If you’re reading Blogging Wizard, I think it’s a safe bet that you’re a fan of blogging. But as fun as blogging is, do you know what’s even more fun?
Earning money from your blog.
No matter how much you love writing, I’m guessing you probably wouldn’t complain at the chance to at least earn a little bit of side income, right?
If so, one of the best ways to monetize your blog is with quality affiliate marketing offers. Technically, all you need to start affiliate marketing is to sign up for some programs, grab your affiliate links, and stick ‘em on your site. Bam! You’re an affiliate marketer.
But you’re not an effective affiliate marketer yet…
To be an effective affiliate marketer, you need the right set of tools. And that’s what this post is gonna help you with – a solid set of affiliate marketing plugins and tools so you can get the best return on your affiliate marketing efforts.
I’ll include plugins to help you manage your affiliate links, display affiliate ads, and add scarcity-inducing countdown timers. Plus, I’ll even show you a plugin that will let you set up your very own affiliate program using WordPress!
Let’s jump straight into the tools…
1. ThirstyAffiliates – Affiliate link track made easy
When you first start out with affiliate marketing, link management is easy. You have a few posts here and there, but it’s nothing a little manual labor can’t handle. Fast forward down the road to when you’re working with hundreds of programs…it can start to get just a little confusing.
So, you definitely need a tool to help you manage your affiliate links. And one of the best WordPress options is ThirstyAffiliates.
ThirstyAffiliates includes a bevy of features to make your affiliate link life easier. First off, it shortens your affiliate links to give you those pretty URLs like “bloggingwizard.com/go/…”. No more ugly affiliate URLs with 30 different numbers appended to the end!
It also uses proper 301 redirections and lets you set global options for nofollowing all of your affiliate links. And you can also choose to make all of your affiliate links open in a new tab.
It also gives you a handy way to add affiliate links to your post. Instead of logging into each individual affiliate program whenever you need a link, you can just use ThirstyAffiliate’s dropdown link inserter (as long as you’ve previously added the link to ThirstyAffiliates).
But perhaps the biggest benefit of ThirstyAffiliates is this:
If you ever need to change an affiliate link down the road, you only need to edit the link once in the ThirstyAffiliate’s interface. Without a link management plugin, you’d have to go through and edit every single post where you used that link!
ThirstyAffiliates Premium Add-Ons
Up until now, all the features I’ve mentioned are totally free. But if you’re a serious affiliate, you’ll probably like some of these add-ons.
First off, you can get the Autolinker extension for $49. It lets you automatically link keywords you use in your posts. So you could set it to automatically add an affiliate link to “SiteGround” every time you mention it (of course – you can also set limits so you don’t have 30 outbound affiliate links in one post!).
There are also other premium add-ons for stats, Amazon affiliate links, geotargeting, Google link tracking, and a CSV importer.
Price: Free for core plugin. Add-ons range from $29-$49. Also has bundles starting at $79.
2. Pretty Link – Affiliate link management with easy split-testing
Pretty Link operates on the same basic principle as ThirstyAffiliates. But it does have some features that differentiate it.
Let’s start with the basics, though. The free version lets you set up pretty affiliate links using your own domain. You can choose to redirect your affiliate links via 301, 302, or 307 redirects. You can also pass parameters to your links.
But here’s where things start getting cool:
You get stat tracking, even in the free version. You can see which links are getting clicked and how often. You can also narrow down your click stats by IP address, location, and more.
You can also add nofollow to links automatically and set up link groups to better organize all of your affiliate links.
Pretty Link Pro
If you opt to pay for Pretty Link Pro, you’ll get a bunch of helpful new features. With it, you can:
- Easily add affiliate disclosures – a must for most promotions.
- Automatically create links
- Redirect users based on their location
- Import and export affiliate links
- Rotate URL redirects with split testing (great for optimizing offers)
- Delay your redirects
- And some other smaller things.
You’ll also get more advanced statistics and conversion reports.
Basically, it gives you a ton more functionality for analyzing and optimizing your affiliate marketing. And you’ll also save time with the automatic link insertion and affiliate disclosure features.
Price: Pretty Link Lite is free. Pretty Link Pro starts at $47 per year.
3. Thrive Leads – Maximize your opt-in form real estate
Managing your links is definitely an important part of being an affiliate marketer. But you know what’s even more important? Actually getting people to click on those links.
That’s what Thrive Leads helps with.
First off, it can help you build your email list. And email lists are a great way to promote relevant affiliate offers.
