23 Free WordPress Plugins for Affiliate Marketing
Running a blog is a rewarding project for many writers. But wouldn’t it be great to increase those rewards by making a little (Or a lot!) of money?
After all, writing articles and posts takes a huge amount time, and many bloggers give up any hope of ever being paid for those hours. That needn’t be the case. Many businesses benefit from healthy affiliate income. And there’s no reason you can’t do the same thing.
It’s incredibly easy to tweak your blog so that it earns cash on the side, passively. That’s particularly true if you use a platform like WordPress. Just install a plugin or two, and watch the clicks and commissions start to build overnight. Lots of bloggers turn their websites into secondary income streams using exactly this method, while a small number even quit work and start blogging as a full-time job.
Many WordPress affiliate plugins can be up and running within an hour, and they’re flexible enough to serve almost any niche. Forget toiling over your keyboard without any financial gain. It doesn’t have to be that way; monetizing your blog takes just a few minutes.
Affiliate Marketing Introduction
If you want a fast monetization method, affiliate marketing is the most logical place to start. Using a WordPress plugin, you can invite an ad network to automatically place ads on your site.
WordPress affiliate plugins help to automate the process of placing ads, and can reduce errors in your advertising code. This makes it more likely you’ll be paid accurately.
Additionally, the plugin seeks out relevant images and manufacturer-approved descriptions, so that most of the hard work is done for you. All you have to do is decide how you’re going to blend the affiliate content with your own.
How Affiliate Payouts Work
Before you install an affiliate plugin on your blog, you need to understand whether it’s worthwhile, and that means understanding the terms and conditions of each program.
Ad networks use different systems to measure ad response, impressions, and payouts:
- CPC: Cost Per Click. You get paid a small fee each time someone clicks on an ad.
- CPI: Cost Per Install. You get paid every time someone installs software that you promote.
- CPA: Cost Per Action, or Cost Per Acquisition. You get paid each time someone completes a goal. This might be a purchase, an ebook download, or a newsletter sign-up.
- CPL: Cost Per Lead. You get paid for a click that results in an inquiry, such as the completion of a contact form.
- CPS: Cost Per Sale. You get paid for a confirmed purchase.
- CPM or CPT: Cost Per Mille, or Cost Per Thousand. You get paid for every 1,000 ad impressions.
Setting Up the Program
Operating as an affiliate means you get paid according to the referrals you make. But don’t make ads the sole focus of your project. Focus on creating the same great content that you’ve always created, and the affiliate links will naturally look appealing to your visitors.
In order to track the results, and ensure you get paid exactly what you’re owed, there are a few checks you’ll need to make:
- Your visitors must ideally have cookies enabled. Some networks track using other methods, but if cookies are enabled, that’s your safest bet.
- Your referral code, or plugin, needs to be correctly installed and configured.
- The ad network must have accepted you into its program. Sometimes, networks will check out your site to ensure your content is of a good quality.
- Your WordPress install, and plugin code, must be up-to-date, and compatible with each other. An old plugin may not play nicely with a new version of WordPress (and vice versa).
If you fail to install the plugin correctly, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on affiliate payments. Make sure that visits are tracking correctly, both in the plugin and on the ad network site. Also ensure your account has been activated or approved by the network. Simply installing the plugin might not be enough to get paid.
Finally, remember that networks have fraud detection systems in place. You’ll only be paid for genuine referrals. Attempts to game the system could result in your site being blacklisted.
23 WordPress Affiliate Plugins
If you’d like to place affiliate content on your self-hosted WordPress website, there are plenty of networks, publishing platforms, and partners you can work with. Many of these will pay you a revenue share, based on the commission they earn. In return, you can get started almost immediately, without signing up to many different ad programs.
Many of these networks allow you to manually paste code snippets into your theme, without a plugin. The plugin just makes implementation easier.
- Adf.ly: shorten links using Adf.ly, and you’ll earn half of the commission every time someone visits a URL. Adverts are displayed as a splash page. The program is based on CPM, and the minimum payout is $5.
- Adgoal: automatically embed affiliate links into your blog using this plugin. Participate in more than 60 different networks without signing up to each one individually.
- AdQuire: this embeds ads after a conversion has taken place. For example, you can embed an ad after a purchase, or after someone has signed up to a newsletter. AdQuire can only be used in the US.
- AdRotate: this popular plugin lets you place ads in your theme, without editing any templates. The premium version adds geo-targeting and ad blocker management.
