I get questions all the time about what the hashtags #aff, #afflink or #affiliate mean and exactly how affiliate links work. So if you’ve ever wondered what affiliate links are, you’re not alone.
What is an affiliate program?
Bloggers join affiliate programs to earn a passive income from their blog and social media platforms. These programs allow us to get personalised links to websites so we can earn a percentage on every sale made using those links.
The only difference between regular and affiliate links is that these contain the ID/username of the person who “created” (for want of a more technological term) the link.
How affiliate links work
To give you an example – Instead of typing asos.com into the URL box, you could (and please do!) use my affiliate link, which may look like this; https://fave.co/2Irk2kh. This link is personal to me, and essentially tells ASOS that I sent you to their site, so that they can reward me (at no additional cost to you) for sending you there.
If you purchase anything using my links (again, please do!), I make a small commission on the sale, which can vary, but is usually between 0.5% and 5%.
How does affiliate marketing affect the reader?
Affiliate links make absolutely no difference to your online shopping experience.
It doesn’t increase the price of your purchase.
The only way it might change your experience, is that some affiliate programs incentivise bloggers to share more links by way of the “Omg I’m in love with this dress! Swipe up to shop! ” variety, which may get annoying.
But obviously you don’t have to click on it – it’s entirely your choice.
What if you don’t want to use affiliate links?
There are people out there who just hate the idea of affiliate marketing. They understand how affiliate links work but don’t like the idea of bloggers making money from their purchases and don’t think it’s fair that people make money from encouraging other people to buy things.
Each to their own, but ultimately, I would strongly urge these people to chill out and accept it – I mean, bloggers work extremely hard, whether you see that side of it or not, building their audience on multiple platforms, creating free content for their audience to consume and maintaining their social presence on a daily basis. If they can make a little cash from your online shopping then, why not let them?
If you still really, really hate the idea, then simply don’t click on their links. And, y’know, maybe unfollow the bloggers who you feel overuse affiliate marketing – there’s no point in being unhappy over something when you have the power to change if or how you experience that thing!
I’m a blogger. How do I sign up to an affiliate program?
Skimlinks isn’t the only affiliate program on the block; I’ve tried a few and found that this works best for me, so it’s just the main one I use.
There are so many to chose from including AWin, ShopStyle, ShareASale, RewardStyle and probably more that I’ve never heard of. Some are free to join, others require a small fee which you get refunded once you’ve earned that amount in commission and some are invite-only – and super difficult to join no matter how many times your friends refer you. Hint, I’m looking at you, RewardStyle! Sob.
If you regularly shop and recommend products from certain sites, you should check whether they have their own affiliate program. Amazon have Amazon Associates (it’d be awesome if you use my link) which I find is a great secondary program to be a part of, but there is also an eBay Partner Network and an Etsy affiliate program to name but a few.
Affiliate marketing is big business.
How do bloggers get paid from affiliate links?
Let’s say I share a photo of my current favourite cleansing balm. You click on the link and you think, ‘hmmm, looks great, but I think I’ll wait until I finish my current one first’. However, while you’re on that site, you’ve put a lipstick and an eyeshadow palette in your basket and clicked “buy”. I’ll make a percentage on those sales. So technically, you don’t necessarily have to buy the item I linked to.
In the case of Skimlinks, we get paid for all purchases made via our affiliate links. However, their payment threshold is £50 and it takes 3 months to clear. So if I’ve been earning a few pounds every month and finally hit the £50 threshold this month (September), I won’t physically be paid that amount until December.
The amount you can earn varies; the percentage is different for each website and changes all the time. So to give you an idea, here are some examples.
A friend of mine made £0.83p through an affiliate sale for a Chanel handbag which is outrageous considering the bag sold for just under £9000! Needless to say, she changed to another affiliate program after that!
I recently made £0.75p through an affiliate sale on Simply Be. Somebody placed an order totalling £99.90, so the commission rate for that was on the lower end at 0.75%.
On the upside, somebody spent £711.66 on Expedia through my affiliate link (thank you, whoever you are!), and I made a commission of £32.03 which is 4.5% – which goes to show that it really can vary.
So yes, affiliate marketing can be very lucrative, but it really depends on the size of your audience, how much they trust you and most importantly how often you share affiliate links.
Anyway, speaking of affiliates, here’s how you can SUPPORT ME!
If you’d like to, you can help support me; enabling me to provide free content on my site, social media channels and on YouTube, by shopping via my links.
Basically, if you’re thinking of buying something online, it will cost you nothing extra to do it via my links, but it will help me out a teeny, tiny bit!
I know that I personally don’t share my affiliate links often enough, so here are some of the most popular sites:
- Ice Lolly
- Marks & Spencer
- Simply Be
- Look Fantastic
- John Lewis
- Feel Unique
- Beauty Bay
- Cult Beauty
At the same time, nobody wants to follow that person that always says, “I’ve shared a swipe-up link on my story!” in response to “Where’d you get that bag?” – Do they?!
Read more about how bloggers earn an income from working with brands from She Might Be Loved and 5 Tricks To Stay Financially Healthy.
I would love to know your thought on affiliate links in the comments below – or tweet me!
If you’re a blogger, you may want to check out this fab post on 5 basic SEO tips to attract new visitors to your blog