Many location independent business owners and budding digital nomads asked us what the top affiliate programs for beginners are. Despite regularly updating our list of the best affiliate marketing programs on the market, we fully understand that 14+ programs might look a bit overwhelming when starting out. Hence we reduced the number to enlist only the top 5 best affiliate programs for beginners here.
Especially when you are new to affiliate marketing, it is important that you focus on a few selected products. Don’t try to promote everything. Your audience will have no idea what you are actually trying to teach them, all your income is scattered all across the web and you rarely reach payment thresholds. That’s why we only compiled the top 5 best affiliate programs for beginners here.
In case you did gain a little experience with affiliate marketing already, please feel free to scroll right down to the section ‘top 5 best affiliate programs for beginners’. However, since this guide is specifically dedicated to newcomers, we would like to offer a few words of general advice on affiliate marketing first.
What Affiliate Marketing Is And How It Works
Affiliate Marketing is the art of getting paid for recommending products and/or services to other people. The beauty is, that you recommend other people’s products and services. This means you don’t have to create any product yourself, nor store inventory or handle complaints or returns etc.
Affiliate marketing is all around us, and most likely you have been involved in affiliate marketing before as well. It is exactly the same as a car sales man recommending you the best car, and getting remunerated by the car manufacturer in case you purchase the car. It is the same as a travel agent creating the perfect holiday package for you – once you pay for the package, the agent earns a commission on the sale.
Of course, in the best case, both the car sales man and the travel agent have your best interested in mind and know exactly what they are talking about. They listen to your needs and not just try to force the highest-yielding option upon you. They have test-driven the car or been to the holiday destination themselves.
In case they haven’t, and they’re trying to bullshit their way through the sales talk, you will quickly call them out as charlatans, and go buy your car or holiday package elsewhere. In a world where all knowledge is available at the click of a mouse, it has become super difficult to bullshit people.
How To Be Successful With Affiliate Marketing
Our best advice to you is: Do not try to bullshit people. Do not try to recommend products that you have little or no knowledge of. It might actually even work once or twice, but you’ll quickly get caught out and lose people’s trust.
If done right, with affiliate marketing can easily earn money online and create a sustainable passive income. However, this only works if you solely recommend products that you use yourself, and give honest recommendations on these to your audience.
Not all products are suitable for everyone, and your best bet is to be open and honest about this. That way you can build up trust, and your clients will come back for more.
Furthermore, three out of the top five best affiliate programs for beginners pay lifetime commission. This means clients subscribe to a service, and renew their subscription in regular intervals. Whenever they renew their subscription, you receive a commission – potentially until the end of your days.
Which, again, should motivate you to only promote the right products to the right people. If they end up loving the services your recommended, you end up earning a completely passive income for as long as they are subscribed.
One Word Of Warning
Before diving head first into the world of affiliate marketing and betting your entire retirement on this project, we’d like to highlight one important fact: When earning money with affiliate marketing, you are promoting other people’s products to get remunerated by them.
This makes you extremely vulnerable for two reasons: Firstly, affiliate program conditions can change any time. A company may decide to lower their affiliate commissions or cease their affiliate program entirely. It won’t happen every day, but we have seen many an affiliate program disappear over time, same as new affiliate programs come into being on a regular basis.
Secondly, the product you are promoting can be shut down any day. Again, it is not super likely, but bear in mind it is not impossible either.
For your own sake, we highly recommend you to build up multiple income streams, and not solely rely on affiliate marketing. If you do, make sure to join several affiliate programs by several companies, to not be caught butt-naked in case one single program is discontinued. There are better moments to be caught butt-naked in.
What You Need To Become An Affiliate Marketer
In a nutshell, all you need to become an affiliate marketer is someone to market to. As soon as you have an audience, big or small, you can start recommending products to them.
Of course it helps to grow this audience as big as possible. The bigger the audience, the higher your chances to find clients.
In addition, trust is key to successful affiliate marketing. You wouldn’t buy stuff from people you don’t trust, would you? So try to build up a relationship with people before pitching them a sale. It will significantly boost your conversion rates!
