What is a Shareasale Datafeed and How Does it Work?

As an IT and marketing guy I’m often asked to setup new software or help integrate one system with another. This post is about Shareasale datafeeds: what they are and how they are used – from an IT point of view. If you still need professional help, there is a link at the bottom.

Summary:

  • a datafeed is just a file that affiliates can download that contains links and info on our products
  • once the datafeed is downloaded, affiliates can use it with special widgets on their site
  • some affiliates specifically look for merchants who have a datafeed they can download
  • if the datafeed is visible in our Creatives under Datafeed, then affiliates can download it
  • it is not an integration, it’s only a file that can be updated at any time, overwriting the old file

What is a Shareasale datafeed?

The Datafeed functionality allows merchants like us to upload lists of products to their ShareASale account and provides us with the ability to manage multiple stores and product level commissions as additional options. The Datafeed upload completely replaces the existing product listings in our merchant’s account with every upload. Any items not included in the uploaded file will be removed from the product listings. The full overview of the Datafeed specifications can be found at this Shareasale datafeed setup link.

Why use a datafeed?

It allows any affiliate that wants to feature a product on their page or through one of Shareasale’s content tools to display our products on their page. Some affiliates specifically look for merchants with datafeeds.


How long have they been around?

At least since 2013.

How do I check to make sure a datafeed is working?

It appears to be something only an affiliate can see, but the documentation makes it seem like it’s not an integration, it’s just a file that affiliates download and then use as a source file on their sites. So as long as it’s in your creatives and approved, then it’s “working”.

Why would it not be working or how to update the file?

We could find that either Shareasale has an issue with the file or the affiliates themselves have an issue with the file once they go to use it. Once we have feedback, we can upload it again at any time and it will overwrite the file that is currently in Shareasale. Here are some common datafeed problems to watch out for and here are some examples of how to create a product datafeed.

Conclusion

I didn’t know anything about Shareasale and I didn’t take the time to learn it before, but when I did take the time to learn it and build context I was finally able to know what a datafeed was used for and to tell whether or not the datafeed was setup correctly. This blog post is meant to help others like me who are tasked with setting up a Shareasale datafeed know what a datafeed is and how to check it so I have more context about what they are for and how they are used.

Professional Affiliate Setup Help

If you’re reading this you may be a merchant on Shareasale that is looking for an affiliate management company to help you get setup and build a network of affiliates to help market your products. This is not a sponsored post, but I have worked with Priest Willis and his team at Affiliate Mission and have been pleased with their work, their communication, and their integrity. I highly recommend Affiliate Mission for affiliate management and marketing services.

Possibilities

James Altucher used to email every single one of his web design clients everyday 10 things to improve their site. It’s about over-delivering and making your clients more successful. Imagine if I just did the things that it would take to make my clients more successful. Imagine if I just did those things and they became more successful. Would they pay me more because of it or would they think that they just became more successful without really trying?

PossibilitiesIn his post about 9 ways to guarantee success James talks about how doubt, laziness, carelessness, vacillating, and not making progress are all things that will stop your business in it’s tracks. When I used to read this stuff I’d think to myself, “MAN! WHAT IS MY PROBLEM? I can easily write about all of this, but I can’t seem to DO any of it! Maybe I should just go work for someone else because I’m too lazy to run my own business, can’t make a decision, and don’t have a product. The world needs employees too. I know I have to provide for my family, it just seems like there has GOT to be another way.” That’s what I wrote my wife back in January of 2013. I did end up getting a job later on that month and I’ve had one ever since (however, I still do client work on the side).

An Abundance Mindset

The world is HUGE and full of possibilities. That is both a good thing and a bad thing. It means there are lots of problems to solve and lots of things to experience and lots of little niches to serve. But it also means it’s really hard for someone like me with their head in the clouds to actually stop, choose, and commit to any one thing. Is it because of risk? (I want to cry.) Is it because of desire and happiness? (I am a grown man.) When backed against a wall, I always come to the same conclusion: I’d like to build something. I’d like it to use the skills I already have. I’d like to have autonomy. And I’d like it to provide for my family. So far, the only thing that fits most of that bill is affiliate marketing, but it just occurred to me that writing books on a subject would also fit that bill.

What if I went forward with my Content Motors idea where what I do is write “market-desired content” for my own site and for-hire for other sites with the intent of turning the material into books? It seems too simple and it doesn’t motivate me. In the book, Drive, Daniel Pink talked about the “Goldilocks tasks” which are neither overly difficult (such as app design or e-commerce) or overly simple (like business analyst or IT work). The question is how I can have both autonomy, mastery, and purpose in a job/career? Checkside has done a great job of summarizing Daniel Pink’s theory of what motivates us.

