The Best Affiliate Programs and 26 Ways To Promote Them

“How can I make money online if I don’t have a product or service to sell?”

This a question I get quite often from readers of this site.

I get it. Creating your own product can be intimidating and it’s not for everyone.

Fortunately, there’s a great alternative.

best affiliate programs 2017

And that’s promoting affiliate products.

Why not leverage an existing product or service that you know sells well and just focus on the marketing instead?

This is a fantastic business model, available to anyone that can be extremely lucrative if you know how to do it.

The main problem with promoting affiliate programs is that there must be thousands of them out there. And 99% of them aren’t worth your time and effort to work with.

Over the years I’ve literally joined hundreds of different affiliate programs myself.  So in this article, I’m going to share my opinions on the best affiliate programs to join, so you don’t need to waste time figuring it out on your own.

What Makes a Good Affiliate Program To Promote?

Just because you’ve found a high-paying affiliate program, doesn’t mean you should promote it right away.

Instead, do some research first before you decide to promote any product. I always look for the following key characteristics.

1. It works for me – While this may seem obvious, there are so many products and services out there that don’t do what they promise. Or they do, but they just don’t work well.

Yet, people still promote these products because they are lured in by the promise of huge commissions or the rampant “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality that is very prevalent in this industry.

Don’t do this. You will lose trust and credibility and it’s never a good idea for a long-term sustainable business.

2. I’ve used it myself – This relates to point #1. I’m only going to promote a product as an affiliate if I’ve bought and used the product myself.

By using a product yourself, you will discover both the pros and cons of the product you are using which helps you write more credible reviews or case studies. This is important because the more trustworthy you are, the more likely your readers will click on your affiliate links.

3. Trusted Brand – I prefer promoting affiliate products of company or person that I already know and trust. I know their products will be solid and that they treat their customers well. These are the brands that make the top affiliate programs.

People are more likely to search and buy from trusted brands. Plus you will find that trusted brands have a lower refund rate which means you get to keep more of your affiliate commissions.

4. Evergreen – I know a lot of people make tons of money promoting product launches. However, for me, that is too much work. I like to focus more on programs that I can always promote, where I continue to earn long-term commissions for many months or even years down the line.

That is why I typically avoid promoting products that will launch for a couple of weeks and then close.

If you find an affiliate product meets these 4 characteristics above, then definitely consider taking the time to promote them.

The Best Affiliate Program

While there are a lot of great affiliate programs out there, there is one affiliate program in my opinion that stands out from the rest, and that’s ClickFunnels.

For its top affiliates, ClickFunnels offers 40% front-end commissions on ClickFunnels itself and you also get credit for any of the upsells that a customer buys via its sticky cookie. Or if they buy one of the many other products in the ClickFunnels ecosystem including DotComSecrets, Expert Secrets, The One Funnel Away Challenge, or Funnel Scripts.

What’s nice about ClickFunnels is that you can share any funnels you create with the software itself, and use your share funnel url as another type of affiliate link.  If someone already has a ClickFunnels account, the funnel will be loaded directly into their account.

But if they do not, then they will be asked to take the 14-day free trial to get access to your funnel.  And if they sign up, you get the credit!

I talk more about using share funnels in my ClickFunnels affiliate guide here.

If you manage to get 100 affiliate referrals, ClickFunnels will pay you $500 a month towards the lease of your very own dream car. If you reach 200 referrals then they will bump this up to $1,000 a month.

It took me awhile to get started, but I personally qualified for the ClickFunnels Dream Car in early 2019.

CF Dreamcar Contest

Which means I’m able to earn affiliate commissions like this:

ClickFunnels affiliate earnings

Lastly, ClickFunnels really synergizes really well with a lot of other affiliate products.

So while promoting ClickFunnels, you can also promote your favorite email service, link tracking service, and or even an online training like Legendary Marketer. This can really boost up your affiliate commissions.

Other Great Affiliate Programs to Promote

Here are some other affiliate programs that I personally promote and have made good money with.

Email Service Providers (Autoresponders)

I love promoting email service providers because they offer everything you want as an affiliate. I use both ActiveCampaign, and ConvertKit and all pay out recurring monthly commissions.

Which is great, is because ESPs are typically very sticky. Once you choose one, you typically will stay with it for years and years.

And as people you refer add more subscribers to their list, your commissions will also increase as well.

Email service providers are also very easy to promote. That’s because:

  • They have high social proof – you can see what service people are using when signing up to various email lists.
  • Easy to write reviews and case studies – It doesn’t take much effort to share your experience with using them.
  • Free trials – Makes it more likely for a prospect to try their service with no risk to them.
  • Every successful business needs one – email marketing is easily one of the best ways to promote things online. And for that, you need a good autoresponder.

Here is a list of some of the best email services to promote.

ActiveCampaign – Has a 14-day free trial. New affiliates earn 20% recurring commissions. But you can bump that up to 25-30% if you reach certain thresholds.

