So you think you’ve got what it takes to make it big as an affiliate?
How do you stop yourself from being among the majority of marketers that barely make a dime online?
When I first started blogging as a total newbie in the world of marketing, business and entrepreneurship, I spent months pouring my heart and soul into my content hoping things would take off.
But I failed. Miserably.
Because I was promoting products that I couldn’t relate to at all.
I’d judge a product solely on how much commission I would make per sale.
This made it extremely difficult to create compelling content — If I didn’t value the stuff I was writing about, how on earth would anyone else?!
People fail at affiliate marketing for many reasons — from entitlement issues and promoting terrible products to a lack of consistency and focus.
But one thing separates the super affiliates of this world from the rest.
No, they don’t have a magical secret formula for success! But what they do have is a proven affiliate marketing strategy that works.
That’s what you’ll learn in this blog post.
By studying the super successful affiliates of the world we can determine what works and reverse-engineer their strategies.
Here’s what else we’ll cover in this article:
Plenty of juicy material to plough through so let’s begin! 😄
Why Super Affiliates are So Successful
Successful affiliate marketers don’t waste time constantly dabbling and dipping their toe’s into things. They maintain deep focus and remain consistent over a long period.
When it comes to marketing strategy for the best of the best, finding the right affiliate program that has an outstanding commission structure is the name of the game.
Elite level marketers don’t waste time promoting products that produce one-off $20 commissions.
Instead, they align themselves with high paying affiliate programs.
These affiliate marketing programs offer products/services that net huge commissions. And they’re the bread and butter for the super affiliates of today.
Of course, the affiliate programs alone don’t create wealth for these titans of digital marketing.
They create and share content that provides a ton of value, making a difference in people’s lives. Furthermore, they establish powerful brands that communicate their message to the world.
People that succeed, fully understand the power of self-education — they’re always learning, growing and challenging themselves in some way.
Success in affiliate marketing (and any business really) is as much about your psychology as it is about marketing strategy and know-how.
Affiliate Commission Fundamentals
Let’s take a deep dive into the commission structures that make for the best affiliate programs. If you want to become a champion in the affiliate space and build a sustainable long-term business, you need to remember this one word…
And you’re in luck because affiliate marketing has plenty of opportunities to diversify your income.
There are really only two types of commissions you should be aiming for as an affiliate, these are:
High-ticket product commissions
These products are typically sold on the back-end of a sales funnel (more on that in the next section) and cost upwards of $1000.
It doesn’t matter how good you are at marketing, if you’re spending your time promoting $20 products with no future upsells, you’ll struggle to build a profitable business.
Let’s say you’re going for a million dollars in a year.
To achieve this nice round number that contains many zeros, you’ll need to sell 50,000 copies of a product that costs $20.
Good marketing can’t overcome bad maths.
On the flip side:
If you’re promoting a product that costs $1000, you’ll only need to sell 1000 to make one million dollars.
If the product costs $4000 the number goes down to just 250.
Pretty powerful stuff right?!
These types of commissions are extremely powerful. Imagine referring someone once to a subscription service and getting paid healthy commissions every month for the lifetime of the customers’ subscription.
This is how you can build real wealth with affiliate marketing.
Every month I pay for an email marketing service called Convertkit. These guys do email marketing for bloggers. And my plan costs me $49 a month.
You can sign up as an affiliate to promote Convertkit to other bloggers and earn a healthy 30% lifetime commission.
This means if you referred just 100 people at $49 a month, you’d be earning $1500 a month.
While this isn’t a huge amount of money, it compounds over time.
You’ll keep earning that $1500 every month as long as your referrals stay signed up.
And check this out — if you referred just 20 people a month, within a year you could be looking at a passive income stream of $3600!
That’s totally passive. Which means if you didn’t touch your PC for months, you’d STILL earn the same commissions.
Related Content:Learn about the true power of compound interest (Einstein called it the 8th wonder of the world) in this post on the best ways to invest 10000.
Understanding the power of sales funnels
Understanding how sales funnels work can mean the difference between making $1000 or making $10,000 a month.
Most businesses have a sales funnel that they use to sell their products and services to consumers. These funnels usually offer a low-priced or free offering at the top and gradually introduce higher-priced, higher-value products to the leads that come through the funnel.
