What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a process where an affiliate earns a commission for promoting another company. The affiliate promotes a product or service on their website and/or social media and earns a cut of the profit from each sale they make. 


When a company hires an affiliate, they usually send them a sample of what they’re selling. Then the affiliate creates sponsored content to promote the product or service to their followers. 

Affiliate Marketing Terms

Affiliate marketing has its own jargon. If you don’t know the difference between an affiliate program and an affiliate network, this is the place to start before you read more. 

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The company selling the product or service promoted by the affiliates.


The person or company promoting the product. 

Affiliate Link

The unique URL that tracks purchases made from the affiliate’s sponsored content. 


An action taken by the customer that the merchant deems payable to the affiliate. It’s usually a purchase or a lead. 


A customer, client, or lead who takes an action from the affiliate link. 

Affiliate Network

A middleman between merchants and affiliates. Once an affiliate joins the network, they can look through programs that are part of it and join them all in one place. 

Black lines intersect to form a network

Click Through Rate (CTR)

The number of clicks compared to the number of impressions. 

Conversion Rate (CR)

The percentage of clicks that converted. 

Cost Per Action (CPA)

A commission model where merchants only pay affiliates for conversions. 

Cost Per Click (CPC)

A commission model where the merchant pays the affiliates for clicks. Typically used for banner ads. 

Postback URL

A URL used for server-side conversion tracking.


A piece of code that tracks online activity for advertising purposes. 

Binary code in a red heart against a white background


The text embedded in the affiliate link used to track conversions. 


When the affiliate’s branding appears on a merchant’s website. 

Landing Page

The page an affiliate link leads to when users click on it. 


The process of determining which affiliates are generating the conversions. 


When an affiliate’s commission is revoked because the conversion was invalid. 


Information stored on a web browser for advertising purposes. In affiliate marketing, cookies are used to track clicks and conversions. 

Link Cloaking

Cleaning up a link so it’s shorter and doesn't stand out as much. 

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How Do I Become an Affiliate Marketer?

Here’s a quick step by step to becoming an affiliate marketer. 

  • Choose a Niche

The first step to becoming an affiliate marketer is to choose a niche of products and services to promote. It should be something that you are interested in and know a lot about. Some popular niches include:

  • Beauty
  • Fashion
  • Fitness
  • Tech
  • Travel
  • Finance
  • Marketing and Business
  • Create High-Quality Content

Whether you’re a blogger, YouTuber, Instagram influencer, or anything in between, it’s best to start creating content before you make any affiliate deals. Keep your content:

  • Relevant to your niche
  • Original
  • Informative
  • Engaging
  • Easy to consume and share
  • Optimized for search engines

That way your target audience will value what you have to say before you start selling them stuff. 

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  • Build Your Audience

The bigger and more captive your audience, the more money you’ll make later on. This starts with good content, but needs a little digital marketing strategy to get the right eyes on it. This strategy may include:

  • Building a social media presence
  • Building for SEO
  • Taking out social ads
  • Promoting it on forums
  • Starting an email list
  • Hosting webinars
  • Starting a podcast
  • Getting backlinks

Some platforms don’t allow content monetization until you’ve reached a big enough audience. 

  • Sign Up for Programs

Once you have content and an audience that can prove your worthiness as a potential affiliate, sign up for programs. Your choices should consider

  • Niche/product type
  • Program type
  • Commission rate
  • Cookie length

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  • Create an Affiliate Website

A website with a custom domain makes any online business look more legitimate and professional. This matters to affiliates because building an audience that trusts your recommendations is what makes your business go ‘round. Starting a website may sound intimidating, but with the right website builder, it’s easy and affordable. Be sure to choose one with good marketing tools and plugins related to your niche.  

  • Be Sure to Include a Disclaimer

Affiliates are required by law to disclose that they earn a commission on products purchased through their links. 

Types of Affiliates

Not all programs have the same goal. There are five main types: 

Search Affiliates

Search affiliates improve the search engine optimization of the client businesses. 

Bloggers and Influencers

Bloggers and influencers are the most common type of affiliates. This is because they have niches that usually correspond with products and services. Beauty influencers promote makeup and skincare products in their tutorials. Food bloggers promote kitchen tools in their recipe posts. 

Review Sites

For products and services that customers research before buying, review sites are the affiliates to court. These sites usually work by getting samples and writing honest product reviews. 

