A Guide to Setup an Affiliate Marketing Program for Small Merchants

Affiliate Marketing Program is an integral part of a modern marketing campaign for Small merchants, businesses, brands and sellers. Setup of an Affiliate Marketing program requires a simple procedure with a goal-oriented sales and promotional methodology.

Understanding the Affiliate Marketing procedure and setting up a successful Affiliate Marketing Program are two different things altogether, and it’s similar to joining a random Affiliate Marketing program to make money and opting an Affiliate Marketing program according to the Content Strategy and Audience-type.

Small Merchants are entrants (most of them), and some of them know exactly how it works – All they need is to find the most suitable Affiliate Marketing launching service to create their Affiliate Marketing Program

The purpose of writing about Setup of Affiliate Marketing Program for Small Merchants is to make them aware about the importance of Affiliate Marketing and its sales growth potential.

Besides its core-value for ecommerce and online businesses, it also solidifies the sales plan of businesses who aren’t in digital content and media product-lines…

Ecommerce evolution and adoption made Mortar and Bricks businesses to go online.

If you already have realized that you should gear up your Sales Strategy and add another Marketing Channel to boost up sales then Affiliate Marketing would be extremely gigantic yet helpful step to take.

Good News!

I’ve figured out on my own – And, now I’m going to share my analysis and views on Affiliate Marketing Program setup for small merchant.

Who is Small Merchant exactly?

Any Small Business Owner, Seller, Retailer or Entrepreneur who is involved in direct selling his product/service to the customers can be folded as Small Merchant in this situation…

So, Small Merchants are going to understand step by step guide on setting up an Affiliate Marketing Program

It’s not necessary that you have to be a digital product maker to run an Affiliate Marketing Program, if you’re selling a physical product, you can do it too, but all you need is to find out how exactly your payment processing and shipment procedure works…

Ecommerce giants like Target and Walmart do it easily – Although, they are giants of the ecommerce selling industry, and they allow you to shop easily and they manage shipment amazingly.

How Affiliate Marketing works for Small Merchants?

I’ve been associated with Affiliate Marketing since 2012 when I stopped using PPC and CPM for Content monetization – It’s been more than two years now that I’m completely into Affiliate Marketing, still learning, exploring and finding clues…

And of course sharing with readers too…

Readers are important. You can’t make any strategy in Content Marketing and Blogging without considering your readership – Readers is an essential part of your Content Marketing, if you don’t consider them, you won’t find appropriate results…


The specific niche-based content you’ll be focusing on, your readership will be expecting that from you – In addition to that you’ll also get similar type of organic traffic (which will be looking for clues and answers related to your Content)…

If your Affiliate Marketing Program which you’re promoting to actually make money doesn’t relate to your Content Strategy (or Audience that you’re approaching through Content) won’t help you…

Make your Affiliate Marketing Product useful and helpful for readers. This was a brief Content Marketing aspect for Content Creator and publishers…

And as a company or brand you have to have a clear idea of your audience, demographic situation and product’s dynamics…

After that the most important thing which comes to my mind is the selection of an affordable, reliable and best Affiliate Marketing Program. A merchant has to check a list of angles while creating a setup of an Affiliate Marketing program to make a better proposition for all stake holders like Brand, Affiliate Marketers and End-User (of product).

Keeping all those perspectives in mind, selection of an Affiliate Marketing Program becomes easier to make for small merchants.

Why to Use an Affiliate Marketing Channel?

It increases your sales. My first reaction to such a question would always be the same. If you got ability to sell online and ship countrywide or worldwide, you got to be ready to setup an Affiliate Marketing program. Besides the product-based restriction, if your line of business allows you to sell and ship online, then there isn’t any problem in setting up an Affiliate Marketing program.

Example: You won’t find any fishing company who sells fish to the end-user and ship internationally – whereas you can easily buy electronics from world’s leading tech companies or online retailers who sell and ship electronics worldwide.

coming back to the point..

Why to use? I ask, Why not to?

An affiliate marketing channel is a platform that helps you in getting customer base – In fact, it helps you in getting more popularity. In Affiliate Marketing there are two actors in the process. First is Merchant (who runs that Affiliate Marketing program) and Second is Affiliate (who joins as a promoter to earn commission).

The point is, a business won’t hate to get more sales. So in Affiliate Marketing process the very same company who runs an Affiliate Marketing program gives free (normally) Affiliate Marketing membership to the Affiliate Marketers or Promoters under a complete Affiliate Marketing system – And then Affiliate Marketers bring sales to the company and get predefined commission on every sale.

Commission rate is usually on the discretion of Affiliate Marketing Program launching company. All we need to know whether company is going with a certain amount on sale like $50 or chooses to pay a percentage of a sale like 30%…


If you join Amazon’s Affiliate Marketing program, it’s obviously free like most of the programs, then you’d find out that it starts with paying 4% of every sale which an Affiliate Marketer brings to them, and later at some point it increases to 6%… Maybe after referring to a no. of visitors or after some sales…

amazon affiliate program

Challenges of Launching an Affiliate Marketing Program for Small Merchants

Challenges are there to see – But things aren’t impossible to do. All it matters how prepared you’re for the task. You might need different payment system accounts, some subscriptions and merchant services to initiate the process even for setting up your Affiliate Marketing program. It’s better to know the those challenges before stepping in.

