As you might have already discovered, finding the best online affiliate marketing programs can be a difficult task, especially when you’re new to the industry. I will never claim to “know it all” but I’ve been at this affiliate marketing game for awhile now, so hopefully I can provide some tips, tricks, and things I’ve learned over the years on how to find good online affiliate marketing programs.

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Choose Your Niche First

Before you even begin your search for the best online affiliate marketing programs, you should choose a niche. Many newcomers to affiliate marketing like to just find a high paying affiliate marketing program first, and that’s how they determine their niche. In my experience, this is not the way to go.

As I always say, affiliate marketing is a business. A real, legitimate business. If you don’t treat it as such, you will likely never see success and you almost certainly won’t see long-term success.

Like any other business, you will spend a significant amount of time growing, nurturing and managing your business. That’s why it is so crucial to choose a niche you’re interested in and ideally already have knowledge in. Everyone knows something about something, so don’t just blindly follow the money. That’s almost a sure way to fail. Instead, choose a niche by following your interests. Once you have your niche selected, you can then find the best online affiliate marketing programs in your specific industry.

But Mike, how do I choose a niche in the first place?

I’m not going to lie, choosing a niche can be a very difficult process, and it is one of the most important steps in setting up your business. Get your niche wrong and it doesn’t matter what affiliate marketing program you sign up for, you’ll fail anyway.

As an affiliate marketer, selecting your niche is essentially you doing “industry research”. For example, if you were to set up a restaurant, you would want to analyze the competition in the area, who your customer base will be, and get a good overall understanding of the supply and demand for a new restaurant in a certain area. If there is too much supply and not enough demand, that restaurant will be doomed to fail.

The same is true with choosing a niche. You need to know exactly what people are searching for within your niche, how many websites already exist to fill that need, and whether you can truly thrive. The only way to know the supply and demand is to use certain research tools. You may have heard the term “keyword research” and that’s essentially what I’m talking about here.

There’s no way around it – keyword research is crucial and there are no free keyword research tools I can recommend. While many good paid options exist such as Wordtracker and SpyFu, the keyword research tool I personally use is called Brainstorm It! which you can read more about here.

Keep Affiliate Marketing Ethical!

Ok, let’s face it, affiliate marketers are not known to be the most ethical group of people. A click glance at the products and services listed on Clickbank.com will prove this. How many of the products and services on Clickbank would you recommend to your own friends or family members?

This isn’t really a requirement to finding the best online affiliate marketing programs as it is more of a plea from me. Please don’t promote “anything” just because it pays well or you think you can make money with it. The best way to keep things ethical is for you to truly believe in the product or service you are promoting.

Know The Difference Between An Affiliate Program And Multi-Level Marketing

I don’t make too many friends when I say this, but I am NOT a fan of Multi-Level Marketing (MLM). Please be aware that MLM and Affiliate Marketing are two very different forms of marketing and share very few similarities. I recommend everyone stays very far away from MLM. If you want more info on why I’m so anti-MLM, you can read some of my articles on that below:

I also made a video about why I think MLM is 99% of the time a total scam which you can watch below…

With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best online affiliate marketing programs that I believe are available today.

The Amazon Associates Affiliate Program

I almost hesitated to list this one since everyone knows it exists already, but since I am a part of the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program I figured I couldn’t just leave it off. Besides, I have a few tips I can probably share. You can also read more about how to be successful with the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program here.

In short, everyone already knows who Amazon is, it’s totally legitimate, and Amazon knows how to convert visitors into sales VERY well. All you need to do is get people through the virtual “door” and let Amazon do the rest.

As an example, my site DogFoodInsider.com utilizes the Amazon Associates affiliate program. That site reviews brands of dog food and has links to Amazon. If someone clicks on my link and makes a purchase, I get a commission!

The downside to the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program is the relatively low payouts. Amazon pays anywhere from 6% to 9% commissions depending on how much volume you sell. That means it takes a pretty good amount of sales to really earn a decent income by promoting Amazon products.

A little tip – promote products and services that are more than $100. Going after $10 products and netting a 60 cent commissions will not work out. Unless you find the exception to the rule, you’ll never have enough volume to earn a good living from that. But earning $30 from a $500 product? Well you only need to sell a few of those bad boys per day and you’re in business (literally!).

The Amazon Associates program is not a fast and easy thing to succeed with. It takes time.

Just About Any Web Hosting Service

Web hosting affiliate programs are insane. Check out the “income reports” that many affiliate marketers have publically listed on their blogs. For example, one of the most well known affiliate marketers that keeps a public income report is Pat Flynn from SmartPassiveIncome.com. Check out his income report and see how much he makes from BlueHost web hosting. It is the VAST majority of his income. Same thing with Abby Lawson. The majority of her income is also through promoting BlueHost web hosting.

Web hosting can be insanely profitable because it is a legit service, pays well, has great profit margins, and often has recurring commissions where you get paid month after month as long as your referral maintains an account. It is a competitive niche, but one worth pursuing if you have advanced knowledge in this area or know of a way to send a large amount of referrals.

Most DIGITAL Products (vs. Physical Products)

We’ve already talked about Amazon and how it can be difficult to earn a lot with their 6% commissions. But what about selling products and services that pay 25%, 40%, and even 75% commissions? To get those types of commissions, you need to focus on digital products. Training courses, software downloads, and online membership programs are massively profitable.

For example, the Udemy.com affiliate program can pay 50% or more. Aweber, a popular email marketing service, will pay 30% recurring monthly commissions. A service called eVerify will pay you 65% lifetime recurring commissions for your referrals. Wealthy Affiliate, a popular online training program for affiliate marketers, will pay 40% lifetime recurring monthly commissions for your referrals. Doggy Dan, a popular online dog trainer, will pay 70% recurring monthly commissions when your referrals join his site membership. Avast, a well-known computer anti-virus software company, will pay you 25% commissions on any products you sell.

….See where I’m going with this? No matter your niche, try to find something DIGITAL to promote. The payout is much, much, much better.

The Best Online Affiliate Marketing Program Is Unique To YOU!

Most other sites that come up when you search for “the best online affiliate marketing programs” will list all the big players like ClickBank, Amazon, Commission Junction, etc. It very well could be true that the best online affiliate marketing program exist within’ one of those affiliate networks, but there isn’t any single product or service that you should be or should not be promoting.

Remember, choose your niche first, start growing your site, understand your audience, and then you will be in a much better position to choose an affiliate program that works for your specific website and audience.

So while I realize I didn’t give a direct answer, I do hope some of the above tips and tricks were helpful in your journey to succeeding with an affiliate marketing business.