This article is part of the Affiliate Marketing Guide Book.

In the mid to late 1990s, there were only a handful of affiliate networks. Now there are hundreds. Which networks are best for you and who you should trust, is the biggest factors when joining a new affiliate network. In this article, we are going to breakdown the benefits of using an affiliate network, why some are better than others, and a few of the top performing affiliate networks in our industry.

What is an Affiliate Network?
The best way to think of an affiliate network, is to think of a middle man between merchants and affiliates. If you’ve ever bought a house, you have a lawyer and an escrow account. The seller and buyer won’t exchange money/house until both parties are satisfied… the same concept can be applied to an affiliate network. The main reason why an affiliate network exists, is so an affiliate can find a decent amount of offers in one location, while merchants can have a lot of affiliates finding their offers. The affiliate network does the dirty work of having to recruit affiliates, bring in new advertisers, track leads and send out payments. With such work to be done by the networks, they are usually receiving commissions in the 15-30% range for their work. (Example: If an offer is paying $10 per lead, the advertiser is probably paying $13 and the network earns $3 per lead.)

Why You Should Use an Affiliate Network?
As an affiliate, you have a lot of options for running offers and making money. The best and most efficient way to find new offers and get started, is to join an affiliate network. Not only do networks have a great deal of offers/merchants to choose from, but they offer support, creative services and can pay more on most offers if you can provide volume. Most importantly, you can run several different offers at the same time, then receive one check at the end of the week/month.

Benefits of Using an Affiliate Network:
– All tracking and payments are done by one network.
– Networks act as a middle man, and in most cases will pay their affiliates, if the network itself is not paid by the advertiser.
– Rewards programs and incentives. A lot of networks like to motivate their affiliates to bring in more volume and earn more money. Some networks offer a 1-2% bonus on monthly earnings, or will reward affiliates with vacations or other prizes.

Recommended Affiliate Networks:
After running over the past few years, I’ve had the chance to work with a lot of affiliate networks, as well as send a lot of affiliates their way. A few of the top referred earnings and most recommended networks are listed below.

Neverblue: Over One Million Dollars has been earned by affiliates that have signed up to Neverblue through this blog. Not only are they one of the largest affiliate programs around, but they are one of the oldest and most successful. I highly recommend Neverblue, and they are more accepting of new affiliates than other networks.

ClickBooth: With over 4000 active affiliate offers and ranked as the Number #1 affiliate network in the world by Website Magazine, ClickBooth has quite an establishment in the affiliate industry. Not only is ClickBooth a great company to work with, but they have an awesome staff and affiliate support team as well.