Affiliate Programs 101 – Fashion Blogging and Earning Income

Last week, some of you may have noticed I posted a disclosure statement at the end of my posts that contain affiliate links. I hope you appreciate the open and honest approach I want to make in how Alterations Needed makes income.

I’ve tried earning income on Alterations Needed for almost a year now, and wanted to share my adventures in affiliate programs. For those of you who don’t blog, hopefully this will shed some light on how reading and clicking help your favorite bloggers get paid for their hard work. For those of you who do blog, hopefully you’ll find this interesting, and learn from my experiences.

Blogging is interesting in that, for most people, it begins as a personal outlet, or extension of a hobby. If the blogger is lucky, someone other than their mother enjoys reading their blog. If they’re even luckier, they get an opportunity to earn a small income for their hard work blogging. And an even luckier few, actually make a livable wage off their blogs.

I really love writing Alterations Needed, and spent the first year blogging without even trying to earn a cent off it. When I learned I could not only write a blog I love, for a community I’m passionate about, but also maybe even earn a little income from it, I had to give it a shot.

My ultimate dream would be to earn enough off Alterations Needed and the Alterations Needed Forum to be able to blog full time…but that is a far away dream at the moment.

So, now to earning an income from blogging. This is where affiliate programs come in.

*****

First attempt – Joining affiliate programs through affiliate networks, like Commission Junction, Link Share, and Google Affiliate Network.

For those of you who don’t know, Affiliate Networks bring together a bunch of different merchants, for which you can apply to become an affiliate. If you are approved for the merchant’s affiliate program, you can then get special links to put on your blog, that if a reader clicks, and purchases something, you earn a small commission. You have to first get approved to join the network, and then get approved by each individual merchant affiliate program you want to be an affiliate with.

When I first started learning about how people make money blogging, I learned about Affiliate networks. The ones I kept reading about were Commission Junction, Link Share, and Google Affiliate Network. Signing up for these networks weren’t very hard (except for Google, which rejected me the first time around, but finally accepted me after I tried again a few months later), but getting merchants to accept me in their affiliate programs was awful. I was finally able to get approved for Banana Republic, and a few other merchants like Shopbop.

Pros – If a blogger really likes something, and uses an affiliate link in their blog post about that product, and someone actually clicks the link and buys something…the blogger earns a commission. Yay! Just like a personal shopper!

Cons – Getting accepted to the merchants that a blogger writes about can be hard. Having to log into the program network website and find the special link for the product the blogger is writing about can be tricky and time consuming. Earning money can take a really long time. The links look weird and scary, and sometimes readers are afraid to click them. If no one buys anything through your link, you don’t make any money. If someone bought something through your link, and then returns it, your commission gets taken away. In order to get paid, your balance has to reach a certain amount, usually $50 or $100. For a small blog earning small commissions, reaching this limit can take forever.

My experience - Um…yeah…I didn’t make anything going this route. Time to look for something better.

Second attempt – Shopsense – The pay-by-click affiliate program for fashion bloggers.

Whether you are a reader or a blogger, you’re probably familiar with Shopsense. Fashion bloggers love using Shopsense, because all the merchants and items we love are available on it. It’s easy to sign up, easy to get a special affiliate link, and we make a small commission every time someone clicks a link, instead of hoping someone buys something.

For those of you who don’t know, Shopsense gives bloggers a special affiliate link that looks like: “http://www.shopstyle.com….”, like this one . Every time a reader clicks one of those links, that blogger makes about 5 cents. It doesn’t sound like much, but if all our readers click a Shopsense link every time they visit our blog, we earn a few dollars a day, which can slowly add up!

I was an early user of Shopstyle when it first came out, and found it useful to store and track the items I was interested in. When they announced they had an affiliate program called Shopsense, I was super excited, and started using it right away. I started seeing Alterations Needed earn money, and I was happy to finally be getting paid a small income for my hard work.

Pros - Shopsense is easy, and is the way I make the most income on Alterations Needed. Getting readers to click a link is way easier than getting them to buy something.

