Joining Affiliate Programs (Beginners Guide Lesson 6)

Once you’ve understood the basic concepts of affiliate marketing and decided how you intend to deliver content to your prospective audience, it is time to start sourcing affiliate programs.

In this section, we’ll look at ways of finding affiliate programs that match your aspirations.

If you have arrived on this page directly without reading any of the previous articles, then this post is one of a series of articles for affiliate marketing beginners. This article covers Lesson 6 of a series of 7.

What is an Affiliate Program?

What is an affiliate program?

An affiliate program (also known as a referral, partner or associate program), is the arrangement between an online merchant and a publisher (the affiliate – i.e. YOU!).

Joining affiliate programs is a great way to monetize your blog, website and social media content.

The affiliate has the role of referring people to the merchant’s website. If the referred person completes an agreed action (i.e. buys something), then the affiliate makes a commission.

Some merchants run their own in-house affiliate program while others are run under the umbrella of an affiliate network.

What is an Affiliate Network?

The Affiliate network acts as an intermediary go-between for the content publishers (affiliates) and online merchants. Examples include ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, ClickBank or AWIN.

If you join an Affiliate Network then you will typically have access to thousands of merchants and products in one place.

Check out the big list directory of Affiliate Networks

What makes a Good Affiliate Program?

Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate Marketing – Affiliate Programs

What makes a good affiliate program is quite subjective and depends a lot on the niche and how you intend promoting the products or services.

Personally, I think the following are good pointers.

  1. A Strong Brand – well known in their market sector.
  2. A Strong Product or Service – one that is used in the mainstream by consumers or business (not one that is primarily promoted by Affiliate Marketers to other Affiliate Marketers – usually a pyramid scheme)
  3. Subscription-based for recurring income
  4. Good Cookie Life
  5. Good Percentage Returns
  6. Something I feel comfortable selling
  7. Something I could happily recommend honestly.
  8. The merchant provides quality promotional and marketing materials.

Where to Find Affiliate Programs

Affiliate Marketing is a huge industry. You’ll likely be surprised how many companies and individuals are using affiliates to promote their products. They aren’t hard to find once you know where to look.

Search Engines

Search engines are an excellent place to start finding affiliate programs. Try typing your niche area of interest, followed by the words “affiliate program” into Google.

e.g. Hiking Boots Affiliate Program.

You’ll likely find a lot of organizations offering relevant affiliate programs in the results.

Alternatively, if you had a specific company in mind, you can use the same search technique.

e.g. Amazon Affiliate Program

Affiliate Networks

Affiliate Networks
Affiliate Networks

Joining affiliate networks is a great place to find a lot of merchants in one place (sorted by category and niche). Most networks provide affiliate dashboards where you kind find useful data on merchants with detailed statistics for each program in the network.

In most networks, you’ll also have access to reporting facilities for monitoring your referral traffic and conversion rates. This provides a central hub for you to manage your programs. You’ll also be paid by the network rather than the individual merchant.

Check out the big list directory of Affiliate Networks

How to Join Affiliate Programs

Once you’ve picked affiliate programs and networks it’s time to apply!

In most cases, registering for an affiliate program is straightforward and typically involves completing a short form where you provide contact details, website and a short paragraph on how you intend to promote the products or services.

Beware of programs that ask you to pay to join. Think about it. Why would a company charge you for promoting their products or services? Invariably, many of these types of programs turn out to be pyramid schemes.

One exception is AWIN, one of the biggest affiliate networks. They charge $5 USD per application but refund it afterwards. Presumably, this acts as one of their security filters.

Some networks like MaxBounty won’t approve your application without a short conversation over the telephone or Skype.

This isn’t an interview, just a short friendly chat about how you intend promoting their offers. MaxBounty pays out some of the biggest commissions in the business, so it’s worth it. Just know your jargon and be able to explain your intended strategy.

Most other networks are based on simple registration.

Two programs/networks I’d suggest joining (regardless of your niche interest) are Amazon and ShareASale.


The Amazon Associates Program offers pretty low commission rates, but they have a huge range of products. Also, if you refer a customer to Amazon and that referral buys other stuff during their visit then you’ll get a commission on the whole shopping cart.

The Program is easy to join and most people are accepted.

For other countries, do a search for Amazon Associates and your own country to see if a program is available. It is possible to join programs for countries other than the one in which you reside.


ShareASale Affiliate Network

ShareASale have over four thousand merchants in a wide variety of categories.

Check the article showing beginners how to join ShareASale if you want a step by step walkthrough of the process.

Final Tips

Don’t try and join too many affiliate programs at once. Sometimes less is more and it will help you focus.

Make sure your website is up and running, with some content. It’s not difficult to get a basic website up. We covered the basics of getting a website live in 25 minutes during Part 5.

Don’t lie on affiliate program applications. If your website is new and you don’t have any sort of social media followings then focus on your hunger and passion to succeed.

If your affiliate program application gets refused (without explanation) then write back and ask why. Rectify the issues that led to the rejection and re-apply.

Ready for the Next Lesson?

In the next instalment of A Beginners Guide to Affiliate Marketing, we’ll take a look at some ways of promoting your affiliate offers.

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