Affiliate Marketing | A 2023 Guide for Publishers to Get Started

Updated on: January 4, 2024
Everything you need to know about affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing strategy that has gained immense popularity. With the exponential growth of the internet and users turning online for reviews, the industry has become worth 17 billion dollars.

Affiliate Marketing Statistics 2023

Source: DemandSage

Affiliate marketing supports revenue-sharing models that enable publishers, influencers, and website owners to earn money by promoting the products or services of merchants. The growth of e-commerce and the increasing influence of digital marketing have made affiliate marketing an attractive source of income for publishers. So, let’s explore how you can tap into its potential and generate significant passive income.

What Is Affiliate Marketing, and How Does It Work?

Affiliate marketing is a form of online marketing where publishers promote the products or services of a merchant and earn a commission based on the customer’s action.  It is a performance-based model, where you are paid based on the actual performance of the product link embedded in your content rather than past or potential performance. The action can be clicking on the link or purchasing the product. 

Here, you act as a middleman between the merchant and the customer, and the main objective is to drive traffic to the merchant’s website and convert it into sales. Affiliate marketing is loved for its ease of implementation. Here’s how it works:

  • Sign up for an affiliate program: You must sign up for an affiliate program offered by the merchant directly or via affiliate networks (like Amazon Associates). This program provides the publisher with a unique affiliate link that they will use to promote the merchant’s products.
  • Choose products to promote: After signing up for the affiliate program, you can choose the products you wish to promote. You should preferably choose products that align with your niche and audience, making the process more personalized and profitable.
  • Promote the products: You can promote the products through various channels, such as blog posts, social media, email marketing, and more. All you need is to use the unique affiliate link in the promotions so that the sales made through the link can be tracked.
  • Earn a commission: You will earn a commission for every sale made through your affiliate link. The commission amount can vary depending on the merchant’s affiliate program but is usually a percentage of the sale price. With the correct and most popular affiliate program, you can earn anywhere from 5% to 50% of the sales generated through the link. 

Never Overlook:

  1. Always disclose the use of the affiliate links to your readers. You can add a disclaimer/notice/note at the most prominent location on the page.
  2. Affiliate links are often valid for a limited period. Read your contract clearly before signing up with any of the affiliate programs. 

Who Can Be an Affiliate Publisher?

All publishers are unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to success in affiliate marketing. You need to assess your strengths and understand the various types of content you can specialize in to determine the best publication channel that suits you. This will also help you to choose the type of content that aligns with your skill sets.

Here are some of the most common genres eligible for affiliate marketing:


Blogs are a popular publication channel for affiliate marketing. Bloggers can write about products or services and include affiliate links to drive traffic and sales. Blogs can focus on various topics, from fashion to technology, making them a versatile platform for affiliate marketing. Apart from quality content, you must focus on SEO to increase traffic inflow. Core Web Vitals are another thing you must consider. 

E-commerce websites

Online retailers can also participate in affiliate marketing by promoting products or services through affiliate links. These websites can earn a commission for each sale made through the affiliate link. To be successful in this segment, you should have a strong understanding of your target audience and the products you sell.


Social media influencers can use their large following to promote products or services through affiliate links. Influencer marketing has become a popular marketing strategy, and many brands partner with influencers to promote their products. However, as a content creator, you must stay on top of the trends your consumers follow. 

Review websites

Review websites are another popular type of publication channel for affiliate marketing. These websites provide in-depth product reviews and include affiliate links to drive sales. As a reviewer, you must have a strong knowledge of the product, how it works, and its pros and cons. 

YouTube channels

YouTube is a powerful platform for affiliate marketing, and many content creators are now using it to promote products and services. YouTube channels can earn a commission for each sale made through the affiliate link. To taste success, apart from a catchy headline, you must have strong production skills, and your content must be unique. 

Email marketing

Email marketing is another effective channel for affiliate marketing. Publishers can promote products or services through affiliate links in their email newsletters. You should have an extensive email list of engaged subscribers interested in the products you promote to succeed in this segment.

What Are Affiliate Networks, and Why Should Publishers Join One?

Affiliate networks are a crucial affiliate marketing component, connecting digital publishers with companies, brands, and merchants looking to promote their products and services. An affiliate network acts as a bridge between the publishers and the advertisers, providing an online portal for both parties to collaborate and promote products.

Joining an affiliate network can help you access a broader range of products and services to promote, making it easier to find products that are relevant to your niche. Affiliate networks also provide tools and resources for tracking sales, managing affiliate links, and calculating commissions, making managing your affiliate marketing efforts easier.

Affiliate networks also offer rewards and incentives, with better commission rates available for those who sell more. Additionally, some affiliate networks offer a referral program, allowing you to earn a commission for referring new affiliates to the network.

Also read: Best practices for in-house media websites to earn higher ad revenues

Top 5 Affiliate Networks for Publishers in 2023

As finding brands, negotiating commission rates, including other aspects of the contracts can be daunting, independent publishers often choose to work with affiliate networks. However, with so many affiliate networks available, choosing the best one for your needs can be challenging. Here are 5 of the top affiliate networks for publishers:

1. Amazon Associates: This is one of the most popular affiliate networks globally, with millions of products available for promotion. Amazon offers a wide range of commission rates, with higher rates available for those who sell more.