This back to basics diagram explains how sales funnels work…
Sales funnels work because build relationships with prospects and offer a taste of your products/services without large upfront investments.
Introducing your high-end products when your prospect barely knows you is like proposing to someone on your first date — creepy!
The best affiliate programs provide lifetime customer commissions.
This means you’ll continue to earn commissions every time your referral invests in a product from the business you referred them to.
Finding The Best Affiliate Products to Promote
How do you measure the value of an affiliate program?
Some things to look out for before you start promoting are:
How popular is the product?
You can’t judge the quality of a product solely based on the commissions you’ll receive.
You’ll find plenty of high paying affiliate programs out there with products that aren’t great.
Research the quality of the product before you start thinking about promoting it. Check out the website. Read online reviews. Google search their brand name.
If no-one is buying the product in the first place, you’re wasting your time.
What’s the percentage of commissions they’re paying? Do they offer high-ticket products? What about recurring monthly payments?
Is it going to be financially viable for you to spend time promoting the product or is there something similar that pays higher commissions?
The best cookies are the ones that last a lifetime.
Noo, not the choccy chunk cookies you’re craving — I’m talking affiliate cookies!
Lifetime and “sticky” cookies mean you’ll be paid every time a customer you referred makes a purchase. In many cases, this still applies if someone cancels their membership and rejoins after a few months.
How cool is that?!
On the flip side, other cookies aren’t so tasty. Some only last for a few days and cover first purchases only, such as Amazon.
This is huge for anyone that wants to be a super affiliate.
Affiliate programs that have backend/upsell products (as mentioned in the sales funnel section) can multiply your earnings many times over for doing the same amount of work.
The backend is where businesses make the most money. Let’s say you purchase an e-book on how to overcome anxiety.
After the purchase, the product owner builds a relationship with you through helpful emails that provide tonnes of value. After a week or so, he introduces you to his $2000 coaching program.
A percentage of people that bought the e-book will invest in the coaching program.
This is a very rough example but it demonstrates the sheer power of upsell products.
These commissions are special. 😇
They pay you a percentage of sales from other affiliates that you’ve referred to the business.
So not only can you make money by promoting products and services, you can also earn a percentage of profits other affiliates make through second-tier commissions!
What Are The Best Affiliate Programs?
Time to slice into the meat and potatoes of this blog post, the list of top affiliate programs! I’ve performed some detailed research and turned over a fair few rocks to bring you this tantalizing list!
I’ve broken things down into sections based on industry and created a handy contents guide (below) where you can jump through to your desired part of the article.
For the most part, you won’t find physical goods affiliate programs such as Amazon Associates in this article.
Why? Because commissions for these products are way too low.
I’ve also written a separate article on travel affiliate programs so you won’t find them on this list either.
Let’s get started!
Business, Entrepreneurship and Marketing
Kicking things off with a bang — affiliate programs in the online business and entrepreneurship space!
Some of these programs provide an incredible education for anyone looking to get their start online through a unique “earn while you learn” opportunity.
Affiliate programs in this space pay extremely well. Why? Because many products are high-ticket AND information-based so businesses can afford to be very generous with their commissions.
Great news for affiliates!
1. The Six Figure Mentors
Strictly speaking, this isn’t an affiliate program as such. I would describe it as more of a digital business system, and one that I openly promote myself because of the sheer life-changing value it provides.
It is a highly unique platform that has by far the highest paying commissions I’ve come across.
The Six Figure Mentors is a training and mentorship platform that prepares you for every aspect of online entrepreneurship, helping to empower you with the digital skills and leadership mindsets you need to succeed in the online arena.
They provide a step-by-step, modular training program taught by top business leaders to students from all over the world.
The course is designed for members to lay the foundations for their online business, helping to avoid many of the obstacles and financial errors people tend to make when starting out as an entrepreneur.
The SFM also houses a community of like-minded aspiring (and accomplished) entrepreneurs — something that can be invaluable on your journey to success.
Points worth noting:
- Cutting-edge marketing and business skill set training modules.
- Lifetime customers. Recurring monthly as well as yearly affiliate commissions.
