Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn some side income or monetize your online pages. With many companies offering affiliate programs, anyone with an online following can earn pretty well through commissions.
It can be challenging to find a good fit, so we made this website to help people stay on top of the many opportunities out there.
I always suggest signing up with an affiliate network, where you can find various programs from different companies in one place. Access to multiple verticals might give you ideas about your work.
These networks also save you the hassle of filling out forms each time you partner with a company, even within a single vertical. Let’s take a look at two of the biggest affiliate networks and see what they have to offer!
- ShareASale vs. CJ Affiliate: Overview
- Commission Junction/ CJ Affiliate
- ShareASale vs. CJ Affiliate: Detailed Comparision
- 1. Joining The Network
- 2. Getting Started
- 3. Affiliate Dashboard
- 4. Finding Best Affiliate Programs
- 5. Links & Banners
- 6. Custom Links
- 7. Payment Withdrawal
- 8. Support
- The Bottom Line
- My Advice
- [FAQs] Frequently Asked Questions
ShareASale vs. CJ Affiliate: Overview
Before I get into a detailed comparison of these affiliate networks, let me briefly overview each separately. This way, you will get a good idea of the general differences between the two.
The overview can provide us with valuable context to suggest the reasons behind the qualities of each one. While both are American companies, their history has been quite different from each other.
ShareASale started in 2000 out of Chicago, Illinois, with a vision to help businesses grow by nurturing relationships and doing the right things. They’ve built their entire company on these values.
In 2017, ShareASale was acquired by the Awin affiliate network. Both companies were industry leaders and have since merged all their assets with the parent company.
Today, ShareASale, Awin, and Commission Factory all form a single entity with different names. The company has over 1300 employees in more than seventeen offices worldwide.
This network has over 270,000 affiliates/publishers that promote brands from over 25,000 advertisers. You can find brands like Etsy, Reebok, and Sun Basket in over 39 consumer categories.
All in all, It’s easily one of the biggest and most trusted affiliate networks with over 23 years of experience. It has generated over 17 billion USD for advertisers and $1.3 billion for affiliates in 2022 alone!
Commission Junction/ CJ Affiliate
By no means is CJ a small company. It was founded in 1998 in Santa Barbara, California, under the name Commission Junction, making it older by comparison.
Its proximity to Silicon Valley and focus on affiliate marketing technology placed it in the unique position of helping to invent the affiliate industry as it stands today.
Today, CJ Affiliate leverages data, technology, and a strategic approach to maintain one of the largest performance marketing platforms with a personal touch.
Their technology powers an entire partnership ecosystem. CJ has a network of over 167,000 affiliates and offers affiliate programs with over 3,800 brands worldwide.
You can find programs from brands like Disney, Blue Apron, and Barnes & Noble.
It’s clear that ShareASale is much bigger than CJ since it was merged with a couple of other companies, but there’s more to it than size.
While both companies are award-winning leaders in the affiliate marketing industry, CJ has more recognizable accolades from companies like Forbes and Fortune Magazine.
That is the most distinguishing difference between both companies, in my opinion. While ShareASale is massive and professional, CJ feels more accessible and beginner-friendly.
ShareASale vs. CJ Affiliate: Detailed Comparision
Now that we have seen the companies let’s take a closer look at all the affiliate network platforms from the perspective of affiliates.
If you have a blog, YouTube channel, niche website, TikTok account, or any other social media account with a considerable following, and you are wondering which of these two you should join, keep reading!
We will now take a close look at the various features of both and compare the two. Let’s go step-by-step from beginning to end.
1. Joining The Network
Both networks are free to join and require a few basic details from users. Anyone can join and start affiliate marketing by providing a link to an online page, a way to receive money, and an email address.
ShareASale asks for quite a few details like: Billing Address, website link, email address, and name. After this, they take between 5 to 7 working days to review the application and accept or decline.
My application was accepted, and I was given access within 6 to 8 hours of signing up. I did so using this website.
