3 Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners

You start building your website, but what you really want is to earn someBest Affiliate Programs for Beginners additional income. Here are the 3 best affiliate programs for beginners, but first lets review what we already know:

  • Affiliate marketing is where you advertise a product or service and get a commission on sales that your website helps generate.
  • You niche is the subject of your website. It is not something to overthink and can grow in range over time.
  • Wealthy affiliate is where I am converting my hobby into a niche website.

Most people want to find the affiliate programs with the highest commission or only review the highest cost (and highest commission) products. That is not what I am going for here. I will give you my experience and then go through the review of the 3 best affiliate programs for beginners that I have seen.

For my definition, best is meant as the most flexible. If you are just starting your website then chances are you haven’t built up your trust within your niche. That is no problem, you can still link to that $1,000 product that will pay you $100 in commission but if nobody will purchase it then you aren’t making any money.

In a surprising twist, I created a niche website and added the high dollar products. I was ready to make some big money…then I received a notice that my first commission had been earned. Yup, $1.19…but it was a start. I logged in to see what the commission was earned on and I found…

The customer had purchased vitamins…off a link from a beer brewing website. Then someone purchased ear buds, hair dye, and a phonics book for a kid. There you have it, 2 months and $3.00 in commission! The site is relatively new and working up traffic (it takes 3 to 6 months), but sales were trickling in.

Read through the rankings and I will finish the story at the end.

3 Best Affiliate Programs For Beginners – Summary

I will rank each on ease of use, commission, and cookie length and roll them up in to one overall score. Here are the programs that you can use to start your website.

  • Amazon – 2.7 out of 5…because of the short cookies
  • Walmart – 2.3 out of 5…because of the lower commission
  • Target – 4 out of 5…because of their longer cookies

Do you notice what all of these have in common? They all offer a wide variety of products for your website visitors to choose from. This means they may link from your website and decide to shop for whatever else they need. Viola, your referral led to a sale so you earn a commission.

Amazon Associates – Anything A Shopper Could Need

Company: Amazon

Website Name: Amazon Associates

Ease Of Use: 3 out of 5

Commission: 4 out of 5

Cookie Length: 1 out of 5

Overall Rating: 2.7 out of 5

Ease of Use…Or Is It

I had an Amazon associates account and relatively speaking it was pretty easy to link the products to my website. Even though I have never done anything web related.

My biggest hold-up with Amazon is the lengthy rules they have surrounding being an affiliate. I would be lying if I said I was able to read them all, but I would highly recommend it to anyone who signs up. My run with Amazon lasted for approximately two months…

At that point I was still in the trial phase and they were reviewing my site. They found one sentence out of 20 different pages that did not adhere to their rules. This means they close you account and you can re-apply. At this point, I was planning to move to a less flexible (more niche focused) affiliate program, but it would have been nice to have a grace period to resolve the issue.

So for the length of the rules and the abrupt end if you violate them (this was a minor infraction) this one gets 2 out of 5.

Commission…Good Percent, If They Purchase Quickly.

From the table below, you can see that Amazon offers up to 10% commission for sales generated (as a note, they call them fees but it is your commission)

Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners

The commission percentages are good, but I am lowering the grade because of the cookie length (I know, double counting but it does affect the commission). So Amazon gets 4 out of 5 for commission.

Cookies…Don’t Blink

First, a cookie is what is used to track traffic on the internet. When a user goes to Amazon you will be eligible for commission on purchases over the next 24 hours (24 hour cookie length). They do offer 90 days if the customer places something in their shopping cart for purchase at a later date.

These are really short so I give 1 out of 5.

Overall…Short Cookies, High Potential

From my story earlier, Amazon does offer a wide variety of products. This will help as customers click on your links and head to your recommended product. Anything they purchase in the next 24 hours will give you a commission. Even if they aren’t purchasing your high dollar items, you can earn a lot on just small purchases.

Overall, Amazon came in at 2.7 out of 5 for its ranking.

