Affiliate marketing, an industry that’s estimated to be worth $12 billion, is projected to grow even bigger in the coming years. Furthermore, a majority of brands are already running affiliate marketing programs.
While many brands work with affiliate networks to run their affiliate programs, there are still a lot of merchants who run their affiliate programs independently.
Joining an affiliate program in 2023 is a great way for you to earn extra income. It’s a relatively low-risk venture. Plus, many affiliate programs are free to join. There are also little to no barriers to entry—many programs are making it easier for interested individuals to sign up and join. Simply fill out a form, click the “Apply” or “Join” button, and wait for their confirmation email before you can start promoting their products.
Moreover, many affiliate programs are designed to be beginner-friendly. They give you access to ready-made promotional materials and a dedicated support team to provide you with informational resources.
Is Joining an Affiliate Program Still Worth It in 2023?
Yes, for the most part. Aside from being a good source of additional income, affiliate programs offer a lot in terms of flexibility, allowing you to work the way you want to, anytime, anywhere. Even if you lack technical knowledge, many programs are easy to set up. However, labeling it as a source of “passive income” can be a bit misleading. You still have to put in a significant amount of work to ensure that your campaigns are successful. You will still need to build your audience and your promotion platform, create relevant content that matches what you’re promoting, engage your audience, and build a genuine relationship with them.
Despite these initial challenges, affiliate marketing can still be a lucrative venture in 2023, provided that you can continue engaging your audience and offering them a solution to their pain points.
10 of the Best Affiliate Programs to Diversify Your Income Stream
Best for: Beginners
Refersion is one of the leading affiliate marketing and tracking software solutions. As a platform, it streamlines affiliate marketing programs through features like affiliate discovery and recruiting, campaigns and management, and comprehensive integrations.
Aside from being a platform and solution for more optimized affiliate marketing, it also has its affiliate program in place. The Refersion Affiliate Program makes it easy for even beginners to start earning commissions through successful referrals.
All you need to do is fill out its Affiliate Registration form, click “Apply,” and wait for the email notification. Once approved, you can start promoting Refersion on your website using links or banners. The referral must result in a subscription purchase and should go beyond the 14-day free trial period for the commission to qualify.
Affiliates can earn a standard commission rate, which is 15% for all successful referrals. The great thing about Refersion’s commissions is that they are recurring, which means you can earn a 15% share monthly, provided your referral maintains their subscription to any of Refersion’s influencer and affiliate marketing plans. Commissions are paid out once a month via PayPal.
Note that the Refersion Affiliate Program does have some restrictions. For instance, as an affiliate, you must only promote Refersion through legitimate channels. This means you’re not allowed to do promotions through methods like paid traffic, retargeting, or discount sites. Doing so will put your participation in the affiliate program at risk. Plus, you won’t be able to receive your commissions.
- 15% recurring commission
- Payouts via PayPal
- Relatively long cookie shelf life of 60 days
- Easy sign-up process
Cookie duration: 60 days
Best for: Simple yet versatile commission models
Cloud hosting service Kinsta offers a range of world-class hosting solutions for WordPress, web applications, and databases. Its enterprise-level tools enable users to optimize tasks and resources and can let you enjoy robust security through its enterprise-level firewall and DDoS protection.
Its affiliate program offers simple yet versatile commission models. This means that regardless of the Kinsta service that you promote, you’ll still be able to earn commissions.
If you promote its managed WordPress hosting solution, you can earn a one-time commission that ranges from $50 to $500. To top it off, you can receive 10% monthly recurring commissions for each WordPress package. Kinsta will calculate your one-time commission based on the income it receives from your referred customer. For example, if the customer signs up for a Starter plan, you receive a $50 one-time commission. If they opt for the Enterprise 1 plan, you’ll get $500.
Check out the tables below for a more detailed view of the program’s one-time commission structure:
A recurring monthly commission of 5% is offered if you promote its application hosting service. Promotion of its database hosting service is charged at the same rate. Best of all, Kinsta’s affiliate program is suited for everyone, whether you’re a developer, content publisher, educator, or existing Kinsta customer.
- Provides affiliates access to ready-to-use assets like banners, in-depth guides, and advanced tips
- Offers in-house tracking
- Provides dedicated affiliate support
Cookie duration: 60 days
Best for: Affiliate marketers who focus on eCommerce and eCommerce entrepreneurs
Shopify is one of the world’s leading eCommerce platforms, with 5.6 million online stores using this platform. The US alone takes 70% of that share, with over 2.6 million online businesses using this service.
