I’m a productivity nut and have a slight addiction to testing new tools for building and managing affiliate websites. I can confidently say I’ve tried hundreds of different tools. That’s what happens when technology is always improving and new startups are always coming out with better tools.
Every publisher has their own set of favorite tools and I have my own. There’s no right or wrong website tech stack, because we all come from different backgrounds. I have more of a tech background, so I’ve been able to test a wider range of tools because I’m comfortable being more hands-on.
These are the various tools and resources that I’ve narrowed down to my favorite, go-to ones. I’ll throw in beginner-friendly alternatives too where it makes sense and isn’t that much more expensive.
Project and Task Management
I use Nifty to manage my affiliate websites, client projects, and personal sites. Nifty gives me a centralized place to manage all my projects, tasks, and communications with writers and clients. I’ve used Asana, Monday.com, Trello, Basecamp, and a few other smaller ones. None are able to offer all the features that Nifty does.
Website Technology Stack
A website tech stack is the group of tech solutions I use to build each new niche site. I will also include alternatives here that are more beginner-friendly or if there is a free option. These prices are already lower than what most gurus push out. These offer little or no affiliate commissions, so not many people promote these.
Porkbun is the both the cheapest and easiest to use to register and renew domains. They offer Free Whois Privacy, SSL, Email Forwarding, and other basics that most registrars offer. Porkbun offers a great user interface too because it allows me to change NS and DNS servers without leaving the main dashboard. All the others have a maze of pages to perform actions. I’ve used NameSilo, Namecheap, and GoDaddy in the past. NameSilo was the cheapest to register and renew domains, but then Porkbun came into my world.
Business and Operations – Email, Docs, Storage
Google Workspace is a must for me for its email, documents, and storage management. I create all domain emails (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org) with the basic account that’s $6 per month. I also use Google Docs and Sheets for everything. Store all files onto Google Drive as well. If you’re solo and don’t have a team, $6 and 1 Google Workspace account will take care of up to 20 domains and niche sites. It’s well worth it for email for 20 domains. There’re cheap email solutions, but not at the value that Workspace gives.
All my sites are on Vultr High Frequency (HF) VPS Servers for their speed and near 100% uptime. They allow for complete customization. This isn’t for everyone though as you need some technical knowledge to manage your own servers. There are server management apps like Cpanel and Plesk to manage your server and niche sites. Plesk is a one-click app you install when creating the server. It’s made for WordPress site management and the Free plan allows you to manage 3 domains. The paid plan allows for up to 30 domains. Vultr HF servers are $6 a month, so it’s cheaper and faster than most shared hosting, but you need to manage the server yourself.
Shared hosting is the budget option as they’re generally the cheapest. SiteGround provides reliable shared hosting servers that are managed completely by SiteGround. You only need to worry about your WordPress installation, because they take care of the servers. If you have any issues, just contact their support, who are known to reply quickly. What I don’t like about shared hosting is you share servers and IP addresses with other sites. If there was a neighbor site with sensitive content, your website would be connected and it could potentially hurt your own site. Lower cost shared hosting are usually slower too.
Managed VPS servers are a hybrid of having your own VPS servers, while enjoying the advantage of someone else managing the servers. You’d be able to enjoy a Vultr HF server and Cloudways will manage it for you. You mostly only need to manage WordPress itself. This hybrid option is a good option for those who are less technically inclined, but you still need to do some management as well. Cloudways is more expensive than Vultr alone because you’re paying for their management services. The cost is usually about 2x the cost of a standalone VPS server. They offer VPS servers from other providers like Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, DigitalOcean, Linode, and others.
CDN – Content Delivery network
BunnyCDN is the best CDN for the money that I’ve found. They offer amazing speeds across their servers all around the world. A CDN offers your site from servers closest to your visitors, all over the world. Google’s Core Web Vitals will be ranking signals in May 2021, meaning you need to serve faster experiences to your visitors if you want to be found in Google. BunnyCDN’s prices are unbeatable. I don’t spend more than $1.00 per month (the minimum required), so a deposit of $12.00 will pay for a full year. Cloudflare does have a Free option, but it’s slowed down a lot as they push their paid plans, which are much more than $1.00 per month.
CMS – Content Management System
WordPress is the only game in town for the majority of affiliate niche bloggers. People who use other blogging platforms like Ghost or even Jekyll are tech-savvy, because the support and plugins available are limited. Using WordPress will allow bloggers to get up and running faster.
I don’t know how many themes I’ve tested over the years, but GeneratePress has now become my default WordPress theme for any niche site I have. The Free version of GeneratePress is great, but I do pay for the Premium version for more customization options with colors, typography, WooCommerce, menus, and more. For $49.95, you also get access to a number of pre-made templates in their Site Library, along with support.
WordPress Page Builder
Brizy is the easiest and most intuitive page builder out there, and there’s a Free version. The paid Pro version offers many block templates and that’s highly valuable to save time when building pages. Page builders do slow down pages, so I only use Brizy if I’m looking to make any specifically designed pages, like a home page. Elementor and Elegant Themes Divi are both popular and not too difficult to use either, but there is a learning curve with all three. The learning curve is the lowest with Brizy, while Divi has the highest. Elementor 3.0 was made to make it more intuitive, but has resulted in many bugs that turned me away.
Newsletter and Email Marketing
Curated is what I use to curate various links for the weekly Niche Surfer newsletter. There are multiple ways to collect news and videos, including email, Slack, and a Chrome bookmarklet. I like their clean design that also offers the ability to customize to match the brand. You can use one of the other email services like ConvertKit and Moosend, but I see them serving a different purpose. Curated formats everything for you and there’s no need to play around with formatting. You simply need to enter the link, copy, and an image.
Moosend has become my favorite platform to create and send email campaigns. They have a great Sub-Account feature to keep email lists for different niche sites separated. It’s perfect because visitors don’t usually crossover between niche sites. For agencies, you’re able to keep brands separated. I don’t need to worry about sending the wrong emails to the wrong email list. ConvertKit is a great second option if you don’t have multiple audiences and want to be able to sell products inside your emails.