Have you ever wondered how all of these other bloggers are becoming so successful with affiliate marketing? If so, this is the post for you. Affiliate marketing can seem so overwhelming at times, but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve put together a detailed guide on how to sign up with ShareASale so that you too can be on your way to success.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
To keep it simple, affiliate marketing is when bloggers like you or me sign up to promote a merchant’s products and services in exchange for a commission. When I place a merchant’s links within my blog post (or use banner ads), I get commission when a reader clicks on the link and that click leads to a purchase.
There are all kinds of merchants available for promotion. The good thing is that there are so many merchants that we have the ability to only sign up for programs that interest us. As a daddy blogger, I look for merchants that sell products related to my niche. I never promote or recommend products I don’t believe in or use.
Why Would I Want To Spend Time On This?
Affiliate marketing allows bloggers and site owners to earn income based on their sales performance with their merchants. While starting off can be a little slow before you start seeing income roll in, it’s a great method to earn extra passive income.
I won’t lie to you today about the work needed to succeed in affiliate marketing. It takes a lot of time to craft blog posts in such a way to make your readers not feel like you are just trying to sell them something. Trust me, the first time they feel that way, it’ll be the last time they visit your site.
Hopefully, you started blogging because you are passionate about something. You want to share that passion with others. From time to time, you have products or services to recommend your readers that will be a value for them. This is where affiliate marketing is at its best. By blending in the links with your blog posts, you can make your readers feel like you are truly offering a product or service to them that will better their lives.
Throwing up banner ads like there is no tomorrow, or putting a million affiliate links all over a blog post may eventually lead to sales, but it won’t lead to reader loyalty. Be smart about when and where you place the links.
I didn’t receive my first commission until November of 2016. I spent months perfecting the best ways to introduce those products to my readers. I will say that persistence pays off with affiliate marketing – just like anything else in life.
How Do I Join An Affiliate Marketing Program?
Joining affiliate marketing programs is easy. The first step is to choose which affiliate marketing site you want to use. You don’t have to narrow it down to just one, but for the purpose of this post, I’m going to talk about ShareASale’s Affiliate Marketing Program (see my recent review of ShareASale).
Once you have signed up to be an affiliate with ShareASale (join here using my referral link), you can select from thousands of merchants and apply with the click of a button. Most of the merchants manually review applications and usually respond within a few days. Some of them automatically approve you. Aside from a few occasions, you should receive approval for every program for which you apply. Don’t be surprised, or discouraged, though, if you do get declined from a program. Many programs have minimum guidelines you have to meet for them to accept you, but these are few and far between.
In ShareASale, click on the Merchants tab and then Search For Merchants
The Merchant Search will allow you to search for merchants based on popularity, age, sales volume, etc. You can either type in a keyword into the search field, or click on any of the links. I like to look at the Top 100 PowerRank on occasion and see if any of those high performers fit my blog’s niche.
I performed a search for Major League Baseball because opening day is a few weeks away and I wanted to see if there were any affiliate programs with great deals on merchandise to coincide with opening day. When I hit search, I get a list of 41 affiliate programs associated with Major League Baseball. The list tells me if the merchant is in the Top 100 PowerRank, when they were activated on ShareASale, their merchant ID, commission structure, and more details about the program.
I’m interested in joining MLBShop.com’s affiliate program, so I clicked on the link to the left that takes me to their program’s affiliate application.
A pop-up box will appear with the merchant’s affiliate program agreement. READ THIS! It is important information you will need to know in order to remain an active affiliate for this merchant’s program.
Once you’ve read the program agreement, you will need to click the radio button that confirms you agree to the merchant’s agreement and then hit Join This Program. This particular merchant also requires that I agree to release my email and phone number as a part of the program application.
Once you have submitted your information, you will get another pop-up that tells you your current approval status. Most of the time, it will say Pending. If an affiliate automatically approves you, it’ll say Approved in green.
Once a merchant has approved you as an affiliate, you get access to promotional tools you can use to promote the merchant’s products in your blog posts, social media, or email campaigns. Promotional tools include banners, coupons, or promo codes. Adding links is as easy as copying the special tracking URL assigned to you and pasting them into your blog post.
