Wednesday, 12 October 2016

A word on Affiliate Links


I posted a picture on Instagram this week with reference to an article that ran on Into The Gloss. In the comments underneath an eagle-eyed reader noticed that all of the links in the piece were affiliated to US retailers, some of them charging a premium for products that are available much cheaper elsewhere. 
As I'm asked quite frequently what I mean at the bottom of posts when I state 'this post contains affiliate links' or 'no affiliate links', I thought a quick post would be helpful to clear things up and also to highlight the difference - some would say unfair difference - between blogs and 'websites'.

The blogger world is held to this:
'As an affiliate marketing to UK consumers you are a “trader” for the purposes of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Under the Regulations, it is an offence to:
1. Falsely claim or create the impression that you are not acting for purposes relating to your trade, business, craft or profession, or to falsely representing yourself as a consumer.
2. Put text on your website to promote a product where you receive a commission for promoting that product without making that clear. ‘Clear’ means clearly, obvious and easily understood, and identifiable by the visitor.'*

An affiliate link - put simply - is a link that basically tells the retailer that I sent you to them - it means that if you purchase a product based on my recommendation, I get a small % as commission on the sale. It's usually anything from 4-12%, but some higher-end fashion brands and retailers will pay much more.
I only started using them last year, probably missing out on a lot of commission over the previous 5 years, but I try not to think about it. ;)

For me, especially now that Mode media have gone under (owing a lot of us money), using affiliate links is the only way the blog generates direct income. As you know, I don't do sponsored product posts, and if I want to spend the amount of time on this site that I do, it needs to pay for itself.  The blog moved way past the 'hobby' stage a couple of years ago.

The reason I'm talking about them is because the guideline that applies to bloggers doesn't seem to apply to beauty 'websites'. Or online newspapers/magazines. Basically any other online entity can use them, and not worry about telling you what you're clicking on, short of 'this site uses cookies, click here to accept'.

In some cases, this means some unethical people/sites will link to the highest price they can find, raising their income if you proceed to purchase.
In the case of the post highlighted by a reader, the site was linking to Amazon to buy Pixi's Glow Tonic - for over $50.00! - they sent their readers here: Amazon/Pixi Glow Tonic (I have un-affiliated the link - you can click happily). The problem? Glow Tonic is available in the USA from Target and online from PixiBeauty.com for $15.00. FIFTEEN DOLLARS. How is that ethical?
*As an aside, I know for a fact that Pixi do not sell to Amazon, therefore this is also an unauthorised reseller, but that's for another post. Don't get me started on the grey market.

So where does that leave you the reader? Well I can only speak for myself and this site - so here are a few of my guidelines for how I set up links:
  • I link to the easiest retailers for the UK and the USA. 
  • I try and use retailers that ship worldwide, otherwise the Australians get really angry. ;)
  • If there is an offer on, I will link to that offer, even if it is not affiliated.
  • I never use affiliate links when I am talking about brands that I have a working relationship with. That keeps the boundaries really clear for me, and prevents any (untrue) talk of bias. So if one of my brands releases a brilliant product and I rave about it, I don't benefit financially from the blog post.
  • I do not affiliate link my Cult Beauty boxes, or any posts where I talk abut what's in them. 
  • I am extremely careful when recommending high-end products, and although I know I have a reputation for using 'pricey' products, when I do recommend them, it's because I genuinely think they work. I have never (and don't think I would ever) recommended a £500+ product - 1. because they don't bloody work better than the £150 product and 2. because that's an insane amount of money. 
If I were to link to something that costly, it would have to come with a side order of a TV and a really nice handbag. I might talk about them, but rarely do I suggest the average-income household actually part with that much of their hard earned money.

You will have seen affiliate links all around you online. The Sidebar of Shame on the Daily Mail online is full of them. In the middle of an article about Victoria Beckham there will be a small sub-section entitled 'Shop the Look!' - that's all affiliates. Click on it, buy the scarf/outfit/dress and the DM get paid.

Similarly, Vogue.com, Glamour online, Cosmo, all of the beauty mags use affiliates. Refinery29, Into the Gloss, Get the Gloss, The Pool, Buzzfeed, Reddit, all use affiliates. And there's nothing wrong with that. They just don't have to tell you that they do so. We do. Don't get me wrong, a lot of bloggers still don't disclose affiliates or sponsored posts, but that's for them and their conscience.