Coupon Sites

Companies that are new to the market often start off using coupon sites as affiliates. The discounts are effective at getting first-time buyers to check out their products. 

Email Marketing

Email marketing affiliates are most effective in small doses and with specific targeting. 

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What to Look for in an Affiliate Program

High Commission Rate

Affiliate commission is the cut you make from each purchase using your affiliate link. The higher that rate, the more affiliate income you earn. Retail programs tend to have lower commission rates than other niches because the cost of the items is lower. A good general percentage range to look for is 5-30%. 

High Average Order Value (AOV)

The more money customers spend on a merchant’s products, the better for you to cash out. 

Long Cookie Life

Affiliate programs use cookies to track users who click the affiliate link to see if they made a purchase. The cookie duration, also known as the cookie length or cookie duration, defines how long the cookie tracks the user’s activity. If a cookie has a 30-day life, you’ll get credit if they make a purchase 30 days after that first click.

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Affiliate Marketing Tips

Promote Products You Understand

Before you endorse an affiliate product, be sure it’s something you would actually use and can accurately describe. This will set you up for success and enjoyment of your affiliate business. 

Research Emerging Categories

What's popular and profitable today may not be profitable next year. That's why it's important to regularly research what’s trending in your niche. This could be in your social media communities or other relevant forums. 

Don’t Pay to Join

A legitimate affiliate program will not ask affiliates to pay membership fees. If you find one that does, run the other way. 

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The Best Affiliate Marketing Programs by Niche

Here are some of the best affiliate marketing programs by niche. The focus is high commission and long cookie duration. 

Web Hosting Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs for web hosting are great for affiliate sites that are focused on tech and business. 


Commission: $65 per sale

Cookie Life: 45 days

Bluehost's affiliate program homepage


Commission: $50 for one sale, up to $100 for six sales

Cookie life: 30 days

GreenGeeks' affiliate program homepage

Liquid Web

Commission: 150% 

Cookie Life: 90 days

Liquid Web's affiliate program homepage


Commission: Up to $500

Cookie Life: 60 days

Kinsta's affiliate program homepage

Shopping and ECommerce Affiliate Programs

Where would we be without online shopping? These programs are broad and can work with a variety of different products. Keep in mind that commission rates for retail affiliates are lower than other programs. 

Amazon Associates

Commission: 1-10% depending on the product category

Cookie life: 24 hours

Amazon Associates' homepage


Commission: 1-8% depending on the product category

Cookie Life: 7 days

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eBay Partner Network

Commission: 1-4% depending on the product category

Cookie Life: 24 hours

eBay Partner Network's homepage


Commission: 20% per Bronze subscriber, 25% per Silver subscriber, 30% per Gold subscriber

Cookie Life: 90 days

Spocket's affiliate program homepage

Affiliate Networks

Affiliate networks are a solid option for beginners. They make it easy to apply for multiple programs and allow you to promote your content across them. Keep in mind that commission rates vary depending on the individual merchant. 


Commission: Varies depending on the merchant

Cookie Life: Varies depending on the merchant

ShareASale affiliate network's homepage


Commission Junction (CJ Affiliate) 

Commission: Varies depending on the merchant

Cookie Life: Varies depending on the merchant

CJ Affiliate Network's homepage


Commission: 50-70%

Cookie Life: Varies depending on the merchant

ClickBank affiliate network's homepage


Commission: Varies depending on the merchant

Cookie Life: Varies depending on the merchant

Awin Affiliate Network's homepage

Travel Affiliate Programs

If you’re a travel blogger, these programs just might pay for your next flight. 


Commission: Minimum 50% per booking

Cookie Life: 14 days

TripAdvisor's affiliate program homepage


Commission: Up to 80%

Cookie Life: 30 days

Travelpayouts is a travel-specific affiliate network. 

Travelpayouts affiliate network's homepage


Commission: 3-5%

Cookie Life: 45 days

Priceline Partner Network's homepage

Sandals Resorts

Commission: 4%

Cookie Life: 60 days

Sandals Resorts' affiliate program homepage

Finance and Credit Card Affiliate Programs

People are always looking for financial advice and products that make managing their money easier. If you have a knack for money yourself, these programs let you cash in on it. 