- Up to $8000 commissions per sale! (Yes really)
- Your own digital business coach to take you by the hand throughout your marketing education.
- Access to a digital skills platform. Lead capture page creator. Web hosting. Blogging platforms.
We have partnered up with these guys as affiliates because we truly believe in the transformational value they provide. You can check it out for yourself here.
Related: Check out the Six Figure Mentors review post where we dive deep into the back-end modules, curriculum content and bonuses from the platform.
At its peak on Black Friday back in 2018, over $870,000 in transactions occurred every minute through Shopify stores.
They’re the clear market leader in the drop shipping space.
You can promote the Shopify suite of tools to people looking to start their own online store. And earn a healthy income doing it too.
These guys provide everything you could possibly need to run a successful e-commerce business — from website builders to shopping carts, web hosting, analytics, store management, SEO and more.
Through standard affiliate link promotion, you can earn 200% of the monthly subscription per referral.
One of their newest features is the free pos card reader that allows store owners to take physical payments from anywhere in the world.
Points worth noting:
- Earn 200% of a customers monthly subscription through standard affiliate promotion (up to $2400 per sale).
- Earn up to $2000 for Shopify Plus referrals.
This is one affiliate program you likely haven’t come across!
PROOF is a subscription software that helps business owners drive more conversions through the awesome power of social proof.
Since this product was launched, I’ve noticed it on dropshipping stores, price comparison websites and digital course sales pages.
PROOF is everywhere!
It uses a simple but powerful pop-up that lets people know who else has signed up/purchased a product recently. This simple concept has resulted in HUGE conversion increases for businesses!
If you run any type of business that involves generating leads/selling products, PROOF could make a game-changing difference to your conversion rates.
Here’s is what it looks like in action…
Looks pretty sweet, right?!
Points worth noting:
- A 14-day free trial period before anyone signs up or a paid account.
- Basic marketing materials available to help promote software.
Bluehost is a popular web hosting solution for people looking to launch a website on a budget. It’s attractive because they offer premium WordPress hosting at budget hosting prices (around $5-$7 a month).
They even throw in a free domain name when you sign-up for one of their plans.
Bluehost has been around since 2003 and is one of the more trusted companies in the domain hosting space.
On the affiliate side, Bluehost pays $65 for each qualified hosting purchase. Many seasoned marketers have negotiated better rates with Bluehost directly, after referring a consistent stream of customers.
$65 per referral isn’t what you’d call high-ticket, but Bluehost is so widely used among marketers and digital entrepreneurs — it deserves an honourable mention!
And if you’re looking to start your website, you can’t go too far wrong with Bluehost.
Points worth noting:
- Hard-coded affiliate tracking ensures you always get credit for each referral.
- Great support from Bluehost affiliate managers, always willing to help.
- Not much in the way of promotional material and reporting features are lack-lustre.
Related Content: Looking to start your own affiliate site? check out this complete guide to starting your blog from scratch
Kinsta offers powerful managed WordPress hosting for — you guessed it, WordPress websites!
This business falls under the web hosting umbrella and is one that I came across recently.
Web hosting is a great way for bloggers to generate a healthy affiliate income. This particular example is one of many web hosting companies that pay handsomely for affiliate referrals.
Kinsta perform daily backups, free website migrations and claim to be secure like Fort Knox! 😎
I selected this business because they’re the first web hosting company I’ve seen that offer recurring affiliate commissions on top of immediate referral payments you receive.
Granted, the recurring commissions are only 10% but that’s 10% more than any other web hosting company offers right now.
Points worth noting:
- Exclusive sign-up bonus + recurring affiliate commissions offer.
- Sleek affiliate dashboard that’s easy to navigate and simple to use.
- A healthy range of promo materials available.
- High lifetime value of referrals due to low customer churn rate of 5%.
SEMrush is an all-in-one marketing toolkit for digital marketing professionals. They offer a wide range of features from technical SEO audits to rank tracking and competitor intelligence.
It’s also a great tool to use for spying on competitor keywords and discovering what’s working for them!
Many similar tools exist but SEMrush is definitely one of the best on the market when it comes to competitor intelligence.
