Aside from disclosure statements, I don’t usually discuss my money-making tactics on this blog. For a long time, the reason was that I wasn’t making any money from blogging.
I’m still not making a ton, but for a blog that has less than 20,000 visits each month, I’m doing really well. I’ve earned enough to cover the cost of running this blog and I have some left over to buy supplies for my Etsy Shop. I have a whole post that I intend to write after the New Year that will go into detail about my affiliate programs, what I’ve earned, etc. For my first one, I just want to do a year-end review…mostly so I can show you how slow it was to get started.
Today, though, I want to discuss my favorite affiliate program–ShareASale. Out of all of my affiliates, this is the one that generates the most income (usually–Amazon has been catching up lately).
This post does contain affiliate links, meaning I will receive commission for every person who signs up for ShareASale (which is free to do, by the way). However, ShareASale did NOT contact me or ask me to write this. All opinions are my own and have been formed through my experiences working with ShareASale.
What is ShareASale?
ShareASale is basically a bridge between bloggers and sponsors. Affiliates (bloggers) and Merchants (sponsors) create accounts. Affiliates send requests to Merchants, asking to join their program, and Merchants choose to approve or deny.
Some Merchants contact Affiliates. I receive messages every once in a while from Merchants who want their ads to appear on my site. If they look like they fit in with my niche, I do a test run and see how I like it. You don’t have to pay to join a program OR to join ShareASale (btw, anyone can join ShareASale), so testing it doesn’t hurt anything. If I don’t like the ads or they aren’t producing revenue, I yank them from my site.
When contacting Merchants, you don’t have to have a CV or anything. Your ShareASale account tells the Merchants all they need to know. There is an option to write a personalized request, but you don’t have to. I’m not sure if it really matters, either–I’ve never done it and I’ve been approved for nearly all the programs I’ve sent requests to. If there are any that didn’t approve me, it’s not because I was denied. Some Merchants take FOREVER to approve or deny, but that’s the minority. Most get back to me within a day or two.
What do I have to do?
Just put ads on your site. That’s basically it.
Some Merchants send me emails to let me know when a sale is going on. Craftsy is the biggest one–they constantly have sales. You can choose to then write a sponsored post based on those sales (Craftsy is nice enough to include a sample blog post, though it only covers the bones of what you’re supposed to include in the post). If you choose not to, you won’t be penalized. That said, if you decide that a merchant isn’t working for you or it doesn’t fit into your niche as well as you thought, simply remove the ads from your site. No problem!
As far as sponsored posts go, you usually don’t get paid to write them–you still only get paid per lead/sale. The posts are just to announce new offers or sales, which can increase the number of people following the links. There are some special offers, though. Last month, I got an email offering $25 to any blogger who put an ad above the fold and away from other company’s ads. Easy money. Unfortunately, their ads had nothing to do with my niche, so I bowed out of that one.
Pay per lead, pay per sale, or pay per click?
It depends on the Merchant. Some are pay per lead (meaning you get paid for referring people), some are pay per sale (which means you get commission from sales), and some are both. I don’t know of any that are pay per click, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Craftsy is an example of one that does both leads and sales. Every time someone signs up for Crafty’s (free) service through me, I receive payment. If someone buys something through me, I receive commission.
ShareASale itself is pay per lead and pay per sale. So if you choose to join through my links, I’ll make $1 for every person who signs up (also, thank you!). And then you can create your own affiliate link and the cycle continues. Now you’re probably wonder how ShareASale’s pay per sale works. A “sale” means that a Merchant decided to join ShareASale through your affiliate link. If an Affiliate joins, you get $1…but if a Merchant joins, you get $150. This has never happened to me. 😛 But that doesn’t mean it can’t!
Here is a list of Pay Per Lead Merchants, if you want to browse. These are the ones that work best for a lot of people. With your niche, it could be different.
Now for the fun stuff!
How do I join a program?
I found it a bit confusing when I first joined, but it’s not so bad! Here’s a quick tutorial.
Step 01: Sign up! Click on “I want to promote this merchant on my website” to create an account. Once you’ve completed your registration, go to ShareASale and sign in.
Step 02: First, you have to join some programs. To do this, on your ShareASale homepage, hover over Merchants and then click on Search for Merchants. Once there, you can either search for Merchant names in the search box or click on the Top 100 Power Rank. They are the most popular and the ones that produce the best results.
Step 03: From there, you look through the list of Merchants and just pick one that you think would work best on your blog. You can go to their sites, view their products, etc. To view information regarding your program agreement, just click on the Merchant’s name.
Some things to look for on their Merchant pages are
- Commission Structure
- This tells you whether you earn money per sale, per lead, or per click. It also tells you what percentage of the commission you’ll receive.
- The most important thing here is the Tracking Gap (the number that has the cookie next to it). This means that your tracking cookie (which tells the Merchant which Affiliate referred their customers) will stay active. For instance, Shutterfly has a Tracking Gap of 180 days. That means that someone can click an ad on my blog, close it, and then go to Shutterfly again later, and I will earn commission for anything they buy. Even if the second time, they don’t use my blog to get there. Tracking Gaps are awesome. (Also, I hope this makes sense. I had some trouble figuring out how to explain it. 😛 Feel free to ask me to clarify anything!)
- Linking to Our Website
- This might be phrased differently for each Merchant, but it’s important. This is in the Terms of Agreement below the Merchant’s stats. I recommend combing through the Terms, but if you read nothing else just be sure to read this. Some Merchants may require above-the-fold ads…you never know. This lists exactly what they expect of you.
Merchants also have website restrictions, which is just a list of things your website may not participate in if you want to be an Affiliate. Most of them are common sense things, like your website may not contain viruses, your website may not violate any laws, etc.
Step 04: Once you’ve decided on a program, click the button that says Join Program. They will be scattered all over the page, but there will always be one at the very top.
Once you hit the Merchant’s “join program” page, they’ll show you some information–a lot of it is a repeat of what we just went over. And then they’ll either ask you to fill out a form or just click the button again. (Most of them do the second one.) Once completed, you just wait for the approval. Some Merchants will approve or reject immediately, some within the day, some take a couple weeks. You’ll receive an email once your request is approved, though.
How do I put ads on my blog?
Once you’ve been approved, you’ll probably want to start putting ads up right away. It’s actually very simple!
Step 01: Go to Links and then click on Get a Link/Banner.
Step 02: Pick a Merchant from your list. Under that Merchant’s name, click Get Links.
Step 03: The page you land on will have multiple tabs. The first one is usually Text links. I usually just grab the URL from this to create my own text links for blog posts. If you want ads in your sidebar, you’ll want to click on Banners.
Step 04: Find an ad that you like and then click on it. You’ll be given the HTML code.
Step 05: Copy the code and insert wherever you want it to appear on your blog–widgets, blog posts, plugins, etc.
The ads that produce the most revenue for me are the ones I post within my blog posts. Especially my most popular ones.
You will receive payment on the 20th of each month as long as you have of balance of at least $25.
Some Merchants have pages upon pages of banner ads. Crafty is one of these. They have ads for weddings, photography, cooking, knitting, sewing, etc. If you don’t see any you like at first, keep looking. They’re not in any special order.
That’s it! Play around with merchants and ad placement to figure out what works best for you and your audience. I was surprised by the Merchants that my readers weren’t so interested in. But, as I said, Craftsy is great for my blog. Especially since it covers both food and DIY niches.
Do you use ShareASale? What are your favorite Merchants?