Reconciliation Process

Reconciliations have to be completed by the 10th each month. The objective is to ensure commissions are not paid on orders that were cancelled. The majority of this work has to be completed in-house. I would however like to train you to extended orders in commission junction, complete v-lookups in spreadsheets to find cancelled and returned orders, and adjust the orders in commission junction.


Extending Orders in Commission Junction

Click on Reports, Transaction, Commission Detail, Event Date and Last Month.


extend orders 1

In the Commission Details section change the drop down to view 200 orders at a time, take note of how many pages result (8 in this example), check the box on the first row and first column to check each order. After there is a check next to each of the 200 orders listed, click extend. Complete this action for every page of orders. In this example we just extended the orders for page 1 of 8.

extend orders 2



Export Orders from Commission Junction

After you’ve extended the orders for the previous month. We need to export the orders for the month before that. E.G. If you just extended February orders, you will export January orders. It is currently, November 10th, so I am exporting September orders. The process is the same as extending orders except you are selecting a different month and instead of extend you hit the download button.


exporting orders


After you have the spreadsheet, please run a sort and remove any affiliates on a CPC model. That action locks right away and can be removed for this task. Sort the Order ID column to put all the rows starting with PPC Count together. Delete those rows.


reconciliation 6


reconciliation 7


reconciliation 8


Checking for Returns and Cancelled Orders

I will send you a spreadsheet with two tabs (returns and cancelled).


reconciliation 5

Paste the CJ order numbers in the 2nd column in both these tabs. Enter the vlookup formula in the third column. It is =vlookup(select order id from the second column, highlight the entire 1 column of orders for table array, put $ signs in front of the row numbers (2 & 2528 in this example, select column 1, and false. Here is what it looks like for this months spreadsheet. The ones where an order id appeared need to be investigated.


vlookup 3

Methods to Search for Affiliates

One of the methods we use to search for new affiliates is to use the Google keyword tool. It will provide you with an idea of how much search volume there is for a term or phrase and related ways people search.

Steps to find the keyword tool

1. Go to

2. Login – it is free to create an account if you don’t have one

3. Hover over tools

4. Click on keyword planner


keyword planner 1

The first box (Search for new keyword and ad group ideas) will provide you with related search keywords and phrases. Use the second box (Get search volume for a list of keywords or group them into ad groups) to find an estimate of the search volume for a specific keyword or phrase.


keyword planner 2We will mostly use the first box to find related searches. In this example, I searched for “wine refrigerators” and sorted by keyword ideas. I usually leave the list sorted by relevance. If you sort by volume, the searches become less related. Use these searches in Google to find people that would be good affiliates. Searches using best, top, reviews are normally our prime targets. Searches related to products or categories are more likely to result in competitors who will not become affiliates.


keyword planner 3

When you search Google, make sure you are not logged in and change your location to United States.


keyword planner 4

We normally only go two pages deep in the search results. – never a good target. – competitor – we have the top spot – he briefly worked with us we need to target again. this is what an affiliate site often looks like. he is a prime target. – our own site – our own site – our own site – competitor -interesting. note the author and enter in buzzstream – competitor – different marketing channel – good target. authors can work with us. we need better placement. – perfect target. we need placement can see from the buy call to actions that they work with the amazon affiliate program. – competitor – competitor  competitor – interesting note the author – they are part of a bigger company. there is a chance but it is slim. – he is a target. he currently uses just the amazong program. – competitor


I highlighted the links that have some potential. Cross reference these sites against buzzstream. Remove the ones that already have an affiliate tag. Add the others as affiliate leads. Try your best to find contact emails. Repeat the process with the next search phrase provided by the keyword tool. Send me a spreadsheet at the end of the day with the targets you like and their contact information.

keyword planner 5

Send An Invoice Through PayPal

The accounts payable department at Living Direct has agreed to pay affiliate partners through PayPal. At this time, they require partners to send an invoice to be paid. I realize this an unwelcome step for some, but the news is it only takes a couple minutes once you get the hang of it. Here are the steps:

1. Login to PayPal with the same email listed in the Living Direct Affiliate Program.

2. Click invoicing under Tools on the left hand side of the page.

invoicing with paypal


2. At the top of the page, click Create an Invoice.


paypal invoice


3. When you fill out the invoice form, only the amount field and email field are important. The recipient’s email address should be

paypal invoice


That’s it!


