The Most Popular Affiliate Networks

An Introduction to the Most Popular Affiliate Networks And Other Options

We’ve already discussed one of the biggest affiliate networks JVZoo (http://www.jvzoo.com) and how to get set up with them. This is the number one affiliate market that we recommend, as it has the easiest set up, the most intuitive interface and the most flexible system.

ClickBank, CJ and More

ClickBank is one of the biggest and oldest affiliate markets out there. It pretty much popularized the idea of affiliate marketing and as a result it has had plenty of time to grow and to acquire a huge number of products. You can sign up here: www.ClickBank.com
How about the others?

Another popular one is Commission Junction (www.cj.com). This is similar to ClickBank in that it is a very large affiliate network with a large number of different products on offer. Commission Junction has slightly fewer products than Clickbank, slightly worse analytics and slightly worse support (it has seen several rebrandings). Stick with JVZoo and Clickbank then and consider CJ your ‘third choice’.

If you’re looking for something a bit different though, then a good choice for you might be Warrior Special Offers or WSO. Full disclosure: this site is only for products in the ‘make money online niche’ but you’ll find that this accounts for a lot of digital products no matter what network you choose. Warrior Forum is a forum aimed at digital marketers of all kinds as well as webmasters. The idea is that people meet here in order to discuss marketing opportunities and strategies, to review products and techniques and generally to discuss war stories.

However, the forum has grown to become rather large and this has resulted in the creation of ‘Warrior Special Offers’, a section specifically for people who want to buy and sell products and services (the idea being that you provide some kind of ‘special offer’ for warriors, but this is easy enough to ignore).

This part of the forum has also grown and now has its own affiliate program, meaning that you can sell products that other warriors are selling. The handy thing about choosing WSO is that it has the forum attached which presents some more unique opportunities. Specifically, it means you can spend time interacting in the forum, getting to know people and developing a reputation as someone who can be trusted in the forum before you go on to start selling products. It also means you can easily communicate directly with the sellers and you can get to know them before you start promoting their products. On the downside, the landing pages that WSO uses are essentially just forum posts.

WSO also charges lower fees than the other affiliate networks. It’s certainly worth considering if it aligns with your business strategy, though its lack of versatility means that a lot of people won’t be able to rely on this as their primary affiliate network.
Another lesser known affiliate network is BlueSnap, which was formerly known as Plimus. The only reason this is being included in this article is to demonstrate just how important it is to do your research before you start using an affiliate network. BlueSnap changed its name to avoid very bad press and has done nothing to shape up its practices since then. The company is known for taking huge fees from their sellers and product creators alike and this goes as far as charging a $10 maintenance fee every month. If you don’t sell anything one month, you can actually end up in minus figures! Steer clear of this company at all costs.
Google once had their own affiliate network called ‘Google Affiliate Network’ (imaginative) though it closed down a few years ago.

Amazon Associates

When you think ‘affiliate network’, it’s services like CJ, JVZoo and Clickbank that often spring to mind. However, these represent just one kind of affiliate network and there are others that can provide a variety of other benefits.

For instance, there is Amazon. Amazon has its own affiliate network called ‘Amazon Associates’ which effectively allows you to sell anything you can find on Amazon. While Clickbank has a wide range of products including dancing classes and skin care programs, Amazon sells pretty much every kind of product you can think of including a huge selection of physical products (and of course eBooks through the Kindle Store).

Physical Products or Digital Products?

When deciding whether something like Amazon is right for you, looking at whether you’d rather sell digital products or physical products is often a very good place to start.

So what’s the difference? Oh, only everything.

Selling digital products is very popular among product creators because it completely removes the overheads. Digital products have no ‘COGs’ (Cost Of Goods Sold) because it costs nothing to product them, nothing to store them and nothing to ship them. This means that once you’ve developed the product, you can sell it in vast quantities.

What that means for you as an affiliate meanwhile, is that you can sell the products and get a much bigger share of the profit. Remember, somewhere like JVZoo or Clickbank can net you as much as 60% or even 75% of the cost price in some cases. This is because there is just one seller and they are getting nearly 100% profit for each sale – they can offer you as much as they like and they don’t stand to lose much.

