How to pick a good affiliate program? ( In 14 Steps )

There are a lot of affiliate programs out there, and your job as an affiliate marketer is to pick the best affiliate program for your niche. Generally speaking, affiliate programs tend to be of two types, physical and digital products, although you do not have to actually sell anything for a lot of affiliate programs. Most affiliate programs will pay a percentage of the sale or per sign up, how high the payout percentage is depends on the actual affiliate product.

You can pick a good affiliate program by checking the reputation of the program, making a lot of tests,  using affiliate programs which your competitors are using, focusing on conversions and not on earnings potential, not focusing on CPC potential, knowing your audience, making sure that the affiliate offer is useful to your users, testing the landing pages, watching out for fake stats, avoiding commissions in multiple currencies, testing for shaving, watching out for email subscriptions, knowing what mobile traffic scalping is and checking if the affiliate program actually pays.

A lot of beginners jump on the highest paying affiliate programs, the more expensive a product is the higher the commissions will be. The problem is that a lot of affiliate programs simply do not convert, while others that do actually convert tend to have a fairly small commission. Generally speaking, physical products tend to have a commission range of around 5%, although this also depends on the niche and of the affiliate program.

On the other hand affiliate programs for digital products tend to have a lot higher commissions, and by that I mean even up to 90% commission. Some affiliate programs for digital products also offer a recurring commission as long as the user is paying the monthly fees. If your website is in a niche where physical products could work well then your best option is the Amazon affiliate program.

The commissions are not that high, but Amazon is very good at getting people to buy, and on top of that a lot of people actually have an Amazon account. On the other hand, if you want higher commissions then you can go with ShareASale or similar affiliate programs, although you will find that it extremely hard to get a couple of sales and the Amazon affiliate program will easily make you more money even if the commotions are at just 1%. If you want to make a profit, then you do not actually need to use affiliate programs, for more information check out my recent article How to resell SEO services for a profit? ( In 8 Easy Steps ).

Reputation

The first thing that you need to do to find a good affiliate program is to look for reputable programs. There are a lot of affiliate programs popping up every day, most of them will flop and nobody will ever promote them. The problem is that the competition between these affiliate programs is massive, and everybody wants new affiliates to promote their products. There are also a lot of scammy affiliate programs so you have to watch out for them.

If you have found an affiliate program that looks too good to be true then it probably is. You should ask around in forums what other people’s experience is with that specific program and if nobody has heard from them then proceed with caution. Depending on what type of blog you own, you have a lot of options for monetizing them, for more information check out my recent article Types of blogs that make money ( Top 18 Types ).

Use affiliate programs used by your competition

If you are in a competitive niche and you do not know which affiliate program or product you should promote than your best bet is to check out what your competition is promoting. Simply find the biggest websites in your niche and take a look at what kind of affiliate programs they are using.  Big websites which tend to have a lot of traffic have an easier time testing out affiliate programs as they have a lot of traffic.

If you have a website with 100 visitors per day than it will be extremely hard to test how the affiliate program performs, so follow the big boys in your niche as odds are that they are promoting a highly-converting offer. If you are wondering how much will take you to earn $500/mo with your blog then check out my recent article How long does it take to make 500 per month blogging? ( The Truth ).

Make a lot of tests

As an affiliate marketer, your job is to test out a lot of affiliate programs and stick with the ones which are converting the best. Every niche and every affiliate program will convert in different ways, some programs might work well for you while the same affiliate programs will not work for other affiliates.

Focus on conversions and not on earning potential

A lot of people simply pick the most expensive affiliate product to promote and then wonder why they are not getting any conversion. Most affiliate programs will have a list of offers and you can easily find out which ones are converting well. Pick a couple of these high converting offers and A/B test them on your site, and simply stick with the one that is converting the best. Although you will need a lot of traffic to A/B test several offers, the more traffic you have the easier it will be to test.

Don’t focus on CPC potential

A lot of affiliate programs which have several offers tend to show statistic which shows how much money on average is earned with one click. Usually, this statistic is fairly useless, lets say for example the affiliate commission for the offer is $100, and if the offer only gets 10 visitors and one conversion than the CPC earnings will be $10. You might think that this is extremely good, but odds are that nobody is promoting this offer, because it doesn’t convert.