Walmart Affiliate – Still A Ton of Options

Company: Walmart

Website Name: Walmart Affiliates

Ease Of Use: 3 out of 5

Commission: 1 out of 5

Cookie Length: 3 out of 5

Overall Rating: 2.3 out of 5

Ease of Use…Or Is It

Walmart is another program where your links can lead to a whole host of products for purchase. Like Amazon, there is a pretty hefty disclosure to read before you sign up and start using it.

The program is run through Rakuten Marketing so the linking and banners are done by an experienced affiliate company so that should help you link things easily.

Relatively speaking, this one still ranks around Amazon on ease of use…3 out of 5

Commission…Leave You Wanting More…But Still More Than You Get Currently

For the most part, you are eligible for 4% commission. The table below shows you the different departments and the commission you can expect.

Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners

The commissions are pretty low relative to the others I recommend for beginners. You can make money, but just not as quickly as you could. For that reason, I give Walmart 1 out of 5.

Cookies…Not Bad, But You Always Want Longer

Walmart offers 3 day cookies…so anything purchased within 3 days of the user clicking from your website will generate you commission.

As far as my recommended for beginners programs, these cookies are pretty good. You can cover a weekend if someone finds your website on Friday so that is a plus. Being in the middle, I give Walmart 3 out of 5 for cookies.

Overall…You Can Still Earn…Just A Little Slower

So the commissions for the Walmart Affiliate program are pretty low. You can still earn some money, but it will be much slower than either Amazon or Target.

Walmart came in at 2.3 out of 5 so it had the lowest ranking of the three. It would still work, but I would exhaust the others first.

Target Affiliates – Still Big and Still Good For Beginners

Company: Target

Website Name: Target Affiliate

Ease Of Use: 3 out of 5

Commission: 4 out of 5

Cookie Length: 5 out of 5

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Ease of Use…Or Is It

Another broad shopping network is Target. There are many different products for people to choose from…which you can see if the goal for beginners.

No appreciable difference between any of the programs listed here. So Target is 3 out of 5 for ease of use.

Commission…Can Build To Something Awesome

They will claim up to 8%, but in all reality when you are starting your commission will be up to 5%. As you can see in the table below they have higher commission as your sales increase.

Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners

Much like Amazon, Target gets the cookie length double counted. A week is pretty good for these beginner programs to help you get started. As you generate more traffic (and sales), the commission does get closer to Amazon. For those reasons Target gets 4 out of 5.

Cookies…By Far The Winner For Beginners

Target gives 7 days for the cookies. You will earn commission on EVERY eligible purchase for that week.

An aside, I keep saying “for beginners” when talking about the cookie lengths. That is because the more niche specific affiliate programs offer significantly longer cookies (some up to lifetime).

Back to Target, their cookies give them a 5 out of 5 ranking.

Overall…A Week Makes A HUGE Difference

The one-week cookies are huge for your earning potential. Anyone who clicks off your website and into target through a link will be able to purchase items that you get commission on for the next week. That offsets the slightly lower commission relative to Amazon.

Cookies carried Target to a 4 out of 5 ranking.

My Recommendation and The End Of The Story

As you can see, if you are just starting then a flexible affiliate program is the way to go. You will be earning commissions for sending a customer to their site rather than selling a certain product.

Any of the programs are good for beginners as long as you make sure you understand all the rules. You can start earning in relatively short time, but it will take time to build from there.

I would recommend starting with Target first for the cookies alone. The best part is you can sign up for all three if you would like because it is free to become a member of their affiliate programs.

If you have any questions, comment below or email me at nate.thomas@leavethemiddleclass.com…

But wait, there is more…

Bonus Recommendation

Although it lacks the flexibility of the above programs, Wealthy Affiliate offers a really awesome program. You don’t have the flexibility of products as the 3 best affiliate programs for beginners, but the commissions and cookies carry this one.

Company: Wealthy Affiliate

Website Name: Wealthy Affiliate

Ease Of Use: 4 out of 5

Commission: 5 out of 5

Cookie Length: 5 out of 5

Overall Rating: 4.7 out of 5

I won’t go into much detail (you can read that here), but the commission here really cannot be beat. You get lifetime cookies and earn around 48% commission. It will add up quick and they have a program to teach you how to best promote their platform.


Nate Thomas

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