I never thought this would happen to me.
In 2 years I went from making $20k to $80k, and am now hitting about $150k/yr (see PayPal report). I did this by dropping all my clients and tried making money with affiliate marketing.
So what do I do? My about page has my whole story, but here’s the gist:
I write tutorials on WordPress speed optimization while referring people to things like hosting, cache plugins, CDNs, lightweight themes, and other services that offer affiliate programs. Most income comes from Rocket.net / Cloudways (hosting) + FlyingPress / Perfmatters (optimization plugins) which are significantly better than mainstream hosts and cache plugins like WP Rocket.
But there’s one big problem. Affiliate marketing has gotten more competitive. And the amount of bloggers/YouTubers creating affiliate content is insane (people have also become skeptical). So how do you stand out? How do you get people to trust you? I’ll explain all of this.
This guide includes a comprehensive list of 50+ affiliate programs.
$150,000/year did not happen overnight. I was broke for a couple years while creating content. But it literally changed my life… I moved out of my parent’s house into a nice apartment in downtown Denver, bought my first car (a Mercedes c300), adopted 2 kitties, and my credit raised 45 points. I also donated $6k to GoFundMe campaigns and 6k to my parents. I’m a humble dude but in affiliate marketing, the numbers do the talking. Now I have 0 clients and 100% freedom. There’s a lot of BS out there on affiliate marketing – which is why I wrote this.
How to make legit money with affiliate marketing
- Find your niche
- Start a blog or YouTube channel
- Sign up for affiliate programs
- Be careful with Amazon
- Learn how affiliate programs work
- Add affiliate links to content
- Be a “how to start a blog” YouTuber
- Use coupon codes
- Get traffic before sales
- Master SEO
- Create the perfect pitch
- Get involved in Facebook Groups
- Bookmark affiliate statistics in your browser
- Set up email alerts when a sale is made
- Build your community
- Avoid Google penalties
- Monitor conversion rates
- Use an affiliate disclaimer
- Mistakes I Made
- Donate to charity
- Share your story
- Promote Black Friday deals
- 2021 PayPal report
About My Blog
- I write about website speed (and some SEO/affiliate marketing).
- I spend a lot of time in Facebook Groups learning about my industry.
- I try to publish original content and not regurgitated crap like a lot of blogs.
- I have about 3,000 visitors/day, 90% is from Google (I’ll show you some SEO tips).
- It took blogging full-time for several months with minimal income to see results. I’ll bet you 90% of people don’t start because they’re scared their work won’t pay off. Just do it!
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
You partner with a company selling products/services you would like to recommend to your audience. If they buy something using your affiliate link, you get a commission from the sale. There are other types of affiliate programs, but this is the most common and is also what I do.
1. Find Your Niche
My career journey went like this: online marketing > web design > WordPress web design > WordPress SEO > WordPress speed optimization. Now I’m focusing on WordPress hosting.
While I was doing WordPress speed optimization I noticed lots of people needed it, but very few people supplied it (there were a lack of services and tutorials when I researched Google). I also knew hosting was the #1 factor of website speed and hosting companies paid up to $200/sale. Hosting is a competitive space but the commissions and lack of supply enticed me.
I expanded my SEO blog and started writing about hosting, cache plugins, and other relevant topics… while recommending Rocket.net in many guides. I added proof like Facebook threads and performance benchmarks. Each tutorial was super detailed (like this one) and tons of people found them helpful – many get 100+ visitors/day since great content = higher rankings.
Once I found my niche (WordPress speed optimization), a solid hosting company with a high commission affiliate program (Rocket.net) and created tutorials around topics people in my niche would find helpful (and might want to change their host), that’s what got me to $150k.
Once you find a niche with high demand, little supply (do your Google research), and a reputable affiliate with high commissions… and you have patience to wait for financial results while creating your assets (I’m talking about content), you should take the leap!
2. Start A Blog Or YouTube Channel
A blog and YouTube channel are completely different, not just because one is writing and one is shooting videos. But each of them are different in terms of SEO, conversions, time, and the cost.
Blogging vs. YouTube Videos
- Competition – the SEO competition in YouTube is often less than Google.
- Ownership – you own your blog, you don’t own YouTube (or their policies).
- SEO Traffic – it takes longer to get SEO traffic to a blog than YouTube.
- Cost – YouTube is free, blogs require domain, hosting, development costs, etc.
- Content Updates – it’s easier to update a blog post than to remake a video.
