What are the best affiliate programs with recurring commissions? The options below are a powerful way to add some predictable income to your bottom line.
The trick is to find the best affiliate programs for your audience or clients.
Since affiliate marketing means that you’re taking advantage of other people’s tried and true products or services, you have little to manage other than the promotional aspect.
What’s even better? Affiliate programs with recurring commissions.
These programs are the gift that keeps giving since they provide payouts more than once, usually monthly or annually, over the lifetime of the customer.
What’s not to love about that?
What is an Affiliate Program with Recurring Commissions?
An affiliate program is where a business pays you a specific commission for reselling their products or services. When that payment is “recurring,” it means that you earn money on the sale not just once but repeatedly.
These types of programs are also referred to as:
- Residual or lifetime
- Recurring referral programs
- Recurring passive income
Typically, the programs are free to join, although sometimes you may need to be a current customer to participate. The most common way to promote the programs is through an affiliate link, which is a unique URL that tracks the visitors you send to the affiliate to associate any sales with your affiliate ID.
You’ll find that many affiliate programs with recurring commissions include:
- marketing support
- a member dashboard
- payout time frames (ex. every 60 days)
- payment type (ex. PayPal)
- cookies (so you receive credit if a visitor converts after their first website visit at a later date)
These features make your job of promotion and management much easier.
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Why Consider Affiliate Programs with a Recurring Commission Structure
You invest a lot of work and time in your clients and into any affiliate programs you market. So, the idea of repeated rewards for your effort is appealing.
Not only do these programs help your client and enhance your perceived value but also they improve your passive income possibilities. The more leads you convert, the higher your payout on a monthly or annual basis you’ll receive.
Plus, a notable amount of these types of programs include a higher first month payment and additional bonuses, which make them even more attractive and seemingly worthwhile.
Although earning repeated commissions sounds like the perfect scenario, there are a few potential negatives. For instance:
- One-time payment programs could offer higher payouts.
- It may take longer to earn what a one-time payment provides upfront.
- Your commissions decrease as customers cancel.
- You rely on the company, the program, and the service to remain active and favorable.
In general, however, recurring commission affiliate programs are worthy of consideration based on their passive income potential and ability to enhance your clients’ experience while increasing your value as service provider.
How to Promote Affiliate Programs Through Your Freelance Business
Running a freelance or service-based business places you in a unique position for promoting residual affiliate programs. You have many avenues to promote the affiliate services during your normal course of business and even incorporate them into your offer as add-ons.
Here are a few ideas about how to incorporate the best affiliate programs with recurring commissions into your business.
Your audience looks to you for advice and guidance when it comes to your industry. Creating a “resources” page on your website is a good place to house helpful information, including some of the affiliate services you recommend.
For example, here’s my resources page, which includes several affiliate links.
Integrate the affiliate programs into your existing blog posts naturally and where appropriate, especially within posts that are popular and receive high traffic.
Work the affiliate program into your new blog posts too. Research the existing content that’s available and write an even better, more robust blog post on the topic to attract more visitors faster.
Write a review of the affiliate product or service to share more about it with your audience. Comparing, contrasting, or simply discussing the features and benefits of another company’s offering helps readers better understand the value.
Readers today appreciate candidness and transparency, so be honest with your review.
Example: Here’s my review and demo of ActiveCampaign, my email service provider.
If you or people you know have had great success with the affiliate’s product/service, why not write an in-depth case study?
Case studies are highly effective since they are more like testimonials and provide social proof. Include video and data to make the case study more compelling and effective.
Determine how the programs you’re promoting fit into your email strategy, and add your affiliate links in your emails as appropriate.
Speaking of email, another idea for promoting your best affiliate programs is to include it into your email signature. Cloak the link using bit.ly or another URL shortener (I like Pretty Link) so that it looks nice and not too long.
As Part of Your Services
Products or services that you don’t have a solution for but that your clients need are an opportunity!
Consider affiliate services as potential add-ons in your business, proposals, and conversations. Incorporate them into your business by setting up and managing the affiliate add-ons for your clients.
