38 Essential Tools For Affiliate Marketing

My Personal Recommendation [UPDATED 2017]


In this resource page, I want to share with you a list of 38 essential tools for affiliate marketing which I personally use for my business. Many of these tools are indispensable not just for me, but also for many other successful affiliate marketers.

If you are new to affiliate marketing and want to start your own affiliate marketing business for FREE, I have a Recommended Starter Package for you!

essential tools for affiliate marketing

Just like what Abraham Lincoln had said,

"Give Me 6 Hours To Chop Down A Tree and I'll Spend The First 4 Sharpening The Axe"

Click to Tweet

​It is very crucial to have the right tools for you to achieve success more efficiently. I hope my list of tools here can give you some inspirations or even help you directly for your affiliate marketing business.

Full Disclosure:

Some of the links in this page are affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission if you decide to purchase anything through my link. The commission I earn, at no extra cost to you, helps me run my website.

I have tested all the tools below. My recommendations are solely based on my personal experience. I recommend them because they are really useful from my experience, not because of the small commission I can make.

If you're not comfortable with purchasing through my affiliate link, simply open a new tab and go to the URL directly without my affiliate ID. I hope you enjoy finding out the tools I use to run my online business :)

Running On A Tight Budget?

I'm aware that many of you are running on a really tight budget especially at the beginning stage of your business. I was in that situation before as well. I know the pain and difficulties.

As much as possible, I try to use tools that are free. However, sometimes investments are inevitable if you're really serious at making money.

My recommendation will be focusing on minimal budget and I'll document all my expenditures so that you can have a sense of my online business costs.

Tight Budget illustration

I'm sure that's what you are looking for, right? Let's get started with a quick navigation of contents first...

The 4 main things you need to get started with affiliate marketing are:

  1. ​A Website for you to connect buyers to sellers
  2. Some Training and Help to keep you on the right track
  3. A Keyword Research Tool for you to write SEO friendly contents
  4. Affiliate Networks with various affiliate products for you to promote & make money!

siterubix logo
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Website Builder & Hosting: SiteRubix

SiteRubix offers both website hosting and website building services. You're able to build your very own WordPress website under a minute with just a few simple clicks and no coding is required.

There are many other web hosting services but I recommend SiteRubix because of 2 main reasons:

  1. They have a really strong Support Team to help you efficiently solve your technical issues.
  2. They offers a couple of useful tools for FREE to help optimize your website.

The 3 main tools are SiteSpeed, SiteSSL and SiteProtection. Their purpose are to speed up your site, secure your site and protect your site against spam respectively.

My Expenditure:

Hosting 1 domain of your own usually costs around USD$13.99 to $15.99 (You can build 2 FREE subdomain websites at SiteRubix)


Wealthy affiliate logo
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Affiliate Marketing Training & Community: Wealthy Affiliate

​As a beginner, you definitely need proper guidance and training in order to succeed and make money online.

Wealthy Affiliate is the ​platform that taught me everything from scratch when I started looking for ways to make money online.

There are 4 main things you can benefit from Wealthy Affiliate:

  1. ​Thorough Step-by-step Training
  2. Useful Tools like Website Builder (SiteRubix is developed by the Co-founders of WA as well), Website Manager, Keyword Research, etc.
  3. Technical Support from WA Support Team as well as the Co-Founders directly
  4. Help & Support from the entire Community with thousands of helpful and friendly online marketers and entrepreneurs

Now, it's my turn to recommend this powerful place with you to help you start your own online business.

My Expenditure:

I'm an active Premium member of Wealthy Affiliate and its Premium Membership costs USD$49/month OR $359/year.

(You can start utilizing and learning from their FREE resources as a Free Starter Member.)


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Keyword Research Tool: Jaaxy

Jaaxy is a Premium Keyword Research Tool developed by the Co-founders of Wealthy Affiliate as well.

I know I've mentioned that Wealthy Affiliate offers a Keyword Research Tool within its platform. 

