Affiliate marketing is getting more popular year after year, and it’s easy to see why.
As opposed to selling your own products, you don’t have to deal with the burden of setting up a sales page, payment gateways, customer support or refunds.
You just get an affiliate link, promote someone else’s stuff, and BAM – you get money in your bank account.
But where do you even begin?
Where do you find these affiliate offers in the first place?
So Many (Too Many?) Choices
Today, there are countless affiliate networks to choose from, but not all of them are worth considering.
Poor product selection, bad analytics, inconsistent payouts and confusing affiliate dashboards — these are all things you want to avoid.
To help you get started, we’ve listed our top picks for affiliate marketing networks you should consider in 2018.
Please keep in mind, however, that we’re not suggesting that you sign up with every single one that’s listed here.
Instead, we recommend that you choose 1-3 of these to focus on, at least to start off.
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the huge selection of affiliate offers on display, especially if you’re a newbie. Honing in on a few select platforms will make for steadier and faster progress.
With that being said, here are the top affiliate networks to consider in 2018.
The tried and true. One of the most popular affiliate networks of today, Clickbank was founded way back in 1998.
They have some of the highest potential commissions in the game at 75%.
Their product catalog consists mostly of digital information products, though they have recently been expanding more into physical goods as well.
When it comes to tracking your clicks and purchases, Clickbank offers some of the best reporting in the business.
Just click the reporting tab in your dashboard, and you’ll instantly see a nice overview of how your campaigns are doing.
They offer payment through check, direct deposit, wire transfer and Payoneer.
One of the most attractive benefits of Clickbank is that they pay you every week (or every 2 weeks, if you wish) even if you’re just starting out.
This sets them apart from most other affiliate networks that give delayed commissions for newcomers (typically a 30-day waiting time).
It’s important to note that there’s a lot of competition on the top Clickbank offers, since the site is so popular among marketers.
Keep this in mind when browsing for offers — there may be a bunch of other affiliates eying the same thing.
All in all, though, Clickbank is one of the best choices when it comes to high-quality affiliate opportunities. It’s a mainstay among veterans and newcomers alike, and for good reasons.
Another popular option, the Amazon Associates affiliate program undoubtedly has the widest selection of products available (over 1 million + and counting).
Since it connects to the Amazon online store, there’s mostly physical products available for promotion.
Because of this, certain niches that deal with such items are good picks here — electronics and fashion, for example.
Compared to most Clickbank products, it’s really easy to get commissions from Amazon Associates.
There’s a big drawback, though: The commissions tend to be much, much lower.
Although they say you can get up to 10% of sales, your percentages will vary greatly depending on your niche (see image below).
Volume & Value
Because of the low commissions, you need at least one of two things in order to make a decent income from Amazon Associates alone:
Lots of traffic — a big email list, a huge ad campaign or one or more successful websites.
High-ticket products — items that’ll give you a nice commission, even if the percentage is low. Examples include digital cameras and bicycles.
Even if you’re not able to nail either of these points at the moment, Amazon Associates can at least give you a nice bit of additional income.
Besides, you might get lucky now and again.
Even if a person doesn’t buy the specific product you link to, you’ll still get a commission if that same person buys another item within 24 hours.
In other words, you could refer someone to a $10.99 book, and actually end up with a commission on a $750 digital camera instead!
Another point to mention is that, since Amazon is a known and trusted brand, sales also tend to come easier than with other platforms.
As a beginner, this can give a much-needed morale boost, as you’ll earn your first few dollars very quickly.
All in all, Amazon Associates is a solid pick to include in your affiliate marketing plan.
JVZoo is an affiliate network that is similar to Clickbank, but with a few important distinctions.
First off, the vast majority of products are related to online business in various forms. Because of this, it’s only suitable for a certain number of niches.
Secondly, there is a HUGE number of different affiliate offers to choose from. This is because, compared to Clickbank, JVZoo is much more lenient in the products they accept on their platform.
