The Virtual Private Network or VPN market is a hugely competitive market, but also a potentially hugely profitable one, but is it worth a small or medium sized blogger or digital marketer/influencer becoming an affiliate for VPN providers? Can you really make money by being a VPN affiliate, and if so, what kind of money?
I am an affiliate for multiple VPNs on one of my other websites, so I can speak from personal experience. Here would be my bottom line answer:
Making money as an affiliate for VPNs is perfectly possible, but will require patience and targeting of lower competition keywords, since the high competition, broad keywords are too competitive. If you are willing to build up traffic and conversions by addressing specific, long tail keywords, it is possible to make money in the space, as commissions are very generous and often recurring.
Therefore, it is very possible to make money in the VPN affiliate space, but also not very easy or quick in my experience. I’m just starting to get there in a small way, after a couple of years of trying (on and off), with different tactics and keywords. The freezing out of smaller websites from the bigger VPN keywords by search engines is a major frustration here, but there are still ways to get around this.
You will need to have barrels of patience and produce a lot of content tailored towards very specific keywords, and slowly build your traffic up over time, to gain traction in this space. There are plenty of easier niches you could get involved in, but there aren’t many that are as potentially profitable, so it’s a tradeoff between work and patience versus possible reward if you approach it right.
Let’s look at the entire issue of VPN affiliate marketing in more detail – how it works in brief, plus a thorough analysis of positives and negatives, plus some options to get started with some providers if you want to take up the challenge.
VPNs & VPN Affiliate Marketing Explained in Brief
We assume most readers already know this, but we’ll cover it in brief. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and they are simply pieces of software which route your internet traffic through secure, encrypted virtual “tunnels” once you enable them, hiding your IP address, location and browsing activity from others. They are an internet privacy and security tool primarily.
Once you download, install and open a VPN program, you simply select a preferred server location from it’s interface and connect, and it will appear to websites and agencies that you are actually based in that location you selected, even though you’re not. In this sense, they can be used to change your virtual location – a very handy tool which we’ll cover later on.
Once you’re an affiliate for a VPN, it pretty much works in the classic affiliate marketing model – you generate special affiliate links with your tracking ID embedded, and you’ll get a percentage of any VPN subscriptions purchased off your links. These commissions can be quite generous, and sometimes recurring, which is one bonus we’ll cover below.
And that’s pretty much it! If you can get traffic to your content and links, and you’ve got a good way to sell the benefits of a VPN to your audience, you can make affiliate commission just like you would in any other niche with affiliate programs.
See the excellent podcast from Authority Hackers below, where they cover the VPN affiliate space in detail
Now let’s look at the positives and negatives of being a VPN affiliate in more detail.
Pro’s Of Being a VPN Affiliate
Being an affiliate for VPNs definitely has it’s advantages – it can be a very lucrative niche. Here are some benefits to being a VPN affiliate:
Lucrative niche – The first thing to mention is that there’s A LOT of money in the VPN market. The Authority Hacker guys cover this well in the early part of the video above. Large VPN affiliate sites have recently sold for 8 or 9 figure sums – we’re talking serious money here. It’s true that these are big players, and competition is a con we’ll cover below – but even a smaller part of a niche this size can still be a good chunk of money to earn.
Commission Amount & Terms – This is a huge bonus. VPN affiliate terms are often VERY generous compared to other affiliate spaces, in fact some of the best around from my experience. VPNs typically pay anything from 25-50% commission on purchases made from affiliate links (sometimes it can be more for first time purchases, and you may also be able to negotiate a higher rate if you’ve got a large or ready made audience). VPN affiliate commissions I’ve received have ranged from a few dollars to around $40 – be aware that 1 year VPN plans can cost from $40-100 depending on provider, with multi-year plans sometimes well over $100, so a 25-50% cut on that is very good. Especially when you compare it to programs like Amazon Affiliate, which only pay low single digits percentage commission now mostly. However, besides the commission percentage commissions are sometimes recurring – you get commissions on not just the first time a customer buys off your links, but on all subsequent renewals as well. Very good bonus if you can gain some traction in this space over a few years. Cookie length duration is also very generous at 30 days, sometimes longer, compared to Amazon cookies at 24 hours.
