In it’s most simple guise, affiliate marketing is a way to make money via recommending a product or service to an audience online – with you earning a commission when someone makes a purchase or becomes a lead.
There are a number of affiliate programs in both the UK and globally and in this article I’ll be detailing some of what I consider to be the best affiliate programs out there.
Why Am I Talking About Affiliate Marketing?
For me, affiliate marketing is the ultimate side hustle – and that’s how it starts out for most people (myself included) – before quickly becoming a means to replace a full time salary.
There’s lots to learn and even more to apply to make it successful, but I am living proof that it can be achieved – having earned mid 6 figures through affiliate commissions over the last 12 months.
But today, I’m here on Wallet Savvy to show some of my favourite affiliate marketing programs.
Affiliate Programs Vs Affiliate Platforms
As there are literally thousands of affiliate marketing programs and what’s right for you will depend on the niche that you want to target, I will be including both affiliate programs and affiliate marketing platforms on this list.
It’s important to differentiate between an affiliate platform and a program.
A platform will host multiple programs, and usually you will need to apply to work with the platform first, then apply to work with the program once accepted on to the platform.
Just because you have been accepted on to a platform (also known as an affiliate network) does not mean you will automatically be accepted on to the program.
It’s a good idea to understand the difference between a network (platform) and a program as there are many incredible individual programs out there – so don’t assume you have to just stick to the big networks.
Top 10 Affiliate Marketing Programs (UK Edition)
I have used over 40 different affiliate programs over the last 7 years – some are better than others, some pay higher commissions while others have a lot more time for affiliates themselves – and therefore the relationships are stronger.
Here I will detail 10 of what I consider to be the best affiliate programs right now.
AWIN, formerly known as Affiliate Window is my second highest earning affiliate platform and it has a wide range of UK affiliate programs (as well as more from overseas).
It is quick and easy to sign up and once you have done this you can search for suitable programs to promote. The search interface on AWIN is excellent – and is one of the main reasons why I promote so many different programs on their platform.
Any platform that doesn’t allow you to search via locations served and niche is a poorly designed platform in my view – but AWIN excels in this regard.
They also give you the details of the affiliate managers on each program, along with commission rates and more details on the company. Your affiliate managers can apply higher rates if they agree that with you and the reporting dashboard is also very good on AWIN with lots of out of the box ways to look at your stats (a simple view of earning is shown above)
They also give you a snapshot of how you a performing vs the same time the previous month for clicks, sales and total commissions and this is split via country. Very handy for having a quick snapshot of your current performance.
Creating affiliate links is also very easy and the ability to create direct links, adding sub ID’s (a more advanced but relatively simple technique for even greater tracking/reporting) is also very welcomed.
Overall, AWIN has plenty of programs to choose from in a wide range of niches and their platform is robust and feature rich.
Now this is a personal favourite of mine and unless you are in the health/sleep/fitness or supplementation niches you are likely going to want to skip to the next program on our list – but if you want to see what a fantastic direct affiliate program looks like then read on.
FanFuel is my highest earning platform – with commission rates of 40-50% as standard across a range of different products.
From teeth whitening to sleep aid supplements, their product range each has its own dedicated website and brand that you can promote.
You also get a dedicated affiliate manager, they use the impressive Everflow affiliate software that gives you access to all the data and direct linking you need, and they genuinely care about their affiliates.
One element I love with FanFuel is how they incentivise affiliates. They run various competitions through the year and offer rewards based how many points you gain – with prizes ranging from software subscriptions to cars!
Impact is another affiliate network that gives you access to a wide range of UK affiliate programs (as well as thousands from other locales). The software is a little clunkier to use than the likes of AWIN (in my opinion) but tracking seems accurate and payments are always made on time.
I find that many of the programs listed on Impact have a relatively high acceptance threshold so don’t be surprised if you are application to certain affiliate programs are rejected when using Impact. This is no reflection on impact, but perhaps a pointer as to the high quality of clients they have and the high quality of publishers they want.
If you have a high quality website or audience with good traffic then you will likely do very well with Impact.
Another top tier affiliate network is Shareasale. They were recently acquired by AWIN but for now they still run as two completely separate entities on their own platforms.
Sharesale is relatively easy to navigate, has a very wide range of offers and does allow you to search for UK focused affiliate programs.
The reporting features are not quite as robust as the likes of AWIN and the Everflow platform, but they still give you all the basic data you would need.
Creating links is very easy once you are approved on a program. You can simply use the direct link generator to create deep links to various pages on the offer site – and you can shorten them using their one click tool if you so wish.
Shareasale is pretty transparent and again, your affiliate managers can apply custom rates if you negotiate these.
Some programs do seem to go low on funds from time to time so it is always worth monitoring this.