  • Interface: Amazon Associates offers a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate.
  • Sign-up: The sign-up process is quick and straightforward.  However, the applicants undergo a thorough checkup
  • Payment: Amazon’s 24-hour cookie policy means that affiliates can earn a commission on any product their audience buys within 24 hours of clicking on a link, regardless of whether it’s the specific product they were promoting.
    • The commission rate offered by Amazon Associates is approximately 5%, although this can vary based on the product type. 
    • Payments are made around 60 days after the end of the month in which the commission was earned and can be received through direct deposit, Amazon gift certificates, or checks in the mail. 
    • However, it’s important to note that checks come with a $15 processing fee, and international affiliates may only receive payments through gift certificates or checks. Only partners from selected countries can receive payment through bank transfer. 

2. Commission Junction (CJ): Commission Junction is a leading affiliate network offering various affiliate programs across multiple industries. Also known as C.J. Affiliate, it offers a user-friendly platform and a wide range of tools to help publishers manage their affiliate campaigns effectively. One of the standout features of Commission Junction is its extensive network of advertisers, which includes some of the world’s biggest and most recognizable brands. 

  • Interface: CJ’s user interface is intuitive and easy to use, making it simple for affiliates to find the products and advertisers they want to promote. 
  • Sign-up: Signing up for the program is a straightforward process, and once approved, affiliates can start promoting products and earning a commission on every sale.
  • Payment: The commission rate CJ offers varies depending on the advertiser and product. However, you can expect to earn anywhere from 5% to 20% or more on each sale. 
    • Payouts are made regularly, with the schedule determined by the advertiser, and you can choose from several payment options, including direct deposit, check, and wire transfer.

3. FlexOffers: FlexOffers is a comprehensive and flexible affiliate network that provides marketers with access to a wide range of advertisers and their products. Founded in 2008, FlexOffers has quickly become a well-respected and highly recommended affiliate network, offering affiliates a simple and profitable way to promote products and earn a commission.

  • Interface: It has an easy-to-navigate UI (user interface).
  • Sign-up: FlexOffers has a straightforward sign-up process. Once approved, you can start promoting products and earning a commission on every sale. 
  • Payment: One of the standout features of FlexOffers is its flexible commission structure, which allows affiliates to earn a commission on a wide range of products, including physical and digital goods, subscriptions, and services.

4. eBay Partner Network (EPN): EPN is one of the largest affiliate networks in the world and offers a wide range of products and services from the eBay platform. The network offers a vast selection of products, including electronics, fashion, collectibles, and home & garden items, allowing you to promote various products and cater to a broad audience.

Additionally, EPN provides publishers with detailed analytics and tracking tools, enabling them to monitor the performance of their campaigns and optimize their marketing strategies.

  • Interface: The EPN provides an intuitive user interface, making navigating and finding what you need easy
  • Sign-up: The sign-up process is straightforward. After approval, you can start promoting products immediately, generating income from successful conversions.
  • Payment: EPN offers a flexible payment structure, with a minimum payment threshold of $10 and monthly commission payments. 
    • The network also provides a range of creative resources, including banners, links, and product data feeds, to help publishers effectively promote their products and drive sales.

5. Awin: Awin is a leading affiliate network that offers a platform for publishers to promote products and services from a wide range of merchants, including well-known brands such as StubHub, Hyatt, AliExpress, and Under Armour. With a network of over 180,000 affiliates in over 160 countries, Awin is one of the industry’s most prominent and well-respected affiliate programs.

  • Interface: Awin features a user-friendly interface designed with simplicity and ease of navigation in mind.
    • The network also has a customer support team who are always on hand to help with any questions or issues that may arise.
  • Sign up: Signing up to Awin is a simple process. Once your application is approved, you can start promoting various products and earning a commission for every successful sale.
    • However, there is a strict guidelines for merchant and publisher conduct, as well as a thorough screening process to ensure that all merchants are reputable and trustworthy. 
  • Payment: Awin has a minimum payout of $20 and pays out on the 1st and 15th of every month via ACH, wire transfer, or other payment options. 
    • The commission rate varies by merchant, but the average rate is around 5%. 
    • However, it’s worth noting that there is an application fee for each program that you must apply to separately.

Choose Wisely

Affiliate marketing offers a lucrative opportunity for independent publishers to monetize their content and generate additional income. By joining an affiliate network, you can access a wide range of products and services to promote reliable tracking and payments. However, before deciding on the network, you must evaluate elements such as commission rates, product offerings, and tracking and reporting features.


1. Is Affiliate marketing profitable for publishers?

Yes, affiliate marketing can be a profitable source of revenue for publishers. The commission earned for each sale can range from a few percent to over 50%, depending on the product and the affiliate program.

2. What factors should publishers consider when choosing an affiliate network?

Publishers should consider factors such as commission rates, payment terms, ease of use, product range, and the reputation of the affiliate network.

3. Can publishers join multiple affiliate networks at the same time?

Yes, publishers can join multiple affiliate networks simultaneously to diversify their income sources.

4. How can a publisher maximize earnings from affiliate networks?

Publishers can maximize earnings by targeting relevant products, using SEO practices, and engaging with their audience effectively.

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