So, Jaaxy is not a necessary tool if you're a beginner but it's a more powerful Keyword Tool for those more advanced marketers.

Since I'm using it and I promised to document all my expenses, I'm putting it here for your reference.

If you're a more experienced and advanced marketer, you may want to check out Jaaxy. It has much more functions and more detailed results than all the free tools.

Free Alternative: Google Keyword Planner​

Keyword Planner is a free keyword research tool offered by Google. To use GKP, you just need a Google account to sign up for Google AdSense. It is a tool inside AdSense.

The advantage is that it's free and it's a service from Google so it will definitely be accurate. But the disadvantage is that the results shown are not detailed. It only shows a rough number.

My Expenditure:

USD$199/year OR $19/month


affiliate networks
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Affiliate Networks

Affiliate networks are the main platforms for you to find relevant affiliate products to promote on your website. They are all Free to join. Simply create an account with them.

The 4 main platforms are:

  1. Amazon Associate (More for Physical Products)
  2. ShareASale
  3. ClickBank (More for Digital Products)
  4. Commission Junction

There are a lot more these kind of affiliate networks and also private affiliate programs. Simply do some research in Google and you'll find out that there are a lot of potential in this affiliate marketing world!

Essential Google Tools

Google is the main search engine in the world. If you want to get ranked well and get huge organic traffic to your website, you must first understand what Google wants.

Followings are the FREE tools offered by Google to help you build and market your website. (You just need ONE Google account to access all these free services from Google)


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Google Analytics

Google Analytics allows you to track all the useful information and statistics regarding your website.

It helps you to understand how your website is performing by analyzing the users' behavior and activities on your website.​

You can find out how much time your visitors are spending on your site, how many pages they are reading, where do they come from, etc.

It is a necessary tool because you need to know which part of your website is performing well and which part needs to be improved on, so that you can optimize it and make more money.​


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Google Search Console

Google Search Console, previously known as Google Webmaster Tool, is a platform that helps Google to understand your website.

Google needs to understand your website first before they can index and rank your pages at the suitable places and rankings.​

Some of the things you can do in Search Console include requesting Google to crawl (look at)​ your site, check for errors on your site, submit a Sitemap for Google to index your site more easily, etc.

So, if you are not using Google Search Console, it's definitely a lot harder for Google to understand your site and give your site a decent attention​.

Basically, Google Analytics is a tool for YOU to understand your audience while Google Search Console is a tool for Google to understand your website.​


Google Adsense logo
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Google AdSense

Google AdSense is a way for website owners to make an extra source of passive income online by putting Google advertisements on your website.

If you've heard people saying they can earn money by simply allowing people to click on the Ads on their website, Google AdSense is the tool for that.​

However, the amount you can earn is very small if you don't have a huge traffic because you're only paid a few cents (maybe up to a dollar) for each click. For those websites with tons of traffic, AdSense can be a huge income for their owners.

Before you start putting Ads on your website, it needs to be approved by Google first. They will only approve you if your website has a decent amount of content and they deem it as valuable.

It can be quite troublesome and challenging when you first apply for it though. If you're just starting out, work on the foundation and the content of your site first before looking into AdSense.

Other Essential Online Tools

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Email Service Provider (ESP): ConvertKit

Email Service Provider is a tool for you to build an Email list and market your products in the form of Email Marketing.

There are many ESP in the market, with AWeber being one of the most common and popular one. For me, I recommend ConvertKit.

Let me explain why...

A Mini ESP Comparison:

Personally, I've used MailChimp and AWeber before I switch to ConvertKit.

If you're looking for a Free ESP, then go for MailChimp. They don't really have any advanced functions for their Free version but their advantage is that they have this free option for beginners to try things out.

If you're a little bit more experienced, you will need a more advanced ESP. AWeber is a decent tool that is enough for majority of the bloggers and marketers.

However, the disadvantage of AWeber is that it is hard to segment your list. They also have a problem of "double counting" your subscribers in different lists and count your unsubscribers as subscribers when charging you the monthly fee.

Although ConvertKit is a little more expensive than AWeber, it is more powerful in its functions yet it's also very easy to use. AWeber is more complicated.

My Expenditure:

USD$29/month if you have less than 1K subscribers.


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Crowdfire

Social Media Marketing is a great way to grow your online business. Crowdfire is a tool to help you manage and grow your social media accounts.

If you've heard of Hootsuite or Buffer, you probably know that they are tools to help you schedule​ your social media posts.

Crowdfire does more than simply scheduling your post. It offers you a list of actionable instructions on what content to Like/Share and who to follow/unfollow by analyzing your accounts and your settings.

I feel it's much simpler and more effective to grow my social influence with Crowdfire. That's why I upgraded from their Free version to paying $9.99 per month.

My Expenditure:

USD$9.99/month for my current plan (There's a Free Version as well)


free stock images illustration
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Free Stock Images

When you're building your site, you'll definitely need some photos along the way to make your content more visually appealing.

However, many photos online are actually copyrighted and you need to pay in order to use them. These are called "Royalty Free Images".​

​I'm sure those of you with tight budgets wouldn't want to pay a lot of money just to get the rights to use the images. That's when "Free Stock Images" comes in.

Following are 3 websites for you to download Free Stock Images without any copyright issues:

  1. ​Pexels.com
  2. Pixabay.com
  3. Unsplash.com

Make sure to bookmark these websites so that you know where to go next time when you need some free and good-looking images.

Other "Royalty Free Images" Sites For Your Reference:

  1. StockPhotoSecrets Shop
  2. Shutterstock
  3. iStock
  4. Adobe Stock
  5. depositphotos
  6. gettyimages

(Take note of the differences between "Royalty Free Images" and "Free Stock Images". Basically, Royalty Free Images are paid and Free Stock Images are absolutely FREE for download.)


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Canva

Canva is a FREE graphic design tool which allows you to create your own graphics for your website.

For your information, I create almost all the graphics in this website using Canva. I use it for my social media posts as well.

It's a really easy-to-use and powerful graphic design tool that every blogger, marketer and website owner should be using.​


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Piktochart

Piktochart is a tool that allows you to create good-looking infographics for your website content without the need to hire professional graphic designers.

It has been proven that having infographics​ allow your content to be more easily shared. It's a good way to boost your social sharing and make certain contents go viral.

The Free Version is enough for basic usage​. You can upgrade your plans if you need more templates.


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Fiverr

Fiverr is a freelancing platform for marketers and online entrepreneurs like you to outsource technical works to the gurus and get it done in an cost-effective way.

Most of the basic services offered on Fiverr are charged at $5. That's why it's called "Fiverr". But there are also custom services and add-ons available at custom prices depending on the seller.​

As a blogger or affiliate marketer, you can outsource stuffs like logo design, programming, web design, content creation, etc.

I've personally outsourced logo design and content creation before to the gurus on Fiverr. From my experience, you can really get what you want because the platform allows you to communicate with the gurus easily.

CAVEAT

Please stay away from gurus offering Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services like backlinks and PageRank because you never know whether they are using blackhat SEO or not. Blackhat SEO strategies can hurt your site really badly.

This is just a warning from me. You can get all freelancing services except SEO services!​


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Online Marketing Forums

Relevant online forums are good places to hang out with like-minded people in the same niche.

​What's more important to you is that you can utilize these forums to promote your website and grow your business.

There are certain strategies though. If you blatantly promote your website without following the rules of the forum, you'll be considered as spam and will most likely be banned.​

Follow this guide if you want to learn more about Forum Marketing.​

Anyway,​ the following 2 forums are great places to hang out as a blogger or affiliate marketer:

  1. ​Warrior Forum
  2. Digital Point Forum

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Bitly

Bitly is a Free tool that allows you to shorten, customize and track your links.

