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 included a section on selecting a hosting plan for your affiliate bisuness – check it out!

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.

Go to our affiliate programs page for related affiliate networks and programs.

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. 

A2 Hosting

Commission amount: $85 -$140 (based on your conversion performance)

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.


Bluehost

Commission amount: $65 per hosting Signup

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 annualy). They also have a very high-quality product and support group.

The affiliate program pays aflat $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


Cloudways

Commission amount: $50-$200 per sale or $30 and 7% recurring

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.

cloudways

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.


Dream Host

Commission amount: $150 per WordPress hosting referral

Cookie length: 45 days

 Sign up link: DremHost 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 enthusiasim 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.


Fat Cow

Commission amount: $25 “Cheap Sheep” plan and VPS – $150 Dedicated

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.

ProductYour FatCow Affiliate
Program Commission (USD)
Limited Time Only
$9 “Cheap Sheep” Plan
$25.00
Shared Hosting$100.00
VPS Hosting$100.00
Dedicated Hosting$150.00

FatCow is also very inclusive geographically. They make a point to have payment options and be receptive of affiliates “no matter where yoy live”


Flywheel

Commission amount: 300% of first month to $500 – two tier

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.


Green Geeks

Commission amount: $50 – $100 performance based

Cookie length: 60 days

Sign up link: GreenGeeks In-house Affilaite 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.

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 incents even small incremental performance increases.


HostGator

Commission amount: $65-$125 depending on monthly performance

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 complet lineup of offerings. From inexpensive shared hosting to dedicated servers. And an ecellent 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 camaign and funnel.


Inmotion

Commission amount: $50 minimum

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 affilaite 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 affilaite dashboard

Ipage

Commission amount: $65- $150 per sale

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 otehrwise just starting out audience the lower prices may convert well for you. And the payouts to affilaites are great fro such a low-cost purchase.

They have lots of promotional banners and ads for you to work with. The Ipage appeal hower is the low cost of entry for a solid shared plan.


Kinsta

Commission amount: $50-$500 plus 10% recurring

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.


Liquid Web

Commission amount: 150% of client purchase (monthly billing)

Cookie length: 90 days

Sign up link: Impact radius or Commission Junction (CJ)

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 24x7 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 affilaite program pays up to $7000. I have not eprsonally 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


Siteground

Commission amount: $50 minimum – performance based up to $125

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.


Wix

Commission amount: $100 per sale

Cookie length: 30 days

Sign up link: Wix In-house Affilaite 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 affilaite 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


WP Engine

Commission amount: $200 minimum

Cookie length: 180 days

Sign up link: SharASale 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


WPX Hosting

Commission amount: $70 minimum

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 take a very personal touch to their affilaite program. They provide lots of custom support and colaboration including:
  • Custom Landing Pages
  • Custom Promo Codes
  • Custom Banners
  • CEO Interviews
  • etc.

Usually these types of comarketing efforts are reserved for the super-affilaite 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 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 focusThese are your warm leads and you aren’t competing with thousands of other hosting affiliates with your content. Create a whitepaper 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 geta 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 considred.  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 target 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
  • etc.

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.  

Go to our affiliate tips page for more info on how to promote products.

Hosting Needs of Affiliate Marketers

You are an affiliate marketer, join the hosting affilaite program from your provider and market!Almost all affiliate marketers have a web presence. Certainly, any who is seeking SEO search traffic. So what characteristics should n affiliate marketer look for when selecting a hosting plan.

  • Fast  loading
  • Backups and site maintenance
  • Top customer support
  • Good affiliate program

Fast Loading — Affiliates need to maximize every engagement with their website. Page load time is important to not lose impatient visitors. Pages need to ideally load in less than 1 second. Also, Google’s ranking algorithm factors in the site performance and bounce-times when determining your search result placement.

