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Making Money With ShareaSale

July 16th, 2008 by shawn · 10 Comments


Update: The long-awaited Shareasale Plugin is now available. Visit the Shareasale WordPress Plugin site for more information, including a video showing the plugin in action. Alternately, visit my personal site (shawnplep.com) for some additional info about the Shareasale plugin.


There’s about a trillion ways (yes, I counted for a while) to make money using the internet. Popular ways include pay-per-click ads, and affiliate offers. We know that.

We also know about getting indexed (right?) and to some degree we should know how to properly optimize a site (it’s not like any of this is a secret anymore). Big deal. Easy stuff.

The hard stuff usually involves the following tasks (in no particular order):

1) Getting click on your affiliate links

2) Getting traffic to your site(s)

3) Getting clicks on your PPC ads

4) Getting content on your site(s)

The difficulty of these tasks doesn’t involve getting them done as much as it involves doing it well.

And I hate doing things inefficiently, incorrectly, or in way that just sucks.  So recently I was thinking about Shareasale, and saw my measly balance for this month: $61.38. What the hell. Doesn’t even put gas in my car for a whole month.

So I got to thinking: what do I want? I’ll tell you what I want – a zero at the end of that number, to start with. How do I get there? Well, by multiplying the number of visitors by ten (you would think). How the hell can I do that?

I’m only one man. A strong, hulking man of impressive fortitude and wit, but only one man. There’s only so much I can do. So I decided to do something drastic – yes, that’s “write” – I decided to sit down and hammer out a script. (Haha! That’s write…get it? I wrote the script. Hehehe oh man…)

So here’s what the script does: it takes a datafeed from a SAS merchant, and it converts it into a full-blown store. (There was one for sale, that some guy was selling for $50 I think, but why the hell do I want that? So I have to not only increase my earnings but I have to first recoup the money I spent on someone else’s tool? I think not.)

“So what,” you might be asking, “what’s the big deal? Who cares if you can make a store in less than an hour with thousands of products in it?”

Well first of all, shut up. And to address your question: it’s cool on a few levels. Glad you asked. It’s a big deal because before this day, I was relegated to using some lesser tools that only output a) links alone, with no “real” content and b) not enough of them. Nothing that made a website. Now I can put the name of a text file in my script, run the script, and it generates an entire website – mimicking the actual merchant’s site.

Except this site is mine, on my domain. And it’s easy to do.

Oh yeah, and one more cool thing (I had to do this): it runs within WordPress.

Now, I didn’t integrate this with WordPress just to be cool – because there’s nothing particularly “cool” about this. (Motorcycles are cool. Cigarettes are cool. Tattoos are cool. But WordPress still (in 2008!) isn’t considered “cool”.)  I didn’t make it into a WordPress-y site just to brag – because it’s not actually much to brag about, and I don’t run my mouth just to brag. (Making it work on Tandy 1000SX would be something to brag about, at least to the digg crowd.) I didn’t slap it into a WordPress site because I don’t know how to code or make a “real” site or whatever.

It is combined with a WordPress install for one simple reason: WordPress is possibly the most adaptable and useful platform available currently to quickly and easily produce a site that can be updated automatically, made to look any way I wish, and replicated endlessly. I put it into WordPress because it makes the most sense. (Yes I’m a believer in WordPress + FeedWordPress + a dozen other superb plugins that make life easy.)

So here’s where it stands now:

  • A site takes less than a half hour to have up and running
  • The site is instantly full of categorized products, with pics, details, etc.
  • The site can (optionally) have RSS feed updates, pic feeds, etc. – basically, whatever you can do with WordPress
  • This is a system of two scripts, and a copy-and-paste DB query – fast, but not as fast as it could be

Future plans:

  • Make this into a full-fledged plugin that does it all easily with a few mouse clicks, some fill-in-the-blanks, and maybe some Web 2.0 b.s. thrown in to impress people (or not)
  • Integrate more than one merchant datafeed onto a site
  • Automatically hide the fact these are affiliate links (right now, I don’t even do that! Gahhhh!)
  • Optionally, scrape the merchant(s) site(s) for more products. Most merchants seem to hold back on the amount of products they present in the datafeed. Also, datafeeds are often out of date. This is not acceptable, people!
  • Make this future plugin available. Maybe. If you guys are interested.
  • Automatically post a random product’s profile page as a regular blog entry, on a schedule or as drafts. This would allow each product to get a “review” post, where I can type in a few sentences about the product.

