Getting Approved At Affiliate Networks

blank websiteWhich came first: the chicken or the egg?
It's a common question for new affiliate marketers - How do you get approved as an affiliate at an Affiliate Network, if you don't yet have your affiliate site created?

The question came up again on my recent post titled HTML Tips: Anatomy of an Affiliate Link. Carlos asked:

Hi Lynn, I just got my domain name and hosting account and I plan to use this site to promote affiliate products. The question is about … they asked me for my website on the affiliate application, but at the moment my site is empty. Will CJ approve my application anyway - or not? If not, what do I have to do first? What is the process if my website is only to promote things?

When you create your first affiliate site, or a new affiliate site that requires new affiliate relationships, it's best to set the site up first.

The big concern that most people have is wasting time setting up an affiliate site, without knowing for sure if they will get approved to the affiliate program or affiliate network they want to work with.

The fact is, to get good favor with both Affiliate Networks - and with Google, your website needs to offer value. Meaning if you don't monetize it at all, or your strip out all the promotions, it still offers valuable content to human visitors.

See: Warning: “Thin Affiliate Sites”

You have a few options...

If your affiliate site is ecommerce-style, meaning it looks like an online store and each product you feature simply deep links to the merchant's product detail page, you can go ahead and create the entire site in good faith that the merchant (or network they work with) will approve your affiliate application.

You can start with direct links to the the merchant's products and change them to affiliate links later, or leave out the links and add them in later.

Personally I don't recommend relying on only one merchant as an Affiliate Marketer. I usually create an affiliate site with at least 3 merchants in mind. A primary merchant (the one I most want to work with or promote), a secondary merchant (as back-up, or for additional options to offer my market), and a third merchant is just good measure. When I can't find a 3rd merchant, usually makes a good back-up option.

The reason is because sometimes merchants close up shop, discontinue their affiliate program, or make other changes that make you want to stop working with them. Never create an affiliate site around ONE merchant or ONE product.

So go ahead and create your affiliate site, and populate it with content and/or products. Fill out your affiliate applications, include the URL to your affiliate site, and include a note in the comments section of the application if they offer one on the form. Mention that this is a new site, and you look forward to working with XYZ merchant. Include your name and telephone number with the comment for good measure.

Another option is to create a related blog. This blog can be used to write content that leads into a specific recommendation, linking to specific products on your affiliate site, so you can funnel traffic from the search engines to your specific product pages. Populate the blog with good content, use it in your affiliate applications, and then add in the recommendations later once you are approved.

Getting Declined by Merchants or Affiliate Networks

This is going to happen. It even happens to me, and I'm a Super Affiliate. In fact, just yesterday I was declined by Priceline in the CJ Network. I had signed up to be their affiliate, with plans to promote them on my new GeekTrax website.

Often you'll get declined because of something in your profile at the network, or because your website is unfinished or unrelated. In my case, the website(s) in my CJ profile were not related to travel, and so Priceline denied my request to be their affiliate.

In a case like this, I always write back to the merchant with a request for reconsideration. CJ (Commission Junction) has it's own messaging system, so I simply wrote a short reply to them directly through the network, and explained who I am and what I do - and how/where I plan to promote their program.

Affiliate Managers get a large number of requests every day, but they ARE looking for quality affiliates that will promote their offers. Go the extra step in letting them know why they should approve your application.

And like I said, have back-up merchants in the wings in the case that your preferred merchant doesn't approve you. You can always come back later and apply again once your affiliate site is more established.

Affiliate Networks vs Independent Affiliate Merchants

Apply for the Affiliate Networks in the beginning, but if you don't get approved right away then seek out independent affiliate merchants. There are many affiliate programs outside of the major networks that offer instant approval.

Just go to Google and type in your main keyword and the word "affiliate" or "commission". So you might type in "baby bedding affiliate" or "baby bedding commission" (without quotes) and look for independent merchants. You can also search ClickBank or $7 Offers for relevant info-products to recommend - these don't require approval and are open to anyone.

Final Note...

If you're really passionate about your topic and your business model, invest the time to set it up and get it established - even without a monetization strategy to start. Set up social media profiles and make a name for yourself in the niche. Build a readership and a following, and the merchants will be coming to you.

You can always use Google Adsense, or sell advertising, in the meantime. But don't let the concern of declined affiliate applications deter you from starting the online business you want.


Also See:
Best Cheap Web Hosting
How to Start a WordPress Blog (Checklist)
How to Sell Products Online as an Affiliate
Affiliate Site Options & Examples

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. Great Lynn but i have question for you do you think that one of the reason affiliate network decline someone is Geographic location? because i had bad experience with some network before they just disapproved just just because where i live is this possible ?

    • Hi Mida!

      Yes, it's possible to be disapproved by some affiliate networks and merchants just because of where you live. Even getting a PayPal account is limited to certain countries.

