You can find affiliate programs all around the world for almost all large companies and it's a booming business to get into if you're looking for a great home-business to start.
Why is it so good though?
Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest ways that you can make your own business with little to no costs to you as the owner. It doesn't require any infrastructure because anyone can create a simple website for free using WordPress and other hosting platforms. You can also do it on your own without any employees, crazy tax forms or certifications, and even without any knowledge of business.
It's an easy way to show your creativity and knowledge online by blogging and sharing ideas/stories with others but yet making money from it at the same time. The creative part is one of the best aspect of affiliate marketing because you can leverage many of the different skills you have including graphic design, photography, video editing, GIF creation, social media, and much more. But no matter what your skill level or knowledge, anyone can do affiliate marketing.
Throughout this article we will discuss what the difference is between affiliate programs and affiliate networks, how they work, and then we'll get into the specifics of how the Rakuten affiliate network works so you can get started today!
Affiliate Programs VS Affiliate Networks
Affiliate networking is a huge space and while we normally discuss specific affiliate programs, I wanted to take some time to review Affiliate Networks and the difference between a program and a network.
An Affiliate Program is setup for a single company in which they allow their affiliate “partners” to sign up and advertise for them. Advertising with an affiliate program is done by getting a specific partner ID which will be unique to you and ensures you get credit for any potential sales.
Each Affiliate Program will have tools to be able to create banners, website URLs, and other interactive links to be used on websites or social media sites to drive traffic to that company's website. When a customer goes to that website and makes a purchase, the affiliate partner will earn a commission. Each company's commission rate is different and can be paid based on how many customers go to the website or a commission on the sale made, etc.
Now an Affiliate Network is similar, but much more powerful! What an Affiliate Network does is create a platform that companies can host their affiliate program on. The creation of an affiliate program takes alot of work and money, so often times companies will choose an Affiliate Network instead to host their program. The program will have to follow all of the network setup/rules and they will have to pay a fee to the network to host it, but it's a simple way for companies to get their affiliate program setup.
Why are Affiliate Networks good for you?
When you sign up with an affiliate network program, you essentially have access to ALL of the different affiliate programs under it. Signing up for affiliate programs can be extremely tiring, but when you're working with an affiliate network you just sign up once and you're good to go! The only thing you have to do after that is apply to each of the affiliate programs which is as easy as 1 click to get signed up.
The other great thing is that you dont have to learn how to use each new affiliate program when you're working with an affiliate network. The interface of each affiliate program is exactly the same so you can focus on expanding your affiliate network without having to invest so much time into learning each affiliate programs differences.
The Rakuten Affiliate Network is one of the largest around the world and has thousands of affiliate programs for you to choose from.
You Can find well known name brand companies like MAC Cosmetics, New Balance, Diesel, Aldo Shoes, Lego, Sears, Fiverr, Cotton On, Udemy, Best Buy, Top Man, AT&T, Macy's, and so many more!
Affiliate Networks are quickly growing and adding in all the top companies so you can easily access their program and quickly get back to the process of writing content and making money!
Check out our full list of Affiliate Networks here: Affiliate Networks You Need To Know About. My personal favorites are Impact, CJ, and Shareasale. I don't have much experience with Awin, but that's another good one. Still not enough? Try Flexoffers for thousands more affiliate programs to choose from.
Video: How to Sign Up For & Use the Rakuten Affiliate Network
Below is a video overview of how to sign up and use this affiliate network. The written version is below, including images, but watching the video is also helpful to see in real time where to click, and what your screen will look like as you go through the process of signing up. The video also contains a shortcut for how to “deep link”, creating your own affiliate links, rather than searching through 100,000+ products for some affiliate programs!
How To Sign Up
If you want to get setup with hundreds of affiliate programs, you can sign up now here: https://rakutenmarketing.com/affiliate#contact-form-compact.
Before you get started though, it's important to first have your website started. Without a website, you will not be able to sign up for the Rakuten Affiliate Network.
