What are the best affiliate marketing platforms and networks to sign for in 2023? If there’s one question I’ve been asked more than any other as of late, that’s got to be it.
Honestly, that doesn’t surprise me.
In my recent guide to the best ways to make money from blogging, I talked about how affiliate marketing is one of the most straightforward and effective monetization strategies it is. Therefore, it’s no wonder, so many of you have been wanting to learn more about how to get in on the act.
Nor does it surprise me that some readers may be struggling to determine which networks and platforms are worth partnering with and which are best to be avoided.
After all, there’s a tonne of options out there, so how do you know which ones you can trust to help you generate the kind of revenue you’re hoping for?
Today, I’m finally going to answer these questions based on my own experience.
Over the years, the five affiliate marketing platforms and networks I’m about to share with you today have helped me grow a successful content website portfolio with several million dollars.
Top 5 Affiliate Marketing Platforms and Networks of 2023
Below, I’ll offer my honest, unbiased opinion of each one, outlining what I like about them, what I don’t, and my take on which platform may be the best for your particular website.
1. Amazon Associates
There probably isn't a single user on the web who hasn't at least heard of Amazon. The eCommerce giant's reputation as a household name gives you a serious advantage when it comes to encouraging your visitors to shop with a brand they know and trust.
Amazon is the undisputed king of eCommerce, so it’s no surprise to learn that Amazon Associates is one of -if not the- largest affiliate platforms in the whole world.
There are many reasons why so many people are drawn to Amazon. This sheer size means Associates is always my number one recommendation for anyone looking to monetize their website through affiliate marketing.
Make no mistake about it; Amazon is enormous. It offers just about every kind of product you can think of, meaning no matter which top blogging niche you decide to opt for, you’re almost guaranteed to find suitable products that will meet the needs of your audience.
Of course, Amazon’s other biggest strength is its brand recognition.
The platform has around 300 million active users, many of whom return time and time again for their variety, affordability, and excellent shipping.
In other words, it’s a brand people trust, so when you’re directing website visitors to products on Amazon, you’re directing them to a website they already know they can rely on, meaning an increased likelihood of sales.
Sure, Amazon doesn’t offer the highest commission rates in town (I’ll tell you which one does later), but given its enormity and reputation, Amazon Associates can prove to be an excellent moneymaker for website owners in just about every niche.
- Flat-rate commission structure depending on the category
- Text and display adoptions
- Associates menu bar to create ads on individual product pages
- Intuitive dashboard and reporting features
- Native advertising.
Pros and Cons of Amazon Associates
How to Get Started With Amazon Associates?
1. Head to https://affiliate-program.amazon.com and click ‘Sign Up
2. Sign in with your existing Amazon account or create a new one.
3. Enter your account information
4. Add in the websites and apps you plan to use to generate affiliate revenue
5. Fill in your profile and create an Associates Store ID
6. Enter your payment and tax information to be able to start using Amazon Associates.
7. Create your first product links and add them to your site.
Amazon requires you to make at least 3 sales in the first 180 days from joining the program in order to remain in it.
If you're blogging in the tech, digital, or software niches, ShareaSale is certainly worth a look. The company partner with a whole host of recognizable brands in those highly-profitable markets, making it easier to provide added value to your visitors through unique offers on products and services they actually care about.
If you don’t like the idea of putting all of your eggs in one proverbial basket like you would with Amazon Associates, ShareaSale might prove to be your best alternative.
This award-winning affiliate network is the largest multi-vendor platform out there. This award-winning affiliate network allows you to sign-up with no less than 16,500+ merchants across a broad cross-section of product niches, all from one dashboard.
That means that you can apply to work with major names like Reebok, Wayfair, and the NFL without going through a laborious sign-up process for each one. Once that’s done, you can manage your commissions from each merchant you apply to in one easy-to-use, intuitive dashboard.
Along with the major names listed above, you’ll also find plenty of digital services like top web-hosting providers, SaaS (Software as a Service) companies, etc., making it an excellent choice for bloggers in the digital and tech niches.
While the minimum payout is a little higher than with Amazon ($50 compared to Amazon’s $10), the sheer wealth of affiliate opportunities available means you should have no problem hitting that target if you’re already driving plenty of traffic to your website.
- A searchable database of partner brands
- Real-time reporting
- Booklets to make creating links easy.
Pros and Cons of ShareaSale
How to Get Started With ShareaSale?
- Head to shareasale.com and choose to Sign Up – Affiliate Signup
- Create an account
- Add your website URL and details about your site
- Enter and confirm your email address
- Add your contact information
- Choose your payment method to complete the signup and start finding affiliate programs.