- Coupon Codes – YouTube is great if your affiliates let you use coupon codes.
- Time – it takes longer to set up a blog, but starter templates have made this easier.
- Expectations – in your niche, do people prefer watching videos or reading articles?
Start A WordPress Blog
- Domain – GoDaddy or Namecheap.
- Hosting – Rocket.net, Cloudways, or NameHero for the win.
- WordPress – what I recommend building your website/blog on.
- Themes – GeneratePress and Blocksy are solid choices. They use the Block Editor (Gutenberg) which is much more lightweight than Elementor, Divi, and other page builders, yet still easy when you use GenerateBlocks. I built my site in the GeneratePress “Search” theme and am very pleased. Kadence theme is good too but also very expensive.
- Have A Developer On Hand – I’ve been working with the same overseas freelancer since 2011 who has saved me a lot of time when I can’t do things. Here’s his freelancer profile if you need help setting up your website. His name is Pronaya and he’s from Bangladesh.
3. Sign Up For Affiliate Programs
Hosting, Amazon, and affiliate programs related to “making websites” are very popular.
Websites – if you’re in the “how to make a website/blog” industry, I’ve accumulated a list of affiliate programs for WordPress, hosting, themes, plugins, SEO, email, CDNs, and services. Remember that to get approved, some companies require you to be somewhat established.
|Affiliate Program||Category||Commission||Recurring||2 Tier|
|A2 Hosting||Hosting||$55 – $125||x||✓|
|All In One SEO Pro||SEO||20%||x||x|
|Asset CleanUp Pro||Plugins||20%||x||x|
|Cloudways||Hosting||$50 – $150+||✓||✓|
|GreenGeeks||Hosting||$50 – $100+||x||x|
|GridPane||Hosting||1 free month||x||x|
|Hello You Designs||Themes||20%||x||x|
|HostGator||Hosting||$65 – $125+||x||x|
|JohnnyVPS||Hosting||2x monthly price||x||x|
|KeyCDN||CDN||100% of 1st payment||x||x|
|Kinsta||Hosting||$50 – $500||✓||x|
|Long Tail Pro||SEO||30%||✓||x|
|NameHero||Hosting||$50 – $125+||x||x|
|Restored 316 Designs||Themes||20%||x||x|
|Scala Hosting||Hosting||$50 – $200||x||x|
|SiteGround||Hosting||$50 – $100+||x||x|
|SpinupWP||Control Panel||$25 credit||x||x|
|ThemeForest||Themes||30% of 1st payment||x||x|
|TubeBuddy||Other||30% – 50%||✓||x|
|WPX||Hosting||$70 – $100+||x||x|
Affiliate Marketplaces – these have hundreds of merchants to choose from. It’s nice to login to 1 place and check the performance of multiple affiliates without going to each individual portal on their site. Many programs aren’t part of a marketplace though. I use ShareASale and Impact.
|Affiliate Marketplace||Number Of Brands||Popular Brands|
|ShareASale||15,200+||Hewlett Packard, Sears, LovePop, Grammarly, Daily Harvest, NameCheap, WP Rocket, WP Engine, Envira Gallery|
|CJ Affiliate||3,800+||Overstock, GoDaddy, Zappos, Walgreens, TurboTax, QVC, Newegg, Hotels.com, HelloFresh, TeamViewer, Guitar Center|
|Impact||800+||Airbnb, AppSumo, Constant Contact, Envato Market, HostGator, InMotion, Lending Club, Levi’s, Squarespace|
|Rakuten Marketing||50,000+||Udemy, Walmart, Macy’s, StubHub, Hulu|
Other Online Retailers
Do the math – to make $300 in a day, I would need to refer about 2 people to hosting, 10 people to themes, or 30 people to plugins. Before deciding on a program, ask yourself a few questions. I personally have roughly 3,000 readers/day and make about 2-3 sales per day at $150 per sale.
- What commission will you get?
- How many sales will you need per day?
- How much traffic will you need to get those sales (roughly)?
4. Be Careful With Amazon
Amazon’s commissions are based on categories and you’re only making 0-5% unless you’re referring people to Amazon games, Luxury Beauty, or Amazon Explore. Otherwise you will need a lot of sales to actually make a living and will likely need to refer people to big ticket items (video equipment on YouTube is a big one especially if you’re into cameras, lenses, lights, etc).
But be careful with Amazon’s affiliate program.