What makes ActiveCampaign different from many of the other email services I mention below is that they have plans for both small business owners and larger enterprises.  It’s not uncommon to get enterprise plan commissions that pay $1,000+ every month!

Drip – Starts at $19 a month with a 14-day free trial. Affiliate program pays 30% recurring commissions.

ConvertKit – Has a forever free plan (up to 1,000 subscribers) which is great for getting leads. Pays 30% recurring commissions.

Aweber – Has a forever free plan (up to 500 subscribers). Pays 30% recurring commissions.

GetResponse – Has a full 30-day free trial and pays 33% recurring commissions.

MailerLite – Has a great free plan up to 1,000 subscribers.  Pays 30% recurring commissions.

Ontraport – 14-day free trial and pays 25% recurring commission.  Need to be an active Ontraport subscriber to be an affiliate.

Landing Page Builders

There are several landing page building services out there. These products allow non-coders to build professional looking landing pages to collect emails, create sales pages and more.

It is very easy to demonstrate how these products work for your readers. Just start using them in your own business and write case studies detailing how they work for you.

These services are also quite sticky. Perhaps not as much as an email service provider, but customers usually stick around for several months if not longer when they find their favorite.

GrooveFunnels – Offers 20% commissions, and 5% 2-tier affiliate commissions as a free member.  Bumps up to 40% commissions and 10% 2-tier affiliate commissions if you upgrade to a lifetime member.  Also offers share funnels.

Kartra – Offers 40% recurring commissions and 10% 2-tier affiliate commissions.

BuilderAll – Offers 100% first month commissions, and 30% monthly commissions after that.  They also have a dream car program if you refer 100 affiliates.

HighLevel – Offers 40% lifetime recurring commissions.

LeadPages – Offers 10-50% recurring commissions, depending on the sales volume you can generate

Instapage – Earn 50% on initial payment and 30% recurring commissions for every month after.

Web Hosting

The Web hosting niche contains some of the highest paying affiliate programs out there.

Web hosts are easy to promote because you can easily write about your own experience with your chosen web host and use tools like Pingdom and GTMetrix to show how reliable and fast your site is. And they’re sticky. Users tend to stick with their web hosts for a long time unless something bad happens.

Affiliate programs for web hosts vary quite a bit. Many offer a tiered flat rate commission per sale. However, a select few web hosting affiliate programs do offer recurring commissions. Promote these brands and you can earn some really fat checks.

WPX Hosting – This is the hosting we use here at SmartBusinessTrends. Offers between $70-$100 per sale depending on how many referrals you make.

Cloudways – I also use Cloudways for some of my other niche sites.  You have a choice between getting paid per sale or a hybrid model.  If you choose pay by sale, you earn a $125 one-time commission for each sale.  But if you choose the hybrid option you get paid $30 per sale + 7% lifetime commissions.

LiquidWeb – Dedicated servers pay out 100% for the first monthly bill and 5% recurring commissions for the lifetime of a customer.

Kinsta – Earn $50 to $500 up front commissions depending on the plan they buy.  Then earn 10% recurring commissions every month after that for as long as they stay on.

Wordpress Themes and Plugins

Wordpress is the most popular CMS online. It powers many of the most popular blogs and sites you see on the web. With this popularity comes a huge ecosystem of Wordpress themes and plugins.

Here are a couple of my favorite Wordpress affiliate programs.

Thrive Suite – Theme club and plugin developer started by Shane Melaugh who is one of my favorite marketers. Can earn 50% on upfront sales and 25% on recurring commissions. Thrive Leads and Thrive Architect are two of their flagship products which are easy to promote.

WPRocket – One of the most popular WordPress caching plugins out there.  Earns 20% commissions.

How do you promote these affiliate programs

Now that you have an idea of some of the best affiliate programs to join, how do you go about promoting them? Here are 26 examples of successful marketers promoting these types of affiliate programs.

Use these as inspiration and pick a method or two to promote your own favorite affiliate product.

1. Create an amazing bonus offer around it

2. Create a funnel around it

3. Mention product in an epic content post

3. Create a course around it

4. Put together a product giveaway

5. Compile a list of people using the product

6. Do a mega comparison post

7. Publish a product alternatives post

8. Write an in-depth product review

9. Publish a ‘Why I Switched Post’

10. Do a product vs product post

11. Add the product to your Resource page

12. Create a product tutorial post

13. Create a Youtube video tutorial highlighting the product

14. Compose a detailed product case study

15. Include product as part of a list post

16. Build a comparison review site

17. Integrate it in as part of an ‘Epic’ How-To-Guide

18. Show earnings from product as part of a monthly income report

19. As part of a Best Tools Experts Roundup Post

20. Do a Training Webinar around the product

21. Make it part of a ‘Black Friday Deals’ post

22. Negotiate with owner for an exclusive deal for your readers

23. Sell product through email

24. Incorporate product as part of a ‘Tools I can’t live without’ post

25. Write a product updates post when new features are announced

26. Create a recommendations tool that matches user with the best product for them

Final Thoughts

If you don’t have your own product or service to sell, then promoting the best affiliate programs can be just as lucrative.