I am constantly trying to update the blog and keep it relevant and up-to-date, so if you have any questions related to any of my previous recommendations, just ask. And mind where you click out there. ;)





*Source
https://www.affiliatedisclosure.com/affiliate/faq.php





79 comments:

  1. Love that you're so clear about stuff like this, Lady H. Thank you for playing straight, even if others don't... x

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  2. Wow this is really interesting as having read ITG for years, I would automatically think of it as a blog rather than a website. I know they've expanded, including into product, so it's really disappointing to think they're misleading the same customers they are also marketing to.

    I'm still a product junkie but my consumption of beauty blogs/websites/whatever has dropped drastically in the last few years, mainly because it feels like honesty and integrity are really lacking, but also because they all started to seem the bloody same! That's why yours is one of the few I've stuck with, Caroline so I'm really excited to see you at Stylist Live on Sunday :)

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    Replies
    1. I did! And I have been doing the 'therapist's wipe' literally every day since :)

      Delete
  3. :-) thank you for that post gorgeous lady.

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  4. Thanks for this, Caroline. Love how upfront and honest you are, it's just rubbish that you're held to such a different standard as a blogger. Really unfair.

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    Replies
    1. The world will surely catch up at some point?! x

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  5. Most stories on the Daily Mail's Sidebar of Shame" (love that!) are sponsored yet it only declares ONE post as sponsored. So shady!

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Thanks so much for this in-depth and very enlightening post. Personally, if I am following your 'free-to-me' recommendation and buying at no extra cost, then I am only delighted if you can also benefit from all of the time, effort and research and common sense (which is in very short supply on the internet) that you have put in over the years. Not to mention the sheer entertainment of the side/main comments. This is my 1st ever comment, so I just want to finish with keep on going and 'Give 'em Dixie'

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  8. Read the point about Australians and call could do was laugh - yes we do

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  9. Caroline, I think you do a wonderful job promoting products across all price ranges. At the end of the day, scientists/biomedical researchers have had to pay huge $$ in study fees to get where they are so they command more money than the average person. Quality ingredients also cost more, so if you want cutting edge, high quality and effective products you generally have to pay more. And when you've tried the best, it's hard to recommend average. I think we all need to be mindful of our personal finances/situation and if you can't afford something ultra pricey it's not the end of the world. There are other suitable options for everyone's budgets.

    Thanks for clarifying how affiliate links work. Sounds similar to ebates. I love how honest you are - No bs on this site! And yes we Australians do crack it when stuff isn't available here! Hahaha

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  10. Posts like this are why I just trust you so much. Thanks Caroline!

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  11. I wonder who determines what is a blog and what is a (ahem) website, because I really thought ITG was a blog. What do I know. I appreciate your absolute honesty. Love your "no BS", straight to the point style. I try to use the affiliate links whenever possible, because I'd like to see this blog continue.

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    Replies
    1. I think they're definitely a 'website'! ;) x

      Delete
  12. Hi Caroline,
    Eagle eyed reader here (My day = made). I commented on ITG to let them know when I first spotted it as I thought it's also unfair for them misrepresent PIXI as "too luxe and impractical for every day." considering they're a fair priced brand and not aimed at the high-end/luxe market. I was just wondering do brands ever try and intervene when a seller misrepresents them or deliberately sells above RRP? Sincerely big fan of the NO BS.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aisling do me a favour. Have a word with Anonymous below will you? I'm getting a migraine. And thank you for the original heads up. X

      Delete
  13. Thanks so much Caroline, this helps me understand the term 'affiliate links' so much more. Can I ask if the person/site gets paid for just clicking the link (and therefore increasing site traffic), or is it just for purchases made?
    I, like many others, believe given the massive amount of time you dedicate to the blog/us is deserving of commission. So I thank you for that - as an Australian ☺️
    (I've long come to accept that us aussies aren't lucky enough to be included in many deals/giveaways/products, it sucks but them the breaks! And I'm certainly not going to yell at YOU over it!)
    Love love

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. God no just if you purchase. I wish! LOL
      Some sites keep a memory trail so if you don't purchase on the first click but go back to it later and do purchase, we still get paid. But we don't get paid for clicks.