Getting Started As An Affiliate

I’ve been an affiliate manager for several years now. As a result, I have a tendency to forget how starting as an affiliate can be a confusing process. This article is intended to serve as a beginners affiliate guide to help you start earning commissions.


Finding Your Affiliate Tracking Links

You’ve registered and been approved for the Living Direct Affiliate Program. What’s next? The first thing to do is to find your unique tracking links. This process will vary slightly depending on whether you registered for the in-house program using HasOffers or the network program on Commission Junction.


Finding Tracking Links With The HasOffers In-House Affiliate Program

1. Login at

login to the in-house affiliate program


2. Once you login, you can either click on Browse / Search on the left or scroll through the Featured Offers section until you find the site that you want to promote. Clicking on the site under Featured Offers is a more direct route.

hasoffers affiliate portal


3. If you clicked on Browse / Search on the left side of the page, you then need to click on the site in the name column.


hasoffers find links


4. The next page has your default tracking link for a given site. I’ve already written an article about how you can link to any product page with our in-house affiliate program. In short, after you click on the site you want to promote, you take the end the default homepage link starting with the ? and place that at the end of the new product link. The main thing to remember is that a link should only have one ? at the end of it. Otherwise, parameters should be connected by the & symbol. If you are ever confused about how to make a link, please email your affiliate manager. They will be glad to help.


tracking link hasoffers


Finding Tracking Links With The Network Program On Commission Junction

1. Login at:


cj login


2. Click on the Links tab. Type Compact Appliance in the advertiser search bar on the upper left and the word default in the keyword search bar. This method renders results for homepage links for the entire Living Direct Network affiliate partners can promote.

default links cj


3. If you want to link to a page other than the homepage, click Get Code next to the default link of the site you plan to promote. Then select your website from the drop down, change the destination URL, and select Update Code. The updated href is the link you will use on your site to link to the desired page.

cj deep linking


Finding Affiliate Topics That Convert

A lot of new affiliates think all they have to do is join an affiliate program and add a banner to their site to generate revenue. While this can work for some sites with either substantial traffic or highly targeted niche focus, it won’t work for most sites. The best method to generate affiliate revenue is to write unique content with keywords people search for when they are in buying mode. Examples of these keywords include:

  • best x
  • top 5 or 10 x
  • x reviews
  • x buying guide

Examples of highly lucrative affiliate sites include /, (owned by USA Today), Even Gawker sites (Lifehacker and Gizmodo), use affiliate links. E.G.


gizmodo affiliate link

Given the large and varied players using affiliate links today, I tend to chuckle internally when a website tells me they are either too large or have too much editorial superiority to use affiliate links. Some of the old media folks need to join the real world. If they are going to link to a product anyway, they might as well use an affiliate link. Their company most likely always accepted advertising. They could have been just as tainted by that as using an affiliate link.

Other good topics are those that answer questions. For example, how to make an expensive wine cooler into a cigar humidor is a great topic. It adds to the richness of the Internet and stands a good chance of selling wine coolers.