So I plan on working on this a bit more, and possibly posting a URL here to show the results.
It’s not a groundbreaking new idea, but it’s an idea that works well to solve a problem I had with Shareasale – no “good” way to seriously deploy my affiliate links. So hopefully it works well in that way, and I can improve the script soon and share the results here.

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    10 Comments

    Comment by Derek
    2008-07-18 22:06:44

    I’m actually working on a script to do something somewhat similar right now, although your solution sounds much more elegant and robust than my dirty script.

    Any plans to share your current script or are you going to hold off until (if) you create a plugin?

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    Comment by shawn
    2008-07-20 02:04:53

    Yes I plan on sharing it but not until I get it respectable-looking. Right now it’s pretty raw and user-unfriendly…

     
     
    Comment by Jeff Couret
    2008-07-20 03:46:26

    Cool idea. I have a few questions though (as I always seem to be playing Devil’s Advocate lately)

    1. Ok. Let’s say your new wordpress-script store is up, autofeeding the existing store’s products and their respective descriptions. What will be the “deciding factor” on the potential customer choosing the cloned store over the existing store on Google’s SERPs? Especially if the original store is (and probably will be) ranked much higher?

    The cloned store will likely never pass it’s parent store on SERPs, no matter how good you are at SEO.

    With that in mind, the best thing you could possibly do is to make a better/more targeted set of meta tags which could attract the surfer’s eye in the serp. For instance, a parent site with the description “Toys, Board Games, Video Games, and Stuffed animals for sale” would be less attractive to a gamer than if they saw “Video Games for Sale!”. Highly targeted keyword/description/title combos is the way to go with this idea.

    An old fashioned “payola” ppc campaign could be the ticket, too. Or some paid ads from somewhere like LinkWorth.

    2. Cloned content could hurt the parent store’s SEO, which could result in legal issues or at the very least an angry store owner. Any thoughts or considerations there?

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    Comment by shawn
    2008-07-21 03:10:23

    1. The deciding factor is totally unknown. Why do people ever buy things from affiliates? The original store is not necessarily ranked higher – and you shouldn’t assume that you can’t outrank the original store for certain keywords. Probably you’re right about the merchant’s main keywords, but don’t forget all the variables (longtails) that are possible.
    2. The “cloned content” I am assuming you’re referring to is the store items? These are provided by the store in a datafeed…so there are no issues there. But the usefulness of using WordPress is to mix up the datafeed content with some fresh stuff.

    Comment by Jeff Couret
    2008-07-21 04:58:18

    In my opinion, affiliates get sales when they prove to be better at marketing (in one sense or another) than the company itself. In most cases, the company is fine with this, and can concentrate on what it got in business to do (create, maintain and support a product or service). It’s the affiliate’s job to find those gaps in the company’s marketing and capitalize.

    That being said, I think this could work with a good mix of original content and an rss-fed product list. The main problem is the sheer amount of time it usually takes to come up with original content; and hoping the commissions profitably offset the time it takes. This means finding a store with little-to-no descriptive text in a market with very little competition.

    Anyways, good idea. I can’t wait to try it out when you release it.

     
     
     
    2008-07-22 04:06:46

    [...] experiment, I found an interesting article from Shawn over at DIY Dollars about his efforts to make money with ShareASale. Since I have been working on my own scripts to interface with LinkShare, ShareASale, and other [...]

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    Comment by Jake
    2008-07-22 17:15:55

    Very interesting. I have not done a ton of affiliate marketing but have had some decent results. Currently I am not huge into them but should start looking and getting good at it again.

    You definitely have a good idea here.

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    2008-08-05 12:56:17

    [...] didn’t forget about the Shareasale Tool by the way – it’s coming. [...]

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    Comment by Rob Schmidt
    2008-08-23 20:57:49

    Sounds like a great idea , be sure and let me know when its ready. I have been very unsuccessful with affiliate marketing and certainly look for an improvement

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    Comment by Michael Marshall
    2011-09-15 21:38:10

    It’s not too bad. Though I like the Chitika Better :)

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