The domains & hosting for your affiliate website are essential to getting business on the internet and ready to make money. The “domain” is the web address. It's what you type into your browser to find a website. My domain is onemorecupof-coffee.com. You buy a domain from a “registrar”, and then point it to the hosting.
“Hosting” is the place you store your website files. There's where you store the text and pictures, your website database, and any other files that tell your website to perform certain functions when someone interacts with it. Hosting is acquired from a “host”.
Domains are priced per year, and usually cost around $15 for a TLD (.com .org .net). Hosting is priced per month, or prepay for a year and get a discount. Hosting ranges from $5 to $250 per month for your average website. You'll probably want to look into the $10-$50 per month range unless you want to get excellent hosting right off the bat (you WILL want to upgrade at some point. I pay $300/month.)
These services can be bought together at the same company, or from different companies. Anyone who visits your website won't know the difference. Some people like to just work with one company to keep it simple. Other people like each service to do their job excellently, and want a great host plus a great domain registrar, as opposed to a company that does a mediocre job at both.
Choosing A Domain & Hosting For Your Affiliate Website
How To Choose A Good Domain Name
One thing I get asked a lot by new affiliate marketers is how to choose a good domain name. It's something I worried about when I got started too. Here are a few guidelines and suggestions that I have picked up along the way. They definitely influence how I choose my domains now, and I hope they can guide you to choosing an awesome name for your website and future business.
Avoid Numbers, Dashes, and Misspellings
The basic idea behind these rules are that you want to avoid any confusion or difficulty with people getting to your website. When someone stumbles upon your website for the first time which is L8-nite-moviez.com, it takes quite a bit of effort to explain that to someone without looking at the domain name. If your link doesn't work, or someone is discussing it via chat (Late Night Movies dot Com) or they hear of it by word of mouth, it's a real pain to explain that it's, “Late-spelled-el-eight-like-the-number-eight”.
Dashes are the same deal. greatstufftobuy.com is very straightforward. great-stuff-2-buy.com is suddenly a little awkward to say “Great dash Stuff dash 2 (number two, no, not T-W-O) dash Buy dot com”. There have been some case studies that also show that domains with dashes rank lower too (although this is an often debunked idea). There are a number of factors that contribute to rank, the top 3 ranking domain extensions in order of rank are:
Sometimes you'll see a .info in the wild, and .co domain extensions are growing in popularity. Otherwise, forget all those weird ones like .fun or .cool.
EMDs versus Brands
EMD stands for Exact Match Domains. This means the domain name is the main keyword you want to aim for (more on keywords later) An example could be bestwhiskeyclubs.com or pottytrainyourpuppy.org. Brand examples could be Pepsi.com, Facebook.com.
For a while, back before 2013, EMDs ranked really well for the keyword in the domain name. For example, highqualityleatherjackets.com would rank super well for the phrase high quality leather jackets when someone typed that into Google search.
As a result, people went overboard and created a bunch of low-quality domains to rank for keywords. They (including myself) were basically gaming the system. Earlier this year however, there was an updated to Google's algorithm that caused many of these sites to lose rank.
This caused quite a stir in the niche marketing community, and people started saying that EMDs no longer rank and Google will think you are a spammer. THIS IS NOT TRUE.
EMDs still rank just like any other domain, and after the dust settled from the Google update, I've seen more than a few that rank well for their intended phrase. It's not a big deal, and it might actually still be an advantage to have EMDs based on my own experience.
Why Choose an Exact Match Domain
And EMD will probably give you the advantage of ranking for your chosen keyword. If you get a low competition, high traffic keyword in your domain name, this could mean easy traffic, and lots of it.
Also, people will immediately know what your website is about. If you are looking for a new BPA free water bottle for an upcoming hiking trip, and land on bpafreewaterbottlesforhiking.com, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that you're in the right place. Land on jabroni.com, and it might take you a few seconds to realize where you are.
In the online world, a few seconds could make the difference between a click, a sale, or a closed window.
Why Choose a Brand Domain
A brand can be used in many places, and for many things. Basically, it's a lot more versatile. Because a brand name isn't associated with only one product or service, you can make it anything you want it to be. If you decide to start off promoting products in the winter sports niche, and want to expand to winter cocktails, you can do that.
SilverSport.com could either be a winter sports product review site, or it could be a winter sports & cocktail website. WinterSportsProducts.com can only be one thing.