I’ve personally never had any problems with Shareasale and find them useful to get access to smaller companies offers who you would otherwise be unable to monetise.
Commission Junction (CJ)
Another big player in the affiliate network world is Commission Junction – more commonly known as CJ. Again, they have a range of high profile clients and boast $16 Billion (yes that’s billion) in generated annual revenue as a result of their links.
They work in a range of niches but do have one of the best collections of finance related companies – more so in the US, but they do have a good UK collection too.
I don’t have a huge number of accounts on CJ (just a handful really) but I’ve always had good experiences with them, have suffered very few rejections when applying for programs and have always found them to pay out on time.
Many people who first start out in affiliate marketing turn to Amazon Associates – which as the name implies, is the affiliate program for Amazon.
It is hard to think of a bigger name in e-commerce than Amazon – and as such, the Amazon Associates affiliate program is perhaps the biggest and most well known.
And although it has many things going for it – biggest, doesn’t always mean best.
As far as UK affiliate programs go, Amazon Associates is actually pretty good, and in recent years they have been treating their affiliates much better than in the past.
In the US, the commission rates are still pretty low, but in the UK you can typically expect anywhere from 6-10% for most niches. Their rates are category dependent so always check that before going all in on promoting Amazon.
The biggest advantages of Amazon are their conversion rates (as they are so well known and used) and their wide range of products – they sell pretty much everything! So it’s usually a viable option to promote for most affiliates promoting products.
The downsides are that they will not negotiate on rates and they have pretty strict terms of service – but stay the right side of these and you could be enjoying some pretty good earnings with Amazon.
MoreNiche is another affiliate program that operates in the health and supplement space. They are UK based, although their offers can be applied globally.
I have actually met with the owners of MoreNiche (they kindly flew me out to Majorca to meet them) and my affiliate manager I have met a few times.
They are another company who put their affiliates first and for anyone in the health or nutrition space I would whole heartedly recommend you signing up to their program.
Many of their products have 40-50% commission rates and are of a high quality, with the ability to make commissions on re-orders – always something you should look out for.
Above all, MoreNiche are a thoroughly ‘good to work for’ company – and I love promoting their offers.
It’s rare, but sometimes there just isn’t an appropriate platform to promote your offers on. Or, perhaps more commonly, there is but the rates are low.
If you find yourself in this situation and you have good traffic or attention – then you should look to make direct affiliate deals. This is easier than you might think.
Most companies will have some form of marketing budget. Affiliate is an easy sell because they only pay if they make the sale.
If a company is making say 40% margin on a sale, and you ask for 20% – then they are still making 20% profit on each and every sale. The 20% they are paying you is their marketing fee, but they only pay it when they sell – so there is no risk to them.
You should look to contact either the marketing department or the director (depending on the size of the company) and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much success you get from this.
Paid On Results
Paid On Results is another affiliate network similar to AWIN and Shareasale, but it is a little less well know. I’ve done a fair bit of work with Paid On Results and have promoted a good range of their affiliate programs.
Unlike AWIN and Shareasale, POR will work with smaller companies so you will often find more niche companies setting up programs with them.
If you try to do a direct deal with a company and they don’t want to set up their own program you can also refer them to POR as they work with companies of all sizes and are very approachable.
From a usability point of view, POR is easy to navigate, has all the usual features and reporting you would expect and are good at paying out.
ConvertKit (or other recurring SAAS offers)
I chose ConvertKit as the example for this section as it is a piece of software that allows you to set up an email newsletter – and all good affiliates should have a newsletter.
But more than that, they have a recurring commission affiliate program – which means that you get paid each month that someone is paying for the SAAS (software as a service). These are some of the most lucrative types of affiliate programs as your earnings can compound over time.
You generate £500 of commissions in month 1.
Month 2, you make the same amount but still make the £500 from previous months – so you make £1000.
By month 6, you’d be making £3000 per month. Even if you had a 20% drop off rate you’d still be making £2400 per month. Pretty incredible.
And this is what makes these kind of recurring revenue affiliate programs so lucrative.
How To Find Affiliate Programs
Finding affiliate programs is not particularly difficult. For the most part, a simple Google search of ‘best affiliate programs for x’ will do the job.
Other than that you might need to scour the networks I’ve mentioned above. AWIN, CJ and Shareasale have the most affiliate partners, but you should try others and if all else fails, go direct to the manufacturer/service provider and ask.
You should also not expect to be accepted on to all programs. Some have very specific criteria for acceptance and most will require you to have at least some relevant traffic. The more traffic you have that is relevant to their business, the more likely you will be accepted.
You should also consider how your brand looks. Most companies will not want to be associated with a low quality website or a brand that might bring theirs in to disrepute. So always try to make sure your website or social profiles look professional before applying.
Want to know more about affiliate marketing – watch my interview On Upthegains round affiliate marketing: