Are Affiliate Programs Free? The Why And How Of it All…

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Affiliate marketing gets a very bad rap at times. By association affiliate marketing programs get a very bad rap from time to time as well. People look at affiliate programs with a little bit of skepticism even though they are part of just about every major business on the planet right now.

One of the issues that really causes problems is people simply don’t know whether or not they have to pay to join an affiliate program.

Are Affiliate Programs Free? Yes, for the most part, affiliate programs are free to join. But it is not that simple. They are free to join in terms of payment but they often have other requirements that need to be met in order to join them.

Read on to dig a little deeper into affiliate programs, why they are free, and what else you need to join them.

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Affiliate Marketing Programs Should Be Free

Affiliate marketing programs are almost always free to join. In fact, I would be pretty worried about joining an affiliate program that wasn’t free.  At its core affiliate marketing programs are a symbiotic relationship between a content creator and the company that wants to sell their product.

That should not require a fee from the content creator. 

There are a few exceptions especially when you get into membership services. A lot of times you need to be a member of the service in order to promote it but even then a lot of these membership services allow you to be an affiliate without actually being a member of the service.

And even in those cases, I would be very wary about paying money to join an affiliate program. I cannot think of a single instance where I have paid to join an affiliate program or one where I would feel comfortable paying to join an affiliate program.

The bottom line is that affiliate programs should always be free to join.

One of the best places to find affiliate programs for free is through large affiliate networks. Let’s take a look at them now.

Free Affiliate networks

A great place to find free affiliate programs is on these large affiliate networks. Typically these affiliate networks are free to join as well.

They host hundreds if not thousands of affiliate programs from a huge variety of niches. Here are just a few of the biggest affiliate marketing networks that you can join for free.

  • ShareASale(read our review)
  • Avantlink
  • Commission Junction
  • Clickbank
  • Linkshare
  • PepperJam
  • Impact Radius

Why Are Affiliate Programs Free?

That brings us to our next logical question. Why would these giant companies let regular people promote their products and not charge them to do so?

It’s very simple. It’s free advertising for companies. If they can get you to promote their products within your content they are getting Prime real estate for advertising without having to pay a dime for it.

So, of course, they’re going to allow you to join their affiliate program for free. There are usually other requirements however to join their affiliate program.

A lot of companies will want to see that you have a good user base either through social media YouTube or blog traffic before they will allow you to promote their products.

They’re also going to take a look at your website to make sure that it doesn’t have content that is going to be antithetical to their product or embarrass them in any way.

When it works affiliate marketing is a purely symbiotic relationship.

The content creator creates content that’s interesting and puts the affiliate links in that content when people make purchases through those affiliate links the company makes their sales and the prophet and the affiliate marketer gets a small commission for their trouble.

It really is a simple and elegant advertising solution.

Related Questions

Are Affiliate Programs Worth It?

Affiliate programs are absolutely worth it. Affiliate programs are the lifeblood of affiliate marketing.

You can create all the great content in the world. It can be super useful and super helpful but if you don’t have affiliate programs to help monetize it then you’re just not going to get the maximum amount of profit.

You can supplement some of that profit with advertisements and info products but affiliate programs are going to be one of the biggest earners for you in an online environment.

If you have a Content blog or a YouTube channel or an Instagram account or Pinterest account then you are going to want to seriously consider using affiliate programs to help augment your business strategy.

Are Affiliate Programs Profitable?

Affiliate programs can be profitable. In fact, they can be the foundation of an entire online business. We’re not just talking about a little side hustle either.

I have seen affiliate programs that have commissions from 1% all the way up to 300% in some cases and if you make those programs convert and you are going to make a lot of profit with them.

Some affiliate programs pay flat fees for each sale. Two affiliate programs that I use pay $100 for each sale. 2 or 3 of those a day is a full-time income that will support an entire family.

Affiliate programs and your abilities to promote them can be the basis for a full-time career online. I mean it sounds too good to be true I now. Be Your Own Boss write about something that you love to find a niche that you enjoy and work in it.

It really is the dream and it’s a dream that a lot of us are living every single day. But it’s a lot of work and it takes a little bit of finesse finding the perfect affiliate programs that are going to be profitable for your specific audience.

Are some affiliate programs not going to be profitable. Absolutely. Some of them just aren’t going to be very good because their products are poor or they don’t offer you enough commission to really make it worth your time to promote them.

But the profitability of most affiliate programs is going to rest on the ability of the affiliate marketer to craft content that is going to make someone want to click on one of your affiliate links and then buy something just giving you a nice little Commission.

Are Affiliate Programs Legit?

This question in itself makes me a little bit sad. Most affiliate programs are completely legit and in fact, most of them are part of some of the biggest names in business and in sales and Retail in the world.

Nike has an affiliate program. It’s not a very good affiliate program but they have one.

So does Reebok.

So does Under Armour.

These are some of the biggest names in sports fashion and in sneakers.

They’re all completely legit.

So why would anybody even think that affiliate marketing programs aren’t above board?

Well because there are a lot of affiliate programs that are not from big-name brands.  Over the last 20 or so years a lot of shady products have popped up with affiliate programs attached to them.

A lot of affiliate marketers with,  let’s call it flexible morals, promote these garbage products and make off with a good amount of money before anybody knows that they’ve bought just a terrible digital e-book that has no real information in it.

So that’s really where the affiliate program concerns have come from. A lot of poor products, usually digital products that make people very uncomfortable with affiliate marketing in general and specifically affiliate programs.

Are Affiliate Programs Good?

This is the type of question that comes up a lot when you start talking about affiliate marketing. Is this affiliate program good, is that one bad? It is almost impossible to answer because of the sheer diversity of affiliate programs.

Some are terrible because they have bad affiliate terms or they don’t pay out on time. Some are bad because the products they sell are terrible. And some are bad because the reputation of the company or product behind it has dropped so far it makes it impossible to promote.

But for the most part affiliate programs are good. Especially ones that are part of a larger network. What makes an affiliate program good?


A Good Affiliate Program Has:

  • Good Products To Promote
  • A Decent Commission
  • A Decent Tracking Cookie Duration
  • A Good Conversion Rate

There really isn’t much more to it than that, After than it’s up to the affiliate marketer to make it all work and get the sales and commissions they deserve.

Finding Affiliate Programs That Cost Nothing

Finding affiliate programs to join can be a little bit tricky depending on the niche that you decide you want to operate in. 

You can always use the affiliate networks that I mentioned a little bit further up in the article and you can use the resources here at Run The Affiliates to find some great affiliate programs in a wide variety of niches.

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Thanks for visiting and have a wonderful day

man in black suit and white shirt holding large white card with are affiliate programs free to join written on it.