- AdSense: this plugin is the official Google AdSense plugin for WordPress. It allows you to embed AdSense ads within a self-hosted WordPress blog, without the hassle of embedding code into your templates. The plugin suggests the places where ads would work best, and allows you to exclude certain pages from the program.
- AdSwallow: bring text and image ads into your WordPress blog, based on keywords detected in your content. The minimum payout is $25 for PayPal.
- Amazon Product in a Post: many bloggers use Amazon’s affiliate program to earn money from clicks to the Amazon website. This plugin automates that process, and allows you to embed a product in a blog post or page, pre-formatted with Amazon’s key metadata.
- Brid: upload and monetize your own videos. Earnings are calculated on a CPM basis. Revenue is split 60/40 in your favor.
- Chitika: embed AdSense-compatible Chitika ads within your blog posts. Payments are sent on a Net 30 basis.
- Content Egg: search and embed multimedia content from different affiliate platforms, including Amazon, Commission Junction Links, and Affili.net coupons. You can upgrade to the paid Pro version for more platforms.
- Greenapp: promote apps on your blog, and get paid when people install them. Comissions are based on a CPI model. You can choose the apps you want to promote, and the minimum payout is $100.
- Infolinks: this plugin uses a combination of techniques to display ads on your blog. It also scans your content for keywords to improve ad relevance.
- LinkPizza: automatically replace links on your blog with affiliate links. Program members keep 80% of the earnings from your ads. The minimum payout is €25.
- MageNet: this displays blog ads based on categories. MageNet automates the process of placing and removing ads, but you can retain control over the fees you charge. Withdrawals are via PayPal only.
- Mobiright: automatically insert ads into the mobile version of your WordPress blog, without placing them on your desktop site. Payments are calculated using CPA, CPM and CPC.
- PepFeed: if you want to monetize a tech blog, PepFeed could be a useful option. It automatically scans your content for tech-related content, and displays relevant products from Amazon.com in the sidebar.
- RainbowTGX: Italian advertising network that allows you to place ads on your blog using widgets, or within the page content.
- RoundCloud: any WordPress website can join the RoundCloud program and display ads on the site. Earn money via CPC, CPS and CPM when you display banner ads on your site.
- Shorte.st: this is a link shortener that redirects people to an ad whenever they click a link. That means you can monetize external links, but without disrupting the layout of your blog itself. The plugin is tailored to English and Spanish speaking countries. Money is paid on a CPM basis.
- Skimlinks: automatically convert your links into affiliate links to earn money. The plugin converts links on your blog, and in your RSS feed.
- Videe.tv: embed videos into your blog, and earn money when they are played. The install takes 15 minutes, and you can choose from 20,000 videos. The minimum payout is $50, and payouts are determined using CPM.
- VigLink: this plugin automatically monetizes links on your website. You earn 75% of the commission that’s generated when someone clicks and buys.
- Zoomd: monetize the search box on your website. This plugin places ads next to search results.
Before you go to the trouble of installing any of these plugins, take a look at the program terms and the pricing model. It’s also a good idea to look at screenshots so you understand how the ads will be displayed.
Affiliate Marketing Tips
Every time you add a new plugin to your WordPress site, you’re adding a new chunk of code that needs to be loaded each time a page is viewed. It’s not a good idea to overload any WordPress site with plugins, and this is particularly true when you’re pulling in content (like affiliate marketing banners) from third party websites.
So when choosing a plugin, stick with one network initially, and then experiment with more once you understand the impact on your site speed and blog layout. A slow site that’s loaded with ads will eventually raise a red flag with Google, and your users probably won’t enjoy the slow speeds either.
Remember, too, that a poorly written blog with ads won’t earn any money. Your content still needs to be good enough to attract readers and shares, otherwise all the ads in the world won’t make you any money. Google is keen to see sites prioritize good quality content over ads, and large numbers of ads may even trigger a penalty, particularly if they are placed at the top of a page. It’s wise to exercise a little restraint and spread adverts evenly, to avoid making a page “top-heavy.”
You can have a successful blog that makes no money at all, or a successful blog that helps pay the bills. As long as your content is of a high quality, the choice is yours.
All of these WordPress plugins offer a convenient, speedy route to making money — taking very little time to set up. Even if you don’t want to embed large ads in your posts, there are plenty of more subtle alternatives that work just as well.
So: research the network or plugin you plan to use, and stick to one or two plugins. Keep the quality of your content high, and regularly check that your site speed is still healthy. Over time, your blog could go from being a great hobby to a part-time job — or more.