Affiliate Marketing Programs: How To Choose The Right Ones

Affiliate Marketing Programs

Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways to make money online! Okay okay, that’s a bold statement. Making money online is not so easy always.

There is no push button. No silver bullet. No overnight success. Nothing like that, ever. There is hard work (errr – actually smart work) involved with making money online – just like making money with any other business.

It all builds up strategically. There is no magic; and there is no accident.

Affiliate marketing is however one of the easiest or much easier ways to make money online (compared to the other money making methods). Here’s why –

First, you don’t need to create a product. You know how painful it is to create a product. I’m NOT discouraging you to create your own product; but I hope you get the idea. I mean, you need not spend time and money in creating your own product. You have a product ready already, that you can promote. How cool is that?

Second, most of the marketing is already done. You just need to do the extra bit on your part.

Third, you don’t have to deal with painful, and time consuming support issues with the product. Everything is taken care of by the product owner.

Fourth, you earn a really good portion of commission. Most product owners offer something like 30-75% commission on product sales. On the higher end, sometimes, affiliate marketers earn more than the product owners themselves. How cool is that?

OK, but not all affiliate programs are good to make money. You know life is not that easy, even if there’s an easier way of doing things! You need to be careful in picking the products to promote – if you pick the wrong ones, you can get into various types of troubles!

Let’s see what kinda features you need to look for in the affiliate marketing programs/products you plan to promote.

The product – oh yes, this matters the most!

While you might think that affiliate marketing is about money, it is not. It is actually about building trust.

Promote a crappy product – break the trust – end of story!

While you might be hunting for products that pay 100% commission or whatever, you must have a clear knowledge about every product and make sure you promote only good quality products.

You are going to recommend something to your readers. It is not a one-time-sale kinda relationship. It should be a long term genuine relationship. So you need to personally make sure that the product is good AND relevant to your readers.

Either put your hands on the review copy, or get on the beta testers list, or better yet, purchase the product and use it for a reasonable amount of time before you make a recommendation or write a review.

If you neglect this step or take it lightly, you will fail with your affiliate marketing!

For the rest of the post, I am assuming that you look at the quality of the product first before taking anything else into consideration.

Commission value

Oh yes, the money. It matters a lot too. Go for affiliate marketing programs that give you a decent piece of the pie.

If it is a $20 product and if it offers a 5% commission, you know…you get the idea. But if it is a $1000 product and if it offers a 5% commission, you should go for it.

So basically you need to look at two things: The price of the product and the commission rate.

Do the math!

The type of commission

One time commission – There are one-off sale products where you promote the product, make a sale and make a commission. And everything ends there. These are fine, you should go for them.

Commission on all up-sells – There are also products where you refer a sale and make a commission. The product owner then takes the buyer to an up-sell and if it is successful, you get a commission on the up-sell as well.

Recurring commission – You make one sale and then get paid multiple times. My top affiliate product that earns me recurring commission is Aweber. I need to convince my reader only once, and I get a commission every month for as long as he/she stays as a paying customer.

Tiered commissions – You refer a sale and make a commission. And then, the person you referred becomes an affiliate of the product and he/she refers another person and he/she makes a commission. You make a commission on that sale as well. There are some affiliate marketing programs that offer up to 5 tier commissions!


Affiliate marketing program cookies

Cookies are the key elements that help track your affiliate code when you refer a sale. The product owner (or the affiliate program software) recognizes that indeed you have referred a particular sale by using cookies.

This is bit tricky and the duration of cookie tracking varies with various affiliate programs. There are programs that remember your cookies for only 24 hours – Example Amazon.

So if the person you refer bought anything from Amazon within 24 hours of clicking through your link, you get the commission. If he/she makes a purchase after 24 hours you won’t get the commission.

There are also affiliate marketing programs where cookies are active for up to a year!

The kind of sale

Let’s say you recommend a product to your reader and he/she clicks through your link and goes to the product site. There are sites that have more than one product. Example – Amazon.

