Five Best Hosting Choices for Affiliate Marketers
- Hostgator- Shared: The best balance of low price and quality performance and support.
- Liquid Web – VPS: Unbeatable support and rock solid quality of service.
- wpEngihttps://prosociate.comne – WordPress Hosting: Ideal for WordPress sites and those unfamiliar with C-Panel.
- Rapisite – Affiliate Platform: Affiliate experts. Rapisite includes SEO, image libraries and more.
- GreenGeeks – Environmental Impact: Reduce your carbon footprint and have great performance.
Hosting Needs of Affiliate Marketers
Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn money online. Build a niche site, become an authority in that domain, drive traffic to your site. Monetize your business by referring your traffic to quality companies that pay you a commission on sales or leads. It is a simple recipe that requires great content, perseverance, quality tools, SEO and backlink strategy and good hosting to pull off. For people who want to get straight to the conclusion, what are best hosting companies for affiliate marketers?
- Fast loading
- Backups and site maintenance
- PHP 7, SOAP and CRON support
- Top customer support
Affiliates need to maximize every engagement with their website. Page load time is important to not loose 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.
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.
PHP 7, Soap and CRON
Most affiliates want to take advantage of Amazon’s huge presence. They may not pay the largest commission but their product reach is remarkable. Regardless of the niche, you are focusing on; Amazon has products for you. Amazon Associates can access the 350 million Amazon products via Amazon’s API and a WordPress plugin. Amazon and your hosted site use PHP SOAP to communicate via this API. Most hosts support this but there are a few that do not. Another item is scheduled jobs. Server operating systems have the ability to automatically schedule programs to run. These are called CRON jobs in Linux (Unix). Many plugins use CRON jobs to keep your Amazon pricing and inventory current. PHP 7 is a no-brainer at this point. It is a big leap over PHP 5.x (there was no 6.x). If your host does not offer PHP 7 at this point, I would avoid them.
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 to 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?
When you look at hosting plans you will likely see the terms; unmanaged, managed and managed WordPress.
Unmanaged, Managed or Managed WordPress
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. Since almost all affiliate marketers will either not have the technical capabilities or time to operate their own unmanaged server we will focus on Managed and Managed WordPress hosting offerings.
Managed hosting allows you 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.
Most affiliate marketers use WordPress as their content management system (CMS). Many hosting companies provide managed WordPress plans. Some of these companies like wpEngine 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
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.
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 wpEngine and needed to quickly upload a file. I wanted to just open a C-Panel and use file manager. With wpEngine, 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).
Best Hosting Choices for Affiliates
|Hosting Type||Best Choice||Pros||Promo Link|
|Shared Hosting||Hostgator||Best pricing, good support||$.01 first month|
|VPS||Liquid Web||Best Performance, great support||33% off first 3 months|
|WordPress Hosting||wpEngine||WordPress Specialists, Rock Solid,|
|20% off single site|
|Affiliate Platform||Rapisite||Affiliate Specialists, SSD servers, Full|
service including SEO, Image Library
|Green||GreenGeeks||Environmentally friendly||GreenGeeks Sale|
New Affiliates – Where to Start
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: is SOAP supported, 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 wpEngine. 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
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):
- 3 Sites
- 300k Visits Per Month
- 3GB Backups
- Unlimited Storage
I use LiquidWeb for my primary VPS server. I can’t say enough good things about their 24×7 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:
- 2GB Memory
- 1 Core Processor
- 100 GB SSD Disk Space
- 5 TB Transfer
- Linux or Windows
The 2GB VPS above starts at $79/mo. A managed WordPress offering starts at $89/mo for a similar configuration. One nice thing about the LiquidWeb Managed WordPress offering is that you can choose your interface; C-Panel or a “WordPress dashboard”
MANAGED WORDPRESS RECOMMENDATION
wpEngine 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, you 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:
- 1 Install
- 25K Visits/Mo
- 10GB Local Storage
- Unlimited Data
- Free SSL Certificate
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.” Some key metrics of GreenGeeks services are:
- unlimited disk space and data transfer
- free domain transfer or registration
- free existing site migration,
- free daily backups,
- SSD RAID-10 storage
GreenGeeks is setting a high bar for performance and environmental responsibility. The recommended configuration would start at $59/mo:
- 2 Gb RAM
- 50 GB SSD RAID-10 Storage
- 1,500 GB Premium Bandwidth
- 4 Cores