Affiliate marketing, when done properly, allows you to have what amounts to a passive income once you have things established. You set up a site with offers, you run content to attract users with organic search, and you pull in the money as they flow from Google to your offer site.
Of course, affiliate sites in practice aren’t quite so passive. They tend to require more upkeep, because when they fall out of date, they quickly fall off the front page of Google. There’s enough competition that you can’t just rest on your laurels, you need to keep putting work into your content, your offers, your ads, and your sales funnel.
One of the best ways to maximize your money while you’re optimizing your affiliate site is to use offers that have residuals attached. Affiliate networks tend to have a few different flavors of offer, but they can be divided into two broad categories; one-time and recurring. One-time offers pay when that offer registers or buys, or sometimes based on qualified leads. Recurring offers pay on registration, but they also often pay each month as the user continues a subscription.
That’s the primary difference; when recurring offers, you’re typically selling a subscription service. It’s valuable to the service to have customers who subscribe for a long time, so they make it valuable to you to refer leads that subscribe for a long time. You can make immediate money by referring a bunch of people who will subscribe for one month and quit, but that doesn’t earn you anything over time.
If you’re successful enough with referring long-term subscribers, you can eventually end up making more per month just on residuals than you do on new subscribers. Sure, some people will fall off, but others will take their place, and your income becomes much more self-sustaining. You don’t have to worry about a bad week cutting off your income for a month; you can make use of the extra flexibility offered by a steady income to experiment more with wilder strategies.
The focus of this post is on a list, which as you might have guessed from the title and the introduction, is going to be geared towards affiliate networks and businesses that have offers with recurring payments. Most of them will have traditional offers as well, so don’t feel left out if you’re not explicitly pursuing recurring payments.
I make no claims to the success you may have with any of these networks. Some of them may be low quality. Some of them might skim conversions off the top, or pay less per conversion than the same offer on another network. I urge you to do your research before you go all-in on a given offer, and I also urge you to diversify. If you can make one successful affiliate site, you can make two. Two gives you more income from more sources, and it gives you the safety of ongoing income even if one offer, one account, or one site is removed from the equation. Think of your financial wellbeing as a table; you want more than just one leg to stand on.
Drawbacks to Residual Affiliates
There are a few downsides to trying to focus on or specialize in residual income from affiliate offers. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows once you have a few sales under your belt.
- The money isn’t as good right off the bat. If you’re trying to build up to a point where your affiliate income is supporting your site and your other endeavors, you might want to start with traditional offers. Which is better to use to get off the ground; a one-time payment of $100, or $5 payments monthly for an unknown period? Residuals on that scale would require nearly two years to reach the value of the one-time payment, and even longer to surpass it. Which brings me to the next point:
- Ongoing residuals are not limitless. Some offers will have limits on how long they will pay. Others will change at a whim and cut off old residuals. You also stop getting paid if the customer quits their subscription, which isn’t an uncommon occurrence.
- Residuals aren’t a fire-and-forget solution. They decay over time, just as organic traffic and engagement would on a site that doesn’t receive content in months. You need a constant influx of new subscribers to keep up your residual payments, otherwise they will eventually drop off until you’re making nothing.
The calculation you need to make is one between the value of non-residual payments versus the value of residuals. You need to keep selling one way or another. If you refer customers who will keep subscribing for over a year, you can very likely make more value out of a residual deal than an up-front deal. On the other hand, if most of the people you subscribe quit after a month or two, the up front payment is much more lucrative. Unfortunately, this is mostly data you can only get from testing and monitoring how well residuals perform.
For that reason, I suggest running a mixture of both residual and one-time payments for the first few months of your affiliate journey. This will give you an idea of how well your residual payments perform, while still giving you leeway to change your strategy.
Before we get into the list itself, you should know about Offer Vault. Offer Vault is a site that accumulates data on affiliate offers. It sorts them by the actual company with the offer, and shows you valuable information about them. In particular, it will show you the payout you can expect, the offer type if it’s different from normal, and the network that hosts the offer. The only reason I’m not just telling you to go there instead of browsing this list is because there’s no way to tell if an offer is residual or not.