Choosing a brand name for your website can also give you authority. This is more of a subtle effect for your visitors. Once you get a custom logo made, get all the necessary social media accounts, and start actively posting and participating in online communities, you will be known as your brand name, not just a set of products. There is a much longer term strategy here.
About My Website & Domain Name
It might have come to your attention that my site breaks all the rules I've outline above. I'm such a rebel, LOL.
I've got a number (One), I've got a dash (Cupof-Coffee), it's too long (OneMoreCupofCoffee), AND it's a famous song with words that are seemingly unrelated to the topic of the website (this is not a coffee review site!).
That's just a mistake I made that you can learn from. I'm happy with my domain now, and it ranks fine, so that just shows you these are not hard and fast rules. These are just guidelines.
Best Domain Choice for New Affiliate Marketers
I think it's slightly better for a total newbie to start off with a mix! If you want to make a website about podcasting microphones, DavesPodcastingMics.com or DavesPodReviews.com would be a great way to start.
These types of domains are easy to find, and allow you to get really good keywords in the domain at the same time. For example, MakeMoneyOnline.com is already taken. However, MikeMakesMoneyOnline.com or MakMoneyWithMike.com is probably still for sale!
Just keep in mind that having a perfect domain name will not make or break your website. It's only the beginning. The content you write will be the core of your website, and we'll discuss that in the coming lessons.
Where to buy a domain
Godaddy is a popular place, but annoying with how much stuff they sell you. Plus, they try to pull a fast one on your by making your first year cheap, then every year after that super expensive. I bought a $0.99 domain in 2010 that ended up costing me $20+ each year after. That's the reason I no longer deal with them.
Namecheap is quite good. Their prices are cheap ($10/year for .com) and they are very reliable.
I use another registrar that I'll tell you about at the bottom of this post. There are many reasons I use this particular registrar, but the most important things to know right now are:
- Flat pricing: $15/year with no increases
- Free privacy (costs $3 – $10 per year in other places)
- Free SSL certificates (costs $9 – $70 in other places)
However, this company does a bunch of other stuff including hosting and affiliate training too. Read the first few lessons of my niche marketing series before you make your decision.
In the end, YOU are the owner of your domain. It's your website, your brand, and your business. The most important thing on your website is going to be the content you write. That's what people will read, and it's what they will care about. It's what will eventually help you make sales.
A good domain name with no content will not make you any money, but a bad domain name with good content and lots of traffic can earn you a full time income.
Hosting is a bigger deal than you can really imagine right now, so in this post I wanted to cover some issues I've run into, and how you can avoid them. I don't want to stress you out, but I do want to explain a few important qualities to look for in a host so you can make a good decision.
Choosing A Host For Your Affiliate Site
There are many hosting companies out there, as well as different types of hosting each service offers. Most people will probably want to start out on a very basic plan, then upgrade your plan as your website starts to get more traffic. There are advantages and disadvantages to this method. I did it that way, and ran into a ton of headaches. I really wish I would have just spent an extra $20 per month and saved myself hours upon hours of problems.
- Super cheap to start your business
- Allows you to try a host without a big commitment
- Can upgrade later easily
- Can save $100-$300 in your first year of business
- Fixing hosting problems by yourself is like knowing how to fix your own car
- Basic hosting is often very slow
- Support quality will be poor
- Other websites on your server can affect your site performance
- Resources run out relatively quickly if you are serious about your business
- If your goal is to earn $10,000 per month ($120,000 per year) it doesn't make sense to worry over $300 extra per year
- Hosting issues will cause you unnecessary headaches and frustration
- Like fixing your own car, you need to know what your own time is worth and outsource things to save time
- Time saved by having good hosting can be devoted to growing your business instead of tuning up your website
Common Hosting Tricks To Watch Out For
Cheap Hosting Doesn't Stay Cheap
My first mistake was to go with the cheapest hosting I could find. It was through a company called Fatcow, I do not recommend them for a number of reasons, but one thing that really pissed me off was that their “cheap hosting” expires after a year. I paid only $3.95 per month for unlimited hosting for 12 months. After that, the price of hosting with them tripled.
This marketing trickery seriously pissed me off so I moved to Hostgator.
If you have a long term vision for your business, saving $50 for one year of hosting isn't worth it. Amortized over 5 or 10 years, that $50 or even $500 means nothing. We're trying to earn a six figure income with our websites, so it makes sense to pay a bit extra for the tools that count.
