Affiliate Marketing Toolbox – How Many of These 10 Tools Are You Using?

So you want to be an affiliate marketer? Cool.

You’ve realized it’s the fastest way to get out of the 9-5 Rat Race and start making money online. You’ve done a few small test campaigns to get your feet wet. You’re already further along than most.

You may have already made your first sale and even though it didn’t make you rich, you know what it feels like to generate money out of thin air. Feels good doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, if you’re like most people who do affiliate marketing, you’re probably just barely scratching the surface of what’s possible.

Most new affiliates I talk to are working without a complete set of tools. Affiliate network account but no website, landing page but no tracking system.

You’re cutting corners to save time and money because you want to get some cash coming in before you go “all in” on your setup. Right?

Bad Idea.

Today I’m going to give you a checklist to see where you’re at.

Here’s are 10 tools you should have in your affiliate marketing toolbox and my recommendations for each. Some are free and some aren’t. Some are expertly hidden affiliate links. But as always, I never recommend anything on this site that I don’t use myself.

What’s your score? Read through the list and at the end, we’ll add up your score, which I want you to share in the comments.

Affiliate Marketing Toolbox Checklist

1. Web Host. If you’re going to advertise online you have to have a website, which means you need a web host. Hosting charges range from $4/month to $400/month depending on what you’re doing and how much traffic you have.

Recommended Tools:

  1. Low Traffic: Bluehost shared ($3.95/month)
  2. Medium Traffic: Bluehost VPS
  3. High Traffic: WireTree Dedicated Server

2. Landing Page: 95% of the campaigns I run use landing pages. Why? Because they allow me to pre-sell customers on why they should buy the product I’m promoting. By the time the customer gets to the product page they’ve already decided to buy.

Recommended Tools:

  1. Dreamweaver
  2. Bluecrab
  3. Aptana

3. Graphic Design App. You need a way to create banner ads and landing page graphics. You don’t need to be a great designer, you just need to be able to make basic ads, i.e. be able to add borders, images and words.

I recommend Photoshop, it isn’t cheap, I pay for my software these days and feel great about it, but it is out there on pirate sites if you need something to start with.

Recommended Tools:

  1. Photoshop
  2. Pixlr
  3. GIMP

4. Affiliate Network + Rep. I like to think of the Affiliate Network as my business partner. They find and manage products that I can sell and in return they take a commission of each sale I make. There are a lot of Affiliate Networks out there, but I recommend these 3 and have provided a contact for each one.

Recommended Networks:

  1. A4D Performance: (Put “MALAN” in the How Did You Hear box to get a rep)
  2. Adsimilis: Contact: Eleah Portillo
  3. Peerfly: Contact: Luke Kling

5. Ad Network. Now that you have a website, banner ads and offer you need traffic. You get traffic at an ad network. The major players are Facebook, Google and Bing but there are many other networks you can use as well.

Recommended Networks:

  1. Facebook Ads
  2. Google Adwords
  3. Microsoft Bing Ads
  4. Sitescout
  5. Trafficvance
  6. Decisive Mobile

6. Tracking System. There are 3 main trackers out there right now. I will rank them here in order of my preference. My main recommendation these days is I was previously paying around $400/month for a dedicated server for CPVLab. When I fully make the switch to Voluum, that cost goes away.

Recommended Tools:

  1. The newest, most innovative tracking system I have ever seen. Free for the next month.
  2. CPVLab. $297. Use promo code “MALAN50” to get $50 off.
  3. Prosper202 Old school standard, Free.

7. Campaign System. Create a simple, systematic process for launching and optimizing campaigns. This way you never have to worry about what to do next. You just follow the plan.

Most experienced affiliates do the same thing every time. It may sound boring, but when a system works it works. Avoid launching new campaigns without a solid launch system in place – or you could lose a ton of money.

Here are some examples:

  • Launch: Setup 5 different campaigns/offers and set budgets for $20/day. After 48 hours choose which campaign/offer to pursue.
  • Optimization: Pause losing ads after $40/spend and raise budget on adgroup with remaining ads.
  • Ad rotation: Upload a set of 5 new ads every 72 hours with a $20 budget. If conversions, pause bad ads and double budget.

8. Profit Tracking Spreadsheet. If you’re going to win at this, you need to know exactly how much money you’re spending/making every day. Make an excel spreadsheet or Google Doc and track your daily spend, revenue, profit and ROI. The one I use tracks everything detail and uses several charts and graphs to give me a visual reputation of how my campaigns are doing.