Best Affiliate Example

I highly recommend looking at the strategy used by if you want to learn how to be a highly successful affiliate. The first thing you will notice on their site is that almost all the topics use the ultra high converting “best” keyword.

the sweet home topics


The next aspect worth noting is how long their articles are. They are usually in the 4,000 to 8,000 word range. The search algorithm is especially kind to extremely long articles now. I realize most of us don’t have the endurance to write 4000+ word articles. I’d recommend writing at least 1,000 words if you want to rank in the search results. Having high quality content is still an important part of this mix. If you produce 4,000 words of garbage, it isn’t likely to convert.

the sweet home article length


Using Google To Find Content Ideas

Another good way to find content ideas is to use the keyword tool at It will both provide an estimate of how many people search for given keywords and provide alternative phrases.


adwords keyword planner

Here is an example using best dehumidifier. We can see that the search volume is strong, particularly during the summer months.

best dehumidifier

And when we ask the kind Google gods to give us alternative phrases, she kindly complies.

dehumidifier alternative phrases

The Dark Side Of Affiliate Marketing And The Search Algorithm

In what some might categorize as the glory days of affiliate marketing before 2012, it was extremely easy to trick the Google algorithm by building low quality backlinks with highly targeted anchor text. Article directories and blog spam were some of the main methods to do this. The Penguin update in April, 2012 dramatically changed how this game was played. Here is a common traffic trend a of site hit hard by Penguin:

penguin trend

I still consider this the dark side of the algorithm because I still see many example of sites playing this same game. The difference is I don’t expect these sites to maintain their overly inflated positions for more than a few months. An example that currently hits close to home is when you search for Compact Appliance Coupon a site called Goodsearch ranks number one.

goodsearch number 1 ranking

I know that they are gaming the algorithm because when I look at their backlinks for this page a whopping 90% of the anchor test is for Compact Appliance Coupons.

good search anchor text

I point out this flaw in the system more as a cautionary example as opposed to what you should do. This strategy will doom your site in the end, and your traffic trends are likely to look like this at the end of the day:

bestvpnservice traffic


I hope you now have a better idea of how to earn money as an affiliate. It isn’t an easy way to make a buck, but it can be highly rewarding both mentally and financially. The skills learned from affiliate marketing can make you a wizard at any Internet marketing.


How To Add A Banner With The HasOffers In-House Affiliate Program

How to add a banner with the HasOffers affiliate platform is one of the questions I am most commonly asked. It requires using the link section at the top of the offer page in combination with the banners at the bottom. Here are the steps.


1. Login at


login to living direct affiliate program


2. Select the Offer / Website you want to promote.


select the offer

3. Select the page where you want to refer traffic from the drop down. If it isn’t in the drop down, you can use the instructions in the link to any page with Hasoffers tutorial.


tracking link from drop down


3. Scroll to the bottom of the offer page to find the banner you want to use. When you find the right banner, you can click Get Code to generate the HTML for your site. Conversely, you can download the banner if it would be easier to simply host it on your site.


get code


4. Here is an example of the HTML code I selected displays on this site:


Since I am using WordPress, I had to change from the Visual tab to the Text tab to paste the HTML.

visual text


If you are new to WordPress or simply uncomfortable with HTML, you might consider using a banner plugin. There are numerous free and paid options to accomplish this task. You can find a lot of free options by searching at The alternative way I know how to add a banner is to go into the Editor. I don’t normally like to do this because I am not especially comfortable with HTML / CSS.

banner widget search

Should An Affiliate Use Merchant Content?

I had a good question today. The affiliate said that they liked some of the articles on our blogs and asked if they could use the content on their site. I knew from my rudimentary knowledge of SEO that this wasn’t the best practice from an organic perspective. I still sent the question to our SEO manager to see his take.


Affiliate Question:

My question is I have noticed a number of articles on the CA site that pertain to the appliances that you sell and ultimately that I will be selling. Can these articles be used by me as an affiliate to post on other information and etc sites to help drive traffic to my and ultimately your website or are these articles simply for customer information once they get to your site? Just asking because I want to start posting articles about the many appliances that you carry that apply to tiny house living and would love to use them if possible.


SEO Manager Response:

Yeah… that wouldn’t be wise. Mainly for her.

