Are you a blogger who wishes to grow their personal brand and increase traffic to their website? Are you a YouTuber with a specific focus on promoting the newest and latest additions to the tech industry? While it may seem fantastical, if not unbelievable, what if there was a way to make money while sleeping, taking no additional action beyond posting a link on your blog and a few clicks of the mouse?
Personal branding via fostering an online presence through blogging and content creation has taken the World Wide Web in the past decade and with no end in sight of its growth, it’s no surprise that companies are onboarding with a variety of blogs and YouTube channels to promote their products and services. Through these partnerships, not only do companies receive advertising, but bloggers and YouTubers can also receive a portion of the sales made for featuring a specific company’s products/services. In this guide, we both explain the ins-and-outs of affiliate programs as well as particularly cover the up and rising affiliate programs in industries such as virtual reality (VR), drones, and 3-D printing.
What is an Affiliate Program?
Simply put, an affiliate program is a type of program where users can sign up to promote a product on their online platform, typically through a link received by the company. Whenever a visitor on the user’s online platform purchases the company’s products or services, the user earns a percentage of the sales generated for a specified period. Products can be promoted on a variety of online sources, including but not limited to blogs, videos, and podcasts. An affiliate program’s appeal is the relative ease and convenience of setting up the link to the company’s products and services—as long as your online platform has a consistent level of traffic and can link to the company’s product/services, all you need to do is sit back once you’ve finished making content about the product/services or adding the link to your online platform.
Things to Consider when Choosing an Affiliate Program
As affiliate programs aren’t a new phenomenon of the 2020 decade, it may seem difficult, if not impossible, to choose a program. While not all affiliate programs are created equal, and different programs may be beneficial for different online content creators, it’s important to find the right affiliate program for your online platform. To streamline the process for you, we boiled down three essential points when choosing an affiliate program; be sure to not only read the fine print but also to find pertinent information to the following:
1. Commission Details
Bottom-line: How much will you earn per each sale made by the visitors of your online platform? Typical commissions consist of a percentage of the purchases your online platform visitors, ranging from 5% to 70% depending on the company and what they have to offer. In some cases, besides money, companies will offer a variety of options such as a subscription to their services for a limited period or an extension of your subscription.
2. Cookie Period
You may have seen the word cookie thrown around the Internet, but how do they play into affiliate programs? Cookies essentially help company affiliate programs track and record sales, linking specific customers back to the URL link given to you. However, cookies have a time limit to their recording activity; this time limit is often referred to as the cookie period. While the standard cookie period is 30 days, some companies have 60-day cookie periods or lifetime cookie periods. Be sure to double-check a company’s cookie period as your commissions are only valid on purchases made during these specific periods.
3. Payout Specifics
How will you receive your commission? When will you receive them? Does the company in question have a minimum payout threshold? These are all important questions to ask yourself when researching affiliate programs. Though most companies use PayPal or a bank transfer to pay their affiliates, and the former isn’t too much of a hassle to set up, things can often vary depending on the industry and company in terms of when you receive your payout and if the company has a minimum threshold before transferring your commission money to you. Depending on your online platform’s stream of income, some payout schedules will be more advantageous than others, so be sure to pay careful attention to the finer details.
Best Affiliate Programs
In the sections below, we go over the hottest affiliate programs in tech, particularly VR, drones, and 3-D printing.
Best VR Affiliate Programs
While commonly associated with entertainment and educational material, VR is an exponentially growing market with new hardware and software being quickly developed. Given the rapid pace of growth, VR companies are actively pushing to broaden their online presence, leading to a number of new affiliate programs. We pick out the top four programs and list them here below:
1. VR Sync
VR Sync specializes in 360º playback to an unlimited number of devices and provides a convenient streamline of your device’s as well as content’s status. Users can easily see what viewers see via playback and make their 360º playback content loop. Commission is 30% of each sale and the company features a longer than average cookie period at 60 days. Users can also expect to receive payment to their bank account within 30 days of a purchase by a visitor to their online platform.
mobfish is a VR studio that specifically focuses on assisting content creators in building their own VR application. Instead of a commission based on a percentage of the sale, affiliates earn a flat 150 euros for every individual who purchases an annual license via their referral link. On top of this, affiliates also get a free 3-month trial of mobfish’s VR studio software as well as 25% off on their license if they choose to continue using mobfish’s software for their online platform.
3. VR Cover
Specializing in VR hardware and selling a wide variety of apparel as well as maintenance products for one’s VR set, VR Cover serves as a base for hardcore VR enthusiasts and casuals alike. VR Cover has a 10% to 15% commission and a minimum payment threshold of $100 for those who prefer to receive a lump sale of money. Affiliates can receive their payment from VR Cover via PayPal on the first of the month following a calculated sale, and VR Cover’s cookie period is the standard: 30 days total.
