If you’ve been on the affiliate marketing circuit for a while you’ll be familiar with ShareASale.
The fact that they were the only real networks might have had something to do with that though.
My experience with them dates back to my affiliate minisite days, promoting an acid reflux info product.
Anyways, back to business.
ShareASale was acquired by Awin (Affiliate Window) in 2017 for US$35 million, but the site still exists as a separate brand.
Brian Littleton may have kept 100% equity in the company…but Awin has a reputation for rolling acquisitions into its main brand.
So, for now, ShareASale will remain at the same URL with the almost the same layout and interface it’s used for almost two decades.
Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Let’s take a look inside the ShareASale network to find out.
The first thing we need to take a look at is how easy (or difficult) it is to sign up for a publisher account with ShareASale.
Certain affiliate networks make this far more complicated than it needs to be.
#1 Choose a username and password, and let them know what country you live in:
#2 Add your primary affiliate website– this domain will be used to verify your ShareASale account later, so use a live site.
They’re also pretty stringent about the types of affiliate marketing sites they allow on the network i.e. no adult content:
#3 Enter your email address, but using an email address @yourdomain.com is going to be far more effective than using a free email address e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, Live, etc.
#4 Provide full contact details – don’t forget to include who you want your affiliate checks made payable to:
#5 Select your preferred payment method but there’s no PayPal option…which is annoying:
#6 The final step is to agree to their T&Cs – you’ll see the Awin branding included here – and then click on the confirmation email to submit your finalized application for review.
And then the waiting begins.
ShareASale account approval normally only takes a day or so, but that obviously excludes weekends and holidays.
Note: My new application was approved within 24 hours. That’s a hell of an improvement on other networks I’ve tested where the process is so convoluted that I simply gave up.
All told it shouldn’t take you any longer than 15 minutes to complete your application.
What Brands Can You Promote?
Something I really like about ShareASale is their knack for finding merchants that bigger networks would have no interest in, but make perfect sense for affiliate marketers like you and me.
In total, almost 4,500 merchants currently use ShareASale as their affiliate marketing network of choice.
They’ve never really been the “big brand” affiliate network, and this is actually a good thing.
Big corporations can be picky as fuck when it comes to selecting affiliates…because they can afford to be.
SME’s (Small & Medium Enterprises), on the other hand, are hungrier than a fat guy in a cheesecake factory to make money.
So they’re far more open to the idea of small site owners promising to work ludicrously hard to promote their products/services.
But ShareASale does promote brand names that at least some of you will recognize:
This is just a random sampling of the hundreds of high-quality merchants you’ll find on the network.
Ease Of Use
The ShareASale dashboard looks dated by today’s standards:
Not very exciting, is it?
But it’s very functional and I dig the minimalist approach.
‘At A Glance’ displays your current affiliate payment balance, any important updates for your ShareASale account, and merchants that are currently offline or closed.
The ‘Activity Feed’ is a relatively recent addition and basically provides you with a real-time overview of what’s going on inside your account.
All other functions are available from a series of drop-down menus:
Another nice touch is the ‘Trending Merchants’ feature – this displays the top 10 most popular merchant programs on ShareASale as a whole:
So you don’t have to trawl through dozens of programs, although ShareASale makes that process way easier than anyone else.
What this network lacks in finesse it more than makes up for by not trying to be overly clever or accidentally cryptic.
But their interface is far from perfect – the main affiliate dashboard is just way, way too busy, for example.
Finding Affiliate Programs
Now, this is where ShareASale kicks sand in the face of every other affiliate network I’ve used to date.
The basics are the same as their competitors – click on ‘Merchants’ and ‘Search for Merchants’:
From here you can do browse through the various categories until you find one you like.
Nothing new so far, until you see how ShareASale allows you to filter through thousands of merchants.
You can sort affiliate programs by:
- 7 or 30-day EPC
- Sale Commission
- Lead Commission
- Hit/Click Commission
- Start Date
- Cookie Length
- Power Rank (internal metric)
- Joined Status
But what I really love is the ‘Modify Search’ function sub-menu:
This is like being given superpowers to find exactly the types of affiliate programs you want:
There are way too many separate search parameters to cover here in any decent amount of detail, but my personal favorites are:
- EPC Greater Than
- Commission Rate Greater Than
- Two-tier Program
I can easily find programs that will automatically approve my application, with the commission amount I want, an EPC that proves I’ll make long-term cash, and the possibility of being paid for referrals made by sub-affiliates.