Meanwhile, CJ does not require any time for reviewing applications. You can manually fill in less info in the sign-up form and move on to the next stage.
2. Getting Started
While CJ lets you sign up without external assessment, you cannot access the platform immediately. I filled up the signup form in less than ten minutes, and when I tried to open my dashboard, I had to complete my entire profile in one go.
This means that CJ will only allow you full access once you provide everything it needs, including bank details, addresses, a complete profile, and a tax form that you can fill up pretty easily in a few minutes.
The whole process took around 30 mins. for CJ.
By comparison, once ShareASale reviews your online presence and accepts your application, you can access the entire website immediately.
3. Affiliate Dashboard
Once you gain full access to your account, your affiliate dashboard is the first thing you see on both networks. Comparing them both side-by-side, the first thing I noticed was a few similarities:
- Both allow you to see the current balance very clearly in big text.
- They have a way to see your recent progress. (Activity Feed vs. Performance Summary)
- The two also share an area where top advertisers are highlighted (Trending Merchants vs. Advertisers) and a place to get updates from the respective companies (Blog vs. Announcements)
Beyond that, there are some notable differences.
The dashboard on ShareASale looks simple, robust, and well-equipped. It shows the overview of your affiliate campaigns in greater detail through separate tabs like recent transactions and Updated Links.
Meanwhile, the CJ Affiliate dashboard looks sleek, minimalistic, and professional. It’s definitely toned down by comparison and might be preferable for beginners. The information is condensed, and you can’t even scroll the page.
On one hand, ShareASale’s dashboard has much more going on and might overwhelm new affiliates. Yet, experienced affiliates might prefer this since they can get a more detailed overview in one place.
Affiliate marketing has a short learning curve and is quite easy to get into, which is why I prefer the ShareASale Dashboard overall.
4. Finding Best Affiliate Programs
This is the main course that most of us are here for. When comparing affiliate networks, their affiliate programs’ quality, quantity, and variety are the most important.
Judging this factor took quite some time as I tried to find a good program and apply for it. As we already know, ShareASale has a more significant number of affiliate programs.
Since neither is exclusive, some advertisers might even be shared between the two. Let’s see which is better for finding the best affiliate program.
Both networks have their own metric to judge the overall quality of a program. ShareASale has a Power Ranking system, whereas CJ calls it the Network Earnings.
It allows you to choose from over 39 categories and seems to have around 4,500 active affiliate programs. Its detailed search modifiers enable users to find programs that meet their specifications.
The best thing about it was that it quickly shows each program’s essential metrics on the search page and lets affiliates draft a personalized message while applying for one.
CJ, on the other hand, offers fewer categories, modifiers, and search options. One unique thing about it is that it allows affiliates to view a company’s banners, links, and products before applying for its affiliate program.
My favorite thing about CJ’s affiliate program search is that it shows you the frequency of application approval on the search page.
Yet, since I struggled overall while using CJ’s search engine and since I prefer writing a personalized message for each application, I have to give another win to ShareASale for this category.
5. Links & Banners
Accessing your banners and links is easy enough on both platforms. This is an affiliate’s bread and butter, after all. Makes sense that you can find them easily right from the dashboard.
ShareASale lets you access your affiliate program’s links on the right side of the Your Top Merchants section in the middle of the dashboard.
Whereas CJ Affiliate redirects you to the affiliate program’s page before you can click on the links icon in the top right corner.
That extra click, combined with the slow loading times I am experiencing on CJ, gives another win to ShareASale.
6. Custom Links
Deep linking capabilities, or the ability to create custom links, are another major factor in judging an affiliate network.
Creating unique links lets you direct your traffic to the appropriate pages and can help you increase conversions by up to 25%.
ShareASale lets you easily find a custom link generator from the dashboard in the “Create A Custom Link To A Page” section under the “Links” tab. Furthermore, it allows affiliates to have more control using their bookmarklet tool.