Unlimited Hosting Isn't Really “Unlimited”
Another mistake I made was thinking that “unlimited” actually meant that I had unlimited resources for my business. It's just an advertising trick, as usual. Unlimited hosting does not mean that you will never need to upgrade. Apparently the “unlimited” part refers to the size of the files, not the number of files.
After I built 20 websites on my basic hosting plan with Hostgator, my websites started crashing on a daily basis. I was running out of inodes, and needed to upgrade. In other words, I had too many files on my server even though I had unlimited space.
Over the next two years I was forced to upgrade 5-6 times, and was eventually paying $150/month. My ten-dollar-per-month-hosting plan ballooned over 10x! On top of that, Hostgator support kept me on the phone for over three hours one time while my sites were down. Three hours!
Issues You Should Care About NOW
One thing you should definitely look into is malware protection and other security features. Hacking is real. It's happened to me twice. The first time wasn't a big deal. The second time was a huge fiasco.
Some services offer active protection, others can ‘help out' after the fact. Some will not help at all and will simply quarantine your website. Cheap hosting will not do much for you, but many high-quality hosts will install extra security plugins and have their own security features to keep you protected, even as a basic user.
Regular backups should be made as well. You should back up your own website, but if you are lazy like me, you can just get a host that does it for you. If you get hacked or crash your site, they can just “roll back” your sever to a previous date and basically erase any problems like magic. It erases your work during that time period too, but I'd rather rewrite 5 articles than have my site hacked!
Pay attention to what they back up. Cheap hosts may backup files but not your entire website. They may only do automatic backups for a certain amount of data, or only with certain plans.
Since you're just starting out, lots of this stuff will be confusing. How do you create an email address? How do you add a subdomain? Why are you getting 500 Server Unavailable Error? There are a million things that can come up. Friendly, fast, and helpful support is a must. Live support can be a real lifesaver.
While hosting with Hostgator, their Live Chat feature was inaccessible to me for over six months. Their phone lines were constantly busy. I waited for over 3 hours one time on hold while my website was down. I can feel my heart pumping with rage right now. OMG. I think they gave me PTSD.
Tech Issues & Down Time
I don't want to bore you or scare you with tech and other details, but I will share a few experiences with you.
I hosted with Fatcow for about two years. It was miserable. My site was down for more than a few hours every 2 months or so, and sometimes every month. The live support staff rarely knew what the problem was, and always referred me to ticket support. By the time ticket support responded, the issue had resolved itself.
Downtime might not seem like a big deal, but when you are making several hundred dollars per day from your websites, a few hours of downtime could cost you serious money. It may even damage your rankings long term if it happens frequently (Google doesn't want to rank websites with poor user experience).
Types Of Hosting To Consider
As a beginner, you'll be making small websites and they won't be making much (if any) money right away. Traffic will start slow, and increase incrementally over time.
For this reason, it's totally fine to start with shared hosting. Though this hosting is less reliable, it's cheaper, so will help you start out on a shoestring budget until you start brining in some money.
There's no real reason to upgrade to super-mega-fancy hosting at this point. You can upgrade once you start making money.
I don't mess with shared hosting any more because my time is worth more than that.
VPS is basically like a virtual version of renting your own server. It's like the next step up from shared, but not quite as advanced as a dedicated server. It's a great middle ground where you can get very fast speeds, but a manageable price point. Plus, with VPS you can usually put unlimited websites on your account. You just have to worry about bandwidth (how much traffic you get). One website getting 1,000 visits a day is the same as 10 websites getting 100 visits a day.
Prices vary from $30 – $100/month depending on where you host. I like KnownHost VPS. You would probably do fine with Level 1 or 2 to start. Knownhost is a great company and I hosted there for several years.
Just another upgrade not worth looking at at this point. This is for more serious webmasters with multiple large websites. It'll section you off from all other sites, meaning that you won't be affected by someone else overloading the server with traffic, as well as other privacy advantages.
My Recommended Hosts
I have hosted at 5 different companies over my 10 years as an affiliate marketer. I really did work my way from the bottom of the barrel with $5/month hosting and am now paying around $300 per month. I've seen it all. I've had more issues with my sites than I can really explain right now. Here are my two main recommendations for hosting your affiliate websites. If you have the money and are serious about building your business the right way from day 1, I highly recommend avoiding low-tier shared hosting. Cheap hosting is suuuuuuuuch a headache.