Networks considered far bigger and better than ShareASale can’t even touch this search functionality.
Finding the “perfect” affiliate program has never been easier.
Creating Affiliate Links
As you might have guessed by now, ShareASale likes to keep things simple and creating an affiliate link is no different.
Click on ‘Links’ and ‘Get a Link/Banner’ from the top nav menu:
Then simply click ‘Get Links’ from the following screen:
All that’s left is to review and choose the type of creative you need (text link, banner, etc) and then just grab the HTML code for it.
ShareASale also has some other interesting ways of creating affiliate links:
- Bookmarklet is still in beta which explains why it doesn’t work very well
- Custom Link Tool is their in-house tool for creating short links
- Make-A-Page allows you to create product galleries
- Product Showcase allows you to create banners displaying products from a specific program
So again, ShareASale scores a lot of points here for just sheer innovation.
Now let’s take a look at how you go about getting paid for all your hard work promoting ShareASale’s various merchants.
Affiliate payments are issued on the 20th of each month, based on a net 30 model.
So you’d get paid on March 20th for any sales you made up to February 20th.
That’s about as good as it gets with affiliate networks – some do pay on a weekly basis but I don’t envy them trying to balance reversals/refunds with current payments and negative balances.
You can choose between ‘Direct Deposit’, ‘Mailed Check’ and ‘Payoneer’.
The fastest way to get paid is via direct deposit because it goes straight into your bank account, plus you also avoid the hassle of trying to cash a check and avoid the associated handling fees.
It’s annoying that they don’t offer PayPal, but I’d much prefer to see them taking the lead here and offering payment in cryptos.
Now that would be cool!
You’ll need to build up a $50 balance in your affiliate account before you can trigger a payment from ShareASale.
I’ve seen people actually complain that it should be $10 and not $50.
But if you can’t earn $50 from affiliate marketing then you might be in the wrong “job”.
So, what do you do if you can’t figure out how to create a link to a specific affiliate program, your payment is late, or you’re just plain old confused?
You reach out to ShareASale customer support.
In fairness, they make the first move by linking to an introductory tutorial in your welcome email, but let’s say you need help with something more specific.
Their knowledge base (called Help Center) is functional but I haven’t seen an interface like this since about 2002 – it’s displayed in an iFrame…with scrollbars.
Oh, the humanity!
Seriously, ShareASale – it’s time to review this.
Apart from that, they do list an email address and telephone number to contact them on, but there’s nothing specific to customer support.
Basically, the support section of the site needs a complete overhaul.
ShareASale Network Feedback
And now we come to the part of the review all you Schadenfreude fans will love – affiliate feedback.
This person isn’t happy about any aspect of the network, from the interface to the merchants and everything in between.
The next piece of feedback seems to hint that ShareASale is not paying them the commission they feel they’ve earned.
And some people have even gone as far as accusing ShareASale of being racist.
Companies like ShareASale will sometimes decline applications from countries where there’s a substantially higher risk of affiliate fraud.
Don’t take it personally.
Plus, the ShareASale team looks pretty diverse to me.
The majority of the complaints and gripes I found were around declined applications, with literally one or two about payments delayed by a few days.
So there was nothing really unusual there but bear in mind that all of these networks have their idiosyncrasies.
Year established: 2000
Number of merchants: 4,500
Offer types: CPA, Pay-per-call, Two-tier programs
Weighing It Up
Now let’s take a look at how ShareASale looks overall, in several bullet points or less.
- Sign-up and approval for ShareASale is way, way easier than with most other networks
- They’re now part of Awin, so the extra investment means longevity
- Their merchant portfolio is very diverse, with lots of under-the-radar programs
- Finding the exact affiliate program you want (EPC, payout, etc.) is incredibly easy
- They offer pay-per-call functionality as well as two-tier programs
- You get some very cool additional tools for publishers e.g. product banner creator
- The homepage/affiliate dashboard manages to be both minimalist and messy at the same time
- Their customer service interface looks like it was created by a teenager. In 1998.