Commission: $10-40 per purchase

Cookie Duration: 30 days

Freshbooks' affiliate program's homepage


Commission: 7%

Cookie Duration: 45 days

Quickbooks' affiliate program homepage


Commission: $20 per purchase

Cookie Duration: 45 days

TransUnion's affiliate program homepage


Commission: $10 per qualified lead

Cookie Life: 30 days

Acorns Affiliate Program's homepage

Sage Financials

Commission: 7% per sale and $5 per free trial

Cookie Life: 30 days

Sage affiliate program's homepage

Capitalist Exploits

Commission: 50%

Cookie Life: 365 days

Capitalist Exploits Affiliate Program's homepage

Fitness and Sports Affiliate Programs

Fitness and sports come with a lot of equipment. If you’re a gym rat yourself with a lot of gym rat followers, why not cash out on recommendations from these companies? 

Ace Fitness

Commission: 8%

Cookie Duration: 30 days

ACE Fitness Affiliate Program's homepage

Life Fitness

Commission: 8%

Cookie Duration: 30 days

Life Fitness Affiliate Program's homepage


Commission: 8-11%

Cookie Duration: 30 days

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TRX Training

Commission: 8%

Cookie Duration: 30 days

TRX Affiliate Program's homepage

Under Armour

Commission: 9%

Cookie Duration: 365 days

Under Armour Affiliate Program's homepage

Fashion and Beauty Affiliate Programs

Here are the best partnerships for the fashionistas of the internet. 


Commission: 7%

Cookie Duration: 45 days

ModCloth affiliate program's homepage


Commission: 18%

Cookie Duration: 60 days

Newchic affiliate program's homepage

Warby Parker

Commission: 20%

Cookie Duration: 45 days

Warby Parker Affiliate Program's homepage

Madison Reed

Commission: $20

Cookie Duration: 30 days

Madison Reed Affiliate Program's homepage

BH Cosmetics

Commission: 8%

Cookie Life: 60 days

BH Cosmetics Affiliate Program's homepage

Gaming Affiliate Programs

The rise of e-sports, Twitch, and gaming influencers, the video game and gaming accessories market is ripe for promotions. Partner with these companies if you’re a passionate gamer. 


Commission: 5%

Cookie Life: 90 days

Fanatical Affiliate Partners' homepage


Commission: 10-20% on software, 3% on other products

Cookie Life: 30 days

G2Deal Affiliate Program's homepage


Commission: $15 per trial sign-up, 5% per new game, 10% per used game

Cookie Life: 30 days

Gamefly Affiliate Network's homepage


Marketing and Business Affiliate Programs

Marketing and business software is a profitable affiliate niche. Prospects are often looking to build long-term relationships with these companies. That means they’re doing a lot of research and paying a lot of money. Here are some particularly good ones to partner with.  


Commission: $5 for each free trial referral, $105 when a referral pays for their account

Cookie life: 120 days

ConstantContact affiliate program's homepage


Commission: 15% recurring or 100% of the first month’s revenue

Cookie life: 90 days

Hubspot Affiliate Program's homepage


Commission: 20% of recurring revenue for every customer referred

Cookie Life: 90 days

Unbounce Partner Program's homepage



Commission: 20% upfront and 20% recurring

Cookie Life: 30 days

Outgrow Affiliate Program's homepage


Commission: $100 for every sale referred or 33% of recurring subscriptions

Cookie life: 120 days

GetResponse Affiliate Program's homepage


Commission: $200 per subscription, $10 per free trial, $0.01 per new sign up

Cookie Life: 10 Years

SEMRush Affiliate Program's homepage


Commission: 30% recurring

Cookie life: 90 days

Thinkific Affiliate Program's homepage


Commission: 10-45%

Cookie Life: 30 days

Coursera Affiliate Program's Homepage


Commission: 15% recurring 

Cookie Life: 90 days

Loom Affiliate Program's homepage


Commission: 15% recurring 

Cookie Life: 90 days

Calendly Affiliate Program's homepage


Commission: 30% recurring

Cookie Life: 30 days

Pabbly Affiliate Program's homepage



Commission: 30% recurring, up to 50% through monthly bonuses

Cookie Life: 90 days

Teachable Affiliate Program's homepage


Commission: 30% recurring

Cookie Life: One year

AWeber affiliate program's homepage


Conversion: 30% recurring

Cookie life: 30 days

ConvertKit Affiliate Program's homepage

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Luca Harsh

Luca Harsh

Luca Harsh is an in-house content writer for Sav. They live in Chicago with their cat, Polly. Yes, Harsh is their real last name.