You can grab new email subscribers with a variety of trigger options and opt-in forms. You can add popup lightboxes, ribbons, in-line forms, slide-ins, and more.
But Thrive Leads isn’t just about list building. See, you can also use those same opt-in options to promote affiliate offers.
And here’s the really cool thing:
You can actually do both at the same time. Thrive Leads has a feature called SmartLinks. SmartLinks detects whether or not a visitor has already signed up to your email list. If they haven’t subscribed, it displays an email opt-in. But if they have, it displays an offer of your choice.
It doesn’t make sense to continue promoting your list to someone who’s already subscribed, so Thrive Leads’ SmartLinks feature is a powerful way to optimize your site and affiliate marketing efforts.
Price: $67 for a single-site license or part of Thrive Themes $228 yearly membership.
4. Thrive Ultimatum – Add global or individual countdown timers
Scarcity is a powerful motivator. No one wants to miss out on a great deal. But if you’re offering something that’s regularly available, how can you add scarcity to your marketing?
With something like Thrive Ultimatum.
See, Thrive Ultimatum lets you add a countdown timer to your WordPress site. You can make your countdown tick down to a set date. So if you create a 3-day campaign, the countdown timer will count down from 72 hours for all of your visitors.
But what if you don’t want your countdown to apply equally to all of your visitors? What if you want each visitor to have their very own countdown timer?
That’s where Thrive Ultimatum starts getting really cool:
You can create something called an Evergreen Campaign. With an Evergreen campaign, your countdown timer has no global end date. Instead, the countdown timer is unique for every single visitor.
So if John Doe visits, he’ll get his very own countdown timer starting at 8 hours. Then if Jane Doe visits the next day, she’ll also get her own 8-hour countdown timer. And best of all, Thrive’s Lockdown feature ensures that even if your visitors switch devices or clear their cookies, their countdown timer will always stay accurate.
So whether you want to run site-wide or individual scarcity campaigns for affiliate offers, Thrive Ultimatum can help you out.
And here’s another nifty thing:
You’re not just limited to sticking countdown timers on your landing page. You can also add countdown timers as floating notification bars or widgets in your sidebar. So as readers move through your site, you can show them synchronized timers across different pieces of content.
You could, for example, start by showing them a countdown timer on your landing page. But then if they browse through to a blog post, you could keep that countdown timer running as a notification bar or sidebar widget.
And you can get even more creative with where they display by only including or excluding countdown timers on specific posts, pages, or categories.
Like most Thrive Themes products, you pretty much have pinpoint control over where and how your countdown timers display.
Price: $97 for a single-site license or part of Thrive Themes $228 yearly membership.
5. WP Notification Bars – Attention-grabbing but unobtrusive bars
WP Notification Bars gives you a simple, unobtrusive way to promote affiliate offers on your site. It adds a simple notification bar at the top of your posts or pages.
While you can use this notification bar for email opt-ins or social profile building, it’s also a good way to add a CTA to an affiliate offer that you’re promoting.
In the free version, you’ll be able to customize colors and positioning. And you’ll also be able to show your notification bar only to Google Visitors or Facebook visitors, which provides you with some helpful targeting options.
But the targeting options get really cool if you upgrade to the pro version of the plugin.
With the pro version, you can choose to show or hide your notification bar depending on targeting criteria like:
- Specific referring URL
- Type of device
- Logged in status
You can also choose to only display your notification bars on specific posts or pages. This offers some really cool conversion-boosting functionality. You could, for example, write a post about an offer and then include a notification bar CTA for that offer only on that specific post.
And if you want another way to add scarcity, WP Notification Bars lets you add countdown timers, though not with the same precision as Thrive Ultimatum.
Nowadays, a lot of affiliate tactics rely on annoying, “in your face” boxes. I like WP Notification Bars because it bucks the trend. You can still push traffic to your offers, but you won’t annoy your visitors.
Price: Free. Pro version costs $29.
6. AdRotate – Manage your display ads and offers
AdRotate helps you display and optimize the ads which you show on your website. While it supports the major publishing networks like AdSense and Doubleclick, you can also use it to display your own ads for affiliate offers. Basically, it’s a full-service advertising management plugin.
In the free version, you can add your own advertisements for affiliate offers. Then, you can add a basic schedule for the ad and choose a specific date range to run it for. You can also rotate it with other advertisements to figure out which offer converts best.
It’s a good basic way to display affiliate offers. But, like with most plugins, the features start getting really cool in the pro version…
With the pro features, you can add more detailed schedules for all of the ads in your rotation. You can also geo-target your ads. And not just to countries, you can even target specific cities if you want!