This is not necessarily a good thing.
Yes, having choice is great. However, it also means you’ll have to browse through a lot of craptastic stuff to find anything worthwhile to promote.
However, if you manage to do that, and you’re in an online business niche such as ecommerce, for example, then JVZoo is still a great choice.
3.. 2.. 1.. LAUNCH
A big benefit of JVZoo is the frequent product launches that are available. If you plan accordingly (by browsing Muncheye, for instance) you can make some serious commissions from a big launch.
Keep in mind, though, that launches are more of a one-time thing. They typically result in a lot of cash in a short period of time, but then commissions quickly drop off in the following weeks or months.
This means they are usually a better fit for email promotions or product reviews, as opposed to other, more lengthy affiliate campaigns.
Another nice feature of JVZoo is the potential to get instant affiliate commissions (this doesn’t make you immune to refunds, though!).
However, you’ll typically need about 50 or so sales on your JVZoo account to be accepted for instant payouts, depending on the merchant you’re working with.
If you’re not accepted for instant payouts, you’ll have to contend with delayed commissions for the time being (usually the same as the refund period of the product you’re promoting).
Overall, though, JVZoo is another top-tier affiliate network to consider, especially if you’re in an online business niche and can work with product launches.
4. CJ Affiliate
CJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly known simply as Comission Junction) is another veteran player that’s been around since 1998.
One major point that makes CJ Affiliate stand out from other popular networks is the nature of their offers and how they are accessed.
On Clickbank and JVZoo, it’s easy to sign up and start promoting right away. As mentioned, however, they mostly offer information products from various online merchants.
Compare this to CJ Affiliate. There, you’ll have to go through an approval phase for every product or service you want to promote. Some of the approval times can be somewhat lengthy (if you’re granted access at all, that is).
That being said, they have all kinds of different offers available, even from huge, popular brands like Walt Disney World and Walgreens.
Another interesting feature of CJ affiliate is that advertisers can actually reach out to YOU and ask you to promote their stuff.
That is, of course, if you have an attractive profile and a great track record you can show off.
With it’s wide array of offers and advertisers, CJ affiliate is definitely another viable option to consider, especially if you’re in a niche that’s not well represented on the sites listed above.
Keep in mind, however, that the different advertisers and offers may come with very different requirements and payment terms.
In other words: Make sure to read the fine print!
Shareasale was founded in the year 2000, and was among the first dedicated online affiliate programs to launch.
In the mid 2000’s, Shareasale was a bit in the background compared to the likes of Clickbank and CJ Affiliate.
Since then, though, they have implemented major improvements that have secured their place among the top dogs.
With Shareasale, you do have to go through an initial approval phase to get your account activated. But don’t let that scare you off; you’ll most likely get accepted within the next 1-2 days.
After your account is ready to go, you can browse a broad selection of both physical and digital products you can promote.
They offer a variety of payment options: direct deposit, check by mail, Payoneer or wire transfer (with a $29 cost).
Commission payment is sent on the 20th every month. This makes the deposits nice and predictable — you won’t have to worry about checking your bank account for cycling or delayed commissions.
Steeper Learning Curve
If you’re a newbie, Shareasale’s interface may be a bit confusing at first — not as user-friendly as the other options, in our opinion.
That being said, their support is usually quick to respond to your questions. So, don’t hesitate to send them a message if you’re feeling a bit lost.
Shareasale is definitely another option worth considering, especially since it covers affiliate programs for merchants that are not available on other platforms (such as hosting companies and big online stores).
That’s All, Folks!
And that concludes our listing of the top 5 affiliate networks for 2018.
Of course, there are plenty of others you could consider as well. However, we don’t want to overwhelm you with unnecessary extra options.
These are the best of the best, and together they offer a huge selection of offers in many different niches.
In other words, you should be all set and ready to roll.
Now, get going — it’s time to start raking in some juicy commissions!