They have a long history of reducing commissions and writing content that competes with affiliates (and most people go directly to Amazon). I don’t recommend being an affiliate for any monopoly. You could very well end up getting trampled on, like most Amazon affiliates have. However, if you get lots of views, many affiliates are making “how to do something” YouTube videos and listing their equipment in the video description. A million views can make it worth it.
Examples of people making money with Amazon:
How he makes money – at 1m26s he focuses on his video equipment. The video description includes links to geniuslink.com. This is a website that showcases different stores (e.g. Amazon) where people can buy the equipment (using his affiliate links). Genuinely helpful video though.
How she makes money – at 40s you will see the video is sponsored by Skillshare and she also uses an affiliate link in the video description, as well as affiliate links to Amazon for the video equipment she uses. Another person recommending video equipment (that’s a hint for you).
How he makes money – he found a keyword on YouTube “best gadgets on Amazon” which has a lot of searches. People are searching this on YouTube (not Google or Amazon) which means they’re looking for a video review of the best gadgets, otherwise they would have gone directly to Amazon. His Amazon affiliate links to each of the gadgets are found in the video description.
Conclusion: a lot of people are making money by referring people to video equipment they use.
5. Learn How Affiliate Programs Work
One Tier – get a commission when a sale is generated from your affiliate link.
Two Tier – get a commission when you refer other affiliates and they start making sales (think multilevel marketing). An example is WP Engine’s program where I tell my readers about their WordPress hosting, they start making sales, and I earn $50/sale from each sale they generate.
Climbing Tiers – increased commissions as you get more sales.
Recurring Commissions – usually happens with subscription services… you continuously receive commissions as long as people are signed up. AWeber and SEMrush are examples.
Sitewide Commissions – get a commission no matter what people buy on the affiliate’s website. Amazon’s affiliate program does this.
Pay Per Lead – get a commission based on the number of leads (e.g. contact form fill-outs) you send to a business. Be sure to set up your analytics to track this and have a solid, written agreement with your affiliate. You don’t want to spend tons of time and get burned like I have.
Cookies – amount of time after people click your affiliate link you will receive a commission if a sale is generated. Usually 30-90 days but shouldn’t be a deal breaker when choosing affiliates.
Individual Affiliate Programs – affiliate programs that are located on their website.
6. Add Affiliate Links To Content
Step 1: Sign up and get approved. You usually need a decent amount of traffic (or a history of sales) before getting approved. If you have a large following somewhere else (i.e. YouTube), you may be able to convince affiliates to approve you. Otherwise, you need to generate traffic first.
Step 2: Get your affiliate links. Login to your affiliate dashboard and grab your affiliate links. With most individual affiliate programs, they assign you an affiliate ID which you can add to any URL on their website to turn it into an affiliate link. In affiliate marketplaces like ShareASale, they preassign affiliate links but also have a custom link generator. Use these to add deep links.
Step 3: For blogs, install an affiliate link management plugin (I use Thirsty Affiliates) and add your affiliate links here. This lets you organize, track, cloak, nofollow, and add affiliate links.
Step 4: Configure the Thirsty Affiliate plugin settings.
- Choose a link prefix (I use /go/)
- Enable statistics in the “Modules” setting
- Use nofollow + sponsored (recommended by Google)
- Consider Thirsty Affiliates Pro if you want automatic keyword linking
Step 5: Add affiliate links to posts. If you’re using the classic editor like me, use the Thirsty Affiliates button to add affiliate links. When you do it this way, all the attributes you configured in the settings (cloaking, nofollow, sponsored, etc) are automatically added to the affiliate link.
Step 6: Use your affiliate dashboard to track sales, statistics, and get to know your affiliate dashboard because it can be very helpful (especially when trying to increase conversion rates).
Banners – banners don’t work well. They’re easy to throw up, but distracting and probably won’t get great results. If you try them, be sure to show specific sidebar banners based on the type of content people are reading on your blog (for posts that fall under my SEO category I would show a banner related to SEO, and for posts under my website speed category I would show a different banner). You can control sidebar banners using a plugin like Widget Logic.
AdSense – It’s easy to throw up AdSense on your blog, but good luck making decent income. It is NOT personalized whereas affiliate links involve people taking YOUR recommendation on very specific things. AdSense makes your site slower than a turtle. Not good for monetization.
7. Be A “How To Start A Blog” YouTuber
Want to know why this topic is so popular?
