If you are searching for the average commission rates offered by the biggest industries in affiliate marketing for 2021, you’re in luck. In this post, you’ll learn all of the current and important information that affects such rates and those that relate to the current pandemic.

Aside from giving you the top 10 most frequent industries and their corresponding commission rates for affiliates, we’ll also share with you major consumer trends brought about by COVID-19, which between affiliate networks or affiliate programs is a better fit for you, and why it’s crucial to niche down.

Top 10 Affiliate Categories

Affiliate networks vs. affiliate programs

Before we begin discussing rates for each industry, let us talk about the differences in affiliate networks and affiliate programs. Knowing how they vary will help you decide which is a good match for you. First off, let us define each term.

An affiliate network is a digital platform where sellers and promoters or affiliates come together. Popular examples of it include Amazon Associates, Clickbank, and ShareASale. It is a good choice if you want to access thousands of different products. This way, there are no limits to select which you’re going to promote. You can also create multiple websites and social media accounts and then niche down. Say, for example, one site is strictly for baby apparel and another is for pet supplies. With enough dedication and effort, there are no limits to what you can do to gain a higher payout.

Meanwhile, an affiliate program is specific to a certain business. A lot of companies have affiliates to help sell their products and/or services. HubSpot is a good example of this. It often has higher rates compared to affiliate networks.

This is a great option for you if you’re personally interested in this specific niche. If you’re a vegan, you can advertise food under this category. This way, you get to engage in something you’re passionate about. Having mentioned that affiliate programs often pay more than affiliate networks, sometimes, it’s a case-to-case basis. You have to find a platform that values their affiliates. Also, you need to select products that are going to generate your desired payout. You’ll find that some goods have higher commission rates compared to others. Oftentimes, there are the ones that have lower prices.

How affiliate programs work

While having 30-70% of the sale looks good on paper, it’s not that profitable in real life. Since the product you’re promoting costs less, even if you get a sale, you’ll still earn a tiny portion. A great way to turn this around would be to sell various numbers of cheap products or go wholesale. When you’re able to do this, despite the lower prices, your commission will be sky-high.

There are also goods that have low affiliate commission fees but have a high price tag. Initially, you may think it’s not worth your time. But if you’ll give it a second look, you’ll realize that it’s actually a lot of money. In the instance where the products cost about $750 but you only get 3% commission. If someone purchases it, you get $22.50.

Example of an affiliate comission payoutCompare this to 50% of a $10 item and you only receive $5. But again, it all boils down to numbers. Since you’re going to promote an expensive item, chances are only a few people will buy it.

But one good way to find a solution is to find groups of people who are true fans of a product or in dire need of it. Computers, for example, are pricey but if you promote them to students, teachers, and other people who need them on a daily basis, you’re going to have a ton of payout.

You can even promote ones with exceptional device specifications to those who are looking to upgrade to a better unit or those who simply want to acquire the updated version.

10 Most popular affiliate industries

Now that you’ve learned most of the important factors that can help you improve your earnings as an affiliate, let’s get down to business. We’ve compiled 10 of the top industries and their corresponding average to help you decide which one to pick.

1. Home and Garden (average 10% commission)

Affiliate comission rate in categories Home and Garden

When people were stuck in their homes during the pandemic, lots of them saw flaws and improvements that they can do in their houses. While some home improvements and gardening were justified, others were just bored and wanted to do something.

But regardless of people’s reasoning, this industry has benefited from the recent pandemic. In fact, the home improvement industry has breached the $700 billion mark in 2020 and is poised to increase its value in the following years to come. This just shows how big the market already is and how it’s only going to get bigger.

As an affiliate, there are lots of sub-categories under Home Improvement that you can choose from. Some of which are:

  • Home repair
  • Furniture polish
  • Repainting
  • Plumbing and electrical repair
  • Waterproofing
  • Installation of systems

The average affiliate commission rate in this industry is around 10%.

2. Health and Wellness (average of 15% commission)

Typical comission rate for affiliate programs in health and wellness categoryThe pandemic has affected people’s well-being tremendously. As a response, consumers purchase more products and services that can allow them to nurture their health be it physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

While this is a very broad industry, a couple of surfacing products that have grown increasingly popular to customers are medical alert devices, water filters, health supplements, and fitness programs.

In this industry, the commission rate has an average of 15%.

3. Self-development (average 20% commission)

Typical affiliate payouts in Self-Development category

Since the majority of the world is forced to stay at home during lockdowns, or at least have restricted movement, a notable amount of buyers have taken this as an opportunity to better versions of themselves.

There are many new opportunities in this section. It includes:

  • Self-help
  • Coaching
  • Planners
  • Virtual learning
  • Mindset
  • Study materials
  • Binaural beats
  • Spirituality
  • Focus-improving apps
  • Audiobooks

As for this field, you can expect a typical 20% commission for each successful sale.

