This post is a tad different from what I typically do. This is something that’s been nagging at me since I made an email address specifically for my blog. It seems many people think affiliate links show a lack of integrity, while others believe they are a good way to make a living. In this post, I’m going to tell you why I think they’re both, a double edged sword of sorts.
Firstly, let’s go over what an affiliate link actually is. An affiliate link is a link that you post on your blog or channel or wherever. It’s often in the form of a coupon code. More often than not, the affiliate/poster receives a commission (monetary compensation) for posting the link and helping the brand to gain exposure to the poster’s following. Basically the blogger gets a coupon code to give their followers, and each time a follower uses the code, the blogger gets a little bit of money. Many commissions aren’t much higher than 15-20%, but that adds up quickly if a blogger has a loyal following.
Affiliate links are important, especially for bloggers. Youtubers can make money for each view, but bloggers often rely solely on ads and affiliate links, and the occasional sponsorship. For someone trying to make their blog something they can live off of, an affiliate link is their bread and butter. It can be a way to make money for recommending a product they probably already recommend.
The danger in affiliate links comes up when we start talking about proper disclosure. Did you know that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) considers it Illegal when affiliate links, sponsorships, and PR are not disclosed properly? Punishment for violating the FTC guidelines can be a fine of around $16,000! Now I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t consider that pocket change! It’s a hefty penalty for what seems to be a pretty common. In fact, I was recently contacted by a brand that wanted to give me an affiliate link. I looked them up and found out they had a lot of affiliates. Now that’s fine. It does mean that the market for this brand is pretty saturated and individual affiliates are more likely to make a little less money. Trust me, I have No problem with people getting their coin. I say snatch it like it’s running from you. The problem I Did have is that none of the affiliates seemed to be properly disclosing and I could just see it ending poorly. Therefore, I decided against it because it could damage my integrity to be associated with such a large instance of FTC violators. It would be like a Guilty By Association thing.
Proper disclosure would be explicitly stating the nature of your relationship with a brand. Think of explaining it the way you would to a 2nd grader. If you received the items for free, say that. If you’re paid to review, or make a post, say that. If you receive monetary profit (or really any kind of profit) each time a follower purchases through you, say that. It’s best to overstate than to understate. If you have Any questions about the FTC guidelines, and how to disclose according to them, click here.
To wrap all this up, no, affiliate links aren’t neccesarily bad. They don’t mean you’re selling out and for a lot of bloggers, they’re just a way to make a living. Just be sure to disclose properly. I’d hate to see anyone slapped across the head with a fine for a silly mistake. Keep the Bloggerspehere Clean.
Until Next We Meet,