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I recently invested in the Thirsty Affiliates Pro Plugin during the Black Friday sales, and I have to tell you, I’m a little bit in love… In fact, I can no longer fathom how I ever managed without this handy little plugin!
The good news is that you don’t have to have the pro version of Thirsty Affiliates either, you can actually download this plugin for free and there are still loads of great features. It’s still a great option for beginner affiliate marketers.
In this Thirsty Affiliates review, I will show you what features are available in the free and pro versions and how to use them to protect your links from commission poachers, keep you organised, save you a LOT of time and help you track your progress.
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But first, what is the Thirsty Affiliates plugin?
The thirsty affiliates programme is an organisation system for all of your affiliate links. It allows you to cloak your links, making them look nicer and protecting them from poachers. (We’ll go into that in just a moment.)
It also allows you to access your links from within your post editor at the click of a button rather than go hunting for a link each and every time.
Trust me when I tell you, it has already saved me hours just using it in one affiliate-heavy article!
What is link cloaking and why should I bother?
Link Cloaking is where a link is changed into an alternative link which is
1/ neater looking
2/ less obviously an affiliate link
3/ easier to remember on the go.
For example, your link may start off look like this: www.affiliateprogram/af35785937hj8ts6555
I mean, good luck remembering that if someone asks for your link!
Once it is cloaked it may look like this: www.passiveincomesuperstars.com/recommends/affiliate-link
All cloaked affiliate links will follow the same structure.
Reasons why you should cloak links
There are several reasons why you should cloak your links but firstly you should know that it is NOT to mislead your readers as I have read online before. You always need to make sure affiliate links are acknowledged as such with a statement in your articles.
Here are the reasons you should be doing it;
- To protect your links from commission poachers. Links that are very obviously affiliate links are vulnerable to people poaching them. They edit the code and redirect the referral meaning that they earn your commission. Cloaked links are harder to identify as affiliate links meaning they are less vulnerable to affiliate theft.
- By cloaking your links, they are easy to memorise. Say you recommend a product during a conversation on Facebook or a forum and someone asks you for your link, you can instantly respond without having to try and track it down.
- Having cloaked links means that if in 6 months time, the brand you are promoting change their website and your link becomes invalid, you can just change it once in your list of cloaked links and it will be changed across your website. Just imagine having to go through each page and each link individually? For this very reason, I wish I had known about the Thirsty Affiliates Plugin from the day I launched my first website!
- Sharing a cloaked link also looks much neater on social media, helping to keep your posts looking professional.
- You can assign information to your cloaked links and essentially set and forget them. For example, you can make the links no-follow and open in a new tab. You can assign an alternative link for different locations or assign keywords. Once it’s done, you never have to edit these settings individually. SO much time saved!
What about Amazon links?
Amazon has a very strict affiliate programme with a different set of rules to other affiliate programmes. One of those rules is that you can’t cloak their links. Whilst it’s a shame, it’s important to follow the rules or risk getting kicked out of their programme.
Luckily, you can still use Amazon links with Thirsty Affiliates to benefit from the convenient drop-down link box and the detailed affiliate reports.
You have the option to uncloak specific links. Or alternatively, you can uncloak an entire category of links. I label all of my Amazon links with ‘amazon’ and ask Thirsty Affiliates to uncloak all links in that category. That way, if I forget, it’s done for me! Simple!
What are the benefits of the free Thirsty Affiliates programme?
- You can keep all your affiliate links organised in one place.
- You can cloak your links for free helping to keep them neat and protected from commission poachers.
- You can easily add your affiliate links with one click from a drop-down box rather than hunting for your affiliate links every time you need them.
- You can uncloak Amazon links to stay compliant.
- You can set all of your affiliate links to be no-follow and open in a new tab but you can’t change this for specific links.
- You can affiliate links as images.
- You will have access to basic reporting features to track the success of your affiliate links.
I would at the very least recommend getting the free version so you can start to organise your links even if you’re not ready to purchase the pro version. It’s always such a headache to go back and change all your links further down the line!
What are the benefits of the pro Thirsty Affiliates programme?
The Pro version is totally worth the money in my opinion, for the added features you get which saves me so much time. I ended up getting the license for multiple websites so I can use the features on both of my sites.
Here are some of my favourite pro features;
You can assign keywords to your affiliate links so that your affiliate links get added every time you use the assigned text. Great for making sure you’re not missing out on sales when you forget to add links!
You can specify how many times this happens during one post so you don’t swamp a post with affiliates. You can also specify if you want to avoid titles turning into affiliate links.
You can choose the keywords in order of preference. So say you had a sentence saying ‘ Check out this affiliate link here.’ This whole phrase might be a keyword. Equally, ‘affiliate link’ is another keyword. You can specify which is more important so it knows how much of the text to use for the link. You simply type the more important key phrases first when you are choosing them.
