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What to Look for Before Joining an Affiliate Network

December 12th, 2008 posted by · 4 Comments

There are hundreds of affiliate networks out there and deciding which one to join can be a bit overwhelming. While there’s no rule on how many you’re allowed to join, it’s best to only belong to a few, or you won’t be able to keep track of all of them.

Let’s first define an affiliate network to make sure we’re all on the same page.

An affiliate network acts as an intermediary between publishers (affiliates) and (merchant) affiliate programs. It allows publishers to find affiliate programs, which are suitable for their website and it helps websites offering affiliate programs reach its target audience.

Affiliate marketers make thousands, or even millions of dollars per month by marketing products on behalf of advertisers and getting paid a commission.

Before you join an affiliate network, here’s a list of things to look for before submitting your application.

  1. International or domestic publishers — Does the network only accept domestic publishers that reside in the same country as the network, or are they open to working with publishers in all countries? While most networks do work with international publishers, you may find a few that are country-specific.
  2. Accessibility and support — Make sure you’re given an individual affiliate manager to manage your needs and answer any questions you might have. Not being able to get a hold of a live person in a timely fashion can be extremely frustrating. If the network only has a ticket support system that gets answered by a random representative every 3 days, drop them.
  3. How often do you get paid? — Most networks pay either 15 days after the end of the month, or within 30 days after the end of the month. Some may even pay weekly if you hit a threshold of $1,000 per week. Anything more than 30 days after the last day of the month is unacceptable. If you have bills to pay, you can’t be waiting for months to receive your money.
  4. What kind of offers does the network offer? — Inquire on what the network’s specialty is in terms of the most popular offers, whether it be ringtones, mortgages, debt consolidation, health and weight loss etc. If the network doesn’t offer anything surrounding a niche you can market, it’s probably not for you.
  5. Do they have an affiliate or rewards program? Most networks offer an affiliate program where publishers can refer others who sign up to the network. This can also make you money depending on how much your referral makes. Some networks have also started offering a rewards program where they will pay you a bonus if you reach a certain number of commissions during any given month.
  6. Review the terms and conditions — This is crucial before applying to any network. Make sure you actually read the terms before agreeing to them. I’m reminded of a story recently where a network had some fine print in its terms stating they kept 75% of all commissions and only told publishers about this when they inquired on why their checks were so small. Very slimy.

You also have to be prepared to know how to bring traffic to the offers the affiliate networks offer. If you don’t have a website, e-mail list or any knowledge in setting up PPC campaigns, networks will probably deny your application. After applying, be prepared to answer an e-mail or phone call from the network asking how you’ll be promoting their offers. It’s best to have a website set up surrounding your given niche before joining a network.

While that list above may look overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. It’s all pretty much straight forward and these are some of the basic things to look for when partnering with a network. Become friends with your network and create a long lasting business relationship — they’re there to help you succeed. The more money you make, the happier you are and so is the network.


I asked some other publishers to weigh in on what they look for in an affiliate network. Here’s what they had to say.

Zac Johnson: no games… high payouts and dedication from network and managers.

Missy Diaz: I look for ease of ad integration and access to support. Nowadays a network should be easy to reach. Email, IM, twitter.

Robert Adler: Communication and honesty. If a network pays $12 but tells me that their tracking sucks between 8 and 12 PM, I’ll admire the honesty as long as the conversion rates hold true on the others.

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4 Comments so far
  1. MLDina MyAvatars 0.2

    Great tips Chris! There are tons of affiliate networks out there, and it can be hard to find the right one (or ones) for you. It’s important to do your research before signing up or you can get overwhelmed. If anyone has any questions about MarketLeverage specifically, I’m happy to answer them!

  2. MyAvatars 0.2

    “Affiliate network” as all in eager to do this.., as a beginner I need more and more to know about it and your post was very useful to me guiding not only me but to all who start to do..,
    More than that the factors you mentioned “what to look for before joining an affiliate network” mold to fit in to the network apt and safe making to strike out the unwanted projections and negatives which should be neglected for success.

  3. Missy, The Groovy Vegetarian MyAvatars 0.2

    Hi, Chris:

    There are so many affiliate networks, bloggers and net marketers NEED to have a process in place to filter out networks that work for them.

    And its important to not join too many, as this can overwhelm you. Each network offers tons of offers and merchants, you don’t want to waste time trying to find the PERFECT offer.

    Pick one that is compatible with your niche and blog, then incorporate it on your site. Tweak, test, and find what works.

    Rinse and repeat.

  4. What Defines a ‘Top Affiliate Network’? MyAvatars 0.2

    […] ranking doesn’t really define an affiliate network at all. I wrote a post on what to look for before joining an affiliate network. Website Magazine should have taken some of those qualities […]