Know your audience

In order to be able to promote affiliate products which also convert you will need to know your audience. Every niche has a different audience and the better you know your audience the easier it will be to promote affiliate products. Make sure that the affiliate product is actually relevant to your niche, as this way the conversions will be a lot higher. If you are promoting an offer just because it converts well but it isn’t actually in your websites niche than the odds of converting your visitors into buyers will be extremely low.

Make sure that the affiliate offer is useful to your users

Generally speaking, affiliate programs that actually solve a problem tend to convert the best, although this also depends on your niche. The users of your website will have a certain expectation from you, especially if you have a large social media following. Their expectation is for you to promote something good, and if you promote some scam offer than odds of them coming back to your website are very low.

Test the landing pages

Once you have found a good affiliate program or product to promote then you have to test out the landing page. A lot of landing pages are not optimized for speed, and once a user clicks on the affiliate link he will simply bounce off if the landing page loads extremely slowly. Even reputable affiliate programs tend to have a lot of offers with slowly loading landing pages. In some cases, you will find that the landing page doesn’t work, or it is not even mobile responsive.

You should check the landing pages both on desktop and on mobile devices, if the landing page uses several popups than stay away from it, these usually do not convert and the affiliate program owners try to get the visitors to convert with any means they can.

Watch out for fake stats

There are a lot of scam affiliate programs out there, and what they usually tend to do is they will inflate your stats and even give you a couple of conversions, but just below the payout threshold. This way you keep promoting the affiliate program without getting paid, especially if you are close to the payout threshold. In the past couple of months this exact thing happened to me, I promoted an affiliate product but took down the links after 3 days.

Guess what, without even sending traffic I was getting conversions almost every day until I almost reached the payout threshold and all of a sudden the conversions have stopped.

Avoid commissions in multiple currencies

Most affiliate programs have a payout threshold, usually around the $100 mark. A lot of dodgy affiliate programs will have several currencies, and you will have to reach the threshold with one of them to get paid. For example, if the program has the Dollar, and EU currencies and the stats are displayed separately than you will have to reach the $100 or the 100 EU mark to get paid. Although affiliate programs that do this kind of thing tend to have a lot of currencies so watch out for these programs.

Test for shaving

The word shaving is prohibited on a lot of affiliate forums, every affiliate network will say that they are not showing but the truth is that they are. Shaving can be done by the affiliate offer owner and by the network itself, in the worst-case scenario both of them shave. The owner of the affiliate offer needs to make a profit, so they simply flag a couple of conversions as fraudulent, in some cases this is actually the case but not always.

On the other hand, a lot of affiliate networks also tend to shave, this way they earn more money, especially if the percentage which they are earning is fairly small. A lot of times when enough people start complaining the owners of the offer or the network admins will make an announcement that something went wrong with the pixel tracking or some other technical aspects and that they are sorry, and as by magic your conversions get back on track the next day.

Email subscription

A lot of affiliate offers do not actually have the possibility for the user to purchase the product on the landing page, and instead, the user has to sign up to their email list. At this point, you are just sending leads to an offer and never getting paid for them as the users don’t directly have to option to buy the product on the landing page. There are a lot of affiliate programs that do this so you should watch out for them.

Mobile traffic scalping

The mobile traffic scalping is a fairly new method, although it has been used in the industry since mobile traffic has started to grow. The mobile traffic scalping method works like this, you check out the offer on desktop and everything looks good, but once you check out the offer on a mobile device you will see an app pop up on the top of your screen with the affiliate programs own app.

Usually, this app will give a discount for the user, so it is a no brainer for a user to download the app and buy the product with the app. The problem is that you do not actually get the conversion as the user has bought the product with the app and not with your affiliate link. At that point you are simply giving away your mobile traffic to the owners of the affiliate program, so avoid these.

Make sure that they pay

Lastly, you have to make sure that the affiliate program actually pays, for every legit affiliate program there are around 2 affiliate programs that not only scam you as an affiliate but your users as well. You should also check out what the payment threshold is and how they are actually paying. Some affiliate programs also have a processing fee for sending out payments, the highly reputable programs do not have any kind of fee for sending you your own money.

You should ask around on forums to see if anybody got paid by them, there are a lot of affiliate programs out there and even industry veterans do not know them all.

In conclusion

As you can see there are a couple of steps which you have to take in order to pick a good affiliate program, mostly you will have to watch out for shady tactics by the affiliate program owners, and then focusing on optimizing and increasing your conversions.

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