As lucrative as affiliate marketing can be, signing up to a new network can feel daunting and confusing for newcomers. The former Commission Junction solves that problem by making it as simple as possible to sign-up with vendors and grow your earnings.
Formerly known as Commission Junction, CJ has done a tremendous job at earning itself a reputation as one of the best affiliate marketing networks on the planet, paying out more than $1.8 billion per year in commissions.
The likes of Office Depot, Barnes & Noble, J.Crew, and Priceline are among some of the biggest brands you’ll find among their thousands of merchant offerings, though there are countless other small and medium businesses available across a variety of niches.
I really like this one because CJ doesn’t just present you with affiliate opportunities and then lets you figure out how to make the most of them yourself.
They provide deep insights and strategic recommendations to help you better understand your audience to choose the right partners, maximize click-throughs and grow your revenue.
As with all large-scale affiliate networks, commissions vary from vendor to vendor, but I’ve had some of my most profitable success with CJ merchants.
I also like the fact that, unlike other networks, they offer payouts (with a $50 minimum) in over 150 currencies, so no matter where you are in the world, you’ll be able to work with CJ to achieve your blog monetization goals.
- Full onboarding experience to help you find the most appropriate affiliate opportunities
- A large, searchable database
- Deep Link Generator tool to create tracking links
- Auto-detect and convert existing URLs into tracking links
- In-depth analytics
- Access to APIs to develop custom solutions for promoting your links.
Pros and Cons of CJ
How to Get Started With Commission Junction?
- Visit CJ.com and click Sign-up, then choose ‘Sign Up as a Publisher’
- Create an account and verify your email address
- Create a password
- Add in your payment details
- Add in information about your business and your website
- Use the database to find affiliates to partner with and sign up.
Clickbank boast that they've paid out over $5 billion to affiliates over the course of their 20+ years in business, and with some of their partners paying as much as $150 in commissions, it's easy to believe them. For high-traffic sites, this one could be a major money-maker.
Clickbank is one of the more interesting affiliate marketing networks out there as they do some things incredibly well and other things not so well at all.
The main thing that they always get right is offering some of the highest commission fees of any network out there.
Depending on which affiliate merchants you sign up with, you could be generating as much as 75% of the total cost of the sale in affiliate commissions, a far cry from the 1% – 10% you typically get with platforms like Amazon Associates.
They also have an incredibly large and diverse range of opportunities available. The majority of these opportunities are in digital products, though you will find many physical items to promote.
The problem is that a significant percentage of these products are not of the highest quality.
It seems that Clickbank doesn’t do as good a job as other networks when it comes to vetting their merchants. This could damage your site’s reputation if you’re recommended less-than-stellar products, so it always pays to do your own vetting to weed out the offers worth promoting.
To finish this Clickbank review more positively, I will say that the focus on all things digital is that many of the offers are subscription-based. If you send a paying customer to a membership site, for example, you continue to earn commission fees every month for as long as that customer pays for their membership.
- Choose between revenue sharing (percentage of each sale) or a set dollar amount with CPA advertising.
- Accurate tracking
- In-Depth courses to help you grow your revenue
- Large affiliate marketplace with millions of products
- High-revenue offers
- Dedicated account management.
Pros and Cons of Clickbank
How to Get Started With Clickbank?
- Head to Clickbank.com and click ‘Sign Up
- Complete the onboarding questionnaire
- Complete the Spark training or skip it
- Enter your account details
- Enter information about your business and website
- Start using their searchable database to find appropriate affiliate offers.
5. Rakuten Advertising
Brand recognition matters when it comes to successful affiliate sales. Rakuten Advertising allows you to partner with some of the world's most recognizable brands, helping you to inspire the kind of consumer confidence that leads to successful sales.
Rakuten Advertising doesn’t have the biggest range of affiliate advertisers to partner with, but they do have exclusive opportunities to partner with some of the biggest brands in the world.
The likes of Wells Fargo, Walmart, Macy’s, Papa John’s Pizza, and Virgin Holidays all use Rakuten to promote their advertising opportunities.
As with Amazon, this opportunity to partner with companies with international brand recognition can prove invaluable when directing your customers to specific offers. But, again, you’ll be sending them straight to brands they already know and trust.
Unfortunately, the barrier to entry for many of these programs is a little higher than you’d get with other opportunities on other platforms. This is because they prefer to accept publishers with substantial traffic and/or social media followings. While this may rule out some newcomers, the access to big-name brands and decent commission levels make Rakuten an attractive option for growing and established websites.
- Matchmaking AI to find the most appropriate opportunities
- Custom curation to better promote your ads
- Deep linking tools for converting URLs to affiliate links
- Multiple payment options
- Automatic ad-rotation.
Pros and Cons of Rakuten Advertising
How to Get Started With Rakuten?