But when you sell a physical product, things are quite different. In this case, the physical product will have specific costs associated with it and it the profit is likely to be much smaller for the product creator. Creating physical products requires materials and manufacturing and as such, it will normally be outsources. What’s more, the product creator will rarely sell their product or be directly involved with their own marketing. In the case of Amazon for instance, Amazon is a reseller and needs to get a cut of the profit too. Most commonly, resellers will get a 100% profit on everything they buy. This is called ‘keystoning’, where a reseller sells a product for twice the cost they bought it.

Then there is shipping and delivery to consider, packaging and more.

All this means that with something like Amazon Associates, you actually will only get around 4-8% commission on the cost price as opposed to 60-75%. That’s of course much less and that means you have to sell an awful lot more in order to make even close to the same amount of money.

So on the face of it, you might jump to the conclusion that physical products are vastly inferior to digital products when it comes to trying to sell. But that would be a little hasty…

In many ways you see, physical products actually have the edge.

For starters, there’s the simple fact that a lot of people just don’t buy digital products. Think about the people you know in your own life – would all of them buy digital products? The older generation don’t tend to buy things that they can’t physically hold and perhaps wouldn’t even know what to do with an eBook. Likewise, most of us have technophobe friends who wouldn’t want to buy a product online that they’d never get to see.

And there’s only so much value that an eBook can offer. A lot of people don’t read books at all and most of those people who do would still rather have a physical book they can hold (and check before they buy). What’s more, eBooks require you to read them on a device like a tablet or a Kindle – devices that not everyone has and that can strain the eyes when reading outdoors or in other situations.

There’s just not that much else you can do with a digital product. Sure, there are eCourses but these only appeal to people who are looking to learn something very specific and have a lot of time on their hands. Then there are things like software but that’s somewhat limiting in terms of scope too.

On the other hand, a physical product can be anything. Through Amazon Associates you can sell shoes, you can sell books, you can sell computers, you can sell clothing… the list goes on and on. This means it’s much easier to find a product that specifically relates to your chosen niche or a specific article and then to sell that through Amazon.

When you think of what you consider to be a ‘real business’, you’ll no doubt think of companies that sell real physical products. That’s because these still provide the most tangible value and benefit to the end user and because they have the widest selection.

When you sell physical products, you of course open up the potential audience to a massive degree and can now sell to an entirely different kind of person. If you’re just selling digital products, then you might be leaving a lot of money on the table.

So what’s the best answer? Most likely it’s to sell both. Possibly not to begin with but once you’re comfortable as an affiliate marketer, it’s very much worth considering branching out into this area.

Amazon Associates has a ton of other benefits and features too that make it a great choice for affiliates.

For one, Amazon is a very trusted and well-known shopping platform. When you’re trying to sell anything it’s important to recognize and then overcome any ‘barriers to sale’ – things that might put off your potential customers from buying from you. One of the very biggest barriers to sale for an affiliate marketer in particular is a lack of trust: people worry that their card details won’t be secure, or that they’ll buy the product and they’ll never hear from you again or see the product that they paid for. When they buy through Amazon though, they know this isn’t going to happen because they’ll likely have used the company many times before. It also means that they can buy the product with a single click instead of having to sign up for a new account and get out their credit card. Remember what we said about people buying impulsively and based on emotion? If they have to work to complete the transaction, then you can lose that moment and lose the sale. When you choose Amazon Associates, you get to benefit from their ‘buy with one click’ button, which helps them to sell thousands more products than they otherwise would.

Amazon Associates is also somewhat generous in terms of what it counts as a referral. If someone clicks on your affiliate link and visits Amazon, you get paid your commission  no matter what they buy. So if you recommend a new type of protein shake and they go to the site and buy gloves, you still make the commission. Of course there are some very high ticket items on here too: if someone buys a computer or a television then 8% might suddenly be quite a decent amount of money.

Another benefit of this platform is that it provides a lot of tools. You can create your links simply by copying and pasting a URL for instance, which lets you embed products directly into your articles – but you can also go further and use images or even sliders that scroll through multiple products. This lets you create a quite effective online store almost right on the same page as your article.

Amazon Associates vs AdSense and How to Sell Amazon Products Effectively

AdSense is the ad network from Google that you would post on your site if you were trying to make money as a publisher. These are the same as Google AdWords, except they appear embedded on publishers’ sites instead of appearing on searches.