Let’s take a look at one of my existing merchants that I promote – NFLShop.com. I really love this particular merchant’s program because they almost always have great deals and coupons to offer readers.
Once I’ve opened up the program from my dashboard, I see several tabs across the top of the page – Text Links, Banners, Deals/Coupons, Datafeed Products, Product Showcase, Make-A-Page, and Create Custom Link. Not all merchants will have the same tabs at the top. It all depends on what they have chosen to offer to their affiliates.
This is the tab the site defaults to when you open up the merchant in your dashboard. It is just what it says. As you can see, I get the text link’s individual ID, the description of the text link, its category, a preview of what the link will say, when it was modified, and a link to get the html code.As I look through the list, I try to find a link that fits within the blog post I’m writing. For this example, let’s say I am writing a post about Eddie Lacy. He’s been in the news lately so I want to talk about it with my readers. I see that NFLShop.com has a 2017 NFL Free Agent Class Seattle Seahawks Nike Game Jersey. You can either do what I just did – add the link to custom text, or use the html link and plug it into your html editor in your blogging platform (for me, that’s WordPress) to have the link automatically show up. You can do it either way. I love this because it allows me to be creative in how I promote this product to my readers.
The custom link that I copied and pasted as a hyperlink inside my custom text is the link that will record any clicks, and more importantly, sales, that have been generated by readers who have clicked them. This is why it’s very important you copy and paste EXACTLY how they appear on the merchant’s site. You don’t want to lose any potential sales! Here’s what the actual hyperlink looks like when you copy it from the merchant’s page. Don’t ever paste this link by itself in a blog post. It looks unprofessional. Always, always, always embed the URL inside custom text!
When you click on Get HTML Code, you’ll open up both links. If you are familiar with HTML code (you really don’t need to know much more about it other than how to copy and paste it into WordPress), choose the first code in the top box. Note: If you want to add your ShareASale hyperlink to custom text, this is NOT the code to use for that. The key to knowing whether or not it’s a hyperlink is to look to see if there is http:// in front of it. Notice how the first code starts with “<a href=.” This will let you know that it’s html code and you should copy and paste it into the html editor of your blogging platform. I did NOT choose this option. I chose the 2nd option, which is the hyperlink version I showed you above.
Banners are good visuals to use in addition to text links. I like to put some of my affiliate banners in my blog’s sidebar, and if a banner corresponds to a blog post I’ve written, I’ll stick a banner either at the top, middle, or bottom of my post to draw my readers’ eyes to it. Banners work the same way as text links, in that you have to copy and paste the code into your html editor to get them to appear on your site. NFLShop.com has 302 banners available for me to choose from. Left-click on the banner that you want and it’ll take you to the same code as before. So easy!
Some merchants offer deals/coupons to their customers, while others do not. As we can see from our tabs, there are 8 current deals/coupons offered by NFLShop.com. When we click on this tab, it takes you to the detail list. It’s important, above all, to look at the start and end times of the coupon. We definitely do not want to offer our readers a coupon that has expired! We see that this merchant has some that never end, and some that have an expiration date. These links work almost exactly like our text and banner links work. I like to offer these coupons to my social media followers a lot of times, so I’ll customize my message about the coupon and then provide them with the tracking link they click on to get the deal. You can also use custom text inside your blog posts and embed the tracking link as a hyperlink behind the text. Again, make sure you copy and paste the code exactly as it appears.
Whoa! There are 86,992 data feed products for NFLShop.com. What in the world is this? And do you need to be concerned with it? Data feeds are files provided by your merchant to help you better promote and sell their products. (IMPORTANT!). We all want our content to show up at the top of search engine results, right? Well, data feeds are there for that purpose. Data feed files are changed over into individual products which contain descriptions about those products, links for the images, visitor links, pricing, etc. What does this mean for you and me? We will take this information and build individual web pages for these products, or even combine them all into each page. We want to use data feed products if they are available because they will help give our site more search engine exposure.
The next tab over is the Product Showcase tab. Product Showcases are dynamic creative that show product results for a search term or category. Whenever a search is performed, it provides real-time results and will differ each time the creative is viewed. ShareASale allows you to create a showcase either for a single merchant, a group of merchants, or for all of your merchants. I haven’t really played around with this feature yet, as I almost always use the links within my blog post to refer readers to products that may interest them. But, this feature is there, and may be worth checking out.
