.

    • Jamie
      Posted at 08:55h, 15 May Reply

      Check out ShareASale
      Very low start up costs, and overall, they are probably you’re best bet.

  • Dominique R
    Posted at 07:36h, 22 May Reply

    Hi Jamie! Thank you for the great information. I just learned about affiliate marketing last week. The source however, is an older couple who work for World Wide Dreams Builders (WWDB). So, basically Amway. After researching a bit. I have no interest in WWDB and. (It sounds like years of recruiting people with minimal payout) Though, I am highly intrigued by e-commerce and affiliate marketing. Before your post the company I recognized was Amazon. Can you please tell me if that will be the best 1st step. I am currently an unemployed student Veteran. So plan to fully emerge into this business regime and would greatly appreciate your advice on this!!!

    • Jamie
      Posted at 11:10h, 24 May Reply

      Hi Dominique

      Amazon is a great way to get started with affiliate marketing. I would check out my guide to building your own Amazon site.

      I still run a handful of Amazon sites which bring in about $20k per month on autopilot.

      Jamie

  • Mario Cruz
    Posted at 01:28h, 24 May Reply

    Hi there man, im started a online business in studio recording equipment,.. what would be the one affiliate that you would recommend?

  • DNN
    Posted at 11:13h, 06 June Reply

    I would personally agree with linkshare.com as a great affiliate marketing platform to join as a publisher. Here’s why. Back in 2005 when I knew nothing about affiliate marketing and was using blogger.com as a free blogging platform without any experience whatsoever and joining Walmart.com as my first official affiliate program, I was able to insert Walmart affiliate in its in my blogger blog and earn a $72 commission. I was onto affiliate marketing for life from there.

    Later on, I managed to earn more money from Walmart.com as an affiliate and joined commission junction and other affiliate networks to earn more money in affiliate marketing. the one part I really find challenging is creating rich content for my site every day or every other day. This is when I focus on other things such as YouTube video marketing, writing periodicals online, and so on. But nevertheless, joining a multiple affiliate networks is good for anyone to do because you want to create diversify sources of income. Just be mindful that when you join multiple affiliate networks you’re not only keeping in touch regularly with the affiliate managers you partner with through those specific affiliate programs, assure also asking them questions often about how to create effective affiliate landing pages,, informative YouTube videos with your affiliate link in them, as well as asking your affiliate manager to offer any other kind of promotional tactics you can use to increase your affiliate commission potential. I am sick and tired of hearing some people say they never earn one dime in affiliate marketing. That’s absolutely nonsense because they’re lazy and don’t bother to do the extra work. If you’re building relationships with your target audience and affiliate managers, creating content for your site and engaging YouTube videos daily or every other day, and staying active with other marketers in the affiliate marketing community, there’s no reason for you to fail.. Simple as that!

    Thank you for this thought provoking blog posts discussing affiliate marketing networks and one of my favorite affiliate networks which is LinkShare.com! :-)

  • Roy Adi
    Posted at 08:34h, 12 June Reply

    Hi,
    Great article, thank you.

    Couple of questions:
    1. I’ve built a Shopify site (using dropshipping from Aliexpress + Oberlo), there is a good market, but the items are not the best, and I’d prefer a more automated process, could I find a good program on ShareASale ?

    2. I’ve been slowly building social profiles on Instagram and Facebook, and I want to use them for affiliate sales without a site, Could I use ShareAsale for that purpose or do I have to have a site per niche I’m targeting ?

    Thanks again, I’ll be following your site from now on.
    Roy.

    • Jamie
      Posted at 11:58h, 15 June Reply

      Hi Roy

      Answers to your questions:

      1. I think you mean that you want to become an affiliate for better products rather than source them yourself and sell them on your site. Shareasale would be a good option or Amazon FBA or associate program.

      2. You really need a website to promote products via Shareasale.

      Thanks

      Jamie

  • DNN
    Posted at 14:37h, 06 July Reply

    The good thing about affiliate marketing is that this industry is here to stay and will always be a reliable source of revenue for affiliates and bloggers looking to turn their side hustle into a full time business.

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