If you don't have the money, it's fine to go cheap. Millions of people do it. You can upgrade later.
KnownHost: This is where I hosted the bulk of my websites for many years. I used VPS level 2 and 3, and had about 20 websites on my server. I never experienced downtime. Their response time was usually less than 5 minutes via email, and their support team is extremely helpful. I find their WHM (web host managing) setup a pretty confusing, plus you still have to use cPanel (also confusing) but their support staff is very accommodating.
If you go my same route and choose managed VPS you can expect to pay about $30 for the starter tier (VPS 1 is great for newbies who don't mess around!). You can have unlimited websites on this plan, but if they start getting gobs of traffic, you'll need to upgrade to level 2 or level 3. ==> Sign Up Here
It looks like they have new WordPress optimized hosting for $6 per month at the time I'm writing this, but I haven't tried it out.
Kinsta: Kinsta hosting is ridiculously good. I'll never go back to anything else. They have super fast hosting, free CDN, way-better-than-cPanel alternative, and a continual live chat where you can ask questions and get help almost instantly. My sites are faster than ever and their tools make running my business a bit easier.
The only problem is that they are pretty freakin' expensive. I can afford it because my sites make enough money. The $300 per month I pay is well worth it.
For a beginner, you won't pay that much. Their basic tier is $30/month. However, you only get one website. For five websites you pay $100. Keep in mind that if your traffic takes off, you will have to upgrade to plans which allow for that. They use more resources to keep your site up, so you pay more. The free CDN (which makes your website load faster for worldwide visitors) makes it worth it though. ==> Sign Up Here
SIMPLIFY YOUR AFFILIATE BUSINESS
One of the main companies I promote on my website OneMoreCupof-Coffee.com is called Wealthy Affiliate. They are the affiliate training center I joined in 2010. They are the folks that taught me how to build a website and make money online.
As part of their membership, they offer quite a few different tools to get your business off the ground and making money. I won't go into all the details now, but I in terms of finding a host and registrar for your business, you should consider going with Wealthy Affiliate.
The membership costs $49/month or $359/year, and hosting is included. That means you can run your entire business for $1 per day. You do not need any external resources or tools in order to have a money-making online affiliate business. Wealthy Affiliate is simply a fantastic home base for any new or struggling affiliate marketer.
Superior Domains & Hosting For Affiliates
One Of A Kind Hosting
The hosting at Wealthy Affiliate is far superior to anything you'd get at BlueHost, Hostgator, or any other Endurance International Group junk hosting company. It's WordPress optimized hosting that normally would cost you $100/month at other places like WPEngine. They have their own proprietary hosting setup with redundant servers (so your website is always up, no matter what), automated backups, and top notch security.
WordPress optimized hosting companies like WPEngine will charge you $30/month for one website, and they limit the amount of traffic you get. Even basic business plans are $100+/month and they limit you to only five websites and count the visits to your website.
At Wealthy Affiliate you can host up to 25 domains, with unlimited visits, storage, and bandwidth (within reason). If your site really takes off, you may need to talk to them about paying a bit more, but I know guys with 5,000-10,000 visits per day that are not charged anything extra.
Have you seen those $0.99 domains at Godaddy? You might not know this, but they can have a recurring price of $20 or more! So that cheap domain you just bought will cost you more in the long run. Wealthy Affiliate charges $13.99 for .com domain names and $15.99 for .com/.net domains.
That's the price you can expect to pay every year – no price increases for domain renewals! Plus, stuff like SSL, email, and privacy are all included, compounding your savings.
SiteSpeed & PageSpeed Insights Integration
SiteSpeed is the unique caching system. For one, you do not have to install a caching plugin, again reducing the number of plugins you need to run your website. It means you'll have a faster website, with fewer moving parts to monitor.
No need to purge your cache each time you update your website, and no need to deal with caching plugins asking you to upgrade for extra features. The system just works, and delivers your site quickly to every visitor that lands there.
Within the website manager dashboard you can also investigate on a page by page basis how your website is performing. Check your desktop and mobile scores, then see what you can do to improve those scores for a faster user experience.
Free SSL Certificates, Domain Privacy, Email Addresses
SSL is a security thing for your website, which is the HTTPS you see in the web address. Google is now weighting these types of sites more powerfully in search because they are private and secure.
