Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money without actually owning or creating a product.
Affiliate marketing is all about selling products that someone else created. Whether it’s an online course, ebook, physical product, membership, or a subscription service, there’s an affiliate program for all of these options.
This post will cover some of the best affiliate programs found online regarding online courses. This post also discusses how you can make money being an affiliate marketer.
But before we go in-depth with the programs, there has to be a word of caution.
While many affiliate marketers glorify the business model, we have to realize that making money online is not easy, no matter how you do it. I’ve been selling online courses, ebooks, and digital products in general for months already and have come to the conclusion that while it’s passive, it’s hard.
It’s hard to generate those sales, and while you can automate a lot, you still have to do a lot of work beforehand. And this work is something many are struggling with.
While you are not selling your own product or service, you still have to do a lot of work before you actually make a sale.
The thing you have to realize with affiliate marketing is that you are promoting other businesses, and this puts you at a disadvantage. You are not so much pushing your brand but other people’s brands.
One of the best ways to generate affiliate sales is to create a product or service review and have an affiliate link attached to the post. Another way is to create a resource page and add affiliate links to different products you are recommending.
While there are many other ways to make affiliate sales, it’s time we get into the programs and see what programs are out there when it comes to online courses.
Online course platforms
Online course platforms are platforms where you host your online course. While people might only see them as platforms to host your course, these platforms also offer you a robust way to earn that passive income in the form of affiliate marketing.
If you are using an online course platform, it’s easy to write a review of it and promote it that way. You are, after all, using a service, and if the service has an affiliate program, it’s only beneficial for you to promote it.
That is if you are happy using their service?
All you need is to check whether the platform has an affiliate program or not. But without checking every platform, I’ve compiled some of the best course platforms out there, but also platforms that have an affiliate program.
Teachable is one of the world’s best online course hosting platforms out there. Teachable has somewhat 18M+ students, 186K active courses, 68K course creators on their platform, and the instructors have earned roughly $338M+. These statistics tell the story of one thing. Teachable is pretty big and well used and liked.
Looking at this from the affiliate marketers’ point of view, it’s easy to recommend such a platform, but as with everything, best recommendations come from experience.
If you are using Teachable to host your online course, write a review of using it, or add it to your funnel even. Talk about how you were able to succeed with Teachable and how you create course sales in automation.
The more you can give those personal experiences using the service, the better.
Teachable has an excellent affiliate program, and they even claim it to be the best affiliate program in the industry.
Teachables’ affiliate program
Cookie duration: 90-day
Payment method: PayPal
Kajabi is definitely one of the top three online course platforms available today. Kajabi offers so much more than Teachable, but it comes with a price tag. Kajabi can be considered an all-around solution for managing an online business.
Though I would still say that having your own WordPress site and course platform separately is the best option, Kajabi comes close with its offering.
Kajabi has built-in funnels, email marketing, course hosting, membership plans, and community elements all built into one platform. Thinkific is probably one platform that comes close to Kajabi, but not close enough.
Kajabi might not be as popular as Teachable, but the statistics are still impressive. $1B worth of transactions processed, nine years in the business, 41M consumers served.
So we are not talking about a small player in the market here. Kajabi is used by top thought leaders such as Brendon Burchard, Amy Porterfield, and Billy Gene. So if you know who these are, then we can conclude that Kajabi is a platform worth considering.
While Teachable claimed to have the best affiliate program in the industry, Kajabi pretty much offers the same. However, Kajabi differs in the sense that you have to be a paying customer to Kajabi to promote them.
What is an advantage, though, is the platform’s payout, which could go up to $1,000 even. If you get to the Platinum level in their affiliate program, you could be making an extra $1,000/month on top of the already earned commission.
Kajabis’ affiliate program
Cookie duration: 30 days but can potentially last 90 days (not confirmed)
Payment method: PayPal
As mentioned before, Thinkific is an excellent choice to host your online course. Thinkific offers almost all-in-one solution for online course businesses, just like Kajabi. The platform offers landing page developer, and you can also use your own domain name with them.
The service looks professional, and creating a course is a pleasant experience. Having designed one course using their platform, I can say that I enjoyed the creation process a lot.
I think the way the course is presented is absolutely fantastic and looks professional. You can use the platform with any device, and the course works wonderfully, even on mobile.
From affiliate marketers’ point of view, you can easily promote Thinkific, just because the platform is solid. Over $200M worth of courses have been sold through the platform, and there are over 16M students that have used their platform and counting.
Thinkific offers an amazing option for affiliates. You can get an affiliate link through ShareASale, and when accepted, you are offered a few different link options. One is for FREE sign up, and the other is Pro+Growth bonus as FREE for one month.
Thinkifics’ affiliate program
Commission: 20%/month, extra bonuses offered and limited availability for 30% commissions
Cookie duration: 90-day
Payment method: PayPal
Become an affiliate for online courses
Promoting online course platforms is one thing, and promoting online courses is another. When you promote a platform, you are essentially promoting a big company that generates millions on a monthly basis.
The bigger the company, the bigger the brand and the lower brand devaluation coming your way. What do I mean here?