      Just keep trying and hopefully you come across one that will work with you.

      Good Luck!

      Rick Wilson aka CorpRebel 😎

  2. It is frustrating when you get declined but contacting the merchants has definitely helped. Unfortunately, I still have not been accepted by anyone in Google's Affiliate Network which is quite disappointing. I'll take your advice and start incorporating Google Adsense and continue to promote the merchants I really want to work with until I get approved. Thanks for the good info. as always Lynn!

  3. Tommy Lee says

    Great article Lynn! One thing that I have seen work as well is actually calling up the networks and talking with the affiliate managers. Like you mentioned, they get bombed with A LOT of applications and most affiliates don't like using the phone. The Internet has made people afraid of using the phone for some reason and in this day and age will make you stand out from the rest. Of course you need a compelling affiliate strategy whether that be a niche site for the program you are aiming for or a good understanding of PPC advertising. Whatever you do, just make sure you are knowledgeable and can convey to the affiliate manager how you plan to promote them...and make them more money!

  4. Lynn,
    thanks for this great article and also the very valuable link to your previous post about 'thin affiliate sites'.
    sometimes the profiles stored in the networks are misleading to merchants as they only contain established sites. Setting up a new site and convincing merchants that you are the right partner is sometimes difficult. I always use the possibility to write some comments into my profile that I am going to search new partners for the new site. I also often set them up with adsense, so they are not too empty. Adsense later gets exchanged to affiliate offers.

  5. Glyn Lafferty says

    Hey Lynn,

    great article on affiliate networks I don't use them alot I prefer to promote individual products but after reading your blog post it is something that I will consider doing every soon in the future.



  6. Bailey Ing says

    Hi Lynn,

    Thanks for the informative post. I wish I found this before I started using Commission Junction a year ago.

    What I generally found was the larger mainstream companies including finance related services tend to have quite a strict criteria, whilst the smaller vendors seem to let any Joe be an affiliate.

    Owning small niche sites myself I find that I'm limited to smaller companies, but since there is also less competition in those niches and also the keyword comepetition, it works out ok for the home affiliate marketer.

    Looking forward to your future posts!


  7. I usually succeed in getting approved by affiliate networks by setting up a wordpress blog with a nice theme, then post some quality PLR articles that are related to the website niche.

  8. Matthew Zinda says

    Good point!

    If I was really passionate about promoting a certain affiliate product, I would do everything I could to be able to promote that product, but I'm not going to (excuse me, can't think of another phrase) kiss somebody's butt to promote THEIR product, or service for them!

    That of course DOES NOT mean that I would promote a product, or service that I am not passionate about either!

    Good luck!

    Matthew Zinda

  9. If you have a blog or website with valuable fresh contents with huge amount of traffic, it will not be a problem to get approved by any of them. but the problem lies on how you are managing the affiliates...I think

  10. I actually had a problem with a few affiliate networks I applied for but my advice is to simply give them a call.

    It's easy for the employees to deny your application but when you jump on the phone, you can work out things because you build a great little human connection.

    I definitely agree with you about not putting your eggs in one basket. If something messes up or the relationship goes sour, you'll be out of the game. You need to have other networks to fall back on.

  11. I totally agree with setting up your site first. Once affiliate networks see that your site is up and surfing..then there's reason for them to approve you.

  12. Hey i agree with you totally in that 'Setting Up Your Site First' thing. Yes when the site is set up , there is no way that they can reject. Thanks for da nice post!

  13. Hi Lynn ,
    Thanks for the advice ... I am following it ...
    But I got the next question ...
    How can I get more trafic ... and also from the begining .. how can I make google find my site ... ???

  14. Jonathan Willimas says

    I have been researching all kinds of information to try and work on search engine optimization for my sites. I have tried using article submission services, content spinners, profile links, you name it. So I appreciate the posts here on your blog.

  15. Thanks Lynn for the advices ....
    I am finishing my site , so I will try to start the Affiliates and SEO .... Any other comments on How can I get more trafic to my site .. without having to pay for adsense ... ?

  16. Lynn, just came across this post and it couldn't be more timely. As I'm expanding my affiliate networks to CJ and Pepperjam I've been denied by some of the higher paying commission organizations and was a little disappointed by that. However after reading this article I know what action to take to get approval and Crush It in my niche and as an affiliate marketer.

  17. As a developer of two info products, one on how to use YouTube and the other on careers, I am in search of affiliates. I came to your post through a search on Google on how to approve affiliates. Your article is timely and useful. Thank you for the excellent post!

  18. As a developer of two info products, one on how to use YouTube and the other on careers, I am in search of affiliates. I came to your post through a search on Google on how to approve affiliates. Your info is timely and useful. Thank you for the excellent article!

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