Affiliate Marketing For Dummies
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Affiliate marketing offers aspiring business people great opportunities. If you’re clever, you can even make the most of free tools. The internet is a vibrant entrepreneurial environment that is constantly giving birth to the new brainchild of millions of very creative people.

affiliate marketing tools ©Shutterstock/Aysezgicmeli

Many of those products are launched initially as free products to gain visibility and users. Later, as they became more well known, they may change to a paid or “freemium” model, where a version with more limited functionality is free, but to unlock all the power, you need to pay.

The tools here are free and have stood the test of time, so we don’t think any will become strictly paid products. They are great tools that you can use to help you develop your affiliate marketing business.

Check to make sure that any free tool you want to use is still free. Make sure it is truly free, not just a trial that requires your credit card with the hope that you’ll forget the cancellation date. All the tools you find here are totally free or freemium, no credit card required, no trick trial.

You want to be careful not to sign up for tools that will cost you money but you do not want. On the other hand, you don’t want to be dissuaded from signing up for a free account that is actually available just because it’s not obvious how to sign up for the free account. After all, these companies would prefer you sign up for a paid plan so they can make money, and that is often the focus of their web page.

Stop and do not proceed if you’re asked for a credit card or other method of payment; you may be entering the “Payment Zone.” Although you may not experience some of the adventures described in the Twilight Zone, some of the funds in your wallet may be about to be levitated out.


WordPress is so ubiquitous that many people think it is part of the internet, but it’s not. It wasn’t always that way. Years ago, when a marketer started a website on the internet, it meant having to be skilled in HTML and coding.

WordPress is open-source software designed to ensure free access in perpetuity. It’s protected through the nonprofit foundation (not to be confused with established by Matt Mullenweg. WordPress is an easy-to-use CMS (content management system) that allows you to very easily establish a website for your affiliate marketing business, edit it, add content, and make changes.

Today most hosting companies have scripts that allow a one-click installation. You do have to add some information like username, password, and so on. After installation, you have to change the posts, pages, and other information to make it your own and match your own site goals


Elementor is one of the most widely used WordPress page builders along with Thrive Themes and Beaver Builder.

Page builders hit the WordPress world like a storm since they make building a great-looking web page as simple as dragging video, text, images, and other pre-built blocks into position on the page in the WordPress Editor. WordPress noticed the stampede of people to web page builders and tried to address the need with Gutenberg. At this point it doesn’t offer the power, control, or flexibility of Elementor.

Of the page builders, only Elementor is a free plug-in. Beaver Builder is $99 a year and Thrive is $19 a month. Only Elementor is in the WordPress repository for plug-ins, which means it is open source and likely to be around for quite some time. Installation is as easy as going to your site, clicking “add new plug-in,” selecting Elementor, and then activating it after installation.

Another advantage of Elementor is that you can get a bundle of Elementor, Elementor Pro, Astra Pro, and Ultimate-Ons for Elementor in a lifetime license package that also includes some training bonuses. You know how we like lifetime licensing, especially from Brainstorm Force, which is likely to be around for a long time because of its inclusion in the WordPress plug-in registry. (Brainstorm Force is the company that produces the bundle.)

Page builders are great for the affiliate marketer because they dramatically speed up the time it takes you to create a post or a page. The pages are constructed by dragging blocks that can contain either images, text, or video. You can save blocks as templates you will reuse.


Yoast is a great free WordPress search engine optimization (SEO) plug-in. You will be hit with a lot of things you need to master as a new affiliate marketer, and SEO is one of them. The good news is that Yoast guides you in the proper SEO setup of your site in an easy-to-follow, do-this format that shows you how close you are to the goal using a red, orange, and green rating system.

Some of the SEO changes you make will also improve the content you’re writing in your posts and pages. In addition to the SEO tab, there is a readability tab. The readability tab rates your content on things like the Flesch Reading Ease Score, sentence length, word transition, passive voice, paragraph length, sentence length, and other variables. It grades you on each one and make suggestions for improvement where needed. You can see how you’re doing in an instant because each variable has a red or green circle showing you your grade.

Since Yoast is open source, it is listed in the WordPress registry of plug-ins. Therefore, installation is as easy as going to your site, clicking “add new plug-in,” selecting Yoast, and then activating it after installation. A premium version is also available, which gives you some advanced SEO tools.

Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is a great free Google Chrome or Firefox plug-in. After you install it, you’ll see search volume, cost per click (CPC), and competition data right on the browser bar. You can get your own free API (application program interface), which makes operation even more reliable.

As you start your affiliate marketing efforts, you can easily save your favorite keywords and retrieve them for future analysis by clicking on the favorite button on the Keywords Everywhere icon after you have selected them. You can sort or export the keywords in the format you want, perhaps importing them into another program.

The bulk import facility has been disabled because automated bots misused it, submitting thousands of queries per minute. Now if you want to be able to import a list of keywords (and other features), you have to upgrade to the paid version called Keyword Keg. Although some websites still say there is a free version, if you want to see any of your own data rather than the two sample words, you have to update to one of their paid plans, which start at $40 a month.


SpyFu allows you to spy on your competitors. You can see what keywords your competitors rank for and what they do to promote their keywords and site. This information allows you to learn from their successes and their failures.

