The best affiliate programs are the ones providing ample offer selection and great payouts.
There are thousands of affiliate programs across hundreds of categories. It’s overwhelming to those new to affiliate marketing asking, “where do I begin?”.
We believe in the K.I.S.S. strategy: Keep. It. Simple. Stupid.
… and no, that’s not to insult your intelligence.
The K.I.S.S. strategy is there to dial back on your efforts. It’s a thought exercise meant to strip the unnecessary elements and keep it simple. This goes a long way when selecting the best affiliate programs for beginners because what’s the point of joining one if they’re difficult?
Our mission of AffiliatePrograms.com is to get you into affiliate marketing.
This means covering the fundamentals and then a gradual shift to advanced tactics.
You’ve got to start somewhere – which is why we’ve chosen the following affiliate programs we deem perfect for newcomers and absolute beginners. These programs have the qualities that’ll make entry into affiliate marketing as easy as possible.
Amazon Associates | Walmart | eBay Partner Network | Jet | AliExpress
The Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners
What places a selection on our best affiliate programs list? We’ve got thousands in our directory – so what makes them special enough for beginners?
It’s a combination of factors:
- A wide array of products to offer
- Good payment models and types
- Legacy and reputation within the industry
- Brand awareness and market penetration
We could have easily listed whatever we thought would pay the highest. But, what good is that if you’re starting off completely dominated by the competition – while going after a super difficult niche?
These physical product affiliate programs are a fantastic starting point because it’s promoting offers people understand. It has product offers they’ve seen in stores. They can hold it. This overcomes the monumental challenge of product understanding.
We want you starting strong, with a lot to choose from, so you can pick up the basics of affiliate marketing while making money in the meantime. These are just as much about making affiliate money as they are learning how to build sites, promote offers, and drive traffic – it’s a learning sandbox!
Special note: You’re probably wondering why Clickbank, ShareASale, and others aren’t on this list. We’ve kept them on their own – our selection of the best affiliate networks.
Here’s our selection of the best affiliate programs for absolute beginners:
Amazon is the world’s most popular shopping site so already you have brand visibility and an incredible selection of products. Their 2-day shipping, with Prime, makes buying a real ease and benefits you, affiliate, because it satisfies the buyer’s urgency.
Why Promote Amazon?
The massive inventory is enough of a selling point.
The affiliate program, Amazon Associates, is one of the easiest to sign up. Once you’re in, you can select from any product listed on the site. They’ve made it dead-simple.
What we think you’ll enjoy most, with the Amazon Associates affiliate program, is how you’re rewarded for anything bought within 24 hours (or 90 days if you’re sending it right to their shopping cart). This means you could have promoted a cheap item but end up earning big commissions if they decide to do all their shopping in one go!
Amazon also benefits from being one of the go-to places when shopping online.
People are familiar with the site – it has tons of trust. Their customer service is stellar, and pricing is unbeatable. Think of how many times you’ve bought off Amazon in the last year and you get the idea.
Amazon is also easy to include in your content whether it’s adding a product review or casually mentioning a related product you find helpful to your audience. If you can get them to click your Amazon Associates affiliate link, then you’re very likely to make a sale.
The Pros and Cons of the Amazon Associates Program
Amazon’s placement on our best affiliate programs for beginners list is justified because of its easy-to-use platform. Yet, it does have a few faults you’ll want to consider before going all-out with it.
- Massive selection of products
- A brand everyone knows
- Fast shipping (that’s sure to entice orders)
- Commission payments are low
- Short 24-hour cookie
- Lacking payment options
If you’re looking for the easiest way to get into affiliate marketing, then look no further than joining Amazon Associates. This is the program if you want to promote physical products on your site. Then, you have tons of options to expand whether that’s ebooks and videos to web services and more.
Walmart may have missed the mark with dominating online shopping (Amazon grabbed that up). But, they’re still one of the largest retailers and their site/offers are quite wonderful. You’ll find everything on the Walmart site especially since they allow third-parties.
Why Promote Walmart?
Walmart has been around since the 1960’s so they’ve got a legacy. They’re a powerhouse when you think retail because they’re everywhere. Already, this should give you a good position because of brand awareness. Then, there’s also the great prices and their free two-day shipping and in-store pickup.
What we like about Walmart are its affiliate commissions.
The Walmart affiliate program has higher payouts for similar categories compared to Amazon. It doesn’t seem like much but when you’re selling in volume… it adds up. You’ll curse yourself for promoting through Amazon with certain categories when you compare the two.
Walmart’s program is simple to join and even easier to implement across your site. Just copy your affiliate link for a product, category, or entire store, and you’re in business.
The Pros and Cons of the Walmart Affiliate Program
Where in some spots it shines… it’s lame in others.
- Huge name in the retail space
- In-store delivery options (very enticing)
- Price matching
- A bit of a sullied reputation
- Website is clunky (when browsing third-party listings)
- Ads on the site detract users from buying
We love the idea of sending someone through your affiliate link to buy on Walmart and pick up in person. The program has a wonderful commission structure. Overall, it’s a good compliment to the other product-based affiliate program you’ll have going.
eBay Partner Program
eBay, the golden child of the Internet, when all we wanted to do was sell our random crap online. eBay helped pioneer the way for online shopping, but the brand and site has waned in recent years. Despite that, people still love shopping on eBay and they’ve done a great job bringing in affiliates.
Why Promote eBay?
The eBay Partner Program gives you access to nearly a billion auctions going at any given time. Their user base is all-around the World giving you great, brand recognition where Amazon and Walmart have yet to penetrate. You’ll earn a commission no matter which global site they’re buying through.