Let’s say your reader was not happy with the price of the product (that you had referred originally) but checks out other products in the site and eventually buys another product (which you didn’t recommend at all) – you still make a commission because you managed to get the person to land on that site and make a purchase – it doesn’t matter if that person actually bought the product you referred or another product. You still get a commission!

Affiliate Marketing Programs: Takeaway

I’d like to emphasize again – it is not about making money but its about building trust. [Click to tweet this!]

So make a recommendation to a product ONLY if you have found out that the product is good.

Sometimes things change. A product that was good once may not be good now – if so, do not feel shy to “update” your recommendation on a particular affiliate maketing program.

I’ve done this before.

Your readers will LOVE you for your honesty and there’s no easier and robust way than this to build an affiliate marketing system that can make money in the long term.

If you are writing a review about a product, do not write a “buy-this-product-by-all-means” kinda review. Highlight both the good and bad aspects of the product. Don’t be shy to highlight the negative aspects in the review.

Take a look at some of my honest reviews below:

Aweber review

Long Tail Pro Review

Thesis Vs Genesis Comparison

Thirsty Affiliates Plugin Review

Think long term with affiliate marketing and choose affiliate marketing programs accordingly!

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  1. Kulwant Nagi says

    I loved your article opening paragraph.

    This is seriously a bitter truth that getting into Affiliate Marketing is easy but getting success depends on HARD+SMART Work. Affiliate Marketing have become so much lucrative business that everyone thinking to enter in this field without even learning the basic steps of it.

    I myself thinking to start Affiliate Marketing but not starting NOW, because I am learning the tactics that how people are running the affiliate blogs and which techniques they are using to promote them. Because after knowing all these step the only thing left will be my ACTION.

    You are right Jane that we must select the products which deliver the quality to end user and we must test the product before writing the review. Because this practice will not only solve too much of our questions but we would be able to respond on the comments like professionals.

    When I will start Affiliate Marketing, I am going to concentrate on Recurring commission products because they are going to give me money everytime and I will be able to enjoy good leverage in future.

    Jane I need your suggestions on this decisions of mine. And thanks for this share.

    • rakesh kumar says

      If you don’t mind Kulwant accept my reply. IN my opinion it is the the basic idea which takes place first position, when we all try to start affiliate marketing. Review is the first and foremost method to jump in this ocean. Another very Good method is shown by this website [ i will take ten .com ].

      So i like the first paragraph ” There is no silver bullet” for affiliate marketing and that is true. any other successful blogger can show you only the door, it is up to us who have to go through that door and will have to scale the distance.
      ~rakesh kumar

  2. EvanEvan says

    Thanks for the article, many many useful tips. That’s right, Affiliate Marketing won’t be as easy as ABC. It won’t work just with a wave of a wand, you need a ton of efforts and time to achieve results. But from other hand when you will see the first signs of your hard work it will be so much pleasure! I’ve already raised a few bumps in this area so I know what you are talking about! Thanks again!

    • Richa BajajRicha Bajaj says

      All you need to target the right audience to make money… Making money online is easy for those who are doing right things..

      But, for those people who don’t take “make money online” seriously will never be able to make money online..

      Choose the right domain, build web 2.0 links, aggressive blog commenting, choose right product to market, update your blog with quality articles, rank well in Google..

      And BANG!