And while not specifically affiliate marketing, the pro version will also let you accept and manage ads from third-party advertisers. So, you can use the plugin to figure out whether you make more money from promoting affiliate offers or third-party advertisements.
If you have static ad spots on your website, AdRotate is a great option to manage what displays there.
Price: Free. Pro version starts at €29 for a single-site license.
7. WP In Post Ads – Split test and manage affiliate offers in posts
While AdRotate is good for ads anywhere on your WordPress site, WP In Post Ads focuses specifically on…ads in your posts. No big surprise there, right?
WP In Post Ads lets you set up different ads for each post on your site. You can either manually insert ads via a shortcode or just choose a specific position like:
- Above content
- Below content
- After a specific number of paragraphs
WP In Post Ads will also help you split test ads so that you can see which are your top performers. You can either split test specific ads or just set your ads to randomly rotate.
The plugin also lets you hide ads from logged-in users. So if you’re running a membership site or something similar, you could display ads to anonymous visitors but not bother your paying customers.
And finally, it has this feature that I really like:
You can choose to show or hide ads after a specific number of days. For example, you can have your post be ad-free for the first seven days after publishing. Then, once it’s settled in the SERPs, you can start displaying ads automatically.
8. Ads Pro – Manage all of your advertisements
Like AdRotate, Ads Pro is a full-service ad manager for WordPress. That means you can use it to display AdSense, third-party ads, and…affiliate offers.
It comes with a huge number of features to make ad display easy.
First off, it makes sure your ads actually…display. How so? By bypassing ad blockers.
Then, it lets you display your ads in over 20 different ways. You can add them as sliders, sidebars, popups, floating ads, and lots more.
Once you’ve chosen your display method, you can fine-tune when your ads display with geo-targeting options, scheduling, and ad capping. For example, you can choose to only display ads no more than two times per unique visit.
You can also filter ads from displaying on certain categories or tags. So if you want to exclude a certain category of posts from advertisements, that’s no problem.
And once you’ve got those details figured out, it will even help you A/B test your ads to figure out which get clicked the most.
If you’re looking to blend affiliate marketing with other types of advertising, Ads Pro is another great option.
9. AffiliateWP – Recruit affiliates for your products
AffiliateWP is a bit of a 180 from the previous tools. See, instead of helping you promote other companies’ affiliate offers, AffiliateWP actually helps you create your very own affiliate program using WordPress.
Obviously, affiliate programs are a worthwhile option for anyone selling a product or service. But what about bloggers? Why would a blogger ever need an affiliate program?
Because one popular way to monetize your blog is with an online course. And if you’re selling a paid course, you can actually boost your course’s reach by recruiting affiliates to help promote it.
AffiliateWP lets you set up an affiliate program with unlimited affiliates and accurate real-time tracking.
You can provide your affiliates with unlimited creatives and coupons. And affiliates themselves can easily generate tracking links.
When it comes time to make your payments, AffiliateWP helps you generate a payout file so that you can easily figure out what you owe.
If you’re looking for a new avenue to promote your course, product, or service, then you should give serious consideration to an affiliate program. And if you want to create an affiliate program on WordPress, AffiliateWP is for you.
Price: Starts at $99 per year.
Which affiliate marketing plugins should you choose?
You’re by no means limited to just one of these tools. Though there’s some overlap, you can stack most of these plugins to create a lean, mean, affiliate marketing machine. Here are the general categories you’ll want to pick.
Definitely choose between ThirstyAffiliates and Pretty Link for managing your affiliate links. Honestly, unless you need a specific niche feature, I think this choice mainly comes down to preference. Pick the interface that you like best.
If you want to get creative with how you display affiliate offers, Thrive Leads and Thrive Ultimatum allow you to do some really nifty personalized marketing. They let you get deep into targeting and display different offers and countdown timers based on past activity.
AdRotate and Ads Pro both offer powerful functionality for displaying all types of advertising, affiliate marketing included. And WP In Post Ads and WP Notification Bars offer specific types of advertisements if you don’t need all of the functionality included in AdRotate and Ads Pro.
And finally, if you want to create your own affiliate program with WordPress, AffiliateWP is the gold standard. It comes from the same team behind Easy Digital Downloads and Restrict Content Pro, so you know you can trust it.
Now it’s your turn – what’s your preferred stack of affiliate marketing plugins and tools?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we may make a small commission if you make a purchase. This doesn’t cost you any more but it does help us to continue publishing helpful content – thank you for your support!
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