- Refer people to hosting = $$$
- Refer people to WordPress theme = $
- Refer people to Elementor products = $
- Total income if one person signs up for all three: $200+
The bad news: the industry and keywords are super competitive.
The good news: the amount of people looking to start a blog is enormous. You just need a slice. Many hosting companies pay up to $150/sale once you start generating a good amount of sales.
People are also searching for how to start a food, fashion, travel, and lifestyle blog. You don’t have to limit yourself to 1 single keyword. Learn about hosting, self-hosted WordPress, and Starter Sites. I could literally start a WordPress blog in 10 minutes. Show people how to do that.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
How he makes money – at 66s, you can see they created their own domain search on their website. When people search, it’s followed by a “get hosting” button which leads to GoDaddy.
How he makes money – he begins his hosting pitch at 4m34s, but at 9m31s he presents his HostGator coupon code which not only saves viewers money, but it credits him for the sale (without people even having to click any affiliate link). That’s why coupon codes are so powerful for YouTubers. Don’t use HostGator though; they’re cheap but a slow/terrible hosting company.
How she makes money – she begins her hosting pitch at 4m48s for Bluehost, but only uses an affiliate link in the video description (no coupon code, no domain search on her website, and no timestamps to help people navigate the video). She could probably increase sales if she did one of these, but Bluehost doesn’t let affiliates create coupon codes so an affiliate link is necessary.
8. Use Coupon Codes
It’s a huge bonus if your affiliate lets you create coupon codes.
Since your coupon code is attached to your affiliate account, you will get credit for the sale if anyone uses it. So in YouTube videos, people don’t even need to click your affiliate link – just give them your coupon code to save them money, and you will get your affiliate commission.
9. Get Traffic Before Sales
One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is focusing on money first.
This is bad for a few of reasons:
- No traffic = no sales
- Most affiliates require you to have some traffic
- Your authenticity is ruined if you’re too salesy from the start
But it definitely helps to have money in mind when you start. That way, once you get traffic and are approved by affiliates, you can easily add affiliate links to blog posts where you already mention your affiliate products/services. Don’t focus on money first, but have it in your plan.
10. Master SEO
Most affiliate marketers get most of their traffic from SEO (or Pinterest which I’ll admit to knowing nothing about). But I do know SEO is a more popular way to get consistent traffic.
The key steps to SEO are:
- Researching a keyword, its search volume, and competition.
- Creating in-depth content that is better than whoever’s in the top results.
- Making content user-friendly (YouTube chapters, table of contents on blog).
- Using your keyword in the right places (title, description, content, video file name).
- Increasing click-through rates (titles, custom thumbnails, Google’s featured snippets).
Researching A Keyword – find a keyword in YouTube’s autocomplete dropdown (or Google Autocomplete for blog posts). You can use the underline character _ to fill-in-the-blank. Broad keywords have more searches but are more competitive. The best keywords are broad (lots of volume) with weak content in the top results. vidIQ helps you learn a keyword’s competition in YouTube and MozBar helps you learn competition in Google. I find the competition in YouTube is much less than Google, so choose broad keywords for videos and specific keywords for blogs.
Review Keyword Examples
- Apple MacBook Pro 16 review
- What is the best WordPress hosting
- SiteGround WordPress Hosting review
Solution Keyword Examples
- How to do yoga at home (recommend a yoga mat)
- Why is my website slow (recommended faster hosting)
- How to connect laptop to TV (recommend an HDMI cable)
Creating In-Depth Content Around Your Keyword – 10+ minutes for YouTube videos and 1,500+ words for blog posts depending on how extensive the topic is. Extensive yet concise! If your content is long, make sure to include timestamps in your video descriptions or create an HTML table of contents for blog posts so viewers can jump to specific sections of your content.
Making Content User-Friendly – the two easiest ways are to use timestamps in video descriptions and an HTML table of contents in blog posts (see below). Get a good camera, invest in good hosting to make your site faster (for blogs), and design nice, crisp graphics using Canva.
Use Your Keyword In The Right Places
For YouTube videos, use your keyword in the:
- File name (before uploading)
- Video title (find a balance between using the keyword and making it catchy)
- Video description (about 2-3 times), the description should be decently long
For blog posts, use your keyword in the:
- Post title
- SEO title (in your SEO plugin)
- Meta description (in your SEO plugin)
- Content body (about 2-3 times, once in the first couple sentences)
Increase Click-Through Rates – for YouTube videos, it’s all about catchy titles and thumbnails. For blog posts, it’s all about a catchy SEO title and meta description (in your SEO plugin), getting in Google’s featured snippets (photo below), and using rich snippets like review stars and FAQs.
