Why Hosting Affiliate Programs?
With so many niches out there, why would an affiliate marketer want to focus on promoting hosting products? Well I can think of three very good reasons …
- They pay very well — hosting companies are some of the best paying commissions. They are one of the few niches that “pay it forward”. Take WP Engine, if you can refer a visitor to WP Engine and they buy the $35/mo starter package — you get $200. To get $200 from Amazon Associates you would likely need to sell $5000 worth of products! At the other extreme, you have Liquid Web who pays as much as $7,000 for enterprise hosting sales.
- They are a critical need for every company — Literally every business needs hosting. The opportunities are endless.
- It is evergreen — People don’t just buy a hosting plan never to upgrade. New projects, new companies, new applications, growth, all demand new hosting plans.
Oh and one more reason … YOU need a hosting plan! So find a great one and promote it. That is the perfect start … marketing hosting affiliate programs. We also have an article on selecting a hosting plan for your affiliate business.
So there are many reasons to promote hosting plans. In fact, so many reasons that most of the top affiliates and influencers are hosting affiliates. There are a number of companies with in-depth authority content for all aspects of hosting.
It is very competitive but with a good strategy, you definitely make some good money.
Let’s take a look.
What Makes a Good Hosting Affiliate Program
Like any affiliate offer, you must believe in the product and it must be a good fit for your audience. The second issue, of course, is who pays well. The good news is there are many companies that fit both criteria. The bad news is that the fact that hosts pay so well is not a secret. Consider … Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income, per his income reports, made $27,650 from Bluehost affiliate commissions — in one month!. That’s a nice payday. But this is also what makes it hard. Few sites can go head to head with Pat Flynn for SEO traffic. Then you have lots of grey hat types with PBNs after the big payouts of hosting programs like Bluehost.
Hosting affiliate programs are very competitive. The hosting companies pay so much that the big affiliate marketers and influencers are attracted to the industry. It is also an evergreen industry with new servers and upgrades in constant demand. To compete for any SEO traffic you will need to understand the basics of hosting configuration so that you can fine-tune your keyword research and content marketing.
16 Best Hosting Affiliate Programs
All of the hosting companies below are industry leaders. You may be able to find a few better paying hosting affiliate programs in second-tier providers. I have no interest in promoting second-tier providers.
Hosting companies pay so well they must pay close attention to fraud and abuse. Of course, cookie stuffing and other technical tricks are not allowed. But almost all hosting companies will not allow coupon sites, rebates or any advertising with those and similar keywords.
Cookie length: 90 Days
Sign up link: In-house Affiliate Program
A2 has an interesting affiliate program. They pay on a sliding scale based upon your monthly performance.
- 1-10 Sales = $85
- 11-20 Sales = $100
- 21-30 Sales = $120
- 31+ Sales = $140
There payouts are very generous relative to their plan costs.
They have a two tier affiliate program. You can have new affiliates enroll in the A2 affiliate program from your link. Once accepted that affiliate gets the regular commissions on their sales and you get a $5 override. Not quite as exciting as the WP Engine $50 payment but still a nice bonus.
A2 Hosting has an affiliate dashboard called iDevAffiiliates. Part of the dashboard is a full array of marketing tools. From banners and text ads to videos.
Cookie length: 90 days in-house, 120 days at CJ
Sign up link: You can join at bluehost.com/affiliates or CJ
Bluehost is best known for having good pricing (though the shared hosting is only billed annually). They also have a very high-quality product and support group.
The affiliate program pays a flat $65 per sale. This is great for the entry products low end-user price. They have an undisclosed performance bonus for over-achiever so if you start selling 5+ per month, drop them a note with your business growth plan for their product. You may get an increase or at least have started a dialog.
It is a strong brand with high conversions and low reversal rates. A solid performer.
Full Review: Bluehost Affiliate Program Review
Cookie length: 90 days
Sign up link: Cloudways In-house Affiliate Program
Best known for their cloud-based easily provisioned servers. Cloudways is well respected by developers and other technical audiences. They have a flexible commission structure for affiliates with a choice of one-time payout of $50 or $30 and 7% recurring for the entry product. They have a handy little commission calculator to help you decide which program is best for you.
With Cloudways you can select the Cloud provider something the technical visitors to your site and content will be attracted to.
They do a good job with marketing resources including email funnels, newsletters, banners, benchmark information and more.
Cookie length: 45 days
Sign up link: DreamHost in-house Affiliate Program
Dreamhost pays well and has a strong product – so they made the list. They were PC Mags “Editor’s Choice” winner 4 years in a row. There does seem to be a shortage of enthusiasm in their program but it may just need better marketing.
They do have a good basic action plan for making hosting affiliate sales that is worth a read.
Cookie length: 120 Days
Sign up link: FatCow In-house Affiliate Program
FatCow pays well but i would not focus on their lowest end product as that only pays $25. Focus on the VPS and downsell the standard shared and why that is so much better than the Cheap Sheep plan.
|Product||Your FatCow Affiliate|
Program Commission (USD)
|Limited Time Only|
$9 “Cheap Sheep” Plan
FatCow is also very inclusive geographically. They make a point to have payment options and be receptive of affiliates “no matter where yoy live”
Cookie length: 90 Days
Sign up link: Flywheel In-house Affilaite Program
Flywheel is another well regarded WordPress managed hosting company. They have a focus on freelancers and agencies and use Google Cloud for their infrastructure.
