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  1. #1
    Newbie
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    March 3rd, 2011
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    We are new at this so excuse our ignorance!
    Hi Brian and all others who read this.
    We got started on this affiliation thing from a work mate of my wife. She gave us details of "HostMyLingerieSite.com", which allows beginners (i.e. us) to start a web-based business as affiliate or dropship site.

    The affiliate seemed the best way to start, as they did all the work, and you basically get a website that you can modify and build on, it even comes pre-configured with 6 merchants (but of course you join up with ShareASale to activate those accounts, and look for more).

    That all seemed to work fine so far (like since last weekend when we put it all together), and we joined another half-dozen or so merchant programs here on ShareASale, and then "tried" to follow the "basic" instructions on how to download csv files, change the USERID to our number, and then upload back to our database - seemed easy.

    But to my dismay, it doesn't really work like that. After adding thousands of products (so I thought), they didn't appear in the product totals, or on the website! After several days of frantic e-mails (and the associated delays of time difference between Australia and USA) and repeated frustrations, I was eventually told by the Support Team at HMLS that I needed to make sure the format of the csv files was correct, with a particular sequence. When I checked the downloaded file data, I found huge discrepancies in the data order!

    After spending most of a day manipulating the data in one 2,800 item list to the order (and then having to delete 6 or 7 columns of data?? that wasn't needed??), I eventually got it to account for the uploaded data!

    But wait, there's more... I got the pictures to display, clicked to go to the larger one with full details, and BAMMO - no links to the merchant's web page from there! Even the size and colour options were not displaying correctly. Mind you, when I used an external link to go to their site, I found much of the stuff out of stock, especially the specials! Wonder if it had something to do with the data in the csv file having a date from last September (but it may have been the creation date, but still...).

    And that was after spending over two whole days trying to get some extra links into the "pre-configured" website boxes of our site. Even when I managed to turn on some side boxes, they were pre-labeled for other use.

    OK, the bottom line of the issue here is that your merchants don't give you a "standard" csv datafeed file (I had some with titles - that didn't have the required format for my database - and some with no titles - again a different order of the data), and HMLS don't support FTP stuff either, and my HTML coding skills is virtually nil so most of what I have been doing is trial and error along with hair tearing and checking the inboxes several times a day!

    Any advice would be appreciated, if there is a "beginner's guide to ShareASale data collection" or like, it would be great. Most of the instructions from HMLS site are 2 or 3 lines, and ShareASale's merchants don't always have a complete set of links or banners, and even if they do, I have to try and get them on my webpage if the csv file doesn't work!

    We just want a site that you can browse all types of clothing, then when you decide what you want, you are taken to the merchant's site to order and pay! Isn't that what it's all about?

    Our site, if you (any readers) are interested in giving some constructive criticism, and how to achieve it (I know HTML coding change would be easy for some), we would very much appreciate it:
    Moderator Note: Removed Link

    Best Regards,
    Gary & Felina Fyfe
    Last edited by 2busy; March 4th, 2011 at 07:38 AM.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Hello Felina, welcome to ABW, I moved your Thread out of the SAS "Things to Fix" Thread because it looks like it needs a home of its own.

    Datafeeds are not uniform, it is a fact of affiliating. They are provided by individual merchants, not by SAS. Most of the problems you mention are due to using a preconfigured setup and inputting data in a different format. These are things that you will need to learn, to make your package work.

    To run a site you will need to learn how the included datafeeds were set up and format any new datafeeds accordingly. You will need to replace your datafeeds regularly in order to have current products and prices, this is not a simple job for beginners. I would suggest that you remove any datafeeds that you added that were not included until you learn to work with the datafeed files. Add in new datafeeds once you learn to manage the formatting. You can use a program like Excel or OpenOffice (free) to work on your datafeeds. At some point you may learn more skills and be able to do this with custom scripts, or find a competent coder to do the work for you. Variations in datafeed formats is a fact of life and true of datafeeds from just about any network.

    Getting your site set up to look the way you want it to is a different issue and that is between you and the outfit that you bought it from. To operate and maintain a site you need to learn some html, there are free places online like w3schools.

    Some of your troubles can be helped by reading around ABW, there are whole forums here on how to set up scripts to handle FTP datafeeds - not that I suggest they are for the beginner, but they can help you understand what you need to learn.

    Site Review is only allowed in the Site Review Forum, you can ask for feedback there. To view the full list of Forums, see http://www.abestweb.com/forums/

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Actually, it appears that Brian and ShareASale have nothing to do with HostMyLingerieSite-dot-com, other than being the network where HMLS chooses to acquire some merchant relationships.

    I see on their site they claim, "Add merchant product data files with one click of your mouse. You can have your affiliate website up and running today for just $19.95 per month." Unfortunately, if it seems too easy (or too good to be true), it usually is not (easy or good).

    Usually building a site isn't the hard part. Marketing a site to obtain traffic (shoppers) is the challenge.

    Welcome to ABestWeb. Stick around a while, read and learn. Many of the folks here have seen it all and have shared much of their experience in the myriad posts. You might begin by browsing the sections in the Affiliate Academy.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.

  4. #4
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Yeah - I believe I would use the - cancel at any time button - they have on their site so you don't waste any more of your money with them and start all over again by reading here and then create your own site without them.

    By the way - Welcome To ABW.
    Last edited by BurgerBoy; March 4th, 2011 at 08:58 AM.

    Vietnam Veteran 1966-1970 USASA
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  5. #5
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    I have to agree with the others that the issue seems to be with HMLS. I do see where they say you can add as many banners, links and pages as you want & they have a WYSIWYG editor which should help with not knowing HTML yet.

    There are a couple of options you may want to consider until you learn more about datafeeds for adding products/pages to your site. SAS has a Build A Page feature that will help you pull products from merchants and make pages.

    There are also services such as GoldenCan and PopShops that will generate pages for you pulling from the datafeeds of numerous merchants.

    I'd recommend going with something like the above which handles datafeed products lists for you until you've learned more about both HTML and datafeeds.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    I would mention that buying your own domain and hosting would cost a lot less that $20 a month. You don't get a pre-made site, but with WordPress even those who don't know html are putting up affiliate sites.

  7. #7
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Please don't feel as though you need to apologize for any "ignorance." The term ignorant simply means not knowledgeable about something. Don't forget, that ALL of us here at ABW were brand new at affiliate marketing - at some point. We have all made mistakes and will continue to do so. If you never make a mistake you seldom learn anything new.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.

  8. #8
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Dupe post. Have been getting some errors when posting today.
    Last edited by Bill; March 4th, 2011 at 12:08 PM. Reason: Duplicte post.

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