What are affiliate links and why I need you to start clicking on them?

This pretty much sums it up.

I want to start by saying; this is a very sensitive topic in the blogosphere, or better yet in life. No one likes to talk about money or ask for it, whether it’s in their professional or personal life. I, however, think it’s a sign of immaturity and business amateurity (if that’s a word). I wasn’t always great at talking about money. But the more work experience I got, the more I grew out of being shy to negotiate things like my hourly wage. I always stated the facts and remained professional at all times. Maybe it was a sign of maturity which helped seal the deal. I use the same approach present day when working with clients: this is my rate; these are the services that I offer in exchange for that rate. If you want to negotiate, I am okay with that too.

But I digress.

The real point of this post is to talk about how bloggers get paid by affiliate links, a.k.a getting paid via referral-based commission, a.k.a sales (ugh, I hate that word!).

News flash, bloggers don’t get a steady paycheque from a blogger association. We are business owners, just like the rest of you. Think of us as a digital magazine, with a human touch, personality and taste that you can relate too! We do get gifted a LOT of free swag, but we all know that swag doesn’t pay for our web hosting or IT support, now does it. But you know what does pay, even if it’s a tiny fraction of the cost? Affiliate links!

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Affiliate links are specially coded links that are used to track sales coming from a specific site (they are like ads, but they send you directly to the item rather than the store). Here’s an example of a successful transaction. A reader clicks on an affiliate link on her favourite blog, she buys the product that is being promoted on the blog and the referrer (blogger) gets a small percentage of the sale amount (usually a 2%-10% commission). For example, when you visit my “Shop” page, you will see a whole bunch of products that I have selected and if you buy them, I could get a small kick back, like $2 per item.

There are loads of different sites that offer Affiliate programs for different retailers and brands, in fact, there are so many I can’t keep track of all the ones I have subscribed too. I have to admit, I am not very good at using affiliate links, they can be cumbersome and time-consuming. But when used optimally, they can really pay off. I think I have made a whopping $10 in my lifetime… it’s time to start making the money.

My beef with affiliate links

  • There are not enough affiliate links for Canadian online businesses or all the stores I shop at
  • There are too many Affiliate programs out there, it’s hard to keep track
  • I am lazy- it’s a lot of work for very little return (but in the end, it’s all about volume baby!)
  • A lot of Canadians are not online shoppers (expensive duties, lack of options) and when your audience is primarily Canadian, the well runs dry my friends!
  • I have to buy something out of pocket to promote someone’s business, for a chance to make a bit of money

Albeit affiliate links are part advertising, and part sales, I would argue that an affiliate link can be more genuine than a sponsored post. Say for example, I go shopping and buy a whole bunch of clothes that I like and that I actually want to promote. Through affiliate links, I can send you directly to where you can buy the clothes and get a little referral bonus. This to me is more honest than saying “hey, look at this thing I was given for free”. Does that make sense?

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Common misconceptions

In the end, it’s my duty to educate you, my followers, if I expect you to buy from me. It all starts with trust baby. Here are some common misconceptions about affiliate links, that could help you gain clarity:

  • Readers may not understand what the bloggers’ intentions are, or feel that it’s not a genuine referral
  • Readers don’t know what they are clicking on
  • Readers think that their information is being collected by the retailers
  • Readers don’t feel like they should financially support the filthy rich blogger because she gets everything for free anyways (bitter much! Haha)

If you are a blogger, you know there are loads of other ways bloggers can earn a living and you also know that affiliate links are not the be-all and end-all.

And for all you readers out there, it’s important to remember that affiliate links are meant for bloggers to gain residual income, a.k.a cash on the side. And when you purchase something using a link, you’re affirming to your favourite blogger “Hey girl, thanks for this great advice! Your next coffee is on me.” And lastly, only buy stuff you need, but when you do, think about buying them through my affiliate links, would ya?

Photo credit Debra Cowie Photography

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  1. Really good read, Chantsy. I pretty much hate affiliate links for the same reasons you’ve listed, but mainly that there aren’t enough Canadian businesses offered in these programs. As someone who singlehandedly keeps Aritzia in business, I would photograph a lot more of their stuff if Shopstyle and Rewardstyle supported them!

    “•Readers don’t feel like they should financially support the filthy rich blogger because she gets everything for free anyways (bitter much! Haha)” – hahahahaha!

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