My Approach with Affiliate Relationships
I’ve written a short and a long version about my affiliate relationships. This is the long version. If you’d like to read the shorter version you’ll find it here.
Like most website editors I occasionally publish product-focused articles, including reviews and guides, as well as news. In some cases my articles might recommend products or services to my readers. When I do make a recommendation, I do so with complete autonomy and without regard to affiliate or advertising relationships.
In other words…when I recommend a product or service…I truly do recommend it. I find myself in the sometimes enviable position of writing about things that I love. That tendency, combined with the unadorned truth…that writers in the online world generally rely heavily upon affiliate commissions because historically they’ve been consistent providers.
How Exactly do Affiliate Commissions Work?
Affiliate commissions work through a simple set of standards which tend to hold true across programs. These generally include the following steps:
* After enrolling in an affiliate program, an author is provided with some mechanism for creating an ‘affiliate’ link to merchandise.
* An affiliate link differs from a regular link with the inclusion of some additional data which ID’s the source of said link. When the source is someone who’s enrolled in the affiliate program that person is credited with a tiny commission if their link is utilized to purchase something. In most cases that link has a set period of usefulness for each reader…ranging from 1 day to 1 month.
When their link ‘expires while it still functions like any regular link does to take a reader to an online seller of that product or service, it will not provide for the crediting of an affiliate commission to the writer any longer (in that specific situation.) It may still provide for the possibility of a commission when someone new’ a new reader perhaps, uses it.
So all commissions are tied to the person who uses the link (not with any personally identifying information however,) and 2nd within the timeframe in which a purchase may arise.
* Commissions are usually a percentage of the total price of a product. They generally fall into a range from .02% on the low end up to .08% on the upper end. So, for example, if the retail purchase price of a product is $10 the commission would range from .20¢ to .80¢.
* Affiliate commissions are usually awarded on a monthly basis. When the time to pay commissions has arrived, anyone earning commissions in that timeframe will either receive a credit for the total to be added to other credits until they add up to meet a minimum base threshold, defined by each affiliate program, which must be met before payout can occur.
That means that all commissions are ‘banked’ within the affiliate program until a minimum payout threshold is met. When the minimum is met, commissions are paid either with an automatic bank deposit or by awarding a credit or gift card.
* Although the commission themselves are so tiny that they don’t function to entice writers to endorse a product for any reason beyond their own positive opinion or experience with it…there is one attractive feature for writers which makes affiliate programs more enticing. That feature, which most programs offer, is that when a writer’s affiliate link brings readers to a site selling the recommended product, in addition to earning a tiny commission on that one product alone, the writer may earn commissions on any products that the reader may purchase in that session.
So, to extend my example from above, if a reader bought the recommended $10 product, and the commission was 4%…or .40¢…and if the reader also went on to buy 2 other unrelated products for $25 and $16 respectively…the writer would earn a combined commission of:
.40+1+.64 = $2.04
The Reality of My Affiliate Relationships
As of 2018 my affiliate relationships are ‘lean’ by design. To date I’ve only actively utilized my relationship with Amazon probably less than 10 times. Early on I also joined Roku’s affiliate program because I’m such a huge fan and user of their hardware…but then I never actually utilized the program, I think in part it’s because I don’t write a lot on that topic, but also because I never intended my site to be for the purposes of ‘hawking products.’ The primary focus of vsatips has always been on cyber security and using Apple mobile devices. To date I’ve not yet explored those for earning potential via affiliate commissions.
When I have found occasion to write about specific products in great detail, it’s primarily due to one or two reasons. It’s either because I believe the product to be a really excellent option which readers can benefit from in a significant way, or the exact opposite…I believe it to be an awful product or service that my readers should know about in order to keep far, far away. Obviously, only the first scenario is conducive to utilizing an affiliate program.
My nature and the goals of vsatips quite naturally lead me towards writing content that errors on the side of positive rather than the negative.