The commission structure is a little different (but attractive). You earn on the fees eBay gets for each auction. Small items won’t get much unless you’re doing volume but it all changes if you’re promoting big-ticket items. eBay owns Paypal so that’s how you’ll get paid (a bonus for many).
The Pros and Cons of the eBay Partner Network
eBay has a lot going for it because it satisfies that urge to buy something unique. It gives you something different than your normal run-of-the-mill products. That could be grandma’s old antiques to collectible action figures – eBay has it all. Though, there are a few problems worth mentioning.
- A huge selection of items found nowhere else
- Generous commissions (depending on the sale)
- Low payment threshold
- 24-hour affiliate cookie
- User experience is at the will of the sellers
- Prices tend to be higher than other stores
ePN (eBay Partner Network) fulfills that odd-ball gap in your affiliate marketing. It has its challenges since people rather outright buy their stuff vs waiting for an auction. But, that creates a neat opportunity for unique market segments that chase hot deals.
Jet was already doing an amazing job offering bulk items (like Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s) and then it was bought by Walmart (makes sense). Jet likes to call their affiliates – Jet Ambassadors – because those affiliated with the brand, and buy through the site, are incredibly passionate.
Why Promote Jet.com?
Jet.com shines because it offers bulk pricing without membership fees. You’ve got all the major categories from household supplies to furniture. The site offers fresh groceries, too.
What we liked about Jet.com are their great service and easy-to-use website.
Customers will find all major brands and a whole bunch of exclusives. They use a sneaky, effective progress bar to show how close people are to getting free shipping. This incentivizes people ordering larger quantities or more products – meaning higher affiliate payouts for you!
They offer 2-day shipping and prices keep coming down as people buy. They’ve got gamification going on + great discounts on hot products. Anyone that’s used Jet gets hooked.
The Jet affiliate program has a 7-day cookie, so you won’t miss out on those affiliate sales. Plus, they have incentives that pay bonus commissions with certain sales and actions (like getting people to buy groceries).
The Pros and Cons of the Jet Affiliate Program
Jet is still growing and has the challenge of taking on the established bulk retailers. If these membership clubs were to implement similar features (no membership fees) then Jet could easily die out. Though, Walmart’s backing has their future looking bright especially with the great things they’re doing behind-the-scenes. But, like the others, we’ve got some qualms.
- Great bulk pricing (without membership fees)
- High conversion rates (27% uptick in app latest report)
- Bonus incentives + 7-day cookie
- Still relatively unknown to the mainstream
- Competition could quickly put it out of business
- You’re stuck promoting a lot of bulk orders
The fact that Jet has the membership club prices without the fees is an automatic win for us. It’s a growing brand with excellent customer service. Their tech team has nailed the user experience meaning you shouldn’t have trouble making those commissions once people start using the platform.
AliExpress is the consumer extension of Alibaba (the World’s largest platform for sourcing from China). It has an easy-to-use experience when shopping for smaller quantities of products offered by manufacturers and companies on Alibaba.
Why promote AliExpress?
AliExpress may not have brand names you’d find on other online shopping portals, but it does have an incredible selection of inexpensive items that would fit any niche.
Here are a couple examples:
We think AliExpress would fit (perfectly) for those affiliates promoting a cross-selection of items aimed at a lower income or hobbyist target audience. These deals are for the “freebie hunter” types. Or, those that don’t care if the product has a brand name – just that it works for its intended purpose.
The selection is also great for the odd-ball promotions.
There are thousands of products based on big-ticket items with interesting tweaks like those thin profile men’s wallets but with an added zipper pouch for change. Or, a GPS with an included radar detector.
The Pros and Cons of AliExpress
The site is like a theme park when you’re first discovering it – you’ll want to browse it for hours finding all kinds of deals. This adds to its stickiness and, ultimately, your chance of earning affiliate sales. We think it’s one of the best affiliate programs for beginners because of this.
Here’s how AliExpress breaks down:
- Cheaper items
- Thousands of comparable products
- Generous affiliate structure
- Off-brand names
- Long shipping times
- Lackluster customer service
The AliExpress affiliate program is all-around wonderful because of its cheap selection of products. The longer shipping will detract a lot from ordering. Though, it all depends on your target audience. If you have a following that loves good deals and aren’t brand loyal then AliExpress is a great fit for beginners.
The Best Affiliate Programs are the Ones You’ll Actually Use
Obviously, this post wasn’t intended to cover everything – you’d scroll for ages!
We wanted to give you a selection of the best affiliate programs providing a wide selection of offers. You’re more than welcome to explore other affiliate programs either on our site!
The trouble with affiliate marketing is its benefit: choice.
You have an unlimited selection of product offers. There are thousands of money-making niches. They are all viable options when starting.
You’ll get overwhelmed.
You’re a beginner — there are lots to do whether it’s improving the affiliate website or rolling out email marketing campaigns. You’ve got advertising, content marketing, blogger outreach, and so much more ahead of you! Piling on dozens of specific affiliate programs would only hold you back.
We say pick one from our best affiliate programs list and give it a run.
- Learn the platform
- Add relatable products to your website
- See how the competition is using it
Doing so will give you a solid understanding of the affiliate marketing basics. You’ll learn more from playing around with one of these affiliate programs than spending hundreds of hours slogging your way through blog posts and courses.
Other than that… best of luck!
Let us know which beginner affiliate program you selected from and how you plan to put it into action with your affiliate business!