How to Choose Money-Making Affiliate Programs

This page may contain links to or other sites from which I may receive commission on purchases you make after clicking on such links. Read my full Disclosure Policy

Passive Income

Affiliate programs can be an effective way to supplement your regular earnings. Because there is time and effort involved in locating and registering for suitable programs as well as creating and promoting your affiliate links, today I’m going to share a few questions to consider which will help you choose programs that are most likely to give you a good return on investment.

Have you personally tried and liked the products or services being offered?

Many affiliate programs provide you with pre-written articles or other text to help you promote their products or services, but you’ll get much better results if you use your own words and describe how you’ve benefited from using them. For starters, your blog readers and clients are more likely to purchase something that you personally recommend. Secondly, search engines are programmed to recognize duplicate content, so if you use the same old promotional material as all the other affiliates, you’re probably not going to come up very high in the search results.

What is the commission rate?

Generally speaking, you can earn more by promoting digital products than tangible goods, because the seller is making a higher profit, which they can pass on to their affiliates.

In addition, vendors who administer their own affiliate program usually offer a higher commission than those who are part of an affiliate network, as there are costs for being involved with such networks.

What is the price?

You can earn more on an item that sells for $100.00, even if the commission rate is only 10%, than on a $10.00 item that pays 50%. On the other hand, since it will probably be easier to sell more of the lower ticket item, either may be a good choice.

What is the minimum payout?

Some affiliate programs pay you every month that you have sales, but others will hold the funds until you’ve earned a minimum amount, which may be as high as $200.00. If you’re not confident that you can generate sufficient sales in a reasonable amount of time, it is probably not worth your while to get involved with that program.

Are there other restrictions?

One of the most popular affiliate networks is Commission Junction, which provides you with access to thousands of vendors, including many organizing product companies. Unfortunately, they deactivate your account if you don’t generate any sales over a six-month period, and you lose whatever commission you had on account. This happened to me on more than one occasion, but after deciding to give it one more shot, and even beefing up my efforts on several sites, I was shut down again, so I’m no longer recommending Commission Junction to my clients.

If you’ve got some tips of your own to share, please leave a comment!

I recommend...

A former professional organizer, I now eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

Join the Community

Did you find this post helpful?

Sign up to get new posts by email every week!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Join the Conversation


  1. Avatar Allison Carter, Organizer U on December 4, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I also recently learned that Commission Junction links on your website can lower your ranking with google and other search engines. Google is aware of the thousands of websites that are simply affiliate listing link sites and this is a way to lower the site rank of those.

  2. Avatar Janet Barclay on December 4, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Wow, I didn’t realize that! Another reason to stay clear of CJ!

  3. Julie Bestry Julie Bestry on December 5, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    I didn’t know that about CJ’s impact on ranking, but did find the cancelation of accounts to be frustrating, especially when so many of the small-to-medium sized vendors fail to provide links for their catalog’s individual products. For example, I’d often like to link to Think Geek products in my blog to make a humorous point (and because the products are fabulous), and just not the ones they identify as hot sellers, but there’s no opportunity.

    I’ve had good luck with only one affiliate program, a marketing coach whose skills I respect, and whose program has earned me money. Conversely, I’ve been an Amazon Associate for a long time, and promote the (many) books I’d otherwise promote (i.e., because it’s the material, not the marketing, that makes it all legit), and I’ve never made any money.

    Great blog, Janet, and I’m glad for Allison’s follow-up, too.

  4. Avatar Janet Barclay on December 6, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Julie, that’s another good point, which isn’t restricted to CJ’s vendors. There are many times I’d like to make reference to a specific product in a blog post, but there’s just no point linking to the home page.

    With Amazon, I’ve selected for the gift certificate option, as the payout level is decreased from $100 to $10, and I have received quite a few gift certificates (=free books) over the years, which is nice, since I would be promoting those products regardless.

  5. Avatar Amanda on January 7, 2011 at 5:02 am

    Thanks for this article! I have always wanted to know how to chose a better money making affiliate program. Thanks again.


Leave a Comment