What is affiliate marketing?
As an influencer, affiliate marketing is monetizing your social channels to earn passive income with links and referrals you can incorporate into your content.
Your audience is a valuable asset every brand wants to reach, and by communicating in an inbound manner, you’re helping brands replace broad marketing campaigns with your niche audience.
With affiliate marketing programs, the commission is often offered per lead, click, or sale and varies from 5%-25%, depending on the program and product.
Why influencers join affiliate marketing programs
Joining an affiliate program is yet another way for influencers to diversify their income streams and leverage their influence over fans and audiences.
Although the best deals for influencers are usually by brand sponsorships, affiliate marketing is yet another way influencers can build their authority, eventually leading to bigger, more lucrative deals.
There are no restrictions on who can promote and sell products through affiliate programs, but the more followers and reach you have, the better your chances of converting and earning are.
One of the most recognized names in the affiliate marketing space, ShareASale is a sub-brand of Awin, another global affiliate platform. While both are highly similar, ShareASale offers a broader range of products and serves primarily US-based companies with a much faster application process.
Over 4,500 merchants on ShareASale offer everything from beauty products to electronics, qualifying it as the most prominent affiliate program you can join.
Refersion Marketplace is an extension of the original Regression affiliate analytics platform for businesses. The app is an all-in-one platform, built with exceptional user experience, that works as a link between brands and affiliate influencers.
Refersion is best known for its easy integration on e-commerce sites and serves both businesses and influencers, but it’s geared more towards brands than it is to you as a creator.
The marketing platform has a limited number of influencers, making it difficult to be accepted and join their team. Refersion Marketplace also requires affiliates to pay a monthly subscription fee of at least $89.99, unlike numerous free competitors in the affiliate marketing space, considering it as a more exclusive platform.
Amazon Associates & Influencer Program
Amazon Associates is an affiliate marketing program that enables bloggers, publishers, and creators to earn passive income by incorporating product links in their content. However, Amazon’s influencer program is available to anyone with a social media platform that can promote physical products.
One of the very first affiliate programs to exist, Amazon associates, was launched back in 1996, and its subsequent influencer program followed after 21 years in 2017.
Both are great ways to monetize your exposure, but only pay per conversion instead of click and lead like other affiliate programs on this list.
eBay Partner Network
An alternative to Amazon Associates program for influencers and affiliate marketers who specialize in promoting exceptionally niche products is eBay Partner Network.
This program is well-suited for miscellaneous products such as collectibles, vintage fashion, memorabilia/merch, Iron on patches, and antiques.
This unique advantage can also be seen as a disadvantage for many influencers, as they can choose and settle on one specific niche rather than having a broader portfolio. Affiliate marketers can expect to make between 1%- 4% of products sold through links you can generate separately per product with the provided built-in tools.
The top affiliate program for digital and lifestyle products such as fitness courses, e-books, supplements, and organic medicines. Click Bank is a free affiliate program with no hidden fees and enables affiliates to join and promote products almost instantly, with no screening or waiting time. You can earn through sales, clicks, and visits with Click Bank, making it one of the best platforms to start your influencer affiliate marketing career.
With over 115,00 vendors, Click Bank offers a wide assortment of products for you to promote, along with varying commission rates determined by sellers instead of the program, open to negotiation.
On Click Bank, you can find commission rates of up to 75%, but with a higher likelihood of spam posters due to the limited barriers to entry when applying.
Acquired by eBay in 2011, Pepperjam has an affiliate platform named Pepperjam Ascend that allows users to earn revenue as advertisers, influencers, and publishers.
When applying, you can choose your niche, and Pepperjam will display all relevant brands synced to what you provide, so you can use it to join their team as an affiliate influencer. In other words, there are two application steps, one to approve your access to the Pepperjam dashboard and the other application to work with different brands.
While it is a relatively lengthy process compared to other platforms on this list, Pepperjam handpicks the brands they collaborate with. You can find household names like Puma, BBC Shop, Nordstrom, and many other popular brands.
Commissions on Pepperjam are solely up to the brand you choose to collaborate with; therefore, it is difficult to determine the average amount to expect from Pepperjam affiliate collaborations.
Another affiliate network, just like the previous example of Pepperjam, the Rakuten affiliate, was initially named Linkshare.
Linkshare is one of the oldest affiliate marketing platforms in the space and one of the easiest to navigate. Rakuten’s affiliate network serves brands like Benefit cosmetics, Nvidia, Microsoft, and many more.
Crakrevenue dominates a market of its own by specializing in mainly adult-related products such as dating, crypto, entertainment, and gambling.
All other affiliate platforms ban the promotion of such products, leaving more business and opportunities to CrakRevenue and their affiliates.
The affiliate program offers over 1,000 offers with no further application required once you get approved to join CrakRevenue.
Commission structures on the app vary as some brands offer commissions on a pay-per-click basis, and others restrict commissions to the number of products sold or memberships bought.
Bigcommerce & Shopify
Finally, these two affiliate programs are the best paying and work more as referral programs than affiliate programs.
Perfect for tech and marketing influencers, you can make up to $1,500 per enterprise sale with Bigcommerce and up to $2,000 with Shopify. These numbers may sound astonishing, but they all depend on the package your referral purchases.
Shopify and Bigcommerce also offer you affiliates an ongoing percentage of the monthly subscription. For example, if a client purchases a membership for $75 for Shopify, you, as an affiliate, get $35 for the first two months.
Leveraging affiliate marketing programs as an influencer is your next best option after getting sponsorships and brand deals. Inbound marketing methods are best to convert your followers using indirect, engaging, and entertaining strategies.
Considering all these options, there is an affiliate marketing platform for every talent today. It is in your hands to find a profitable niche you can promote and be consistent.