Affiliate marketing is an effective way to earn money online with little or no financial investment, or technology know-how. All you need to have is content, an audience and time.
If you already have content (e.g. blog, editorial, social media) with a decent number of followers or traffic but aren’t participating in affiliate marketing, it’s time to consider taking advantage of this lucrative revenue stream. The good news is that, not only is it easy to get started with affiliate marketing, but you decide which brands and products to promote and share with your community.
We spoke to Cate Rosales, also known as the California-based blogger Sweet & Simple Life, on her experience with affiliate marketing and how she has been successfully earning a sustainable income from her blog. According to Cate, the beauty of affiliate marketing is that it allows people to earn money from simply filling a need for other people:
“You’re essentially making money from doing what we all do anyway – recommending products and services that help the people we care about. How many times have you encouraged a friend to purchase a certain kind of coffee, or laptop, or car, because you had a great experience with that product? How many times have you sent a link to your mom when she wanted recommendations for a new vacuum or television? How many times have you shared a coupon for a free product or a free trial of something? We all do it. We try something, and if that ‘something’ is awesome, we share it with other people so they can benefit from it too. That’s the beauty of affiliate marketing and that’s why affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to earn income online.”
Using Cate’s experience – along with other successful ShareASale Affiliates – we’ve collated the below step-by-step guide to help new Affiliates to get started with ShareASale. This guide is also helpful if you’re an existing ShareASale Affiliate looking for some best practices on optimizing your reach. If you are completely new to the concept of affiliate marketing, we recommend you start with our Affiliate Marketing for Beginners guide before signing up to ShareASale.
Step 1: Create an enticing bio on your profile page
Your Affiliate profile is your first opportunity to engage with retailers and brands, known as merchants. This is where you outline who you are, what you can offer, and any other important information you want potential advertisers to see, such as your website. What type of information do advertisers normally want to see?
Cate pointed out that advertisers are usually focused on website stats (number of monthly visitors/ followers, demographic) and conversions.
“Even a new blogger with a small audience can bring incredible value to an advertiser if they have an audience that wants what they’re promoting. The best way to convince an advertiser to work with you is to show them that you have an audience that truly wants what they offer.”
The more detailed and specific information of your offering you put in your profile, the better. A complete profile will also boost your presence in the Affiliate directory when advertisers are searching for Affiliates to work with. You can find out how to set up your profile, along with other steps for getting started, in this YouTube tutorial here.
Step 2: Find advertisers and products/ services to promote.
Next is to apply to specific merchant programs you want to promote. ShareASale works with over 14,600 advertisers offering millions of products for customers across the globe. While this vast selection means that you will most definitely find something for you/your audience, selecting suitable advertiser programs might be an overwhelming task. So how do you choose which advertisers and products/ services to promote?
Cate suggests starting by asking yourself the following questions: What does my target audience want and need, and what ShareASale affiliate programs provide those tools, products, and services?
“The beauty of ShareASale is that they provide all of the tools and resources you need to be successful. But you can only be successful if you are filling a need for your readers. If your target readers are searching for cleaning supplies, don’t partner with advertisers that are selling kitchen appliances. Only partner with advertisers that provide tools, products, and services that your target audience can benefit from.”
Step 3: Start promoting your chosen products
Now that you have decided which products to promote and have the approval from those advertisers, you are now ready to promote your chosen offers on your website or social media channels.
To get commission from the sale you drive, you need to make sure affiliate links are displayed on your website. There are several promotional methods that you can use depending on how you’d like to display your promotion, whether via product feeds, display banners, coupons and custom links/ deeplinks.
Cate’s advice: “The two promotional tools that I think every content creator needs to be familiar with are the deeplinking feature and the promotional graphics and banners. These two tools provide everything you need to get started promoting products your audience will love – clickable affiliate links and clickable affiliate images.”
If you are a content provider like an influencer, blogger or have an editorial site, and would like to promote individual/specific products, you may want to create product links from the advertiser’s website. Our Product Discovery Bookmarklet can help with this. using the Product Discovery Bookmarklet tool can help you create trackable links right from the Merchant’s website.
If you offer price/product comparison or shopping directories and would like to link to numerous, different products without having to generate a deeplink for each, you can get an entire list of products and advertiser offers (includes the name, description, price, and a deeplink to that product page) via Create-a-Feed or Product Feed List Download.
Additionally you can promote via banners and codes that can be found in your account under LINKS > GET A LINK/BANNER and LINKS > COUPONS/OFFERS
Step 4: Take advantage of ShareASale Affiliate promotional tools to optimize your work
ShareASale offers variety of Affiliate promotional tools to help you work more efficiently and optimize your earnings.
Displaying products can be a far more engaging and effective way to utilize Affiliate links. The challenge, however, faced by most part-time affiliates is the technical ability to cleanly display these products. ShareASale has solved this problem with the newest version of Make-A-Page. Affiliates – techy or not – can build a custom table or a scrollable gallery of curated products to display on a post or page. ShareASale provides all the code necessary so it’s just a simple copy/paste; and in no time at all you have a beautiful presentation of products.
The ShareASale Product Showcase is an interactive widget, primarily for your sidebar, but can be placed anywhere on your website. This widget will showcase products by Merchant, Keyword or Merchant + Keyword. The biggest difference between the Product Showcase and Make-A-Page is that you do not control the specific products that appear in a Product Showcase. This tool operates with a hands-off approach, rotating products automatically based on Merchant or Keyword (or combination of both). The Product Showcase is another creative way to utilize affiliates links outside of the standard text link or banner advertisement. It’s a more eye-catching and higher converting way to advertise your favorite brands.
Our Git Cards, Coupons & Deals database is the easiest way to find available deals and quickly grab affiliate links and promotional images. You can search our database by keywords, Merchant Name or Merchant ID.
Step 5: Track your performance
ShareASale offers various reports to help you better understand your performance – such as clicks, sales and commission per link – and to subsequently optimize your affiliate strategy. The Activity Details Report provides a snapshot of all your most recent affiliate link activity – clicks, sale amount, commission, and more. The Merchant summary report can unveil all the key information you need about a merchant partner. Invalid links report shows links that are broken, including Merchant ID, Banner ID, the reason why the link was invalid, and the referrer. To learn more about the reporting available on our platform, watch this YouTube tutorial here.
With various metrics to look into, Cate suggests to give an extra attention to EPC.
“I always focus on EPC (earnings per click). And I always want to make sure that my EPC meets or exceeds the average EPC of Affiliates in that program. If I’m not meeting or exceeding the average EPC for that advertiser program, that tells me that I’m either promoting a product that doesn’t provide value for my audience or I’m not thoroughly presenting the opportunity or motivation to click and buy.”
As a closing remark, Cate gave a piece of advice for those who just started their affiliate business:
“Think of your affiliate marketing journey like a business. Every successful business is focused on serving their customers and providing products or services that their customers want. With that in mind, we have to stop trying to write about what WE want to write about and start focusing on what our readers want from us. Find a specific target audience to focus on and then give them what they need. When it comes to business, we have to follow this process: see a need, fill a need, get paid. It’s that simple. If you treat your blog and your affiliate marketing strategy like a business, you can be successful!”
Feel free to check out Cate’s blog for various affiliate marketing tips and tricks.
To start your affiliate marketing journey with ShareASale, sign up here. You can also visit our comprehensive Affiliate training portal, which features some of the above tips and more, here. For any platform-related questions, please contact our Client success team.