My Love/Hate for Affiliate Programs

February 14, 2014

Back in 2010 when I started this blog, there was just Amazon Associates. There still is actually, but for fashion blogs there are now many other fashionable options.
After Amazon Associates I’ve tried many programs: Fashion Traffic, Shopstyle, Beso, Skimlinks, ShareASale, Paid on Results. And I hate them all. 

affiliate-programs-1

It’s true that affiliate programs can help you make that extra buck that is really useful when it comes to buying that new WordPress theme to make your blog look decent, or to pay the hosting fees to keep your blog alive. (You know that I recently had to move from Bluehost to Siteground because my blog was ridiculously slow and that costed me extra money).

Are the Earnings Worth the Amount of Work?

When we talk about small and medium sized blogs, it is often not. It’s not worth it. Unless you have a very shopping focused blog, and all you do is post shopping lists and finds, you are not going to make any big money with affiliates. Or at least, I am definitely not. Not to mention that my blog actually takes a stand against consumerism, I love upcycling and I’m planning a DIY weekly column. So affiliates are also a bit against my principle, too.

Beautiful geek

Working with affiliate programs is also excruciatingly annoying: you have to look for your products and most of the times the sites are slow, like Reward Style. You often don’t even find what you’re looking for, and you end up choosing products you don’t really like for the sake of getting a revenue out of your suggestions. This is unfair for your work and for your readers. 

What Affiliate Programs I Use

I am currently using Reward Style and Paid on Results but I have already grown tired of the second, because it’s not very user friendly and it’s just for very limited brands and shops.  Reward Style is ok because you are very likely to find the products you were going to suggest to your readers anyway, but here are the cons:

– the website is slow and likely to crash (and I use Chrome with the last version of Mac OsX and only Reward Style’s site dies on me all the time!)

– you have to check each and every affiliate link before using it because more often than not they are already expired. What does it mean? The product is sold out, the link isn’t working, or it links to a different product. Very disappointing for your readers!

links expire. Even the ones that work at the beginning, usually expire within a couple of weeks. That means that you’re most visited posts, i.e. the oldest ones, with more SEO juice and that rank highest on Google organic searches, are not making you any money. You need to spend a lot of time checking them and editing the links, most of the times linking to products that aren’t  the same in the pictures you put in your post for example. It’s a huge time loss. Huge.

So I’m definitely thinking of alternative ways of monetizing this blog, because I love it and I don’t want it to become an expense and a burden instead of a great experience and something I can be rewarded for because I do it well. I will probably keep my Reward Style account open and use it occasionally (at the moment I just use it for my Get the Style Of series) or try again with Amazon, because my content is once again drifting more and more towards lifestyle and I genuinely suggest books all the time, so I might as well make a few bucks out of my reader experience! And I also love Amazon, I buy there at least twice a month!

How do you feel about affiliate programs? Do you have any suggestion? Let us know in the comments below!

Pictures by www | www

Elisa

About the Author

Elisa

Hey, it's Elisa, founder of styleonvega.com. I'm a social media specialist by day and blogger by night (honing my multitasking skills since 2006 ;). I'm an atypical Italian, freedom lifestyle advocate and modern spirituality enthusiast. Feel like we could get along? Join me just above this box or get in touch with me on Facebook or Twitter.

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Lara

Gotta say I don’t care of them so much. I put the affiliate links in my outfit posts and if someone clicks, then fine, but if not, the okay 😀 The affiliate marketing is not what I’m planning to do for living, anyway 🙂
x

    Elisa

    Still it’s a nice thing getting a little bit of a reward on hard work! <3

Steffi aka Anti.Muse

I don’t have any experience with affilate programms so far for the reasons you named – I always wondered if it’s worth it … maybe I’ll try it out some time, thanks for sharing your experiences 🙂

    Elisa

    If you don’t have a blog with a strong focus on shopping tips I think it’s pretty useless! But trying doesn’t hurt does it? ;D

Virginia

I respect blog writers need to make money and would never begrudge them that, but I’m so rarely the target audience for the ads I just don’t look at them. 🙁

    Elisa

    I feel you on this! I almost never find what I’m looking for in those affiliate websites! They all seem to carry the same products, too! Asos, NastyGal, Modcloth and a few more! ><

Hannah

I’ve thought about affiliate programs in the past but I think my readership is so small that it would be pointless. Plus, 90% of my clothes are thrifted so my readers would not be getting the same item that I’m wearing and it just seems silly to recommend something close – they can google whatever article of clothing I’m wearing just as easily as I can link them to something similar.