If you dont have a website yet and want to make one, you can check out our awesome guide here on how to build a simple website and make money from it.
Rakuten is a huge affiliate network with programs in all sorts of different niche markets like travel, clothing, department stores, pets, technology, etc, so if you're just getting started with building your website and haven't decided on what direction you're planning to go in, remember to think about your passions versus profit.
Check out our guide on choosing a profitable niche to get you going in the right direction.
Once you have your website ready, then all you have to do is finish the sign up process on Rakuten's site including your name, email, phone, area of interest, potential revenue and they will process your request.
It typically takes between 2-3 days for the approval to go through. If you applied and you were denied, this is often because your website is not yet functioning properly or it does not have enough content on it. Before you sign up with an affiliate program or network, they typically want to see that you have established yourself and have content ready to use for a potential affiliate program.
Finding Affiliate Programs
Once you're all signed up, logging in to the affiliate portal can look confusing and overwhelming so lets go right to what you came here for: Finding affiliate programs!
You can search for affiliate programs in the Rakuten site by either searching for them individually or by looking at different affiliate categories.
Searching For a Specific Affiliate Program
To search for affiliate programs, you'll just type the company name in the “Advertiser Search” box in the top right side as seen in the screenshot below.
Browse Affiliate Programs By Niche
If you're not sure what company to select as your affiliate program, Rakuten has made it easy to search for affiliate programs based on categories.
To search for categories, select the “Programs” drop-down and select “Categories” as seen in the screenshot below.
You'll see plenty of categories ranging from Clothing, Electronics, Food, Games, Office, Health, Travel, and more. Once you click on each category you'll be taken to a long list of affiliate programs which match that category.
You can often spend hours searching through categories finding plenty of really incredible affiliate programs to sign up for.
You can also use the Programs drop-down to see the newest advertisers and “my advertisers” which will show you the companies which you are already approved for in Rakuten's system.
What Makes a Good Affiliate Program?
When you're searching through the affiliate programs throughout Rakuten's site, it's important to know what to look for when selecting an affiliate program.
When you see the search results for affiliate programs you can either click on the company name for more information, or click the “Apply” button if you're good to go.
When you click the company name, you'll be taken to the affiliate program overview. To see the details of the affiliate program, click on the “Offers” tab on the left (see screenshot below).
Under Offers you'll see the commission rate which in the case of TOMS is 3% of each sale. It's important to also understand the “Return Days” which is the amount of time that when a customer clicks your affiliate links, any purchase they make within the number of days listed, you'll get the sale.
In the example above, from the time a customer clicks your links, all sales within 30 days you'll get credit for and earn commission.
While commission is often the most important factor when looking for a good affiliate program, understanding each company's product offering makes a difference. Some companies have a high commission, but the products are sol
How To Apply For Affiliate Programs
If you've decided that you're ready to sign up with a program, the link to apply can either be found in the search results as shown in an earlier screenshot, or you can also find it under the “Offers” tab as well under the affiliate program information.
Once you click “Apply” you'll get a pop up asking you to confirm the program terms. Just click the checkbox and you're good to go!
Almost all affiliate programs will have a manual review process in which the affiliate company will look over your application and determine if your site has enough content or appropriate content in order to sign you up.
What if you get denied?
Often times affiliate programs will deny you if your sites content does not match with what their company is offering. Another common reason is because your brand is not yet to a high enough level in terms of number of posts or number of monthly visitors for the affiliate company to accept you.
If you have been denied, you will have to wait a certain duration before applying. The affiliate partner sets the number of days before you can apply again.
If you want to dispute it or ask for more information as to why you were denied or to dispute it, you can always email the affiliate company by going to the “Advertiser Info” and searching for the Email address or sometimes the phone number as you can see from the screenshot below.
How To Find Your Links
Once you've been approved you'll receive an email and the advertiser will now show in your “My Advertisers” list. That means, you're ready to start using the affiliate links on your website.