Make-A-Page is a feature that allows you the ability to easily find relevant products and create pages for them. You can either search by keyword, or select from the category list.
Create Custom Link
If you want to create a custom link for a product, ShareASale gives you a tool that allows you to do just that. Again, I just use the URLs provided in the text/banner tabs, but if you want to create your own you can do that as well with this feature
Tracking Your Activity
Now that we have a good idea of some of the tools merchants can provide you to promote their products, how do we know when someone has clicked on one of our links? And, how do we know if that click led to a sale?
ShareASale’s Reports tab at the top left corner of your dashboard is the place to go to get your individualized stats. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer.
If I hover my mouse over Reports, it’ll give me a lot of options to choose from:
This report tells you your sales history. You can filter down to a certain time period, or view all transactions. You can also drill down to a specific merchant, transactions, paid date, etc. I like this page because it tells me when a link or banner was clicked, what the total sale amount was, and what my commission was.
If I want to see my commission totals for a specific merchant, or all merchants, within a specific time frame, I can do that with this report.
Today At A Glance
I check this report daily, sometimes hourly, if I’ve pushed posts out with affiliate links recently. It tells me if there have been any clicks on those links, who the merchant was, my status with the merchant (approved), any commission that I may have earned from that click, unique and raw hits, sales, manual credits, conversions, reversals, and earnings per click.
This report is useful if I want to see my traffic levels for my merchants. Again, I can filter down to a time frame, individual or all merchants, and sort by several categories. I usually sort by Unique Hits, then high to low. This tells me which of my merchants get the most traffic, which is useful because I can focus on them more to try to drive in more sales.
If you want to download your transactions to a .csv file, you can do that with this feature.
Shows any recent payments that ShareASale has made to you. In your account settings, you have the option to set a payment trigger. I chose $50. Whenever my commissions reach at least $50, it’ll automatically perform an ACH Direct Deposit to my bank account. Go to your account settings to adjust the trigger level and method of deposit.
I love this report because it gives you a run-down of your merchant status. This report gives me the option to quit a program, tells me what status I’m in (Approved, Declined, etc), my commission totals, hits totals, sales totals, conversions, EPCs, merchant info, links to contact that merchant, and a link that takes me to get links or banners for that merchant.
I won’t go into detail about the More section, but it does have additional reports you can run to help you with your affiliate marketing.
How to Make the Most Out of ShareASale
It’s easy to drop in a few links, promote links through social media, and add a few banner ads to your site, but there’s a lot more to it than this. Don’t sell yourself short by promoting products you don’t believe in just to make a few bucks. Focus on promoting only those products you use.
Be creative! Don’t be afraid to try new promotional methods. For example, I will be making a video tutorial of this blog post in the near future. I can add these links to YouTube to drive traffic to my merchants.
The amount of income is only limited to the amount of time and effort you set aside for it. It may seem like a long shot to hit in the thousands per month, but it can be done.
FTC Requirement: Disclosing Affiliate Links
Before you hit the publish button on that fancy new blog post with shiny affiliate links, you have to clearly disclose that there are affiliate links on your blog. Put your affiliate disclosure at the top of your blog post before the first affiliate link appears. If you are sharing your affiliate links on social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, you can disclose them by stating #ad or #aff. I’ve also seen bloggers write “Disclosure: Affiliate links.” As long as you clearly disclose the presence of affiliate links, you’ll be compliant with the FTC.
Here is how I disclose affiliate links on my blog:
This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links
Some Amazing Programs You Need To Join
I’m very happy to share with you some of the programs I’ve joined and their commission structure. Please note that merchants change their commission structure on occasion, so be sure to review each merchant’s full profile on ShareASale. ShareASale is also very good about emailing you about commission changes as well.
Blurb – Make your own professional-quality books, magazines, or eBooks. They offer 15% commission per sale and a 120 Day Tracking Cookie.