You’ll look like a champ while also serving your clients in a bigger capacity. Oh, and you’ll get recurring commissions too!
How-to Videos and Tutorials
To help your clients understand how an affiliate service solves their problems, create a how-to blog post with video.
Tutorials take your readers step-by-step through the how’s and why’s of any product and service. And research shows that video is more effective and preferred over text.
Tutorial videos promote your affiliate program in an understated manner by educating your audience. As an educator and teacher, you are perceived as helpful and informative, which people prefer over sales-driven and pushy.
My example: How to Start a Blog [Free 6-Part Video Course]
If you’re promoting an affiliate program that is more complex and technical, creating a free online course may be more appropriate and better received than a tutorial.
Taking a deep dive into the affiliate product familiarizes your audience and provides them with more details as to why they need the solution and how it works. Plus, video helps endear your audience to you, which is more effective when it comes to influence and conversion.
Exclusive Deals for Your Community
Do you have a good relationship with the affiliate program’s company? Negotiate an exclusive deal for your community to help promote the affiliate program.
Special deals encourage sales and may inspire more trust in the company. After all, your client has a relationship with you, not the business you’re promoting.
One Tip to Remember
No matter what, it’s easier to promote and sell when you’ve used an affiliate product or service yourself. Trying to explain a product or service that you haven’t used before frequently comes across in your content.
Select affiliate programs from companies that you use now or you’ve done business with in the past. This will make your promotions and content more authentic, compelling, and persuasive.
Check out this list of some of the best affiliate programs for freelancers and service-based providers.
1. The Best Affiliate Programs for Email Marketing
Email service providers (ESP), sometimes called autoresponders, are companies that offer email marketing services, like sending emails to subscribers who’ve opted in to a list.
ESPs are usually easy to promote because they often offer free trials and nearly every business needs one.
Also to your benefit, businesses usually stick with one ESP for a long time. So, the churn rate is low.
If your business is related to marketing or technology, then including an ESP setup as part of your service offering is a simple way to sign people up under your affiliate link.
Many of today’s ESPs have additional options, such as landing pages, popups, and minimal marketing automation.
Aweber – Free 30-day trial, 30% monthly recurring commission.
Benchmark – 25% recurring commission.
ConvertKit – 14 day free trial, 30% monthly recurring commission.
GetResponse – Free 30-day trial, 33% monthly recurring commission.
MailerLite – 30% monthly recurring commission, $120 payout threshold.
Sendlane – 14-day free trial; 30% monthly recurring commission.
Sendloop – 10% monthly recurring commission.
2. The Best Affiliate Programs for Marketing Automation
Marketing automation refers to software and technology that assists with multichannel marketing by automating repeated tasks and increasing efficiency.
Multichannel marketing refers to indirect and direct communication with customers via email, social media, website, direct mail, retail, and other methods of distribution.
Marketing automation platforms are web-based, meaning that no software installation is required.
In addition to email marketing, these platforms usually have more advanced components, such as customer relationship management, advanced campaign tracking, split testing, and complex funnels.
As businesses evolve, they require more advanced tools to help manage their marketing and customer communications. That’s where marketing automation platforms come in handy.
ActiveCampaign – 20-30% recurring commission. I switched to ActiveCampaign last year and have been learning the ins and outs of the platform and the powerful automation tools. It was a major upgrade and I know I’m only scratching the surface so far.
ONTRAPORT – 25% recurring commission.
ActiveTrail – 15% monthly commissions.
Wishpond – 30% recurring commission.
Builderall SEO – 30% recurring payments.
Hubstaff – Earn 30% recurring commissions for life.
3. The Best Affiliate Programs for Hosting
Hosting providers store website data on servers that are connected to the internet. This is “hosting” a website, and nearly all businesses (and even individuals nowadays) need a hosting provider.
Although this is a much needed service, it’s a highly competitive marketplace based on pricing, quality, and customer service.
