affiliate marketing for beginners

Best affiliate programs for beginners

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is simply earning a commission by selling other people’s products or services. You find something online you want to promote to others and earn a piece of the profit for each sale.

Simple as that? Well… yes and no.

While getting started is the easy part, convincing someone to actually pay for a product or service is the real challenge. There has been a handful of really successful people who’ve made huge profits.

But most who have tried making money this way had made some small bucks every month as passive income. So it’s still worth a shot.

affiliate marketing 101

Even if you’re not making thousands every month, affiliate marketing is perhaps the best way to build a passive income source online.

Payments and Commissions

Let’s say you’re selling an electric guitar or a washing machine from as a registered Amazon affiliate for $1000. Let’s assume that this affiliate sale has a 5% commission for this guitar or washing machine. This means that you’ve just earned $50. Not bad.

But there are many far better affiliate markets and programs. For example, some affiliate programs offer 25% an 50% commission for every sale you make. So if you sell something for $1000, your share can be anywhere from $250 to $500.

Most affiliates are paid 30 days after making a sale, but others don’t get paid for 90 days. So you need to be patient in this market

The best thing about affiliate sales is that you can sell almost anything. Literally! Online courses, web hosting accounts, rubber ducks, refrigerators, holiday bookings, VPN services… the list goes on. There is an affiliate marketing platform for every niche.

How do you get paid for an affiliate purchase?

Basically the more high-quality content you provide and the more followers or fans you can amass, the more likely you’ll sell something. You need to get people visiting your page and click on your affiliate links to purchase something. (I will explain this further.)

The question is, how to get started and how can I sell anything to the right customer online?

how is that even possible?

How to make money with Affiliate Marketing?

Getting started is easier than you’d think.

You have to sign up for a company’s affiliate program and wait for a confirmation to approve your application. The biggest and easiest platforms to get started are:

  1. Amazon Associates
  2. Clickbank
  3. Coursera
  4. eBay Partner Network
  5. Sharesale

Once you have signed up and been approved you will receive an affiliate link or a variety of affiliate banner (an image of your affiliate brand or product.) You need to use this link and insert them into your content like:

  1. in an article’s text on your website,
  2. under the description of a Youtube video,
  3. your bio in your social media platforms and many more I’ll talk about later.

Through these links, if someone were to click on it and buy something you will automatically get a commission. This is somewhat of a difference for every affiliate program because sometimes you need someone to confirm your application. You need to provide some sort of verification of who you are and where you will promote a certain product or service.

What are Cookies?

If you might think of a crunchy chocolate chip, don’t worry, I did too when I heard the word. But in this sense, cookies are used to track affiliate link clicks and referrals. Basically every affiliate program has a cookie timeframe of 24 hours to several months. For example, if a cookie is 30 days long, that means that when someone clicks on your affiliate link but doesn’t buy anything, you shouldn’t worry. If that same person buys something from you within the next 30 days, you’ll still get your commission.

As mentioned, cookies are there to track link clicks and referrals. Usually, affiliate programs with longer timeframes or cookies are better. So it is important to check the duration of cookies for every affiliate.

Get started!

In order to get started, you really have to narrow down your niche and understand the strengths and weaknesses of what you’re selling.

affiliate marketing strategy

Amazon Associates

The Amazon Affiliate Program is enormous, encompassing a huge variety of around 12 million products and services sold each day online.

So if you can find something on Amazon, you can sell it and get a cut of the profit. And that includes everything from ebooks to home accessories (including all types of weird items.) there is literally everything for every audience.

On top of that, according to Statista Amazon has a staggering total of 95 million Prime memberships in the US alone by 2018, who have spent an average of $1,400 each year.

Amazon’s affiliate marketing program is pretty much the first place you should check out. But in order to qualify you to need to have an online platform to show where you’ll promote all your amazon products.

The downside of Amazon is that cookies only last 24 hours. But on the bright side, if someone goes on your link and buys a laptop, for example, $1000, you will get your commissions. However, if that same person goes back on Amazon within the next 24 hours and buys a refrigerator or a guitar or anything, you will still get a commission for that product sold. So it can be a great opportunity to haul in big buyers.

