Recommendations

Sarah's Toolchest

*I'm an affiliate for all the products listed on this page, unless otherwise noted. I only recommend items I would buy and use myself. I'm terrible at selling things I wouldn't buy myself or that I consider overpriced -- and I don't see the point in joining an affiliate program for something I don't consider worth the expense.

This list will probably grow and change over time.  

*See my affiliate disclosure page for more information.

MailerLite -- my current email marketing manager

As much as I liked AWeber, when I discovered MailerLite and found it to be more user-friendly and more affordable, I ended up switching after a day of playing with it. Whereas AWeber's form-creator leaves plenty to be desired, MailerLite does well in this area and even allows you to create landing pages. Like MailChimp, MailerLite does not allow affiliate links in their emails (at least not at this time), but with all that MailerLite can do, I ended up looking past that. I share my affiliate links on blog posts and on social media, anyway. 

Also, like AWeber (and MailChimp), MailerLite has a user-friendly mobile app that makes it easy to keep track of new subscriptions and how well your emails are performing with your list.

MailerLite logo

Launch Your Copy course with Daniel Threlfall

I've looked into a few different courses designed to help me become a successful freelance writer, but this is the only one I've found that really focuses on helping writers write better and more efficiently. Threlfall's free 3-video series opens with a serious and engaging presentation on the importance of the writing environment, and once you sign up for the full course, you unlock the other modules, which are well worth signing up for. If you have doubts but you do want to improve your writing, check out the free 3-video course by clicking on the title above or on the image to the right. I'm an affiliate for this course, because I honestly believe it's worth the investment. And a big part of that is the genius and authenticity of its creator, Daniel Threlfall. 

Launch Your Copy free 3-part video course

How to Make Money with Amazon Affiliates - Affiliate Marketing ebook

Carolina King and Suzi Whitford put together an ebook to help Amazon affiliates make more money with the program, and since I find so much on Amazon (starting with books and moving to furniture and other items for my home office, etc.) to share on my blog and on social media, it made sense to fill the gaps in my knowledge that were making it harder for me to earn a decent income with the program.

So, I snatched this ebook up and started reading it. Of course, when I learned there was an affiliate program for the book, it was a no-brainer to sign up, because I was eager to promote this gem anyway.

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing - Affiliate Marketing course

I've come close to buying this course by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner in the past, and when I finally did, I learned so much -- and enjoyed it so much -- I was annoyed at myself for waiting so long.

If you’re not sure where to start or where to go from where you are, this course is worth the investment. Michelle shares the same methods that help her generate around $50K per MONTH in affiliate income, and she shares them in a way that makes sense and isn’t overwhelming.

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Pretty Links plugin

Pretty Links allows me to create more appealing web addresses for my affiliate links. So, instead of a long string of strange characters, I can have a link like http://www.hypothyroidwriter.com/mailerlite, and the Pretty Links plugin keeps track of where that pretty link actually leads to. It's brilliant, and I love it.

I can't use it for Amazon affiliate links (they forbid it), which is fine, since I'd have to create a new Pretty Link for every single thing on Amazon that I wanted to share. If I want to share an affiliate link for MailerLite, though, there's just the one link I can easily swap for a Pretty Link.

PrettyLink also helps me keep track of my affiliate programs and products, which is a huge part of its appeal. Another is the fact that if the url for a particular product changes, I can simply go to my PrettyLink page (on my WordPress dashboard) and change the target url for that product. So, when someone clicks on its corresponding PrettyLink anywhere on my blog, it'll take them to the right page.  

Pretty Links

PlaceIt.net - Free Mockup Generator

PlaceIt.net is my favorite tool for creating shareable mockup images with my book covers (as paperbacks or as ebooks). They have subscriptions and image download packs, and you can also buy high-resolution images one at a time. 

I've been using it mainly to download free (low-res) images for sharing on social media and my blog, though I'm not against the idea of paying $8 once in a while -- for particular images -- to get high resolution (most likely for the blog).

PlaceIt.net will even let you create short videos with your book cover, t-shirt design, logo, or a screenshot of your website home page -- which you can then share on your blog or on social media. I've yet to do this, but I've been tempted! 

PlaceIt.net screenshot

Social Warfare plugin

This is by far my favorite plugin to optimize my blog posts for sharing. One of my favorite features of Social Warfare Pro (the professional version of the plugin) is the area below each post’s editing window, where I can upload my images for Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter, along with customized descriptions for each one (which can include affiliate links, as long as I disclose them with an #affiliate or #ad tag).

Social Warfare plugin

Vitamin Shoppe

I have a standing order for Bragg's apple cider vinegar, Coconut Oil softgels, and Y.S. Organic Bee Farms Raw Honey -- all of which I consider essential health hacks for anyone and particularly for those struggling with thyroid problems or other health issues that mess with hormone balance and cause brain fog. 

Plus, if I shop through the Swagbucks portal, I earn Swagbucks for every dollar I spend at Vitamin Shoppe (which I then usually turn into Amazon gift cards). Ebates also offers cash back for purchases made at Vitamin Shoppe. I usually go with the one that offers the highest return.

One Stop Savings! Check out all of Vitamin Shoppe's deals, coupons and more!

Vitamin Shoppe

Plum Deluxe Tea Club

I learned about this from someone who read my post on "Gift Ideas to support and encourage  your favorite freelancer." I hadn't known there was a company that would send out a package with an ounce of handcrafted loose-leaf tea blends each month, for a little over $10 a month, and you can give this membership as a gift, too.