Featured snippets can be achieved by answering a question keyword in a very concise way (usually with a paragraph or list from the content). Lists are usually pulled from your table of contents or h3 subheadings. To get a featured snippet for my keyword “how to make money with affiliate marketing” Google will likely use my TOC or maybe (let’s see), this paragraph:
To make money with affiliate marketing, set up a blog or YouTube channel and find relevant products/services to refer your readers to. Sign up for affiliate programs, create affiliate links to products, and add them to your content. Most affiliates rely on SEO or Pinterest to get traffic.
Designing a nice image with your exact keyword helps too!
How To Rank YouTube Videos:
- YouTube SEO relies heavily on engagement signals.
- Find a keyword in YouTube autocomplete with good search volume.
- Research the keyword’s competition by looking at videos’ number of views, likes, comments, and other signals top videos have (vidIQ Chrome extension is great for this).
- Cover the topic extensively – aim for 10 minutes and be concise (scripts/editing)!
- Label the video file (on your computer) as your keyword, and upload it to YouTube.
- Craft a nice title that entices people to click your video, with your keyword in front.
- Write a long description with timestamps, links, and use keyword in first sentence.
- Review the transcript automatically generated by YouTube, then make corrections.
- Upload a custom thumbnail (1280px by 720px) that gets people clicking the video.
- Always respond to comments, and embed the video on your blog if you have one.
- Incorporate your video in your blog, email, social media, other marketing channels.
How To Rank WordPress Blogs:
- Use Rank Math Pro and learn how to use it for schema.
- Use SSL from the start, most hosts have free Let’s Encrypt SSL.
- Choose a fast host + WordPress themes (I like Rocket.net + GeneratePress).
- Use post name permalink structure in WordPress under Settings > Permalinks.
- Create content around keywords from tools like Google Autocomplete.
- Learn about image optimization, internal links, lightweight plugins, OG images.
- Add publish dates to blog articles to make content look fresh and increase CTRs.
- Use multimedia – whether it be videos, infographics, or audio clips – people love them.
- Set up Google Search Console and use it to track rankings, CTR, impressions, etc.
- Make your WordPress site load fast (FlyingPress + Perfmatters are both solid plugins).
11. Create The Perfect Pitch
Mine looks something like this:
Mainstream hosts (like SiteGround, Hostinger, GoDaddy, and WPX) don’t live up to the hype. They skimp out on CPU/RAM, use slower SATA SSDs, and are shared hosting with strict CPU limits which force you to upgrade. Cloud hosting is faster, but Kinsta and WP Engine still use SATA SSDs with low limits on PHP workers and monthly visits which get expensive. Instead of focusing on speed/technology, they do aggressive marketing… don’t fall for mainstream hosts.
For cloud hosting, I recommend Rocket.net (what I use) or Cloudways Vultr HF (what I previously used). Both use Cloudflare Enterprise which makes a major improvement to TTFB between full page caching, HTTP/3, image optimization, and Argo Smart Routing. Both also use NVMe, Redis, and have monthly pricing. However, Rocket.net is definitely faster since you get a lot more resources (32 CPU + 128GB RAM), LiteSpeed’s PHP (faster than Cloudways’ PHP-FPM), and Brotli. There are also no PHP worker limits due to Rocket.net’s free/automatic Cloudflare Enterprise which handles roughly 90% of traffic, resulting in less requests to your origin server. Finally, Rocket.net is easier between their dashboard and A+ support which is even better than Kinsta’s. Cloudways has more bandwidth/storage, but the technology isn’t as fast. One of these cloud hosts + Cloudflare Enterprise + FlyingPress (cache plugin) is the combination I would use.