Once a business has a hosting provider, they may be reluctant to switch to another provider because then they need to migrate their data. Timing is important; clients new to hosting are likely easier to convert.
Even so, once a business has chosen a hosting provider, they then to stick with it, which is good for recurring commissions and why it can be quite lucrative.
There are many different options when it comes to types of hosting. Shared and virtual private servers cost less than dedicated and managed servers. Pricing, and therefore commissions, reflect this.
Liquid Web – Earn up to $1500 per sale.
RoseHosting – 50% commission the first month (with the potential to increase) and 10% recurring plus bonuses.
Beyond Hosting – 40% recurring commission.
JixHost – 20% recurring commission.
Nestify – $50 signup bonus, undisclosed recurring commission.
PureVPN – multiple commission opportunities, including one-time payments and 35% recurring commissions.
VirMach – 15% recurring commission on popular plans, 20% on gaming plans.
Kinsta WordPress Hosting – $50-$500 initial payout plus 10% recurring commission.
4. The Best Affiliate Programs for Landing Pages
Some businesses don’t want to host an entire website or hire a web designer/developer to create a single page/sales funnel to promote an offer. Thankfully, they don’t have to!
There are apps that handle funnel creation for opt-ins and purchases so that you don’t need to develop an e-commerce website with transactional capabilities.
Landing page apps offer the very simplest of options, such as hosting an opt-in page, thank-you page, and even email collection. But some of these apps also provide more advanced functionality, such as payment processing and email marketing.
In fact, some businesses use landing page apps rather than a website since there are easy-to-use page templates, user-friendly interfaces, and e-commerce options built in. No tech skills needed!
LeadPages – 30% recurring commission, 14-day trial, paid monthly or annually, must be a member/customer. I’ve been a LeadPages customers for years and it’s another “sticky” service; so many pages and functions on my site relies on the software so it would be very time-consuming to switch.
ClickFunnels – 40% recurring commission.
Instapage – 50% revenue share on first payment, 30% recurring commission.
Landingi – 15% to 30% recurring commission.
5. The Best Affiliate Programs for WordPress-Related Products/Services
WordPress is one of the most popular open source content management systems used by businesses.
As such, there are lots of companies that specialize in WordPress-related products and services, namely themes, plugins, and hosting.
Thrive Themes – 25% recurring commission.
Elegant Themes – 50% recurring commission.
CSSIgniter Themes and Plugins – 50% for every sale plus renewal commission.
Premium Coding Themes – 35% – 50% recurring commission.
MemberMouse Membership Plugin – 20% recurring commission.
MemberPress Membership Software – 25% recurring commission.
WordPress Maintenance and Support Services
Zen WP – 8% Lifetime recurring commission, plus a $3000 bonus for every 100th referral. I think of my Zen WP account as “website insurance” and I have a certain level of comfort knowing I’ve got some IT support “on call.”
6. The Best Affiliate Programs for Live Chat and Phone Systems
Live chat is a website tool where visitors can interact with your brand in real-time for customer support and lead generation.
Chat software integrates with offline customer service as well, making it easier to collect inquiries online that are supported at a later time. It is usually embedded on a website with code snippets, making it straightforward and relatively quick to implement.
According to Inc.com, a whopping 92% of customers feel satisfied when using a live chat feature.
With more than half of consumers expecting that businesses be available to them 24/7, live chat is becoming a bigger deal for companies that want to take advantage of real-time conversational marketing opportunities.
Provide Support – 30% recurring commission.
JivoChat – 30% recurring commission.
PureChat – 25% to 35% recurring commission.
LiveChat Inc – 20% recurring commission.
LiveAgent – $5 signup bonus, 20% recurring commission.
Online Chat Centers – Up to 50% of initial payment commission, 20% recurring commission.
Virtual Phone Systems
Talkroute – 30% recurring commission.
CallHippo – 25% recurring commission.
Answerbase – Q & A software – 50% commission first month, 15% recurring commission.
7. The Best Affiliate Programs for Social Media Management
Close to half the world’s population (over 3 billion people) are on some type of social media. So, it’s no wonder that businesses are interested in efficiently managing their social media content and engagement these days.
