Banishing The Stigma Surrounding Affiliate Links

Friday, 2 March 2018

peexo bloggers use of affiliate links
Whilst working away on my laptop a notification popped up for a comment that was left on one of my recent YouTube videos, I couldn't see the whole thing, just the first few characters "Patricia gets com" this instantly set off alarm bells so I checked to see what it was. I felt compelled to reply straight away and there's been so much running through my mind since then so I thought writing a blog post would be the best way to get my thoughts across. The full comment read: "Patricia gets commission on almost all the products (including camera equipment) she mentions in the video ..." 
My first thought: so what?
affiliate links stigma RewardStyle ShopStyle
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peexo fashion blog uk
 The thing that really struck me with this comment was that it was left under another comment I had received which praised me for being genuine, giving the impression that because I use affiliate links it means I cannot be genuine - this couldn't be any more wrong. As this person expanded on their initial comment, they began to say how bloggers/vloggers are just money hungry and only share things if there is an affiliate link. They continued to then also question my integrity as a blogger which felt absolutely horrible. So because I use affiliates, I must be a money-hungry blogger and not actually create genuine and truthful content?! They ended by saying that they used to follow me on Instagram but that my use of affiliate links drew them away from my content. But honestly, how can a link be enough to deter you from someone's content?

I won't deny that it gets frustrating as a blogger to be undermined and have your integrity questioned because of affiliate links which literally make no difference whatsoever to a reader or viewer. When I first began writing down my thoughts in this blog post it sounded a bit like a rant but despite my frustrations, I definitely don't want this to come across that way because I also understand that this industry as a whole is still so new that it's normal that not everybody understands affiliate links or how they work. I hope that this blog post helps if you don't fully understand the concept, in some way.

I'll admit I'm not the most savvy when it comes to things like this, I don't know all the technical terms but I can do my best to provide you with a brief overview of what an affiliate link is, how I use them, as well as my understanding.

fashion blog peexo affiliate linkstransitional style peexo blog

What are affiliate links?

An affiliate link is a URL that we can create to link to brand pages and particular items (this is not limited to bloggers, pretty much anyone can create and use affiliate links on different platforms); by using an affiliate link it allows bloggers/vloggers/influencers to do many things.

Firstly, we are able to track how well that link does: how many people click the link and how many people make purchases through that link. It's a great way for us to be able to compile helpful statistics allowing us to know what performs best on our social channels - giving us the ability to create the best content we can and content that we know you will love! Thanks to these affiliate links and the information we are able to gather by using them, we can add key statistics to our media packs (the blogger's equivalent of a CV) to show potential collaborators/brands/PR's examples of our work.

Secondly, we are able to earn a small commission from the links shared. The way this works varies depending on the affiliate programme you are with for example, ShopStyle works on a clicks commission whereby you earn commission based on how many people are clicking your links versus RewardStyle which works on a sales commission whereby you earn commission if someone buys (and doesn't return within 30-60 days) an item, or items, from a link you have shared. Some brands also have their own affiliate programmes which usually work on a sales basis but can vary. The amount you earn from affiliate links therefore varies. With that said, this changes absolutely nothing for you.

This link is not an affiliate link.    This link is an affiliate link.

Compare the two links above, both lead you to the same website however, the first is not affiliate and the second is, did you notice any differences on the website, the item or its price? It's a common misconception that by clicking an affiliate link you pay more because we're receiving commission from your click or purchase but that isn't the case. The commission that we receive comes from the brand and not the buyer which means it changes absolutely nothing for you, it just helps us out!

Plus, we aren't the only ones working with commission: estate agents, some retail employees, beauticians (e.g. Avon representatives), apps and more - these are all industries where individuals are able to make money from the sales they make. For lack of a better example, let's take Uber as a mini case study. It's likely that many of us have shared our Uber code, or similar, to get £10 off our next ride by referring a friend right? Well, this is the same premise - you introduce someone to the app, they use it/spend money (by going on their first ride using your referral code) and you earn £10 as a result. Whilst commission rates from affiliate links are usually not as high, I hope that this helps demonstrate how affiliate links work and how we've probably all used them - or similar - in the past.

peexo red sock boots personal stylepeexo personal style affiliate links

It saddens me that there is still such a huge misunderstanding surrounding affiliate links, what they are, how they are used and their role in our careers as bloggers/vloggers/influencers - whatever you want to call it. The majority of us in this industry didn't begin our blogs thinking it would earn us big bucks. On the contrary, most of us (or myself at least) began our blogs because we had a passion for it. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has blogged for nothing for the majority of my blogging years (that's just over 4 years in total) so it's so disheartening to have your integrity and everything that you create across all platforms questioned because of the use of affiliate links.

It's a real shame that there has been such a noticeable shift amongst blog readers. On one side we have those who are happy to support bloggers by engaging with AD's, clicking affiliate links and just generally being supportive and on the other side there are people who want to continue seeing our content but aren't happy that bloggers are able to make money through sponsored content and affiliate links. It's so important to be supportive in this industry!

I can't speak for the industry as a whole but I can speak for myself when I say that I am proud of everything I create, it is not at all dictated by money (although there's no denying it is a necessity, especially for those of us who are doing this full time). I create, and have always created, content that I love and that I hope you will love equally as much as I do.

For the sake of extra clarity, I have used affiliate links in this blog post and have never hid the fact that I do. I have housed a disclaimer on my blog for years (which used to be available in my Contact Me section) but I have since moved it to my navigation bar so I hope that makes it even clearer in future. You can read my full disclaimer here. Like I said, the use of affiliate links enable me to understand what content works well which helps me to create the best content that I can. I really hope that you understand, continue to support me and most importantly, know that I am always honest and will continue to be.
stigma affiliate links blog peexo
I'm so interested in hearing your thoughts about this: Where do you stand when it comes to affiliate links? Are you a blogger and support this? Or a blogger who doesn't support this? Are you a blog reader? If so, what's your stance on affiliate links? I would love to know what you think so leave a comment down below and I will of course reply, as always!

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Biker jacket - (c/o) River Island
Midi floral dress - (c/o) Brand Attic
Circle bag - New Look
Red sock boots - (c/o) New Look
[Photos taken by Maria]

2 comments:

  1. I’ve read the critical comment on your YouTube and, although the person makes some valid points, I can’t help think they’ve directed their criticism to the wrong person. Your videos are some of the most honest out there, you regularly criticise products even when you have been asked (and paid in some way) to review them - I can recall videos where you have been honestly critical of every item and I commented at the time at how refreshing, and useful I found it. 
    Personally I think you have found the right balance between sponsorship (how else could you afford to show us new items every week?) and not creating content that feels like advertising. Some bloggers/YouTubers have not managed this so well and every post has become a blatant advert. Using affiliate links (which I knew very little about) is a very discrete way of accepting sponsorship and I’ll gladly use them for the bloggers I follow - though I doubt they’ll ever make anyone rich!
    Keep doing what you’re doing Patricia and try not to let the occasional critic upset you. Love Pixie xxx
    PS those red boots are so you ❤️

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    1. I really appreciate that Pixie! I guess it just felt like I was being accused of something I would never be because of an affiliate link which doesn't have any impact on my opinions and like you said, they're not making anyone rich but they're helpful in many ways.
      I'm so pleased you think so, I only ever work on content I am proud of and try to ensure everything is a good fit for my blog and readers because after all, I wouldn't be here if it weren't for all your support! On this occasion, I really felt the need to address it and hopefully clear things up a little bit.
      Thank you for reading and for your kind comment xx

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