Affiliate Marketing & Programs

Top 5 affiliate networks


Top 5 affiliate networks – affiliateprograms.comMany people who are just starting off in affiliate marketing have a tough time finding the right programs to promote on their website.

And then when they do find a few great programs to promote, they find that setting up and managing a variety of relationships with a variety of merchants can become a logistical challenge.

There’s an easier way to get your affiliate business started, and that’s by working with affiliate networks. In fact, when new affiliates ask me how they can learn about and participate in a variety of affiliate programs, I tell them to start off by joining an affiliate network.

Affiliate networks act as middlemen between website owners (affiliates) and retailers (merchants). For affiliates, they’re an easy way to get exposure to a variety of affiliate programs in a short time. In fact, once you join a network, you’ll find that you’re able to join dozens of programs in a very short time.

For today’s post, I’m going to tell you about the top 5 affiliate networks and why you should check out each network.

Commission Junction

Commission Junction, which is informally known as “CJ”, is North America’s largest affiliate network.  It’s a great place to connect with major retailers and merchants such as, Go Daddy, The Wall Street Journal, Petco and Zappos. In addition, certain niches such as web hosting and telecommunications have merchants that offer very competitive commissions.

Simply because it’s the biggest network, you’re going to want to check it out. However, don’t rely on CJ’s category listings of merchants alone when looking for a program. As you get more familiar with CJ and find that because some merchants may be miscategorized, you’ll have to resort to hunting and pecking through the lists of merchants to find the right program for you.


Operating since 2000, ShareASale offers affiliates a choice of more than 2,600 merchants, with an emphasis on small and mid-size merchants. You’ll recognize brand names such as Keen Footwear, Snorg Tees, Jones Soda and Café Press. When you compare them by the total number of merchants, ShareASale ranks among the largest U.S. affiliate networks. ShareASale offers terrific programs for sites that focus on web development, online marketing, niche fashion and sports products.


The Amazon Associates program isn’t a network by traditional standards, but given the size of Amazon’s website and its wide product selection, it’s worth including in this list. Amazon carries a wide selection of everything from books to DVDs to barbecue grills to diapers. Regardless of your niche, you will find something to promote from Amazon. And don’t be scared off by Amazon’s low commission rates (4-8%). You’ll make up for it in volume.


ClickBank is a major presence in affiliate marketing with more than 100,000 active affiliates and more than 50,000 digital products. When you’re starting off, ClickBank is a great place to start — many new affiliates sell their first products through the ClickBank network. The single thing you’ll like most about ClickBank is how easy they make it to become an affiliate. Anyone can sign up, complete the required legal information, and sell ClickBank’s digital products.


LinkShare is a great way for a small affiliate marketer to hook up with Fortune 500 brands such as J.C. Penney, American Express, Disney and Avon. LinkShare also offers programs with Internet big-box retailer, Sierra Trading Post and … and hundreds of others. You’ll need to be approved separately for each program you apply to, so it’s best to sign up for LinkShare after your site is built and loaded with content.

Next steps

Joining affiliate networks is relatively easy. If you’re a U.S.-based business, you’ll need to have your taxpayer ID and W-9 form handy. If you’re overseas, you’ll need to have the tax ID information for your country.

Before you start joining networks, make sure your site is up and running, and that you’ve got it loaded with good content. Some merchants will manually review your site before they add you to their program, and that will help you pass their initial round of quality control.

Additional Resources

Amazon’s Affiliate program: Can you actually make money promoting Amazon?
Linkshare and ClickBank Affiliate Network Reviews
Commission Junction Review
ShareASale and Google Affiliate Network Reviews

Do you have experience working with any of these affiliate networks? Please leave your feedback in the comments below.

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9 Responses to Top 5 affiliate networks

  1. SDBeachguy July 15, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Jeff, I have used both CJ and Clickbank for affiliate projects. I found more success in network marketing with health and wellness products. I have found that recruiting for business builders and product users is somewhat more difficult as building traffic takes longer but I need many fewer people to sign up as the leader bonuses are more generous and the product users stay with them longer, so there is less churn in that portion of my business!

  2. Jeff Greer July 20, 2011 at 4:57 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I know a lot of people who switch between affiliate and network marketing. Glad to hear you’re having success. Are your health and wellness products in a niche where you could sell both on your site?

    • SDBeachguy July 20, 2011 at 10:18 pm

      Jeff, yes, I could, but my strategy is to have separate sites for recruiting business builders and each of the products. This allows me to create keyword matched URL’s for each site and complementary campaigns for each purpose.

      This is identical to an affiliate network of individual products but with the added benefit of linking the product sites to the recruiting site for a traffic bounce from the incoming links.

  3. kikidee August 8, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Be very careful with KEEN on CJ. I’ve had problems recently with KEEN through CJ. They owed me $1,200 in commissions and were trying to say the emails that were used were suspicious. I contacted CJ and they say that it doesn’t appear that I did any thing fraudulent, yet I have to appeal to the publisher and CJ will do nothing to back me up. I have busted my butt to promote these people and now I get shafted because they aren’t finding the promotions to be a profitable as they hoped. KEEN said that not enough of the people who signed up through my links came back and spent more money. How is that my fault? Maybe their psychics suck and the people were unhappy?? The bottom line is that I’ve been cheated out of $1,200 and CJ doesn’t seem to care at all.

    • Jeff Greer August 8, 2011 at 7:39 pm

      Thanks for the warning. Please let us know when this is resolved.

  4. kikidee August 9, 2011 at 2:51 am

    I will. I talked to CJ this morning and they have been much more responsive and appear to be taking this seriously. I will certainly give them credit if they go to bat for me.

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