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An Introduction to Affiliate Networks in 2022



introduction to affiliate networks

Affiliate networks are the easiest way to start affiliate marketing as a beginner.

They give you access to thousands of the best affiliate programs. They help you get paid on time. And they can help you grow your affiliate marketing business quickly. 

The latest affiliate marketing trends show that over 80% of advertisers run an affiliate program. Some 40% of merchants cited affiliate programs as their top customer acquisition channel.

So what does that mean for social media content creators, bloggers, and publishers? More opportunities to make money. 

This guide will help you understand what affiliate networks are and what makes them different from standalone programs. Then, you can explore the most popular affiliate networks and decide which is the best for you.

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What is an affiliate network and how does it work?

An affiliate network is a service that connects publishers (i.e., affiliate marketers) with brands. The network acts as the “middleman” so that both publishers and brands offering programs can find each other easily. Brands can find and contract affiliates fast to promote their products and open up a new sales channel.

Brands often use affiliate networks when they: 

  • Don’t have enough outbound sales support
  • Have a small advertising budget
  • Want to reach a new audience

Affiliate networks are useful for publishers because they provide a way to find programs and organize affiliate commission payouts. For brands, they streamline the process of working with affiliates and influencers. 

The difference between an affiliate network and an affiliate program is that a program (usually) relates to a single brand. An affiliate network, on the other hand, is made up of thousands of programs that creators can discover and join. 

There are three parties involved in an affiliate network:

  • The seller. The seller could be a corporate enterprise like Nike, or a smaller retailer or entrepreneur. They create products, like electronics, consumer goods, services, and even digital products, then list them through the affiliate network. 
  • The affiliate. Often known as the publisher, the affiliate is you. This is the person responsible for promoting products and encouraging potential customers to buy. Affiliates often have a target audience they market to and cater to the interests of. Affiliates receive one-time or recurring commissions for every sale. 
  • The customer. The most important person in the relationship is the customer. When they purchase a product or service through an affiliate, both the seller and the affiliate win through profit sharing. 

Affiliate networks are easy to use, especially if you are searching through affiliate marketing software. You simply sign up for the network, then receive access to available products on the market. Some networks, like Avantlink, have strict requirements for affiliates to join and can deny you access. Fortunately, there are many affiliate networks for beginners you can sign up for to start making sales in minutes.

Side note: Some affiliate programs might look like networks at first—Amazon’s affiliate program and the eBay Partner Network, for example. But your relationship is only with the marketplace brand, not the sellers. With an affiliate network, you apply to work directly with an advertiser or seller on a dedicated landing page, then they assign you a unique ID to track sales attributed to your marketing efforts. 

how affiliate programs work

Overall, affiliate networks are flexible and logical because you can join multiple programs at once. This gives marketers more opportunities to promote products and earn affiliate sales at scale versus signing up for multiple programs individually.

10 best affiliate networks

With more businesses turning toward affiliate marketing to promote their products, affiliate networks have developed their offerings to meet demand. Explore the top affiliate networks and find the best choice for you.

  1. ShareASale
  2. AWIN
  3. CJ Affiliate
  4. ClickBank
  5. FlexOffers
  6. Avangate Affiliate Network
  7. Rakuten Advertising
  8. Impact
  9. AffiliaXe
  10. GiddyUp

1. ShareASale

shareasale affiliate networks

ShareASale is an affiliate platform, acquired by the AWIN Group in 2017. With tens of awards as a service provider, ShareASale helped the AWIN Group generate $1 billion in revenue for publishers (and $14 billion for advertisers). It’s perfect if you start affiliate marketing with no money, because it’s free to join the network and apply for programs. 

The platform has over 16,000 merchants to choose from. So no matter what your niche is, you’ll find a product category or affiliate product for you. With that variety of merchants comes a wide range of commission rates. You’ll find programs that offer 1% commission, all the way up to high-ticket affiliate programs with 300% commission rates, and it’s easy to find real CPA rates.

The best part? Signing up is free and easy to do. You can sign up with either your website or a social media account, which makes it a great option for beginner bloggers or influencers.

Getting paid: On the 20th (or nearest business day) of each month, for the previous month’s commissions.

Payment method: Paper check, direct deposit, or Payoneer.

Affiliate support: Yes.

G2 star rating: 3.6 out of 5.


AWIN affiliate network

ShareASale’s owner, AWIN (formerly known as Affiliate Window), was voted best CPS (cost per sale) network 2022 in North America. With over 21,000 brands in the AWIN network, you’ll find it easy to connect with the right merchant here. 

