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Affiliate marketing can be confusing at first, especially if you’re a new blogger. You’re already trying to learn the ropes of your preferred blogging platform, trying to make it look the way you want, setting up the plug-ins, publicizing yourself on every social media outlet possible, and trying to find readers. There’s a lot to do and adding one more thing on the list might seem overwhelming. While some aspects of monetizing your blog may not be possible on day one – such as finding sponsors and advertisers – adding affiliate links to your blog on the day your blog launches is easy and, if at all possible, you should do it.
Part of the reason why is that Google rewards longevity. Older posts tend to do better than newer posts in SEO. What if the first post you ever write becomes exceedingly popular and the opportunity to add affiliate links was there but you never took it? You’d be missing out on money and that’d be a huge bummer!
I love affiliate marketing because it allows you to add links naturally to your blog. For instance, perhaps your first post is a list of all of the baby products you can’t live without. Adding affiliate links here makes complete sense since you were already going to write the post with or without affiliate links. I don’t recommend just filling a page on your blog with a bunch of gibberish links because your readers are smart people and they’ll likely see what you’re trying to do. But natural links? Absolutely!
If you’re new to the world of affiliate marketing you might be wondering how, exactly, you’re supposed to know what products and stores have affiliate networks. Here’s some good news: Almost EVERYTHING you buy online has an affiliate program these days. Seriously. On my blog ShopGirlDaily.com, I took the approach that if I had an affiliate link for a product it’d be awesome. If I didn’t have an affiliate link it’d still be awesome and I’d write about both products equally. These days, however, it’s next-to-impossible to find a product where no affiliate program is available.
If you’re ready to put your toes in the affiliate marketing water, so to speak, here are the best affiliate networks for new bloggers. These are the ones that are not only fairly easy to apply to and get accepted into, but that also make it easy to get links on your site ASAP.
Best Affiliate Networks for New Bloggers
Amazon Associates, to me, is an ideal first affiliate program for new bloggers for two reasons:
- They sell pretty much everything under the sun.
- Most people are already shopping at Amazon so sharing their links won’t seem odd to your readers.
You could probably have a blog that contained nothing but links from Amazon and you’d be good to go. (And I’m sure many people do only use Amazon!)
Amazon Associates is easy to apply to and fairly intuitive to use. Once you’re an Associate the “SiteStripe” will appear whenever you head to Amazon.com. That stripe will always be there and will allow you to quickly grab affiliate links for any product sold at Amazon!
The only downside to Amazon Associates is that it may not be available in all states. Thanks to pesky nexus tax laws, Amazon Associates is not running in select states where the law is in effect. If you are in an ineligible state, Amazon will not let you complete the application.
Please note that Amazon does NOT allow Associates to use their own affiliate links to make purchases. They have fairly advanced tracking systems in place so you will never receive credit for the orders you place anyhow.
While ShareASale is a major affiliate network that works with thousands of brands/advertisers, one reason I recommend it as one of the best affiliate networks for new bloggers is because many, if not most, of the advertisers that partner with ShareASale are smaller and oftentimes independent companies. This is important because oftentimes smaller affiliate programs will be more lenient about letting new bloggers without a proven track record into their programs. There are even quite a few advertisers on the ShareASale network that will approve you without even reviewing your blog!
Another reason ShareASale is a great network for newer bloggers is because they go out of their way to help bloggers to be as successful as possible. The ShareASale Blog is filled with tips and tricks. They send out quarterly catalogs that are filled with brands they work with and the products each brand carries. I love getting these catalogs in the mail! Each year ShareASale holds a conference, called ShareASale Think Tank, that aims at getting bloggers and brands to mingle. I highly recommend attending if you have the chance. I attended one a few years ago in Denver and had a blast. You do have to apply to go, but if you are chosen you will only have to pay $50 for the entire conference… and that includes your hotel stay and most meals! (You have to pay for your own transportation.)
To get you started, here are some of the most popular advertisers at ShareASale:
Bonus: Once you apply to ShareASale and get approved you can use the links above to directly apply to each program!
Shopstyle Collective is a subaffiliate network, meaning that once you are accepted into the network you will be able to promote ALL of the advertisers they work with without needing to individually apply to each program. ShopStyle works with thousands of advertisers, which means that this could be the only affiliate program you ever join. (Yes, they actually work with Amazon, too!)
Unlike all of the other affiliate networks, however, ShopStyle Collective is a pay per click network, which means that you will make a few cents whenever someone clicks any of the links in your posts. You will not, however, earn a separate commission when someone makes a purchase. (That said, frequent purchases will lead to an increase in your cost per click rate.)
While Shopstyle Collective is primarily known as a “fashion” network, they work with all types of bloggers! Don’t be intimidated if you look at their blog and see mostly fashion posts. I mean, one of the advertisers in their network is Target, and you know Target sells everything under the sun.
ShopStyle Collective is incredibly easy to use and they provide their users with many different tools, such as the ability to quickly make widgets or even add your affiliate links to your videos. They also offer a couple of different methods for using your affiliate links to make money from Instagram. One of my absolute favorite features of Shopstyle, however, is that they’re the ONLY network where you can still use your affiliate links to make money on Pinterest. You can pin items direct from the Shopstyle interface to Pinterest and earn money if people click on the products you have pinned.
RewardStyle is a competitor of ShopStyle Collective and while the sites are fairly similar the reason I recommend ShopStyle over RewardStyle is because RewardStyle is fairly exclusive about who they let into their network. If you want to start monetizing your site NOW, ShopStyle is definitely the way to go.
Like Shopstyle Collective, Skimlinks is a subaffiliate network meaning that once you’re accepted you will have access to all of the advertisers in the network. The thing that makes Skimlinks unique, however, is that it’s pretty hands-off. After applying all you need to do is add their code to your site and then you’re done. Skimlinks will AUTOMATICALLY add affiliate links to any of the products or brands in your posts that also happen to be in their network. It really doesn’t get any easier than this!
I actually recommend Skimlinks as the first network that new bloggers should apply for because it’s absolutely the easiest way to get started with affiliate marketing. You can add some links to your site automatically while you’re figuring out how all of the other networks work. But, it’s not just for new bloggers! I still use Skimlinks on my site because it helps me to make money from old links I never monetized, as well as links to companies with whom I have no other affiliate relationship. Once you start joining other affiliate programs you can adjust your Skimlinks setting so that their affiliate link does not override any that you manually place on your site.
An alternative to Skimlinks is Viglink. These sites are nearly identical and the only reason I recommend Skimlinks is because it’s the site I’m currently using. I’ve used Viglink in the past though and they’re just as good so feel free to choose whichever site you like the best.
So, Where Should You Start?
In my opinion, Amazon Associates, ShareaSale, Shopstyle Collective and Skimlinks are the absolute best affiliate networks for new bloggers because it’s easy to get into the networks themselves but each program makes it fairly simple to start adding their links to your blog immediately. If you were going to apply to just one network today I would start with Skimlinks because with just a bit of code you’ll be able to add affiliate links to your site while you take some time to decipher the other networks and what will work best for you. But honestly – you can’t go wrong with any of these sites and ideally I’d recommend applying to all four of them because they all serve different needs.
Just remember: Before placing any affiliate links on your site you want to have your privacy and disclosure policies in place.
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