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What Are The Best Affiliate Marketing Networks For Beginners?

If you just made the leap into affiliate marketing but still don’t feel you have a system that works at an optimum level or even no system at all, that’s ok. It is almost always that way for those new to this arena. Affiliate marketing is full of great opportunities. But also ripe with huge promises and slick-typing scammers, thus making education a prerequisite to success. Which, leads us to what are the best affiliate marketing networks for you, the beginner.

Let me share some insight with you regarding six of the best affiliate marketing companies for beginners. Ultimately, you may continue to work with one or more of these or none at all, but they are learning platforms that get you paid, and, honestly, isn’t that why you’re here?

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What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is a 4 part system to make money online.

  • You, the affiliate marketer- promote products sold by someone else like Amazon, Walmart, ClickBank, or any company that sells digital or physical products. Most are managed by affiliate marketing networks. You are trading with the company, and you are free advertising for them. In return, you make a percentage commission. Example: You are interested in mattresses, so you put different mattresses on the internet, and you link to the place that sells these mattresses.
  • The customer or consumer- The consumer goes to the internet looking for mattresses and finds your promotion linked to the company. They click on one. It takes them to the site that sells the mattress, and they place an order.
  • You make money– You make a percentage of 1%-75% for each sale according to the companies agreement.
  • Everyone is happy -The customer is happy because you solved their problem. You are happy because you made money.
Join Affiliate Programs Without A Website diagram of affiliate marketing

What Is An Affiliate Program?

An affiliate program is a financial partnership of types between you and a program or product developer developer. Amazon, Nike, and Priceline are examples of products.

In addition, software, plugins, and themes are examples of programs. Just as there are thousands upon thousands of businesses worldwide, there are thousands of affiliate marketing programs you could partner with, but starting with the right one could very well be the difference between disappointment and daily deposits. For this reason, it is essential to know the best affiliate marketing networks to find a company to be your partner.

2 Levels Of Affiliate Programs

I will group affiliate programs into two levels.

  • Individually managed programs
  • Network managed programs

Individually Managed Programs

Individually managed programs are more personal, but they can be substantial for companies like Amazon. The company sets up an affiliate program you can join. Your aapproval is usually by someone directly in the company.

It may be more beneficial to join companies managed by a larger affiliate networks because you can apply to many different companies within the networks. But if you have a product you are promoting, and the company is individually managed, then, by all means, do apply to their affiliate program.

Network Managed Program

A network-managed program is a large company whose sole purpose is to manage affiliate programs for many different companies. Below are some network-managed programs with brand names.

networks 8 best

6 Best Affiliate Marketing Networks For Beginners

These six programs include both individuals and companies managed by affiliate networks. I will note each to clarify better the differences explained in the above sections. They are:

  • Amazon Associates
  • ShareASale
  • Awin
  • CJ (Commission Junction)
  • Rakuten
  • ClickBank

Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates is likely the largest individually managed program in the world. It has great name recognition along with literally millions of products. They offer excellent links, and you can earn a commission on any product a person buys after clicking your link. For example, if you link Wireless Routers and a visitor clicks on your link, but once they’re on Amazon, they decide on a lawnmower part; instead, you still get paid commission on the sale.

So let’s examine the Pros and Cons of Amazon Associates..


  • Probably the largest in the world
  • Millions or products and programs
  • Easy to follow link-building tool
  • Earn up to 10%


  • Absolutely abysmal ratings from users
  • Negative ratings on communication, service, delivery, payments and every other metric of trust beyond name recognition.


Amazon makes it easy to link products and check your earnings on their platform. But their payout is ridiculously low and their rules are extensive.


awin Affiliate Programs For Beginners

Awin Affiliate is a network-managed program based in Berlin, Germany, and has over 1000 employees, 100,000 contributing partners, and 13,000 advertisers worldwide. They’re free, but you are required to make a $5 security deposit. Once you open your account, you get it back when you make your first commission. Awin has a unique Traffic Light System for its affiliates that mitigates your risk. This system lets you know if you should work with someone by sharing a risk ranking for each. Awin affiliate networks post a green, orange or red light as the companies status.


  • Well established, 20 plus years
  • Well-Respected in the industry
  • Convert-a-link plugin. It lets you convert any link on your website into an affiliate link
  • Payments are fulfilled via major E-wallets like PayPal
  • Traffic Light System
  • Commissions can be lucrative at up to 59% if they are in the more desired niche, products/service


  • No real training offerred
  • Commissions can be very low if not one of the niche focus areas at the time


Awin is a top-notch choice with some excellent tools to make your mission easier. The traffic light system and convert-a-link plugin are game-changers that can have you on the way to loading up a bucket of commissions but focus on the niche areas to get the top end. However, they do not offer training, so do a little research or check the forum to light your pathway.


share sale

ShareASale is a network with over 700,000 affiliates to choose from, making it an excellent choice for beginners. It is one of the largest affiliate networks today. They make it easy to join their program, and once inside, you can choose the best programs to fit your niche. Awin acquired SharASale so the information for these 2 is the same. Please refer back toAwin’s information.


See the Pros and Cons for Awin.

cj Affiliate Programs For Beginners

CJ ( formerly Commission Junction )

CJ Network is over 20 years old and a subsidiary of Publicis Groupe, aligned with Publicis Media.