According to Robin Young of Fitness Savvy, “Their site is easy to navigate, creating product feeds and custom links is super easy to do, they feature many top advertisers—across the world, but especially good for the UK, I have found—and their customer service is really great.”

Similar to ShareASale, you can sign up with either a website or social media handles, though you do need to pay a small $5 deposit to join the network. You get the deposit back after reaching your first payment threshold. 

As Robin mentioned, with a surplus of British brands in the network, UK–based creators and small businesses can easily make AWIN work for them.

Getting paid: On the 1st and 15th of every month for the previous month’s commissions; there is a $20 minimum payment threshold.

Payment method: BACS, international wire transfer, or ACH.

Affiliate support: Yes.

G2 star rating: 3.7 out of 5.

3. CJ Affiliate

CJ affiliate

CJ Affiliate (formerly known as Commission Junction) is also one of the biggest affiliate networks on the scene, with a market share of 8.15%. Founded in Santa Barbara, California, in 1998, CJ is trusted by twice as many IR500 brands as its nearest competitor.

Creating an account with CJ is easy. To become an active member you’ll need to complete seven steps, including filling in your contact information and adding your “promotional property,” i.e., your website or social media accounts. 

While CJ is great for beginners, this platform is best if you’re an advanced affiliate or a developer, since CJ has an open developer portal for API access. 

Getting paid: Current month’s commissions are generally paid on the 20th or 28th of the following month.

Payment method: Direct deposit or Payoneer.

Affiliate support: Yes.

G2 star rating: 3.6 out of 5.

4. ClickBank

clickbank affiliate network

One of the oldest and most reliable affiliate marketing networks, ClickBank has paid out more than $5 billion in commissions since 1999. 

Compared to other networks on this list, signing up and getting verified is easiest with ClickBank. You don’t need to provide a website or social media handle. You simply give it your contact information and you’re able to browse the affiliate marketplace and generate links right away.

It’s worth noting that ClickBank has a much larger range of digital products than it does physical products. So if you’re an influencer (particularly in the health and fitness category) that wants to monetize their content with referrals, ClickBank is an easy option to choose.

Getting paid: Weekly or bi-weekly.

Payment method: Check, direct deposit, wire transfer, or Payoneer.

Affiliate support: Yes.

G2 star rating: 4.7 out of 5.

5. FlexOffers


With over 12,000 advertisers (including big names like Samsung, Sephora, and Wayfair), FlexOffers is another huge affiliate network to consider. While the color scheme could be better on the platform, it’s user friendly and simple to navigate.

What makes FlexOffers even more interesting is that it accepts free blogging websites like WordPress, Wix, Blogger, and BlogSpot for traffic sources. What’s more, it has an impressive cookie duration of 30 days.

FlexOffers is a good option for those who want to promote big brands, but it’s also a great option if you want to get started with affiliate marketing with no money.

Getting paid: Standard payouts are net 60, unless you qualify for advanced payments as a top affiliate (e.g., commissions earned during March 1–31 are processed 60 days later, on May 31).

Payment method: Bank transfer, Wire transfer, Check, or PayPal.

Affiliate support: Yes.

G2 star rating: 4.8 out of 5.

6. Avangate Affiliate Network

Avangate affiliate network

Avangate Affiliate Network was founded in 2006, making it one of the newer platforms on this list. If you’re in a niche that focuses on software or digital products, Avangate Affiliate Network can help you build a passive income from promoting them. 

What also sets Avangate Affiliate Network apart from others is that it offers the ability to use a geo-targeted shopping cart. That means if you’re trying to reach a specific market location, you can deep-link them directly to a localized cart.

So if you’re a tech-savvy blogger (you’ll need a dedicated website) and you want high commissions from digital products and online courses, Avangate is the network for you. 

Getting paid: 20 days from the end of the month for which the commission is due.

Payment method: Wire transfer, Check, PayPal, or Avangate MasterCard (in partnership with Payoneer).

Affiliate support: Yes.

Trustpilot star rating: 2.9 out of 5

7. Rakuten Advertising

Rakuten advertising network

Another big name that has been around since the ’90s is Rakuten Advertising (formerly known as Linkshare). Compared to some of the other networks on this list, this platform looks among the most dated. That said, it’s still easy and intuitive to navigate.