They pay affiliate well at 300% (3X) the first month’s payment from your referral. They cater to webmasters and designers with clients. A nice feature is that if you build a demo site in your Flywheel account and transfer it to your client who subscribes to Flywheel – boom you get paid. They boast “tons of creative assets. And they even offer to collaborate with you if you want to make some co-branded campaigns. They have deep-linking a wide content library to leverage with your campaigns.
If you have freelancers or agencies and other creative types in your audience Flywheel is a good fit.
Cookie length: 60 days
Sign up link: GreenGeeks In-house Affiliate Program
GreenGeeks is in a slightly different part of the hosting community. They focus on having environmentally friendly and low impact as possible data centers and hosting infrastructure. If you are marketing to environmentalist, yoga groups and other overlapping audiences, GreenGeeks is a nice addition to your affiliate mix. GreenGeeks has paid out $3.5 million in affiliate commissions. They pay based on monthly performance.
1 sale ………. $50
2 sales ……….. $60 /each
3 sales ………. $70 /each
4 sales ………. $80 /each
5 sales ………. $90 /each
6+ sales ………. $100 /each
I like this plan as it incentivizes even small incremental performance increases.
Cookie length: 60 days
Sign up link: HostGator at Impact Radius
Who hasn’t heard of HostGator? They are a well know and trusted brand. Though I associate them with shared hosting, they have a complete lineup of offerings. From inexpensive shared hosting to dedicated servers. And an excellent support group behind them.
The HostGator affiliate program is managed at ImpactRadius. The payments are tiered based on your monthly performance:
- 1-5 Signups $65/per sale
- 6-10 Signups $75/per sale
- 11-20 Signups $100/per sale
- 21+ Signups $125/per sale
This is a great plan to build a campaign around. Focus your efforts on one product — HostGator. This is more effective than a bunch of roundup posts without a campaign and funnel.
Cookie length: 90 days
Sign up link: Inmotion Program at Impact Radius
InMotion is often considered the best combination of price and performance. They are always on everyone’s list when selecting a new hosting plan so they should be on your affiliate marketing list as well.
They pay a $50 minimum commission for hosting plan sales. They have been at this a while and really have their act together with:
- Deep Linking to any page
- Custom Landing Pages
- Referral Bonus
- Ads, Banners, videos, guides to help you
- Great affiliate dashboard
Cookie length: 120 days
Sign up link: Ipage in-house Affiliate Program
Ipage is a solid lower cost hosting company. If you have a young or otherwise just starting out audience the lower prices may convert well for you. And the payouts to affiliates are great fro such a low-cost purchase.
They have lots of promotional banners and ads for you to work with. The Ipage appeal however is the low cost of entry for a solid shared plan.
Cookie length: 60 days
Sign up link: Kinsta In-house Affiliate Program
Kinsta is like WP Engine. They are a fully managed WordPress host. They emphasize their relation with Google and use the Google Cloud Platform for their infrastructure. They are a high-performing, white glove support, WordPress host that lets their customers focus on content not tech.
The affiliate program has some very interesting parts that make it one of the strongest payers. You are paid based on the plan of your referral purchases. You will be paid:
- Starter plan – $50
- Pro plan – $100
- Business plans – $150
- Enterprise plans – $500
You also get a 10% recurring commission!
There are banners, videos, logos, guides, and lots more supporting marketing material.
it really is a great program and a great product. If you are marketing to non-technical small business owners it is ideal.
Cookie length: 90 days
Sign up link: Impact radius or Commission Junction
Liquid Web is my current host for my main server. When I tell colleagues this I often get scolded for over-paying. Liquid Web does not take part in the race to the bottom for lowest priced shared hosting or really cheap VPS hosting. I am likely one of their smallest customers at $125/mo. What I like about Liquid Web is the support. I managed many sites of my own and customers. I need quick 24×7 chat support that resolves things right away. Liquid Web pushes my buttons. I also want to market high-end hosting affiliate plans. When dealing with companies, the slight premium for Liquid Web is a low priority issue.
The Liquid Web affiliate program pays up to $7000. I have not personally received this but I am trying! The payment rate is simple, $150% of customers monthly bill. So me as one of the smallest accounts, my plan would generate a $187 commission – nice!
Full Review: Liquid Web Affiliate Program Review
Cookie length: 60 days
Sign up link: SiteGround In-house Affiliate Program
SiteGround is one of the pillars in the hosting world. They been around for over 10 years and have a solid brand and reputation.
There commission is designed to encourage focus and performance. You are paid on a sliding scale:
- 1-5 Sales $50/sale
- 6-10 Sales $75/sale
- 11-20 Sales $100/sale
- 21+ Sales – Custom Commissions
This is ideal for people who want to do large campaigns with an ad budget. Create some great content, buy some advertising, direct the lead to your SiteGround campaign funnel, retarget the visitors.