As the custom link generator clearly explains, you must click and drag the button into the bookmark bar of an authorized browser on a PC.
Then, you can visit your affiliate company’s website, find any page you wish to link, and click on the bookmark to find various linking options. You can create custom banners using the images on the page and create a “license plate link.”
CJ Affiliate, on the other hand, only offers deep linking through a bookmarklet tool. The page where you can download it from is also slightly harder to locate in the “Account” tab on your dashboard.
Coming to the tool itself, it doesn’t seem to offer nearly enough customizability and linking options when compared to ShareASale. Which is why ShareASale offers better deep linking capabilities as well.
7. Payment Withdrawal
Coming to the payment withdrawal process, both companies offer exactly the same deal as far as I’m concerned.
Both allow you a minimum threshold payment of $50, meaning you need a balance of at least $50 before withdrawing. Both also allow direct deposit, Payoneer, Wire transfer, and Mail check as modes of payment.
The only difference is that ShareASale clearly has payment settings under the payments tab.
Whereas CJ Affiliate has it under the Account tab.
The final comparison I am using for judgment here is the quality and availability of support provided to affiliates.
While ShareASale had a link to its help center at the bottom of each page, their blogs and support docs are somewhat rudimentary. There aren’t any other ways to reach out for support either.
Alternatively, a larger community of affiliates is making helpful content on platforms like YouTube, which is the bigger platform. To be fair, CJ Affiliate users also post a lot of such content.
CJ Affiliate has a better support center with more extensive and well-written blogs. It also allows users to reach out, get an onboarding tour at any point, and offer on-call assistance in many places worldwide.
Overall, CJ Affiliate has better support options if you ask me.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, I really wanted to see an underdog in CJ Affiliate. As the smaller of the two in market share but, the older and more experienced, I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Unfortunately, when it comes to features and direct comparison, ShareASale was clearly better in almost every way.
- While CJ lets you sign on manually, it requires you to fill in all your info before proceeding. Whereas ShareASale approves applications based on their traffic source, after which you get full access. (took me less than a day for both.)
- The UX & UI of ShareASale are bright, vibrant, and easy to identify. Anything you need can be found very easily. CJ’s UX & UI are more dull and convoluted by contrast.
- ShareASale also ran much faster, whereas CJ’s web pages seemed to drag along.
- The number of affiliate programs, finding the best one by any category, and deep linking capabilities. ShareASale has CJ beat in all of these as well.
- The only advantage I found of Cj was its general affiliate support, but considering how these networks are mostly automated, that might be a bit misguided use of resources.
It’s not my place to judge a decades-old company, and how it chooses to do business, but in terms of the brass tacks, ShareASale looks like the superior platform.
In the end, I would highlight by saying that what matters most to you as an affiliate is the quality of opportunities you can find on an affiliate network.
How you judge the value of an affiliate program should depend on your capabilities and potential. If you are great at making niche websites, you might prefer to find a ton of tried and tested options on ShareASale.
But if you are looking for something more specific, you should apply to many other affiliate networks as well and see what they have in store for you.
After all, it’s free to join both. I would end by saying that if you are new and don’t know where to start, I suggest ShareASale because if you get familiar with it, you can manage anywhere else.
[FAQs] Frequently Asked Questions
No, it does not. While each affiliate program has its own regulations, in terms of withdrawing your balance from either of these affiliate networks, they both pay you on a monthly basis.
No, neither of the two affiliate networks currently pays via PayPal.
Both ShareASale and CJ Affiliate are great options for beginners. They both have thousands of affiliate programs and are simple to use.
According to the marketing data agency 6sense, it’s hard to say that CJ Affiliate is better. In terms of market share, ClickBank has 3.17% while CJ Affiliate only has 2.14%.
ShareASale is a better affiliate network than ClickBank in many ways. While ClickBank has a 3.17% market share, ShareASale enjoys a whopping 19.40% as one of the biggest names in the affiliate marketing industry.