CJ has over 23 years of experience connecting affiliates (the advertiser) with publishers (the company.) It is the leading affiliate network. They have over 70,000 affiliates to choose from and won the Global Excellence award in June of 2021. It was founded in 1998 using the name Commission Junction, which later became the abbreviated CJ.


  • Works with premier clients such as Barnes & Noble, Overstock, Office Depot, J.Crew, Priceline and many more.
  • Ecosystem of over 165k publishers and 3800 Global brands
  • Numerous awards from the likes of Forbes and Fortune.


  • New leadership 2019 Mayuresh Kshetramade. Mayur spent three years as the SVP of Client Development and Data Science at CJ.
  • Recent reviews via TrustPilot are very critical.
  • New leadership 2019 Mayuresh Kshetramade. Mayur spent three years as the SVP of Client Development and Data Science at CJ.
  • Recent reviews via TrustPilot are very critical.


It may or may not be an excellent time to add CJ as a marketing partner. Despite their pedigree and success, they have a dismal rating with Trust Pilot with various commission and service complaints. It may be due to new leadership or as a result of past leadership, but the ship is not right.

rakuten Affiliate Programs For Beginners


Rakuten, Formerly known as Ebates, is headquartered in Tokyo and employs over 10,000 people worldwide. The word “rakuten” means “optimism” in Japanese. They have 12 million members / over 1 billion paid out in commissions. They are one of the top-rated affiliate network marketing companies worldwide, as evidenced by the 2020 Customer Choice Award from TrustPilot.

Rakuten offers you the ability to customize ads to fit your needs. Working with them requires both patience and understanding as the merchant ultimately decides to honor or not honor a deal. It can be frustrating.


  • One of the top rated affiliate network marketing companies worldwide.
  • List of advertisers is basically every advertiser
  • 12 million members / over 1 billion paid out in commissions


  • Requires understanding and patience as the merchant ultimately decides to honor or not honor a deal. Can be frustrating.


This well-entrenched network-managed affiliate is a solid company to align with, but the commission method can be frustrating if you count chickens before they hatch. While they have amazing reviews, the one area of criticism is the sales that wash out. They provide all the data if you’re using their tools developed for you. Understanding and monitoring each commission’s journey will enable you to maximize your potential with them.

One challenge I see with Rakuten is they service the product vendors better than the affiliates. But even with that knock, they are still a solid consideration.

cb Affiliate Programs For Beginners


ClickBank is a Top 100 company, has over 20 years, and operates in over 200 countries. With a wide variety spanning more than products, this network-managed affiliate provides many paths to success. Their success is due, in large part, to their commitment to both clients ends.

On the affiliate side, they offer a fantastic learning portal, an active training, and consulting blog, a daily updated YouTube channel, podcast, and more.


  • Highest rated customer service of the top companies.
  • Particularly complimented on fast response and solutions.
  • Over 20 years and in over 200 countries
  • Top 100 internet retailer
  • 200 million customers/ 6 million entrepreneurs
  • Wide array of products / over 4,000
  • Higher quality products
  • 30,000 daily purchases
  • Succeeds based on focus at both ends of client model
  • Learning portal, active training and consulting blog, YouTube channel, podcast and more


  • Clickbank has a reputation for allowing scams to join their network. Just check the product out well before you promote it.


Being the highest-rated company and showing strong affiliate focus is a winning combination for a beginner. While any of the six are excellent, ClickBank has scores of satisfied affiliates like you. And who would be satisfied if they weren’t making money? Exactly.

looking for Affiliate Programs For Beginners

What To Look For In Affiliate Marketing Networks

How can you look at an affiliate program and feel confident it will be a possible good fit?

I look at five main areas. These areas will give you the best overview of the program. Not to mention these are the areas that will provide you with the best information. Information you need to decide what affiliate marketing networks you can benefit from and what to look for in other affiliate marketing networks within your niche. The five areas are:

  1. How much will you make-what is the percentage of commission?
  2. When will you get paid-do they pay monthly and is there a payout threshold?
  3. How long is the cookie life-Is it 15 days, 6 months, a year or a lifetime?
  4. The ease of filing an application-Do they make the process so complicated that it is not worth your time?
  5. Do they provide adequate marketing information-Is there banners and a personal link that will mark your commission? Can you easily market their product with what they provide?

Wrapping It All Up

Preparation is one of the most significant steps when you apply to affiliate networks. Have your branding in place because the affiliate will look at your site.

 For Beginners feature

Be prepared to give personal information and go into detail about how you will promote their product. The affiliate does not have time to figure it out and will only approve your application if you have detailed information.

Always be kind. The affiliate is your partner, and you are their free advertisement. You work together for the better good of everyone.

And above all, do not give up if a company rejects your application. Use the feedback they give you to improve and try again.

You may also be interested in viewing the other four articles in this series:

How To Join Affiliate Programs Without A Website For Beginners

How To Promote Affiliate Links Without A Website To Make Money

How To Join Affiliate Programs For Newbies In Affiliate Marketing

My 4 Step Formula

Would you like a website to promote your passion or niche? With my 4-step formula, I can help you learn how to get started and set up a site that affiliates will approve.

Click on the orange tab for more information about my 4-step formula.

The Laura MethodAn In-Depth, Step-By-Step Masterclass
For Newbies To Set Up A Niche Website

Learn More about The Laura Method Here!

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