Getting started with affiliate marketing


Starting out as an affiliate and starting an online business can be a daunting prospect and it is not always easy to know where to begin.

Fear not, ShareASale’s publisher success team is on hand to support your affiliate marketing journey, even if you are a complete beginner.

How to become an affiliate marketer with ShareASale

So you’ve decided to become an affiliate marketer. You’ve come to the right place. ShareASale is one of North America’s leading affiliate marketing networks, so we are fully equipped to help guide you in the right direction and show you how to start affiliate marketing. 

At ShareASale we refer to affiliate marketers as affiliates or publishers. As an ShareASale publisher, you’ll have access to over 6,000 merchants looking for dedicated people to join their affiliate marketing campaigns. With so many merchants available it’s easy to get a little excited and start applying left, right and center. While wearing many hats may seem like a great idea, our advice is to find something you’re good at, something you enjoy, and do it well. Once you get the ball rolling there will be plenty of opportunities to expand your network and build a successful online business that has longevity for both yourself and your merchants. 

Choosing an affiliate niche 

Step one is to choose an appropriate niche. What is a niche? This is an interest, category or topic appealing to a specific and often smaller section of the public. As mentioned, spreading yourself across many different categories is spreading yourself thin.  

A key factor in becoming an affiliate marketer is building trust with your audience. Choosing a niche you have knowledge in or are passionate about will create an authentic rapport with your audience, which will make them more inclined to purchase from you. Brainstorm a few ideas in this space, ensuring the niches you are thinking about are specialized. For example, if you’re interested in sustainability, ‘sustainable products’ isn’t really a niche. The category is too broad and very popular, meaning there will be extremely high competition and minimize your potential for success. A niche could be ‘Australian-made sustainable dishes.’ This may sound oddly specific, but in a world of overwhelm, specificity is essential. You can then use online tools to research further about the potential market available for your niche.  

Quora is a great website to delve into research. It is a community-driven website where people ask questions on almost any topic. Searching for your niche on community forums will help you understand what people are looking for around this topic and once you understand an audience’s problems, you can establish how you can solve them. 

You can also research using the Google Keyword Planner – this is a key tool for anyone in the field of SEO. Understanding what keywords are popular, the price you would have to pay for a click on that keyword and who your competition is can help you establish how profitable a niche could be for you and your merchants.

Sign up to our affiliate network as a publisher 

Signing up to ShareASale as an affiliate a short and straightforward process using our online form. This form will ask you for your user details, affiliate details, promotion details and financial details.

Once you have submitted the form, your program will be reviewed within two working days by a member of the ShareASale publisher success team. When approved, you will receive an email from ShareASale asking to verify and activate your account.

Completing your affiliate profile

Upon approval to the network, you will be asked to complete your profile to ensure you are visible to our merchants via our Recruitment Tool and to increase your chances of being approved onto merchant programs. Merchants use the Recruitment Tool to browse publishers on the network and open means of communication for collaboration. 

We recommend you provide as much detail as possible and ensure your profile is 100% complete so merchants can obtain a clear idea of how to work with you. It should provide an merchant (or their account manager) with all the information they need to understand you, including your website and your concept. Include all of your contact details in case an merchant wants to get in touch and highlight key promotional spaces so they can get a good idea of how you will support their brand.

Making sure your brand is ready to be viewed 

You need to make yourself appealing to merchants because, as mentioned, they don’t always have automatic approvals set up for those applying for their program. This is your chance to really highlight yourself, including your website, social media or other platforms you intend to use for your affiliate marketing. 

Showcase your website 

Your website should have a clear connection to your niche and the niche of the merchant you’re hoping to work with. Your audience will be most responsive if you’re promoting brands that fit within your brand image, as it speaks to your authenticity. This will help to keep users engaged and returning to your site. Equally, merchants will be most responsive if they’re clearly able to see the relevancy and synergy between your affiliate site and their products, indicating more sales and commission for both parties. 

Opportunities for promotional space should be obvious including sale messaging, coupon codes, banners and imagery. Adding these tools to your website, alongside informative content pieces or strong calls to action, can all work to persuade a consumer to purchase through your site. Take advantage of seasonal focuses to tap into key customer behavior trends and maximize your sales potential.  

What happens next? 

It might feel slightly overwhelming when you log into the user interface (UI) for the first time as a new affiliate marketer, but over time it will all make perfect sense. 

Take time to sign up to the right affiliate programs 

After you’ve spent time working on a concept for your website, the next step will be to find relevant retailers. Remember to stay true to your niche. Focusing on applying to the right types of affiliate programs for you will help to maintain the quality and integrity of your website. 

Add affiliate links 

Once you have been approved by an advertiser, it’s time to add these links to your website. At ShareASale, there are several options for adding links to make the process as simple as possible for every affiliate: 

  • Download our Product Discovery Bookmarklet – This browser extension allows you to create affiliate links on the fly while you are online looking for your favorite products and want to create an affiliate link without logging into the UI.
  • Use the custom link generator – If you’re writing about or featuring something specific, simply copy and paste the URL for the product page into the custom link generator in the ShareASale interface.  After selecting the program you want to promote, this will automatically generate an affiliate tracking link unique to you that can be added straight on to your website. 

ShareASale also offers a host of promotional tools you can use to further promote your affiliate business, and can find more information on these here.

Keep in contact 

As a new affiliate, it will take time to build up a group of merchants that want to work with you regularly. It’s important merchants and account managers are able to get in contact and find out more about you. Introduce or even re-introduce yourself, and showcase what your website has to offer – take the opportunity to shout about your USPs. Always try and respond to emails or phone calls, even if it’s something you can’t take part in. ShareASale is always happy to host a friendly face, so get in touch with our publisher success team and come say hello to our client success teams.

Monitor your performance 

The ShareASale interface offers a comprehensive range of reporting that allows each affiliate to fully understand the sales and commission they’re making for any given time period. Ensure you are monitoring this on a regular basis to get a better understanding of what customers are buying through your website, and which advertisers are bringing you the best converting traffic. This will then help you to tailor your approach moving forward and really optimize your affiliate marketing potential by focusing on those merchants and products that have the most synergy with your audience.

You can monitor a range of reports in the interface that will help you better understand your traffic. All of the reports are fully customizable, too:

  • Activity Details – Get a snapshot of all your most recent affiliate link activity – clicks, sale amount, commission, and more.
  • Merchant Summary – This report will unveil key information you need about a merchant partner.
  • Invalid Links – Use this report to view links that are broken, including Merchant ID, Banner ID, the reason why the link was invalid, and the referrer.

Make the most of network expertise 

At ShareASale, we are always happy to hear from you. With a team ready to talk to you about any of our 6,000 brands, and a dedicated publisher success team on hand to answer any questions and offer advice for how to develop your business, don’t hesitate to get in contact if you have any questions. 

What are you waiting for? Get started as a ShareASale affiliate today, and look out for more tips regarding the interface, advertiser approvals and link building tricks. To view all of our current tips, see here. 
You can also check out our how to guide for getting started on our parent network Awin here. 



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