I’m not sure where’s the problem with affiliate links and why people hate them. It’s like when they see something like ?aff123 or #abcd123 or similar affiliate tracking in the end of url they think it’s something wrong with it, or maybe it’s some sort of scam. Hell, even I have been in that situation and thinking the same thing. Maybe it is in human nature to avoid such things, I don’t know, but it really intrigues me.

Probably because of those reasons, to trick the readers mind and to keep them calm, marketers have been cloaking or redirecting their affiliate links for a long time now (and also to protect their affiliate links from getting hijacked). It was a lot complicated back then, there were many ways of redirecting the links (like .htaccess redirection, which was really pain in the butt), but luckily things have change.

One of the reasons why I love WordPress is its huge plugins base, developed by amateurs and pros, and within it you can literally find almost everything that comes to your mind. One of those plugins I adore, which is a must for every blogger or internet marketer, is called Thirsty Affiliates.

Thirsty Affiliates - Banner

Thirsty Affiliates plugin for WordPress helps you cloak your affiliate links within seconds. No coding, nothing complicated, mostly copy/paste and maybe some writing. It’s that easy. Another thing that amazes me, only around 6000 people use this plugin, such a shame on one thought, and such an advantage on other hand, for all of us who knows about it. Let me show you how it works…

Installation & setup

Thristy Affiliates is a plugin like any other WordPress plugin, you can find it by searching withing your WordPress dashboard (Plugins –> Add new –> type “Thirsty Affiliates” in search box), click Install and you are done.

Thirsty Affiliates - Installation

After installation you will see a new option in your WP dashboard named Affiliate Links. When you hover it you will see 5 options within it:

  • All Affiliate Links – This options lists all affiliate links you have created (cloaked) with Thirsty Affiliates. You can even display them by affiliate category.

Thirsty Affiliates screenshot

  • Add New – You guessed, click on this option to add new affiliate links.
  • Link Categories – This gives you an option to create categories for your affiliate links so that you can search them with ease later when you create a bunch of them. It is also good when you advertise a lot of things from the same affiliate network, or a brand which has a lot of products. Example: Envato network (Theme Forest, Code Canyon)
  • Add-ons – You get to see a list of premium add-ons for Thirsty Affiliates which takes your affiliate marketing to the next level. More on these add-ons below.
  • Settings – General settings for Thirsty Affiliate plugin.


Adding new (cloaked) affiliate link

This is so easy that I feel stupid writing about it, but I’ll do it anyway. 🙂 To cloak your affiliate link click on Add New and you’ll get a screen like on the image below.

Thirsty Affiliates - Add new affiliate link

Under Link name, you will write a name of your affiliate product, or the name that best describes the product/service you are promoting. This is really important because that name will be in your url too (although you can change it later too). So for example you are promoting Income Mesh blog and you write that under Link name, here is how your cloaked link/url will look like:

Under Destination url you just paste your affiliate link. You have option to add no follow tag to it, if you are concerned with SEO, and option to open that link in a new window when clicked on it, which I recommend.

On the right you can assign your link to one or more categories and choose redirection type (leave it on default).

On the bottom you have one really cool feature, to add image to your affiliate link. That way you can easily insert image in your posts which will automatically link to your affiliate offer.

And when you are done, just click on Save link. Right after you save it you’ll see your cloaked affiliate url with option to edit slug (don’t forget to save the link again after you edit slug).

Thirsty Affiliates - Cloaked link

That’s it, you have successfully cloaked your first affiliate link 🙂


There are many options under Settings, but I will mention just the most important ones. The best of the best, really amazing option, is to choose you link prefix. There are 18 prefixes you can use, and if you don’t like any of them you can write your own, custom prefix if you like.

Thirsty Affiliates - Link prefix

Some of you will also want to show your link categories within cloaked url, but I prefer not to because it makes links unnecessary longer.

The last thing I like here, isn’t actually a setting, it’s just mentioned under last setting – CSS classes for your affiliate links and images. That means that you can easily style your affiliate links and images to make them stand out even more (if you know a bit of CSS).

Inserting affiliate links in posts

There are few ways of inserting affiliate links within a post or page. At first I was doing everything manually, first I would create an affiliate link, save it and copied that newly created cloaked affiliate link, went to my blog post and paste it as a link. You can do it like that too, but there’s a simpler solution.

Thirsty Affiliates - Icons So, you are writing your blog post in visual mode and you are able to see 2 icons (image on the right) in your post visual editor panel.

