So, you’ve already jumpstarted your affiliate marketing career.
You’ve got your domain name. You’ve purchased hosting. You’ve selected your niche.
The next question you’ll ask: how to find affiliate programs?
I know, it sounds obvious.
All you need to do is search for companies offering affiliate programs in your niche.
Not so fast.
Because the truth is, not all affiliate programs are created equal.
Some are awesome, and could be the reason you get to quit your job and move to paradise…
…and others are a complete waste of time.
That’s exactly why I’ve put together this guide.
In it, I’ll show you:
- 5 things to look for when selecting an affiliate program
- How to find the best affiliate programs in your niche
- 5 examples of the best affiliate programs to inspire you
- And more
Let’s dive right in.
How to Find Affiliate Programs: 5 Things to Consider When Choosing an Affiliate Program
By now, you know that selecting affiliate programs isn’t about closing your eyes and choosing the program your finger lands on.
If you want success, you need to be careful, deliberate, and knowledgeable.
You need to know the criteria for picking the best affiliate programs.
Don’t worry, though.
Once you know what to look for and what to avoid, everything else will be easy as pie.
Here are five things to consider when choosing your affiliate programs.
- An Affiliate Program that Helps Your Audience
This might sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many people miss it.
Don’t be like them.
From the beginning, you need to zero in on your niche. Then, pick affiliate programs that seamlessly fit that niche.
For instance, if you choose the pet niche, you can promote products like dog food, cat toys, birdcages, and so on.
Check out this example:
Remember, however, that it won’t always be that clear.
Let’s say you choose the small business niche.
What kind of products can you promote?
The key is to step into your audience’s shoes and find out what they need to improve their lives.
Here are some ideas:
- CRM solutions
- Business courses
- Web applications
- Web hosting
- SEO tools
The list runs on!
- How a Company Treats Its Customers
As an affiliate marketer, your #1 goal is probably to make truckloads of money.
(And that’s OK.)
…you don’t want it to be dirty money.
Meaning, you don’t want to trick your audience into buying stuff they’ll regret.
And one thing they will regret is if they buy from a company with terrible customer service.
So before putting your name behind a company and promoting its goods to your audience, do some research on how that company treats its customers.
It’s not that hard.
All you need to do is read a few reviews.
- How Much You’ll Earn for Each Sale
This is an important one to consider:
This term stands for how much you’ll earn each time someone buys using your link.
Of course, you don’t want to go for affiliate programs that offer you peanuts for every sale you make.
But how do you determine how much percentage you should go for?
As a general rule, you want to look for two things when choosing your affiliate program.
- How much commission you’ll get
- If the commission is one-time or recurring
Most of the time, you’ll find that affiliate programs offer you between 5-30% of the sales made. However, there are programs that offer you up to 50% or more of the sales.
Naturally, you’ll want to go for higher-tier commissions.
There’s another aspect to consider, though, and that’s how often you’ll be paid.
Some programs pay you a one-time fee when someone buys using your link, while others give you monthly recurring payments (these are usually subscription products).
While you could earn a ton of money from large one-time commissions, recurring payments give you the option of a steadier income.
- How Long a Program’s Cookie Life Is
Here’s where things get a bit techy.
But don’t worry.
I’ll try my best to keep it simple.
Imagine one of your visitors clicking on your affiliate link.
They visit the site, read about the product, and say, “I’ll think about it.”
When they return 3 days later and purchase the product, do you still get commissions?
The answer: it depends on your affiliate program’s cookie life.
You see, each time a visitor clicks on your affiliate link, a cookie is set in place.
This cookie can remain there for a couple of hours, days, weeks, or even months.
How long it stays depends on the affiliate program.
Now, let’s say your prospect buys a product 3 days after initially viewing it.
If the affiliate program’s cookie life is a week, you’ll still earn commissions from the sale, even if it wasn’t a direct sale.
This means the longer the cookie life, the more likely you’ll make money.
Note: long cookie life is especially good for higher-priced products, because you can’t expect your prospects to stash out their wallets and spend thousands of dollars in a single sitting.
For the techy-at-heart, here’s a clear definition of what cookies do.
- The Affiliate Program’s Terms and Conditions
Want to know the biggest lie humanity has ever told?
“I have read all the terms and conditions.”
The truth is, no one reads terms and conditions.
They’re usually never-ending blocks of text that could put an insomniac to sleep.
Check out this example and see if it doesn’t:
However, if you want to make the best out of your affiliate marketing strategy, you have to read them.
That’s because some affiliate programs have rules, requirements, and other hoops you need to jump through that could seriously mess up your strategy.
For instance, some programs might fine you if you don’t meet a certain quota.
Although you may be OK with that, it’s important to know about it beforehand, so you don’t end up shocked when you see the charges pop up in your account.
How to Find the Best Affiliate Programs in Your Niche: 4 Steps to Success
Now that you know what to look for in an affiliate program, it’s time to get out there and find programs that fit seamlessly into your niche.
Here are four ways you can do it.
- Hop On Google
Great news: this one is super simple.
If you’ve ever done a Google search (I’ll bet you’ve done thousands) you can do this one with your eyes closed.
Simply jump into Google and type “affiliate marketing program + your niche.”