I think it’s fair game to use these links as a fashion blogger though. It’s very nice to have an extra income doing something you love! While this particular approach isn’t for me, I still find ways make money while blogging with ways that are much more relevant to me and my readers.

    Elisa

    I know what you mean! With thrifted and vintage items you think it is pretty useless to recommend products to your readers,but there’s yet still someone who will be grateful of your suggestions! So I’d suggest to go for it and to link up the products that you like as your finds, even if it’s not exactly the same item you are wearing! It could still be useful to someone: people read blogs because they want to know what the blogger thinks, so googling wouldn’t be the same!

Diwata Luna

I’m glad I checked Links ala Mode this week, and found your post. I’ve been experimenting with Shareasale for a year now and only just recently FINALLY got my first paycheck of $70. I don’t have hosting and domains and rarely make a sale. I do get bonuses for some blog post requests. Some brands also have referral bonuses. Is it possible it’s all about finding the right tactic of posting affiliate links? I don’t know yet. But very few of my affiliate features got sales.

Jessica @ Beautify My Life

I agree that affiliates can be annoying and certainly don’t make me much money either. But I will say that RewardStyle’s Link Ninja tool has made me MUCH more likely to use their links. Having to search their site is painful (they should take some cues from ShopStyle), but if I’m already on a website looking at something and can simply press the little button on my browser, it’s worth it to me.

I’ve tried LinkShare as well, but that’s way too much work for me to maintain and not nearly as user-friendly.

At the end of the day, I make a few bucks here and there so I’ll probably continue to use affiliates. But I’m certainly not counting on the income to pay my bills.

Violetta Stelenes

Whenever I read articles like this, I realize how much I have to learn still! I think it’s great that you talk with such honesty and clarity about issues like this, Elisa, I am sure many bloggers appreciate it. Also, it helps demistifying the process for those who are more inexperienced, like myself.

No doubt, when it comes to making money out of your blog it seems nothing is safe, it’s such a fast evolving medium that one has to be really alert and try to constantly find new and creative ways to satisfy both your audience and your own needs.

Great post, keep them coming!

Karishma

I have been registered to Reward Style for a while but just started working on it today. I was wondering if Pinterest is allowing RS links or not. Anyway great article 🙂

    Elisa

    What do you mean by “is allowing”? You can share directly on Pinterest from your RewardStyle dashboard, that I’m sure! 😀 I think I’ve done it before a couple of times and I haven’t had any issue!

Disneyrollergirl

Hi Karishma, yes you can use Rewardstyle links on Pinterest. It’s the only affiliate link allowed for some reason, hence the reason I just signed up. annoyingly though, I just realised how slow RS is. And it doesnt have all the New In stuff I was just looking at on netaporter. Ugh!

But yes the Link Ninja thing is useful. However, linkshare also has a similar tool (I think they call it a bookmarklet) so worth checking that out too!

Erica

I applied to join Rewardstyle when I started my blog and never heard back. Needless to say, I think I would enjoy the convenience if using it if I were admitted, because all other affiliate links are a pain. But alas…

Fei

I researched a lot about affiliate programs that pay the most. The best one I found seems to be picvpic partnership program: http://picvpic.com/partnership/overview . They offer you 100% full commission on sales, no hidden costs or fees. And they seem really simple to navigate and work with. Just wanted to share this to anyone trying to find a good way to monetize their fashion blog. By the way, thank you for the article )

Jessica

Thank you for this article, really helpful for amateur bloggers like me! I did some research on the highest paying affiliate programs and the best one I found so far seems to be the one offered by picvpic.com – http://picvpic.com/partnership/overview They’re said to give you 100% commission on all purchases. Maybe you can do a comparative review on them and other programs?

Dara

Wow, so much useful tips, thank you! I actually found another affiliate program for fashion bloggers: picvpic.com partnership program http://picvpic.com/partnership/overview . They’re said to promise 100% commission on sales and from what I heard it really is so, no hidden fees or anything. Can you do a review on them or a comparison on them and other popular options? Thanks again for the article!

Maria

You should try with Zocko.com, the interface is super friendly and their curation of products is awesome.

Chloe naps

I am using Reward Style for 8 months for my blog http://www.leseclaireuses.com based in Paris. I’ve generated 3000€ in commission but they paid me only 100€ and they don’t answer to my email or phone call…
It’s happening to many people ! Don’t use RS !!

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