Saturday, 19 April 2014

What is Affiliate Marketing and how can I use it?

Affiliate Marketing is almost a taboo subject in the World of blogging but it doesn't need to be, I think a lot of people are a little bit scared of it or just plain don't know what it is. It has a feeling of being sneaky or untrustworthy but really, it's just a way of monetising your blog and, used correctly, can help you on your way to blogging full time.

I work in affiliate marketing as my day job, before I started I was wary of affiliated links and thought it would be a lot of extra effort and didn't quite trust it. But after working in it, working with bloggers and working with brands, it's actually really straight forward and worth doing. I wanted to share a little bit of information with you about what it is, how to start using it and best practice as I've spoken to a few bloggers who wanted to learn more. It's not what I would usually post about but there's very little easy to understand information out there for bloggers so I thought I'd try to help out.

I thought, what better time to share than Easter weekend when everyone has a little more time to get started! It's definitely not for everyone but for those who are curious, here it is laid bare...

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the term given to working with brands and stores using tracked links that earn you commission on every sale driven to that store from your blog or website. It's basically just adding a little bit of tracking to links you would normally use on your blog. For example, if you're putting together a wishlist post, you'd add tracking links instead of standard links. Easy peasy!

What technical language will I need to know?

Commission rate - This is the percentage of the sale that you will receive in return for delivery a sale
CPA - This stands for cost per acquisition, it basically means the same as commission!  
Deep link - This is the term for a tracked link, it's just a standard link with a little tracking added
ID - The 6 digit number that is given to you when you sign up, it can be found on your profile underneath your profile picture
EPC - This stands for earnings per click, it's just how much commission you earn per click driven to the website
Conversion rate - The percentage of people who buy compared to the traffic you are sending to the site
Feed - You can download a feed of products directly from a brand, this one is a bit more technical though and more useful if you're building a shop or comparison site
Publisher - This is what you would be, this term just means someone who publishes links
Merchant - This is the term used to refer to the brand or store

How can I get involved?

I work with Affiliate Window in my day job, but there are plenty of other networks you might be interested in like Linkshare. But I'd recommend Affiliate Window for beginners as there's a lot more help and support available, plus the interface is easy to use. I'm going to be explaining how to use Affiliate Window in this post, just so it doesn't get too confusing!

All you have to do is sign up as a publisher, select which brands you'd like to work with, add your tracked links and you're done. Affiliate Window have a £5 sign up charge but this is refunded once you're signed up. If you're not a registered company, you don't need to tick the VAT box.

You'll need to update your profile with a little information about your blog, add in stats, topics and any other information that will encourage brands to work with you. Don't forget to add links to your blog too. You'll also need to add your bank details so you can earn money through the links, but if you're wary of doing this, you can always test out the links and add your details when you've built up enough commission. There's nothing to worry about though, everything is secure. There are thresholds you have to meet for your commission to be sent through but you can change these, anything from £20 upwards.

Take a look at Affiliate Window here and Linkshare here, if you have any questions about either, just drop me an email on or drop me a tweet, I'm always happy to help.

What does a tracked link look like? 

This is an example of a tracked link:

The number highlighted in red refers to the site ID, each brand or site has a unique number so this will change depending on who you are linking to.

The number highlighted in blue is your ID number (see above for description) this will always remain the same.

The link highlighted in yellow is where you are linking to on site, I've used a link to the homepage of (who I work with in my day job!) as an example but if you wanted to link to a specific page or product, you'd just change the link to that, see an example below.

If you want to shorten these links, you can! There is a link shortening tool within Affiliate Window within their link builder in the 'Links & Tools' section, but you can also use something like if that's what you usually use, the tracking will remain there.

Where can I use the tracked links?

You can use them anywhere, either to replace standard links on your blog, shortened on social media or behind banners on your site.

You can also grab ready made and ready tracked banners from Affiliate Window within their 'Links & Tools' section, you can choose from a range of sizes and designs. See screen shot below!

Are there any other easy options?

There are indeed, for people who don't fancy adding tracking to every link, you can use Skimlinks or Viglink. Both of these are super easy to use, you just have to apply and add a little bit of tracking to your homepage, then after that, every link on your blog will be automatically tracked. They're probably the easiest ways to get involved!

Take a look at Skimlinks here and Viglink here. They are great and really easy to use but you can generally get better commission working directly with the brand.

How do I get paid?

You submit your bank details when you sign up and set up a threshold for direct debit payments, these are paid once a month if you reach your set threshold (any amount you like over £20) straight into your account. Everything is secure and safe so don't worry, you don't even have to add your bank details to get started so you can try it before if you fancy.

Some people earn thousands of pounds a year through affiliate marketing so it's always worth trying if you're interested in blogging professionally but don't feel like you need to do it, it's a personal preference for everyone.

If you're finding it difficult to earn money through your blog, talk to the account manager at the network or directly to the brand, they will be able to help you with exclusive offers, tailored pages on site, bespoke banners, competitions, samples etc... Or at least we do anyway!

Affiliate Disclosure

Always make sure that you declare somewhere on your blog that you are using affiliated links, either on your homepage or on each post. This is just to make sure that people know what they're clicking on as you could be earning money from the link.

If you have any more questions or would like to hear more, just let me know! Leave a comment, send me an email on or drop me a tweet!

Also, if you fancy signing up to Affiliate Window, let me know and I can send you a code that will waive the £5 admin fee when you sign up.


  1. Question - How can I actually make it work for me? I earn a little through it but not constant, any tips for that side?

    Buckets & Spades

  2. Sounds good, I am going to make an account! x

  3. This is a great post! I sometimes feel a little bit judged just for thinking that I would like to monetize my blog in the blogging community. Really helpful, thanks :) xx

  4. Totally bookmarking this - so useful Clare!

  5. Oh, thank you Tweet for this - I have been considering affiliate marketing for a while but felt a lil unsure about it. Now you've reassured me!

    I am definitely signing up to Affiliate Window soon. Let me know the code, thank you!

    Katrina Sophia Blog


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