      See your bank account raking up :)

  3. Ray says

    I don’t do a lot of affiliate marketing, but I do try some every now and then. I had looked into the Amazon affiliate program a while back, but after I heard about the 24 hour cookie thing I decided to try a few others instead. I did try a less popular program a while back that didn’t work out so well. Right now I am focusing on the more popular ones even though there are a lot of people promoting them. There definitely is money to be made with affiliate marketing though.
    Ray recently posted..How to Manually Install WordPress Step by StepMy Profile

  4. Shalu Sharma says

    Choosing the right ones are not easy. There are so many programmes that one can get lost in it very easily. As you say, the last thing you want is promoting crap products, people will begin to loose faith in you. One must try it out first and then only promote it if you like it or what you though of it honestly. I agree with the take home message about trust.
    Shalu Sharma recently posted..Excavations at Kumhrar in PatnaMy Profile

  5. JuliaJulia says

    The one really makes me curious is Recurring Commission, it is really a looong term passive income but it’s too difficult to do. I’m sure you have many referal until today, isn’t Jane? I’m glad you do :)
    Do you know any Affiliate Programs with Recurring Commission Jane? Except Aweber of course.

  6. Ambika Choudhary MahajanAmbika Choudhary Mahajan says

    Wonderful write-up
    I am planning to get started with affiliate marketing soon. This sure will help me. Already bookmarked it for future reference.
    Thanks a ton! :)

  7. Joe BoyleJoe Boyle says

    The way I see affiliate marketing is simple – I already recommend a handful of products, and thus the affiliate marketing is just a little extra icing on the cake. For example, I currently recommend HostGator, Thesis, and a whole mess of other great services/products that I love to use (and only when I love to use them will I recommend them).

    Regardless of how much I could earn from the comission, if I really love the product, I’ll go ahead and add it on. Sure, having a higher comission is really nice and makes me happy, but I’m just as happy when earning $2.00 off of a comission from Amazon Books if I love the book, as I am when I get a $75 comission from HostGator. It’s all about getting a little extra stuff for helping your readers out 😉 Great article!

  8. Khaja MoinKhaja Moin says

    I agree, selecting right product is very important. If you think product with high competition shouldn`t be selected then you`re wrong.
    Selecting a product with less or no competition can`t be more effective or convince your readers to buy the product.
    BTW Jane helpful post I like Aweber recurring commission! Already started :)


  9. sana says

    very impresive article i ask a question i have a fashion blog and i wana sele women accessoriess in my blog which affilted programe is easy for me Thanks

  10. Kabenlah CudjoeKabenlah Cudjoe says

    As the saying goes, you can’t kill two birds with one stone. Affiliate marketing is really for SMART PEOPLE and as at now I can’t make manage two websites at ago.

    Affiliate marketing is indeed fun and entertaining.

  11. SamuelSamuel says

    Great post Jane!

    I always recommend to review products you directly use on your site.

    This gives you better credibility than if you didn’t use that specific product.

    Everything made perfect sense and so true!

  12. Enstine Muki says

    Hi Jane,
    I have made quite some money from promoting affiliate product but my highest earnings this far has been from my own products. However, like you pointed out, it takes more pains to put up a product than selling some ready-made product.

    My most preferred type of affiliate product is that which pays recurring commissions. It’s important to go in for a product that can keep its members for a long period of time so you keep earning month after month. I think, right now, Autoresponders and web hosting are top (in the online marketing niche).

    While most autoresponders pay recurring commissions, it’s sad that most of the top web hosting companies that we promote don’t. They only pay a huge once-off commission and then you get nothing thereafter.

    Your choice of AWeber is recommendable. You are really sure for a long term income
    Enstine Muki recently posted..What is your blog? I want to visit it, comment and share your articles!My Profile

  13. babanature says

    Hello jane,
    This is a very informative post if i must say. very detailed and focused. when i started my blogging carrier, i never walk in anybody’s shadow and that pulled me back a little then because i have joined an affiliate program that almost ruined my readers relationship. well its all about trust so i have build my self and move on to a better company that pays generously. affiliate is hard when you first started but with time, you’ll get the hang of it. Thanks for dropping this wonderful post!!!
    babanature recently posted..Using Social Media To Drive Traffic To Your Photography SiteMy Profile

  14. sunil says

    I agree with miss Jane’s line that Making money online is not so easy always.But if you have good plan,attitude and a tricks brain then chance of getting money is high.Btw nice article miss Jane.Keep post article like this.

