Finding an OptimizePress Affiliate Plugin That Works

Finding an OptimizePress Affiliate Plugin That Works

Sometimes the very thing that makes me so passionate about WordPress is the very thing that has me pulling out my hair and wanting to kick my laptop to Timbuktu. Such was the case when I spent 8 HOURS yesterday trying to find a low cost OptimizePress affiliate plugin that works for me.

There are thousands of awesome developers who are out there creating plugins and themes for us business owners to use. There is a tool to help me do practically anything I could ever need to grow my business on my website. That is incredibly powerful. Until the tools I need don’t play nicely together.

When I was planning the launch of my Do It Yourself SEO for Small Business Course, I had a MASTER PLAN. I planned out every blog post, every email, and every image. Somewhere on that list, in the category of things to do once all of the content was finished, was to create an affiliate program for the course.

As you know, nothing ever goes exactly as planned.

Why I Can’t Use the Built-In Affiliate Integrations with OptimizePress

OptimizePress is a program for marketing and launching courses. It’s got a bit of a learning curve, but now that I’ve worked with it a bit I’m pretty happy with it. When I was doing my research, I saw that it would integrate with an affiliate program. Perfect! Or so I thought.

When it was time for me to set up said affiliate program… well, let’s just say there were some barriers.

  • The two programs that were integrated were pretty pricey, and that just wasn’t an option for me.
  • The affiliate coupon option requires PayPal Pro forms, which means I’d need to implement an SSL certificate on my site. Since the cart was already open, I didn’t want to mess with that.
  • I figured out how to implement PayPal forms with PayPal Express Checkout (so I didn’t need SSL) but I couldn’t figure out how to run a report on coupon usage. I might there somewhere, but I couldn’t find it.

After a few hours of messing around and searching for help, I decided I would need to find a third party affiliate plugin that works with OptimizePress.

The Problem with Most Affiliate Plugins

I decided to try WP Affiliate Manager first. It was a free plugin and had great reviews. The installation and setup was fairly easy. I got it running smoothly and tracking impressions through affiliate links. But no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to track sales. Guess what? It doesn’t work with OptimizePress. You see, even with my web background I hadn’t quite gotten the concept of how these affiliate plugins worked.

Most affiliate plugins hook into the code for specific payment methods only, and can only be used with those tools. The problem is that NONE of these plugins specifically say that can’t be used with tools not on the list. They assume that you know that.

I feel kind of silly for not figuring that out sooner. But if I didn’t figure it out right away, I’m betting most of you wouldn’t figure it out right away either. I hoped I’ve saved your hours of frustration through THAT admission!

The OptimizePress Affiliate Plugin That Will Work

Then I found some affiliate plugins that worked a bit differently. They didn’t count sales. They counted registrations.

Eureka! I thought. Since people register for my course after purchase, this should work perfectly. I tried Affiliate Plus, let’s just say after a couple of hours I gave up. It’s a very simple and light plugin. It was just a little too simple.

Then I hit pay dirt. I found the WordPress Affiliate and Referral Plugin on Code Canyon. It had 4.5 stars and 151 comments. I spent time reading through the comments and realized that there were people out there who wanted WAAAAY more out of an affiliate plugin than I needed. (I felt MUCH better after that).

I realized from the comments that this plugin wasn’t perfect and was lacking somewhat in the documentation aspect, but it seemed to do exactly what I needed it to do. It hooked into the default WordPress registration process (just like OptimizePress) and so it should record sales based on the after-sale registration for my course.

To make a much longer story short, it works. Despite some frustrations about the lack of instructions, it wasn’t too difficult to set up. Here are the basics:

  • Create an OptimizePress package called “affiliates”.
  • Create a page named Affiliate Dashboard and add it to the affiliate package and free membership level. Put a link to it in the sidebar or nav menu.
  • Use the short codes in the affiliate plugin to add the links, creative marketing materials, and successful referrals to the Affiliate Dashboard.
  • To grant access to the Affiliate Dashboard, create a free account and add the affiliates package to it.

Affiliate Plugin That Works with Optimize Press

The one capability I decided to live without is the ability to change the payout levels per affiliate, and to set a percentage rather than a set payout amount. I’ll have to calculate those things manually when the course cart closes.

What I’ll Do the Next Time

Now that I’ve got it all figured out and working, here are some of my lessons learned. Maybe I can save you hours of frustration.

  • Implement the SSL certificate, even if you think you won’t need it. Although it hasn’t been proven to improve your SEO, Google does recommend it. And it’s just safer. I skimped on this step because all of the payment information happens on PayPal, not on my site. And, I was overwhelmed with so much else to focus on, that I just didn’t do it.
  • Test early, test often. I left this step to the last because again, I was overwhelmed with all of my other tasks. In the future, I won’t try to implement something like this last minute. I’ll either fit it into my launch schedule earlier, or I’ll live without it.
  • If you’re purchasing a theme or plugin like OptimizePress, ask pre-sales questions. I know it’s difficult to predict what you need to ask. Sometimes you think you know from the sales copy exactly what you’re getting. It’s not until you start implementing that things fall short. But ask anyway!

