Getting some ideas from affiliate networks may be helpful if you are brand new to affiliate marketing and have not yet decided what to promote. That's how I started. I was so eager to learn everything about the business model and had a few niches in mind but had yet to discover the products that I truly believed in. So I joined as many affiliate networks as I could and tried out random products. It may not have been a wise idea to start affiliate marketing that way since I was about to succumb to shiny object syndrome, in retrospect. But at least I can tell you which networks.
Here are some of the well-known affiliate marketing networks to help you start a new work-from-home business online. Firstly I'll explain how to register with Affiliate Networks, then I'll list up some networks that are popular and I also recommend personally.
What Is An Affiliate Network?
An Affiliate Network performs as an intermediary where merchants and affiliates find one another. Merchants who wish to advertise themselves join the network’s list. You as an affiliate select merchants from the list you wish to promote. When an affiliate sale is made via your link, you'll receive your commission not directly from the merchant but via the affiliate network.
What Are The Signs Of A Good Affiliate Network?
A good, reliable affiliate network can be measured by a variety of factors;
- Types of advertisers (registered retailers/brands) - A network where a number of well-known, trustworthy retailers are registered suggests that the network is also trustworthy.
- How quickly they respond to your queries - The support ticket you send should be dealt with within the same day.
- Payment terms - The length between the moment you make a sale and the date they pay you shouldn't be too long, considering the customer refund guarantee period.
- How they can pay you - They should be able to use PayPal as well as bank wire transfer or credit card. If they are using other payment clearance companies rather than PayPal, that's a bad indication.
How To Join An Affiliate Network
It is pretty straightforward to join. The ones listed below are all absolutely free - they are paying you commissions, and you shouldn't be paying administration fees except some special circumstances.
Strictly speaking, you will "apply to join". Your application will be manually reviewed, approved or disapproved and you'll receive your login detail within 24 hours.
On any affiliate network homepage, there should be two separate login buttons; one for merchants (or "advertisers") and the other one for affiliates (or "publishers"). So you need to create an affiliate account or a publisher account.
Once you've hit the "create an affiliate/publisher account" button, it will ask you to fill in your detail. Name, full postal address, cellphone number (they may send you an activation code), your website address(es), and email address. You can register multiple web addresses in one account.
More importantly (!) it will ask you how you'd like to receive your commission payment. It may ask you upon registration or after your account's been activated. They can either pay into your Paypal account, by check or by direct deposit (=bank wire transfer). The Paypal option is very popular and easy to set up (just insert your registered Paypal email address), and no administration charge is involved. Whereas bank transfers can sometimes be chargeable, e.g. they can deduct a hefty $25-30 from the payment, depending on the country you live.
You'll also be required to fill in the description of your website(s). They may also ask you how many visitors per month you receive. Just be honest if you've newly started your website marketing - less than 500 per month, and they'll still approve your application, hopefully.
Now, it really is easy & straightforward but... You also need to let them know of your tax status. Just like any other income, your affiliate commissions are subject to income tax according to your resident status of the country you live. There will be an easy instruction and electronic tax declaration form to fill in so that they can pay you without deducting tax on your behalf.
Once you've completed your application, you'll receive a notification email of approval within 24 hours, so you can log in and start searching for merchants that you want to promote.
Will They Disapprove My Application?
They will of course if you don't the application seriously! You have to have your website to start with. Your name & address must be real. Make sure all the information you're giving is correct. Your English must be good enough too - don't be abrupt. In your website description field, explain what your website is about briefly but appropriately.
Affiliate Networks List
I've already reviewed FlexOffers in my previous post, it has over 6,000 advertisers (=merchants) to choose from, friendly support with very quick response. Quicker payment terms than other affiliate networks, offering 30 days after the end of each month.
Awin is one of the biggest affiliate networks where 21,200+ quality advertisers to choose from. Most of them allow deep linking (meaning they allow you to link to a specific page within the advertiser's website). Easy to navigate, fast-loading speeds and great communications from the support.
ShareASale is now part of Awin. It has always been may most favourite affiliate network for offering a variety of brands and also I find it easy to navigate. It's been very popular with a friendly interface too. There's no Paypal option but can be paid into your bank account with no charge. The "Make A Page" option is great, where you can put several products in the tool page and transfer the layout to your own website by copying & pasting the HTML code.
4: Rakuten Linkshare
Rakuten Linkshare certainly is popular, some say one of the best, so it is worth registering as an affiliate. Although I personally have had a bad experience in the past; Rakuten hosts many merchants but it also has its own marketplace similar to Amazon. I was promoting other merchants' products but not so many of Rakuten's own. For that reason one day it decided to cancel my affiliate membership abruptly. Lesson's been learned!
5: CJ Affiliate (Commission Junction)
CJ.com is well-known, but I can't say it's my favourite because in the past, if you didn't earn any commissions for 6 months, it would deduct $10 from your affiliate account every month from the 7th month until your account balance became zero. I was an occasional affiliate with CJ, wasn't aware of this rule, left my CJ account unattended for a while and got all my affiliate commissions taken away as a penalty. I know it's my fault for neglecting it, but they should have had a courtesy to email me to let me know of the charges!
Some other drawbacks of CJ that you may want to note is that, I often experienced a slow loading speed as I navigated my dashboard, and also it took a few days to receive a response from the support desk.
Having said that, CJ has quite a few good merchants to promote.
Tips For Merchant Searching
#1 Filter By Category
Once you've got your account approved, now you're able to search for the merchants ("advertisers") you want to have an affiliate program. You can simply type in the business name, e.g. "Microsoft" or "Macy's", but you can also filter by a category, e.g. software, fashion, lighting etc. This allows you to narrow down the list and find what you're looking for easier.
Some merchants in the list have an "auto-approval" system - as soon as you click to join the merchant, you are able to start affiliating right away. However, this is not always the case. Now you need to apply against each merchant, and wait for the merchant to approve your application - this may take a while. Some merchants' approval term can be more than 60 days!
So it may be wise to apply to join several merchants in the same industry/category in the beginning. When you click the "join the program" button, the merchant's terms & conditions window should come up, which you need to read and check to agree.
#3 But Don't Join Too Many!
While your website's only started and doesn't have traffic, it's not a good idea to randomly join too many merchants in one affiliate network - not only it may look suspicious, but it indicates that you're unlikely to manage all the affiliate programs in the future. To avoid your account being cancelled, you should carefully choose the merchant you want to promote.
I hope the list above is useful - any questions don't hesitate to leave a comment.