It is very useful especially for Twitter when you have character limits​. In addition, its Chrome extension allows you to easily shorten the URL on the page directly.

Other similar tools include TinyURL and goo.gl (Google URL Shortener).​


jing logo
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Jing

Jing is a Free tool that allows you to take shareable screenshots from your computer.

What I mean by "shareable screenshots" is that Jing gives you an URL for each screenshot you take. To share it with others online, you can simply copy-paste that URL and​ send it to others.

I believe I don't have to emphasize on the usefulness of screenshots because it's so common nowadays.

There are a couple of other similar screenshot tools online but Jing is one of the only tools that is Free and available on both Windows and Mac.

Kind Reminder:

You're going to be creating quite a number of accounts with different tools to run your online business. Make sure you record down all your account details, especially passwords, in one place so that you know where to find your password when you need it.

WordPress Essentials

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Theme: Thrive Themes

Thrive Themes is a company that offers conversion focused WordPress themes & plugins. Their themes are built for speed, readability and clarity.

I've been using majority of the Thrive products since I became a Thrive Themes​ member. I love Thrive products because they make my website building experience a lot easier and enjoyable.

There are 2 ways to acquire Thrive products. One is to purchase the license for the individual products and the other is to purchase their membership to have access to all the Thrive products, support and training.​

(I'll introduce more Thrive plugins below.​)

My Expenditure:

Thrive membership to access all themes & plugins: USD$228/year

All the individual Thrive products are charged at $67 per license


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Plugin: Thrive Content Builder

Thrive Content Builder is the fastest and most intuitive visual editor for WordPress. It allows you to build your WordPress pages on the front-end by using 'drag-and-drop' feature.

The advantage of this is that you can see directly how your website looks like while you're constructing it in real time. The ​usual WordPress editor doesn't allow you to preview your page until you click on the "Preview" button and open up a new tab.

It also allows you to ​create professional and good-looking elements on your page without any coding required. Some of the things include call-to-actions, testimonials, pricing tables, countdown timers, "Click to Tweet" box, table of contents, etc...

Basically, you have total control on the appearance of your page, even the tiny details like margins and spacing can be controlled. These are impossible to be done in WordPress editor.​

With Thrive Content Builder, you don't have to hire any professional designers to design your website. You are your own designer for your professional-looking website!​


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Plugin: Thrive Clever Widget

Thrive Clever Widget allows you to customize your widget area, such as your sidebar, for different pages and posts.

​You can have full control over what you want to show to your visitors in the sidebar at different pages. This can greatly increase conversion because it makes your widget area more relevant and user-friendly.


thrive leads icon
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Plugin: Thrive Leads

Thrive Leads is an All-in-One Email list building tool. You're able to create and design any type of opt-in forms on your website for maximum conversion.

The major benefits include:

  • ​Lots of opt-in templates to choose from
  • Able to customize every single details to fit your website/business
  • Able to integrate with more than 30 Email Marketing Service Provider for you to collect and manage your Email list
  • Able to run A/B testing, analysis and create opt-in form animations

thrive landing pages icon
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Plugin: Thrive Landing Pages

Thrive Landing Pages allows you to create beautiful, conversion optimized and 100% editable landing pages for various purpose on your website.

There are currently 162 landing page templates available in this plugin. There are more and more templates constantly being added along the way.

Some of the landing pages you can build include opt-in pages, sales pages, webinar registration pages, homepages, review ​pages, personal branding pages, etc...


For the following plugins, it's more convenient to directly download it in your WordPress "add new plugin" page.
Simply copy the name of the plugin into the search bar and you can download and activate it straightaway.

Yoast SEO for WordPress logo
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Plugin: Yoast SEO

Any WordPress website owner definitely needs a plugin for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because that allows your website to be indexed and ranked in search engine more easily.

There are 2 major plugins for this - Yoast SEO & All-in-One SEO​. Both of them have similar functions and perform really well.

I prefer Yoast because it has a few more advanced features. But the downside is that it is a little bit more complicated than All-in-One SEO from my experience.