4. Food (average 25% commission)

Comission payouts for affiliates in food categoryDue to the stress and anxiety that the virus outbreak has caused, a lot of people have turned to eat in order to soothe their emotions. For this reason, the food industry has kept on growing.

Here are some of the popular items belonging to the food category.

  • Plant-based diet
  • Healthy eating
  • Meal planning apps
  • Wine
  • Sweets
  • Tea
  • Seasoning
  • Canned goods
  • Frozen berries
  • Low carb meals

The average commission rate that affiliates receive in this industry is 25%.

If you want to get started as an affiliate in the food industry I recommend starting a food blog or YouTube channel. There is still plenty of room to grow since the market gets bigger and bigger. Take a look at one of my favorite food blogs RecipeFairy to get some inspiration. With about 300k visitors a month, Laura – the blog owner – is doing something right.

5. Lifestyle (average commission 15%)

Affiliate comission rates in Lifestyle categoryNot everything about the pandemic has been taxing. One of the upsides of having to stay at home is having fun, buying cool stuff, trying out new hobbies, vlogging on social media, and even doing some home renovations.

For these reasons, the lifestyle industry has been booming. Here are some in-demand choices.

  • Subscription boxes
  • Retail goods
  • Projects and handicrafts
  • Fitness accessories
  • Women’s fashion
  • Sexy outfits
  • Men’s wear

The commission rate that lifestyle affiliates usually receive is 15%.

6. Digital products (average commission of 20%)

Affiliate commission in digital products categoryCircling back to the statistics stated under the pandemic consumer trends section, along with online retail shopping, the purchase of virtual goods is also on the rise.

Here are a couple of trending digital products in 2021:

As for this industry, you can anticipate a typical commission rate of 20% per purchase.

Tip: I personally promote a lot of different digital products as an affiliate and believe it or not, I got the best results and the most profits from promoting less known and therefore less competitive digital products.

Try to think a bit out of the box here and instead of promoting “the best email marketing software” (which is a very competitive search term and therefore hard to rank for), promote things like “order fulfillment software”, “best PRM software” or “best inventory management software”.

For the latter, I have had a very good experience with promoting InFlow’s B2B portal for example. They pay 20% for each subscription.

7. Electronics (average commission rate of 7%)

Affiliate comission rates in electronic products category

Because the world has drastically shifted into the online space, the need for electronics has also skyrocketed.

From online classes, working from home, eCommerce live streaming, or for simple entertainment, the demand for gadgets continually arises.

Here are some of the most sought after electronic items:

  • Smartphones
  • Exercise gadgets
  • Headphones
  • Audio products
  • Laptops
  • Computers

An expected commission rate is 7% is given to affiliates in this industry.

8. Gaming (average commission of 10%)

2012-2021 global games marketAnother sector that has made great leaps during the COVID-19 outbreak is the gaming industry.

Since many youths are required to stay indoors, this their usual pastime and way of bonding with friends.

Take a look at the leading products and services that are in during this period.

  • MMORPG games
  • Gaming PCs
  • Graphics card
  • Gaming mouse
  • Controllers
  • Headphones
  • Gamer apparel

The typical rate for this industry is 10%.

9. Petcare (average commission of 20%)

Affiliate comissions in percare category

The popularity of viral videos where pets interrupt online interviews and meetings only shows how there is a good side to the pandemic.

Pets are delighted to see their owners home most of the time and as a result, their fur parents spoil them.

According to news reports, this industry has surpassed $100 billion in 2020 alone.

As for pet products, these are the following best-sellers:

  • Pet food
  • Pet treats
  • Pet beds
  • Pet hygiene
  • Pet accessories
  • Dogs video training
  • Veterinary products
  • Over-the-counter medications

You can anticipate an average rate of 20% for affiliates.

10. Finance (average of $40 per sale)

Finance category and its affiliate commission ratesThe last item on this list is the finance industry.

Although some parts of this sector went down during COVID-19, there are some notable trends that allowed it to bounce back. These are the following successful aspects of the finance industry:

  • Health insurance
  • Home insurance
  • Online trading
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Personal loans
  • Investment programs
  • Accounting Software
  • Budgeting software
  • Payment solutions

A typical commission fee of $40 per successful lead is expected in this sector.

One of my favorite affiliate programs – a payment solution software called Finli – pays you even $50 per customer and your referral gets $50 off. If you are an active affiliate in the finance world, feel free to give it a try – it works very well.


Affiliate marketing has been around for quite some time already. The industry has proven itself that it’s not a fad and it actually is a good way to make money online.

In the list above, Finance and Digital Products are the top industries when it comes to affiliate commission rates. They are the most lucrative because of the demand and amount of people participating in the space. By picking a niche and incorporating the three tips above, you’re on your way to becoming a successful affiliate marketer.

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