So why do I bring it up? If you find an offer that looks good, you can use this site to see if it’s been shared around. This will give you some idea of competition, as well as an indication of how much less you might be getting paid for the offer on one site compared to another. Again; it’s research.
Anyways, on to the list.
These sites are affiliate networks that have a wide variety of offers, but specifically focus on residual payment offers. Typically, these offers will be subscription products or services, like educational courses, diet planning books, magazine subscriptions, and the like.
Clickbank – This network pays some of the highest up-front commissions available in the industry, because they want to attract marketers who are really willing to work for them. Also, virtually every offer they have is some kind of electronic product or magazine that has a subscription and, with it, a recurring commission payment. Many offers also have upsells built into them; you don’t have to put the work into it, but if the customer upgrades, so does your commission.
Click2Sell – Despite the EU url, this site is available to global affiliates. They also offer extremely high commissions on many of their offers, though you will find that some of the highest paying offers are virtually impossible to sell, due to competition and narrow niches. They advertise up to 95% commissions, though the majority of offers are not quite that high. They also have a higher percentage of non-residual offers, so you’ll want to check out each offer before you enroll to see whether or not it has residual payments.
Max Bounty – Even though the name sounds like something out of a MST3K episode, this network is another of the old giants in the industry. Their biggest selling point is guaranteed, never late payments. They also have account managers who are ready and willing to help you make money, because the more money you make, the more money they make in their cut from your commissions.
Most of the rest of this list will be individual offers that have noteworthy residuals. They aren’t networks with a bunch of offers; they’re sites that offer commissions directly, allowing you to register as a publisher and refer people without needing to go through a third party. Some of the offers can be found through networks like those listed above, but others are exclusively one on one relationships. As always, use discretion to determine if the offer is right for you. Do your research before you sign on to any contract.
These offers are in the broad “health” category, which can include anything from diet, fitness and weight loss to smoking cessation and various equipment and product sales.
- SG Health Affiliate. This program has a lot of different items to sell and offers a two-tier system with 30% commissions on the first tier and 5% on the second, residual.
- Mig Cigs. This is a smoking cessation, vaping, and e-cig niche that is based out of a facility in California, manufacturing e-liquids. Cookies last for just under a year, so keep that in mind for your value calculations.
- Lose the Back Pain. This site is obviously a specialty medical issue that focuses on back pain remedies and relief. They have a two-tier affiliate system that ranges from $5 to $75 for sales, with additional lifetime commissions.
- Sparks E-Cigarettes. Again, a smoking cessation and vaping shop. This one is noteworthy to include because it’s focused geographically on the UK and continental Europe, and not so much the United States. They pay 15% residual commissions.
- Jumpstart Energy. This is a weight loss and dieting supplement that claims to increase mood, enhance health, and is free of side effects. It’s up to you to investigate their ingredients to see if they have anything you find questionable. Their residual commission is 20%.
These offers tend to have some crossover with health, as many of them include health foods and diet plans among their offerings. I’ve tried to pick some of the less “healthy” options, which can still pay well.
- Keep It Sweet. This site is an online sweet shop that sells candies and chocolates from some of the finest confectioners in the world. They don’t have high commissions – 10% to 15% in general – but people who order and enjoy the sweets will tend to come back for more.
- H Tru O. This site offers a water filtration system for your home, which is made to remove dirt, contaminants, chlorine, particulates and odors from tap water. Most useful in areas with well water over city water, or with old plumbing. Commissions tend to hover in the 20% range, but with such large systems, that can be significant.
- 3 Bears Organic. As the name might imply, this site sells bear meat. Just kidding, they’re focused on organic products, including guten-free products, vegan products, and all natural pet products. As a massive store with over 10,000 items, residual commissions of 8% don’t seem so bad.
- Asian Food Grocer. Everyone’s beloved Asian corner grocery, online. You can buy everything from imported snacks to origami paper from the retailer. Quality Asian food can be hard to find for a reasonable price, so customers tend to be repeat customers. 15% for new commissions, plus 5% for returning tier two customers.
- ESP Emporium. No, this isn’t a site dedicated to mind reading; that’s another niche entirely. This site sells teas of various types, imported from around the world. Again, this is a site where customers return time and again, so 10% commissions can mean big returns.