You get a fantastic boost up when you can learn from the best in your niche. You can capitalize on their successes and avoid the time and expense of their failures. This is especially useful for the new affiliate marketer who may not be exactly sure what the best topic, best keyword, and so on are.

Blog Ideas Generator

Your affiliate marketing success directly depends on your ability to produce a constant stream of valuable, engaging, and interesting content in the form of articles, posts, and pages. We all have periods where we just seem to run dry of new ideas, though.

HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator allows you to add up to five words from which it generates a list of blog topic ideas. If you give it some information, it can generate a year’s worth of blog topic ideas. You can download that list to your computer for further use and analysis. The blog topic idea lists that you generate are great seed lists to generate your own ideas as well.

As with most free tools, the intent is to entice you to use the paid version. However, you can still just enter your information at the website and generate the list. If you want more, you pay.

Market Samurai

Market Samurai is one of the first tools that was out there when affiliate marketers started to develop affiliate marketing businesses and other websites. It is the Swiss army knife of affiliate marketing tools, allowing you to do many different marketing analyses.

However, the free version is actually a 30-day trial. The keyword research tool part of Market Samurai is free and will remain fully functional after the trial period. But after the 30-day trial is up, the other functions, such as the SEO competition, domain search, find content, monetization, promotion, and publish content functions, no longer work. The 30-day trial can give you a good sense of the power of the full version and whether it is right for you.

Using Market Samurai as a keyword research tool, you can enter a keyword and have Market Samurai generate a list of related keywords. It can analyze the list based on up to 14 different factors that are important to the affiliate marketer doing keyword research — factors such as SEO traffic, competition, and commerciality.

You can also use different filters to give you long tail keyword, golden keywords, and so on. Other filters are available, and you can even customize the filters so you get only the keywords that meet your specifications. It draws information from lots of other sources that would charge a monthly fee if you accessed them directly. But by getting the data through Market Samurai, you get it free.


Today more than ever, people are impatient, and the speed of your affiliate marketing website is an important factor in its success. Recognizing this, Google considers how fast your website loads as a very important factor in its rankings. Today Google says that if your page doesn’t load in under three seconds, your visitor will probably click away and go to another site.

There are many different metrics in measuring page speed — time to first bit, fully loaded time, and so forth. GTmetrix is a performance website that measures all the different factors that go into the overall speed of your site. It measures your PageSpeed score, your YSlow score, and your Waterfall, and it gives you a numerical score and colors those metrics in either green, yellow, or red. You can see at a glance whether you’re doing well or in which areas you’re falling down.

Each of the different scores is broken down into the approximately 25 factors that make up those grades. GTmetrix tells you whether fixing the low scores is a high, medium, or low priority. Even if you don’t know what all of those factors mean at this point, GTmetrix can give you suggestions on how to correct those individual factors and raise your speed score.

You can follow some of the GTmetrix suggestions by installing some of the free WordPress plug-ins that are designed to correct some of the speed problems. Using the free plug-ins alone, one affiliate marketer was able to raise the PageSpeed score on one of my websites from a C to an A.

You’ll save yourself a lot of speed headaches if you choose a “clean” WordPress theme, which loads quickly (and is also mobile aware — another important factor today). You also want a theme that works well with your page builder if you’re using one.


SimilarWeb is a great tool for competitive analysis because it brings up sites that are similar to yours. You can put any website into the search bar and see what it’s doing to become successful. You can see the website’s traffic sources and whether they’re from searches or organic.

It also shows you the top search keywords, and whether any traffic is coming from any of the social sites and which ones. So you can get great competitive analysis that shows you what other sites in your affiliate marketing niche are doing to attract traffic, what keywords they are targeting, and so on.

In addition to competitive analysis, it’s also a great tool to help you track your own website. You can see whether your global rank and country rank are going up or down. You can also see the sources of your own traffic. You’ll get a good idea of which of your own campaigns are generating the most results.

Are you wondering whether the latest internet guru and his offer are an imposter, a poser, or the real deal? Throw his website into SimilarWeb. It’s amazing how many gurus and miracle offers that claim tremendous traffic and interest barely register on the needle.


Buffer is a great way to organize and schedule your social media campaigns. It’s hard to organize and schedule all of your posts when you are trying to promote to multiple social accounts. You can build up a queue of posts scheduled into the future so it will appear as if you’re continuing to feed your social accounts new content even if you’re taking a break.

Using a tool like Buffer, you can leverage your social efforts by repurposing the content for different networks. You can also analyze the results to see which posts are most effective and fine-tune your social marketing efforts.

Whenever you’re going on a vacation or otherwise interrupting the flow of your marketing efforts, make sure you schedule a queue of your posts or page on your website or social media platforms to keep your content pipeline full and flowing during your absence. Today’s competition is intense, and the internet hates nothing more than it hates a vacuum.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Ted Sudol is a longtime affiliate marketer who has developed and sold several affiliate marketing websites over the years. His current sites focus on affiliate marketing and precious metals investing.

Paul Mladjenovic is the bestselling author of Stock Investing For Dummies. He’s a Certified Financial Planner as well as a national speaker and home business specialist.

Paul Mladjenovic is a renowned certified financial planner and investing consultant. He has authored six editions of the bestselling Stock Investing For Dummies and is frequently interviewed by media outlets including MarketWatch, Kitco, OANN, and more.

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