Points worth noting:
- SEMrush uses a first cookie attribution model which means you’ll still receive commissions if a referral cancels then joins up again in the future.
- High pricing plans give you the opportunity to make up to $160 a month for each referral!
- Lack of satisfactory promotional material — not too much of an issue as most people refer through their email list or direct links on their site.
7. Ninja Outreach
Ninja outreach is a prospecting tool that helps marketers create and manage outbound email campaigns for their businesses.
Specifically speaking, they help marketers reach out and build relationships with industry influencers. Not a tool that I’ve used myself but I know people that use it and they seem to like it. 😄
I’ve hand-picked their affiliate program because of the whopping 50% recurring commissions they offer!
UPDATE: As of February 2019, Ninja Outreach has reduced their recurring commissions down to 20%. Boooo!
Points to consider:
- An additional product you can promote is an inbound marketing training course they offer, also
- Great suite of advanced tracking tools for affiliates.
- Extensive reporting features.
HubSpot is a fully featured marketing & sales automation platform for entrepreneurs as well as marketing & sales teams.
These guys are one of the biggest players in the CRM space and serve as a great example of how content marketing can be used to scale a business.
Their blog receives over 5 million hits in monthly organic search visitors.
Hubspot offers a variety of powerful tools that can be used by marketing, sales and customer service teams.
When it comes down to cost, they’ve traditionally offered packages priced at several hundred dollars per month but have recently also started targeting smaller teams & entrepreneurs with their $50 per month Starter tier.
Instapage is a powerful landing page platform that helps businesses increase their conversion rate. They’ve established themselves in a highly crowded niche by creating a sublime core product that boasts industry-leading conversion rates for customers.
I’ve not used the platform myself but I must say I’m impressed by what I’ve seen and heard so far.
While they only offer a 30% recurring commission, their price point is pretty high, so even at the lower end so you can expect some healthy returns from promoting their software.
Pricing starts at $149 a month on the annual Business tier and $199 for pay monthly.
Points to consider:
- 50% revenue share on the first payment and 30% recurring afterwards.
- Highly accurate and reliable tracking software ensures you don’t miss out on any commissions.
- Super high customer lifetime value and free to join.
Personal Finance and Investing Affiliate Programs
The personal finance space is huge on the internet.
We’ve all come across blogs on frugal living, budgeting and real estate investing. People all over the world are sharing their tips, tricks and hacks for us to make the most out of our money.
One thing that gets to me about the personal finance space is the people obsessing over frugal living.
Forget about skimping on latte’s, we want to build wealth and live rich lives, not waste our time penny-pinching and saving a few pounds/bucks here and there.
Now that my rant is over, we can move on to the affiliate programs 😂
The top affiliate programs in this space relate to investment products and services. Ironically, there aren’t many high paying affiliate programs for frugal bloggers to promote.
Etoro is the worlds leading social investment network. You can trade and invest in stocks, currencies and commodities.
They’ve created a proprietary technology that allows you to copy trading strategies of successful investors.
My knowledge of investing leaves a hell of a lot to be desired so I’ll stick with the affiliate program stats!
This affiliate program pays you once a customer completes a deposit through the Etoro platform.
Points worth noting:
- Etoro has paid out over $87,580,000 in commissions to their affiliates so far.
- Detailed reporting that’s fast and easy to use.
- Unique banners, widgets and landing pages ready for promotion.
11. Personal Capital
Dubbed as “wealth management for the internet age”.
Personal Capital helps you manage and grow your investment income through data-driven portfolio management. They offer a sleek, intuitive dashboard interface that combines all your accounts for a complete picture of your finances.
They currently manage over $5.5 billion in assets for clients with various financial needs.
What makes this affiliate program different from the rest is that they per qualified LEAD.
Why? Because Personal Capital works on a commission fee structure. So it’s not like a SAAS company that charges you for a monthly subscription fee.
You can learn more about the affiliate program through this post from the Financial Samurai (he used to work for Personal Capital)
He’s used this affiliate program as the main source of income on his blog. A blog that has enabled him to purchase a $1m+ house in SF back in 2014.
Points worth noting:
- Pay per lead affiliate program structure.
- Get paid more based on the quality of leads you put through.
