Whether you are looking for new affiliate programs to start your side hustle or you are a full time experienced affiliate marketer, it is crucial to your success to choose the best affiliate partner programs for you.
Before we jump into the list of the best affiliate programs to join in 2023, I will explain what you should consider when deciding which affiliate programs to join.
What makes an affiliate partner program the best for you
When you are assessing if you should join an affiliate program, you should check through four different "checkboxes". These are great fit, commission structure, quality of the product (or service) and the website and finally how is it is to promote in terms of communicating value and how many competing affiliates it already has.
Lets go through each of the "checkboxes" before jumping into the list of the best affiliate programs to consider in 2023.
There are a lot of affiliate programs out there, and it can be tempting to just promote any old program that comes your way. It's crucial to find a program that is a good fit for your audience, as this will help ensure that your promotion is successful. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating your existing audience and failing to connect with new viewers. By taking the time to find an affiliate program that's a perfect match for your audience, you can increase your chances of making a sale and generating income, while maintaining good reputation amongst your audience.
To highlight this, imagine following your favourite gardening YouTuber who starts to tell you about an enterprise scale ERP system. While you, as a viewer, might be looking into a new ERP system, it is highly unlikely you are in the mood for some ERP systems when watching gardening videos. Seeing these types of out-of-context promotions also make you loose trust with the creator, which can result you actually avoiding the creator.
Affiliate program commissions are usually divided into two categories: one time commissions and recurring commissions. There are also mixtures of these, for example recurring commission for the first year.
While recurring commissions might instantly sound better, as it promises a sort of passive income, it is important to keep in mind why the brand chose this commission model.
No company wants to pay you more than it needs to for your promotion of their product or service. So if you see an affiliate program promoting 50 % life time recurring commissions on $500,000 per year subscription, you can be sure they expect you to bring anywhere between 0 and 0 customers. But of course they are more than happy to get some free promotion, and maybe, maybe, even finding a new customer (who will most likely contact a sales rep without you getting the attribution when talking about huge services).
On the other hand, a brand offering a one time $10 commission might be a great affiliate program for you, if the product or service is easy to promote and has a lot of potential customers.
So be sure to check that the commission structure sounds good to you and your audience size, rather than focus on absolute numbers. The goal in the end is to earn money, not have the highest commission percentage of nothing.
Great product and website
As an affiliate, you do not have any control over the product or service you are promoting. If the product happens to be horrible, there are most likely bad reviews and word-of-mouth going around the internet. This does not only make it a hard sell, but can lower your reputation in your audiences' eyes.
But on the other side, if the product is great, you might actually get good word-of-mouth yourself! I bet many have bought a phone they were not even considering based on MKBHD's review and told a friend about his great YouTube channel.
Besides the company you are an affiliate for having a great product or service, they must also have a great website, with good design and clear way to convert visitors to paying customers.
As an affiliate marketer, you are basically handing the visitor to the company's website and if the website is not optimized for conversions, or isn't trustworthy, your efforts might go to waste.
In many cases a free trial, or free plan, are a great sign. Freemium models allows the user to test the product and hopefully upgrade to a paid version for you to get your affiliate commission. It is also always easier to promote a free service to your audience!
Easy to promote, with room for you
When you are examining possible affiliate programs to join, you should also think how easy it is to promote. And what makes a product or a service easy to promote? The value of the product or service should be easy and simple to explain, the brand should have good (or at least some) recognition, and the affiliate program needs to have "room" for you.
If the value of the product or service you are promoting is not easy to understand, your audience will most likely tap out. As an affiliate, you have to bring up the value the customer gets in a way that suits your audience and communicate it in short time. I bet you have also watched (or stopped watching) a YouTube video which explains over 2 minutes why this VPN or online course is the best thing ever. A great sign to examine if the value is clearly visible, is the company's own website, as it is part of the journey to a commission.
The brand recognition is a two sided sword. While it is always easier to promote products and services which your audience is already familiar with (in a positive light!), they are also more likely to have thousands or even tens of thousands affiliates already. It might be simply impossible to get good amount of referrals due to competing content in YouTube, Google, TikTok etc. or that your audience is already their customer.
You should also check, if the company offers promotional materials such as banners and links to help you promote the product of service. Again, if the promotional materials are poorly designed or not effective, it will be very difficult to generate any converting referrals, or you have to spend a lot of time creating your own material.
Tip for beginners who are just starting to build their audience
If you do not have an audience and you are still thinking about the topic you are starting to create content in, this might be the most valuable tip for you.