Expect to pay between $9 and $70 for one year of SSL with most domain registrars. If you do your website through Wealthy Affiliate, it's free. That's a one of a kind deal. They also do free domain privacy, which is something different – it keeps your personal address protected and off databases. That costs between $3 and $10/year at most registrars, but is free at Wealthy Affiliate.
Proprietary Affiliate Growth Tools
For websites hosted at Wealthy Affiliate, you get access to SiteFeedback and SiteComments. These two tools are powerful ways to get your first business growing fast. Submit your site and request feedback, or get comments from people who are interested in your content.
SiteFeedback helps you get a fresh pair of eyes on your work, and get insight into how to improve your site on a page by page basis. SiteComments is a method to kickstart engagement on your content, getting real people to join the conversation and signal to Google that real people love what you write.
Free Keyword Tool
As part of your Wealthy Affiliate membership, you'll also get access to Jaaxy, a keyword research tool. Jaaxy Lite is completely free to all members. It's the tool I use to find ideas to write about on my website. I'll talk about Jaaxy and how to do keyword research in a later lesson.
Keyword tools like SEMRush cost $99/month for the basic tier, and for power users can cost $1000 per month or more. Jaaxy is free for WA members and will allow you to find keywords, create keyword lists, export spreadsheet data, and track rankings over time.
Step By Step Affiliate Training
Aside from the stuff you need to run your online business, you also get training. Online business training is something that no other host offers at this time. Wealthy Affiliate obviously focuses on the affiliate side of things, but there are many resources related to ecommerce and local marketing as well.
Plus, traffic is traffic. You can use the training inside the community to get traffic to your website no matter what you sell or promote.
Do you know how to build your online business? Are you already clear on how to build a successful affiliate website? I'm guessing that on top of hosting you'll want to buy some kind of “how to make money online” course. You know the ones – $47 and you'll get rich overnight! Follow my course and it's easy 1-2-3 to make money online!
Well, as you might have suspected, those products are pretty much all trash. They are what's called a “trip wire”. You buy a cheap guide for $47, then they upsell you to a special deal for $197, then they call you and sell you a mentorship for $10,000. It's garbage.
1-on-1 Affiliate Support
Even with great training a lot of people fail. They get confused and give up, or lose interest at some point and move on to the next shiny object. At Wealthy Affiliate you can talk to both peers and mentors in a 1-on-1 environment.
Using live chat, forum, personal blog, and private messaging you can contact people who are running an online business just like yourself. Coordinate with other newbies to bounce ideas around, or ask a six-figure earner your burning questions.
Plus,I make myself available via private message for people who join through my link (I'm an affiliate). I've been building successful websites for almost 10 years now, and you ask me anything as part of your membership (only for my referrals). This includes questions about business strategy, technical problems, or just complaining that the money isn't coming in fast enough 🙂
Should I Host With Wealthy Affiliate Or Somewhere Else?
My personal recommendation for newbies is to go with Wealthy Affiliate if you plan to build an affiliate website. The training works, the hosting is legit, and you get access to a community of likeminded online entrepreneurs to help you learn and grow. By hosting with Wealthy Affiliate, you not only get a fast and secure home for your website, you also get a support network for building your online business.
The thing about building an affiliate website is that you're going to need help sometimes. Yes, you can ask questions on blogs and social media, but the answers you get are often short and insufficient to truly help you out.
There's no other hosting company out there that will teach you how to run a business. They simply provide the storage space for your website files. They can't help you get traffic to your website. They can't tell you why your sales page isn't converting into money. They certainly won't help motivate you to push through struggles, let alone cheer on your successes.
If you're not ready for that, no problem. You can try one of my other hosting recommendations and just follow my free training here on the One More Cup of Coffee 🙂
Now that you have hosting and domains figured out, in the next lesson, you're going to build your affiliate website, and then we'll look at how to get traffic to your site. When is the money part? It's coming up soon, but we have to build a solid foundation to our business first!
Everyone will make a different hosting choice, so the “build a website” page will be a general guideline. The website building process varies from host to host. I'll try to show a few different styles so you can get an idea of how everything works, but it's not as hard as you think. Plus, each host will have tutorials on how to navigate their website builder.
Got any questions so far? Let's hear them in the comments! If you have a question there are 100 other people thinking the same thing!