Maintenance — As a new affiliate, you will have many tasks to juggle. WordPress themes and plugins, content creation, list building, backlink building and more. There is little reason to also be a system administrator for your WordPress site. Choose a host and hosting plan that provides daily backups. In the case of WordPress, your content and hard work reside in a database – not the file system. It is important that your host is backing up your database as well as the file system.

Customer Support — Of course, you want the most reliable and best performing hosting plan that your budget allows. But, you will have hosting issues. You will find yourself out of your comfort zone.  The quality of your support is what will make the difference when the inevitable happens. The first support consideration is your method of communicating. This can be a personal and situational item. Some people prefer to have telephone support with the shortest wait time. Perhaps you are more mobile and working in a number of locations so chat works best for you. Email is usually left for escalated issues and tasks that need tracking and updating. Some hosts like GoDaddy have only phone support for their shared hosting plans. That just does not work for me. I have a strong preference for chat support (assuming the response is quick) with email used when a problem needs escalation or a more detailed examination. Also, will the support group help you with WHM, FTP, CRON jobs and other non-WordPress tasks? Do you have daily backups that can be quickly restored? Will they migrate your existing sites? Can you have multiple domains? Are additional domains add-on domains, sharing the main C-Panel, or do they have unique C-panels?

Good Affiliate Program — You are going to hopefully promote your hosting partner. So a final characteristic is how is this host as a marketing partner. Do they overlap with the kind of host my audience would use? When you do make your final selection, order from an affiliate. Ordering from a colleague’s referral is the best of networking. You may be able to do a swap or get a future referral.  

Promote Your Host

A great strategy fis to choose a premium hosting company for your marketing business. Don’t get an entry level shared host. Consider a VPS server or managed WordPress with wpEngine for instance.

Then develop content around your host selection. Talk about your experience , about transitioning from a lower cost plan. 

 It only takes 2-3 sales per year from your affiliate link to pay for all of your hosting. It is a huge win for everyone …

  • you – fewer technical headaches and better support
  • your visitors – faster loading pages makes for a better experience
  • SEO – page loading speed is a major ranking factor

Top Web Hosting Plans for Affiliate Marketers

If you are experimenting or doing research before you commit to your online business, by all means, consider a shared hosting plan.  If you are building a new affiliate site on a budget, there is nothing wrong with using a shared hosting plan. You do need to look a bit closer at the details:  can I run cron jobs, do I have a C-Panel? In general, the lowest cost plans at all of the shared hosting companies will be insufficient for WooCommerce-based plugins like Prosociate. Best to look at the mid-level offerings. If you are starting a venture and hiring contract staff then you are a real business and should have managed VPS hosting. It is not that much more expensive and gives you the control you need to run your operation. If you are new to WordPress, do consider a managed WordPress offering like WP Engine. If you have the budget for a service like Kinsta, go for it! It is best to not skimp on your hosting and use the productivity gains to deal with content marketing, backlinks and other traffic-generating tasks. We have reviewed many hosting companies and have thousands of affiliate marketing plugin and theme customers. This support knowledge and our reviews and experience were used to compile this list of recommended specific hosting plans for affiliate marketers.

Recommendations for Affiliate Marketers

SHARED RECOMMENDATION

Hostgator  Sometimes funds are limited, been there. HostGator is one of the most reliable of the low-cost offerings. If you are just starting out or on a budget it is hard to beat Hostgator shared servers. One limitation for affiliates is that the shared servers, including the Business WordPress offering, have a 15-minute minimum interval for CRON jobs. There is also no root access to the WordPress Managed Server. If you want prices updated more often, or you or a developer need root access, then you may want to consider a VPS server. This is a key advantage of VPS, control, and access. You can upgrade from shared to VPS hosting at HostGator. Our recommendations for affiliates would be the Managed WordPress Business package or their low-cost VPS. Managed WordPress Business plan starting at $28/mo ( $9.95/mo if you prepay 36 months):

