Affiliate Networks for Beginners

In our previous article we discussed how to find the right niche for your affiliate marketing business. So by now you should have done your research and found something. If not, you may recall I mentioned you could work backwards and see what types of products/brands are available to promote once you’ve joined an affiliate network. For this segment we are going to talk about how to join an affiliate network, the differences, and which ones we recommend.

Types of Affiliate Networks

There are generally three main types of affiliate networks:

Affiliate Network – Affiliate networks are more retail product oriented. They feature big name companies and utilize incentives such as coupons and discounts. Because Affiliate Networks are Cost Per Sale usually, your commissions is dependent on the percentage set by the advertiser. Some Affiliate Networks would be Commission Junction, Google Affiliate Network, or LinkShare.

CPA Network – A CPA (Cost Per Action) Network is a network that is more offer based. Usually, but not always, there aren’t many physical products. A lot of the offers are lead generation types such as ones where leads must submit their email address to win a free gift card. Most offers have a distinct dollar amount for the commission. Some networks that fall under this category would be Hydra, COPEAC, CX Digital, or Azoogle.

Independent Affiliate Programs – These are programs that do not go through a network (broker). Some examples would be eBay or Amazon. They both have an in-house affiliate program. A Google search for your “niche + affiliate program” will show you a bunch of independent affiliate programs. Most of them will pay you a percentage for each sale.

Neither is better than the other, in the end they will both make you money if you follow through and bring the network leads/sales.

How To Join

Remember back in previous article on how to set up a website for affiliate marketing we mentioned that you might need a website to join affiliate networks? Yeah, that would come in handy right now. The reason is because some networks want to see your business/niche website to verify your credibility. I will tell you right now that it helps but it isn’t necessary. How do you get around that? You can be honest and tell them you are new…

Affiliate Networks – Affiliate networks such as Commission Junction and Linkshare are very easy to join. There is typically no applicant screening. Once you apply, you should receive a notification if you are denied or approved within 48 hours at the max. The good thing is that affiliate networks don’t require a website to join. Once you’re approved you will need to apply to different advertisers within the network to start promoting their products.

CPA Networks – CPA Networks such as Convert2Media or COPEAC are slightly harder to join. Typically all CPA Networks screen their applicants to ensure no fraudulent activity will occur. Once you submit your application they will usually call you within 48 hours and ask you a series of questions. I know right now many of you would be nervous about the phone call but its honestly nothing to worry about. The great thing about CPA Networks is that you are assigned a manager. This manager is there to help you earn money since technically they receive a cut of your earnings too. Once you are approved you are able to start promoting 99% of their affiliate offers. A small number will require manager approval though.


Don’t take advantage of these affiliate networks and think you can manipulate your earnings. Every network and the advertisers within the network have strict guidelines and what you can and cannot do. If they catch you using shady techniques to earn commissions, they will ban your account and hold all your earnings. No questions asked. Your record is on file so your chances of joining again are slim to none.

Some Affiliate Networks

Clickbank – Clickbank is the largest information product affiliate network. What this means is that most of the products you can promote will be in eBook or downloadable content form. It’s really a hit or miss with Clickbank as information products are harder to sell but still possibly to make great money.

Amazon Associates – Amazon accepts nearly anyone and everyone but that’s where the good news ends. Because of its fairly low commission percentage coupled with that fact that the cookie duration lasts 24 hours makes it quite hard to make money with them unless you have tons of traffic.

eBay Partner Network– eBay used to be very lucrative but recently changed its revenue model where you earn commission based on the quality of your clicks. It is also very hard to get approved unless you have a legit internet business.

Commission Junction – Usually called CJ, it is one of the best affiliate networks I recommend for newbies. Approval rate is very high but once you are approved, you must apply to advertisers within the network. Just this one network alone can make you a ton of money as there are thousands of brands to promote. Some companies within CJ that may ring a bell are: Verizon, Zappos, Geico, or Petco.

Linkshare – Pretty much the same thing about Commission Junction applies to Linkshare as well. You may find the same companies across several networks but some notable Linkshare advertisers are: iTunes, Foot Locker, TigerDirect, or Macy’s.

Google Affiliate Network – Yes, even Google has an affiliate network. Pretty much puts it in direct competition and the same category as CJ and Linkshare.

Convert2Media – C2M is a CPA network that is considered one of the heavy hitters in the affiliate marketing industry. I’ve personally have not used them but from what I hear they welcome newbies and their managers are glad to help you out. Definitely check it out if you want to try CPA marketing.

Hydra – Hydra Network is another CPA Network based out of Beverly Hills, CA. They were featured in the Fortune 500 a few years back for its exponential growth. I’ve personally used it and have never had a problem. The backend of the website is different from many other CPA Networks and is very easy to navigate.

COPEAC – One of the premiere CPA Networks in the industry at the moment. Tons of offers, good payouts, and helpful affiliate managers. Mine used to call me every week at one point.

Not All Is Created Equal

There are tons of affiliate networks, CPA networks, and affiliate programs out there. Before you think about signing up, make sure to do some research on the company if it is reputable. I’ve personally have heard horror stories on companies withholding tens of thousands of dollars from individuals.

What’s next…

After reading this article your job is to pick an affiliate network and sign up with one of them. I personally was recommend and C2M to start as they are both beginner friendly. This way you’ll have both an affiliate network and a CPA network under your belt and that should be more than enough to find great offers and advertisers to promote. Any questions or clarification, don’t hesitate to email us.

Once you have an offer or product to promote, start building a website for the niche, doesn’t matter if its a blog or a traditional website. Refer back to how to set up a website for affiliate marketing if you need tips on that. Our next section will discuss how to send traffic to your website using free and paid methods.

Ready to make money? Check out our Beginners Guide to Affiliate Marketing eBook, a complete step-by-step guide to making your first dollar online!