Autonomy

Autonomy – provide employees with autonomy over some (or all) of the four main aspects of work:

  • When they do it (time) – Consider switching to a ROWE (results-only work environment) which focuses more on the output (result) rather than the time/schedule, allowing employees to have flexibility over when they complete tasks.
  • How they do it (technique) – Don’t dictate how employees should complete their tasks. Provide initial guidance and then allow them to tackle the project in the way they see fit rather than having to follow a strict procedure.
  • Whom they do it with (team) – Although this can be the hardest form of autonomy to embrace, allow employees some choice over who they work with. If it would be inappropriate to involve them in the recruitment/selection process, instead allow employees to work on open-source projects where they have the ability to assemble their own teams.
  • What they do (task) – Allow employees to have regular ‘creative’ days where they can work on any project/problem they wish – there is empirical evidence which shows that many new initiatives are often generated during this ‘creative free time’.

Mastery – allow employees to become better at something that matters to them:

  • Provide “Goldilocks tasks” – Pink uses the term “Goldilocks tasks” to describe those tasks which are neither overly difficult nor overly simple – these tasks allow employees to extend themselves and develop their skills further. The risk of providing tasks that fall short of an employee’s capabilities is boredom, and the risk of providing tasks that exceed their capabilities is anxiety.
  • Create an environment where mastery is possible – to foster an environment of learning and development, four essentials are required – autonomy, clear goals, immediate feedback and Goldilocks tasks.

Purpose – take steps to fulfill employees’ natural desire to contribute to a cause greater and more enduring than themselves:

  • Communicate the purpose – make sure employees know and understand the organization purpose goals not just its profit goals. Employees, who understand the purpose and vision of their organization and how their individual roles contribute to this purpose, are more likely to be satisfied in their work.
  • Place equal emphasis on purpose maximization as you do on profit maximization – research shows that the attainment of profit goals has no impact on a person’s well-being and actually contributes to their ill-being. Organizational and individual goals should focus on purpose as well as profit. Many successful companies are now using profit as the catalyst to pursuing purpose, rather than the objective.
  • Use purpose-oriented words – talk about the organization as a united team by using words such as “us” and “we”, this will inspire employees to talk about the organization in the same way and feel a part of the greater cause.”

Sharing The Vision

I am moving towards a location-independent lifestyle that involves travel and running a business online. Outure and Webories are the primary organizations I’m setting up to help achieve that goal.

Outure

Outure is currently an affiliate marketing store, but is more of a brand, is being treated as a brand, and may one day become an ecommerce store. It has an active Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook presence. It doesn’t have an active website, but I’ve hired a VA to help me build it out. Outure’s tagline is “Outdoor Adventure. Urban Exploration.” It covers the urban/city things you can do to play outside in an area like Indiana. It has two sections: Gear and Wear. Gear is stuff like foldable bikes, kayaks, camping, and equipment. Wear is stuff like jackets, boots, and clothing.

Webories

Webories is an organization that exists solely to support other organizations. Some of those organizations are what we would traditionally call clients. Other organizations are affiliate marketing sites that do not have their own brand, per se, but are make money off of keyword searches. Again, the VA will be a large part of getting Webories going again by creating shareable content for Webories organizations (including Outure). If it helps you to categorize things in your mind, think of it as one organization (Webories) of which we have our favorite organizations underneath.

What I’m Not Going to Do

Sometimes it helps to also define what I am not doing. I am not renting an office. I am not building a software company. I am not building information products. I am not going to promote Webories as a company.

What I’m Going to Continue to Do

Blog. Tweet. Tumble. Facebook. Use Aggie. Client work. Day job.

What I am Going to Do that I’m Not Doing Now

Here’s what I’m going to start doing that I’m not doing now: podcast. video. email marketing.

10 New Business Ideas

I closed my web design and IT consulting business in 2012 and plan on starting a new business in 2013. It wasn’t that the old business was failing. It was a success, I just wanted to do something different, something that was easier to scale up without adding employees (at least not right away), and the name (Watershawl) just didn’t make sense anymore.

I am a professional!

I am a professional!

Why Start Your Own Business?

One of my primary reasons for wanting to run my own business is to be able to hire workers just as I was hired when I first started out. I think of it as the natural progression of things and as a way to give back to the community who has given so much to me. The secondary reason is the scheduling freedom it allows.

With that in mind, here are some business ideas I am considering in 2013:

Start an eCommerce Business

I’ve done affiliate marketing for around four years now, but I’m ready for the higher margins associated with e-commerce. It all started when I realized that three of my clients were doing e-commerce and I kept getting job requests from e-commerce companies. After I continually got told I was over-qualified I began to realize that I should probably start my own e-commerce business. The only issue now is in deciding what product to sell, which is not easy. In fact, there isn’t much about e-commerce that is easy, but it is a proven business model.