Cons – Shopsense is not transparent in reporting income to bloggers. You can bet Shopsense is making a ton of money off all us bloggers, but they don’t tell us anything about how we’re getting paid. They don’t tell us how much we’re making per click, or what links our readers liked best, or if anyone bought anything. If I don’t know what my readers like, how do I give them more of the great stuff they want? All Shopsense tells me is how much of a commission I made each day, so I have to trust them. They also only payout your balance if you reach $100.

I’ve also heard from other bloggers, as well as experienced it myself, that there is often a sudden drop in commissions from Shopsense. Since they don’t tell us bloggers what’s going on, we can only guess, but many bloggers believe Shopsense start bloggers at 5 cents a click when they sign up for the program, and then drops them down to 3 cents, or even lower, after a few months. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s equals about a 40% drop in earnings!

I’ve also read about how Shopsense uses their widgets and ad units to earn page rank and search engine rankings from our blogs, which is not very nice at all. Read this forum thread for more about that…

My experience - Shopsense is easy to use, and the biggest income earner for Alterations Needed that I’ve found. I hate that they keep me in the dark about so many things, but I need the income I earn to pay for internet hosting, and other expenses. I’ll drop Shopsense in a second if a better program comes along, so they better watch out and keep us bloggers happy!

Advice for bloggers - Most affiliate programs include a rel=”nofollow” attribute to their links, but Shopsense does not, which can hurt your search engine rankings. Make sure to add the rel=”nofollow” attribute to your Shopsense links so you don’t hurt your page rank with too many outbound links. Also, it might be a good idea to limit your use of the Shopsense widgets, to avoid the SEO and page rank stealing described in the forum thread I linked to above.

Skimlinks – Automatically turning links into affiliate links

Skimlinks is a company in the UK that, once you sign up for their program and add their code to your website, will turn any link into an affiliate link. That means, if a blogger features a product from Banana Republic, and links to the product page, when a reader clicks that link, Skimlinks automatically turns it into an affiliate link and the blogger earns a commission if the reader buys anything. If Skimlinks has a merchant in their network, then the blogger can earn commissions for that merchant.

I started using Skimlinks on the Alterations Needed Forum, because I wanted to find a way for the Forum to pay for all the money I had to spend to create and put it up. Putting up Shopsense links on the forum didn’t seem right, so I had to look for another way for the Forum to make money. What I found was Skimlinks. If a forum member shares a link to a product they love, and a reader clicks that link and buys something, the Forum earns a commission. Perfect! The forum members help the Forum earn money just by sharing the items they buy and love, and other forum members using their suggestions to make a purchase.

Pros - It’s easy! There are no special links to use, and the blogger is able to get access to hard to get affiliate programs that maybe she/he could not join on their own.

Cons - Skimlinks takes a commission, from the blogger’s commission, so the blogger earns less than they would if they joined the affiliate program for a merchant directly. Not all the affiliate programs a blogger might want to use are available.

My biggest gripe is the payout system. Skimlinks waits to pay your balance until you reach $50 in cleared payments. It can take 60-90 days for a commission to clear, so I often go months without a payment.

My experience – I like Skimlinks a lot. It gives the Forum an opportunity to bring in a little income, which helps pay for the cost of running it. I also started using it on Alterations Needed, for items I don’t have a Shopsense link for. It generates a little bit of income, but not too much. I really wished it had Banana Republic and Ann Taylor/LOFT as part of it’s program, so when a representative from a similar company called Viglink emailed me, I was excited.

Viglink – like Skimlinks, except worse

Viglink is a similar company to Skimlinks, and when I got contacted by a representative about them, I was excited to hear they had Banana Republic and Ann Taylor/LOFT as part of their affiliate program! Perfect! I write so much about those two companies, that having the affiliate programs for them was a must! I quickly switched to Viglink on both Alterations Needed and the AN Forum and hoped for the best.

Pros - Quicker and more informative reporting than Skimlinks. Responsive customer service (I had a problem getting it to work on the Forum and they quickly helped me out). Ann Taylor, LOFT and Banana Republic were part of their affiliate network…yay!

Cons - They tricked me! When I signed into Viglink, it showed me all the great merchants that would pay commissions for my sites, and I got really excited to see what it would do. Three months later….hardly anything at all happened. I didn’t understand. All these new merchants were available for me, but I wasn’t making any money. What was happening?

