Shareasale Review – 3 Good Reasons Why This Affiliate Network Shines

Disclosure: The links to Shareasale in this article are affiliate links. If you choose to sign up with Shareasale, as either a merchant or affiliate, Joomlabear may receive some compensation for the referral. This is the essence of an affiliate program, and if you have not tried performance marketing before then I urge you strongly to try Shareasale. Joining Shareasale will allow you to place links on your site to merchants with products and services relevant to your website’s audience, and you will get paid a commission when your visitors purchase products or services from these partners.

I’ve had a real soft spot for Shareasale since I fist joined them in 2008. I personally believe they run the best affiliate network in operation at the time of this writing, for the following reasons:

  1. Communication, great people and great support
  2. Fairness and honesty – a parasite free network
  3. Very good range of merchants to partner with and promote

The first and foremost reason why Shareasale shines brighter than any other network is people. Shareasale was founded by Brian Littleton, who still acts as the CEO and has a very hands-on roll in the running of the company. I have dealt with Brian directly on a number of occasions, and it has always been a pleasure. It still amazes me that in the rare event when I have run into an unusual issue, I have been able to email Brian directly and the problems have been resolved very quickly. No other network offers this. My second favourite network to work with is Commission Junction, or CJ for short. They are also excellent in many ways, however the handful of times I have needed support I have had to wait 2 or 3 days for an answer that reads like it was pasted from a user manual. I do still get great value from CJ, but they lack the personal touch.

Fairness and honesty are paramount in any relationship, and when it comes to affiliate marketing I cannot stress how important these qualities are. Shareasale is a pioneer in this regard, and has lead by example over the past decade. Shareasale is the only network I know of that truly has a zero tolerance to spam and parasites. What this means is that they do not tolerate their affiliates promoting merchants using any dubious methods, such as email spam, or Adware popups which are parasitic (those annoying popups that come from nowhere when you visit a website, or possibly because you installed a browser toolbar which lets you play some free games at the price of having random popups appear periodically). Only affiliates who promote a merchant through quality channels and real websites can participate in the network, and this creates a fair and very rewarding place to do business.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time discussing the finer details of how unscrupulous affiliates can actually steal your commissions, but very briefly this is how it is done: You write a wonderful, honest review of a product you love and use. A potential buyer arrives at your website and reads your review. Because your review was so detailed and presented a number of great reasons to purchase the product, the visitor proceeds to click your affiliate link to the merchants website. Clicking your affiliate link then sets what is called a tracking cookie in the users browser, and lets the merchant know that the commission on the sale should be attributed to you. Great! Now the bad stuff happens… A few seconds after the buyer arrives on the merchants site a popup appears, quite often in the background behind the users browser window. The parasitic affiliate loads the merchants site in the popup, but uses their affiliate link to load the page. This then sets a second tracking cookie which attributes the sale to the parasites affiliate account, even though the visitor only bought the product because of your excellent review. It’s an awful thing and this type of theft is unfortunately rife in some of the networks who refuse to police this type of behaviour.

The best solution to all of this is to work with Shareasale – the only network that I believe is truly parasite free,

The final reason to join Shareasale is because they have a great range of merchants to promote. There are literally thousands to choose from, and something to fit every site. My own mother, who is a pianist and piano teacher, runs her own website providing piano lessons for beginners. She was able to partner with the creator of an excellent video tuition series for piano, and promote their DVD courses on her site. Now she earns a commission every time someone buys the course. This is just one example of the many great merchants you can work with in the Shareasale network. These relationships allow you to create great passive revenue streams from the hard work you have invested in your website.

I hope this has helped to explain what an affiliate network is, why you should avoid parasites who steal your commissions, and why Shareasale offers much more than the competition. If you want to try your hand at performance marketing, and get paid commission for promoting products that are relevant to the audience of your website, then sign up as an affiliate with Shareasale. I’m certain you won’t regret it.

November 13, 2011 at 6:04 am | There is 1 Comment - What do YOU think?

Motion Theme – A New Template Compatible with Joomla 1.7

Motion Theme for Joomla

Update: Motion Theme for Joomla 1.7 Released – Click here to read details and download.

Last year I blogged about converting the amazing Motion WordPress theme to Joomla.

We’re now just hours away from publishing Motion Theme as a Joomla 1.7 and 1.6 compatible template. This template is based on the fantastic Motion theme for WordPress by 85ideas. The template will be released as a free beta, and I welcome feedback and bug reprts.

Just need to do a little cleanup of my template files,  create a thumbnail and upload to Joomlabear – stand by!