Start an Alternative Energy Installer Business

When you consider how many homes and businesses still don’t have solar, wind, or other alternative energy sources connected to them, the opportunity seems huge, but when you look up on a cloudy, winter day in Indiana it seems like there could be better businesses to start. It may be better to start a business simply painting roofs white in the summer. There are companies in Indiana doing this though, mostly up north.

Start an eCommerce Consulting Business

When I think about all I’ve learned from e-commerce in 2012 and couple that with my web design, SEO, and affiliate marketing knowledge I seem like a good candidate for an e-commerce consultant or what the customer might call a ‘ecommerce web designer’. I have experience with WordPress and WP-Ecommerce, but I recommend BigCommerce or Shopify.

Start a Restaurant

This is one of the most capital-intensive and risky things you could do, but I’ve always had the desire to own and run one. I’d serve chili with cut celery sticks (like a Bloody Mary) and put sliced pickles in our grilled cheese sandwiches. And since community involvement is one of the trends in 2013 I’d hold contests for creating and naming new menu items. Scotty’s does a good job of this and with social media.

Start an ePublishing Company

I see a trend towards self-publishing ebooks and even traditional paper books, but although this process had become easier it still requires some graphic design, layout, and technical knowledge not to mention basic editing, sales, and marketing techniques. There could be a need in the Indianapolis area for a digital book consultant service based on some feedback I’ve gotten through presentations and meetings I had in 2012.

Start a Content Management Company

Content managers are relatively new job roles that are a direct result of the amount of information now stored in company Intranets, business blogs, and e-commerce sites. Because of the ease of creation and the fact that content marketing is so important to SEO, the sheer amount of content each organization has to maintain has created the need for content management services. This interests me because I like to organize the world’s information (like Google).

Start an Affiliate Marketing Business

Although I have been doing affiliate marketing for a while now, you could say I haven’t been too methodical about it. By applying systems, consistency, and dedicated effort to affiliate marketing, I could turn this side hobby into a real business. Although the margins can be lower than traditional e-commerce, there is no inventory to store and ship. This is the least capital-intensive, but still requires a lot of work to be successful.

Start a Business Consulting Company

I believe management is an important component of a business’ success. As a business analyst I helped business owners create systems to manage their business by analyzing, summarizing, and reporting on my findings to business owners. I did this as a technology consultant, but most of the time IT work was very little of what I did. There seems to be a need in the Indianapolis market for people with advanced Excel and Visio skills, but the trends are moving more towards analyzing SQL and other types of databases which require programming languages I don’t know.

Start a Dental Consulting Business

Independent dental offices are usually ran by either the dentist alone or the dentist and an office manager. They don’t usually have their own marketing or IT staff, but have the need for both marketing and IT services. There is a steep learning curve to understanding dental procedures and their specialized software (ex. Dentrix, Eaglesoft, Practiceworks). It also helps to know HIPAA laws, CPR and OSHA requirements, and systems for how to greet, treat, and keep patients. On top of all of that there is staff efficiency, utilization models, report tracking, and HR issues. It is amazing how complex one dental office really is and so there are many ways to add value through consulting services.

Start a Mobile Device Consulting Company

I actually started one of these in 2011 called “Geek Hand”, but I may have started it a little too soon. Since then smartphones and tablet PCs have only grown in popularity and use. Businesses are now starting to give their employees iPhones and iPads instead of Blackberries and laptops. The value here is in helping businesses learn how to sync their email, contacts, and calendars with Microsoft Exchange and Google Apps. For screen repair I normally refer people to CPR in Carmel.

Bonus: Start an Import/Export Business

If you have the connections, the capital, and don’t mind travel, this is an exciting business model that is similar to affiliate marketing in that you take a percentage of each sale you make. The primary difference is you’re normally dealing in wholesale amounts, which means the payouts can be bigger. The key to the import/export business is to look for opportunities where you can add value to the transaction. For example, you might have identified a farmer who operates 75% of a given market, but has no email account. By being the connection between the farmer (the manufacturer) and an e-commerce site, you can take a cut of the goods shipped. Another example is to look for countries that used to not trade with other countries that have had a change and now have started to trade openly. One example is Vietnam. The service you will provide is in developing first-of-its-kind relationships between vendors in the US and suppliers in Vietnam. You will have to find global shippers, learn the laws of their country and yours, and make sure your packages don’t get stuck in customs!

If you read this, you might also be interested in 20 Good Business Ideas from 2011.