Tired of searching through endless pages of legal jargon to find the best affiliate sites for your website?

The good news is you’re not alone. Most online marketers – myself included – have signed up for way too many affiliate programs that never earned a single dollar. Figuring out which companies offer the best affiliate sites is one of the most common (and fundamental) questions to think about as you start to build a site.

Unfortunately, there is no ONE BEST company to work with when choosing an affiliate program. There are tons of factors at play and the best programs in general are not necessarily the best programs for your site. So, while you’ll still have to dig around for information on any program you’re interested in signing up for, here are some things to think about as you do.

What Makes a Good Affiliate Program:

  1. High Commissions: This is probably the most obvious element of a good affiliate program, and the thing that most people look for. However, a simple promise of a high commission rate doesn’t necessarily translate into dollars in your pocket.
  2. High Conversion Rate: The conversion rate is just as, if not more important than the commission rate. If an affiliate program doesn’t provide a lot of data on their conversion rates, it might mean they’re trying to hide the fact that their products don’t sell very well. If you’re comparing two viable programs, be sure to do the math on the conversion vs. commission rates for each site, for a few different scenarios.
  3. Low Payment Threshold: The payment threshold is an important but often overlooked element for new internet marketers. This number is the amount you need to earn before the company will pay you. If you have a site (or a portfolio of sites) with a lot of traffic, this factor is less important, but when you’re just starting out it can be difficult to hit a high number, and there is nothing more frustrating than watching your earnings sitting in another company’s bank account.
  4. Upsell or Subscription Opportunity: While product upsells and subscriptions aren’t the number 1 factor in whether you should join an affiliate program, it can be a great bonus. Programs that have high retention rates are more likely to offer your ongoing income that is 100% passive, so you can still earn revenue even if you don’t send the site any new users.
  5. Quality Products: This factor often goes along with the high conversion rate, as conversion rate is a method of validating trust in a supplier. You should spend time evaluating the website and product in question before signing up for their program. If you think it looks sketchy, so will your readers.
  6. Relevant Products: It doesn’t matter how “perfect” a program seems; if it isn’t relevant to your site, it isn’t right for you. Don’t be swayed by other webmasters blogging about their #1 program, because if the program is unrelated, it won’t provide any value to your users. Provide value and your users are more likely to buy.

And remember:

  • Affiliate programs are run by marketers too. Just like you’re trying to convince your users to buy a product or use a new website, affiliate companies are trying to get you to sign up for their programs. So, you’ll hear a lot of false claims. They’ll promote the one great aspect of their site (up to 50% commissions!!!) while neglecting to tell you about the pitfalls (such as low conversion rates and high payment thresholds). You can read more about how to avoid affiliate marketing scams.

For specific program reviews and opportunities check out our affiliate program review section.