Promoting an online course is a bit different as you are promoting someone else’s business. You are promoting a brand that could be a bit closer to your own brand than you might realize.
When you are promoting other peoples’ online courses, you are essentially saying that you don’t offer this or that service. You are raising the business you are promoting over your own business.
So you are, in a sense devaluating your own brand. This is a different case when you are promoting a significantly bigger business than yours. The viewpoint is different.
However, there are always exceptions, and sometimes the service you are promoting only compliments your offering, making it the best possible scenario.
Let’s look at some online course programs that offer huge commission either in percentage or in monetary value.
Sam Ovens Consulting Accelerator course is hands-down the world’s best course on how to become a highly-paid consultant in your niche.
I’ve taken this course, and it’s single-handedly one of the best online courses ever created.
It’s not just for people who want to become a consultant; it’s for people who own online business. While the focus is on becoming a consultant, the teachings can be applied to many areas in business and life.
I can’t say enough good things about this course other than if you have an online business, this course is fundamental for your success (if you are struggling that is).
It’s that good!
While I do have to admit Sam might not be for everyone, even though being an extremely nice guy, he might be a bit harsh. He is thinking against the mainstream (which is something I like a lot) after all, and that might not be for everyone.
Some statistics from the Consulting.com business, which has the course I’m speaking of.
- 20,000 active students
- $690M earned by students
- 52 Millionaire students (this is some amazing stat right here)
- 4.9/5 reviewed by more than 3,600 customers
As you can see from the statistics above, the business Sam has built is something to be admired. He is truly a visionary leader and teacher. And I’m eternally grateful to have gone through his course. Even though it cost around $2,000, it’s worth every penny.
If you are interested in the course, I can offer you a $500 discount on the price of the course. Here’s my affiliate link for you to enjoy the free 7-day trial AND unlock the $500 discount! You won’t be disappointed.
Consulting Accelerator offers one of the best affiliate programs out there and to say a bit more about it. Sam had to build it with a team to get it to work as he wanted.
Commission: $500/sign up
You can’t go wrong promoting this program. There are just too many success stories supporting this program.
While this might already read like everyone is doing 2.0 programs these days. That’s not the case here. It just happens to be named like that.
Knowledge Business Blueprint is one of those programs that can be extremely lucrative. However, a fair warning again is in place. While these programs can net you a lot of money, it’s not easy to make the sale with your cookie as the winning one. It only takes another affiliate link to override your link. So do remember that.
If you have the most sales and become no. 1, you will win a $100,000 cash prize, first-class ticket to Tony and Dean’s private resort in Fiji, where they will hold a mastermind for you. You will get even more, but that was just for starters and the main things you should get excited for.
There are also prizes for the next 39 affiliates, so all in all, 40 of the best affiliates will get some reward for selling their course.
And we haven’t even talked about the commission price yet.
Commission: 45%, paid up to $898 on every sale.
The course roughly costs $1,997, so you will get a pretty big commission for selling their course. However, whenever you are selling such a highly prized course, there has to be pretty good trust between you and the customer, for you to get the sale.
2019 Jenna Kutcher hold the top spot, and reading between the lines, she made more than 1,000 sales, and if we assume, she got $898/sale. It would have netted her around $1M, including the 100,000 cash prize. So that is a pretty big commission for selling one course.
One Funnel Away Challenge by Russell Brunson, ClickFunnels
I took the One Funnel Away challenge with a friend of mine, and it was so much fun. I learned a lot, and I can only say that the course was a blast. People are taking the course repeatedly (it’s a limited-time course), just because it was so much fun, and it really makes you complete things. Now, the course is a one-time purchase, and I still have access to all of the content. So it’s nice to visit the material now and then.
It doesn’t cost a lot, and at the time of writing, it was only $100, and you’ll be given the challenge to complete your very first funnel in only 30 days.
If you are new to funnels, a funnel is basically a system where leads are coming in from one end, and at the other end, you have a happy customer. It’s a system for nurturing a relationship and trust between you and the person entering your funnel.
But about the program itself. There’s a 40% commission, which would net you around $40/sign up.
Now, while that is not something to drool over, here’s the fun part. ClickFunnels have developed a special cookie called a sticky cookie. This means that if someone purchases inside the 30-day challenge or at any other time, you will get the follow-up commissions too.
So, for example, if someone signs up for ClickFunnels and they still have your cookie active (even if they got in through the 30-day challenge), you will get the commission. So any future purchase they have will earn you a commission until another affiliate link is activated.
You could earn a lot of money by just getting people signed up to OFA through your affiliate link.
Commission: 40%, special sticky cookie available
So, while the initial earning could be only $40 or so, you can also promote other ClickFunnel products and earn big commissions through the other products, making the course a very lucrative affiliate program.
Related: One Funnel Away Challenge Review
“I am an independent ClickFunnels Affiliate, not an employee. I receive referral payments from ClickFunnels. The opinions expressed here are my own and are not official statements of ClickFunnels or its parent company, Etison LLC.”
Online course marketplaces
Now, we have covered online course hosting platforms, and some of the most lucrative online course programs out there. Now it’s time to check the course marketplaces.