Choice of Keywords – There are literally thousands and thousands of potential keywords you can target in the VPN space – all the different permutations of “how to watch X (channel/show/streaming service) in Y country”, plus “best VPN for country/region”, plus troubleshooting, plus free VPNs, and so on. It’s true that big keywords are mostly taken (we’ll cover this below), but there’s a huge number of smaller VPN keywords you can go for in this space. There’s also room for here for more creative content creators who can identify very specific queries where a VPN is not even mentioned, but is a very specific solution to a problem being asked about (eg. X website/service blocked in (insert country/region))
Lots Of Use Cases – There are lots of different things a VPN can be used for, besides simply masking one’s IP address and hiding browsing activity. Firstly, they’re good to use on public Wi-Fi networks to protect browsing, but also for accessing any sports or streaming service in any country, as well as bypassing any government restrictions in certain countries. Lots of people use VPNs for lots of different reasons, which means lots of searches are being done online, as covered in the above point.
High Buyer Intent – Many of the VPN keywords are very high buyer intent – the reader already knows what a VPN is, and just wants to know the “best” VPN for XYX (function/device/country/service). You just need to point them to it and explain why with good detail and analysis, and you’ll likely have a referral. And for the queries where the viewer doesn’t know about a VPN, it’s easy to explain what a VPN is, and sell them on purchasing one if it solves a problem they have with privacy or accessing something.
Free VPNs – It’s sometimes said in digital marketing that the best way to get conversions is to sell customers on a free version or trial of a product, and bank on them upgrading to a Premium version at some point to get your commission. This frequently happens with VPNs, and there’s lots of free ones available to point readers to to get a feel for how VPNs work and whether they’d want a Premium one at some point.
Easy Management – With VPNs being entirely digital products, there are ZERO inventory or stock issues to worry about with your affiliate links, as there are with other physical affiliate programs like Amazon Associates. For sure, VPN affiliate links may expire once every few years, or new campaigns may start, but once you set them up, VPN links are generally “set-and-forget“, with no out-of-stock or availability worries.
Great For YouTube – If you already have a ready-made audience on YouTube, promoting VPNs (if it makes sense to your viewers) can be really easy and lucrative versus trying to gain traction on a blog. You can post your affiliate link in your video description and get great results if well sold and relevant to your audience. Quite a few YouTube channels are VPN affiliates now.
Here’s a bottom line summary of the main benefits of VPN affiliate marketing:
- Much better affiliate rates than most physical programs like Amazon. (25-50%, sometimes recurring as well)
- Easy to set up and manage (no stock issues)
- Loads of keywords to target and problems to solve.
- Loads of money in the VPN market.
- Good buyer intent and lots of free VPNs to promote to get readers started.
Cons Of Being a VPN Affiliate
However, affiliate marketing is never all rosy, and there are some big negatives to the VPN affiliate space. Here’s some major ones I’ve noticed:
Large Keywords Taken – This has been a huge frustration when trying to break into this space myself. All the large, broad and obvious keywords are already taken, often by mediocre, non relevant content. The first few pages of search results for “best VPN for/in….” are always taken by the same few, big, high authority sites, and the content is often even inaccurate, barely relevant or not answering the query. But even producing lengthy, accurate, fully relevant content, correcting the mistakes in the other content, you can’t break in with these large keywords. The search engines aren’t interested in allowing small or medium sized blogs into the top end of this space anymore – it’s reserved for a few big players, even if your content is MUCH better and more relevant to certain queries. The VPN market is one of those frustrating spaces where Google attaches far more weight to the size and authority of sites in SERPs than to the real relevance and quality of content in rankings. David doesn’t beat Goliath in the top end VPN search queries. But that doesn’t mean you can’t break in with smaller, more specific keywords the big sites haven’t covered. You just have to be realistic though and not waste your time on the broad, obvious queries – smaller sites don’t stand a chance. Go for lots of smaller keywords instead.
