Decoding Sponsored Posts, Banner Ads, And Affiliate Links
I have been considering doing this post for quite some time, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. There always seemed to be something else on priority ahead of it. But in light of the recent GDPR laws and in the spirit of being completely transparent, I thought now would be a good time to talk about the different ways I have implemented sponsored posts, banner ads, and affiliate links to try to at least get the blog to pay for itself.
For those of you who have been following the blog from early on, you all know that I did not make any efforts to make money in the beginning. I started this blog with the intent to help other women with loving themselves, finding products that work for them, and just basically living their best life. I have tried to be really open about the ways that I make money through the blog now, and when I first starting putting ad banners on the site I did a post explaining why I was adding them. My basic goal for earning money has been to at least break even. I haven’t met that goal yet, but I at least am getting closer.
I think it is a good thing that the law is starting to catch up to the age of the internet. There have been recent laws put in place for Europe, but governs over anyone who has citizens of Europe visit their website. This is known as the GDPR. Make sure to click that link if you want more information on the laws implemented.
But before the European laws even took effect the FTC imposed more regulations late last year on how sponsored posts must be identified. If you want to read more about the FTC rules follow this link.
Let’s break this down one at a time. I want to talk about each of ways I am earning money, explain a little of what they are, current rules surrounding each of them, and my personal rules of how to incorporate them.
I want to talk about banner advertisements first because I think they are the most straight forward and easiest to understand. I mean who doesn’t know what a what a banner ad is at this point? But lets pretend for a moment you have never heard of them. What are they? According to the website How Stuff Works, “A banner ad is simply a special sort of hypertext link….With a basic text link a bit of HTML code instructs a Web server to bring up a particular Web page when a user clicks on a certain piece of text. Banner ads are essentially the same thing, except that instead of text, the link is displayed as a box containing graphics (usually with textual elements) and sometimes animation.”
Banner ads can fall into two camps. Like a news paper sells ad space, some websites sell premium spaces to companies with banner ads. Cost and payment arrangements are up to the individual website owner and are generally paid up front with no guarantee of clicks. The other type of banner ads are affiliate links. With affiliate links the website owner would have a predetermined arrangement with the company that says they either get paid per click (these are very rare) or a percentage when someone buys someone buys an item after clicking on the link.
Currently, I only have affiliate link banners on my website. I have a couple of rules about what companies I will place banner ads on the site. The company must first fit within the categories I blog about and offer products that I think will benefit all of you, my readers. And the company must offer products that I feel comfortable recommending, products that I do/would buy.
While banner ads are a type of affiliate link, I wanted to talk about the other types of affiliate link, the ones that are more affected by recent laws. They are way more subtle than your average banner ad because they look just like any other hyper text link, but they lead to a tracked affiliate website. And when you make a purchase using one of the links, the website owner receives either a small percentage of the cost or sometimes there is a set fee. These links do not affect your purchase price, the cost is the same no matter what. Sometimes there is an added benefit of getting advance notice of sales and new releases from someone who is an affiliate of a company.
You may have noticed a few months ago the addition of some text to the bottom of all of my posts. It reads as follows, “Please note that some text links on this site may lead to affiliate links. However your prices will not be affected and you are under no obligation to use my link. Thank you to all who help keep this blog up and running.” I will also be adding a similar blurb to the top of all blog posts soon. I did this in a way that it appears on every post simply because it is easier for me. This way I don’t have to try to remember it every time I make a post. Better safe than sorry is the motto here.
I worded this specifically to say some text links because not all of the links on my website are affiliate links. Many post don’t have any affiliate links in them. I have actually heard a few bloggers/influencers/vlogger say they never share a link unless it is an affiliate link, but I just can’t get behind this idea. If my only goal with blogging was to make money, then I suppose that would be how I would do things. But as already stated, my goal when starting this blog was to help other women. Not to knock anyone else for the choices they make personally, I just feel that seems counter productive and a good reason not to trust someone’s recommendations if they only link to things they will make money from.
This is the place where I feel things get the most confusing, mainly because there is more than one type of sponsored post and some companies blur the lines of the definition of a sponsored post. Traditionally a sponsored post would be any sort of post that a blogger/influencer/vlogger got paid for or received free product for in lieu of monetary payment. Click here to read more about sponsored post.
I do occasionally do sponsored blog post as well as social media posts. Because there are some big differences in what gets marked as sponsored on the blog versus social media I want to talk about them individually.
I think that the sponsored posts on the blog is what will fit closest to the traditional definition of a sponsored post. I haven’t done many, and the ones I have done have been mainly reviews. When I am asked to do a sponsored post I only agree if it is a product I have actual interest in trying. I also make it clear to the companies that I work with that I only do honest reviews but I do try to remain objective. Companies know going in I will say if there is something I don’t like, but I also try to be fair and tell if I think the product would work better for someone else. So essentially I treat my sponsored reviews the same way I do any other review I do.
Things tend to be a little different with sponsored posts on Social Media. There are way more nuances that I think can be confusing for the viewers. I usually try to say something in the post that indicates what sort of sponsorship the post is, but not everyone does this.
Just like a blog post, sponsored social media posts can fit the same description of a post that is paid either with money or product. Some of those paid posts can be pre-written by the sponsoring company, while others are done in the influencers/vloggers own words. Paid posts can range from mini reviews to something as casual as just showing the product. And occasionally a paid post could just be a link to someone else’s blog post (this type typically only get paid if people share or react to the post).
In addition to paid posts, there are also posts that get marked as sponsored that maybe the products were just discounted. Again if the influencer/vloggers do not include information on what sort of sponsorship this is you have no way to distinguish this apart from a paid post.
I do share sponsored posts on my various social media. The majority of the ones I post are the type that are just discounted products, but I have on occasion done paid posts. Most of those paid post have been the type where you just share a product or review it. But my philosophies on what jobs I accept pretty much follow the same rules as I do for choosing sponsored blog posts and affiliate links.
I hope have written this in a way that helps give you all some insight into how banner ads, affiliate links, and sponsored posts work as well as I how I incorporate them. I welcome any questions or comments, so put them in the comments. Let me know if you need me to clarify something.
Please note that some text links on this site may lead to affiliate links. However your prices will not be affected and you are under no obligation to use my link. Thank you to all who help keep this blog up and running.