In 2012, BlueHost, a highly reputable web hosting company, paid out in the ball park of $5 million in affiliate commissions. With that said, my guess is that a big chunk of that went to WordPress. BlueHost is the official top recommended host by WordPress, and they host somewhere in the ballpark of 850,000 WordPress sites and blogs.
They Pay Out More Money Than They Earn Initially
Hosting companies, as you many know, in general, take sort of a gamble with affiliates, in that they pay higher commissions than what they themselves earn in the initial transaction.
For example, some hosting companies will let you refer someone to there $10/month plan, and when the person makes their $10 payment, you, the affiliate gets somewhere between $65 and $120 or more for a commission. It’s insane, but hosting companies know that it’s a safe bet because people don’t switch hosts unless there is a real strong reason to do so. They think it’s a pain, although it really isn’t, but, more often than not they will upgrade to a Dedicated plan when they outgrow their shared hosting account, rather than move away from the company.
You Get One Time Earnings, Not Residual, But Who Cares, They Are Big
Most web hosts only pay their affiliates a one-time fee, which is fine. The commissions are large. Others will pay a lower amount and give you a cut every month the person stays a customer. I like the larger lump sum amounts myself.
The BlueHost Affiliate Terms
Below are some of the key terms for BlueHost’s affiliates. They should NOT be used as the official terms because there exists already a page for that.
BlueHost has a 90-day cookie. What that means is if somoene clicks your affiliate link today, and they purchase within the next 3 months, you are credited with the sale. The sale, by the way, provides a one-time referral fee of $65.00.
You get paid by PayPal, and BlueHost covers the PayPal fees. Payments are sent out after a minimum of $100 is reached. It takes 45 days after the end of the month of the transaction to lock the commission. Plus a referral has to be active for 90 days before it counts. This is to take into account refunds, etc. Although it isn’t clear, it seems that a one-year package has to be purchased before a commission is granted.
It used to be that an affiliate can offer to help someone setup their first blog for “free” by buying through their link, but according to the terms for BlueHost, such a thing is frowned upon (i.e. not allowed).
“Affiliates MAY NOT offer cash back, rewards or other incentives to drive traffic/sales via their affiliate tracking links.”
But who cares? We want passive commissions, don’t we?
9 Steps: How to Make Money Promoting Hosting Accounts
Ok, let’s skip the one page, PPC-friendly, review site with a listing of the top three hosts that pay the most commissions, shall we?
My suggestion is:
1. Buy hosting accounts at 3 hosting providers, the three that appeal most to you based on the criteria you set. Say, for example, you are a WordPress blogger, and want to buy hosting with a feature set that is friendly to a WordPress blogger. Perhaps, a WordPress blogger that intends to host multiple sites.
Now, please don’t buy these through your affiliate links, that’s douchey 🙂
If I had to pick I would say to buy hosting at GoDaddy, HostGator, and BlueHost.
2. Now, let’s back up a minute. First, grab a $15 per year account at Screencast-o-matic. Then, record the process of you purchasing each account as a screencast. Don’t worry, you can blur out anything that you want with the awesome, no-extra-charge, video editing tools as part of your mega-cheap Screencast-o-matic subscription.
3. Include your screencasts on YouTube and embed them into your posts.
To take it further, I would personally launch a site on each host with how-to videos (screencasts), and written tutorials (with screenshots) as blog posts with videos embedded, as well as presentations and PDFs of the tutorials (made with OpenOffice.org and shared on Scribd and SlideShare).
I would document (with video, screenshots, and words) each “task” for each host, and share that on your new sites. Naturally the GoDaddy “how-to’s” would be on your GoDaddy site, etc.
4. You’ll also want to keep up with “news” for each host and report on that and do what it takes to get that news into Google News.
5. Also, keep the domain hosting with the host you are pointing the domain to. That way you have more how to content to create for your host.
6. Now, there should be a “host features” page on their respective sites, for the respective host, that you keep up to date. Make it as long or as short as it has to be. Use your own words, make it unique. Talk about the positives AND the negatives. Link to your affiliate link and disclose that you are getting money for the referral.
6. Create a post that links, and introduces other posts in logical order. For example, start with: how to buy hosting on GoDaddy, how to buy a domain name on GoDaddy, how to setup a WordPress blog manually, how to setup WordPress the 1-click way, and so on.
You will find that tasks are slightly different for each host, especially GoDaddy with its proprietary Control Panel. This is a good thing.
8. Pick one of the sites and host a page with a comparison of all three services and recommend your favourite. This will be a real authentic review based on your true real-life experiences. Link to that review from past and future blog posts, from all 3 sites, that mention “hosting reviews” in some manner. There’s no need to duplicate this page on all three sites, one is enough.
Always link to your “host features” page, and to the “review” page from within other posts.
9. Make the content summary post (from step 7), the feature post, and the review post, prominent in the top navigation. Have a rotating banner (and keep them fresh), in the top right sidebar of every page.
I wouldn’t link to your affiliate link from every post. I would personally let the sidebar banner sell it, and I would build the authority of the “features” and “reviews” page and let them work their magic.
Give the rest of the content away and ask for nothing in return. This of course, is just an opinion. You may feel differently. If you decide to link out from every post with text links or yucky embedded banners, then be smart and track the link so you know the posts that are generating the most traffic and sales.
If you following along the above steps, even if just building one site at a time and leaving out the 3-host review, I think you could do very well with it.
As an example, I had ONE such post on a make money online blog, and an exact replicate of the post done up as a PDF. Only the PDF still exists and it still makes money. Don’t ask why I pulled the plug on the MMO site. I still cry myself to sleep at night. But that post was generating multiple referrals each month.
Why does a post that seemingly only caters to people that ALREADY have an account at the very place that you are trying to get them to purchase an account from? There are a bunch of reasons why, most being theories, but it works, that’s all I can say. It works well, my fellow affiliate.
Note: While many hosting account providers have an in-house affiliate program, you may also find that they can be found in Commission Junction as well. Look at the payout in both spots, they may differ. Might as well opt for the higher one yeah?