My experience - A Skimlinks representative contacted me, asking what they could do to get me to come back. I told them the only reason I switched was for Ann Taylor, LOFT and Banana Republic affiliate programs. Skiminks looked at my site and told me Viglink wasn’t even affiliating those links!

I did some searching through their hard-to-navigate help forum, and finally found the answer. The website shows you all the great merchants Viglink has in their network, but doesn’t necessarily add you to their programs. Almost half the merchants I thought I was affiliated with, I wasn’t. What a dirty trick!

After speaking with a Viglink representative, I learned the individual merchants decide whether or not to let a website be an affiliate. After a website sends good traffic to that merchant, they should be added as an affiliate. The fact that Viglink did not clearly show which merchants had not added me to their affiliate programs, and did not activate my websites after three months, even though I was sending a good amount of traffic, really turned me off the company.

Because Viglink does not clearly state which merchants a website is being affiliated with or not, I felt duped, and quickly switched back to Skimlinks.

Advice for bloggers - If you use Viglink, check your Viglink dashboard. Any merchants with a gray dash (-) under the “actions” column is not being affiliated on your site. To be activated for the merchant, you might need to complain to a Viglink representative. I really don’t like how Viglink does not clearly disclose this information from the beginning.

Skimlinks part deux -

Skimlinks has since added Banana Republic to their program, which makes me happy, and my representative assured me they were working on getting Ann Taylor and LOFT added as well. Once that happens, Skimlinks will be pretty much perfect.

Bloggers…if you sign up for Skimlinks through a link on my blog, Alterations Needed earns a commission!
 

*****

There you have it! I’m currently using both Shopsense and Skimlinks on Alterations Needed, and just Skimlinks on the Alterations Needed Forum. Anytime a reader clicks a Shopsense link, like this one, I earn a few cents. Anytime a reader clicks a link from Alterations Needed or the Forum to a merchant like Banana Republic, and buys something, I make a small commission for that sale through Skimlinks.

Readers…so now you know how Alterations Needed makes a small income, and how you can help support the blog and forum if you so choose. If you love a blog, or want to help support a blogger, clicking or purchasing through their affiliate links is one of the easiest ways to pay them back for all the hard work they’ve put into giving you an enjoyable website to visit.

Bloggers…I think the key here is, even if I wasn’t earning income from Alterations Needed and the Alterations Needed Forum, I love them so much that I would still be blogging. If you’re blogging for the chance at making money, and not for the love of what you’re blogging about, stop. Even with all the affiliate programs I’ve tried, I’m not making even close to enough money to live off. I would love to be able to earn a full time income to run Alterations Needed and the AN Forum, but that goal may never be reached.

Disclosure - Clicking or purchasing through the links in this post may yield commissions for AlterationsNeeded.com. See the Alterations Needed Disclosure for more details.

68 Comments

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Rinny

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I have been signed up with Google Adsense and Viglink for a few months now and both are doing absolutely nothing for me. I have had much more luck with Shopsense though. I'll definitely be checking out Skimlinks too!

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    The Little Dust Princess

    Thank you for such an informative post!

    Youtubers and bloggers in the States are required, by law, to post a disclaimer about whether or not they are affiliated with the companies reviewed in each post. (FTC claim or something?) I've been doing that for a while, even though the law doesn't apply to me.

    As awesome as earning a bit of income from blogging sounds, I don't think I'd ever do it (but never say never) .. even if I had thousands of followers. After reading that thread you linked, it just sounds like a bunch of greedy companies trying to make money and gain traffic through bloggers like us. I have so many people Googling things that link to my blog right now…I don't want to hurt my site traffic. Also, a few bucks..even a hundred bucks isn't convincing enough for me to join these affiliate programs. Especially when I can make that much through working for less than a day. If a company itself offered to partner with me though, I might not mind that.

    It's really up to the blogger's own decision though. Some people don't mind and really just want to earn a bit of income to run their sites! And I will definitely support them (you!!) in doing that. : )

    xx The Little Dust Princess

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    kileen

    I use Shopsense regularly but have yet to really make any money off of it. I do agree that it's fairly easy to use.