I had to check it out, since I have a teapot with a diffuser insert, and I know there are plenty of you out there who prefer tea to coffee. I enjoy them both, so I was happy to sign on as a "Plum Deluxe Ambassador" and send other tea lovers to their site. 

Swagbucks

I earn most of my Swagbucks by using their search engine and occasionally shopping online through their savings portals -- when there's something I need or want to buy anyway. I don't bother with the surveys, because for the most part, I see them as a giant waste of time. But I do like to earn money back for things I'd buy anyway, and I love turning my Swagbucks into Amazon gift cards (book money!). You can also turn them into PayPal cash!

Ebates

Ebates is another favorite for earning money back on things I buy anyway. I usually like to check whether Swagbucks or Ebates will give me more money back for buying a particular item at a particular online store. If they both give the same amount, I'll usually go with Swagbucks, since Ebates won't pay out until you have at least $10 accumulated, whereas with Swagbucks, I redeem 300 Swagbucks for a $3 Amazon gift card. Ebates will send you a "big fat check," though, so if you prefer cash to gift cards, Ebates might be more your thing.

Tailwind - Scheduler for Pinterest & Instagram

I first heard about Tailwind from the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, and I used the free version for a few days to play with it before I upgraded to the Pro package, which I love.

Honestly, this is the first social media scheduling app that hasn’t irritated or overwhelmed me. It’s also designed for those who love Instagram, but I’m sticking with my social media triad (Pinterest, Facebook & Twitter); it’s enough for me to keep track of. 

Once you join Tailwind, you can also join Tailwind Tribes -- which are like Pinterest groups but are housed on the Tailwind program rather than on Pinterest.

Tailwind logo

Bluehost - Web Hosting Platform

This is the only web-hosting company I've ever tried, since they hooked me with the sweetest deal I could find when I was looking to create a self-hosted blog. Plus, if you use the Ebates savings portal for Bluehost, you'll get $10 back on your purchase! If you click on my affiliate link and then accept Ebates' little banner invitation to earn cash back through them, click on it. I don't know what it does to the affiliate pathway, but ... get those $10 back, if you can! I would. 

Another bonus with Bluehost -- besides the low price -- is the fact that your domain name is free with your web hosting. Getting that set up with your web-hosting company makes sense, anyway, and if it costs you nothing extra, it's another win.

Bluehost logo

TopHatter.com -- online auction site

This is where I've been snatching up items here and there for Christmas and birthdays. Auctions here take a matter of seconds rather than days. 

Be careful to read the descriptions before bidding, because sometimes the images can be misleading (e.g., "Is that a tablet they're selling, or is it just the stylus pen?"). They offer a 100% 30-day money-back guarantee if you're not satisfied with a product, and if you activate the Swagbucks reward banner, you can earn 200 Swagbucks with your first purchase.

Another caveat: everything I've bought from them has been shipped from China, so if that's a concern, you might want to avoid this site. There's always ebay.com, which I love. 

Favorite Affiliate Programs

Skimlinks.com

This program is so easy to use, I'm kicking myself for not learning about it sooner. All you need to do is add their Javascript to your site's footer -- which is easy using a free WordPress plugin called "Insert Headers & Footers" -- and it's even easier to use if you install the Chrome extension for Skimlinks, which makes it easy to snag affiliate links for any product or company under their affiliate umbrella. 

Anytime you open a website that's affiliated with Skimlinks, the extension's bar shows up at the top of the screen. If it doesn't show or if it disappears, you can click on the extension's icon to see if they have an affiliate link for the product on the page. If they do, you can choose between a text link for your blog or a link to share on social media.

So easy! I earned my first commission from a Vitamin Shoppe affiliate link in my home office post

Amazon Affiliates

While the commission rate is low, I find so much of what I want to recommend at Amazon, I'd be missing out big time by not using their affiliate links, which are easy to find and to use, thanks to their affiliate bar and their Native Ads. 

I've shared so many books on social media and my blog using that bar! Signing up is easy, and once you've got your account all set -- and your bar is visible at the top of the page when you open an Amazon window -- you're good to go.

Ultimate Bundles

Even though I didn't earn a penny by promoting my first bundle -- the Genius Blogger's Toolkit (which I bought, using the affiliate discount, and which I LOVE) -- I'm sticking with this program. 

They put together amazing resource bundles focusing on a specific theme. Some are evergreen and some are available only for about a week at a steeply-discounted price. 

One of their evergreen bundles is the Work From Home bundle, which I also bought (paying the same amount anyone else would, which is still a bargain). 

UltimateBundles.com logo

Shopstyle Collective

I share most, if not all, of these links on Pinterest -- sharing to my home improvement, home office, and personal style boards. 

Ebay EPN (ebay Partner Network)

I'm a fan of ebay, so joining their affiliate program was a no-brainer. They also have a bookmarklet that makes it easier to grab affiliate links for products on their site. I save this bookmarklet to my bookmark toolbar to make it easier to find when I need it.

Shareasale

I joined this program mostly because they have Tailwind and Grammarly. I signed up to be a Grammarly affiliate, which gives me a month of Premium for the purpose of comparing them and writing a review post -- though I haven't yet had the chance to compare the free Grammarly apps to the Premium package. So all I can say about it is that the free one has helped me catch plenty of mistakes I've missed, and I'm grateful for it. And Tailwind . . . 

Tailwind has revolutionized the way I use Pinterest, and I recently signed up for the annual plan, which saves me some money per month and allows me to schedule an unlimited number of pins per month (the monthly plan limits me to 400 per month). 

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