Online course marketplaces are sites where they host a bunch of online courses. Some are higher priced than others. Udemy, though, has a cap on price, and currently, it’s $199. So no course can be sold beyond that price point, making the courses extremely affordable.
Now, the best thing about promoting online course marketplaces is that they have an insanely wide variety of courses available, meaning that you can promote them to any person imaginable.
These marketplaces have courses on web development, fitness, coding, marketing, business, art and creative, etc. So there’s something for everyone.
When you are building your affiliate business or want to add an affiliate business model as a part of your business, adding a marketplace like Udemy or Skillshare to your recommended resources is not a bad idea.
Many course marketplaces have an affiliate program available, and why wouldn’t they. It’s only beneficial for them if you are promoting them. It is benefitting you and them when a person signs up with a marketplace you have recommended.
So next, we will dive into marketplaces that are good affiliates to join and earn from.
As I previously mentioned, Udemy is one of those marketplaces that offer a wide variety of courses, and thus, you can promote the marketplace in/for a variety of niches.
Udemy has impressive statistics such as:
- 40M students
- 130K courses
- 50K instructors
- 245M course enrollments
- 60+ languages
It can be said that Udemy has a lot of content and a lot of happy students. As an affiliate, it’s easy to promote such a big site as it has a lot of courses that are highly rated and liked by the students.
As far as the affiliate program goes, Udemy offers a 40% commission on each course sale and has a 7-day cookie duration. Meaning that if a person buys a course from Udemy through your affiliate link in 7-days, you will earn a 40% commission.
Commission: 40%, with a 7-day cookie duration
Now, as mentioned before, Udemy has placed a $199 price cap on courses, and that also limits your earnings to around $80/course at maximum.
So what makes this affiliate program so good?
Selling a $199 course is not too hard as it’s definitely in the range of affordable. Premium-priced courses sell for $1,997 and so on. So we are at the very low end of the pricing spectrum.
One thing that does favor Udemy is that there are so many courses available. So you can pick a course that you like or have gone through and then promote that course with your affiliate link. Not much is needed from your part.
Skillshare is another beast of a course marketplace with thousands of online courses on offer. However, this time, there is no commission percentage to gain or a course to promote per se.
Skillshare is based on a monthly subscription, and thus, signing up to use the platform grants you access to yet again thousands of courses.
The monthly subscription price is super affordable, so getting people signed in shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.
So what is so good about Skillshare that it’s worth promoting?
The first thing is that Skillshare doesn’t cost too much, but here’s the kicker, you will be paid based on sign-ups EVEN if they sign up for a FREE account. So you are actually getting money just by getting people signed up, even if they don’t buy the subscription for themselves.
So what’s the catch here?
I guess it would be that Skillshare is confident that they can turn a FREE trial account into a paid one. They are so confident that they are paying you $7/sign up.
Meaning that your job is to push the traffic and people to their door, and they will care for the rest.
Commission: $7/sign up, no purchase required
I think Skillshare has a wonderful affiliate program, and while it might not be the most lucrative one, it’s still one that does not require purchase decisions from the customer, making it a very nice program all in all.
Pluralsight is the third online course marketplace that has an excellent affiliate program, and what makes Pluralsight a bit different is that it’s focused on software development, coding, information, & cybersecurity. So if you or your audience are into that sort of thing, Pluralsight has some excellent affiliate commissions in store for you.
While Pluralsight might not be the most well-known marketplaces out there, it does have some reliable online courses and also a track record worth mentioning.
- 1500+ expert authors
- more than 17,700 business accounts and trusted by more than 70% of Fortune 500 companies
- 1,400 employees
Pluralsight is a different course marketplace as it’s slightly more suited for organizations such as Adobe, Nasdaq, etc. However, the courses they offer are all created by experts in their field. So there’s no amateur stuff expected in their course catalog, which can’t be said about Udemy.
As for the affiliate commissions, with Pluralsight, you have some nice earning potential:
- $5/free trial sign up
- 50% on monthly subscriptions
- 15% on annual subscriptions
- 10% on premium subscriptions
- 10% on professional subscriptions
The income that could be generated from a monthly subscription is around $15. However, what should be noted here is that you get a $5/free trial sign up, which is already an awesome income just by getting someone through the doors.
There are a lot of opportunities out there when it comes to online courses and affiliate programs.
Many individual course creators offer affiliate programs for promoting their courses, and while some creators can give you lucrative rewards and different bonuses for promoting them, the main struggle will be the traffic.
You have to have traffic to get those clicks with your affiliate link as the active one. Even if you get the traffic, it only takes another affiliate link to override yours, and you will lose the sale.
While affiliate programs can net you a nice monthly income, given that you have joined programs that are actually beneficial for you, you might not always get the winning click, or get the prospect to buy the course you are promoting from YOU.
The expensive the course, the harder the sale. Luckily there are online course marketplaces like Udemy and Skillshare that offer you a way to sell courses in a slightly different way.
With Skillshare, for example, you are selling a free trial and not an actual course.
And in case you have created your own course, you can promote the platform you are using to sell your course. This way, you are promoting something that you are already using and why not even create your own affiliate program and let the customers promote your course instead of you promoting someone else’s course.