To achieve the above in one smooth move, we recommend you to create your own website, load it with useful content, and then advice people which products and services you used to become successful.
In case you don’t have a website yet, are lacking sufficient traffic or haven’t mastered email marketing to date, read How to become a digital nomad in less than a week first.
Follow the guide, and you will have a website and traffic and an excellent email marketing system within six days. Then you may still start making money with those top 5 best affiliate programs we recommend for beginners.
Selecting The Top Affiliate Programs For Beginners
Choosing as few as five affiliate programs out of the 1,000s there are out there, one has to be quite strict in its selection process. When evaluating these top 5 affiliate programs, we had to bear a couple of things in mind:
Firstly, it needs to be a good product. Never ever should you promote bad products! Don’t sell your soul for money. It’s worth a lot more than that. (It should be, anyway.)
Secondly, all chosen affiliate programs offer services that are extremely useful for budding affiliate marketers themselves. This criterion is an absolute must, since you should never promote a product you don’t fully understand.
Whatever you decide to promote, stress-test the service properly before recommending it to others. In the best case, only promote software and products you actually use yourself in everyday business, so you can always offer up to date insights to your clients. All enlisted affiliate programs are highly useful for newcomers. Make sure to check each of them in detail before marketing them.
Return On Investment
Thirdly, of course the remuneration should be worth the effort of both time and money to promote the product. Otherwise you better invest your time and money into doing something else.
Ease Of Getting Started
Fourthly, the set-up of the affiliate program must be as painless as possible. No beginner wants to spend hours coding around to possibly see a few dollars roll in afterwards. None of the chosen affiliate programs requires any coding or technical knowledge, usually you’re just a sign-up away from becoming an affiliate. (And three months of testing the product yourself, of course.)
Location Independence And Scalability
Fifthly, we decided to only enlist digital services as top 5 best affiliate programs for beginners. This ensures that you can sell them location independently all over the globe, and your sales are scalable without issues. Besides, digital services usually offer higher commissions than tangible products.
Potential Audience Size
Lastly, the product needs to be useful for many people in order to make it into the top 5 best affiliate programs for beginners. If it is too niche, your audience is limited, and the earning potential comparatively lower.
Note: Don’t get us wrong here: Niche affiliate programs can offer excellent returns when promoted properly to the right people. However, we know that proper niche marketing is an exercise for advanced marketers, so these top 5 affiliate programs for beginners are all mass-market products.
As stated already, selecting as few as five top affiliate programs is quite a hard task amongst the wealth of affiliate programs there is these days. However, following the above listed criteria, we have chosen this handful, and hope you find it helpful. In case you particularly love one of the enlisted programs or are missing anything, please let us know in the comments.
And, just to highlight it again: Before participating in any affiliate program, please do test and use the service yourself! As rule of thumb, we recommend to use them for a minimum of three months before joining the affiliate program. (Nope, nobody ever said affiliate marketing is a get-rich-quick-scheme. Only scams are. Affiliate marketing is no such scam. So don’t make it one.)
1. FatCow: The Best Web Hosting Affiliate Program
Since every affiliate marketer needs a professional website, buying a hosting plan is the first step to success. As FatCow pays an industry-leading 100-125 USD per new client, it definitely dominates the market when it comes to web host affiliate programs for beginners.
Because pretty much any website out there has signed up for a different web host affiliate program, you will find varying reviews out there on the performance of FatCow compared to other web hosts. Which, again, is why you should test it yourself first, before deciding for or against promoting it.
FatCow hosting plans start at 49 USD per year to kick off with, and renew at 12.95 USD a month, which is a fair price for an all-in shared hosting package. The package includes a free domain, unlimited domain name hosting, email addresses and traffic. Basically everything you need to get started.
Admittedly, there are cheaper web hosts out there, but the troubles you will run into are not worth the hassle. Don’t skimp in the wrong place. You get what you pay for. A good web host is the core of your location independent business. Invest wisely.