They also play very nicely with a very short 30 day withholding period and weekly, no-minimum payouts.
They know how to take care of their affiliates so reward them with some traffic and you will earn.
Cookie length: 30 days
Sign up link: Wix In-house Affiliate Program
Wix is a bit of a bonus entry on the list. They are not a hosting company in the traditional sense. They are a site-building cloud application.
Most people are familiar with the Wix. They have a huge advertising footprint and market to a broad target market. If you have people with no technical capabilities or interest, Wix may be a good fit for your audience.
The Wix affiliate program pays the same regardless of the program selected. I would focus on teh low-end products which will convert more impulse buyers.
Full Review: Wix Affiliate Program Review
Cookie length: 180 days
Sign up link: ShareASale WP Engine
WP Engine is probably the best known of the managed WordPress providers. I have used them a few times and it was always an easy experience. I would try to describe their support but I never needed them. That is telling.
The affiliate program is a strong one and coupled with the brand awareness makes WP Engine an easy choice in hosting affiliate plans. The best part … they pay $200 per new customer. Even someone paying the $35 a month lowest plan. Get paid $200 for closing a $35/month sale. Now that should be easy selling.
Full Review: WP Engine Affiliate Program Review
Cookie length: 60 days
Sign up link: WPX In-house Program
WPX is a Managed WordPress hosting company that is known for their outstanding performance. Mathew Woodward a well-know blogger (and affiliate) did a recent suite of tests that put WPX on top.
They have a very personal touch to their affiliate program and provide lots of custom support and collaboration including:
- Custom Landing Pages
- Custom Promo Codes
- Custom Banners
- CEO Interviews
Usually these types of co-marketing efforts are reserved for the super-affiliate types. But WPX makes an effort to push further down the partner food chain – nice.
They have a tiered payout system based on your monthly performance. I do wish the second tier started at a lower threshold::
- 1-25 $70 per sale
- 26-100 $85 per sale
- 101+ $100 per sale
How to Market Hosting Affiliate Programs
You really need to do some solid keyword research to succeed in the hosting affiliate space. There is a lot of competition from sites with quite a bit of authority. Hosting is not a new product or industry that you can be a first-mover in. The head keywords are just not worth targeting. Look at a head keyword like “Best Web Hosting” with 15k searches per month it is often searched. It may have 15k searches a month but there are 85k articles with that keyword in the title. You will not be able to cut through that noise.
With so much competition here are some strategies to consider:
Longtail keywords — Look for less competitive long-tail keywords. Comparison articles often work well like, “Bluehost vs. Inmotion” or maybe an article comparing VPS hosting performance to dedicated servers. The idea is to build a collection of content focused on less competitive terms, gain authority in the topic and then you can attack the more competitive keywords. You may even want to consider KGR keywords when you are starting out. Even these keywords are likely more competitive than they appear. You are going to need to remember it is called “content marketing” For these types of hi-paying competitive niches you will need to market your content. For new posts, consider; social media announcements, relevant Quora link, Infographic, backlink outreach, etc.
Promote using Social — Get creative with social. Join groups where hosting recommendations come up, be helpful and provide links only where not spammy. If you have a good experience talk about it.
Promote to your audience via email — This is a place to focus. These are your warm leads and you aren’t competing with thousands of other hosting affiliates with your content. Create a white-paper or infographic with lots of valuable info in it. Give this in return for an email. Then put these subscribers in a sales funnel for hosting affiliate programs. Continue to send great info and eventually send these now warm leads the affiliate links. Segment your email list for hosting offers. Send new pricing programs and deals. You want to constantly be front of mind for them when they do decide to get a hosting plan.
Using deep linking capability — With most affiliate programs you can create deep links. This is linking to specific content on the vendor’s web page. Instead of just relying on banners and ads you can create content that has a technical or sales page at the hosting company in it. Depending on your content this may be a reference link, for more information, etc. So maybe you want to write about SSL and hosting plans. You can have a link to the Let’s Encrypt section at the hosting company.
Advertising — With the kind of payouts available, advertising can definitely be considered. I would start with retargeting ads. These are ads that are presented to your site visitors when they go to Facebook for example. This is done by “pixeling” them when they visit your site. You can also retarget Facebook ads to your email list. This is low hanging fruit, they already have visited you once.
Copy the Pros — Since hosting affiliate marketing is so competitive it is easy to find the campaigns of top marketers. Just search for some of the head keywords like:
- Top Hosting Companies
- Top 10 Web Hosting Companies
- Cheapest Cloud Server
Visit the top 10 search results and look for the affiliate marketers. which is almost all of the pages that are not the hosts themselves. (Go ahead and signup for their email list. I tend to use a separate email account for researching.
Now you will get the email autoresponder campaign. You likely will notice targeted ads on your Facebook wall. The better campaigns will send you specific ads depending on the pages you visited on the affiliate marketer’s site.
You can easily emulate these marketing efforts. The big players have already tested and refined the process just go with it using your own content.