    I actually installed Skimlinks too when they were in beta mode and I actually got a call from a customer representative asking if I had any questions. It definitely caught me by surprise, but I'm glad that they're so concerned about user experience to make a personal phone call.

    Thanks for the super useful post!!

    kileen
    cuteandlittle.com

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    AubreyOhDang!

    very informative. I realized bloggers put so much time into their pages. Must be hard work, but I know you love it.

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    Rinny – Google Adsense is doing a little something for me, but probably only because I have 2 websites. The income from just 1 is pretty dismal. Do check out Skimlinks, it's a great program, similar to Viglink, and I think I lot easier to use and better about actually affiliated the bloggers!

    The Little Dust Princess – It's great that you disclose, even though you don't technically have to. I'm sure your readers appreciate that. If you monetize smartly, you shouldn't have an issue with affiliates hurting your traffic. Shopsense seems to be a specific case, at least as far as I've seen. Most affiliate programs make sure their links don't hurt your site.

    Yes, there are going to be affiliates and sponsors that don't care about hurting your site, so they get perks. They will take advantage of bloggers who don't know any better, so it's good to do your research before you step into a partnership blindly.

    Maybe I'll do a follow up with what I've learned about sponsors and what they try to get our of your site. I've seen a bit of this floating around, taking advantage of bloggers who either don't care, or don't know any better.

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    PetiteAsianGirl

    Kelly – Thank you for this thorough, informative post! I only started using Shopsense after you introduced me to it. Where did you obtain the 5 cents figure? After some careful monitoring my rate right now is about 1 cent per click.

    I completely agree with your bottom line and think it's great advice for readers an bloggers alike. Clicking and purchasing via affiliates are a great way for readers to show their support, but the $2-3 a day is not what keeps me blogging.

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Andi

    What a great resource! :)

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    PetiteAsianGirl

    Btw, I would absolutely love it if you shared your experiences and lessons learned with sponsors. I might have some info to add from my own experiences as well.

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Chloe

    Great, great post! Good stuff all around, and very informative to those that are unsure if they want to monetize their blogs. Thanks for putting this together! <3

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    DSK Steph!

    Great post! I had no idea there were so many different avenues available.

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Tiffany

    I only use shopsense and Beso/shopzilla. I have the same feelings about shopsense, I don't use them as often anymore. Haven't heard about the last two you mention.

    My biggest issue is not with the affiliate programs but companies that approach bloggers with offers of giveaways or ads that are actually pretty dang terrible but bloggers still take them up on it. I hate seeing bloggers taken advantage of by greedy companies.

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    kileen – Skimlinks is great, and I wonder if I took down my Shopsense links, if Skimlinks would actually be really profitable. I'm scared to do it though, since Shopsense makes the most for me by far (which still is not very much at all…lol).

    AubreyOhDang! – Thanks Aubrey! I hope you at least found it interesting to learn how the blogs you read make money. =)

    PetiteAsianGirl – When I first signed up for Shopsense, there was actually a disclosure that said websites got paid starting at 5 cents a click. When I first started using it, I was able to see my Shopsense income increase in 5 cent increments, so I know that's what I started earning. I can't tell what I'm making anymore, but I'm sure it's less than 5 cents because my earnings took a dive, and my traffic has increased.

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Em

    Thank you for this post! I would love to turn my blog into something more than a hobby. I'll definitely keep this post in mind and look into the affiliates you mentioned.

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    Chloe & DSK Steph! – Thanks ladies!

    Tiffany – I've never looked into Beso-Shopzilla. Thanks for mentioning them.

    OMG…companies take such advantage over bloggers that don't know any better. I see it all the time and shake my head in dismay. Might need to be a follow up post!

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    Em – Good luck! Just beware that you probably won't make anything for a while. My blog is over 2 years old, and I'm still making hardly anything. =P

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    curls-and-pearls

    Excellent post Kelly! I did sign up for viglink after our conversation, but I don't get all that much traffic on either of my blogs so I just chalked it up to that. Will have to look into it futher :)

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Really Petite

    Thanks for the information! You are so awesome! We can always count on you to have all the good tid bits :)

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Stylepint

    Thanks for this post! I've been wondering about affiliates for a while and only recently have I started using Shopsense. It's not what I'd really like to pursue since you can't really track anything with it, but I'll probably look at the other options available.