Look for niches and trends which are for sure (or at least you believe in them) going to grow and become more popular, but are not yet filled with content and competing affiliate marketers.
One great example is the huge change in consumption behavior; we are all (especially the younger generations) moving away from maximizing ownership of goods and rather interested in buying access and experiences. This goes hand in hand with other trends, such as minimalism, circular economy, global warming, etc.
The best affiliate programs to join in 2023
Now that you know what to look for in an affiliate program, here is a list of the best affiliate programs to join (or consider) in 2023, which all have great products, great websites, name recognition, but have still a lot of room for new affiliates to earn income. You just have to see if there is a great fit with your existing or future audience.
Rentle affiliate program
Audience fit: eCommerce, rental business, side hustle, circular economy, sustainability
Commission: One-time $100 per sale (2nd tier 10%)
Product intro: Rentle is the platform to sell and rent anything, anywhere. Rentle allows anyone, from 1 person shops to Fortune 500 companies, to setup online rental store in minutes.
Rentle includes the best in class inventory management, multiple sales channels (online store, manual booking creation, kiosk self-service interface, and text message bookings), easy user interface, support for 20+ languages, security deposits and much more.
Affiliate program: Rentle Affiliate Program pays a one-time $100 commission for each conversion. They also pay the commission fast; commissions earned this month will be paid around 15th of the next month.
Rentle affiliate program has also a "2nd tier affiliate program", which allows you to recruit new affiliates. You will then earn 10% commission on top of the commission the affiliate you recruited earns. This model allows you to earn “recurring” commissions, as you will earn passively when the affiliates you recruited promote Rentle on their channels.
Rentle is in a great position for multiple new and growing trends, such as circular economy, sustainability and minimalism. Rental businesses have long time been very profitable as a small businesses, but even very large companies, such as Decathlon UK are starting to expand into rentals with Rentle.
Rentle's affiliate program was launched in June 2022, so it has a lot of room for new affiliates. Rentle was also featured in multiple medias in September 2022 due to their seed round. Now is absolutely awesome time to join Rentle's affiliate program if eCommerce, rental businesses, sustainability, circular economy or minimalism are topics your audience is interested in.
NapoleonCat affiliate program
Audience fit: social media management platform
Commission: 20 % recurring for the first year
Product intro: NapoleonCat is an all-in-one social media tool to engage and support customers. It enables easy moderation, scheduled publishing, and analyzing social media metrics. It works with the most important social media sites, such as LinkedIn, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Google My Business, Twitter and Facebook Messenger.
Affiliate program: NapoleonCat's affiliate program pays a nice 20% commission for the first year. NapoleonCat's prices range from $31/mo to $1000+/mo, so it can be a great affiliate program if your audience looks for tools that enable social media automation.
Supermetrics affiliate program
Audience fit: marketing data automation
Commission: 20 % recurring
Product intro: Supermetrics automates marketing data gathering from different platforms and makes it accessible straight from Google Data Studio, Google Sheets, Excel, BigQuery, etc. This means more time analyzing the data and less time collecting the data.
Affiliate program: Supermetrics' affiliate program pays 20% recurring commission for as long as the customer you recruited is Supermetrics' customer. There might not be infinite amount of customers, but if the product is a great fit for your audience, it can provide nice "passive" income.
But the best part of Supermetrics is how easy it is to promote. When you tell digital marketer that all marketing data from different platforms flows automatically to Google Sheets, BigQuery or where they choose, their eyes will light up, as all of us have in some point manually logged marketing data from Meta, Google Ads, Adroll, Bing... which takes time - every day, week or month.
HubSpot affiliate program
Audience fit: CRM, customer relationship management software, marketing & sales automation
Commission: 15% recurring for the first year or 100% of the first month’s revenue
Product intro: HubSpot is one of the major players in customer relationship management. You have probably heard of them, even if you have never tried their software. You might be wondering, why is HubSpot on our best affiliate programs list?
It has a great product and very powerful free version, which is super easy to promote and suits any business, no matter how small or large. CRMs sound like an enterprise level software, but they can offer great value to anyone, who is in contact with their customers - current or future - as it shows all touch points neatly in a timeline.
Affiliate program: HubSpot's affiliate program allows you to choose if you want your commission as a one time commission, which equals 100% of the first months revenue, or 15 % recurring for the first year. If you believe the customer you refer stays for 6+ months, it is better to choose the recurring option.