Competition – Very similar to the above point. Even for many of the small and medium sized keywords, competition in the search engines results is fierce, as there’s lots of money in the space. The content that is there tends to be already very well done. You need to be prepared to write very good, thorough, detailed content covering all the bases to rank for pretty much ANY keyword in the VPN space. Or you need to be very creative in finding gaps in the search engine results that literally no one else in the VPN affiliate space has thought to fill yet. And for broad level keywords – forget it, as we covered above. Dominated by the big sites and smaller sites are frozen out of the SERPs no matter how good their content is. So you need to start small, and pretty much stay there as a small scale VPN affiliate.
Differentiation – In reality, finding truly differentiating factors between many of the different VPNs can be hard, since they’re all pretty much the same, work the same way, and do the same job, with about the same amount of reliability and effectiveness. There’s not really much difference between them. Some are more expensive than others, some have slightly different server location choice, some have a slightly better reputation for unblocking streaming services, but that’s about it.
Payout Time – This is a huge negative. Whilst it’s true that VPN programs actually have an excellent reputation for paying out commissions quickly once you qualify, with some programs, you need to accrue $50-100 dollars in commission before they’ll pay you. For some examples, ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN only pay out at $100, whilst many others only pay out at $50. Others still are run through affiliate networks, which can also take a long time to validate and pay referrals. This means you need to be really patient in the early stages, as it can take a LONG time to accrue this when you’re slowly building up traffic and only getting an odd referral here and there. This is definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme – you need to be prepared to wait a long time to earn even moderately decent money off VPN affiliate programs.
Here’s a quick-fire summary of the main negatives of the VPN affiliate market:
- Very stiff competition
- Smaller sites locked out of the most valuable keywords. Search engines not on your side.
- Need to wait a long time to accrue commissions and get paid
- Hard to differentiate products.
Signing Up For VPN Affiliate Programs
For readers who’ve decided they’d like the challenge of breaking into the VPN affiliate space, here’s some top brand VPN affiliate programs you can sign up with to get started.
Firstly, you can sign up to many VPN affiliate programs though the main affiliate networks:
VPN affiliate programs on Awin (Affiliate Window):
- Ivacy VPN
Click here so sign up for the Affiliate Window (Awin) network (referral link).
VPN affiliate programs on Commission Junction:
- CyberGhost VPN
- HotBot VPN
- Private Internet Access (PIA)
- ZenMate VPN
Click here to get signed up to Commission Junction (CJ)
VPN affiliate programs on Admitad:
- AtlasVPN (53% commission)
- TurboVPN (42% commission)
Click here to sign up with Admitad (referral link).
And then here’s link to some other VPN affiliate programs you can sign up for directly through their website:
- Surfshark Affiliate – 40% commission, 30 day cookie, $100 minimum payout threshold.
- ProtonVPN Partner Program – 40% commission, $100 min payout, free version to promote to readers.
- Hide.me Affiliate – 25% recurring commission, free version to promote.
- Le VPN Affiliate – 40% recurring commission, $100 min payout level.
- CactusVPN Affiliate – 25% recurring commissions, $100 min payout level.
- PrivadoVPN Affiliate
Some of the programs listed further above also allow you the option of signing up to their affiliate programs directly through their website rather than through an affiliate network like CJ. Check the footer of their site for an affiliate or partner program link.
Summary – Is It Worth Being a VPN Affiliate?
Breaking into the VPN affiliate market is from personal experience difficult and time consuming, but not impossible. If you have got the persistence and SEO skills to make it work, you can earn some good commissions even staying at the low to mid end of the affiliate market in terms of keywords.
Here’s some key points to remember:
- The space is very competitive
- The top level keywords are taken by the big sites, and small sites are locked out of the SERPs
- It takes a long time to build up to the point you are earning good commissions.
However, if you are persistent, patient, don’t mind tough challenges, and like the idea of breaking into a niche by targeting a whole bunch of smaller, very specific keywords, rather than going for the obvious, large ones, then being a VPN affiliate could be for you, and could be very rewarding once you’ve got traction several years in.
If you start to get commissions from recurring 1/2/3 year VPN subscriptions rolling in in volume after a couple of years, you can start to make serious money. Therefore don’t let the competition put you off if you’re confident in your ability to promote VPNs as a clever solution to a lot of different problems being searched online.