    Blogging isn't about making money, but at least if it can pay for its own maintenance, it makes it easier to continue. =)

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Pam L

    Wow, excellent post, Kelly! I appreciate the time you took to write a detailed breakdown. As mentioned in my tweet (@wallbounce), I clicked on your ebates link to sign up (I usually use fatwallet.com for cashback, but there's no affiliate or referral earnings there/anymore). Since I'm not much of a blogger (used to be…need to get back into it), I will bookmark this post and be sure to click on your links when signing up!!

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Nelah

    This is very interesting and informative. I have never realized how hard it is to earn money through these programs. Sponsors and blog sale would probably be quicker ways to earn extra cash in my opinion.

    You are a good writer. Your dream of blogging full time may come sooner than you thought. Perhaps pursuing a side job in freelance writing or something alike.

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    SewPetiteGal

    Wow – what an incredibly informative post! Really appreciate your take and experience with all the different things that are out there. I'll be sure to click to support AN!

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    PetiteLittleGirl

    This is a very interesting and educated post. I started using Google Adsense for the first couple of months and it didn't do anything for me. I started using Shopsense after that. Thanks Jean for introducing it to me. I have no idea how much I earned per click. Thank you so much for putting this together. I am looking forward to your follow up post about sponsors

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Vicky

    Thank you so much Kelly for this post. I knew nothing about everything you said. Haha!!! Call me ignorant. It's so nice of you to take the time to write down your experience so that rest of us can learn. I think you are right though, we are not blogging because we want to earn the meager amount of money. It'll be nice if one can support herself just by blogging though. :)

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Lady Cardigan

    It took me a year to make $100 from Shopsense, but I still like it because the widgets are so convenient. I'd like it even more if it paid more, of course.

    Amazon.com is another possibility for affiliates, and then there's Google Adsense although it does very little for me. If some company came along that accepted everyone, offered useful links and images (like Shopstyle) and paid well, fashion bloggers would flock there!

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    PetiteXXS

    This has been an incredibly informative post! I definitely would've appreciated this so much when I first started blogging! I found Shopsense thanks to a tip from Jean, and liked it because they have the option of linking the item pics (so I don't have to pull them off the store website). I also don't like how they don't tell you any information about the rate per click or how many clicks you're getting. I think I did get the 5 cents per click at first, but I'm pretty sure I'm down to 1-2 cents now. In the end, it's definitely not worth it if we're just in for the money (since it's definitely not much unless you're huge), but it's nice to make enough to cover operating costs :)

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Anonymous

    My sis currently works in LinkShare. After reading your informative post, I began to understand the function of her company.

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    mich LA

    Super helpful post. Thank you for taking the time to write about all your experiences! Janice and I have no experience with this stuff at all and have just stuck to keeping it simple because we don't know any better! :)

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    Anonymous

    Boo Shopsense! Not cool.

    Great writeup!

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    Hannah @ Skimlinks

    Hi Kelly,

    We're so glad to have you back on board with us – and we think your honesty and transparency is great, so thanks for sharing!

    We want to make sure you stay happy, so please do keep in touch and let us know if there's anything we can do for you in the future!

    P.S We're working hard to get Ann Taylor live, and when we do, you'll be the first to know!

    Hannah @ Skimlinks

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    Ashe Mischief

    This is a great post! I had just heard about Viglinks recently, and am glad to see such an honest review about them. I'll stick with Skimlinks for that, for certain! I'm curious about Shopsense, but that lack of transparency in what you make is….well, not so cool.

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    Galen

    Hi Alterations,

    Sorry that the system to check our merchant coverage is confusing. We do recognize that it needs some big improvements.

    Our intention is certainly not to be deceptive. We do have merchants in our system, like some that you mentioned, that require a second level of screening and approval. We want publishers to be able to earn from the greatest number of merchants possible, but we also want merchants to be comfortable with the quality of traffic they receive from us. The approvals for these merchants took longer than they should have in your case, and I apologize for that.

    I will get in touch as we redesign this system and hopefully we can learn from your experience.