We personally like the clean user interface of FatCow, which is much clearer laid out than many of its competitors. The service team is quick and helpful, which is a big plus for newcomers (and unfortunately not too common in the world of web hosts).
Big bonus: FatCow promises 100% green energy for all its hosting plans. So their affiliate program is not just great news for your wallet, but also for the planet.
Update: As of January 2017, FatCow decided to abandon all wind energy projects for the time being. Big shame, we think. If you agree, please encourage them to continue this or similar green projects. Together we can make a difference.
FatCow Web Hosting Affiliate Program Summary
Purchase Costs: Low: 49 USD for the initial year
Maintenance Costs: Medium: 155.40 USD per year
Earning potential: High: 100-125 USD per new client
ROI potential: Very high: 1 new client compensates for 200% of the initial purchase costs
2. ElegantThemes: The Best WordPress Theme Affiliate Program
Once you got hosting, you do need a theme. Instead of opting for a free theme, do yourself a favor and invest in a paid theme such as Divi by Elegant Themes. You will enjoy greater flexibility, the ease of creating websites with the Divi builder as well as further selected plugins.
In addition, you can wholeheartedly recommend Elegant Themes to your entire audience. And make some money.
The reason why Elegant Themes is part of the top 5 best affiliate programs for beginners is simple: It offers the best affiliate program amongst theme developers. You earn a stunning 50% recurring commission on each sale you refer! Since many newcomers pay for their theme year-on-year, this can become a healthy basis for your passive income stream.
Personal access costs 69 USD per year, certain plugins cost extra.
Big bonus: Elegant Themes offers lifetime access for a one-off fee of 249 USD. This includes all plugins as well as the latest updates for life. Never will you have to worry about paying for a theme again.
ElegantThemese WordPress Theme Affiliate Program Summary
Purchase Costs: Low: 69 USD for the initial year
Maintenance Costs: Low: 69 USD per year (or 249 USD for lifetime access)
Earning potential: Medium: 23 USD per new client per year
ROI potential: High: 2 new clients compensate for 100% of the initial purchase costs; 11 new clients pay for your lifetime license within one year. All following years are pure profit.
3. GetResponse: The Best E-Mail-Marketing Affiliate Program
GetResponse clearly leaves the competition in the dust. Not only does it offer the best email marketing program out there, but with a whopping 33% lifetime commission it also features the highest paying affiliate program in the email marketing industry.
Quite an achievement, given the fact that pretty much any email marketing service offers an affiliate program. So welcome amongst the top 5 best affiliate programs for beginners, GetResponse. Well done!
30 days’ trial are free, afterwards you’ll pay 15 USD a month for up to 1,000 subscribers. Since email marketing still yields the by far highest ROI of any marketing method there is, this investment pays out in a few clicks (literally).
With tags, workflows, survey integration and landing pages all included in the basic package the value for money is unbeaten in the industry.
Big bonus: Since commissions are recurring, you only need to sign up 3 new clients on the same plan as yours to enjoy a world-class email marketing service free for life.
(Of course only as long as your clients remain on board as well. But once you get used to GetResponse and see the returns rolling in, it is highly unlikely anyone ever wants to downgrade again to a different provider.)
GetResponse E-Mail-Marketing Affiliate Program Summary
Purchase Costs: Medium: 150 USD for the initial year (basic package)
Maintenance Costs: Medium: 150 USD per year (basic package)
Earning potential: High: min. 60 USD per new client per year (basic package) – up to 660 USD per year per new client in the Max Package
ROI potential: High: 3 new clients compensate for 100% of the initial purchase costs; lifetime commissions generate passive income every year
4. LongTailPro: The Best SEO Keyword Research Tool Affiliate Program
To be honest, there are better paying affiliate programs for SEO keyword research tools out there than LongTailPro. However, those programs also cost a lot more, hence are less likely to be purchased and used by new kids on the block.
