Hey friends, and welcome back to another installment of Sewing Blogger 101. I’m really excited about today’s topic, since I think it’s important and tricky! We’re talking a little about paid/sponsored content, but a lot about affiliate links for sewists. I’ll fill you in on how I feel about monetizing your blog, what affiliate programs I like, and most importantly: how to legally use these links!
Please note that I am in the United States and I believe that these guidelines reflect the regulations laid out by the FTC. I am not a lawyer, a tax professional, or an accountant. None of the advice in this post is legal or financial advice. I cannot offer thoughts on staying on the right side of the law in other countries. I recommend bloggers with an international audience look into international regulations regarding affiliate marketing. Additionally, affiliate marketing regulations change often. Do a Google search to see if anything has changed since I’ve written this post.
Affiliate Links for Sewists
Some Housekeeping, First
Let’s be real with each other: talking about making money off your blog sometimes feels taboo. But it really shouldn’t at all. I have a few reasons for this. One, you’re putting time and labor into producing content that will be useful to other people. Your time and insight is valuable! Two, getting paid reinforces to you and to companies that our niche is valuable, too. Sewing is something traditionally seen as women’s labor, and less worthy of respect and financial investment. Fight the stereotype! Demonstrate to companies that sewists are an important group to market to by asking for fair compensation. Fair compensation doesn’t necessarily mean $$$, either. There’s a lot of small businesses in the sewing game — feel free to tailor your compensation request to what you think is fair.
Sponsored content and affiliate links don’t always perform as well as your regular content. I love Miranda of LiveFreeMiranda’s thoughts on sponsored content — that link goes to her Instagram, and if you’re on mobile it’s a saved story. She encourages us to think of every post with an #ad or a #sponsored (and I’d include affiliate links in the mix) as a sold piece of art at a gallery. If you’re at a friend’s art gallery and their stuff is selling, you’re proud of them! Likewise, we should be proud of every time one of our sewing friends sells their content.
Okay: Affiliate Links for Sewists
This post focuses on affiliate links. Affiliate links are links that have source tracking codes. Members of their affiliate group have a unique code that is in each of their links. If a reader follows an affiliate link to the product and purchases that product, a small percentage of that purchase price goes to the linking member. The cost comes out of the company’s profits, so the purchaser never pays a higher amount following an affiliate link than finding the product on their own!
I’m a member of three affiliate marketing programs: Fabric.com, Amazon, and Etsy. I like these three programs as affiliate marketing for sewists because they allow me to recommend a variety of sewing products (fabric, scissors, needles, etc.) and a variety of small businesses. Many companies with affiliate marketing programs use a few large companies to coordinate their programs. All three of the programs I’m a part of use different ones. They’re basically all the same idea, just different layouts, etc. The benefit to many companies centering their programs in a few coordinators is that it’s easy to apply to multiple programs that fit your blog, and it’s easier to create links!
The application process for each has similarities. I recommend having your average monthly page views and unique visitors handy, as well as a 500 word description of your blog. Everyone wants that information, so just copy and paste! Finding the location to apply for each of the three programs I’m a part of is easy. Some posts I’ve seen on affiliate marketing note that people have asked them to remove the direct link to the application, so I’m not including them here.
So then what?
An important part of affiliate marketing for sewists is, you know, the affiliate links. Affiliate links are deep links, and contain that tracking code to get you the money. Each program builds them in a different way. Some want you to embed specially-built URLS. Others allow you to use the regular link and you embed some code at the end of your post. If you’ve got questions about your specific program, reach out to their customer support to make sure you’re doing it right!
Keepin’ it Legal
I’ll be frank and tell you this section is the #1 reason I wanted to write this post. It’s incredibly important to make sure that you’re using affiliate links in a way that complies with your country’s regulations. I see a lot of people not getting it right, and you should! Again, I am not a lawyer, so none of this is legal advice. Consult a law professional with questions.
The disclosure is so important, y’all. It really probably must come before any links. It may not be in an image. It may not be in a smaller font. You must disclose what you received, and for what it was exchanged. If you don’t follow the FTC’s guidelines, you could face some pretty stiff fines.
You also want to be really careful with your affiliate links themselves. All affiliate links should be “nofollow” links. Basically, this means that Google isn’t going to track the clicks that website gets from yours since they’re artificially created by your paid content. I have a plugin that allows me to easily edit affiliate links to be no follow. You can find plugins for your own host, or edit the link code in your text editor.
Affiliate links for sewists can be an excellent way to draw income from your blog! Just remember to make sure you’re following all the regulations laid out for you. Here’s a few of my favorite affiliate marketing resources from my Pinterest board (again, not a lawyer, not endorsing legal advice within them):
- The best affiliate marketing disclosure article!
- The Electronic Code of Federal Regulations from the US’s FTC.
- More disclosures (this one is more general).
- Excellent action items when thinking about affiliate marketing
- General tidbits to keep in mind about blogging legally
Are affiliate links for sewists any clearer to you now? If you’ve been using affiliate links, have you learned anything? I’d love to know (and hear your own affiliate marketing insights) in the comments!