Book Outlet – Book Outlet has been in business for over 10 years selling books all over the world. Books are offered at 50-90% off the list price. Book Outlet offers 10% commission, a 45-day cookie, seasonal and monthly promotions, performance incentives, full data feed, and dedicated program management
Candy Club – Candy Club is one of my newer merchants, but offers a monthly subscription service to deliver the freshest candies right to your door. They offer $20.50 commission on all 1, 6 and 12 month subscription sales, $30.00 commission on all 6 and 12 month prepaid subscription sales, one free Candy Club package to review on your blog/site upon request, and a bonus commission structure based on your performance.
Canva Press – Provides canvas prints, photo paper prints, and wall murals customized for each customer. They offer commissions between 10-14%, a 30 day tracking cookie, discount and dollar off coupons, an auto-deposit feature, and dedicated program management.
Corner Stork Baby Gifts – Affordably-priced baby gift company founded by moms from Atlanta who seem to get invited to a baby shower or birthday party every week. Corner Stork offers the best of bath toys to room decor, personalized gifts to clothing, etc. They also price-match! The offer sales commissions of 10%.
CellSavers – CellSavers is a convenient device repair service. Their technicians can meet you at your preferred location and time to repair damaged cell phones. All repairs come with a lifetime warranty and high rated customer service. See my earlier blog post about CellSavers. CellSavers offers a $10.00 commission per lead, a 15 day cookie, $10 affiliate referrals, award-winning affiliate marketing management service, and monthly newsletters with updates on promotions, contests and sales opportunities.
Cricut – Cricut.com offers Cricut® machines, 50,000+ images to cut, and project supplies ranging from cardstock to iron-on film—plus inspiration, ideas, and a creative community! The Cricut Explore™ machine lets anyone create amazing DIY projects. With world-leading technology, we make it easy for novices and professionals alike to make something they can feel proud of. Cricut offers a 12% base commission and 15% commission on orders $100+, a 45 day cookie, $10 affiliate referrals, award-winning affiliate management team from Acceleration Partners, and weekly newsletters with promotions, incentives, and the latest offers designed to help affiliates earn higher commissions.
Dancewear Solutions – Dancewear Solutions offers a large selection of the latest dancewear, dance shoes, leotards, dance shorts, tights and dance accessories. They carry most of the major dance brands such as Balera, Bloch, Capezio, Danskin, Sansha, Urban Groove and more. Dancewear Solutions offers a 6% commission rate and their average sale is $70.
Gymboree, Crazy 8, Janie and Jack – Gymboree’s clothing and accessories are created to celebrate kids being kids in unique, head-to-toe looks. Gymboree clothing is designed with colorful, high-quality fabrics and detailed touches throughout. Crazy 8 offers fashionable outfits at a great value for girls and boys, sizes 3M to 14. Janie and Jack offers classic children’s clothing rich in fabric, design and detail for girls and boys up to size 12 online. Heirloom-quality looks feature finely-crafted details such as hand-embroidery, hand-smocking and special prints. They offer 8% commission, a 30 day cookie, product datafeeds for both Gymboree and Crazy 8 that are both updated daily, and regular newsletters with updates on promotions, contests, and sales opportunities
Little Passports – Little Passports delivers a travel adventure right to your door! Choose from the Early Explorers (ages 3-5), the World Edition (ages 6-10), or the USA Edition (ages 7-12). Each subscription will have your child rushing to the mailbox, waiting for packages highlighting a new global destination or US state. They’ll receive letters, souvenirs, pop-out models, activities, stickers and more. Inspire a life-long interest in travel, language and world cultures with Little Passports! Little Passports offers $15 PER SALE commission rate on all monthly payment and 12 month plans. as well as $8 PER SALE commission rate on all 3 month and 6 month plans, a 90 day cookie for conversion tracking, regular newsletters with promotions, incentives and content, and a dedicated affiliate team.
NFLShop.com – NFLShop.com is the official online store of the National Football League and offers the biggest selection of officially licensed NFL apparel and merchandise online. They offer up commissions of up to 6% of sales, a 7 day cookie, 50,000+ product datafeed, top name brand products including Nike, New Era, Mitchell & Ness Cutter and Buck and more + authentic collectibles from Fanatics Authentic, great tools for bloggers and social media affiliates, great selection of text links and banner ads as well as “build your own” capability using Product Showcases, Make A Page and Custom Link builder, and dedicated management by Wade Tonkin.