I have been wondering for a while about writing this post. I don’t want it to seem like I am asking you for money. That’s tacky, and just makes everyone uncomfortable.
But I do want to chat with you guys about this because lately this topic keeps coming up in conversations with bloggers, podcasters and other internet folks I care about:
Affiliate links, why we use them, how to use them without losing our souls, and why we need to just be upfront about them.
So what are affiliate links?
So what are these affiliate links I speak of? Basically, they are a way for bloggers to make a few dollars here and there without costing our readers any additional cash. The way most bloggers do this is through Amazon.
When we link to something through Amazon, we use an affiliate link which lets Amazon know that we are the person who sent you over. We then get a very small percentage of your purchase.
This probably sounds like a terrible way to make money – a “very small percentage” of your purchase? But one time, a sweet person bought a stove through my affiliate link and my “very small percentage” was 80 bucks.
I almost lost my mind.
Why do you use affiliate links?
Well now, this is something that is coming up a lot lately with my blogging pals – a few friends have mentioned that people get mad when we use affiliate links too often.
It’s a bumpy, messy line between, “Hey – I really like this book and it’s on sale!” and “Hey, I’m having a crappy affiliate month, who needs a new dryer?”
The rules with affiliate links (like real, legal rules) are that bloggers need to disclose when they use an affiliate link, so if we’re doing it right, we’re transparent about using them. Many bloggers also have “disclosure policies” or something like that that explains we use affiliate links.
But the simplest answer is that blogging takes time, and affiliate links are (in the best case) a really simple, natural way to share products we like with readers, and make a little bit of money for our time and effort spent bringing you content that hopefully helps or inspires you. (Fingers crossed.)
Do I have to buy things through your affiliate link?
Of course not. Nope. No way. You can choose not to go through my affiliate link or any affiliate link at all. I know people who don’t love Amazon and would rather support a local store. I get that and no worries.
So why would I use your affiliate link then?
Well, first, it helps me to keep doing what I am doing.
Second, it helps me avoid some other stuff that I don’t love doing like having random ads on my site that I can’t control. I don’t want to help sell you a Honda – I do want to share with you favorite books, games and homeschool resources that I really think might help.
Also, I did a reader survey a while back and you guys told me that you don’t love too many sponsored posts (where I get paid to write about something) or reviews (where I get paid to give my opinion about a product that I either received for free, or was paid to write about.)
I get offers every week from companies that want me to do that, and I promise, I try really, really hard to only work with companies that make sense and that I think you might want to learn more about.
I also won’t write about products that we haven’t used, and I am honest in my reviews, which means more than once, I have decided to not write about a product because it didn’t work well for us.
So why are you writing about this?
So the reason I wanted to write about this now is two-fold:
First, I wanted to tell you about something I like to do this time of year:
I buy a LOT of stuff from Amazon in December for Christmas gifts, and when I do that, I like to use friends’ affiliate links as a way of sending a little thanks their way. I have a list of blogging pals, and I rotate through them with each purchase.
Some of them have Amazon buttons on their sites, and other times I have to get a bit craftier and find a post where they link to an Amazon item – I go through that link to buy a Lego set for my nephew, a book for a friend, etc.
Second, I want to be upfront about this because I’m not always sure people understand why we (bloggers/podcasters) use affiliate links, and once in a while, someone will even comment to us that they think we shouldn’t. A few folks even go so far as to say that bloggers should be doing this because they enjoy it, and not for profit.
I get that – I do.
And I know nobody wants us cramming deals down your throat every second.
And yet – for so many of us, we love this work, and we love connecting with people across the miles, but as mamas, we can’t justify the time it takes to do this unless it also benefits our families, you know?
I know that in my case, my Amazon affiliate bucks that I make each month almost always go back into our homeschooling budget, and that’s often how I find cool stuff to share with you.
So I just wanted to encourage you this season to find bloggers out there that you love, and if you are going to make purchases through Amazon or another company that a blogger works with (like Brave Writer) to use their affiliate link and send a little support their way.
I want you to know that it means so much to bloggers when you voice your support in any way – from sending us an email, to sharing a post with a friend, to using an affiliate link to buy your lightbulbs.
In many cases, it takes years of “blogging in the dark,” until people find us, and a lot of time after that until we make a penny.
So your support helps us to keep going, and I just wanted to let you know that, and say thank you. Because I’m really grateful for you and the opportunity to do this.
And I’m wishing you all very happy holidays!
This post totally, definitely, for sure contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!
This post was originally published in November 2016.