Another good thing is that Amazon prolongs the referral period to 90 days. This only happens if visitors add the product or service to their cart but don’t buy immediately. This increases your chances that in the upcoming day if the visitor actually decides to buy their product from the cart, you’ll get your commission.

Below you will also see the commissions given for the specific product or service you’ve sold.


One word of advice!

You can get an approval for an amazon affiliate link, however, your account will be deactivated if you’re unable to sell anything. You have to make sure that you can refer a minimum of 3 sales in the upcoming 6 months or your affiliate account will be closed.

So make sure, you can pass that minimum threshold before applying.


Clickbank a global retailer with much better commissions. As seen before, Amazon Associates offer from 1% to 10% commissions, whereas Clickbank offers from 50% to 75% for most of the items sold.

So should we forget about amazon? Not entirely. It depends on the audience you wish to target.


What makes Clickbank stand out is its marketplace for digital informational products like ebooks, courses, video guides, etc. For physical products, Amazon still takes the lead.

But another great thing about Clickbank is that its cookies last for 30 days. This means that if an internet browser clicks on your affiliate link and decides to buy 2 or 3 weeks later, you will still get your well-deserved commission.

The admission for Clickbank is easy and you can get started straight away.


This is another global online e-learning platform, offering a 20% commission with thousands of courses and specializations. One interesting thing about Coursera are the different learning opportunities given out to clients. It offers access to online education through partnerships with the world’s best universities and organizations, including Stanford, Yale, Penn, Intel, and Google. Some of these courses and certifications can be quite expensive. This means that affiliates can make a big buck from all these.

There are only two I’ve come to experience:

  1. Individual course certificate: Courses usually cost between $49 and $99 as a one-off payment.
  2. Specializations and Professional Certificates: These run on a subscription basis, typically between $39 and $79 per month.

The payout threshold is low and the program has a 30-day cookie. Affiliate networks typically have a minimum commission threshold of $50, so you need to earn that in order to cash out your earnings. (Once you meet that amount, you’ll receive your commissions in the next payment cycle.)

eBay Partner Network

Compared to Amazon, eBay affiliate program has the edge are the commission rates. Commission rates range from 50% to 70%, so they’re quite high and cannot be found in many affiliate programs with 24 hour cookies.

Below you can see what rates you will receive for each sale.


But Amazon is a bigger brand, which has built more trust. Also, a lot of people still see eBay only as a place where they can buy used products. So hauling in buyers is a bit more difficult than with Amazon, despite the high commissions.

You can withdraw your earnings once you have earned at least $10. So pretty soon.


Shareasale is an exclusive affiliate marketing platform. You have to look at it like a market where you go to if you want to discover affiliate programs that you can sign up for with the products and services you’d like to start selling.


By applying, you get access to more than 4,800 merchants across multiple markets and niche industries, making it easy to find the right fit for your website.

It’s worth noting that in order to use Shareasale, you need an active website. So make sure your site is up and running before you apply.

How to promote an affiliate product or service?

Personally, there are five ways I’d promote anything on Times International. The most common way is through our website and social media pages. But let’s go through each and every one of them to see how it’s actually done.

As long as you have a link, you can insert them anywhere online that you own


Promoting affiliate links on a website is the most common way. Nearly everyone I know uses a personal blog, agency, company, or domain to promote an affiliate link. A website is the best way to insert a link into a text or an affiliate banner ad (image) with a link inserted into it.


With Kindle Direct and Smartpdfs, you can publish and promote your content and still have your affiliate links activated. Just like with a website, you just copy and paste your affiliate link into your images or text. As long as you have a working ebook or smart pdf, people can still access your link and you’ll get your commission.

Youtube Videos

At the bottom of most Youtuber’s videos, you’ll find descriptions of detailed information of merch, Patreon, sign up and of course affiliate link.

Youtube affiliate links

Social Media

You can insert your affiliate links into your bio, description, or posts on your Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest account.

Word of mouth

As long as you can convince people to sign up for a service or buy a product, you can still get a commission as long as you tell people to sign up through your affiliate link. You can direct someone to visit your page and click on your link so that your affiliate program will register that you’re the original affiliate partner who has led the purchase happening.

Want to learn more?

If you’d like to know more about how to promote your affiliate programs and get the latest digital marketing tips, join the Digital Shaper’s Community!

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