These challenges aren’t really challenges, they are more like concerns for many small merchants, and they somehow try to cope these challenges – In fact, I’ll give all those small merchant a good solution which will turn out to be a lightning rod for them. Take a look on the challenges they should be ready for:

– Affordability

High prices aren’t pretty. People want to pay less or at least reasonable for awesome things. It isn’t an easy situation to deal with when you are all good, and just pricing tickles in your mind. Pricing has to be really affordable in order to pursue for a long term affiliate marketing program.

When it comes to Small merchants or startups, it would be ideal for them to choose the best and most affordable affiliate marketing program in terms of high-quality and pricing.

– Stats Management

Stats help us to know what’s going on with our program. Website Stats tell us about website’s performance in search engines and all other elements like keywords, popular pages and other analytical figures.

Your favorite Affiliate Marketing service to run your Affiliate Marketing program must be offering high-value stats management and display options to show detailed analytical reporting for affiliate marketer. Affiliate Marketers like to know about no. of clicks, no. of sales, no. of leads and amount of commission etc.

– User-end Dashboard

A simple, sleek and clear user-level dashboard will help every new starter and amateur affiliate marketer to get started with his/her affiliate marketing account. Complex naming the options might affect the results and performance of the program.

– Payment Processing

One of the challenges for making any affiliate program successful is to offer a reasonable payout options. Make sure you’ve got enough options to pay to the affiliates. Payment through Paypal and Cheques are the most common options to keep in hand to start an affiliate marketing program for your merchandize business.

– Duration of Setup

Your affiliate marketing program shouldn’t be taking a long procedure to setup and start – Make sure you come out with an amazing Affiliate Marketing Service which provides you quick start with your affiliate marketing setup for your business.

Affiliate Marketing Service: ShareaSale

ShareaSale is one of the most famous Affiliate Marketing Services which allows merchants of all sizes and affiliates of many types to join them. It is extremely popular among merchants related to Business Services, Ecommerce, Fashion, Home Accessories, Gardening, Web and IT Services.

ShareaSale is among top 600 websites of the world. It stands in the line of top Affiliate Marketing Networks and an alternative to Commission Junction (CJ), JVZOO, Avangate and Clickbank.

It has been quite popular among many types of businesses. It can’t be bracketed just for IT, Cloud and Web Service companies – Small Home Businesses to Online boutiques, WordPress themes Sellers to Software Companies, Web hosting Services to Home and Décor firms, and hence there is a list of business-types that trust and consider ShareaSale for setting up their Affiliate Marketing Programs.

Bloggers, Content Marketers and Webmasters use ShareaSale for Affiliate Marketing because it provides many reasonable options to dig in – Making money online isn’t easy, it requires so much effort, hard work and struggle, and when it comes to payout, when an affiliate network doesn’t support much options to pay to the affiliate marketers, it makes them (affiliate marketers) demoralized when they face difficulty in payouts.

ShareaSale offers payouts via direct deposits (in US and Selected countries), where as rest of the International Affiliates get checks for payout.


Features of ShareaSale for Merchants

Merchants must know about the type of Affiliate Marketing network they are going to use. Double-check all possibilities of payment methods that network allows or restricts, and then some important features which you expect to see and use in your merchant account of an affiliate marketing service.

ShareaSale is a professional affiliates and merchant services provider in the global affiliate marketing industry, and serves affiliates and merchants worldwide. Take a look on few of the outstanding elements and features of ShareaSale:

– Detailed Reporting and Management

It comes with complete segmentation while retrieving the data of Affiliates for Merchants. This feature helps merchants to track the data on affiliates. Data and result analysis becomes easier for merchants to find out what area or segment of affiliates are doing good in the program.

– Real time Data

ShareaSale tells the merchants when a successful transaction gets completed. Unlike many other Affiliate Marketing Networks which use a delayed-reporting method or takes time to update the data for the affiliates and merchants. ShareaSale keeps you aware of every second. Quick feed data helps merchants to know what’s happening in real time.

– Training Resources

ShareaSale gives merchants a Welcome Kit to make them aware about the program. It includes four-week agenda to make them completely ready to trigger the success of their merchant account of ShareaSale.

– Diagnostics and Intelligence

The reporting system of ShareaSale has been designed with latest affiliate server requirements in mind. It provides a full-managed affiliate marketing system information to merchants and affiliates to easily kickstart their sales and promotional procedures.

– Webinars and Meetup

ShareaSale organises merchant information sessions and webinars every month to preach them about the ShareaSale system of working to help them achieving their targets along with ShareaSale.

– Merchant API

It’s another technical feature for retrieving reports on demand or scheduled basic edit procedures, manage transactions and other features involved with API Service.