Credible specialise in helping students find the best loans for their studies. They also help students refinance their loans for better deals.
These guys bring more transparency and simplicity to the process of borrowing and refinancing debt.
Not the most exciting thing in the world so let’s jump straight to points to consider!
Points to consider:
- Commissions are paid out when a loan offer is accepted.
- The best commissions are paid out for student loan refinances.
- You must sign up as a partner before you can view affiliate program details.
13. Capitalist Exploits
Capitalist Exploits offers bleeding-edge investing advice for money managers and anyone looking to make outsized returns on their investments in a short space of time (who isn’t, right?!).
Here’s the rub:
When it comes to investing money, most people assume they’re limited to the measly 2-4% average annual return rate offered by traditional stocks and bonds.
But the Asymmetric investing strategies taught by CE take a totally different approach. And it has resulted in people making up to 500% returns on their investments.
CE is unorthodox, well-respected and used by many top investors globally.
So where does the affiliate program come into things?
Capitalist Exploits runs an “insider” newsletter. This is an exclusive members-only list of people that receive the latest trade investment advice.
And the commissions are pretty juicy:
You can make up to $1750 per sale on 50% commissions. Glorious!!
Points worth noting:
- 50% commissions on products that range from $1575 to $3499.
- 365-day cookies.
- Impressive dashboard with traffic stats along with marketing and training materials.
Related: Looking to increase your passive income streams through lean business-building and smart investing? Check out this post on passive income ideas.
Health, Fitness and Beauty Affiliate Programs
To be honest, I struggled a little at the start looking for high paying affiliate programs in the health and beauty space. Finding awesome affiliate marketing programs is tough when you’re not familiar with the industry.
The problem is, many of the high-ticket products are sold by industry influencers and don’t necessarily appear in any of the major affiliate networks.
That said, I’m thrilled to report I came across some solid affiliate programs that you can promote.
Organifi is a food supplement company that offers a subscription-based model for its products. They’ve created a whole range of whole-food plant-based supplements, from their flagship “GREEN JUICE” powder to complete protein and probiotic supplements.
This program is a bit of an outlier because it’s a physical product.
Physical products (usually) have terrible commissions — but this happens to be an exception to the rule.
I love that all Organifi products come with a concrete 120-day money-back guarantee (even if you ship them an empty bottle).
This shows confidence in the quality of their goods.
Their Green Juice product alone has sold over $30 million worth of units. They’ve totally sold out over seven times — people love the green stuff!!
The commission structure kinda blew me away a little bit as you can earn recurring commissions from their product subscriptions. This is rare to see for a physical product!
Points worth noting:
- Lifetime commissions paid out on subscriptions.
- Free to join but you need to apply to be accepted.
15. PHEN 375
Another physical product that’s made it onto the list!
I’m not a huge fan of weight loss pill products but this is another exception.
Why? Because PHEN 375 has been going for 10 years and see they’re still going strong in the market.
A few years ago I was (unsuccessfully) promoting products in the supplement space and PHEN 375 was consistently one of the top-selling products in the affiliate network I was part of.
They’ve amassed over 219,827 customers globally.
They create weight loss pills that suppress appetite and help people trim the fat!
Points to consider:
- Generous 60-day money back guarantees for customers.
- The average conversion rate for target keywords is 1 in 4 people!
- A respectable 45% commission rate.
16. Food Blogger Pro
Food Blogger Pro teaches people how to start profitable food blogs from scratch. They offer a roster of training videos for people to learn exactly what takes to create a thriving food blog.
The product runs on a subscription model so you can expect some sweet recurring monthly commissions!
This isn’t exactly what you’d call a high paying affiliate program but continuity products in the food blogging space are rare, hence the inclusion!
Here’s what the commissions’ structure looks like:
Points worth noting:
- Tiered commission structure that pays up to 40%.
- Creative banners and text links to help with promotion.
- Low monthly cost makes it hard to earn high monthly recurring commissions.
Go Forward combines the best doctors with the latest technology to bring you an ultra-personalised care experience.
Their doctors help you create custom plans for your health and well-being based on your unique preferences. All for one flat monthly fee.
Go Forward offers a compelling alternative to traditionally
extortionate expensive healthcare in the United States.