|WP Engine||SiteGround||Kinsta||Cloudways Vultr High Frequency||Rocket.net|
|Hosting type||Cloud||Cloud||Cloud||Cloud||Private cloud|
|CPU cores||Not listed||4||12||1||32|
|RAM (GB)||Not listed||8||8||1||128|
|Object cache||Redis||Memcached||Redis ($100/mo)||Redis (Pro)||Redis|
|Server||Apache + Nginx||Apache + Nginx||Nginx||Apache + Nginx||Apache + Nginx|
|PHP processing||Not listed||FastCGI||FastCGI||PHP-FPM||LiteSpeed|
|Bandwidth or monthly visits||25,000/mo||5TB||25,000/mo||1TB||50GB + 250,000/mo|
|CDN||Cloudflare||SiteGround CDN||Cloudflare Enterprise||Cloudflare Enterprise ($5/mo)||Cloudflare Enterprise|
|Full page caching||x||✓||✓||Coming soon||✓|
|Argo smart routing||x||x||x||✓||✓|
|CPU limits||Low PHP workers||Very common||Low PHP workers||Average||None|
|Monthly price||$25||$100||$30||$13 + $5 for CF Enterprise||$25|
|Plans||Don’t use||Don’t use||Don’t use||View plans||View plans|
Why Rocket.net’s Cloudflare Enterprise Is Better
Rocket.net’s Cloudflare Enterprise is free, setup automatically, and uses full page caching (unlike Cloudways). And unlike Kinsta’s, Rocket.net has Argo Smart Routing (specifically good for WooCommerce sites), load balancing, and image optimization. Rocket.net CEO Ben Gabler also used to be StackPath’s Chief Product Officer and went as far as building Rocket.net’s data centers in the same locations as Cloudflare’s. And unlike both hosts, Rocket.net doesn’t limit PHP workers (there’s no CPU limits) and monthly visit limits are 10-25 times more than Kinsta’s.
|Cloudflare Enterprise (Kinsta)||Cloudflare Enterprise (Cloudways)||Cloudflare Enterprise (Rocket.net)|
|Full page caching||✓||x||✓|
|Argo smart routing||x||✓||✓|
|Price||Free||$5/mo (1 domain)||Free|
For shared hosting, I recommend NameHero. They use LiteSpeed servers which means you’ll use LiteSpeed Cache + QUIC.cloud CDN (arguably the fastest setup on a budget). It’s similar to Hostinger/A2 with LiteSpeed and cPanel, but you get more CPU/RAM and support/uptimes are better which is reflected in their TrustPilot reviews. I generally recommend their Turbo Cloud plan for $7.38/month which includes 3 CPU + 3 GB RAM and faster NVMe storage. The main con is their data centers are only in the US/Netherlands. If your visitors aren’t close to there, make sure to setup QUIC.cloud which has HTML caching (ideally the paid plan which uses all 73 PoPs).
|SiteGround||Hostinger||GoDaddy||WPX||NameHero Turbo Cloud|
|CPU cores||Not listed||1-2||1-2||Not listed||3|
|RAM (GB)||Not listed||.768 – 3.072||.512 – 2||Not listed||3|
|Server||Apache + Nginx||LiteSpeed||Apache||LiteSpeed||LiteSpeed|
|CDN||SiteGround CDN||Cloudflare Enterprise||QUIC.cloud||QUIC.cloud||Cloudflare Enterprise|
|Full page caching||✓||✓||x||✓||✓|
|CPU limits||Common||Low RAM||Common||At their discretion||Average|
|Cache plugin||SG Optimizer||LiteSpeed Cache||x||LiteSpeed Cache or W3TC||LiteSpeed Cache|
|Email hosting||✓||Limited||Very limited||Limited||✓|
|Major incidents||Google blocked DNS for 4 days||Breach affecting 14M customers||Breach almost every year||Worldwide outage||2 day outage|
|Price||$3-8/mo (1 year) then $15-40/mo||$29/mo (yearly)||$20.83 (yearly)||$20.83 (yearly)||$7.38/mo (1-3 years)|
|Plans||Don’t use||Don’t use||Don’t use||Don’t use||View plans|
Problems with mainstream hosts
I’ve written some pretty bad reviews about SiteGround’s slow TTFB, CPU limits, and why SG Optimizer does a poor job with core web vitals (they also control several Facebook Groups and threaten to sue people who write bad reviews). Hostinger writes fake reviews and is only cheap because you get less resources like CPU/RAM. Kinsta and WP Engine are way too expensive for how many resources, PHP workers, and monthly visits you get. Along with major incidents like WPX’s worldwide outage and SiteGround’s DNS getting blocked by Google for 4 days (both WPX and SiteGround denied responsibility). One thing is clear: most mainstream hosts appear to be interested in profits/reputation over performance. Do your own research before getting advice.
12 things to know about hosting/TTFB
- Hosting is the #1 factor of site speed.
- TTFB is a key indicator of hosting performance.
- TTFB is part of core web vitals and is 40% of LCP.
- TTFB also affects INP (since latency is part of TTFB).