    Best,
    Galen Thompson
    Relationships Manager, VigLink

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    curls-and-pearls – Yeah, that was when I thought Viglink was going to be awesome. Look at your dashboard and see if the companies you want to earn from has a dash under the "actions" column or a number (even a 0 counts). If there is a dash, you're not an affiliate for that merchant. If there is a number (even a 0), then you're ok and earning income from that merchant.

    Stylepint – Good luck monetizing! It's hard work, but worth it when you start seeing a little bit of something trickle in.

    Pam L – Thank you! I really appreciate it! Will I have another petite fashion blog to add to my Google Reader??? LOL.

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    Nelah – Thanks Nelah! Blog sponsors are hard to get, especially in the petite fashion niche. There are not very many companies making petite clothing, and most of them are small and don't have the money to advertise. I plan to do a write up on those as well.

    SewPetiteGal – Thanks! Every little click helps. =)

    PetiteLittleGirl – Google Adsense only really works if you have crazy high pageviews, or stick the ad in a really top and annoying place. I earn a little bit from having in on the Forum, but not much.

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    Vicky – You're not ignorant, you just haven't tried it yet! I've had a little more time than you to try things out and have them either work or fail. =)

    Lady Cardigan – Yup, it can take a really long time to earn anything, unless you have lots of blog posts, all with affiliate links in them. I've heard link building will pay off and one day you'll find yourself making consistent income, but I certainly am no where near that day yet. LOL.

    PetiteXXS – Yup, Shopsense isn't perfect, but seems to work well enough for most of us that it seems most fashion bloggers are using it. They'd better watch out though…I'll switch in a second if a better platform comes along with better transparency in reporting!

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    Hannah @ Skimlinks – Thanks for visiting! It was thanks to you that I figured out Viglink was not affiliating my links! I can't wait for Ann Taylor and LOFT to get added…please do let me know!

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    ShopSense

    Hi Alterations Needed,

    I’m happy to hear that you think ShopSense is simple and easy to use – that is great feedback! I am also glad that Alterations Needed is making the most revenue through our program in comparison to the other programs out there.

    In response to your “cons” – we are actually not trying to make a lot of money off your back. We aim for a mutually beneficial relationship and strive to split all ShopSense revenue 50/50 with the blogger.

    We also recognize that we currently don’t give much insight into what your readers like. We also think this is an issue and have been working to fix this. The fix will occur in Q1 of 2011.

    We are continually working to make ShopSense an easy, mutually beneficial program for bloggers. We are constantly trying to improve and make our program better. We are rolling out some improvements in Q1 and hope you will feel more satisfied.

    Thank you for your feedback!

    Thanks,
    All of Us at ShopSense

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    Stephanie

    I've recently added ShopSense after seeing Jean use it on her site. I have no cons to report so far, but I haven't really looked THAT much into it. Thanks for posting this blog about it though. btw, I'm happy to click your links if it'll help this blog in anyway! :)

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    Anonymous

    "we are actually not trying to make a lot of money off your back." – ShopSense

    I have to respectfully disagree with this statement. Shopstyle is very much trying to make a lot of money off the hard work of bloggers through their search engine strategies…which Shopstyle still does not directly address.

    As AN already noted, many affiliates have "nofollow" for their links, but Shopstyle purposely does not. They do this so that google recognizes Shopstyle as a higher ranking authority on the content bloggers write about. For people who don't know, "nofollow" is used to prevent paid links from influencing search results and negatively impacting users.

    So while a blogger might have great content and should rank high on google searches related to that content, shopstyle will displace you on future google search results and rank higher than you. They will piggy back on your site content and capture 100% of future searches that should have landed on your blog instead of shopstyle.

    So while bloggers might get 50% on the initial clicks, over the long-term shopsense wins because they don't have to share the revenue they generate from having a high google ranking. Sorry to vent but knowingly hurting the search engine rankings of bloggers is not right.

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    Gracie

    Thank you for such an insightful post. I'll definitely keep the post for reference when I feel strong enough to branch onto my own server.

    I really like the open and honest approach about the disclosure. I know many bloggers and youtubers shy from this topic, which is a shame because there's nothing wrong with capitalizing on your hobby so that it can maintain itself.