How to Setup an Affiliate Marketing Program with ShareaSale?

Setup isn’t complex. There is a simple one-time fee to get started with your merchant account on ShareaSale. You have to pay $550 + $100 to take off. $550 is a one-time network sign-up free where as $100 is your minimum deposit to your merchant account.

shareasale affiliate marketing

The procedure of launching a merchant account on ShareaSale doesn’t look difficult at all. Such transactional services and ecommerce solutions aren’t easier as they look, but trust me; setting up an Affiliate Marketing program wasn’t imagined so easy and tiny by me.

Now pricing structure for recurring payments for merchants has two options to pick. In simple words, you get two options to choose for your monthly billing on shareasale. Recurring fees are of two types:

1) – 20% transaction fee

It requires merchants to pay 20% of every affiliate sales amount. For example, if Affiliate earning is $5, then 20% of $5 would be $1… Besides one-time fee every merchant has to pay monthly/period fee. 20% transaction fee is the first option out of 2 to be chosen by the merchant.

2) – $25 Monthly Minimum

In a given period of time, if your merchant account doesn’t generate a minimum of $25 in fees to Sharesale, then your account will be used to pay the difference.

So, that was the pricing and opting the merchant account-type for proceeding with your Affiliate Marketing and choosing the best Affiliate Marketing Network to setup your affiliate program.

Example: Craftsy’s Affiliate Program

Craftsy is a community of creative and artistic people who create, guide and teach about crafts making, quilting, decoration, sewing and designing of items. You can buy different courses offered by Creative Artists and Craft Makers around the globe.

craftsy affiliate marketing

Craftsy’s Affiliate Program helps you in making money by promoting this program and products sold by Craftsy. This Craft Seller and Network uses ShareaSale Affiliate Network to manage its affiliate marketing program. Craftsy is a big name in crafts ecommerce. It shows that merchants related to Art, Creativity, Design and Fashion are also aware of Affiliate Marketing.

It completely makes sense for business owners related to Crafts, Fashion and Design industries who sell their products online can go ahead with Affiliate Marketing and especially ShareaSale Network to launch their Affiliate Marketing program.


Your Part

If you’re about to setup your Affiliate Marketing program, then tell me what exactly you’re looking for. How did you come to know about Affiliate Marketing and what are your plans to proceed with your Affiliate Marketing?

I would be extremely happy to know that what do you think about the challenges of launching an affiliate marketing program and selection of suitable Affiliate Marketing network!

Besides that, I’ll certainly appreciate if you’d come back and talk to me about this article like Content-feedback. If my article contributes towards your plan of setting up an Affiliate Marketing program, then hit me an email and tell me.

I believe ShareaSale is a complete Affiliate Marketing Solution for Small Merchants, and that’s why I thought to promote them. If in the future, I launch any product or service, I might consider ShareaSale or recommend to the staff to use this Affiliate Marketing and Merchant Service to sell online.

Let me know via email or comments about your Affiliate Marketing Strategy… If you liked this article, please share on Facebook and Google+.

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Hassaan Khan is a blogger, freelance writer, and an entrepreneur. He helps brands identify and meet the target audience. He writes in-depth content for online marketing. Find out why you should hire him for Content writing or send him an email inquiry on Freelance writing.

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  1. I am trying to set up a work at home affiliate market business. I have spent hours and days on the internet in the past couple months. I like what I see in your work, and I would like to learn more from you. You appear to be doing very much of the same format of what I enjoy doing. I am like a sponge right now and very enthusiastic about learning and sharing information to be able to help others learn as well, but I need to make some money. Right now I feel like I am setting up all theses accounts but nothing is making any money yet and I am afraid I am spreading out too much and not getting the results I need right now. Can we chat?

    William R. Miller
    Forbes Street Affiliates

    • Mr. Miller,

      Thanks for reading and commenting on my post. I understand your situation, and totally agree with you. I’ve learned things and still learning every day.
      In affiliate marketing, things never change over night – You have to agree on this.

      What happens exactly is, we start up with a plan, we execute a content strategy, start writing some content based on that strategy, we join relevant affiliate program, and then we expect results (it means we want to see conversion and sales)…

      First off, Content or Blog takes time to get ranked well, on the other hand you need to make sure that you produce high-quality content. People should actually take something out of it.

      Believe me, you don’t have to worry, it’s all a learning process, more you dig in, the better it would be.

      As I said it begins with the Content Strategy which means you have to decide who needs your content, what exactly you need to deliver and why they should listen to you…

      When there is a slight difference between your Content Strategy and Affiliate Marketing Program, it turns out to be a huge gap later on… means problem at Conversion rate.

      All we need is to take steps, analyze them, change if require and keep going.

      As far as chat is concerned, Yes we can actually. I can’t promise a certain time and schedule, but add me on skype, and I’ll try to catch you there!

      Email would be the best communication method, and feel free to do both skype and email. I’ll be there to discuss…

      Skype: bloggingmatters
      Email: hassaan@hassaankhan.com


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