Or you can type “affiliate marketing program for (a specific product you want to promote)”.
Check out these examples:
- Affiliate marketing program pets
- Affiliate marketing program for dog food
- Affiliate marketing program small business
- Affiliate marketing program for business software
Once you type your keyword in and click “search,” you’ll get results like these:
(I told you it was easy.)
- Spy On Your Competitors
Imagine that you’re about to open up a pet store down the block.
However, you’re not sure which products you should sell.
The solution: spy on the pet store a few blocks away to see what they’re selling.
The same is true in affiliate marketing.
When unsure about which products to promote, become a spy and visit your competitors’ sites.
Of course, you’ll need to know who your competitors are.
To do that, you can hop on Google and type best (your niche) blogs.
Example: “best pet blogs.”
Then, visit these blogs one by one to see if any of them promote affiliate products.
If you think this will take too much time, you can subscribe to an SEO tool like Ahrefs.
With this tool, all you have to do is type your URL into the search field and select the “Competing Domains” option.
When you do, you’ll get something like this:
Simply click on these domains to find out if they’re affiliate sites and what they’re selling.
- Check Out Affiliate Directories
Online directories aren’t as popular as they once were…
…but they’re still great for affiliate marketers.
Some of the best directories cater to both companies seeking affiliate partners, and affiliate marketers looking for programs.
Want to jump into one of these directories?
All you need to do is type “affiliate marketing directories” into Google.
You’ll immediately get a plethora of options.
Dive into each option to find the directory that’s right for you.
Here’s an example of a popular directory and how it can help you:
- Research Companies Directly
Already have a company in mind?
Maybe there’s a product you love, and you want your followers to know about it (while earning commissions for each purchase).
In this case, what you’ll need to do is find out if the company has an affiliate program.
For many companies, it’ll be as easy as scrolling down to the bottom of their website and looking for a link to their affiliate program.
Another thing you can do is hop into a popular affiliate marketing directory and see if the company’s name is listed there.
Or you can just Google “company name + affiliate program.”
Example: ConvertKit affiliate program
If none of these strategies work, you can always get in touch with the company to ask if they have a program.
5 of the Best Affiliate Programs that Pay Well
Ok, now for the fun part.
I’m going to show you examples of affiliate programs that pay well.
I say “examples” because this is in no way a comprehensive list.
It’s only a small one to serve as inspiration to you as you go on your journey of finding the best affiliate programs for you.
Is your audience looking for a way to improve relationships with their customers?
You can promote HubSpot CRM.
What’s awesome about HubSpot is that big businesses have plans that cost up to $3,000 per month.
Plus, smaller businesses or individual users have a cocktail of $50 plans, and all these can add up to large monthly revenue for you.
HubSpot offers you the choice of 15% a month recurring commissions, or 100% on the first month.
It has a 90-day cookie life, so you’re good to go even if your audience spends weeks on the fence before subscribing.
These days, everyone needs a website.
And if your audience is looking for a beginner-friendly way to build their own site…
…you can tell them about Elementor, a user-friendly drag-and-drop website builder.
Elementor offers plans from $49 to $999 per year, and you get to snag 50% in commissions for every sale.
Its cookie life is 45 days.
If you think your audience will benefit from an all-in-one marketing platform, you can tell them about ConvertKit.
ConvertKit helps people create beautiful landing pages, banners, emails, and more.
As an affiliate, it’ll be great for you too.
With plans ranging from $25 to $2,000, it’ll be easy for you to adjust your message to fit your market.
You’ll make 30% a month from each subscription, and you’ll get a 30-day cookie window.
There’s no doubt about it.
Email marketing is skyrocketing.
In fact, its ROI is a whopping 42%.
What Constant Contact does is make email marketing easy, even for beginners.
When you sign up for their affiliate program, you’ll make $5 each time a person signs up for the free trial.
When they sign up for the paid platform, you’ll get $105.
To make things even better, their cookie life is 120 days.
Know what’s awesome about being alive today?
You can learn practically anything while sitting in your living room with your feet propped up on your ottoman.
How to make goat cheese, how to create a rock garden, how to do food photography…
…you name it.
All you need to do is purchase an affordable course on a platform like Coursera.
The great news?
Your audience will love to hear about niche-related courses from you.
That’s exactly why you should become a Coursera affiliate.
When you join their program, you get 20-45% commissions.
Their cookie life is 30 days.
How to Find Affiliate Programs: The Steps to Success
As a new affiliate marketer, one of the questions you’ll definitely be asking at the very beginning is, “how to find affiliate programs?”
My answer to this: take your time.
First, take a moment to find out exactly how you want to project yourself to your audience.
What’s your expertise? What are your beliefs? What can you help people achieve?
Once you’re sure about your answers to these questions, it’s time to look for the affiliate programs that’ll fit your niche seamlessly.
Start searching for affiliate programs using Google, directories, or SEO tools.
Then, follow the steps above to determine if an affiliate program has earning potential or whether it would be better to leave it alone.
Use my list of examples to compare and contrast your finds with great affiliate marketing programs.
And that’s it!
In no time, you’ll be able to come up with your own secret sauce for digging up the best affiliate marketing programs out there.
All screenshots taken by the author, September 2021.