VPS RECOMMENDATION

LiquidWeb — I use LiquidWeb for my primary VPS server. I can’t say enough good things about their 24x7 support capabilities. I have contacted them at all hours of their workday and always had a positive outcome. When I moved from 2 medium VPS servers to one large server they migrated all of my domains at no charge. They have a very flexible ability to scale up or down on demand. You can build a new server at any time and just provision it for a few weeks or hours if need be. The fully managed service is set up so you can run your business and Liquid Web runs your server – the way it should be. The recommended options would start with the  2GB VPS:

 

MANAGED WORDPRESS RECOMMENDATION

WP Engine is one of the first dedicated managed WordPress companies. They have a solid reputation for support and performance. With wpEngine, your WordPress sites will perform like you have a full-time WordPress expert fine-tuning your VPS for you. wpEngine boats enterprise-grade caching at the server level and Content Delivery Network (CDN) support from NetDNA. With a CDN your content is cached on the edge of the Internet, closer to your customers. With a dedicated dashboard, new affiliate site operators will find it easier to get started than navigating a C-Panel for the first time. Users can also initiate a backup at any time and are in fact prompted to each time you add a plugin or theme – nice. With wpEngine you not only have a managed server, but you also have all of your WordPress updates and configuration management tasks done for you. Kinsta may be giving them a run for their money so expect even more from wpEngine. A good launch platform is the Personal Plan from wpEngine. The Personal plan is only $29/mo with a 60-day no-risk offer:
 

SOCIAL CHANGE RECOMMENDATION

GreenGeeks wants to reduce the environmental footprint of your servers and give you great performance. Who wouldn’t like that? GreenGeeks boasts a 300% renewable energy infrastructure. More than 615,000 Kwh/per year of energy is created by green power via wind power produced by GreenGeeks. They are also known for great support. With free nightly backups and a migration service if you are moving from a different host. GreenGeeks mission statement lays down their core philosophy, “to offer first class web hosting services and by setting a fine example of deliberate environmental responsibility through the use of wind energy.”  

More options

CompanyProsPromo Link
NameCheapFree domain – of course!Namecheap Sale
InMotion90-day money backInMotion hosting Promo
DreamHost1 free day for every hour of downtimeDreamHost Sale
A2 HostingFastest sharedA2 Hosting Promo
SiteGroundFast and affordableSiteGround Promo
BlueHostBest uptimeBlueHost Sale

Hosting Technical Basics for Affiliate Marketers

Hosting can get a bit technical as a niche. When planning your content marketing strategy it is good to have a basic understanding of the different hosting options and terminology.

Unmanaged, Managed or Managed WordPress

Unmanaged

Unmanaged servers are just what they sound like. The hosting company provides a server or VPS with the operating system installed. Some providers will have web server software and other core components. But you purchase these plans typically because you want the control to add your target environment. There will be little support beyond hardware issues and reboots. You will do your own backups, security patches, etc. Certainly not for a first-time affiliate marketer. These can be very cost-effective if you have technical resources. Amazon Web Services and Goggle Server Cloud are examples of these types of hosting plans.

These programs do not typically have an affiliate program nor do most affiliate marketers have the technical capabilities or time to operate their own unmanaged server, So we will focus on managed web hosting offerings.

Managed

Managed web hosting allows your prospects to let your hosting partner take care of the typical system administrator functions that any web server needs.  Additionally managed server providers will typically provision your server with all the required tools to get started; WordPress, MySQL, CPanel, and Email. Once you are up and running the managed hosting partner will typically take care of the following:

Server Monitoring – Managed administrators monitor your server for issues. A corrupt database, memory issues, timed out CRON jobs, etc. They will intervene and fix these before they lead to extended downtime.

Security – Security is a major concern these days with sites getting hacked “just for the fun of it.”   Little comfort should be felt from the fact that you have no customer details or any other information of value. A managed service provider should be virus scanning, spam filtering your email, applying OS security patches and keeping a solid firewall between you and the bad guys.

Full Back-up and Storage –  It will happen. You will need to restore from a backup. Whether you deleted a database  or got hacked, you will need to restore your site at some point. Your managed service provider doing at least a daily backup of both your file system and databases is key.

