If you’ve just signed up to the Hostwinds Affiliate Program, welcome! Whether this is your first experience with affiliate marketing or you’re a seasoned pro, we’re here to help. Need help figuring out how to make your first sale? Don’t know where to find your link or how to use it? Need help optimizing your campaigns for better conversions? No problem. That is what these guides are for.
But we’re assuming that if you’ve found your way to this specific guide, you’re looking for help to get things started. So, that is what this guide will help you do. If you have other questions, please leave them in the comments or get in touch with us. We’re always here to help.
First: Understand Your Audience and What You’re Promoting
Before you start adding affiliate links to your site or referring people to Hostwinds (or any affiliate program you’re part of), you should understand:
- Your readers or who you’re marketing to. Who are they and what are they interested in?
- The product or service you’re promoting. Why is it relevant? What connects it to them?
For example, if you have a blog about coding or web design, you might want to promote dedicated servers or VPS hosting. These services have features that give them room to customize things to their liking and make it easier to handle multiple projects they might be working on.
However, if your blog caters to DIY crafters (jewelry, pottery, paintings, etc…) then business hosting may be all they need. Something stable they can create a small site on to promote and sell their work.
Choose What to Promote and Get Links
Once you understand your audience and have identified services that would be relevant to them, it’s time to get your affiliate links. We have a variety of links to choose from, including text links, banner links and even email links. You can also choose to create your own custom links to send them to any page on our site or use keyword links that make it easier to track your campaigns. Check out this guide for finding and creating the affiliate links you want to use.
Plan Where You’ll Promote Affiliate Offers
It’s important to have a plan. Knowing where you plan to promote your affiliate offers will help you choose the best creatives to use. If you’re going to be using a blog, then using text links within your content is always a good idea. But if you’re going to advertise on a mobile PPC platform, you might want to use banners created specifically for mobile that we have created for you.
Don’t Forget to Include Affiliate Disclosures
An affiliate disclosure is a statement of some kind that lets your readers know you are paid a commission when they purchase through the affiliate links you provide. The FTC requires that this disclosure is made, so it’s very important to include this. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog post on your site or a tweet you send on Twitter (yep, you’d have to fit it into the tweet if you’re using an affiliate link in it).
They don’t provide an exact statement that must be used. You just have to make sure they know you’re in position to be paid if they purchase. How you convey that message is up to you. Just make sure it’s obvious and not hidden away somewhere so subtle that it never gets noticed. It could be a note at the beginning or ending of every blog post. It could be a popup or a message in the sidebar that moves along with the page as they scroll.
Just make sure it’s there and in a way that your readers are sure to notice. If you want to learn more about affiliate disclosures, here’s a great guide on the FTC website you can check out.
Monitor and Optimize Your Links
Once you have everything in place and have traffic flowing through your affiliate links, it isn’t time to just sit back and watch the money roll in. At this point, you should be monitoring your links.
Are certain links getting a lot more clicks than the others? If so, why? Maybe it’s a text link in a blog post that ranks high on Google. It’s probably just getting more traffic. Maybe it’s a mobile banner ad you’ve placed. It may be that more of your readers are using a mobile device.
Is traffic coming through a certain link not converting as well as your other links? Maybe that offer isn’t the best product to promote within that content. As an example using the same context as earlier, maybe you’re sending people to Shared or Business hosting that need more robust hosting options like one of our Dedicated Servers or a VPS.
Monitor your links, creatives, traffic and conversions and always be ready to make adjustments and optimize your campaigns.
Use Text Links (But Not Too Many!)
While we do provide a number of banners that you can use, we strongly recommend considering text links. This is especially true if you already have several banner ads on your site, as many people are affected by banner blindness.
If you’re creating content your readers enjoy and appreciate, add an affiliate link or two right inside that content (just don’t overdo it!).
Cloak Your Links (Make Them “pretty”)
Affiliate links are pretty clunky to look at by default. But this is how to differentiate between normal traffic to our site and traffic that you send. However, they do not have to be ugly! You can cloak your links so they look better (and more natural).
Instead of a link that looks like:
Your pretty link would include your domain and something more easy on the eyes, like:
If you’re using WordPress, there are a number of plugins that help you easily create pretty links automatically. We go over a few on our guide for adding affiliate links to WordPress.
Don’t Expect to Get Rich Overnight
Affiliate marketing can be exciting and very rewarding. But it’s not going to make you rich overnight. There isn’t a magic button you can push to produce a sudden surge of incoming commissions. Well, of course… If you already have a large following, lots of subscribers or tons of loyal fans that trust you then your recommendations go a long way fast. But if you don’t, don’t expect to make $1,000 by next week.
Focus on earning that first commission. Then the next. Understand who your referrals (readers) will be and stay dedicated to providing them an enjoyable experience. Getting started, developing trust and making that first commission is the hardest part.
And never forget you’re not alone! We’re here to help you with any questions you have or problems you run into. Use the help articles in the knowledgebase. Use the tutorials and videos provided to you. And if there is something you can’t find the answer to, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.