Have you had any luck promoting affiliate products on your own site?

I’d love to hear about any affiliate programs that you have been successful promoting. Feel free to share in the comments.

About Chris Fong

Chris Fong is a blogger and a 6 figure a year affiliate marketer. He enjoys helping others learn about different marketing tools and helping people achieve success online.

  • Lisa Kubo says:

    What a wonderful resource you’ve put together Kinley! Thanks for sharing.

    I can vouch for Aweber having an excellent affiliate program. Although their commissions may start out small when people join, it can really grow to a substantial amount after some time. The true definition of passive income!

    • Kinley McFadden says:

      Thanks for stopping by Lisa! Yes, Aweber is one of my favorites! I still get a check from them month after month for promotions I’ve done for them many years ago.

  • Ron says:

    Hi Kinley,

    Great post and really like your site. I got some great inspiration from those examples you included at the end.

    For those that are more into paid traffic, I would also recommend the AffPlaybook affiliate program. It’s a forum with a great community and it offers 50% recurring commissions for life.

    • Kinley McFadden says:

      Thanks for the recommendation Ron. I’ve heard good things about AffPlaybook, but I don’t do paid traffic at the moment so I haven’t had a chance to take a look. But sounds interesting, and 50% lifetime recurring commissions sounds very enticing!

  • Aman says:

    Hey Kinley,
    Liquidweb link is broken.

  • Mark Watson says:

    Great article! Lots of great information here. Affiliate Marketing can be super profitable given the right system and mentor. There’s a lot of “fluff” information out there that leaves most people cluttered.

    I’ve found keeping things simple and clear-cut is best practice. Anyways once again, great article! I’ll be subscribing for more.

    • Kinley McFadden says:

      Appreciate you stopping by Mark. Having a great mentor can definitely be very helpful, but I think the key for me is to take action! That’s how you will really learn things and start making money online.

  • Ana Hoffman says:

    Loved your approach to the topic, Kinley; I think I might have to steal your idea and rework my own post on the topic. 😉

    Of course, thanks so much for including one of Traffic Generation Café posts here; honored.

  • Ramsay says:

    Thanks so much for including my little blog in here.


  • Tim Arnot says:

    Interesting ideas. I am new doing affiliate marketing and hope I can see a difference after trying out some of your ideas. Many Thanks!

  • Hi Kinley,
    I would like to also add that people deciding to become Affiliate Marketers should try to work on finding “Niche” market Affiliate Programs.
    I think many people have thoughts of working with Amazon’s program but have not thought outside of the box. I do want to mention that we have just started our own Affiliate Program. It is “very” niche. We work with Mark Lewis Art. He is a listed artist and done shows with big names in the industry. Howard Behrens, Michael Godard, Chris Dellorco and others. He is offering 10% commission, free signup, free video training. His original artwork in Las Vegas ranges in price from $2500 to $15,000! So the upside to the program is appealing. So perhaps you could include in future articles the benefits of going “Niche” instead of big box. It can be a game changer for those individuals that really want a fighting chance to make Affiliate Marketing a way of life.
    Best regards,
    Joanie Braxton

  • Mona Brown says:

    Hello and reading this has finally made me understand how the system works. I want to start affiliate marketing. I have found a company that I want to promote but need someone that can take over all of the phases and get it up and running. Aweber is a good one to use as an autoresponder and I already have a membership. Just have to go ahead and activate it. I hope you can give me some insight. Do I go ahead on my own or get with a plan that can do this for me at a minimal cost.

  • Thanks for a nice job. I am currently promoting some of the affiliate programs listed here and making a few dollars from them. But I must say that making money from affiliate programs is not rocket science; it requires hard work and perseverance. Affiliate marketing keeps evolving daily and any serious affiliate should be ready to change tactics and invest time and money in order to beat the competition.

    You may need some traffic (but a few traffic is enough to start with) to get guaranteed success especially if the traffic is targeted. Whatever be the case, I have so much faith in affiliate marketing because of the relative success it has given me in the area of making money online.
    Thanks once again. Do have a pleasant day.

  • Corey Hinde says:

    This is gold… I’m very interested in helping small business owners get maximum return on their marketing, and this list will help me to help them!

  • Cricket says:

    Hi Chris; I have been trying to make money on-line for over 20 years. Do I need a seperate web site to promote different affiliate programs?

    • Chris Fong says:

      Not necessarily. As long as the affiliate program you are choosing is relevant to the niche of your website, then you can easily promote. This blog for example, promotes dozens of different affiliate programs in the Digital Marketing niche.

      But if you are promoting affiliate programs in a very different niche, it’s a good idea to promote it on a relevant website you have.

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