Updates to TransparentBliss 3 Released

Updated TransparentBliss 3

The template is currently available to premium members, and can be downloaded here.
—————————————
Layout Selection
-Layout Selection in the Template Options (Less-Transparent, More-Transparent, Square-Corners)

Layout Problem
-Layout Problem with “Visitors” in the left menu solved

Insert a footer
-Changes for the footer-text can make in the template options

Insert the Bear in footer
-It can enable/disable in the template-options

CSS-Changes
-Setup a Daughter and Grandson-menue for the left site in the css

Stars
-Stars in the MainMenue can Enable/Disable in the Template Options

System Messages
-Enable the system Messages. Example: After a registration the user see a message on the site

Regards,

GermanBear

Bears and Motorcycles are a Bad Mix

Bear Sized Motorcycle Accident

For those of you who don’t me, I’m Lachlan MacKinven, also known as Big Bear here at Joomlabear. I founded Joomlabear with my brother, Alexis, in 2007. This post is really for the friends and supporters in our community who have been so wonderful over the past 4 years. Many of you have most likely wondered what happened to me, and why you have not heard a whisper from Big Bear for over 6 months. The long and the short of it is that I was a very, very unlucky bear.

At the end of last year I took a well earned holiday to Europe. I’d never seen Europe, and had been working almost non-stop for 10 years without a real break (except long weekends and Christmas, we always stop for Christmas).

So, in late October of last year I set off from New Zealand to see the world. The holiday was incredible, I met a  lot of wonderful people and saw some of the UK, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Portugal and Spain. However, just one month into the trip I unexpectedly got very sick. I was fortunate to be visiting a good friend in Romania at that point in my travels, and ended up spending a whole month with them, virtually bedridden and unable to move. I won’t bore you with details, but I eventually recovered enough to make my way home to New Zealand, first disaster out of the way.

On my arrival back home I felt a lot better. The sun was shining, it was good to see the faces of friends and family again. I almost felt completely recovered, and started to lay out my plans for the big improvements to Joomlabear that I had dreamed up on my travels.

Traveling is such a great way to find inspiration. I don’t know if it’s some deep, spiritual enlightenment that the traveler finds, or just that a person has a lot of time to reflect on things when waiting for planes, trains and other automobiles. Probably the latter. Either way, I came back home with a lot of great ideas for this site.

Which leads me to the second disaster, one which you have probably anticipated after seeing the photo above. At 8.30am in the morning, on my way to the office, a car drove into the back of my motorcycle while I was stopped at an intersection with a ‘Give Way’ sign. I was stationary, but the car hit me at considerable speed, sending me flying forwards over the handlebars, and destroying my bike. My arm was busted, and some of my toes got a little crushed. I remember as I regained consciousness a policeman’s face leaning over me, and I screamed incredulously “He just drove into the back of me!” The policeman had a half smile on his face, “It’s the best place to get hit when you’re on a bike”, he said, “If you had been hit in the side you would have lost a leg”.

I guess it’s always good to look on the bright side. And while we’re focusing on the brighter side of a pretty bad situation, it was also by some sort of miracle that two vehicles behind the car that hit me was an ambulance. And would you believe, the driver who hit me happened to be a doctor, on his way to work… Life is strange sometimes.

Anyway, here I am folks, it’s taken months to recover, and I’m not sure that all my limbs will ever actually move quite as they did before. However, I am very grateful that I still have all my limbs, indeed I am grateful to still be alive.

And now I need to thank Markus, our chief support engineer here at Joomlabear. Markus is also known as German Bear on the forums. Without Markus it is highly probable that Joomla Bears would be almost extinct by now. Markus has held the fort for quite a long time, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

So what does the future hold? I’m pretty much back on my feet now, and am planning a complete overhaul of the site over the next month. There will be a new Joomla template every week if possible. There will be lots of free templates, and some premium ones as well. We are also going to be supporting WSPA with many upcoming projects.

I look forward to catching up with you all soon,

Big Bear

How To Edit Images On Joomla

I just wanted to make some notes about editing images for the web. A few users have had trouble with it. And I often take what I know for granted, because I deal with these things on a daily bases. So it may be basic for some of you, but hopefully someone finds it useful.

Joomla!’s media manager doesn’t do much in the way of image editing, none in fact. It’s not facebook. You’re expected to upload images at the correct width and height. And its up to you to control the file size of the image. Even if it did manipulate images for us, its still good to know a little about the different image types, especially if you’re maintaining a website.

A few of our users have been uploading 500Kb PNG images for articles. That’s about half a MB or the size of a small Youtube clip. Not ideal for an article. Years ago when internet speeds were slower, Gerben Hoekstra was recommending that file sizes shouldn’t exceed 25Kb http://www.weballey.net/html/plaatjes.html He has some practical advise for beginners and is responsible for getting me into HTML before XHTML came out. He also said you should only use JPG or GIF file types, because not all browsers supported PNG. This was because Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 (IE 6) couldn’t support the transparency of the PNG (when all other browsers could). PNG can actually be a great file type, when used for the right graphic. I might get into that in another article though. And at the time of Gerben writing that I think IE6 was at its peak usage. Thankfully things are changing, last month its use was down to 7% on the w3schools site http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp (also a great learning place).