Pretty Link logo
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Plugin: Pretty Link

Pretty Link is a handy plugin especially for affiliate marketers to shorten and customize any URL.

Affiliate links often have some messy-looking characters in the URL​ and Pretty Link can help you customize it to the URL you want and track the number of clicks on it.

The difference between Pretty Link and Bitly is that Pretty Link is a plugin integrated in WordPress while Bitly works on a complete different platform on its own.

Pretty Link allows you to customize the link according ​to your website URL while Bitly cannot.


Q2W3 Fixed Widget
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Plugin: Q2W3 Fixed Widget

Q2W3 Fixed Widget allows you to fix any widget on the sidebar so it will "stick" there while you scroll down the page.

In this way, you can ​capture readers' attention on the things you want to convert more. (E.g. Opt-in forms, Banners, etc.)


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Plugin: Contact Form 7

Every website should have a Contact Page which allows people to contact you.

Contact Form 7 is a simple and easy-to-use contact form plugin for WordPress. Its contact form is nothing fancy but it works well and it's more than enough for majority of the bloggers and affiliate marketers.


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Plugin: Comment Approved

The default WordPress commenting system won't notify the visitors whether their comments have been approved or people have replied to it.

Comment Approved plugin sends a customized Email to those who have left a comment when their comments are approved.​

This will encourage more comments, discussions and engagements, which in turn will also benefit the ranking of the content.​


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Plugin: Yet Another Stars Rating (YASR)

As an affiliate marketer, you often need to create reviews on various products and services in your niche. YASR allows you to add rating stars into the review and tells Google that this is a review page.

stars rating in SERPS screenshot

An example showing rating stars in the search results page using YASR

The benefit of this is that it can potentially improve your rankings in Google.


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Kraken.io

Kraken is an online tool which allows you to optimize the size of your images before uploading them to your WordPress website.

This is necessary because it compresses the size of the images to make your website runs faster.​ The speed of your website actually plays a very important role because no one wants to surf a slow website.

Kraken​ offers various pricing options for users with different needs. But their Free Web Interface is enough for me so I'm not paying for this tool.

Essentials Apps

The following Apps are mainly to help bloggers and affiliate marketers to run and manage part of your business on your smartphone when you don't have access to your laptops.


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Evernote

Evernote is a very useful tool that allows you to jot down any kind of notes/ideas and sync it across your devices. This means that you're able to edit your note from any of your devices in real time, be it smartphone, tablets and laptops.

This tool is useful for bloggers and affiliate marketers to record down your blog post ideas, To-Do-List, plans or anything that pops up to your mind anytime.

When you have new ideas or inspirations for your website/business, you should quickly record it down in tools like Evernote before you forget it.

I've tried some other similar tools but none of them work as smoothly and effectively as Evernote.

In Evernote, you can record things in text format, image, video, recording, drawing, etc. The Free Version allows you to sync across 3 different devices which is just nice for smartphone, tablet and laptop!

(Windows, Mac, Android and IOS versions are all available)


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Google Analytics

Google Analytics have App versions which allows website owners to track their website performance and statistics on their phone.

The difference of the App from the Web version is that there are less functions and settings in the App because its main purpose is to allow users to keep track of their website.​


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Facebook Pages Manager

If you have a Facebook Page for your business (which is recommended to have for website owners), Facebook Pages Manager allows you to monitor and manage your Facebook Page on your phone.


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TimeTree

TimeTree is a very convenient and shareable calendar App. It allows you to easily create a shared calendar with your family, loved ones or co-workers.

This is a handy tool if you are working with virtual assistance or other professionals for your business because it allows all of you to edit and keep track of the schedule.​

There's a more suitable tool for bloggers ​and affiliate marketers to build your own organized marketing calendar which is called CoSchedule. However, it is a paid tool and I'm not personally using it yet.


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Fiverr

The Fiverr App is almost the same as it's web version. It allows you to easily outsource your work to the gurus on your phone directly.