4. Unbound VR
Featuring a wide range of VR hardware, from the familiar headset to newer technology such as VR treadmills, Unbound VR seeks to push the limits of what VR hardware can offer. Their affiliate program resonates this mission as it allows a broad range of advertising, from social media to email marketing. Though commission is at 5%, the cookie period for Unbound VR is 100 days, one of the longer cookie periods given by any VR affiliate program.
Best Drone Affiliate Programs
Used primarily in markets geared towards photography, and then in real estate, drones are a recent phenomenon, not available for commercial use until the late 2000s. Though the sale of drones peaked in 2015, with millions sold nationwide in the United States, drone technology and services using drones have only increased since then. Following this increase is a rise in affiliate programs as well, and below we list the top 3 affiliate programs for drones:
Boasting an 8% commission rate and a 90-day cookie period, HobbyTron sells drones for hobbyists and enthusiasts and has one of the more generous affiliate programs out there for drones. HobbyTron doesn’t cap their commission, ensuring that its affiliates can sell however much as they like. For those who sign up with HobbyTron, affiliates also receive access to commission-assisting tools such as ShareASale, AvantLink, or LinkConnector, which allows for commission tracking and conversion ratios. Besides drones, HobbyTron sells a plethora of devices, including but not limited to RC vehicles and airsoft guns, so affiliates can promote a wide range of products if they want to expand their reach.
2. ABJ Drone Academy
ABJ Drone Academy provides educational services, primarily teaching its customers the basics in maintaining and flying drones. What makes ABJ Drone Academy’s affiliate program impressive is that an affiliate’s commission rate raises with more sales—affiliates can earn up to 70% commission if more than 100 sales are reached in 30 days! While the 30-day cookie period is the standard amount like all other affiliate programs, the starting commission rate is nothing to scoff at: with a starting 40% commission rate, no caps on commissions, and a minimum payout threshold of $50, ABJ Drone Academy has one of the highest return-investment commission rates out of the affiliate programs available in the drone services market.
Given the fact that the leading industry for drone services is photography, it comes as no surprise that one of the top drone affiliate programs would be for a drone videography service. Selling not only aerial footage and the services of trained drone videographers, DroneVideos.com has a generous affiliate program with a 20% commission rate and a non-expiring cookie period. In addition to the high commission rate and cookie period, DroneVideos.com also has a special feature for their program in which affiliates earn extra via referrals and their purchases—commission also applies to purchases made by referrals forever.
Best 3-D Printing Affiliate Programs
3-D printing is a central topic in discourses related to sustainable development. From commercial use to providing solutions towards societal issues such as housing for all, 3-D printing may still be in development but currently has a variety of recreational and commercial purposes. For affiliates keen on jumping into the market and promoting 3-D printers, we list the top three 3-D printing affiliate programs below:
1. Anet Technology
Founded in November 2015, Anet Technology is a leading 3D printer provider from China. What makes Anet Technology’s affiliate program stand out is its tiered structure—there is room for commission growth depending on the level of activity by the affiliate. Affiliates who only post links from their online platform receive a 5% commission rate, but affiliates with relevant content including Anet Technology’s products receive a 10% commission rate while top contributors get their commission rate raised to 15%. Considering their 90-day cookie period and the ability to raise one’s commission rate, Anet Technology has a lot to provide for interested affiliates.
rigid.ink is a provider of 3-D printing filament, which is essentially the ink of 3-D printers. Similar to Anet Technology, rigid.ink has a tiered commission structure where the more sales you achieve, the higher your commission rate goes up—the highest commission rate affiliates can receive is 15% with 100 or more sales in a 30-day cookie period. The starting rate is also generous at 10% for beginning affiliates, and best of all, affiliates receive their testing pack of rigid.ink’s filament after five sales.
Though Autodesk doesn’t necessarily sell 3-D printers or filament, the service is focused on offering modeling and designing software for 3-D printers. Affiliates receive a 9% commission on all original sales of products as well as a cookie period of 60 days. Furthermore, Autodesk provides ample support as all affiliates also receive a dedicated affiliate manager to answer any questions or resolve any concerns.
Affiliate programs benefit both companies and independent online content creators alike—companies can broaden their range of advertising and diversify their consumer base while online content creators can build a stream of income off their platform. Besides this mutual benefit, internet browsers also have the advantage of being able to access information on more products and services, fulfilling needs in niches that may have been untouched otherwise. Creating content is vital to not only inspiring and engaging visitors to one’s online platform, but also to the level of diversity for competitive, expanding markets.