Affiliate marketing is one of the most profitable and convenient ways to make money as a female blogger. Essentially, you become the middle man (middle woman!) between a merchant and a consumer. As a reward, you take a small commission of whatever they purchase. In some other cases, the consumer may not make a purchase, but instead leave their email and you may get a “finder’s fee” for making the referral. In general, you act as a bridge between the two parties using what’s referred to as an affiliate link.
The most common form of affiliate marketing is sales-driven and it can be found everywhere online. Chances are you’ve clicked an affiliate link, made a purchase, and generated a commission for someone without even realizing it in the past.
The way it works is when one of your readers clicks an affiliate link, a “cookie” is placed on their browser to track their purchases and tie them back to you. Cookies are used for many things like remembering your account when you visit Facebook, for example, or showing you an advertisement for a product you viewed recently. Cookies don’t stay on a browser forever though, and the user can always remove them, though the average consumer isn’t typically aware of them.
Amazon’s standard affiliate link cookie lasts 24 hours. If you work with RewardStyle, then the cookie length is on average 30 days, but varies by retailer.
If someone clicks your link and makes a purchase during the cookie’s lifetime, you earn a commission! How much, you ask? Well, that depends on the retailer. Recently, Amazon changed their commission structure to depend on the category of the item purchased. Notice I wrote “item purchased”, not item linked. You will still earn a commission for most affiliate programs on your reader’s total purchase, even if the reader doesn’t purchase the item you linked. Pretty fantastic right?
Let’s say you really love this Oribe Conditioner on Amazon and want to promote it. You put a link on your blog and wait for someone to purchase. If a reader clicks through and goes on to purchase 4 different luxury lipsticks, and her total comes to $100, you’ll earn $10 of that sale because the luxury beauty category is currently at a 10% rate. If you’re thinking about becoming a luxury beauty blogger, now is a fantastic time, as that category is currently paying the highest commission rate! See all the category rates here.
You can become an affiliate in a few different ways. Either you 1. Join an Affiliate Network like RewardStyle, Skimlinks, or Shareasale, or 2. Join the merchant’s affiliate program directly, such as Amazon Associates.
Affiliate Networks are companies which manage the affiliate program for retailers. RewardStyle is the best affiliate network for female bloggers. They work with retailers such as Nordstrom, West Elm, Sephora and a ton more. The majority fall into the fashion category but the number of home & beauty retailers they work with is quickly growing.
Commission rates will greatly depend on the affiliate network you use. For example, One Kings Lane is a retailer on both RewardStyle and Shareasale. The commission rate for One Kings Lane sales via RewardStyle’s links will earn me 10.5 – 15.0%. Sales made via Shareasale will earn only 5%. This is because RewardStyle has negotiated a higher commission rate for their publishers. You should absolutely compare multiple affiliate networks to decide which one will earn you the most profit.
Before you start placing affiliate links everywhere, make sure to research the disclosure laws surrounding affiliate links in your country and/or state, as well as with the affiliate program itself. While I am not offering legal advice, I can say that disclosing your affiliate link usage is required by law in the United States! Amazon Associates even has a specific statement you must place on your site to earn money from their program (see section 5). Whatever the laws are, you absolutely want to abide by them as your hard-earned money can be withheld from you if you don’t!
Publisher: Another word for blogger or influencer. This is you! Top-earning publishers include Rachel Parcell of Pink Peonies and Aimee Song from Song of Style.
Merchant: The retailer you are linking to, such as Wayfair, Walmart or Amazon, etc.
Conversion Rate: The rate at which your click-through readers make a purchase. If you have 100 visitors who clicked your link, and 1 makes a purchase, your conversion rate is 1%.
Cookie: A small file of data sent from your website and stored on your reader’s computer by their browser after they click an affiliate link. Used to track their purchases and earn you a commission.
I hope you have a better grasp on what affiliate marketing is and why it’s so important after reading this post!