Yesterday I shared “Affiliate Marketing: I’m done being bashful about it” which is my half of “She Said, He Said.” Today, a guest post from Shelby Sapusek sharing her take affiliate marketing and link like those I used in yesterday’s post.
If you do any online reading at all, you know that affiliate marketing is everywhere these days. The notion of using one website to drive traffic to another for revenue sharing isn’t new. There are plenty of people out there who make affiliate marketing their full-time jobs and they make no apologies for it.
However, I think business owners should be mindful when using affiliate links. Your company’s blog shouldn’t be overflowing with mentions of books and products on Amazon.com. Sure, it probably drives more traffic to your site and nets you an extra $50 from time to time. But do you really want your company to appear as if it’s just shameless advertising for others?
I’m not saying business owners shouldn’t use affiliate links. The online and social media worlds have made it easy for everyone to recommend anything from restaurants to movies to books to hotels. There’s nothing wrong with gaining some traffic and revenue through recommendations. To me, that’s just cross-promotion. But affiliate links should be used for products business owners actually use and really recommend. This is why I don’t mind Jim blogging about affiliate links. He only recommends projects and products that he has used and has found useful. For me, it comes down to a company’s credibility and Jim has shown that he’s keeping that in mind.
With some business blogs, I’ve been disturbed by the trend of hiding or “cloaking” affiliate links with a URL shortener or within php script. Those who use affiliate marketing as their primary income say that this is done because people bypass obvious affiliate links or replace the links with their own to receive the commission for the click (also called link hijacking). That’s fine if it’s your job; but if your business is more than affiliate marketing, I advise you not to hide these links.
Cloaking the links makes it too easy for people to throw them into every post they can. I also think a blog post with hidden links isn’t genuine. Again, it comes down to credibility.
If you’re using affiliate links in your blog posts, I prefer that you point them out to me. Let me choose whether to click on them or not. If I’m reading your blog regularly, I probably find value in it and will almost certainly trust your opinion of whatever product you’re writing about. At the same time, I’ve quit blogs that used affiliate links constantly in their posts. I started to feel that I was just reading advertisement after advertisement and the blogs lost their value.
Go ahead and use affiliate links in your posts; not that you need my permission. But please be genuine and honest when you use them. Don’t hurt your company’s credibility or lessen the value of your blog posts just to see your site visits increase and make a few extra dollars.
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