Social media management without a tool is less effective and harder to manage. Luckily, there are several great tools to help out!
Crowdfire – Crowdfire is a social media management tool for content scheduling, content discovery, analytics and a lot more. Used by millions of influencers and marketers, you can earn 35% of new customer billings for the first year — up to $420 per customer.
AgoraPulse – Earn 20% recurring commission sending customers to this social media management service that covers all the major networks.
SocialPilot – 30% recurring commission.
SocialOomph – 40% recurring commission.
8. The Best Affiliate Programs for Graphic/Image Apps
We can’t all be graphic designers, but almost all of us need graphics these days when it comes to marketing, selling, and promoting.
Thankfully, there are tools out there to make creating graphic images less painful for both the non-designers as well as the creatively inclined.
With these simple web-based apps, users can quickly design attractive, correctly sized social media and website graphics without any hassle.
They come with templates, fonts, and image options that aren’t too restrictive but limited enough that users don’t spend hours agonizing over images.
Design Pickle – Earn 15% recurring commissions sending customers to this unlimited graphic design service. I interviewed the founder Russ Perry to learn how he’d grown the service to over $400k a month in under 3 years.
Stencil – 30% recurring commission.
9. The Best Affiliate Programs for SEO Tools
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a fundamental part of every digital marketer’s strategy and every business’ online success.
That’s what makes SEO tools so popular and in demand.
Through the use of web-based SEO apps, anyone running an online business can find out what they’re doing right and where they need to make improvements.
SEMRush – 40% recurring commission. This is a popular SEO keyword and competitive research tool.
SpyFu – 40% recurring commission.
SerpStat – Up to 30% recurring commission.
LongTailPro – 30% recurring commission.
SEOPressor – Earn 50% recurring commission on this WordPress SEO plugin that offers keyword insight and content analysis right inside your website dashboard.
Linkody – 30% recurring commission.
Linkredible – 20% to 30% recurring commission.
LoveClients – Send qualified clients to this white-label digital marketing provider and earn $50 to $75 a month per client.
10. The Best Affiliate Programs for E-commerce
According to Statista, global e-commerce sales are projected to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021.
Running an ecommerce store seems like a terrific option to take a piece of the online shopping pie, whether it is B2B or B2C. However, setting up a shop isn’t always easy or affordable.
Choosing a solution that doesn’t require a degree in technology or too much web development skills is top priority!
Shopify – 20% recurring commissions, or up to $2000 per sale. Shopify runs both a “partner program” and an affiliate program that have slightly different target users, but the gist is the same: earn money signing up new e-commerce store owners.
Samcart – Earn up to 40% recurring commission promoting Samcart, a popular platform for digital products and services. I’m imagining a service business where you help online influencers build and market their product, and set them up on Samcart for fulfillment.
SendOwl – 20% monthly commission. Also focuses on digital products.
Payhip – 50% recurring commission. “The easiest way to sell digital downloads and memberships.”
Wholesale2b – 30% recurring commission.
Shopio – 25% recurring commission.
EasyStore – 100% first month, 20% recurring commission.
11. The Best Affiliate Programs for E-learning Software
E-learning is in high demand! In fact, according to Statista research, the worldwide e-learning market is projected to surpass $243 billion by 2022.
Businesses are searching for easy ways to deliver online training and courses, which is why web-based e-learning platforms are on the rise.
These platforms make presenting course content much more intuitive and user-friendly. Could you help individuals and companies set up their course sales pages and put yourself in position to earn the recurring commissions below?
Teachable – 30% recurring commission. Check out my interview with Teachable founder Ankur Nagpal (back when it was called Fedora) on how to quickly create your own online course. A ton of Side Hustle Show guests use this to host their courses!
Thinkific – 20% recurring commission.
Academy of Mine – 10-20% recurring commission.
12. The Best Affiliate Programs for Payment Processing
Any business that wants to process credit card transactions and other forms of payment needs a payment processing service. These are also referred to as “merchant services.”
