Blogger U: Affiliate Programs 101

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You may have heard about affiliate marketing + affiliate links. (We covered a bit about affiliate marketing in Blogger U: Monetizing Your Blog 101.) So what is it?

Affiliate marketing is a type of marketing in which a business rewards an affiliate for each visitor/customer/purchase brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. There are four parts to this puzzle:

  • Merchant (aka, the retailer or brand)
  • Network (aka, the affiliate program, which wrangles all the offers you to choose from and also pays your commission when due)
  • Publisher (the affiliate or blogger, aka you)
  • Customer (aka, your readers)

One way to monetize your blog is by using affiliate links. So what is an affiliate link? It’s a special URL that contains the ID or username of the affiliate. This URL is used by the advertiser to track all traffic the affiliate sends to the advertiser’s site as a part of the affiliate program.

There are many companies offering this service; some of the most popular ones in the fashion blogging world are:

To get started, first you need to apply. Some affiliate programs are invitation-only, but most have a pretty easy application process.

Keep in mind not all affiliate plans work in the same way. rewardStyle pays you a commission when a reader makes a purchase from one of your links, while Shopsense pays a very small percentage for each click on an affiliate link. Some affiliate programs allow you to use clickable images or to even create widgets. The pay rate isn’t the same program to program, or advertiser to advertiser. For example, a commission rate may be 10% of the total purchase at one retail site, while another may only offer 4%. Those rates are negotiated by the affiliate program.

A few tips when considering using affiliate links:

  1. Be honest. Make sure that your readers are fully aware you will be getting a profit if they buy something or click on your links. To maintain an honest relationship with your readers, develop a clear disclosure statement about your participation in affiliate programs. (This doesn’t have to be anything crazy; keep it simple!)
  2. Test drive. Try a few affiliate programs before settling with one. They all work differently and depending on your readers habits, some may be more profitable for you than others.

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Rachelle blogs at PinkSole and is an ambassador for The Blogger Collective.

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