They call it “A new kind of health membership, augmented with technology”.
On the affiliate program side, you’ll need to sign up to the Flex Offers affiliate network to view the full program terms.
Points worth noting:
- They pay $8 for email leads
- $240 payout for each direct sign-up and $80 for tour bookings
Related Content: Is eBay Partner Network an affiliate program worth your time?
Discovering your own affiliate programs
Knowing how to do your own research and find the best affiliate programs yourself is an important part of being an affiliate marketer.
Although I’ve curated some totally awesome programs (if I may say so myself), you may still want to do some digging 😜
An easy way to get started is to simply search using Google.
You’ll want to have a rough idea of the type of product you’d like to promote before you start searching.
Let’s say I’m looking to promote designer clothing on my blog.
Here’s what I’d start off searching:
“designer clothing affiliate program”
Here’s what I found:
All this from a simple Google search!
Use your imagination when searching for affiliate programs, you’ll be surprised what you can find through some basic search queries.
Another way to find them is to sign up to popular affiliate networks, which bring me to my next point…
Using Affiliate Networks
Affiliate networks are middle-men between affiliates (you) and merchants.
On the merchant side, they usually do all the heavy lifting when it comes to tracking, payments and support.
It makes it easier for businesses to set up affiliate programs and allows them to reach more people looking to promote their products.
On the affiliate side, they provide all the information you need for each program in curated lists that can be customised to your preferences.
Affiliate networks can be a great way to find companies that you wouldn’t come across through Google searching.
Some popular affiliate networks include:
CJ Affiliate (formerly Commissions Junction) are one of the top players for both affiliates and publishers alike. A quick browse on their site reveals a laundry list of big brand publisher partners, from Time to Kiplinger and Wirecutter.
What’s more, CJ offers some of the most advanced customer journey tracking on the market with cross-device targeting and GDPR-friendly cookieless tracking.
CJ is the place to be if you’re a brand looking to recruit high-value affiliates to promote your products/services and I highly recommend them.
You can go here to discover more about joining as an advertiser.
Rakuten has been voted the number 1 affiliate network for six consecutive years, they must be doing something right! They’re known for listing top quality affiliate programs and providing analytics for both publishers (affiliates) and merchants.
You’ll find a huge variety of global retail brands from Walmart to Lacoste and Best Buy.
Clickbank is an extremely well-known affiliate network that focuses heavily on information products. When I first started affiliate marketing, this was the very first network I came across!
But you know what?
Popularity doesn’t equal quality — the majority of products on there are total trash.
Sometimes you do find gems but these tend to be few and far between.
Sorry Clickbank, you suck!
Moreniche is an affiliate network heavily focused on the health and nutrition industry.
These guys provide a fantastic range of merchants with ethical products you can promote. MoreNiche pride themselves on being transparent, honest and ethical.
I came across them a few years ago and was impressed with the products and free affiliate training they offered.
If you’re looking to promote products in this space, I highly recommend checking these guys out!
Sovrn (formerly called Viglink) is an affiliate network a little different from the rest in that they automatically monetise existing links you have on your site with relevant affiliate programs.
This takes a huge load of manual labour off your plate if you have a large site with a heap of content.
On the flip side, they do take a big cut of your affiliate earnings — 25% to be exact.
Viglink was founded in March 2009 and acquired by Sovrn in 2018. The network has quickly grown to 250m+ daily active customers and over 60,000 companies, including popular brands like Amazon, Nike, and AliExpress.
Rounding things off
So there you have it! Enough information on affiliate marketing to make your head explode.
Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed, you’ve just had tons of information thrown at you.
This isn’t something that’ll be built overnight.
If I could share one piece of advice, it would be to decide on what you want and stick to that one thing.
The dabbling nature people tend to have is the single biggest reason for lack of results.
Affiliate marketing isn’t easy, and it won’t make you rich overnight. But if you align yourself with the right product, receive the right training and execute on what you’ve learnt, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.
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I’m a London-born lover of technology, obsessed with online business, passive income and the digital economy. I love learning, researching and curating the most valuable resources to save you time, money and help you discover the truth on what it actually takes to achieve your goals.