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CrowdFire

Similarly for Crowdfire, its App version is almost the same as its web version. Crowdfire App allows you to manage and schedule your social media posts conveniently on your phone.

Essentials Resources

As I've mentioned at the beginning, Wealthy Affiliate is the platform that taught me everything from scratch about online marketing, especially affiliate marketing.

Along the way, I've discovered more useful resources to learn from and supplement my learning. So, let me share them with you ​in this last section...


the smart passive income blog by Pat Flynn
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The Smart Passive Income Blog

​Smart Passive Income (SPI) is a website by Pat Flynn, who is one of my most respected idol on the Internet.

He is a very inspirational and helpful person who offers lots of great information and advice regarding online marketing.​

If you've not heard of him or seen his website, I urge you to check it out because you'll gain a ton of values and learn a lot of things from him.​


the smart passive income podcast
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The Smart Passive Income Podcast

The SPI Podcast is obviously by Pat Flynn as well.

​Podcast is another way for him to offer valuable information regarding online marketing to his audience. I often listen to his Podcast while travelling and I've since benefited a lot.

If you're an iPhone user, it's very easy to listen it on the Podcast App.​


extra paycheck podcast
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Extra Paycheck Podcast

Extra Paycheck Podcast is a Podcast run by one of my fellow successful Wealthy Affiliate member, Alex Sol.

The things he talks about on his Podcast are similar to what SPI Podcast has to offer: Online Marketing.​

I've also been listening to it and learnt a lot from him.

Again, if you're an iPhone user, simply listen in the Podcast App.​


31 Days to Millionaire Marketing Miracles book cover

This book covers all the necessary things you need to know to get started with online marketing, from the mindset to the solid marketing skills and knowledge.

It's not only focusing on affiliate marketing though. It covers "online marketing" as a whole. There are guidance on Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Pay Per Click (PPC), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), etc.

In this book, Tracy not only shares her stories, experience and tips, but she also includes actions plans at the end of each chapter for you to follow and take real actions.

For anyone who are just getting started with online marketing, I would highly recommend you to read this book. It will give you a clear overview on how to get from your current situation to getting paid while you sleep to financial freedom.

You definitely won't succeed just by reading this book. There are a lot more things to be learnt for each of the online marketing strategies mentioned in this book. But this book gives you a good overview and a strong foundation when getting started.

The first time I got to know about this book was from a local library. After I finished reading it, I decided to get a copy of mine for me to read it again and for future reference.

That's how much I love this book!

My Total Annual Expenditure

Website Domain + WA Yearly Membership + Jaaxy Keyword Tool + ConvertKit + Thrive Themes Membership + Crowdfire

= $13.99 + $359 + $199 + $29 x 12months + $228 + $9.99 x 12months

= $1,267.87 per year

= $105.66 per month

= $3.52 per day

Above is my current total annual expenditure for my online business. You may be scared by the $1,000+ expenditure at first. But when you break it down to the cost per day, it's just $3.52/day of investment. (It costs less than a cup of coffee a day to run your business!)

Starting an online business is definitely not very costly. It's actually a lot cheaper than starting a traditional franchise or "brick and mortar" business. And the success rate of an online business is also a lot higher than the traditional ones.

If you're just starting out online, you can get started at absolutely no cost to you!

Below is my recommended package for you:

Recommended Starter Package!

Like I've mentioned in the first section of the essential tools to get started with affiliate marketing, the 4 main things you need to have are:

  1. A Website
  2. Training & Help
  3. Keyword Research Tool
  4. Affiliate Networks

So, the things you need to get started for FREE are:

  1. FREE Subdomain Website (SiteRubix)
  2. FREE Starter Membership at Wealthy Affiliate
  3. Keyword Tool provided in Wealthy Affiliate Membership
  4. Any Affiliate Programs for you to promote affiliate products

Ready To Start Your Own Affiliate Marketing Business At No Cost To You?