First icon will help you insert your previously created affiliate links in your blog post. When you click on it, a popup window will appear looking exactly like on the image below.

Thirsty Affiliates - Insert affiliate link in post

Now, you have 3 options to insert your hidden affiliate links in your post:
Thirsty Affiliates - Insert regular shortcode or image affiliate link

  1. Insert regular affiliate link
  2. Insert shortcode affiliate link
  3. Insert image affiliate link (if you assigned an image to it)

You click on it and your affiliate link is inserted in your post.

The other icon help you quickly create a new affiliate link right within your post. If you click on it, here’s what you’ll get:

Thirsty Affiliates - Quick add affiliate link

Fill in the info, click on “Add Link & Insert Into Post” and you are ready to go.


I was a bit disappointed because I didn’t see any statistics for my affiliate links, which is of course bad. Because if you can’t track and measure your affiliate links you don’t know what works and what’s not working, and you can’t even test different cloaked links and see which one performs better. Luckily, Thirsty Affiliates offer a set of premium add-ons which helps you do just that, among other options.

There are in total 8 add-ons:

  1. Thirsty Affiliates Stats Add-on (click to read more about it)
  2. Thirsty Affiliates Google Click Tracking Add-on (click to read more about it)
  3. Thirsty Affiliates Autolinker Add-on (click to read more about it)
  4. Thirsty Affiliates CSV Importer Add-on (click to read more about it)
  5. Thirsty Affiliates Geolocations Add-on (click to read more about it)
  6. Thirsty Affiliates Scheduled Links Add-on (click to read more about it)
  7. Thirsty Affiliates AZON Add-on (click to read more about it)
  8. Thirsty Affiliates Split Testing Add-on (click to read more about it)
  9. Thirsty Affiliates iTunes Add-on (click to read more about it)

I won’t go through all of them, I’ll mention just the one I am using, but I recommend checking the rest of them too. Another cool thing about these add-ons, you buy them once and you can use them on unlimited number of websites.

Thirsty Affiliates Stats Add-on

Like I said, you can’t do marketing without analytics and tracking. This is why ThirstyAffiliates Stats Add-on is a must for anyone using Thirsty Affiliates plugin, that is, if you are taking your affiliate marketing seriously.

Thirsty Affiliates - Stats main

Wouldn’t you like to know on which affiliate links are your visitors clicking most often? After you find out you can use the same tactic and use it on your other affiliate links and boost sales across your website. Or maybe your visitors click the most on affiliate links you created within a certain category. That tells you something – they like what you are recommending them, add more services/products within that niche/category and make even more sales. How to find all that info? Get yourself Thirsty Affiliate Stats Add-on and find out.

Thirsty Affiliates - Stats example

That are the main reasons why you should use Thirsty Affiliates Stats Add-on.

Some of the highlights this add-on offers:

  • Powerful Stats Over Categories
  • Drill Down Into Individual Links
  • Real Time Data

And there you go, a complete WordPress solution for managing and creating affiliate links, along with tracking and analytics. Do you like it? Have questions or comments? Share them below.

About the author 


John Whitford is an entrepreneur who has built over 12 profitable online blogs and businesses. He's also the founder of Unbeatable Tech, a data-driven digital marketing company that specializes in sales funnel implementation for both his own businesses and clients alike. John loves to be a beach bum while brainstorming new ideas for marketing strategies, but he's always excited to take on another project!

    • Hey Harsh, I wouldn’t suggest cloaking Amazon affiliate links, it’s against their TOS. Just use their url shortener tool.

  • “This is so easy that I feel stupid writing about it, but I’ll do it anyway.”

    ? I know this is an older post, but thank you for writing it anyway. I had installed Thirsty Affiliates, but hadn’t used it yet. Great explanation of the attributes. Off to add some links now..

    • I’m so happy you found this post useful, Leslie!

      And you’re right… it is a little older of a post. Pretty Links is what I am currently using and recommending (I’ll need to update this post… sticky note written!). It functions largely the same as Thirsty affiliates, but I find it just a little bit nicer 🙂

      They both work great though! Have a good one!

      • I’m hearing some so-called experts saying that Pretty Links caused database bloating and should be avoided. What has been your experience?

        • Really great question Judy. I haven’t heard that myself, and unfortunately Pretty Links is one of those plugins that I install on every site so I really don’t know if the same site would run faster without it… Just a quick shows that it has over 200,000 active installs with 265 4.5 star reviews and it was update only weeks ago… so there is ample social proof to say that it is still a good option, but if I get some time later on I will try to do some comparison tests to look for performance issues 🙂

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