Recommended Tools:

9. A Swipe File. Every time you seen an ad, landing page, headline or image that grabs your attention you should save it to a folder on your computer to use later if you’re stuck for ideas. It’s called a “swipe file” because you are swiping ideas from other people.

Ever see Don Draper tear a page out of a magazine and stick it in his pocket? That’s what this is. I have a large swipe file that I’ve built over the last few years at this point it’s a thing of beauty full of landing pages, ads, images and copy. For new campaigns I just open the swipe file, choose a few ads and start.

I let another affiliate access my swipe file once. He took a landing page and some ads and said it was the fastest profitable campaign he’d ever launched.

Make your swipe file:

  1. Create a folder on your computer called “Swipe File”
  2. Save interesting things and ideas to it
  3. Use it later when needed

10. Goal. Have a realistic financial / profit goal in mind for what you’re doing. Don’t just say “I want to make $1 Million Dollars this year”. Most affiliates I know started out trying to make $100/day. If you’ve brand new, start with $10/day.

Note: I am building a much more detailed version of the Toolbox full of the exact tools and services I use to run my own campaigns, stay organized and work with outsourcers. It will only be sent to my newsletter subscribers. So if you want it, click here to automatically subscribe.


Most new affiliate marketers are working with an incomplete set of tools. You may think you’re saving time but you’re actually handicapping yourself when it comes to competing with the big guys. This may seem like a lot, but to be honest guys like me are working with even more.

I have never met a super affiliate who didn’t have at least the 10 tools listed above in their toolbox, so you should have them too.

What’s Your Score?

Out of the 10 Tools I listed above how many are you using right now?

  1. Webhost
  2. Landing Page
  3. Graphics Design App
  4. Affiliate Network + Rep
  5. Ad Network + Rep
  6. Tracking System
  7. Campaign System
  8. Profit Tracking Spreadsheet
  9. Swipe File
  10. Realistic Goals

Leave your score in the comments section below.

Me: 10 out of 10.

You didn’t really think I’d have anything less than a perfect score did you? I have every single one of these things on lockdown, do you?

  • bigaffdreams

    Great Post Malan.

    • Dan Gempesaw

      I agree.

    • Malan Darras

      thanks bigaff – what’s your score?

  • Hammad

    Great list of tools Malan. My score is 9/10. Dont have a swipe file. Starting one now 🙂

    I spoke to voluum at affiliate summit few days ago and they really have an amazing tool. I run small scale targeted campaigns with prosper currently. From what I can tell Voluum is better for large scale campaigns. Do you still recommend the switch over?

    • Malan Darras

      yeah get that swipe file going. i may actually share mine at some point. it’s a game-changer.

      If you’re making $$ with Prosper, stick with it. But for me – Voluum is better than Prosper on every level… by far. And if you have less than 100,000 events per month, it’s free.

      I’d suggest trying it out for free and if you don’t like it, you can always go back to 202.

  • thecapn

    Do you use the swipe file as a replacement for spy tools? After using spy tools and getting new ideas I was able to start generating profits much faster and then modified them even more.

    • Malan Darras

      hey capn – the swipe file is not a replacement it’s works with a spy tool. Use the spy tool to find the great ads, lps that are out there and then stash them in your swipe file. that way if you cancel your spy tool subscription you still have all the assets.

      The reasons spy tools is not in this list is because #1) they’re expensive and #2) I didn’t use one when I started and they’re not 100% necessary.

      What’s posted here is the bare minimum list. I’ll be sending out a much more detailed version to the email list soon.

  • Lucia

    Hi Malan,

    Great post, as usual! Just one question… I see that you recommended Dreamweaver, Bluecrab and Aptana for the landing pages. I don’t know about other newbies, but I have no idea how to use these tools. Yeah, there are tons of tutorials and I could try to figure them out on my own, but what do you recommend to someone that would rather spend time creating new angles than actually designing LPs? Are LeadPages or Unbounce viable solutions?



    • Chris

      Hi Lucia,

      I’m a newbie like you and I have no idea about how most things work.


      I’ve taken some action, and am doing a free course on HTML.

      And, once that is completed, I’ll do other courses in Dreamweaver and Photoshop etc.

      Sure, I could ‘outsource’ that kind of stuff but I really want to get to know (and be good at) the nuts and bolts of this business.

      • Lucia

        Thanks, Chris!

    • Malan Darras

      there are no shortcuts. either hire someone or learn how. if not you’ll be severely handicapped.