Since she’s an affiliate, I would assume she would be taking our content and adding affiliate code to the links? That’s gonna make her look like a spammer from Google’s perspective, as she’s basically just taking other people’s content  (scraping, stealing, borrowing, etc) and then use it for monetary purposes. That’s likely to get her site banned from Google’s index, as well possibly hurt our site. While it’s unlikely that it will hurt us, as we can’t control what other people do, with CA currently suffering from a penalty, I don’t think it would be a good move or help the site at all.  


What she should do

Her best course of action would be to rewrite the articles to make them 100% original and unique, and then link to us with her affiliate code.  Obviously, that’s more time consuming.


What she can do

If she does use our content, she would need to keep the articles & links intact (not add affiliate code to them).  As well as add a link to the original article at the very top of the article with the anchor text that says something along the lines of – “Originally published by Kara Zorn on”.

Or, instead of using the whole article, she can just use an excerpt of it,  say the first 250 words of the article… and then below that put in large font, “Read Full Article on” with a link to the original article.

Either way, taking our content and adding affiliate code to the links is not the best idea.

How To Find and Accept A Pending Offer In Commission Junction

I frequently extend offers to affiliates who look like they would be a good fit for the Living Direct / Compact Appliance affiliate program. I find some of these users by searching for keywords using the Beta publisher search tool. In other cases, I extend an offer to an affiliate who might have initially been declined. In this latter case, we are likely to accept your application if you seem well intentioned.

How To Find And Accept A Pending Offer In Commission Junction

  • Login to Commission Junction

login to commission junction

  • Look for a section on the Commission Junction homepage that says “Review Offers Pending Approval.”

review pending offers in commission junction

  • Find an offer from Compact Appliance (2138908). Hover over the symbols on the right side until you find the one that says Accept Offer. After you accept the offer, you will instantly become part of the Living Direct / Compact Appliance Affiliate Program.

accept a pending offer in commission junction


At this point, you can find your unique affiliate links to Compact Appliance through any number of means, including by clicking on the Links tab and searching for Compact Appliance in the advertiser search box on the left or doing a product search for our products. In a previous post, I’ve mentioned how you can use the deep linking tool within to Commission Junction to link to use any landing page on our sites.

If you have any questions about this tutorial or the Compact Appliance Affiliate Program in general, please feel free to email affiliates at living direct dot com.

Best Buy Affiliate Program Alternative

I’ve always wondered why brick and mortar giants like Best Buy and Circuit City had such a hard time succeeding in eCommerce. My conclusion is it takes a completely different mindset to succeed with a brick and mortar store versus on the Web. Much to Best Buy’s credit they have tried their best to play catchup over the last few years. As part of this process, they’ve adopted affiliate marketing. Unfortunately, for the affiliate, Best Buy has one of the most confusing affiliate programs I’ve seen. They have over 25 different payment schedules for different categories! This is absurd.

compact appliance affiliate program

Best Buy Affiliate Program Alternative

I manage the affiliate program for Living Direct / Compact Appliance. We offer a simple and fair affiliate program that pays better than Best Buy. If you join our in-house affiliate program, you will earn 7% commissions on all sales. The tracking window for the Living Direct affiliate program is 60 days compared to 7 days with Best Buy. This means you can earn commissions from a visitor who clicks your link for up to 60 days.


Living Direct specializes on smaller appliances. These appliances are perfect for people looking to live a greener life with a smaller footprint. Many of our products are customers live in small houses, urban areas, and RV’s.

Another focus is on appliances that increase fun. These appliances include wine & beverage refrigerators along with kegerators. This product mix allows affiliates to write about our products with a sense of humor.


In addition to selling appliances, Living Direct is the manufacture of the EdgeStar and Koldfront line of appliances. Despite being a relatively small company, we have hundreds of years of combined product expertise. We welcome feedback to help us design products to better serve customers. It will be much harder to have your voice heard at a company the size of Best Buy.

You Contribution Matters

If you help Best Buy generate revenue, it is still a mere pittance in their ecosystem. If you help Living Direct grow, you will be a valuable partner, helping an innovative company reach new markets and establish a brand. We will be grateful for the role, you play in our mutual growth.


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