If you opt for an image and affiliate link for selling your item, then you can treat this just like PPC. In other words, you can place the ads on your page and wait for people to click them and potentially buy a product. You don’t have to do any promotion and the image will work for itself. You can even set it up to work like an ad and to take advantage of Amazon’s own remarketing – meaning you don’t have to pick and choose the products yourself.

But if you do this, then you’ll find that your Amazon ads are no more effective than Google ads – which is to say they won’t earn you all that much cash. Unfortunately, if you simply leave an ad on your page and wait for clicks, then only a few of your visitors will click those ads and even fewer will buy anything. If you have a thousand visitors to your page a day, then you can expect to make about a dollar from Amazon Associates ads a week. Not great!

But you can do better than that by treating your Associates account less like display ads and more like an affiliate account. In other words, it’s time to make like an affiliate marketer. Don’t just take your adverts and leave them there: promote them!

This is the excellent difference between Amazon Associates and Google AdSense. With AdSense, you aren’t allowed to promote the ads as a publisher and have to act as though they aren’t there. With Amazon Associates though, you can select the product, you can explain why it’s great and you can then tell your visitors that they’ll be supporting your site if they buy through the link. As you can imagine, this has the potential to make a huge difference to your sales. Even better, you can combine techniques – having some Amazon Ads around the page while promoting specific links within the body of your articles.

The best approach here is to find a product that you genuinely think is really good. Then promote it in a way that’s honest and open within the body of a well-structured and unique article. This can be highly effective and lead to a lot of sales.

ShareASale

Another interesting option for your affiliate products is ShareASale. ShareASale is site that is dedicated to affiliate marketing (unlike Amazon) but which allows you to sell physical products (unlike JVZoo). What ShareASale also has going for it is that it offers  a bigger range of items and often with more commission. Some products provide as much as 20% commission or more and you can choose from a range of exciting brands, selling clothing, furniture and a range of other things. You can even sell experience days, holidays and more.

There isn’t the selection of products available here that there is on Amazon (of course) and it’s a little more fiddly to get started. The website also isn’t quite as intuitive or feature-rich as the Amazon Associates site. However, if you want to sell a physical product and don’t like the low commissions on Amazon, it’s at least checking here just  to see if there is something that will work well with your business model and niche.

More Options and Strategies

So we’ve seen a ton of different affiliate networks now, which have included the likes of JVZoo, ClickBank, Commission Junction, WSO, Amazon Associates, BlueSnap and ShareASale. But what if you’ve looked at all of these and you still feel that  there’s nothing out there that’s quite perfect for you to sell?

Well, this is where you need to start doing your own work. You see there is actually no limit to what you can sell and there’s always something out there even if you haven’t found it yet – you just need to take initiative sometimes and go out there to locate it.

One example of how you can do this is simply to browse the web for affiliate programs. Sometimes you’ll find that manufacturers and service providers have affiliate programs that they only promote directly through their website. Find a company that makes supplements, clothes or equipment, or look for one that offers a service and then look to the bottom of the page. You may just find that they have an affiliate scheme or an invitation to work together. And because these companies don’t go through an affiliate network, you’ll often find you can actually earn more this way.

If you think that sounds like a lot of work then you can save time by simply searching in Google for affiliate programs. Just use a string like ‘affiliate program’ or ‘affiliate marketers wanted’ and that will often bring up a number of companies that are directly working with affiliates. This way you can expect to make more money and have a better selection of physical and digital products.

And last but not least you can make your own opportunities. If you find a company that sells a product you love but they don’t already offer an affiliate program, then just suggest that maybe they should. Pick up the phone or write an e-mail and say that you love what they do and that you’d like to help them promote their products. This  can often be more successful than you’d think – especially if you help them to set up and thus save them the work.

Another option is to find someone who creates products and to agree to set out with this business model in mind to begin with. If you’re someone who is good at marketing  things but you don’t know how to create your own products, then just find a friend or business partner to work with and offer to help them sell if they create something. The great thing about this strategy is that this way you also get some say in what it is you want to make. This in turn means you can choose to make something that you know you’ll be able to sell and perhaps that caters to the market you’ve already formed.

In either case, you’ll also find that you’re more likely to get a positive response if you can demonstrate that you already have a following and if you can show that you’ll be able to sell to them.