Aside from giving you a channel to grow your brand and expand your reach, Shopify also offers affiliate marketers the opportunity to generate additional income through its global affiliate program. Through this program, affiliates can receive a 100% commission on the first two payments that their referred customer purchases.
For example, if someone signs up for an Advanced Shopify account and maintains it for two months, you can earn $299 per month, bringing the total commissions you receive to up to $598. Note that if the customer cannot maintain their account or subscription for the second month, then you won’t receive the commission for that second month.
Direct deposits to your bank account or PayPal payments are available. Before you can start making withdrawals, you need to have a minimum balance of $10.
- Provides affiliates with a personal dashboard where they can monitor their performance and get insights
- Offers resources for content development
- Access to ready-made lead magnets
Cookie duration: 30 days
Best for: Affiliates looking for generous commissions
BigCommerce specializes in aiding businesses that want to create their eCommerce store. Some of its innovative features include a drag-and-drop visual editor, mobile optimization, and faceted search.
Its affiliate program offers very generous commissions, as well as digital resources to fuel your growth. BigCommerce affiliates can receive a 200% commission for every referral on the referred customer’s first monthly payment. Moreover, you can get $1,500 for customers who sign up for BigCommerce’s Enterprise plan.
Becoming a BigCommerce affiliate is simple. Apply online by filling out the affiliate application form. Once approved, you can start placing ads on your preferred promotion channel. Earn commissions for every successful referral.
- Gives affiliates access to marketing materials
- Provides a dedicated account manager
- Powerful tracking for clicks, trials, sales, and commissions through its affiliate dashboard
Cookie duration: 30 days
Best for: Extensive product selections
The global online learning platform Coursera offers thousands of courses in collaboration with some of the world’s leading educational institutions. These programs are designed to help learners from all over the world to jumpstart or advance their career and meet their professional goals.
Coursera’s affiliate program lets you share the joy of learning with your audience while letting you earn generous commissions. As a Coursera affiliate, you can earn up to 45% commission on eligible purchases. What separates Coursera from other affiliate programs is that it has a lot of products for you to choose from. Earn commissions for promoting over 4,000 of Coursera’s courses and Specializations. Furthermore, the program lets you promote Coursera courses and Specializations using your own digital assets or Coursera’s custom banners and text links. Lastly, you can earn commissions multiple times, provided your referred user purchases other Coursera courses and Specializations using your affiliate links.
It’s worth noting though that Coursera doesn’t offer monthly recurring commissions. This means that you can only receive commissions for the first month’s transaction.
- Weekly affiliate newsletters
- Commission rates range from 15% to 45% plus the chance to earn bonuses based on performance
Cookie duration: 30 days
Best for: Affiliate marketers looking for a program with a long cookie duration
Semrush is a powerhouse resource and platform for online marketing. You can grow your brand through SEO, content marketing, market research, and more with just one platform.
Semrush’s affiliate program is made possible through its partnership with Impact Radius. Below are just some of the program’s benefits:
- Last-click attribution model
This model is paired with a lengthy cookie life that lasts 120 days
- Flexible commission structure
Affiliates can earn $200 for every new subscription. For new every new lead, you’ll get $10, while a new sign-up can get you $0.01.
- Access to dedicated account managers
- Semrush provides affiliates with creative assets (banners and landing pages)
- Unique tracking links
Cookie duration: 120 days
Best for: Generous pay structure
A web hosting solution, HostGator provides users with powerful and secure website hosting options. Aside from dedicated hosting, it also has other web hosting plans, including shared hosting, VPS hosting, and WordPress hosting. According to the HostGator website, it currently has over 2 million websites hosted.
HostGator tracks your sales in two ways: via affiliate links and via custom coupon codes. As long as the sale complies with the program’s terms and conditions, you will still be credited for it. Check out the payment structure below:
- 1-5 signups per month = $65 per signup
- 6-10 monthly signups = $75 for each signup
- 11-20 signups monthly = $100 per signup
- More than 21 signups per month = $125 for every signup
Payout turnaround is 2 months + 10 days after the time of the sale. This is because HostGator needs to account for its 30-day money-back guarantee. Payouts can be received through the following channels:
- PayPal Payouts
- Standard PayPal
- Wire transfer
- ACH transfer
It’s important to note that if a visitor clears their cookies, then you may not be able to receive commissions intended for that sale.