To use the affiliate links, click on the “Links” tab on the left side of the advertiser's information. You'll see a list of different types of links show up with the link type and number available.
There are different types of links you'll see including the following:
- Text / Email: The text/email links are those which take you to a specific part of a website for that company. This could be the home page, or a page with a specific product or service they offer.
- Product Links: The product links allow you to link to an exact product being sold or service being sold. If you were advertising for Nike's shoes, then this is where you would see every type of Nike shoes listed here and you can create a link to each different shoe.
- Banners / Images: The banners/images are graphics which are designed by that company and are ready to use on your site. These can be used anywhere but typically banners are used mid-text in the content, or found on the header, sidebar, or footer of your website to drive traffic.
If you've decided on one of these different types of links that you want to use on your website, simply click the “Get Link” button and a pop-up box will have the HTML code for you to use on your site.
It's important for you to only use the code given to you by the Rakuten system here as it will have your affiliate network partner ID. Without that code embedded into it, you will not get credit for any of the sales made.
Unfortunately, Rakuten Linkshare hasn't really caught up with modern times, and still has quite a complicated way to get your raw affiliate links. They add a bunch of extra code to the link. This code helps you create a full HMTL link, which is nice, but can confuse some newbies when they try to grab that whole code and paste it into the “link” portion of their WordPress blog.
Here's a video I created to help you find your basic affiliate link on Rakuten and Shareasale (another popular affiliate network). The Rakuten portion starts as 2:21, and the video is hosted on another site (click the image to go to the video).
Link Tracking with Rakuten Linkshare
As a beginner, you might not need this feature just yet. You can benefit from it, but it might be a bit overkill until you really start getting traffic to your website. This is “link tracking”. The purpose of link tracking is to figure out which links are making you money.
But doesn't the software track that already? Nope.
You will see which products are making sales, but you won't know exactly which links are getting clicks and sales unless you track them. For example, you may have 5 links to Product A on your Product A Review and one link on your page titled Top Five Widgets (which includes Product A in that list). Are you getting sales from your Top 5 list or your review page?
Even if you can narrow it down to the review page due to traffic numbers, is it the first link on the page, or the last? Can you do anything to optimize?
That's why tracking can be super important when you get to the stage where you want to optimize specific pages.
- Go to Deep Linking (Links)
- Select your advertiser
- Paste link from their website
- Select URL radio button
- Insert a word/phrase into the space U1 Value which is descriptive enough for you to remember what it means
- e.g. “TopPage” may get confusing if you have several review pages and links at the top of all pages
- Review1 could be helpful if you identify all your links by the number position in page, but can also get confusing if you switch around the order for testing
- ReviewPageMainCTABottom is a little long, but the most descriptive and easy to identify. Long codes are not an issue if you are using link shortening
If you're a beginner, you can skip this for now if you want. It's not super important. However, you will save yourself some time long term if you get in the habit of link tracking early. Going back over hundreds of links and trying to figure out which ones are the most profitable is a pain in the butt for sure.
If you're new to affiliate programs and how to use the links, you might be wondering what to do next once you have the text? Well thats the easy part! If you're using WordPress, simply go to the HTML tab and enter it into there wherever you want the text or graphic to show.
If you're trying to link a specific piece of text on your article, you can use the “hyperlink” button and past the link in there (not applicable for banners though).
I will give a bit of basic advice when advertising affiliate programs on your website – Don't overload your page.
Your website visitors are coming to learn something from you, and if every other paragraph they just see ads, they are not going to stay round very long out of frustration. Place ads appropriately where they seem to fit with the content.
You can checkout our guide on the Best Places To Earn From Affiliate Links to help you understand where to place them and how many to place in order to earn the best from them.
No matter how you plan to use Rakuten, it is an extremely powerful Affiliate Network to have in your back pocket when you're looking to get into the content writing, blogging, website and social media space for product/service advertising.
We will be reviewing most of the major affiliate networks over the next few weeks but if you have one that you absolutely love to use, let me know in the comments below!