File Size
So Internet speeds have increased, but its important to remember not everyone is on a high speed connection. And in some countries (including NZ) some home users don’t understand the point for broadband. So we’re dealing with a range of internet speeds. And as I’m sure Gerben would agree, even on high speed connections, page load is still important. Not only is it the users page load we’re concerned about but also server strain. If your site suddenly gets a burst of traffic you don’t want the server to crash, and stop the free publicity you’re receiving. And with services like Facebook, Digg, Twitter, Stumbleupon, any site can potentially experience these peaks. So you want to be prepared.

You can check the size of a file on Windows, Ubuntu (I assume Mac as well) by right clicking on the file, and select the properties option at the very bottom. A pop up appears with seemingly useless info. There are three major uses I have for this.

  1. Is the Size value, indicating how much space the file/image takes up on the computer. And in the web world indicates how long its going to take to transfer from the server to the users browser.
  2. The Created value, lets you know when the file/image was made.
  3. And “Type of file” lets you know if the image is JPEG (the web short hands this to JPG), PNG or GIF.

You should also be able to right click on an image in your browser, and similar options should come up. This will differ depending on the browser you use.

Number Of Images On A Page
Yes the obvious one is the more images on one page, the more data there is to transfer, making the page load slower. But its not just the combined image file size we’re worried about. The amount of images does matter, because modern bowers limit themselves in the number of requests the can make to one server at one time. That might be a mouthful to take in, but think of it like you can only carry 10 bricks at one time, after you’ve dealt with those heavy bricks you can then start to think about the next 10.  With 30 images on a page, the browser can only think about the first 10 before thinking about next 10. For a standard article, I’d try and keep image usage to around 5 (if I’m lucky to have 5 images on the topic). There are exceptions. Either the page is an image gallery of some kind, in which case the user should be aware they’re going to an image gallery, and hopfully prepared to wait. Or it’s a long instructional article where 30+ images are required to illustrate how to do something, again the user shouldn’t mind waiting for this.

There are advanced techniques for those of you who want it. Lazy loading images seems to be all the rage at the moment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazy_loading If you Google Lazy Load you should find some Javascript libraries that do this for you. Lazy loading loads the images when the screen space of the image appears on the users screen. So the browser doesn’t have to worry about the images at the bottom of the page unless the user scrolls that far.

I think this article is getting too long to go into file types here. So I’ll wrap up. If you have the commercial software Photoshop, great. The short cut to export for web is Shift + Ctrl + Alt + S you’ll then be able to select your file type and see the file size before you save. If you don’t have Photoshop  but want to get into making you page load more efficient, and become a better web publisher, then use Gimp! I found it a little harder to learn than Photoshop, but that may be because I’m used to using Photoshop. Its free open source like Joomla! compatible on most operating systems http://www.gimp.org/ There is enough documentation to publish a small book, and translated into many languages http://www.gimp.org/docs/ And these days it capabilities are phenomenal, it can do 90% of what Photoshop can do.

If you can learn to effectively save images you might help SEO your site as Google will be soon (if not all ready) be factoring the page load of a sites into the influencing factors.

I hope that was useful. There is quite a bit in the way of images. I might continue on in another post :)

Easter News – April Joomlabear Newsletter – Web Edition

Happy Easter everyone, from all the team at JoomlaBear.

We have a few Easter eggs for you, and plenty of stuff to talk about, Joomulus, Joomla template updates, new team members, and some really cool things that are almost ready to go live.

This newsletter has grown to over 30,000 subscribers, and Joomulus has just hit 22,254 downloads at the time of this writing.

We are honored that you are here with us.

New Team Members

New Team MembersWe”ll start with the two most important things (because people matter most). Our two newest team members; German Bear and Little Bear. Little Bear actually joined us last year, but took a leave of absence for the first quarter of 2010, We are very happy to have her back. German Bear has been a great friend to all Joomlabears, helping out quietly in the forums with template tweaks since day one. In the past couple of weeks we formalized the arrangement and are now extremely excited to have German Bear on the team permanently. You will find both these friendly template pros in the forums, eager to give you a helping paw.

Joomulus

Joomulus UpdatedJoomulus has been updated, this is a security patch and all users are advised to upgrade. The more exciting news is that we have a K2 Joomulus prototype already developed and in use on a client site. This is driven by the K2 tagging system as opposed to manually entering tags. We will be releasing this in the coming weeks after a little more testing. We have also been hard at work on an enhanced solution to provide better support for other languages and character sets. This is also extremely close and you can read more about both these upcoming releases, the security patch and get your download link here.