  • Mareks


    Great post, I would love to see someday a post from you with a Case Study.
    A Case Study would help a lot of your readers, and I would be happy too.
    Not saying that other post are bad, they are awesome, but it would be a bit different.

    • Rahat Bashar


    • Petre Veluda

      yes, that should be helpful for a lot of us, even if it has a general view

    • Malan Darras

      oh i see guys – you mean where I take the time to launch a new campaign, track and screenshot every step of the way and then bring it all here and show you step-by-step how to do it? haha sounds like a LOT of work to me. maybe i can find a way to do it that makes sense.

    • Ken

      hey Malan, if attracting potential competition is a concern, how about you record the process but don’t post anything until that campaign is dead? By doing that, we can still learn knowledge and you don’t have to worry about competition 🙂 just saying. thanks a lot!

  • Rahat Bashar

    Hi Malan,

    What’s your thoughts on promoting voucher offers?

    • Malan Darras

      hey Rahat – what’s a voucher offer? not sure i’ve ever done it.

  • Petre Veluda

    9 out of 10, I don’t have a Profit Tracking Spreadsheet but I’m glad too see I could check most of your suggestions. Unfortunately, even with all these tools is hard to break in the industry but at least you are doing things right and it only takes time and persistence until you do.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

    • Malan Darras

      get that tracking spreadsheet together. Charles Ngo posted some on his website too a few days ago.

  • Nikola Sarac

    My score is 8/10

    Thanks for this list, especially for 7. Campaign System. Great tips right there.

    The only thing I want to add to this list is Adobe Muse. Dreamweaver is cumbersome and overkill for most people, not to mention how complicated it can be for newbies. With Muse you just need to design, nothing more nothing less.

    • Malan Darras

      thanks Nikola, that is just a basic idea I used for the post. My actual launch + optimization system is proprietary knowledge I’m not ready to give out yet. maybe someday 😉

      • Todd

        Enjoyed your post, but I have a little question .. Do you still use Dreamweaver for lander creation (2016) ? Or have you switched to something else ?

  • Myelin

    Another Great Post Malan.

    My score is 8/10 but soon it will be 10/10

    • Malan Darras

      cool Myelin – almost there 🙂

  • gratified1

    Hello Malan,
    Very informative post. My score is 10/10. Being a member of StackThatMoney has been one of the best decisions of my newbie career and these things are covered there. I am subscribed to your newsletter and recently cast my vote for you as one of the top super affiliates. I can hardly wait until you show us your swipe file. That would be a rare opportunity. Any idea when you think that might happen?

    • Malan Darras

      gratified – thanks for the vote… but where is the contest? never heard of it.

      and btw, when did I say I was going to share my swipe file?

      • gratified1

        Malan, you said you might share it. “Malan Darras Mod Hammad • 2 days ago

        yeah get that swipe file going. i may actually share mine at some point. it’s a game-changer.”

        Perhaps my using the phrase “vote for you as a super affiliate was not the best description.” I was actually referring to when I commented on this blog and recommended that your blog be included in the list of blogs they follow. Sorry if it caused any misunderstanding.

        • Malan Darras

          no problem, all points understood. 🙂

  • James Jones

    Malan, great post, as usual.

    Does BlueHost allow to install Prosper202 on the basic shared package? I wanted to install prosper on shared HostGator account, but they won’t let me, only on dedicated servers.


    • Malan Darras

      hey James, I’m pretty sure you can install 202 on the basic shared package, but I’ve never done it personally. i’d ask their support to know for sure.

      I would move off of shared hosting as soon as possible, if you make $20 profit, reinvest it right away. Shared is more for blogs and super-low traffic campaigns. A low-end VPS only costs 10-20/month more than shared and will be much faster/stable

      • James Jones

        Thank you, Malan, I’ll start with a basic VPS right away.

      • samrex

        Hey Malan, do you recommend VPS for the landers, or just the tracker? I’m on voluum now which I’m loving, but I think my landers are slow-loaders.. should I put those on vps.. they’re also WordPress, maybe a bit slow too… maybe I should go just html? Thanks man! Got my swipe file started 🙂

        • Malan Darras

          If you have the $$ put the landers on a VPS at a minimum. You REALLY don’t want to have landing pages and tracking systems on shared hosting if at all possible.

          • samrex

            Got it. Thanks brother. Gonna make that change asap

  • Andrea Costa

    i lack on 7 and 8

    • Malan Darras

      those are 2 big ones Andrea, get on it 🙂

      • Andrea Costa

        yes man