- Many influencers make money when their followers buy recommended products through affiliate links.
- Creators receive commissions on sales made when subscribers use these links.
- Insider highlights the top 9 affiliate marketing networks used by influencers.
Influencers get their title in part because they influence the lifestyles and buying decisions of their followers. For many, that influence has translated into money from both brand sponsorships and affiliate marketing.
Over the past decade, a strong network of affiliate marketing platforms has grown.
Here’s how it works: when an influencer, blogger, or publisher shares links to products, they may use affiliate links; followers can spot these links in Instagram Story “swipe-ups”, biographical landing pages, or comments under YouTube videos.
All sales generated by these unique links are tracked and the person who shared the link receives a commission on these sales.
For emerging or smaller creators – called “nano” or “micro” influencers, who typically have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers – affiliate marketing is often the first step towards monetizing their social influence.
Influencers typically earn between 1% and 20% commission on these sales, but the exact rate varies by platform and brand. For example, retail programs for fashion brands often offer a lower rate than pricing software or investment firms, according to industry professionals.
Kara Harms, a full-time travel and lifestyle creator with 78,000 Instagram followers, said affiliates have played a crucial role in her business since she started blogging about seven years ago.
“There is a very low barrier to entry to using affiliate programs,” Harms told Insider in an email. “That’s why it’s such a powerful tool for all content creators, but especially new ones, to monetize their content quickly and efficiently.”
For everyday brands, like Target or Madewell, Harms uses LTK, formerly known as RewardStyle. Influencer Amber Venz Box co-founded LTK eleven years ago. Today, the platform has over 200,000 creators and works with a network of over 6,000 retailers and brands. Brands set their own commission rates within the LTK platform, which can range from 1% to over 50%, according to Harms.
In 2021, affiliate marketing revenue made up approximately 30% of Harms’ overall revenue.
But LTK isn’t the only tool helping creators like Harms make money creating content.
Some creators use MagicLinks, an affiliate network that has partnered with text marketing startup Community to drive sales through SMS. There are also brand-specific affiliate programs that are run independently of the networks.
In our third annual list, Insider highlights the top affiliate programs used by social media influencers that offer high commission rates, access to top brands, and robust interfaces and tools. Each network has specific qualifications to apply, and some offer varying pricing and tools, like purchasable apps or special tracking information.
The list was determined by Insider based on our reports and nominations from industry insiders.
Here are the 9 best affiliate marketing platforms:
Note: Companies are listed in alphabetical order.