  15. RobertRobert says

    I often choose my favorite products instead of promoting high commission but bad products. It increases the revenue and doesn’t hurt my reputation as a blogger :)

  16. Disha SharmaDisha Sharma says

    Readers always get attract by title/headline, so killer title/headline is important. well some of the keywords in headline really become viral….. also these keywords have high priority in search

  17. LeeLee says

    Hi Jane
    Have just signed up to what hopefully will be the perfect affiliate campaign for my site. I suppose time will tell on that one. Anyway I was really looking for advice on the writing a review part and wasn’t quite sure how not to over do the selling of the product. Just read a couple of your reviews and they were very helpful.

    So for great heads up thanks lee

  18. OlgaOlga says

    Hello Jane! What a great post. I am so grateful I stumbled upon your blog. You are making a very good point here. Most people look at affiliate marketing as a change to earn passive money while this is in fact a chance to earn trust (money being just a side-effect). Will you one day prepare a list of top affiliate programs in your opinion? There are so many of them apart form Amazon!
    Best regards!

  19. Julia SpencerJulia Spencer says

    Making money online can be certainly an easy thing, but only when you spend efforts and some money from the very begging. Nothing can become very effective, successful and profitable just on a bold place, so to say.
    Thanks a lot for this inspiring post

    Julia Spencer’s recent post.. Amazing Design Resources Collection: Especially for Christmas 2013

  20. ArianneArianne says

    Excellent post, Jane. You are very right that making money online isn’t as easy as it seems. And when you decide on taking affiliate marketing, commission is indeed an important factor to consider. Choosing right Affiliate marketing programs is a must. You have made a clear explanation and I couldn’t agree more. Great share!

  21. Sumbo A says

    Hello Jane,
    This is a very detailed post about affiliate marketing. I love the ideas that you promote someone’s products to earn commission. But one thing about affiliate marketing is you have got to have traffic and subscribers on your lists before they buy the products.

    Anyway be it affiliate marketing or your own product you have got to work hard to earn so call money.
    Sumbo A recently posted..3 challenges small business owners face with social mediaMy Profile

  22. VianneyVianney says

    Indeed, marketing plays a huge role in creating our own niche in this online world. Thanks for sharing, I learned so many info that I will surely apply for my advantage! Thanks!! :)

  23. manisha singh says

    In this world nothing is easy and there is no key for overnight success . so every business takes time and it all builds up strategically.start any work with your soul and heart,for success.

  24. CameronCameron says

    oh my GOD time tracker is the good thing , I think this will make us more efficient in our work . Thanks for sharing such an informative article .

    Read more: Swift To-Do List Review: Increase Your Productivity And Get Peace Of Mind

  25. SaimaSaima says

    Yes it is a difficult task to make your own product for selling purpose, as it takes a lot of time and hard working. But as other bloggers, one can easily get some affiliate links to get the commission on selling.

  26. JoyJoy says

    You definitely got that right, making money is definitely not easy but when you have your heart at the right place and you’re able to do something you love and earn from that it’ll seem less of a chore.

  27. VeronicaVeronica says

    Commission – everyone’s favorite word and you’ve mentioned it more than once in this post. This will definitely catch my team’s attention. I’ll be sharing this with them on our next meeting. Thank you for sharing this!

  28. EmiliaEmilia says

    Great piece here! I’m definitely looking into articles like this since I’m planning to do the marketing for my business instead of hiring an entire team.

  29. rangaranga says

    Hi Jane! I learnt more about affiliate marketing in this article. But I personally did not have enough success with affiliate marketing before. Will make one more try, seems your suggestions will work this time..

  30. Matt KennedyMatt Kennedy says

    Hey Jane !
    Nice idea. And yeah we should also highlight the negative aspect of our product this helps to make our long lasting customer relationship. After first purchase customer will not switch to some one other when he will need that product again.
    Thanks for highlighting this important point.
    Matt Kennedy

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