Thursday, September 13, 2007

Who are you 'affiliated' with?

The pros & cons of affiliate marketing...

When I first began monetizing my blog, I first sent out an email approaching online boutiques about potential advertising. Many boutiques replied back saying that they have affiliate programs that bloggers can sign up for. What is an affliate program?

Here is what one retailer wrote to me:

We are actually moving away from [click] advertising... and are working through a commission based affiliate program instead. We're working with [affiliate site] and would love to have you join. You can view details here [link to affiliate site], but a basic description is as follows:

  1. You post banners, text links or product links that can be found in our link database via Commission Junction's interface.
  2. For every sale that is generated through a click from your site, you receive 10% commission.
  3. We implement a 30 day cookie, so if you refer someone through your site and they don't make a purchase right away, but make one within 30 days of their first click, you will receive the commission.
  4. We have unlimited occurrences, so if that person comes back multiple times within that 30 day time frame, all of the commission will be credited to you.
Now, that seems alright does it? Fair enough that they make money from actual sales generated from your site right? Well, in a conversation I had with an online advertising sales person, said that advertising is about branding and exposure..."You'll get clicks but clicks aren't necessarily the most accurate way to gauge a program. How many times have you seen a car ad? You aren't just going to click and buy a car, but it's in the back of your mind so when you are ready to buy a car, that brand has already resonated in your head over time, doesn't happen over night."

So, advertising works by developing awareness, and how much is it worth it to companies to pay for the number of times it's brand is exposed to you, the savvy consumer?

Affiliate programs do have their place, they are designed for people who want to open a virtual shoppe without having to invest in inventory, in order to make a lot of money, you have to spend time marketing and selling their products. That's why they send you emails informing you of new inventory and sales. They want you to post about it in your blog, therefore blurring the line between editorial posts and advertisements.

It's unfair to you because you may not be aware of what you are signing up for, in which case, you may host their advertisements for free without making any money. Whether or not it's ethical to post editorial content that you may make money off of is really up for grabs at this point in the blogopshere. I personally feel uncomfortable about placing advertisements in my blog unless they are clearly marked.

If you do want to set up shop and make some cash selling for boutiques, this is a great way to start a shopping site without having to invest in inventory.

Pros & Cons of Earning Money from Affliate Programs

Online Business Basics : Working on Commision

Here is an excellent article about the different kinds of affiliate programs:
Why Buy the Cow?


Shopalicious! said...

I'm a member of several affiliate programs, and I've pretty much given up on the idea of making any money by hosting the ads! Now, I just pick the best looking ads, and the best coupon deals for the purpose of expanding the content of my site for my readers! The click advertising isn't that much better for me either, so I'm blogging in the name of hobby/public service ;-) But I really enjoy it, and I'm learning a ton.

PJ said...

Hello Jennine,

The blurring line between editorial contents and advertisements has always been something I constantly think about.

My take is that, both for products I purchase myself and products submitted by cosmetics companies, I see them as the same and I always try to review them as objectively as possible apart from sharing my personal view. (Of course the use of skincare products and makeup is very idiosyncratic, and my reviews have both objective and subjective elements in them.) So I don't always feel the need to mention where the products come from. I believe that my reviews don't read like advertisements, since all products have room for improvement and I see it as an independent beauty blogger's responsibility to point them out.

I have also consulted some of my readers and it seems that they don't really care about whether I get the products for free or not because they have trust in my reviews.

You also raised the point of doing paid posts. I think the view will probably vary in different fields. In beauty, I don't think most bloggers will consider doing paid posts. I certainly won't.