Server Configuration and Maintenance –  Modern hardware and networks need to be fine-tuned to your site’s unique needs. This is one of the key advantages of managed WordPress providers. You can get the same performance from your VPS service if you provision the server appropriately. Configuring memory, SSD, caching; a managed service provider is like having a high-powered systems architect on your team.

Managed WordPress

Most affiliate marketers use WordPress as their content management system (CMS). Many hosting companies provide managed WordPress plans. Some of these companies like WP Engine and Kinsta have WordPress hosting as their core business model. Many traditional hosting companies provide managed WordPress as an upgrade to a managed VPS plan. The advantage of working with a managed WordPress provider is performance and reliability. You have an environment from hardware to server-level caching that is finely tuned for WordPress. Google is using site performance in your SERP outcome so performance definitely matters.

Dedicated Server, Shared Hosting or VPS

Dedicated Server

A dedicated server is an ideal situation for technically-savvy users with unique requirements. Like the unmanaged server, a dedicated server is rarely an option or need for an affiliate marketer. We will focus the guide on VPS/Cloud Hosting and Shared Hosting.

Shared Hosting

By far the least expensive choice is shared hosting. The downside is you don’t know who you are sharing the server with (will they over-use the shared resources). You also lose some flexibility and control. Since you are sharing an environment you are given less control. Since shared hosting provides the least control it is important to verify that the shared environment meets your application needs. For instance, one product we develop is Prosociate, a very powerful Amazon Associate store building plugin. It is a large piece of software that has specific needs that are not always offered in shared hosting. Cost and convenience are the main reasons to choose a shared hosting plan. Things to consider with shared hosting:

  • Does it support PHP SOAP (Amazon uses SOAP to communicate with their product database via their API)
  • What are the php.ini settings ( shared hosts usually means a shared configuration for settings )
  • How much memory is available for PHP
  • Can I run Cron jobs

VPS and Dedicated WordPress

A Virtual Private Server (VPS) bridges the two extremes of shared and dedicated hosting. With a VPS you have your own virtual machine on a shared host. This gives you the benefit of control over your operating system, security and memory settings; at a lower cost than a dedicated server. With a managed VPS you have your own php.ini file and total control over your environment. A managed VPS  should feel like a dedicated server with a personal system administrator.

Managed WordPress hosting can be thought of as a specialized VPS hosting plan. The key advantage is usually the performance gains of a VPS tuned for WordPress.  With a managed WordPress hosting service, your entire server is tuned for just running WordPress. From memory to networking software. Caching is a great example of this. Caching can dramatically improve the speed of your website. There are WordPress plugins for this, but caching at the server level is much more efficient. Since every site on the server is a WordPress site you can set up this server-level caching. This would not be possible in a traditional VPS where some virtual hosts might be running Drupal or no content management system.

The main disadvantage of this specific type of managed hosting is the loss of flexibility. Not only can you only have WordPress sites, but you may also have no C-Panel access and be using only a dashboard designed for WordPress users. For instance, I have an account at WP Engine and needed to quickly upload a file. I wanted to just open a C-Panel and use file manager. With WP Engine, there is no C-Panel. I easily just used FTP, but for some users that would have been inconvenient. Additionally, you will have some plugin restrictions. These are typically either caching plugins that interfere with the site level caching or plugins that are known to be resource-intensive. To give you an idea of the restrictions, here is the banned list from WPEngine; plugin restriction support page. The advantages of VPS hosting:

  • Cost – A VPS hosting account is less expensive than a dedicated server hosting plan and prices have come down.
  • Scalable – Start off with the minimum amount of resources, you can easily increase your hosting plan as you grow.
  • Control – More control over your virtual server than you do with shared hosting.
  • Access – You will likely have root access and the ability to use scripts.
  • Options – Ranges from semi-managed hosting where the web host handles some maintenance and fully managed services (recommended).