At a time when we're literally just one click away from about anything, clicking has become so natural that we don't think much about it anymore. However lots of links don't just get us to another page, but also involve other actions. One kind of such links are affiliate links.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate programs are a kind of marketing that reward affiliates for bringing a business customers. These programs work with different methods such as banner ads, affiliate links, or even the "shop this look" widgets that you'll find on many fashion blogs (mine included). Obviously nothing bad happens to you when clicking on such a link, but your click may have advantages for both the page owner that set the link, and the owner of the page you're being directed to. So for example if I put up a link to Asos on my blog, and you click on it, there are different ways I can benefit from your action.
PPC and PPS
Usually one differentiates between PPC and PPS. PPC stands for "pay per click", which means that if you click on my link, I'm being paid a fixed amount which lays usually under 1€. PPS on the other hand means "pay per sale" and in this case I only get money from your click, if you actually buy and keep the item I've lead you towards. The reward is usually a fixed percentage of the item's price. If for example I have an affiliate partnership with Zalando, and they offer me 10% of each purchase I initiate, I will get 10€ if you buy those 100€ shoes I've lead you towards.
The biggest affiliate program which you'll find in fashion is certainly rewardStyle. It is a page that allows you to choose among thousands of clothes and accessories and either get the direct product link to the stores that sell these things, or use the product images for a widget (which obviously contains links as well). The links provided by rewardStyle all look the same: http://rstyle.me... If you click on one of these links, chances are the person who provided you with the link will profit from your click in one way or another. Furthermore rewardStyle also operates on Instagram. They are not as popular anymore, but you've surely seen posts with the tag @liketoknow.it and links that look like this: www.liketk.it/...
Which affiliate links work best for you?
If you're a blogger and would like to use affiliate marketing, you should first of all know that it's not the secret to making big money fast. Even top bloggers only make a small amount out of affiliate marketing and usually just see it as a little bonus. Furthermore it's always wise to consider which kind of affiliate links work best for you. Are your readers really engaged? Then PPC may be the right option for you. Don't you like big banners in your sidebar? Then you may wanna work with simple affiliate links in your texts. For a fashion blogger the best option surely are the "shop this look" widgets, like the ones I use. To be honest I really don't make much money from mine, but I think they are a nice, professional-looking addition to my outfit posts, which is why I actually started using them last year.
Which affiliate program to choose as a blogger
So if you've decided which kind of affiliate links work best for you, you have to choose an affiliate service. I've already introduced rewardStyle, because it's the one most fashion bloggers use. However personally I didn't like the program as I found the research tool to be quite slow and unhandy. Furthermore it seemed to me that all the brands represented on rewardStyle are either Asian wholesale companies or high end brands. That is why I've switched to Tracdelight. There you'll find many brands from all price ranges, and most importantly some of the shops I always fall back on, such as Asos or Zalando. The most important thing will surely be to find a local affiliate program with shops that actually ship to the countries where your readers live.
What this all means for blog readers
I am surely not judging the use of such links to gain a little extra money, as I'm using them myself. However I only find it fair that readers know about the existence of such links and the consequences of their clicks. I've seen bloggers use these affiliate links all over Facebook, even in various non-blogging related groups, just to make more money from it. However I'm sure that many people don't know about this kind of links yet, and that they would (for whatsoever reason) prefer not to click on them. In the end one can never know if a link is an affiliate link or not, because also affiliate links can be shortened and then they look like the usual www.bit.ly, www.goo.gl, or www.ow.ly links.
I would love to know your opinion on this topic. Are you bloggers using such a service and do you mark your links? And did you readers know about affiliate links?