So that’s it! I now have a working affiliate program with my Optimiz Press installation. I hope my hair-pulling, laptop kicking experience can make your life a little easier someday! If you know of any other great ways to implement an affiliate program with Optimize Press, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

And if you want to start driving more traffic to your website, check out my Do It Yourself SEO for Small Business course. You don’t have to be a techy pro to make SEO work for your website!

17 Responses

  1. Tandy Elisala
    |

    Kelly, great and timely post. Thank you SO MUCH for your insights and feedback. I need an affiliate program and was curious about what to use. I didn’t even think that some may not work with OP. Yikes! Thank you for sharing.

    • Kelly Phillips
      |

      I’m glad it was useful information Tandy! I didn’t realize affiliate plugins were so complicated. Chalk this one up to a learning experience!

  2. Rosemary
    |

    Thanks for sharing this Kelly. Saving us a lot of time and frustration ☺

  3. Katherine
    |

    Thanks for the tips! I find Optimizepress to be challenging BUT I get the most bang for my buck with it =)

  4. Molly
    |

    Great resource! Can you explain what you mean by “Create an OptimizePress package called “affiliates”.” ?

    I’m new to OP so a few more details on this specific step (i.e. where to go to set up) would be helpful! THANKS!

    • Kelly Phillips
      |

      Hi Molly! I needed to protect the affiliate pages so that regular students didn’t see them. So I used the “package” feature of OP. I created a package called affiliates and added all of the affiliate administration page to it. Only people who are assigned that package get to see those pages. This way, it doesn’t matter if they are a student and it doesn’t matter what level they purchase on the course. If they are assigned the affiliate package, they can see the affiliate pages. I hope that helps!

  5. Fiona Redding
    |

    Hello, thanks for such an awesome run down on the process. How long (approx) did the process take you to implement? Thanks!

    • Kelly Phillips
      |

      Hi Fiona! I don’t remember exactly, but I had the whole thing up and running in just a few hours one night.

  6. Nick
    |

    Hey guys thanks for giving me hope on finding an affiliate program that works with OptimizePress, I have already gone through two that didn’t work.

    Quick question on this review, how do we track sales with it? Since OP uses custom PayPal buttons? How did you guys set that up to work for you?

    • Kelly Phillips
      |

      Hi Nick! The plugin I recommended in the article puts a cookie on the link that fires when a user account is created. So in order for this plugin to work, you need to make sure customers get WordPress User Accounts. That’s why this one works so well with OP, because OP depends on user accounts.

  7. Jerry
    |

    Hey Kelly,

    Thank you very much for this – just looking for an affiliaye plugin that will work well wih OP2.0 and this article is by far the best info I’ve found!

    Question about cookies in the affiliate link – can you set the duration on them? We’re reopening our online course next month, and the affiliates will be driving people to our launch pages, so the first step will be just a mailing list signup, but obviously I want to track sales when someone signs up for the launch list through an affiliate link and later joins the program when the cart opens. Any idea if this would work?

    • Kelly Phillips
      |

      Hi Jerry! It’s been long enough that I can’t remember if this one let you set the cookie length. I think it did, but check the features list to be sure before you buy. If it doesn’t say, send them a pre-sales inquiry. It’s a good plugin and it worked like a charm on my course!

  8. Sarah
    |

    Thank you thank you thank you!!! I have just spent bl**** hours looking at affiliate programs and plugins then had a thunderbolt moment…compatibility..so I googled affiliate plugin optimize press and yippee your post appeared. I am a fan of OPT2 but have hit this bump before on plugins..
    I totally appreciate your extra help on configuration too- and get the package and levels stuff- plus am off to tell my client to install SSL as we want to use easiest paypal integration possible..You cannot believe how glad I am to find this post 🙂
    Have bookmarked your site and signed up to your list…so glad I found you

    • Kelly Phillips
      |

      Yay Sarah! I’m so glad this post helped you! OP is great, but it still takes some extra plugins and configuration to make it work! Good luck!

  9. Elena
    |

    Hi, thank for sharing this. But what can I do about payment?
    I mean I need that the clients buy the product and then go to the registration link. Is this plugin tracking the ref. to paypal and then back to OP?
    Or how can I manage this?

    • Kelly Phillips
      |

      Hi Elena! Optimize Press handles the payment and registration pieces for you.

  10. Katrina
    |

    Hi great article. If the affiliate plugin is tracking registrations and not sales, do you have to manually work out what program the customer registered for (I.e membership level and package) so you know what commission to pay out to which affiliate each time (more relevant if you have more than one offer for sale). Or does it know what level and package they’ve bought and so does it automatically? Many thanks