Top Affiliate Programs 2016

by JaneG

To maximize your online earnings you need to match your traffic to great affiliate programs. Doing this right takes some effort, but it is definitely a skill worth learning.

I have been in affiliate marketing for the last 5 years. In that time I have worked with some very good and some very bad affiliates. I like to think that I have learned how to spot the difference, maximize my income and limit my risk.

In 'Top Affiliate Programs 2016' I will look at some important concepts that you need to understand, I will talk about the big affiliates and then I will look at some very profitable affiliates.

What you need to know about affiliate programs

Affiliate networks
For many businesses it doesn't pay to create all the software to run their own affiliate program. What they do is to go to an affiliate network. They use the network's system to process sales. They also attract affiliate marketers through the network.

Frequently marketers blame the network, when the merchants are really to blame. Keep this in mind when you researching affiliate networks.

Cookie length
If you send an buyer to a merchant, they set a cookie on the buyer's web browser. If the buyer comes back to the merchant site, before the cookie expires and buys something you still get the commission.

Cookie lock-in period
This is the period in which your cookie cannot be over-written with a cookie from another affiliate marketer. The problem is buyers may further research a product or service you recommended. In doing so your cookie may get over-written and you would loose the commission. The lock-in period stops this from happening.

Spy on your competitors
The first place to look for affiliate programs is to checkout who your competitors use. Go to their website and look at what they are selling. Also run some niche relevant searches through Google and look at the ads they throw up. It likely costs the advertisers $50-$100 dollars for a 100 clicks. They make at least x2 that in affiliate commission.

Split testing
This is when you put one advertisement in front of 2000 potential buyers, then you do the same with another affiliate offer. You then stick with the one that makes you the most money. Some offers may work with one site and not another, split testing is the only real way to know.

Which affiliate network would you recommend?

Several different ways that websites monetize traffic

Big Affiliates

The big affiliates are big for a reason. They might not deliver the best return, but there is definitely some value there, for affiliates.


Amazon has a 24 hour cookie, they pay between 4-8.5% commission on normal goods and 4% on electronics. They mostly only convert regional traffic. Some products like the Kindle and ebooks converts traffic globally.

So, if you look at the stats that's terrible. A 24 hour cookie is practically criminal.

The thing is: Amazon converts very well, you don't have to sell nearly as hard as with other products. On Amazon shoppers frequently buy more than one product, at a time. Also Amazon's list of products is so large that it work for any niche.

In my opinion Amazon is a good Affiliate program for beginners.


VigLink is a fairly new affiliate network, that is making a big splash in the online marketing world. The problem with most affiliate networks is that you have to apply for many of their programs separately. With VigLink you only have to register once. You then install some JavaScript on your site or blog. From then on VigLink automatically loads your affiliate code into any link, to a seller they support. So you don't have to edit your affiliate code into any links. Since I have started using them I have been amazed by how many sellers they support and how easy it is to use. Checking out VigLink, it is definitely worth it.

Forums are notoriously difficult to monetize. VigLink is very popular with forum owners, because Viglinks changes hyperlinks to sellers, that users post, so you collect commission from sales generated by those links.


Clicbank specializes in digital goods, like ebooks and downloadable videos. The commissions tend to be in the $20-$30 range. Their cookies last 60 days.

The problems with Clickbank is highish returns and heavy competition. Also some of the products they sell are low quality/scams, which has tainted their reputation. Before I sell a Clickbank product I request a review copy from the merchant, so I know it's a quality product. If, however you are good at marketing, it is a very useful program to be part of. What some affiliates do is to market a Clickbank product and then if it works well. They replace it with their own product, to increase their margins.

Video of Clickbank use

Profitable affiliates

Web hosting
These are the type of affiliates that I like best. When someone buys, say a new basic web hosting account, it should cost them $50-$100. These companies pay you $50-$100 if you refer the customer. How does that happen, well they pay you for the lifetime value of the customer, not just for the original sale. As all of you know, the cheaper the product, the easier it is to close.

Hosting companies with affiliate programs would be Hostgator, Bluehost and GoDaddy. Be warned though, this is  one competitive niche.

You will find similar subscription type sellers on every affiliate network.

RegNow specializes in software sales. I include their program here, because it demonstrates an important concept, the 30 days free trial. Buyers download and use the software and use it free for 30 days. Then if they buy you get your 30-50% commission.

Netflix let's customers subscribe to a downloadable video and DVD by mail service. They pay $16 per free 30 day trial subscriber, that you send them. Netflix operate in the USA and UK. The affiliate program is difficult to join, I think they currently want to see a niche specific site.

They pay 40-45% on magazine subscriptions. There is a magazine for almost every niche. Because of the relatively low cost of subscriptions you get a lot of impulse buys with magazines.

Insurance is a another great niche. A good example would be they pay $47 per sale through ShareASale's network. But there are many great insurance programs that you can join.

One big ticket item, many people spend on every year is their vacations. Orbitz pay 2.5% on packages, $3 on air tickets, $25 on cruises, 3-5% on hotels and $4 on car rentals. 

It might not seem like much but holiday costs stack up quickly.  Book a holiday for say a family of 4, think about the tickets, hotel costs and car rental. Your commission can get up to $100 very quickly.

Naturally if you look around you might get higher commissions from less reputable vacation planners, but the bigger ones convert better.

If you want to be notified whenever I write a new business article, go to my Facebook page and click on the subscribe button.

To read more of my content check out JaneG.

Learn to sell - Top 10 affiliate programs 2016
Lemonade stand
Lemonade stand
Updated: 11/12/2015, JaneG
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Share your opinions about these affiliates

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Dan on 04/19/2015

Very good article - I'm using Amazon for ease and click bank but going to try VigLink!

Justin on 01/31/2015

I use Commission Junction and make good money by advertising on social networks

Tashak on 02/08/2013

Forgot about Google Affiliate Network

Max Greenflame on 01/12/2013

Hm, I will not vote for any of them. Really they only make you fail trying to build your wealth online. No good for business at all. I promote products of somebody that I know personally for a long time. Don't recommend you to use third parties. You'll be suffering from their flaws.Just explore the complaints people write about them everywhere.

Happy One on 08/16/2012

Sorry Astra. I see it listed now....... Commissiion Junction......I've not heard of this before.
Thanks for the info.

Happy One on 08/16/2012

Who is CJ or do you mean CB - CLICKBANK?

Astral Writer on 08/15/2012

CJ has never delivered us a single nickel. We pushed a thousand leads over with great domains. However, the leads fail to convert. In my opinion, there is a major problem with that affiliate. The customer service is ineffective. They keep telling you to remain patient. 3 years later, you produce no revenue.

Best affiliate program:

Finefay on 08/14/2012

VigLink is something raealy new and inovative. I like it, but I voted however for good old Amazon.Very good and useful information...Thanks

Celebrity Fashion on 08/04/2012

nice programmes. I preffer vigLink to use.

Ally on 07/26/2012

Thanks for sharing. It is always good to explore new options in affiliate marketing.

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