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 Cloudways in many guides. I added social proof like the Facebook polls where they were rated #1. 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 (Cloudways) 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
- Ownership – you own your blog, not YouTube.
- SEO Traffic – it takes longer to get SEO traffic to a blog than YouTube.
- SEO Difficulty – the SEO competition in YouTube is often less than Google.
- 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, (though Astra Sites have made it easier).
- Expectations – in your niche, do people prefer watching videos or reading articles?
Start A WordPress Blog (read my guide)
- Domain – GoDaddy or Namecheap.
- Hosting – Bluehost for cheap/slow, Cloudways for good/fast.
- WordPress – what I recommend building your website/blog on.
- Astra Starter Templates – WordPress themes most people are using. They look amazing, are mobile responsive, and are 1-click import. Just install WordPress in your hosting account, login to your WordPress dashboard, and download the Astra Starter Sites plugin. Pick a theme and import it in 1-click, then you’re ready to start customizing your blog!
- Have A Developer On Hand – to this day, I still pay Pronaya (my developer from Bangladesh) to do things I can’t. If it takes him 1 hour but it takes you 3 days to install your WordPress theme, just have him do it. He can be found on freelancer.com with username bdkamol. Here’s his profile link. I’ve been working with him since 2011, so yes, he’s legit.
3. 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’s products/services. Don’t focus on money first, but have it in your plan.
4. Sign up for affiliate programs
Hosting and Amazon are by far the most popular affiliate programs.
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)?
(A place to sign up for multiple affiliate programs and manage them in 1 place).
- ShareASale – WP Engine, StudioPress, WP Rocket, 34,000+ programs total. Easy to get approved, create links, track stats, with a wide range of affiliates.
- ClickBank – LongTail Pro, SeoPressor, more.
- CJ Affiliate – Overstock, GoDaddy, Zappos, Walgreen, Vitamin Shoppe, Verizon Wireless, Under Armour, TurboTax, TJ Maxx, Sears, Samsung, QVC, Priceline, Petco, Old Navy, Office Depot, Office Max, Nike, Newegg, Michael Kors, Intuit, Hotels.com, HelloFresh, Guitar Center, GNC, FedEx Office, AT&T, American Express, Vivid Seats, TeamViewer, Sunglass Hut, Ally Invest, more. Sign up here.
- Impact – ADP, Airbnb, AppSumo, Allstate, 1-800 Flowers, Avon, Constant Contact, Credit Karma Tax, Envato Market, ESPN+, Getty Images, Gravity Forms, Grubhub, Houzz, HostGator, InMotion, iQ, iStock, Kind, Kohl’s, Lending Club, Levi’s, LinkedIn Learning, Namecheap, Shutterstock, Southwest, Squarespace, StackPath CDN, Target, Turo, Uber, Uber Eats, Xfinity, more.
- Rakuten Marketing – Udemy, Walmart, Macy’s, StubHub, Hulu, more.
- FlexOffers – Apple Music, Amore Beds, Mac Cosmetics, Wine Of The Month Club, DirectTV, Skechers, Barnes & Noble, GameStop, SkyScanner, more.
Popular Online Retailers
- Amazon – up to 10% based on categories.
- Ebay – 5 – 7% (roughly) based on categories, only 24 hour cookie tracking.
- Etsy – 4 – 8%.
- Target – 4% in most categories.
- Walmart – 4% in most categories.
- Aliexpress – 3% for electronics, 7-9% for everything else.
- Newegg – 0.5 – 1%.
- Overstock – up to 6%.
- Bluehost – $65 – $150/sale and most popular, but not the best choice.
- Cloudways – $50 – $150/sale and not the most popular, but a great choice.
- SiteGround – $50 – $150+/sale and also popular, but have gone downhill since their price increases, CPU limits, worse support, and endless complaints in Facebook Groups. I used to be a super affiliate for SiteGround, but not anymore.
- WP Engine – $200/sale + bonuses + $50 two-tier program.
- Kinsta – $50 – $500/sale + 10% recurring, but expensive for the average person.
Why I Don’t Promote WP Engine For $200/Sale – WP Engine is $200/sale with no tier program to climb, but their reversal rates are 24%! Cloudways reversals are less than 10%. WP Engine is too pricey and not a great host, meaning less conversions and sales. Nearly every hosting company has an affiliate program. Take into consideration their price, commissions, user-friendliness, speed, support, reputation in Facebook Groups.
- StudioPress – 35% (usually on a $100 sale).
- ThemeForest – 30% of each new person’s first purchase.
- Elegant Themes – 50% on plans ranging from $89 – $250.
*Colorlib already dominates nearly every keyword related to WordPress themes.
- AWeber – 30% recurring (on $19 – $149+ per sale).
- Constant Contact – $105 per sale and $5 per lead (signs up for free trial).
- SEMrush – 40% recurring (on $40 – $160/month).
- StackPath CDN – usually $10 – $20 commission per sale.
- MyThemeShop – 55% ($48 commission – $244 depending on plan).
- WP Rocket – 20% ($10 – $50/sale).
- Freelancer – fee of the project for first 100 days (usually 10% of the project).
- Udemy – 20% on any course.
- Refer WordPress – 20% for wordpress.com, JetPack, and WooCommerce.
- OptiMonster – 20%.
- LongTail Pro – 30% (and 30% recurring) on $219/year – $377/year plans.
- Elementor – 50% of $49 – $199 depending on plan.
5. Learn how the affiliate program works
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.
Affiliate Marketplaces – ShareASale and ClickBank have thousands 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 each website. Many programs aren’t part of a marketplace though. I’m a big fan of ShareASale – there are so many companies and industries you can choose from.
WordPress Affiliate Programs
If you’re in the WordPress industry like me, I have accumulated a solid list of WordPress affiliate programs. I excluded those I found unsuccessful or paid too little to make a profit from, specifically ThemeForest, Creative Market, and low quality themes like Template Monster. These are the programs I would personally focus on depending on what your content is about.
- Bluehost – if your audience is looking for cheap, easy hosting.
- HostGator – if your audience is looking for cheap, easy hosting with coupon codes.
- Cloudways – if your audience is more advanced and looking for faster, better hosting.
- Astra – most popular WordPress themes.
- Elementor – most popular WordPress page builder.
- SEMrush – analytics on keywords, rankings, traffic, etc.
- WP Rocket – #1 cache plugin in Facebook polls to speed up your blog.