These offers all fall into the adult category, which includes dating sites, as well as website networks and adult product retailers. I know not everyone is very interested in this category, some finding it unsavory, but others are perfectly willing to do business. Be warned that marketing adult products online tends to come with a bunch of extra restrictions, including the inability to use most prominent ad networks and marketing techniques.
- Passion.com. This is a dating site that skirts the line between the Match.com-style long term dating and the Adult Friend Finder hookups. They are notable for giving you three options for payments; $1 per visitor per day as a PPC method, $30 per order as a flat payment, or 75% of residuals ongoing.
- Discreet Adventures. This is a dating service specializing in hookups between married people, much like the high profile Ashley Madison. If you’re not morally opposed to the whole idea, they pay 40% commissions on memberships for as long as those memberships exist.
- AdamEveCash. This is a large online retailer for adult toys and videos, notable for being one of the largest such retailers that isn’t a general site like Amazon. They offer a registration bonus with 25% residuals for customers.
- Adult Platform. This is a network of adult video sites, with relatively cheap memberships for those looking to pay for content. Their commissions start at 50%, making them one of the more lucrative adult affiliates.
- Cams.com. This is one of the most prominent paid live cam sites online, and as such has a reputation for not being a scam, which helps in the adult affiliate industry. They allow you to choose between up-front payments of $55-$130, or a residual 20-35%.
These offers are in a general business category. It’s broad, and covers everything related to business management, marketing, analytics tools, and various forms of Internet productivity and management systems.
- Overflow Café. Directed at small business owners, Overflow is an SEO firm that offers a VIP plan for businesses. You can pick an up-front $20 commission, or a residual $5 a month per sale for as long as the customer remains a customer. They also offer three months of their service to successful affiliates, free.
- First Business Website. This is another service directed at small businesses, specifically those that are just getting into the online arena. Believe it or not, many such businesses still exist. Commissions are small, ranging from $1 to $12, but they last a lifetime.
- Net Mechanic. This service offers site maintenance and promotion tools for business owners. They include a long-lived tracking cookie that will track conversions from your referrals even if they are made weeks later. Commissions are on the order of 20%.
- Are We Online. This service constantly checks your website for availability, and notifies you instantly if it detects errors, slow responses, DDoS attacks, or downtime. Crucial for businesses that need 100% uptime. Commissions range from 25% to 40%.
- Nitro Marketing. This service is an affiliate program with 50+ products or services, ranging from ebooks to business programs. Affiliates start at 25% for tier one sales, and 5% for return and tier two sales. Payments continue for “lifetime” though, as always, you’ll want to check what the criteria are for expiration of that lifetime.
These offers don’t fall into any easy category to describe. Chances are if your niche isn’t represented in one of the above categories, it will be somewhere in here. Of course, with too broad a description, anything could qualify, so I’ve been a little picky about what I add here.
- EthicMail. This email provider focuses primarily on secure email communications that aren’t subject to invasions of privacy. They specifically target humanitarian missions and non-profits, particularly those concerned with free internet and secure data.
- Miracle Canvas. This service sells canvas prints of artwork of various types, pre-framed and ready to hang. Their primary selling point is a robust customization engine to change the size, shape, and style of the prints. Commissions are 10% for residual sales.
- Conscious One. This falls into a self-help niche that could be classified as health, but I consider to be different enough to warrant this categorization. It’s all about psychic, mental, and religious self-consciousness and introspection. Commissions range from 5% to 20%.
- Cartridges.net. This site is a wholesaler and retailer of printer ink and toner cartridges, mostly refilled, refurbished, or non-OEM carts. Commissions range from 2% to 20%, depending on the type of product and sale.
- Impress In Print. This site sells custom greeting cards, invitations, business cards, and all sorts of paper stationary. Commissions start at 5%, but you gain residual payments for everything the user buys throughout their lifetime.
There are, of course, tens of thousands of other sites and offers out there. You can use sites like associateprograms.com and affiliateseeking.com to browse through lengthy lists of affiliates. When you’re looking for residuals, make sure to include that filter in your search.