Offline and Point of Sale transactions are becoming less necessary as businesses move to the internet and mobile web. Digital commerce is estimated to have a transaction value of over $800 million in the U.S. alone. (Source)
Affiliate programs in this niche have different payout structures and attributes. Review each one to see which best suits you and your clients.
Authorize.Net – 30% recurring commission.
Eclipse Merchant Services – 20% recurring commission.
Merchant Focus – 30% of ongoing recurring revenue.
13. The Best Affiliate Programs for Chatbot Builders
On the cutting edge of technology is artificial intelligence or “AI” as it’s commonly referred to. Businesses are using AI in all types of ways including in “bots.” (Bots is short for robots.)
Very simply put, chatbots are computer programs that simulate conversations online (aka chats) with humans. Chatbots are powered by AI and/or by rules, and users engage with them via a chat interface.
Common places you’ll find these chatbots are on websites and Facebook Messenger.
Thankfully, chatbot building apps make the process of creating and maintaining chatbots easier and affordable for the average person who doesn’t have a big budget or technical expertise.
I’ve you’ve got a knack for building these bots for other businesses, you could set yourself up for recurring commissions by implementing them on one of the tools below.
ChitChatChimp – 50% one-time commission on front end and upset sales, 10% recurring commission.
Collect.chat – 30% recurring commission, $50 for every 10 referral customers.
Tars – 30% recurring commission.
14. The Best Affiliate Programs for Time Tracking
Where does the time go? These tools help you figure it out!
RescueTime – 15% recurring commission. RescueTime runs in the background on your machine and keeps track of how you’re spending your time. You’ll get weekly and monthly reports on how you did and you can try to improve over time. (A basic version is free.)
TimeDoctor – Up to 30% recurring commission.
15. The Best Affiliate Programs for Virtual Private Networks
Sometimes you want to access and browse content with security and privacy.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) keep your data protected while using public Wi-Fi networks. Data protection means your passwords and personal information are encrypted and safe.
VPNs also allow you to change your virtual location so that you can access content restricted in your country.
Hide My Ass – 30% – 35% renewal commission. I remember my VA sometimes would have to use this service when certain websites she needed to access were blocked in her home country of Macedonia!
ZenMate – 30% – 35% recurring commission.
16. The Best Affiliate Programs for Content Marketing
Depending on what your clients do and what business stage they’re in, these tools may help them improve and grow.
Repixel – Monetize your content without ads — 15-30% recurring commission.
Sumo – The popular suite of Sumo tools for email capture, social sharing, and more pays a 30% recurring commission.
Ninja Outreach – Run influencer outreach campaigns and earn 50% monthly recurring commission.
Snip.ly – Conversion and traffic tool – 20% recurring commission.
Sales Handy – Sales engagement platform – 20% recurring commission.
TubeBuddy – YouTube optimization tool – up to 50% recurring commission.
GetSiteControl – Website pop-up and floating bar widgets – 30% recurring commission.
17. The Best Affiliate Programs for Cloud Storage and Backups
I lost a hard drive once and it was pretty painful! Cloud backups are like insurance for your computer.
Now I use Backblaze (below) to keep my files replicated in an off-site backup. With these affiliate programs can earn ongoing revenue by signing up a cloud backup account once.
pCloud – 20% recurring.
Backblaze – 10% lifetime commissions. Plans start at just $5 a month.
18. The Best Overall Affiliate Networks
Some of the programs listed above are part of “affiliate networks.” Affiliate networks administer and manage affiliate programs so that businesses don’t have the burden in-house.
To participate in some of the programs, you’ll need to register with affiliate networks. When you do this, you not only have access to the program you’re interested in but also other opportunities within the network.
Think of these networks as hubs where you can do one-stop shopping for affiliate programs. With all of the information in one place, you’ve struck gold!
Whether you refer your clients to any of these affiliate programs or you blend them into your services, these strategic partnerships are one viable path to offsetting business costs and earning passive income.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to your opportunities. Which one will you choose?
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