    Gracie

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    Lady Lipstick

    Wow thank you so much for this post! I don't even know how to go about earning money off my blog and so far I have blogged because I love what I am blogging about so much! BUT of course it would be a dream to be able to make even a supplementary income off my blog but I am just almost scared to sign up for anything! I really appreciate all the info though!!!

    XX

  • Reply November 9, 2010

    Anonymous

    So much information here that small publishers usually dare not share. Thank you for posting. The conclusion though is not good. The internet is not bottom up, it's top down with a greater share of the profit retained at the top.

    The achilles heel is that for pennies you have to automate and warehouse content creation, like the Demand Medias do.

    Skimlinks does this with Skimkit which is a press release feed with ready made affiliate links that automates the creation of top ten, best buy, list type blogs. There's no need to find for yourself what you are endorsing and both Skimlinks and Skimbit leave disclosure in posts to publishers, to spammer's delight.

    All those fashion search terms highlighted in the blog discussion on Shopsense and SEO, the search results are dominated by advertisers posting thin content to post affiliate links.

    A criticism not mentioned of Skimlinks is that it markets itself to affiliates in US states to avoid state tax – its CEO says "merchants have a contractual relationship with us, and we are not based in that US state" – which is ethically and legally questionable.

    http://www.centernetworks.com/skimlinks-ceo-alicia-navarro-on-skimkit-launch

  • Reply November 10, 2010

    Anonymous

    "Shopstyle is very much trying to make a lot of money off the hard work of bloggers through their search engine strategies"

    What is Google doing?

  • Reply November 10, 2010

    Anonymous

    @ Anon 11:23pm

    Google does not like paid links and most bloggers have no idea that Google guidelines state that paid links should be "no follow".

    Google can and will penalize your blog if paid links are not tagged "no follow".

    "Clear disclosure of sponsorship is critical, and that includes disclosure for search engines. If link in a paid post would affect search engines, that link should not pass PageRank (e.g. by using the nofollow attribute). Google — and other search engines — do take action which can include demoting sites that sell links that pass PageRank, for example"

    http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/3383-google-lays-the-smack-down-on-sponsored-conversations

  • Reply November 10, 2010

    orchidsinbuttonholes

    This is a fantastic post full of very useful and very clear and very helpful information. I'm not yet interested in earning income from my blog, but I'm bookmarking it for the day that I change my mind. Thanks for writing this!

  • Reply November 10, 2010

    oomph.

    i've heard about these programs, but it always seemed like more work than it's worth. thanks for the info!

  • Reply January 6, 2012

    Lousweet

    Hi! I like your site, and very informative article!
    1. Why don’t you use google adsense? 
    2. Do you think Shopstyle dofollow can really affect ranking?

    • Reply January 6, 2012

      Alterations Needed

      Hi Lousweet,

      1. I do use Adsense, but since it’s just servicing ads, and not an affiliate program based on recommendations, I did not include it.

      2. I’m no expert, but I do know that outbound links affect a websites SEO. At the rate bloggers are using Shopstyle links, I wouldn’t doubt that it would negatively affect ranking. I probably wouldn’t drop anyone’s rank, but it might make it harder to get a high ranking in a timely manner.

  • Reply May 13, 2012

    Ayumi Lafser

    wahoo! I just started using Shopsense… I’ll see how it goes. :)  Even though I only make like 15cents a week, money is a money! hehe

    I got rejected from google adsense… twice! I wonder because I barely had anything on my blog that time… lol I think I will try again few months down the road. 

    Thanks for these useful advices! I will keep them in mind. :)

    ayumi

  • Reply June 19, 2012

    life as a cat

    Thanks so much for the informative post. I just monetized my blogs and this was really helpful in introducing the options available. I’m wondering – I’m not using Skimlinks right now though I’m considering looking into it – when it turns outgoing links into affiliate links, does this override any links you might have already turned into affiliate links through say, ShopSense? I’m using ShopSense and it doesn’t list many of the products I talk about, and it’d be nice to have something to cover those products. Thanks!

    http://thejcrewarchives.blogspot.com/

    • Reply June 20, 2012

      Alterations Needed

      Skimlinks shouldn’t affect your other affiliate links but there is also a way to tell Skimlinks what links NOT to touch in the admin dashboard. Before they had the feature to tell Skimlinks what links not to affiliate, I was using Skimlinks and Shopsense together and everything was working fine.