BlackBearPro and PolarBearPro have been RELOADEDTemplate Updates

Two of our most popular templates have been given an overhaul and had a number of new features added:

  1. You can now add your copyright notice easily via a template parameter
  2. A footer menu for those little links that you need but don’t necessarily want to show in prime position
  3. The color chooser has been relocated into the navigation bar
  4. Better logo support, the logo is now clickable and directs users back to the home page.
  5. Quickstart JPA – get started quickly by installing the Akeeba Backup powered quickstart installer. Have your own site up in minutes that matches our demo site layout exactly. Great for those who want to build quickly, or learn hands on by looking at how Joomla site is setup via the admin area.

Find more information on our Joomla templates page.

Members Showcase

Showcase of Members Templates

We invite you to browse the members showcase and have a look at some of the great sites put together by our users. Please email us if you would like your Joomlabear site to be considered for the showcase page.

20% Off Easter Sale

Easter SaleThat’s right folks, We are offering 20% of any 3 month, 6 month or 12 month membership for this Easter weekend only – get access to our stylish templates and pro support team for as little as $37.60 for 3 months.

Checkout the specials here.

April 2, 2010 at 3:03 am | There is 1 Comment - What do YOU think?

Joomulus Updated

Joomulus has been updated and fixes a possible XSS attack vulnerability.

Please download the update now, and please ensure that all Tag URL’s you enter into the module parameters include http:// at the start, i.e. they should not begin with www.

 

How was Joomulus Vulnerable To Cross-Site Scripting?

Joomulus uses SWFObject.js to embed and pass flashvars, both Adobe and Google recommend and support this.

Flashvars are a way of communicating information from your HTML page to the nifty little Joomulus.swf. So PHP outputs your tags, and Javascript and passes them along to ActionScript, which gives you the animated Joomulus tag cloud. The Joomulus tags are passed as HTML links (the TAGs) to the Joomulus swf. If you really know your stuff you could pass along Javascript to your link in the form of a TAG.

You may not want to do this, but a malicious person could embed the swf from your site (lets call it site A) to another site (site B). Then they could manipulate the tags and url, NOT on your site but on site B. Then the user could possibly grab your session ID and access your Joomla site via this (theoretically – no instances of this have been reported in the wild to date).

This could all be fixed with a clever .htaccess file, to stop the swf loading on other domains. However, the most recent Joomulus wont activate links that don’t start with http. Which stops the execution of Javascript or Vbscript on site A and B. The tag will still get rendered (be viewable) but wont be click-able, thus stopping any script from executing. No sensitive information is passed to Joomulus, but it is still recommended to update. Also remember to use http:// for all your links (if you weren’t already).

For The Future
Chinese and Japanese language support is coming folks. Also a K2 version of Joomulus should be out in the next week. It’s already built and in use on a live site, but we want to run a few more tests before releasing it. The K2 prototype can be seen running on Wordwolf – and you can see it is pulling in the K2 content tags.

Roy Tanck has built a prototype for WordPress that supports unicode and we have embedded this below.

NOTE: This is NOT the updated version we are releasing today – the updated version is a security update - stay tuned for new feature releases in April.

Backing Up Your Joomla Site With Akeeba

In this video we run you through backing up your site with Akeeba Backup. If you have not installed Akeeba Backup on your Joomla site yet then head on over and download it. You’ll have your entire site backed up in about 5 minutes from now, and then you’ll sleep better at night.

CU3ER Flash Gallery – New Joomla Template Coming Soon

Late last year I discovered an awesome flash 3D gallery script called CU3ER. It’s the brainchild of Stef at Progressive Red. I contacted Stef to see if he would mind us building a template with a built in CU3ER powered gallery – and he generously agreed.

It’s on the cards folks – just as soon as we finish updating the current templates to include our new framework feature set. Stef has also been working on a new version of CU3ER that looks amazing! Check out the video preview.

CU3ER v1 – screencast from CU3ER on Vimeo.

How to Setup Joomla on BlueHost – Fast!

I was setting up Joomla for one of our new template demos on BlueHost today and thought I’d record the process to show you how quick and easy it really is!

And remember, BlueHost are currently sponsoring our 3 month Joomla template membership – so if you make the wise decision to host your site with them, you can also make your website beautiful with one of our Premium templates, absolutely free!

Click here to visit BlueHost (After you watch my super quick video, of course!)

Bluehost JoomlaUpdate – a while back I made a longer Bluehost Joomla video which you can see here. The screencast above is a little more to the point.

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