AliExpress and Alibaba are especially popular resources for dropshippers, but AliExpress also has a pretty big affiliate program.
In a nutshell, it isn’t a better alternative than the Amazon Associates affiliate program, despite offering better commission rates on certain product categories. That’s because it isn’t the conversion powerhouse that Amazon is.
That said, it does have many, many products and product categories that Amazon doesn’t.
Particularly in the ‘adult’ niche.
My recommendation: AliExpress is a great place to poach low competition keywords from using an SEO tool like Ahrefs.
And if you’re in a more ‘risque’ niche, it could be a viable affiliate alternative to Amazon.
But head-to-head with Amazon, there’s no comparison- Amazon remains the undisputed affiliate program of choice for the majority of internet marketers.
What Is AliExpress?
According to Wikipedia,
“AliExpress is an online retail service based in China that is owned by the Alibaba Group. Launched in 2010, it is made up of small businesses in China and other locations, such as Singapore, that offer products to international online buyers. It is the most visited e-commerce website in Russia and was the 10th most popular website in Brazil. It facilitates small businesses to sell to customers all over the world. AliExpress has drawn comparison to eBay, as sellers are independent and use the platform to offer products to buyers.”
AliExpress Affiliate Details
- Sign up
- Commission: varies by category, 8.5%-50%
Getting Started With Niche SitesUse the strategies on this page in conjunction with my niche site process. Here it is in a nutshell:
- AuthorityHacker's Authority Site System (my review): a complete, step-by-step system to start growing your own highly profitable affiliate & authority niche site.
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- A reliable and fast hosting solution like SiteGround (my review)
- A brandable domain name from GoDaddy (my guide)
- A premium theme- I use GeneratePress but there are some cool niche themes on ThemeForest
- SEO Friendly Article Writing ($8-$12 / 1,000 words) from HireWriters (read: my HireWriters review)
- Powerful Backlinks from Authority.Builders (read: my Authority.Builders review)
- An automated social media drip campaign from MissingLettr
- An auto-responder to build your email list– ConvertKit is what I'm using (read: my ConvertKit review)
- Finally- you can always refer to my free step-by-step niche selection guide and all of my free niche reports for inspiration
Pros & Cons
- Tons of products- many ‘risque’ products Amazon doesn’t have
- Ships worldwide
- Competitive commission rates
- Has a dedicated plugin
- Doesn’t convert as well as the Amazon Associates affiliate program
- Slow shipping times
- Affiliate reporting can be laggy
Normally I’d publish an interactive Airtable of keyword data for a domain- but too many of the AliExpress terms are X-Rated.
And I didn’t want to jeopardize my Airtable account…
But you can check it out for yourself- just use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to examine AliExpress.com:
You can use this type of keyword research to brainstorm content topics for your website or social media accounts if you’re looking to promote AliExpress as an affiliate.
AliExpress is pretty notorious for selling anything and everything and some of the keywords they rank for are pretty shocking.
I frequently poach keywords from AliExpress because they tend to have really high search volumes and low keyword difficulties. This is because as I’ve touched on- a lot of the keywords are risque and ‘adult’.
Ali Express in a lot of respects is like the X-rated version of Amazon.com. Amazon doesn’t sell many of the adult products that AliExpress does.
So, if I was looking to promote AliExpress, and I’d definitely be targeting some of the weirder keywords that they rank for.
I’m going to keep it PG-13 here though.
One keyword that has a significant search volume and a low Keyword Difficulty score is the term “candy charms”, which gets 13,000 searches a month with a Keyword Difficulty score of zero.
I had no idea what this term meant, the clicking through to the AliExpress website, it looks like jewelry that resembles candy. Obviously, you could create a pretty easy listicle article highlighting some of these candy baubles.
Another funny keyword they rank for is “sling bikini”, which brings to mind what Borat wore as a bathing suit.
You could usually write up an affiliate review or maybe something funnier, highlighting the 20 celebrities who have worn sling bikinis. An article like that would do well on social media and be monetized by display ads.
They also rank for a lot of cosplay terms.
I’ve done a lot of this content myself on my review site, highlighting images of popular cosplay characters along with affiliate links to Amazon where people can buy materials to dress up like the specific cosplay character.
One example is “starfire cosplay”.
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These outfits can be pretty pricey.
A lot of times, though, I think people searching for cosplay terms are looking for images, not shopping for costume materials.
So it makes sense to run ads on cosplay content- I do a mixture nowadays, combining ads and affiliate links.
AliExpress Affiliate VS Amazon Affiliate
In general, AliExpress isn’t anywhere close to being a better alternative to Amazon or, but they will have a lot of products Amazon doesn’t have.
So if you’re in a niche that Amazon doesn’t service adequately, AliExpress could be a decent alternative. Check out the Wish affiliate program for something somewhat comparable to AliExpress. That said, I know a lot of American consumers have never even heard of Ali Express- that will definitely impair your conversion rate if you’re targeting U.S. traffic.
Plus, there’s going to be longer shipping times because a lot of the products are arriving from outside the United States.
Sure, you might see higher commission rates across the board for AliExpress, but Amazon is going to convert 100x better.
Dropshipping VS Affiliate
While promoting AliExpress as an affiliate could potentially be lucrative, you could earn higher margins doing dropshipping.
Personally, I’ve never experimented with dropshipping, but if you’re willing to put in more legwork, you could earn higher returns from the traffic you’re pushing to Alibaba and AliExpress. With dropshipping, you’re going to have to do a lot of manual work, soliciting actual orders from people and coordinating shipments.
Personally, I prefer the passive income approach. You’re pushing traffic to affiliate programs and letting the affiliate programs handle fulfillment.
However, another advantage of doing dropshipping is that if the margins are good enough you can afford to run ads to your website.
With affiliate marketing, especially with Amazon where the commission rates don’t justify it, the margins are generally not good enough to be able to afford to pay for ads. The advantage with ads, you’ll be able to get traffic quickly and potentially scale up a lot faster than waiting for Google to feed your site some traffic.
Especially nowadays with so many Google algorithm updates, if you can figure out how to make paid traffic work, in a lot of respects it’s preferable to the torturous waiting game of search engine optimization.
Plus, there are a lot of costs with SEO: you’re going to need content and backlinks. Both of which can be pricey and at the end of the day there’s no guarantee you’re going to see decent traffic. If you are running ads and buying traffic, at least you’re quickly reaching your target demographic.
And if you get good at running ads and fulfilling drop shipping orders, you can level up and white-label your own products or do fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which means that the products are going to ship faster from the more reputable Amazon brand, increasing your conversion and revenue potential.
Last Updated on March 14, 2021 by Ryan Nelson