Making Money Online in 2020-2021: Affiliate Programs


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One of the major ways to make money online is through joining an affiliate program. Brands align with influencers and online personalities to sell products, giving their affiliate partners a commission on sales related to their promotion. According to statistics compiled by market researchers, fully one-fifth of the budget of most online publishers is going toward affiliate marketing programs. Plus, given the second wave of coronavirus and the lockdown measures that are no doubt coming with it through the first part of 2021, online shopping and affiliate programs are set to carve a healthy chunk out of most business’ revenue.

Choosing the Right Affiliate Program

There are plenty of opportunities to make money, but it’s important to analyze your skills, desires, interests, and audience when deciding on the right program to join. First, let’s talk about the types of industries in which affiliate programs are on the rise. Research shows that affiliate programs are especially effective in businesses like:

  • the fashion world
  • sports
  • health and fitness outlets

You can make significant money promoting products and websites in these areas, since those three industries have already recognized the importance of this style of marketing. However, there are other considerations as well.

Web Hosting

The internet is the hub of modern business. There’s a reason that corporate giants like Amazon are starting to take over virtually every industry. By 2023, Statista estimates that nearly a quarter of all sales revenue worldwide will be generated online. For companies looking to grow their market base (or start new business ventures), the first step is to create or optimize their online presence. In a word, they need one thing: a website.

Many affiliates have been able to earn steady income through web hosting services like HostGator, WordPress, and others. For example, you can create your own website and post links to special web hosting deals (such as 50% off a user’s first webpage through HostGator).


A similar niche is the VPN (or virtual private network) world. As corporations pivot to remote working strategies to cope with both the globalization of the marketplace and the restrictions that have been put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having a VPN has become increasingly essential. In layman’s terms, a VPN is an encrypted network connection between one computer and a central server. It allows safe transmission of data, as well as connecting employees who work in different countries with a centralized company network. If a company’s web developers are in Europe while its marketing staff is in the United States, for example, a VPN allows the two offices to have a private, secure connection as if they all worked from the same building.

Expect virtual private networks to increase in usage as the years pass. So, a wise entrepreneur in the affiliate marketing arena may want to consider joining up with VPN services like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or IPVanish. Depending on the company’s payout structure, you can make money:

  1. once at the time of a user’s purchase
  2. on a continued basis as the user engages with the VPN

E-Commerce Sites

Finally, let’s take a look at e-commerce websites. No doubt many of us use services like Shopify, Wix, or Weebly. These companies allow users access to specific gadgets and gizmos to build e-commerce websites to attract customers. But they also offer affiliate programs in which you can get paid a commission per user who signs up with the service by using your recommendation link.

Regardless of what niche you decide to pursue in your affiliate program endeavors, the point is that it allows you to make money based on how many people you get to purchase products, sign up for services, or undertake similar actions. Given that many of us have large networks of friends, family members, and admirers on social media platforms, it’s a viable money-making strategy.

Important Factors to Consider When Joining an Affiliate Program

Now that you’re ready to start making money in the niche of your choosing, you should also consider a few factors before signing on the dotted line. Typically, affiliate program membership is free. However, it takes a lot of work to generate sales, and you want to make sure that the program you sign up for makes your work worthwhile.

How Does the Program Pay?

Different programs have different payment structures. For example, they might pay affiliates a one-time payment based on certain commission rates, or they might have payments based on the consumer’s use of the product. Another issue is the actual payment method (i.e. what medium the program uses when paying its affiliates). Popular methods include:

  • direct deposit into your bank account
  • payments through online sites like PayPal or Payoneer
  • mailed checks

Finally, make sure the program pays out in a manner that suits your lifestyle. There’s nothing worse than expecting a payment at the end of the week and finding out that your program doesn’t send the money until the end of the month.

Length of Cached Cookies

When browsing the internet, you may have seen the term “cookies” thrown about. No, we’re not talking about dessert. Cookies are short bits of data that mark users as coming from your specific link. Standard practice in the affiliate program community is for companies to store cookies for two to three months. During this time, if that user continues to make purchases from the company’s online shop, you should continue to get commissions.

However, not all affiliate programs store the cookies for as long. Nor do they all pay out for continued user purchases. Before signing up with a program, check these issues. If the company doesn’t pay this way or store cookies for as long, you might be missing out on potential money you could make with a different program.

Joining the Online Job Market

Affiliate programs are not for everyone, but they are viable ways to generate income from your home. As more of us are under travel and business operation restrictions, the online world is going to become a much larger segment of the workforce. If you are looking for ways to make money online in 2020-2021, you can’t go wrong by joining up with affiliate programs from your favorite brands.