What sets Rakuten Advertising apart is that it doesn’t have tens of thousands of merchants, only around 1,000. However, in the case of Rakuten, it’s a matter of quality over quantity—the merchants it has are some of the biggest names in various industries including:

  • Virgin Holidays
  • New Balance
  • Microsoft
  • Sephora
  • Udemy 

So if you run a small business and want to benefit from a big-name brand reputation on your website (which you’ll need before signing up), Rakuten Advertising can be a great option for you.

Getting paid: Net 60 days.

Payment method: Direct Deposit, Check, or PayPal.

Affiliate support: Yes.

Trustpilot star rating: 3.2 out of 5.

8. Impact

impact affiliate network

Founded in 2008, Impact is one of the newest networks on the block. However, in that short period of time (compared to Rakuten, for example), it’s partnered with an impressive array of brands for affiliates to choose from, and offers over nine million products. You can find partnerships with SaaS and SEO brands like Semrush or opportunities with brands like Airbnb and Adidas. 

A quick read of its 400+ reviews on G2 shows that Impact is well loved for its clean and modern user interface and marketing tools, as well as its excellent customer support. Another plus for Impact is its Mobile App Partner Marketplace, which you won’t find elsewhere. It also offers a suite of automation tools to manage your partnerships. 

Therefore, if you want to be an affiliate partner for popular mobile apps, is the best option for you. It’s also a great option for UK-based affiliates since it offers BACS as a payment option.

Getting paid: Either when you hit minimum or custom payment threshold, or on the 1st or 15th of the month. 

Payment method: Direct Deposit, BACS, or PayPal.

Affiliate support: Yes.

G2 star rating: 4.6 out of 5.

9. AffiliaXe

affiliaxe network

Based in Israel, AffiliaXe is a global affiliate marketing network that offers everyone from entrepreneurs and freelancers to small online businesses a VIP service. 

As an approved affiliate, you get access to a dedicated affiliate manager that will help you boost conversion rates by curating the best programs for you and optimizing your traffic. When it comes to monetization options, AffiliaXe has the most varied options from pay per view, pay per click, social media, email marketing/feeds, and more. 

You’ll even get a high-paying $1,000 affiliate welcome bonus. However, AffiliaXe is known to be difficult to join, so the platform is best for well-established websites or influencers. 

Getting paid: Bi-weekly, once on the 15th and once at the end of the month, but the minimum payout is $100.

Payment method: Through Tipalti you can use PayPal, Payoneer, ACH, or Bank Wire.

Affiliate support: Yes. You get a dedicated affiliate manager.

Trustpilot star rating: 3.7 out of 5.

10. GiddyUp

GiddyUp affiliate network

With offices in Seattle and Ventura, GiddyUp is another modern affiliate network platform dedicated to helping you make money online, whether that’s from your website or social media. Since 2013, GiddyUp has paid over $200 million in commissions to its affiliate partners. 

As a new affiliate, GiddyUp can help you maximize your earnings with innovative tools and real-time data. An affiliate partner manager will also help answer all of your digital marketing questions. You’ll get access to fresh creative assets to help you, no matter what channel you’re driving traffic from.

GiddyUp also makes a point of showcasing its access to over 150 direct-to-consumer and ecommerce stores across a variety of verticals. So if you’re interested in promoting physical products, GiddyUp is a great option for you.

Getting paid: On the 1st and 15th of every month, you must reach the $25 minimum to cash out.

Payment method: ACH, Check, or foreign bank transfers.

Affiliate support: Yes. You get an affiliate manager to help you.

Trustpilot star rating: 4.1 out of 5.

Start generating affiliate sales

Now that you know what sort of affiliate networks are out there and who would benefit the most from them, you can start trying them out for yourself. 

Affiliate marketing can prove to be a lucrative earning opportunity, but it’s worth spreading your options across both affiliate networks of your choice and the best affiliate marketing programs to give yourself better chances of success.

If you want to learn more or need some tips on making the most of your traffic and online audience, check out our blog posts on affiliate marketing today.

Affiliate networks FAQ

Which affiliate network is best for beginners?

If you get approved, GiddyUp has industry-leading tools to help you. However, ShareASale has the easiest (and quickest) sign-up process to help you generate links right away.

What are the top 10 affiliate networks?

  • ShareASale
  • AWIN
  • CJ Affiliate
  • ClickBank
  • FlexOffers
  • Avangate Affiliate Network
  • Rakuten Advertising
  • Impact
  • AffiliaXe
  • GiddyUp

How do I find affiliate networks?

  1. Search for affiliate networks on Google.
  2. Browse affiliate directories.
  3. Search directly on a brand’s website

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