Running a successful affiliate website requires a diverse range of knowledge: technical skills like web hosting and domains, html &css, and using various software like WordPress.
Additionally, understanding how to actually get visitors through search engine optimization, social media, and various forms on online advertising is key. (and of course, you’d probably also like to make money)
That’s a lot manage, but luckily there are great tools to help.
This is an evolving collection of my favorite tools, links, software for webmasters, affiliates and digital marketers to help you compete online.
Used on this Website
Generate Press for WordPress – This site runs on WordPress, and using the Generate Press theme. It’s lightweight, and I recommended it.
Namecheap – I’ve been using them for decade+ to register and manage my domain names, but recently started using their hosting service for this and a family members website. Can’t beat it for the price + reliability. (this site is quick, too)
Canva – Graphic design & photo software that let’s you create images for websites easily. The amount of cannabis icons and photos is larger than any other collection I’ve seen online. Free version available.
SEO & Keyword Tools
When you are just starting out, keyword research & basic on-page SEO is very important, but the tools you need to do this research are often too expensive for new site owners on limited budgets.
I suggest taking advantage of the following free demos available for each of these premium tools:
Ahrefs – Suite of SEO tools with a focus on backlink research and tracking. Pricing is based on seats and starts at $99/mo for one seat. Free accounts let you do a few searches a month and track ranking and backlinks over time.
Does Ahrefs have an affiliate program? Nope, but it’s still my favorite SEO tool.
Wordtracker – Classic tool for gaining insights on keyword search volume. You get a limited number of look-ups per month before getting cut off and needing a paid account. Pricing starts at about $27/mo, but this promo code link will take 25% off automatically.
This is my favorite free tool for quick keyword research. However, it is definitely limited in comparison to Ahrefs or SEMrush for keyword research, even with the full version.
Woorank – Suite of SEO tools. I have limited experience, never trying the full version. But the free website check produces helpful technical recommendations. Slightly cheaper than many of the suite tools on this list starting at about $59/mo per user.
Moz – You can get a limited number of free domain analysis SEO reports each month before you are prompted to sign up. Starts at $99/mo per user. Has free trial.
Sitebulb – Advanced crawler with suite of tools for analyzing website health (broken link checker, HTML structure, etc). Produces useful reports that help identify technical & content issues to improve SEO. Has free trial.
Additionally, here are some completely free online SEO tools that actually work, they are not as advanced or accurate as the above tools, but still worth having a look:
Keyword Surfer – Free Chrome extension that shows keyword research when you use Google Search.
Soolve – Will help do very basic keyword brainstorm research.
Google Search Console – You should be taking advantage of the free reports (like performance report) and help provided by Google Search Console (formerly known as “Google Webmaster Tools”.)
Affiliate Marketing & Lead Gen Tools
Affluent – Affiliate program aggregator, allows you to see all your affiliate accounts from one centralized dashboard. Also offers two-tier commissions from referred affiliates. Integrates with major networks and programs.
Lasso – WordPress affiliate link management plugin. Alternative to Pretty Links and Thirsty affiliate link plugins.
Leadpages – Create sites optimized for sales. Can replace a traditional website, or function as a separate online marketing tool for existing ones.
OptinMonster – Easily create pop-ups and modal windows for capturing subscribers from your existing website traffic to grow your newsletter and social shares.
Ads & Affiliate WordPress Plugins
Ad Inserter – Ad Manager plugin for WordPress with support for almost anything Google Adsense, Banner Ads, Amazon Native, Media.net, etc.
Advanced Ads – Insert ads and banners from any affiliate or ad network including Adsense, Amazon, Awin, BuySellAds, DoubleClick, Booking.com, etc.
Ad Inserter vs Advanced Ads – which is better? I’m looking for something like this or an advanced Search & Replace WordPress plugin that can can insert HTML directly & permanently (not real-time / JS ). Have a recommendation? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks!
Blogs and Other Links
Places I feel safe recommending as credible sources for SEO and online marketing information.
GSQI – Glenn Gabe’s G-squared Interactive is a solid resources for SEO news with a focus on technical issues related to Google Search.
ShivarWeb SEO – Excellent collection of webmaster “how-to’s” clearly written.
Ahrefs SEO Blog – high-quality content, worth a follow.
Answers to common questions and concerns relevant to those new to affiliate marketing and digital advertising in general.
What are the highest paying affiliate programs?
In general, the higher price-tag, the larger the payout. However, there are a few types of products and services that pay exceptionally well.
The competition is fierce in the hosting affiliate niche, but if you already have traffic & want to promote a big-ticket item, hosting referrals can be a nice additional revenue. Check to see if your own host has an affiliate program.
1. Investing / Get Rich Quick – $700 CPAs are common investment & “get rich quick” scheme affiliate programs. These are often courses that promise a “system” that promises huge returns. Even though they are often the highest paying, I suggest staying away from these sort of affiliate programs.
2. Online Casinos & Gaming – Solid CPAs in the $150-$250 per sign-up are available in gambling niches. Revenue-share is also sometimes offered. This is also a very saturated and competitive niche.
3. Subscriptions – Anything with re-occurring billing tends to have higher paying affiliate programs. Digital subscriptions tend to pay more than physical ones — but both types have well-paying affiliate programs. Examples include things like accounting software, VPN services, to physical monthly “box” memberships etc.
4. Loans – Small business loans and personal loans sometimes offer huge CPAs. See services like Kabbage, Gusto paying between $100-250 per referral. Also, check out CJ.com, as it seems to have more finance & loan affiliate offers than other affiliate networks.
5. Website builders & hosting – Many hosting and website builders pay $100-$200+ per sign-up. Have a look at Hostgator or WP Engine (on Shareasale).
6. Mattresses – There are so many mattress affiliate programs out there, and they are all competing for both consumer and affiliate attention, making the payouts attractive around $150 / sale.
Which is the best SEO tool for affiliates?
My top choices for premium SEO tools are SEMrush, Sitebulb, and Ahrefs — all are great products and will greatly help your SEO research and optimization. Even though some of their features overlap, they each have their own advantages.
Personally, I like Ahrefs the best for keyword and backlink research. For technical SEO I really like Sitebulb. SEMrush I find best if you need API support.
How do I find legit affiliate advertising programs?
To start, join affiliate advertising networks to find legitimate affiliate programs that have already been vetted by the network (and generally have deposited money with the network to pay for affiliate sales). Shareasale & CJ are good networks with decades of experience.
In addition, look for niche-specific affiliate programs that have a good track record.
I publish a few lists of niche-cannabis & CBD-specific affiliate programs, and so do other sites. (Though, I’d like to think my lists are the most complete and best 😉 When surfing around other sites for recommendations — be aware that links are sometimes paid for and reviews written manipulatively to get commissions!)