- No minimum referrals, which means you can still earn even if you get one signup
- Regular bonuses
- Working with an established authority in the web hosting industry
- Access to discount coupons for your clients
- Access to affiliate specialists
Cookie duration: 60 days
Best for: Affiliate marketers looking for commission payout options
HubSpot is an all-in-one platform for marketing, sales, and customer service. It also doubles as an important resource for information, as it offers articles, eBooks, guides, and free courses and certifications.
Affiliate marketers looking for more flexible commission payout options should check out HubSpot’s affiliate program. You can choose to receive recurring monthly commissions or a flat-rate commission. If you go with the former, you receive a 15% monthly recurring commission for up to 1 year. For the latter, you get a one-time flat-rate commission that amounts to 100% of the subscription’s first month’s revenue.
One of the things that make this affiliate program stand out is that you don’t need to be an existing HubSpot customer to become an affiliate.
- Free to join
- Access to marketing materials
Cookie duration: 90 days
Best for: Global campaigns and traffic from different geolocations
NordVPN is one of the world’s leading names for VPN services and online security. When you use a VPN, you can enjoy secure access to the internet even if you’re using public Wi-Fi. Moreover, NordVPN bolsters your cybersecurity with its new Threat Protection feature, which protects you from a host of cyber threats like malware and trackers.
Its affiliate program has a generous payout structure. For instance, if someone signs up for a 1-month offer using your affiliate link, then you get 100% commission. If they renew for the same plan, you receive a 30% commission. How much you can potentially earn will depend on the subscription plan that each referred customer chooses.
One of the great things about NordVPN’s affiliate program is that it converts all geolocations and different traffic types. This means that wherever your audience is in the world, you’ll be credited for each successful sale.
- Provides promo materials
- Gives affiliates individual support through a dedicated account manager
Cookie duration: 30 days
Best for: Additional benefits and affiliates in the beauty and personal niche
The multinational personal care and beauty giant Sephora carries over 200 brands and offers more than 13,000 products to its global customers. Its affiliate program is made possible through its partnership with Rakuten, allowing affiliates access to an array of tools for earning commissions. Commission rates range from 5% to 10%, depending on the product category.
What makes this program unique is that it has a lot of benefits in store for affiliates. Aside from letting you earn commissions, regardless of the brand you’re promoting, you access exclusive affiliate-only offers and promotions. Plus, as a Sephora affiliate, you can get daily free shipping and free samples for every order.
However, despite the additional perks, its cookie duration has a short shelf life, lasting only 24 hours. Payouts are issued through direct deposit or check.
- Free to join
- Access to promotional creative materials like banners
- Exclusive product previews and newsletters
Cookie duration: 24 hours
Tips on Choosing the Right Affiliate Program for You
We get it—there are tons of affiliate programs out there. How can you make sure that you’re choosing the right one? We’re sharing some tips to help you find the best affiliate programs to work with in 2023:
- Determine what your niche is and who your audience is. Doing so will help you narrow down the list of programs you can choose from. For example, if your target audience is focused on health and beauty, then you may want to opt for an affiliate program from a health and beauty brand like Sephora. While we’re at it, it’s important to do a competitive analysis. If you’re working in a very saturated niche, then you might find it challenging to promote your products and earn commissions. You may want to consider going for a less saturated yet still relevant niche, which can potentially offer more opportunities for you to earn.
- Choose the products you’re going to promote carefully. Find the products that you’re already using or something that you love. From there, you can check to see if the brand has an existing affiliate program. You can also check out affiliate directories or affiliate networks to find out if other brands are offering affiliate programs. When researching products to promote, it helps if you pick ones that are relevant to your niche.
- Check the program’s terms and conditions. Here, you’ll find important information, such as payout terms or frequency and program limitations.
- Do your research. Check the brand and assess its reputation. Working with a shady brand can damage your credibility and reputation, given that you’re technically promoting the brand itself and not just its products. Additionally, check to see the program’s conversion rates. Programs that have higher conversion rates make it more likely for you to earn more compared to ones with lower conversion rates.
- Find a commission structure that works for you. Not all affiliate programs are built the same. Do you want to opt for a one-time commission structure, or do you want to earn a recurring monthly income? What about the commission rates—are they competitive enough for you? Furthermore, check the payout frequency, as some programs have a minimum cap before you can withdraw your funds.
- Check the cookie life. A longer cookie life offers more opportunities for you to earn from qualifying purchases, while a shorter cookie life offers a slim window. The cookie life of a program might only last 24 hours, so if someone purchases outside of that window, you won’t earn any commissions.