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Is Shareasale a Scam or Not?

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If you’re looking to make the best out of your website and become profitable, affiliate marketing has been on your mind. With a myriad of available platforms, you’ve probably thought about the “safer” choice: one of the bigger companies. And if you’re here, it’s because you’ve probably given more than a little serious thought to ShareASale. But you can do so much better than that!

By being a huge affiliate network with nearly 20 years in the business, ShareASale is not a scam. But it’s also far from the best choice when you’re trying to get your website on performance-based marketing. While this option may be pretty decent for long-established sites looking to add more revenue, many reasons make ShareASale a lousy choice for beginners.

ShareASale - What It’s About

Founded in 2000 by Brian Littleton, ShareASale was one of the first online affiliate marketing programs. In the time since, it’s grown to be among the largest programs of its kind, with over 3,000 merchants on its proprietor platform. Out of those, roughly ¼ are exclusive to them.

A large number of merchants, plus the company’s longevity, turn ShareASale into an enticing service for small and medium-sized websites. However, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to this service.

Marketed for the Little Guy, Without Delivering

While paid reviews might call ShareASale an excellent service for smaller companies, it’s not precisely accurate. For starters, the initial investment for merchants is pretty high at $650, and there’s a 20% transaction fee. And, if you make less than the minimum of $10 on the first 60 days and $25 in 120 days, accounts are charged the difference monthly.

The story’s pretty similar for publishers, who pay a $25 monthly fee if their account’s balance is below $50. If it’s below $25, you'll wind up with a deleted account. At least ShareASale will notify you when your balance gets that low.

It takes a while for a website to become profitable, but you certainly want to start with the right foot. And you won’t be doing that with ShareASale.

Here are some of our main issues with ShareASale for small websites:

  • The costs are too high. It takes a while for a website’s audience to grow, and spending too much money on advertising from the get-go is the path to failure. These costs include transaction fees, which at 20% are pretty steep
  • It isn’t universal. To start using this affiliate network, you first have to apply and wait for their verdict. Experts from ShareASale will go through your entire website, check your numbers, and then inform you on whether they’ll work with you. Many new sites don’t pass this first test, and nobody tells them why, though it’s most likely low traffic. Many up-and-coming websites and blogs have applied to ShareASale, gotten rejected, and later gone on to affiliate networks that work best for their needs
  • ShareASale has a problem with notifications. Many affiliates have complained that they don’t get a heads-up when merchant programs shut down. In the end, websites end up full of broken links, which can be penalized by search engines and, of course, make you lose money
  • Bad design and usability. Most affiliate networks of this size have worked hard on creating easy-to-use platforms, but the ShareASale design is behind. The look is unnatural, and a throwback to those early days of the cluttered internet. The position of features also feels forced, and it takes a while to learn how to use the interface. You don’t want to waste precious time on figuring out how to use an affiliate marketing platform
  • Payment is cumbersome for international customers. If your website is from anywhere outside of the U.S. and Canada, it’ll be difficult for you to access your gains. They don’t allow payments via PayPal, and it can take weeks for international affiliates to have their earnings in their local bank account
  • Support is less than stellar. Forums are full of disgruntled customers saying they didn’t receive a dime in X amount of time, and it took back-and-forth emails to fix the problem

What You Need from an Affiliate Network

You want to monetize your website, in a way that isn’t invasive to your visitors. You’re also concerned about your brand, and don’t want to be associated with subpar products. And, of course, you don’t want that to mean having to pay ridiculous fees that will eat up all your revenue.

In all, you need to find the perfect balance between marketing good products and not breaking the bank. ShareASale certainly has a broad array of products and merchants to choose from, but their prices are too steep for those website owners trying affiliate marketing for the first time.

As a manager of merchants, ShareASale is less than optimal. In their attempt to have more options than everyone else, they seem to have forgotten proper screening. Some of the products on the service aren’t trustworthy, and likely to quit their affiliation with ShareASale without notice.

You need to be able to trust your affiliate marketing service and know they’ll be with you every step of the way. So you deserve better than ShareASale


A Better Choice: AffiliateWP

Right from the start, one thing becomes clear when signing into AffiliateWP: it’s the best-looking platform of its kind. Smooth and easy on the eyes, it’s designed to feel as natural as WordPress itself. Unlike ShareASale’s clunky look from early Internet, AffiliateWP provides everything you need without having to spend lots of time learning overly complicated commands.

This platform integrates with your WordPress dashboard in a way that feels completely natural. And the integration isn’t only with your WP but also with some of the most popular plugins out there, so, when you install it, you won’t need to change the way you do things entirely.

That’s another thing: it’s so easy to set AffiliateWP up. Only a few minutes pass between first adding the plugin and finishing up installation. And, of course, once you’re using it, you’re getting everything you need to improve your website’s SEO and track every bit of the process that got you there.

Some of the most popular features included in AffiliateWP:

  • Super easy setup
  • Developer friendly. The code behind AffiliateWP isn’t complicated, and it’s effortless for your in-house developer to toggle with it to suit your website’s needs
  • All the documentation you might need is at your disposal
  • Top performance. Tried and tested long before hitting the market, you can trust this plugin to work on any website. Whether you’re running a small site that’s just starting out or a massively popular blog, AffiliateWP will work to your advantage
  • Accurate and reliable affiliate referrals, even when they come from servers with aggressive caching
  • Complete integration with WordPress eCommerce, for a truly seamless experience. AffiliateWP was created with WP in mind, attempting to mirror the look and feel of your dashboard. It lives in your website and not elsewhere, so you have total control of it
  • Affiliate WP tracks everything in real time, without having to wait for time-wasting delays. Get info on your affiliate-referred visits and registrations, earnings and visits ASAP
  • As many affiliates as you want; you’ll have an unlimited number of members promoting your website, products, and services
  • Your affiliates get unlimited visual resources or text links for your site to get a more effective promotion
  • The best support in the business, you can reach someone at AffiliateWP and be sure the team will solve any issues in no time

Bright Vessel specializes in providing safe, comfortable and customizable solutions for websites of all sizes and shapes. Contact us to find out more about what our team of experts can do for your brand.

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