- SpeedVitals tests TTFB in 35 locations – use this tool!
- Test your site 3 times to get accurate numbers in SpeedVitals.
- Doing this ensures your caching and CDN are working properly.
- Check your average TTFB worldwide in your 3rd SpeedVitals test.
- Google flags your TTFB if it’s over 600ms, but under 200ms is better.
- PageSpeed Insights (and other testing tools) only test TTFB in 1 location.
- WP Hosting Benchmark also tests hosting performance (here are my results).
- Combining a good host/CDN is arguably the best way to improve TTFB (using a host with improved specs on top of Cloudflare Enterprise hits 2 birds with 1 stone).
…something like that!
And by the way, Rocket.net pays $150/sale through their affiliate program without having to climb tiers. Ben is also great to work with.
12. Get Involved In Facebook Groups
My conversion rate went from 2.5% to 8% just by including Facebook polls where Cloudways was rated #1, along with a few Twitter screenshots of migration results and conversations from Facebook Groups. Whether it’s Amazon reviews or Facebook polls, you NEED to include unbiased reviews. That’s why I don’t like collecting reviews on my website – they look biased.
People want evidence, not opinions.
There’s a Facebook Group for everything. For me, I mainly use the WordPress Hosting, WP Speed Matters, and WP Speed Up Facebook Groups to keep track of the web hosting industry.
13. Bookmark Affiliate Statistics In Your Browser
Go to your affiliate dashboard(s) and bookmark the “statistic” page so it saves to your browser. This saves time especially if you’re someone who likes to constantly check sales/performance.
14. Set Up Email Alerts When A Sale Is Made
This only works if the affiliate sends you an email when a sale is generated. Any time I make a hosting sale, I get a custom notification on my phone. It is very ENCOURAGING to get these.
Create custom alerts on your phone for affiliate sales – if you use Gmail, go to your settings and create a filter so all emails with “SiteGround Affiliate Sale Generated” in the subject line go into their own folder (tweak the subject line to match whatever email notification your affiliate sends you). Then set up a custom alert on your phone using the Gmail app so whenever you generate a sale, you get a custom alert (here’s a tutorial for Android and here’s one for Apple). I have different notifications for Rocket.net, Cloudways, others. It makes your day a little better :)
15. Build Your Community
Respond To Comments – some of my articles have 400+ comments. It’s hard to keep up sometimes but this is a key part of building a community and allowing readers to ask you questions and leave their feedback. You should especially respond to YouTube comments because they are a ranking factor and encourage even more people to leave more comments.
Build That Newsletter – I use Mailchimp and can’t stress how important it is to build your email list from the start (it’s free until you reach 2,000 subscribers). Once you create an account, add an email sidebar on your blog or create a dedicated newsletter page where people can sign up.
Be Open, Not Salesy – I hold back zero information on my blog, don’t recommend anything I don’t truly believe will help my readers, and try my best not to recommend hosting on every single post I write (only where it makes sense). Valuable information first, affiliate sales after.
16. Avoid Google Penalties
- Follow Google’s guidelines for affiliate marketing.
- Avoid short, thin pages that offer little value to readers.
- Don’t always list affiliate products first – Google knows!
- Don’t overuse affiliate links in your posts, drop them where it counts.
- Avoid too many “list posts” where you just list a bunch of affiliate products.
- Write an affiliate disclaimer (you’ll see mine at the very bottom of my blog).
- Consider writing a review of your affiliate’s product/service and linking to that post (instead of using an affiliate link) to reduce the amount of affiliate links on your site.
17. Monitor Conversion Rates
The way you endorse a product or service and the social proof behind it (Facebook polls or maybe reviews from other customers) are the main reason I was able to go from 2% to 8%+. If you don’t see these in your affiliate dashboard, use Thirsty Affiliate’s pro version to see them.
This is from 2017 when I started hitting it hard. Look at that CR (conversation rate) increase!
18. Use An Affiliate Disclaimer
19. Mistakes I Made
In my Google Analytics graph you’ll see a sudden drop in traffic followed by a long flatline in 2015/2016. These were pretty tough years for me and I hope I can save you from making a few bad mistakes I made, which resulted in years of financial hardship. Here are a few simple tips.
- Don’t hire a sketchy link builder to boost rankings.
- Get links from great content or hire someone who knows what they’re doing.
- Don’t skimp on a free WordPress theme, cheap hosting, or use bloated plugins.
