Affiliate Linking

I thought that I’d write this post mainly to see if it (the first half anyway!) will help any one. As always, if you have any questions, let me know!
Affiliate schemes are a way of providing a link to something online, with the potential to generate income. For every sale generated from a link, the affiliate will receive a small percentage (usually about 6-9%) of the selling price.

I use three main sites: Affiliate Window (which buy.at is a part of), Linkshare* and TradeDoubler. I have accounts with each, because each one has different stores on.

I’ve chosen to use affiliate linking on my site instead of more traditional revenue generators like advertising, purely because I dislike traditional advertising such as Google Ads. I know that I rarely click on ads, especially Google ones, so I don’t really see how a site like mine can generate any income this way.
Another reason is that if I’m making a list of items I like (such as with the “Hide the Credit Card” posts), then why not have the affiliate links on there – they don’t affect what I write about so its just a bit of a bonus. The links can be created to link to individual items on a website, or just the website in general – I like to have the “deep links” for each item, because it makes more sense to me if I’m having links next to an item!

I’ve noticed more and more people are using affiliate links, and it’s made me think about disclosures. In the US, bloggers are required to disclose if they regularly receive products with the hope that they’ll write about it. (If you’re that interested/bored, this is the release from the FCC about endorsements or Liberty London Girl did a much more readable version for it on Independent Fashion Bloggers)

Whilst in the UK, its not a requirement yet, I think its a good idea generally to mark that a link is an affiliate one. You may have noticed that some links in my blog posts will have a * (asterisk) next to them, and this is my quick way to show that its a form of advertising. Without it, and by using URL shorteners like bit.ly or the ones built into Skimlinks, it seems slightly…sneaky?…not to mention it. (I’ve not actually used Skimlinks before, so don’t actually know if the only URL they provide is the getth.at one) Also, if I’m reading a blog post and the only links provided are URL shorteners, I’m less likely to click on the links, because I don’t know which site they lead to. I like to know where I’m going!

I signed up to Skimlinks after writing the majority of this post, and…wow. Honestly, that is something I would not want to install onto my site. You have to “install” their Javascript into your page then post as usual with relevant retailer links (for example if you were linking to items in a OOTD). Their JS then changed the retailer links to their affiliate links, “hidden” inside a URL shortener – this is referred to as SkimLinks. Their JS will also turn certain product references into “unobtrusive” links, referred to as SkimWords.
I’m not an expert in Javascript, or any sort of coding like this, but this seems seriously dodgy to me – the blog owner can’t actually say for definite that the links that they post wont be pointing towards dodgy links. (Obviously you would hope not, but at least by providing the links yourself, you know what you’re leading people towards!)

I think the latter part of this post is definitely something thats bigger than these few little paragraphs, so I’d love to hear your opinion on it. Do you think things like affiliate links and sponsored posts should be indicated clearly so the reader can choose whether to read on/click through? Would you use affiliate links as an alternative or alongside traditional advertising?

Comments

  1. I think that affiliate schemes seem like a good idea but I do feel that bloggers should disclose it if they are being sponsored for something otherwise it just seems a bit..underhand? This definitely got me thinking! :)

    Maria xxx

  2. I’m not sure. I use some affiliate links on my site, typically links to the Amazon store that include my referral code. I’d not thought of disclosing that explicitly, but that’s only because I tend to assume links to stores on websites are affiliate links by default. I guess not everyone will be that aware of them, though.

    Explicit disclosure seems a bit over the top for what I do. It’s fairly obvious to anyone who knows/cares about affiliate links that that’s what I’m doing. There’s no link-disguising going on, and I’m not getting any products for free in the hope of a favourable review. But maybe I should put a little something somewhere (in the footer or sidebar, maybe?) to make it clear for people who don’t know about affiliate links. Hrrrm.

    So, my clear, concise response: er, dunno.

    • I didn’t disclose my original links, but after asking around on Twitter, I realised that some people just don’t like them. It made me think and thats why I indicate each link so those people can choose whether they want to earn me a few pennies while they do a shop. I guess I could be more “eh, it doesn’t affect the reader/buyer”, but it just seems polite :)

 

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