Since these are the top 5 best affiliate programs for beginners, and we sincerely hope you take our advice and use each and every single product first before wildly promoting it all over the web, we understand that we need to keep purchasing costs low and hence opted for LongTailPro in this article. It costs less, hence it earns less. Makes sense, right?
Having said that: LongTailPro is indeed an excellent keyword research tool. Despite costing less than most of its competitors, it is extremely powerful when trying to score the top ranks in Google.
As the name suggests, LTP focuses on long tail keywords, which are keywords consisting of four or more words. Since most top spots for one- or two-keyword phrases are already taken by huge corporations, newcomers are better off focusing on populating the search results for long tail keywords.
This mighty tool helps you with your SEO by suggesting alternative keywords, a little like the free Google Keyword Planner. In addition, it offers a huge load of information on the keywords itself as well as all competitors on Google’s first page, including the sites’ ages, number of backlinks and other keywords they rank for. It has never been easier to find competitors you can actually beat!
LongTailPro usually costs 25 USD per month if paid annually, but the first week comes at a single dollar only. These sneaky programmers know that you can never go without again, once you realized how easy successful SEO can actually be. Trust us: It’s an investment very worth its costs!
As soon as you are converted, help others boost their SEO. Your reward will be 30% recurring commissions.
Big bonus: Once you got LongTailPro, level up your own SEO game to attract even more people to your affiliate marketing pages!
LongTailPro SEO Keyword Research Tool Affiliate Program Summary
Purchase Costs: High: 300 USD for the initial year (starter plan)
Maintenance Costs: High: 300 USD per year (starter plan)
Earning potential: High: min. 100 USD per new client per year (basic package) – up to 392 USD per year per new client in the Agency Plan
ROI potential: High: 3 new clients compensate for 100% of the initial purchase costs; recurring commissions generate passive income every year
5. PeoplePerHour: The Best Outsourcing Website Affiliate Program
PeoplePerHour is not only an excellent place to basically outsource your entire life, but also one of the few outsourcing platforms to run an affiliate program. Strange that not all of the best outsourcing platforms on the web have affiliate programs.
As competition is low, it is not super difficult for PeoplePerHour to score the top rank among the affiliate programs in its industry.
The main reason why it is listed amongst the top 5 best affiliate programs for beginners is its sensational conversion rate. When signing up a new person, both you and the new client receive 25 USD. The new user receives a 25 USD credit for their first project, and you receive 25 USD as soon as they complete their first project. It’s a brilliant win-win situation, so spreading the word and converting new outsourcers is actually quite simple.
The smart Brits behind PeoplePerHour decided that you can only join the affiliate program once you open an account for yourself. But you were planning on doing that for test purposes anyway, weren’t you?
Big bonus: Besides earning you money, PeoplePerHour will also save you huge amounts of time. As stated, you can basically outsource your entire life, including accounting, graphic design, content creation and anything else that keeps you from leisurely swinging in a hammock sipping Pina Coladas. It even frees up enough time for you to leave us a ‘Thank You’ note in the comments, right?
PeoplePerHour Outsourcing Website Affiliate Program Summary
Purchase Costs: Super low: 0 USD for the account; actual expenses depend on the number of projects you outsource.
Maintenance Costs: Super Low: 0 USD per year for the account; actual expenses depend on the number of projects you outsource.
Earning potential: Medium: 25 USD per new client
ROI potential: Very high: Your account is free, new clients bring in 25 USD. Basically an infinite return on investment, since there is no investment.
The Next Steps
Now that you learned everything you need to know about the top 5 best affiliate programs for beginners, please go ahead and try them out. As said, not every program is for every person, and surely you are different than that other lad who’s currently reading the article.
In case you have tried them all and couldn’t find what you are looking for quite yet, take a look at the best affiliate marketing programs on the web for further inspiration. Maybe that list contains what you need?
In case it doesn’t, please drop us a note in the comments below with your expectations of the perfect affiliate marketing program. If you like, feel free to also share what you believe is the currently best affiliate program out there. Sure there are loads of people who will appreciate your help.
We wish you all the best of success. More time to travel. And more money to spend.