- Head to rakutenadvertising.com and click ‘Get Started’
- Select ‘Become a Publisher.’
- Fill in the extensive form with details about your company, your website, and your account information
- Sign the membership agreement
- Start searching and signing up for affiliate opportunities.
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Affiliate Marketing Programs to Work With?
As you’ll no doubt see from the top five reviews above, each of the best affiliate marketing programs has something unique for website owners who are serious about generating revenue.
Still, how do you know which network is best suited to helping you achieve the goals you set out in your blog content strategy?
To answer that question, the following guide outlines the key criteria I considered when picking the above five networks from the countless others available. It also explains how each of these factors may influence your final sign-up decision.
First and foremost, the key thing to look for is the kinds of companies you can sign up with on any given platform and the kind of products or services each of those companies offers.
This is one case where quality and quantity matter in equal measure.
Of course, the more affiliate opportunities you have available to you, the more chances you’ll have of promoting products and generating revenue, but if many of those products are of poor quality, all you’re going to do is annoy your audience and ruin your reputation.
More importantly than all that, the key thing to consider here is relevance.
Does the affiliate marketing network you’re thinking of joining have affiliate opportunities related to your specific niche?
After all, it’s no good to you if you’re running a cooking blog and the majority of affiliate partners available focus on things like web hosting and WordPress themes.
Most of the platforms I’ve included in this guide have a relatively low barrier to entry to sign up with.
I focussed on these as I wanted to offer possible options for those who are relatively new to the world of affiliate marketing, but it’s worth considering that even though it may be easy to sign up with the network itself, you may still need to meet certain eligibility criteria in order to partner with individual brands.
For this reason, I recommend focussing on building up your website and a substantial amount of quality content before you sign-up, as some brands will want to see that you meet key metrics such as content volume and traffic levels.
Commissions vary greatly from brand to brand, and while it may always be tempting to go for those with the highest payouts, that may not always be the best option as you’ll be competing with countless other publishers who all have the same idea.
What’s more, products with higher commissions often -though not always- come with a higher price tag, which may mean you’re going to have to work twice as hard to convince your readers to click through and make a purchase.
Amazon’s relatively low commissions, for example, may not seem like such a great deal, but when you consider that you’re going to have a much easier time selling people on a $10 book than a $100 SaaS subscription, the platform can easily prove to be more profitable to you in the long-run.
Typical payment thresholds on affiliate marketing networks are either $10 or $50. Some pay weekly, whereas others pay monthly on a set date or 30 days after a sale was made.
You’ll also want to keep payment methods in mind too. Typical options include bank transfer and check, with the former proving to be much quicker and more convenient than the latter, though there may be a good reason why you want a check payout.
There are no right or wrong answers here; it’s all about considering what works best for you.
As profitable as affiliate marketing can prove to be, it isn’t always the easiest thing to get your head around if you’re just getting started.
As such, check out what kind of support is on offer and then read independent reviews that mention customer service and support to see how well each platform does.
Even if a network offers high commissions, low payment thresholds, and the perfect partnership opportunities for your website, if the support staff is slow to respond or otherwise not very helpful, that could cause any number of problems down the line.
Frequently Asked Questions About Affiliate Marketing Networks
To further enlighten you regarding the affiliate marketing network, here are some frequently asked questions from the niche that you must know.
Which method is best for affiliate marketing?
To creating engaging, high-quality content, focussing on building trust with your audience, and promoting your blog through effective SEO and social media marketing are all the most effective ways to get traffic to your affiliate site and encourage revenue-generating click-throughs.
What are the risks of affiliate marketing?
Since it generally costs nothing to sign up with most affiliate marketing programs, it’s a relatively risk-free way to monetize your site. However, you do have to be aware that there may be lots of competition from other website holders, and if you fail to make sales, you may be booted out of a particular partnership.
What is the highest-paying affiliate network?
Offering up to 75% or $150 in commission fees, Clickbank is the highest paying affiliate network on the market right now.
The good news is that there’s nothing to stop you from signing up with multiple affiliate networks to truly maximize your revenue potential.
Yet if you want to sign-up with just one platform to test the waters and gain more experience with affiliate marketing, here are my final recommendations.
If you want the highest commission fees going and don’t mind wading through some poor-quality products to find them, Clickbank is the one for you.
If you want access to one of the biggest selections of both digital and physical products to promote, ShareaSale’s huge database of partnership opportunities makes them a very appealing option.
However, if you want access to an almost infinite number of products with the closest thing to a guarantee that you’re going to find something to suit your niche. If you want an easy sign-up process, low payment thresholds, and plenty of tools to help you boost your affiliate revenue, you’ll find all of that with my number one pick, Amazon Associates.