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10 November 2011

Behind the Scenes of Beauty Blogging - Affiliate Programs

Affiliate_programs_beauty_blogging

So here is the first installment of my 'Behind the Scenes of Beauty Blogging' series which I'm hoping will be helpful to other bloggers and not just the make-up obsessed ones! I don't claim to know everything, so if I have got anything slightly wrong then I do apologise in advance. But hopefully a few of you will find this series helpful! 

Firstly, what even are Affiliate links/programs/networks?
It's best to give an example really! So take the Cheap Smells (here) website - if you scroll down to the bottom you will see a link to 'Affaliate Programme' which gives more information on their own programme (which a lot of brands have). I could then sign up, put a bit of html coding onto my blog (which is easy I promise) and then I may buy from Cheap Smells or have something that is from Cheap smells that I want to review. So I write the review and include a link back to the product page of that item on the Cheap Smells website. Then if anyone clicks on that link and purchases the product I will get a percentage (commission) of that sale. Now I really am talking pennies.... I mean if you had a gadget blog and were recommending £500+ products with affiliate links you could make a pretty nice income from it. But a product worth £20 could earn you anything from 30p to £2.50 depending on the percentage of commission. However the good thing about affiliate links is that if someone clicks on a product link on your blog and purchase other items from the website that you have directed them to, you get the commission for the whole basket and not just the product you initially recommended.

Cookie Period? Huh!
Cheap Smells also mention about a '60 day cookie period' or sometimes it will be referred to as a 'cookie window' (something that will vary between programs) which really is there to help you. As not many people read a review, click the link and buy the product straight away. Instead they may click the link, look at it and then a week or so later or even a month later will go back and purchase that product. Which is exactly what the 60 day cookie period means. So if some clicks the link in your review/post their cookies are stored for 60 days so if they do go back to the product (through whatever means - their history or google etc) after say 17 days have passed and they purchase that item then you will still receive commission. So even though the commission you will get it per product is very low, over time it can add up because of this.

I won't go into every aspect of affiliate programs as I would be here all day but you could also include an advert for Cheap Smells in your sidebars which if someone clicked and made a purchase then again the commission would be yours.

The problem with joining lots of affiliate programs
However joining different affiliate programmes/networks to get the benefits of all different brands that you may talk about/review is boring and time consuming.. I mean if I want to include affiliate links for Cheap Smells, Amazon and Fragrance Direct I would have go onto each site and sign up and also remember each login name and password. Plus they all will have different rules and different payout thresholds (a set amount you have to make before they will pay you). So you really want to look for programmes that provide affiliate links to a lot of companies, which is how I found Skimlinks . For the ease of just using one affiliate program the percentage of commission is slightly lower than if you joined other affiliate programme but it does cut out the headache of having lots of accounts and getting emails from them all and so on. Which I frankly got sick of... and even though I had 3 affiliate accounts I hadn't reached the payment threshold with any of them... so I decided to delete the accounts and just stick to Skimlinks as it hosted the affiliates of so many brands.

thyjy5e 

Skimlinks Affiliate Program
Now the first plus with Skimlinks for me was that the payment threshold is only £7, which means as soon as you make £7+ in commission the following month they will start to process the payment and send it via Paypal or bank transfer. Like I mentioned I never actually met any of the payment thresholds on my old accounts as the payment thresholds were always set too high being £50+ normally.

The other feature I really like and one that I haven't come across before is that when you do earn commission from a sale you can look in your Skimlinks dashboard and find exactly how much the sale was, how much you made from it and which brand the sale was from - kind of as in-depth as Google Analytics really!

Of course there are many other affilate networks such a Webgains (here) which I have used in the past and Affaliate Window (here) but Skimlinks (here) is the only one that has made me any money... which is what it is all about!

So how much have I actually made?!
Now I was debating whether on not to include this, but really as this series is all about telling you what I know and being open I felt it was only right to give my own figures* as an example! So I joined Skimlinks in the last week of June and made just over £1.00, which of course got carried over to July and by the end of July I had earned £12.10 in commission which meant I had reached the payment threshold - I know earning £12.00 isn't huge by any means but for doing nothing (not having to maintain or e-mail anyone etc) I was pretty pleased. Since then each month the commission I earn has increased and what I have earnt since July is now into triple figures and each month I am fairly happy with the commision I make. 

The commission I earn from Skimlinks is definitely never going to pay the bills but for doing what I have always done, which is including links to products in reviews etc it is a nice little perk to blogging about the products I really like.

*like I mentioned this is only an example of the commission I have made, you made find that you earn a lot more if you general talk about more high end beauty products or clothing or even a lot less if you don't blog that often or forget to include product links in reviews.

Don't get stung?!
I have recently been hearing about people receiving e-mails about signing up to an affiliate network and actually having to pay to join or putting money up front first. This definitely isn't a good thing and isn't at all needed! If/when you decide to join a network or a program it should be as simple as signing up and applying come code into the html of your blog - at no point should you ever be needing to pay them!

Conclusion...
Personally I am pleased to see when beauty bloggers and  bloggers in general are making money (however much that may be) from something they clearly love, and I'm sure they count themselves as lucky and also they/we are all providing something nice which is totally free - which lets face is is pretty damn good!
Ramble aside, I do think joining an affiliate program is a good first step to making a bit of money from blogging. It's really easy to set-up and maintain and I'm almost sure most bloggers will be able to reach the payment threshold! 


Next up I'm thinking I should either talk about product photography especially as winter is coming which means rubbish lighting conditions or how communicating with PR companies and social networking can be beneficial to your blog. 

Let me know what you think so I can get typing/rambling again! 

Fee xo.

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