Before I start this post I need to get the legal disclaimers out of the way. Since it’s an affiliate program post I feel like this is a “Caution: HOT Coffee!” notice but for the sake of legality – before you continue reading please note that if you purchase from my links below either product or service I could be compensated for your purchase. Okay? Okay.
I love sharing a brand or product that I enjoy using with my closest friends and family; and I love when they share things they have discovered and enjoyed with me. In fact, I’m more likely to try something that someone close to me can’t stop raving about.
In recent years, brand ambassadors and affiliate programs have become extremely popular – especially within the blogging community. When used correctly and with integrity, they are an awesome thing – be rewarded for sharing things you love?! Awesome, right? It can be, if you are really sharing products you have experienced first hand and really do enjoy. The issue comes to the forefront when brands are shared with no back experience, they just hop at every opportunity to make a little money.
I used to believe a lie I would tell myself. It was right between learning what bloggers really were all about what finding out what I (and my blog) was really all about. During that snippet of time, I believed:
Working with a lot of brands defined who I was as a blogger.
It was a big. fat. lie.
By believing that I started feeling like I was selling out, the fun of blogging dwindled away and I learned quickly things were the exact opposite. In fact, I learned that by being selective in who I worked with and who I recommended I built a bigger trust within my readership, I felt better about who I was blogging about & sharing about, as well as, I felt good with the boundaries I set.
Boundaries set us up for understanding and respect. When we are straightforward about who we work with and what that involves everyone feels better. My biggest boundary:
I never represent a company through an affiliate program or brand ambassador program that I haven’t worked with and used their product first hand. Period.
Last year, I met a gal online and saw she was a part a company. I visited her site then commented on her profile that I checked out her site and really thought she had a great business. She thanked me, returned the favor by visiting my blog then said she was interested in having me as an affiliate. The first thing I did was thanked her for visiting my site and gave her my email to discuss details further. Soon an email popped into my inbox with the details and I was very honest with her and said this:
I love simple affiliate programs. I’m going to keep it on my radar and when I have some budget in my wiggle room I’ll have to purchase a pair that way I can try them out, do a post and join the affiliate program.
It opened the line of communication and let her know that I only work with brands that I work with first hand letting her know it was a possibility in the future. It opened that line of communication, there was an understanding of what I do and don’t offer and what to expect if I proceed in the future with her company.
While sometimes businesses will offer up free products, most affiliate programs I join are by businesses I have personally purchased from, and this also means I don’t always join the ambassador program right away either. For example, I made a few purchases with a company – I enjoyed the products but the customer service left something to be desired – e-mail responses were slow, ship times were very delayed. After some communications with the owner, I gave my feedback and in the future I saw a big change. Turns out they grew faster than expected, had some growing pains to work out and were on the mend. Soon they kicked off an affiliate program but I didn’t apply right away – I needed to see that the brand really had changed. I ordered again and had a great experience, and again. Once I learned they had gotten through their growing pains, I felt better about referring to them and being an affiliate. Like I say on my disclaimer page:
If I wouldn’t suggest a product to my husband, best girlfriend or mom – I won’t suggest it to you – paid or unpaid. Period. The End. If I’m paid (or could potentially be via a link), I’ll let you know just to give you a heads up because that’s the nice (& legal) thing to do. If it doesn’t fit into that first sentence – you won’t find it here on Joyfully Smitten.
The goal, although affiliates can bring in money, isn’t to find as many affiliates you can and load up your sidebar. If you are looking to build trust with your readership less can be more. Try a few affiliate programs and go from there. Keep in mind, sometimes people will forget to use your link and you do only get paid on your link clicks that turn into sales. So, as disappointing as it is sometimes your click rate might not fully reflect who is learning about a brand just from you. Additionally, by law you have to disclose when a link is an affiliate link.
Today I wanted to share with you some of the affiliates I do work with and why I work with them.
Small Retail Affiliates.
I love Red Letter Paper Company. The owner, Stephanie, is fantastic and has a great heart. Over the years she’s become a friend. When she launched her affiliate program I jumped on it. Her cards are fun and I feel good about sending them. They are warm and inviting. I can’t tell you how many of her cards I have – there are so many great ones. The affiliate program offers 10% on the sales you send her way!
I recently talked about Lillian Eve being our favorite nail polish brand here, and it’s true. I feel good about putting their product on my daughter’s nails knowing that it’s toxic free and a quality product. They are also regularly coming out with new colors that are just beautiful. The affiliate program offers 10% on the sales you send her way!
Larger Brands I Love!
I was introduced to Honest thanks to my sweet friend, Domestic Bella. She gifted me their shampoo & body wash and conditioner at our baby shower for A and we never looked back. We are constantly using their Shampoo & Body Wash, Conditioner, and Bubble Bath for A. We’ve also used a variety of other products. We won’t be going back anytime soon so when I learned of their Ambassador Program I was all for it. Usually 5% but sometimes 10% commission promotions go on too!
I made the plunge at the end of 2014 to invest in a good planner – one that I could balance all our personal stuff like appointments and trips, as well as, community events for the A-List and my client work. I spent literally weeks trying to decide because it’s a lot of money to toss into a book of paper to write in – you know? I went with Erin Condren because of a referral link I got from a friend and it made it just a smidgen more affordable. Now I use my planner and can make it more affordable for someone else to do it too! Winning!
Affiliates with Everything You Need for Your WordPress Site.
Bluehost is my absolute favorite hosting option, hands down the best customer support ever and they are just all around great, at least in my personal experience. I have never had an issue, they are great in chat, e-mail and twitter support. I am constantly preaching them to the rooftops through connects, bloggers and my clients. I won’t be going anywhere else – ever.
Restored316 Designs has stunning, elegant and extremely functional wordpress themes for only $50. I’ve used a few of her themes on my site and on others and I love them all. They are versatile, customer service is lovely and I don’t have a single bad things to say about them. Do note though – in order to use their themes you need to have and use the Genesis framework.
StudioPress has a variety of themes but the big one for me is the Genesis frame. I run my platforms using Genesis and I love it. It has built in SEO, standard compliant CSS coding, flexbility and you can have several sites with just one license which is really great too. The great thing about Studiopress is, once you own Genesis you get a discount just for coming back and purchasing more themes.
While I’m regularly on the look out for great affiliate programs, like I mentioned above, I never work with one that I have experienced personally and I turn down (you say exactly what I did above) several “pitches” a week simply because I haven’t worked with them specifically and I don’t feel bad about doing it. I have to feel good about who I’m standing behind.
Who are some affiliate programs you work with an enjoy?