If you have links which only work for certain regions, you can assign alternative regions for other places. For example, most of my Amazon links are for the US site. However, the same product may not be offered in the UK Amazon programme. In which case, the link will lead to a page which says ‘We can’t find that link.’
With Thirsty Affiliates Pro, I assign another link to a similar page for my UK audience so I know that no one will reach a dead end when they click out from my website.
It’s so quick to do this. I just open up both the UK and US versions of Amazon and I can add them both in seconds.
Amazon API Importing
If you have access to API importing with your Amazon Associates account, you can search for the product from within WordPress.
The great thing about this is that it will pull the alternative links for different locations and add them automatically to your geotags!
Using the ‘One link’ function, you can rapidly search for and add several new affiliate links in one search. Great if you are creating a gift guide, packing list or top 10 Amazon product style post.
Link scheduling allows you to set specific dates for links to divert for example to a sales page over Black Fridayweekend. As soon as the time period is over, the link reverts to the main page so you won’t have broken links when they remove the sales page.
Specify details for individual links
You can specify details for individual links. For example, choosing if a link should open in the same window, if it should be cloaked or if it is do-follow on no-follow.
Most of my links are set up for no-follow as this is best practice for affiliate links. But it might be that you want to track links to other pages that are not affiliate links.
For example, I want easy access to my freebies for my newsletter sign up. I’ve set these up as thirsty links so I can access them super quickly and assign keywords so I don’t miss the opportunity to promote my email list.
That said, links like this do not need to be no-follow so I untick the box and uncloak the link.
Get access to detailed reports
The pro version of Thirsty Affiliates offers detailed affiliate reports which you can use to optimise your affiliate strategy going forward.
You can access general click reports both for your site in general or specific links or programmes.
You can access a table showing you details of every click including the time, date, location and page where the click originated.
You can review your success by location so that you are targeting the right people or search by keywords to see which are being clicked more often.
There is also a link health report which gives you a heads up if anything is out of order with any of your links and how to fix them.
Add an automatic affiliate disclosure
Hands up, who’s on occasion, forgot to add their affiliate disclosure?
It happens to us all, we’re only human.
But with the pro version of Thirsty Affiliates, you can set and forget your affiliate disclosure safe in the knowledge that every page will be kept legal.
Control the visibility of links for multi-author sites
If you have a virtual assistant and you want them to optimise your website for affiliate links, you can choose what information they have access to.
How to use Thirsty Affiliates Plugin
You can download the free version of Thirsty Affiliates by searching for it in the search for new plugins function.
If you decide to purchase the pro version, you will need to download both the free and Pro plugin which works together.
When you register for the Pro account, they will email you with a link to download the pro version and a license key to use.
Keep the pro version unzipped and you can upload the unzipped file directly to your plugins folder.
From there, work your way through all the various settings choosing your preferred options.
To add an affiliate link is simple, there will be an option in your wordpress sidebar.Click ‘add new affiliate link,’ name it something short and snappy and add your regular affiliate URL.
Make sure you choose a category for it to find it easily.
You can then choose if you want to add a geotag, some keywords or attach images.
Make sure you click save to save it to your library of links.
You can then go to a post and start writing your article. When you want to add an affiliate link, highlight the text and click the button to the right or a regular ‘add link.’ This will show a drop-down box with your thirsty affiliate link adder. Start typing the name of the product in the search box and a list of all relevant links will pop up. You just click the one you want!
If you want to add an image as your affiliate link, you can select the Thirsty affiliates image box in Gutenberg editor. Search for your affiliate as normal and it will show you a list of pictures assigned to that link which you can choose from.
Frequently asked questions about the Thirsty Affiliates Programme
Can Thirsty affiliates be used on Square Space websites?
No, at present, it’s only available for websites built with WordPress
Does Thirsty Affiliates work with Gutenberg?
Yes, it works with both the classic editor and Gutenberg.
Do you need to know any CSS to use Thirsty Affiliates?
Nope, absolutely none. I am a technophobe when it comes to CSS!
Can you use buttons for thirsty affiliate links?
Sadly not. But you can copy and paste your thirsty link into the URL box, but currently, there’s no drop-down box option. Hopefully, they’ll change that one day. I currently just add those manually by copying the link from links elsewhere in the article.
Is there an affiliate programme?
Yes, there is, so in theory, you may be able to earn the money back and maybe even turn it into revenue. Even if you don’t blog about blogging, you could make a pin for your Pinterest boards or recommend it to your friends.
Hopefully, this Thirsty Affiliates Review will have helped you decide if to invest in the pro or free version.Personally, I love the pro version but understand not everyone is ready to invest yet. I truly believe that either way, this plugin will help you perfect your affiliate strategy as well as save you a tonne of time and effort.
If you want more affiliate marketing tips, make sure you join my Facebook group where I update the community with affiliate tips every day!
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