Don’t set a goal to write 3 blog posts a day… set a goal to write 1 blog post a week and make that post super helpful, long, and filled with information that is so valuable you will say “yeah, people will link to that.” 90% of my traffic/affiliate income comes from just 20 tutorials, many of which are 5 years old, but I constantly update content to make it better.
20. Donate To Charity
Once you’re financially stable, I hope you start giving back. It feels good and people like the idea of supporting a good cause (they will be more likely to click your affiliate link). This also means you don’t have to use as many links in your content. In total, I have given $6,000 to GoFundMe campaigns and $6,000 to my parents who let me live in their house while I worked on my blog.
Feels good to give back :)
21. Share Your Story
This is now the #1 visited post on my blog! I knew I could outrank all the fakes.
22. Promote Black Friday Deals
Many companies have Black Friday + Cyber Monday deals (usually for about 2 weeks) and you can easily make 3x your normal sales during this time if you promote it right. I’ve made $2,000 in a single day during Black Friday season. You can make a “Deals” page but what I like to do is use the Better Search Replace plugin to bulk update all pricing screenshots to a screenshot of each company’s new Black Friday prices. Then when Black Friday is done, I just run another search/replace to change the screenshots back. Doesn’t take much time, but it’s very effective.
23. 2021 PayPal Report
Most affiliates pay through PayPal but some of them pay directly through your bank (ShareASale, Impact, many affiliate networks). Nonetheless, I added these for the skeptics.
A few months from 2021:
I made almost $400,000 with SiteGround before I stopped promoting them.
Got affiliate of the month back in July, 2017 :)
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is when you refer people to products or services from a merchant who agrees to give you a commission when a sale is made through your unique affiliate link.
How do I make money with affiliate marketing?
The most common ways are to set up a blog or YouTube channel, grow your audience, then sign up for affiliate programs that make sense to refer your viewers to.
How fast can you make money with affiliate marketing?
It can take anywhere from a couple months to several years to make consistent money with affiliate marketing. It depends on your ability to drive traffic, build trust, and successfully promote your affiliates.
What are the highest paying affiliate programs?
Web hosting programs like Rocket.net, Cloudways, WP Engine, and Bluehost typically pay $150/sale once you start making a lot of sales. That's why the space is so competitive.
Is affiliate marketing passive income?
Affiliate marketing income is not 100% passive income. You still need to create content, keep content current, and adapt to your industry while monitoring sales and conversions.
How much money can you make with affiliate marketing?
Some affiliates make a couple hundred dollars per month while other super affiliates make $10,000+ per month. You will get there quicker if you make it your full-time job and create awesome content on a consistent basis.
How do you get paid in affiliate marketing?
Most affiliates get paid through PayPal or directly to their bank account. Typical affiliate programs make payouts each month or once you reach a specific amount in commissions.
How can beginners make money with affiliate marketing?
If you're a beginner, you can make money with affiliate marketing by setting up a YouTube channel and teaching people how to start a blog while referring your audience to hosting. This is the most popular way beginners start making money.
What are the best affiliate programs to make money?
Amazon and hosting companies are two of the best affiliate programs to make money. Amazon is the most popular online retailer, and hosting affiliate programs offer some of the highest commissions. Bluehost, SiteGround, and HostGator are a few examples.
How do I make money with affiliate marketing without a website?
Setting up a YouTube channel is the easiest way to make money with affiliate marketing without a website. It's free, easy, and you can start creating videos instantly. Once you grow your audience, sign up for affiliate programs and promote products on your channel.
Is affiliate marketing worth it?
Yes, affiliate marketing can be well worth your time. But you need to have a plan on where you will promote products, which companies and products you will promote, and a strategy for getting traffic. Traffic is where most affiliate marketers fail.
How do YouTubers make money with affiliate marketing?
Most YouTubers add affiliate links in the video description or mention promo codes in their video which credit them the sale.
Final Thought: It’s A Long-Term Investment
This is the 1st car I have EVER purchased myself at age 29 (I was broke until then and leased from my parents). But the time committed to affiliate marketing and creating great tutorials and YouTube videos was worth it… I work for myself, there is virtually no limit on how much I can make, my schedule is flexible, and I collect enough passive income to live the life I want.
If you have any questions or need help getting started, I am more than happy to help with whatever I can. Just leave a comment below and I promise to respond as soon as I can! Best of luck in your affiliate marketing journey and I genuinely hope this tutorial was super helpful :)