  • Reply July 27, 2012

    Z_Lauren_Z

    I know this is a very old post but I figured I would post anyway in case someone happens upon this post as I did via Google . . . Anyway – here is what drives me CRAZY about Shopsense – their listings are not anywhere near complete.  I can’t tell you how many times I see an item I want to promote on my blog and I go to shopsense and it’s not there yet it’s there on Beso.  Now to be fair some merchants (such as Macy’s) don’t pay for Beso clicks but the point is if Beso can be up to date why can’t shopstyle?  Furthermore  I don’t believe the BS that shopstyle isn’t mooching juice from blogs – look up almost any designer item and they are always towards the very top of Google so something is going on.

  • Reply August 5, 2012

    YourStylist

    Thanks again!

  • Reply August 15, 2012

    www.commandress.com

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write this post – it’s extremely helpful! – Abigail

  • Reply November 20, 2012

    Kwonzie

    Thanks so much for this post, I’ve been trying to figure all this out. I signed up for Skimlinks using your link!

  • Reply March 29, 2013

    Sarah Stone

    Thank you so much for this article, I bookmarked it for reference later. Now that my blog is actually starting to develop a following, I’m realizing just how difficult it is to make any money off of it! It’s a little depressing, but I have learned a TON from my experience. Thanks to books and informative articles like this, thank you for furthering my blogging education!

  • Reply May 19, 2013

    Keren / The Walkup

    So much of affiliate program reporting appears without transparency! I am in the middle of attempting to monetize my blog, and navigating the waters of affiliate networks is rough. Curious, is it preferred to have many affiliate programs running at once?

    http://thewalkupblog.com

  • Reply May 22, 2013

    Morita Style

    so helpful!!! thank you very much, it was just the information i needed, thanks again!!

  • Reply July 6, 2013

    Krissy Sugatan

    thank GOD for your clarity! I signed up for skimlinks, got approved, and left the tab open for like 2 days b/c I hadn’t the slightest clue as to how to use it. All I knew was that it was what I was supposed to be using for my fashion blog haha. Anyway, b/c of your post I got over the hurdle and posted my first post with affiliate links (yay!!!) AWESOME to see your blog is doing well as well.

    Cheers!
    Krissy
    http://loveyouduh.com

  • Reply July 27, 2013

    jason lewis

    Excellent post!!Thanks so much
    http://www.braziltech.co

  • Reply August 20, 2013

    Jensetter

    Great informative post! I’m using Shopsense, but will try Skimlinks out on my blog.

    http://www.jensetter.com

  • Reply January 16, 2014

    tesa

    thanks you so much for this great info :)

    Does anybody know how add the nofollow to a shopsense link?

  • Reply January 31, 2014

    Shelley

    Another problem with Shopsense is that Popsugar (who owns it) does not seem to have a tech support team if you are having issues with the widget code in particular. There is a “contact” link on the Shopsense site but if someone does respond they don’t seem knowledgeable about the issue you are having.

    A problem I was having was not resolved although I was told a “bug” had been tweaked. I was tired of the back and forth, and the feeling that the person responding to my emails had no technical expertise.

  • Reply March 5, 2014

    Kiki Owens

    Wow!! ^.^ Thank you so much for sharing the information. It’s really hard for new bloggers out here. It’s nice to know someone still remember when they were new. Your blog is great keep up the good work.

    -Kiki Owens

  • Reply July 14, 2014

    Nieves

    I have not earned anything yet with ShopSense, and
    I know through by buffer that people do click some of my tweets with affiliate links…

    Thanks for your post!!

    I will do click on your shopstyle ;)

  • Reply September 3, 2014

    Dapper Luq

    Alterations needed,

    Thank you so much for the blog post. I am a new blogger and I am sure I saved about a year of research and mistakes by reading your blog. I am glad you were kind enough to share your experience with us.

    Luq

    DapperLuq.com
    IG: Dapperluq

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