      Delete
  14. UK, USA and Australia, I see you already did the Brexit. Thank you for this wonderful blog. Love from Spain. Beatriz.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL NOT ON MY WATCH! I wanted to stay in! x

      Delete
  15. Totally unrelated to your post but do you have any recommendations for a 39yr old going through IVF who already has extremely dry skin.

    I’m currently using the cleansers from your beauty box which have been amazing but am confused over what moisturiser to use as nothing seems strong enough and I don’t want to choose anything that could disrupt my treatment (like Retinols).

    Any advice would be amazing.
    Love,
    Hormonal, Flakey and Crispy xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi HFC,

      try Murad's Hydro-Dynamic cream - it was the giveaway on here recently. It's good. No fragrance, good solid moisturiser x

      Delete
  16. You say in the article above: "I have un-affiliated the link - you can click happily". I have a question about your statement. Were you aware the Pixi Glow Tonic was being sold at $50 on the Amamzon link you had affiliated with when you did so? If you were, aren't you as duplicitous as the blogs/websites you are trying to distance yourself from in this article? If you were NOT aware of the unauthorised $50 price tag then aren't you just incompetent because you failed to check the link before affiliating yourself and your article/brand with it?

    You also state in this article that: "I never use affiliate links when I am talking about brands that I have a working relationship with". I recall in an article not too long ago you stated that you had started working with Pixi Beauty. If that is the case then why, contrary to your statement that you do not use affiliate links when talking about brands that you have a working relationship with, did you use this affiliate link to the $50 Pixi Glow Tonic on Amamzon that you had to un-affiliate with once this "eagle eyed reader" bought this to the attention of readers of ITG (and possibly others)?

    I'm calling BS and look forward to reading your explanaition of the points that I have raised.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You haven't read the post correctly - or I didn't write it clearly enough... Into The Gloss posted the article and the Amazon affiliate link.
      It had nothing whatsoever to do with me. I instagrammed a picture of the post because they were talking about my routine of a Emma Hardie and Pixi Glow Tonic used by Jourdan Dunn. A reader then clicked through to the original ITG post and advised me that they were affiliating to Amazon for something costing over $50 when it's for sale at $15.00 normally. All of this is still up on Instagram for you to see for yourself. When I say I 'unaffiliated the link' - I unaffiliated Into The Gloss's link. It was never mine, nor was the original article.

      Delete
    2. Someone's entirely missed the point. Face. Palm.

      Delete
    3. Exhausting. To go to all that effort and not have the facts correct in the first place.

      Delete
    4. Your explanation is quite comprehensive and logical. If Anon is intently determined to be antagonistic there is nothing you will be able to do to convince otherwise. walk away...aint nobody got time for that. Our reaction to a situation literally has the power to change the situation itself.

      Delete
  17. As ever, Caroline, YOU ARE THE BEST! Really appreciate you taking the time to speak honestly about how you operate and give insight into what other sites are allowed to do. I can completely understand the confusion of people with ITG. As so many others have said it reads like a blog, but is a website. And not to be cynical, but clearly this was a business decision. The internet is great in so many ways, however we're all learning how to navigate this new reality in some way, as businesses and consumers.

    I'm sorry you've missed out on commissions for the past 5 years, however delighted you are onto it now because your blog is a place I visit regularly for great information. Will happily support you through affiliate links, whenever I can. Thank goodness this hobby grew into something you enjoy creating as much as so many enjoy reading!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you JBC. I really appreciate that. x

      Delete
  18. Thank you for your explanation of the affiliate links, must admit I've never paid them too much attention. But it is nice to know about and I like how "upfront" you are about this stuff. I enjoy your blog/instagram, some things are out of my price range but I like reading about them anyway and dreaming of what I will one day do with that big lottery win that is just around the corner :) Your Nip&Fab recommendation has improved my skin greatly and for that alone I am grateful.

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  19. Thank you so much for explaining this. As other comments have noted, your openness is always hugely appreciated and one of the reasons why we trust you! Keep on trucking.

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  20. I got the point that ITG posted the article and the Amazon link. The issue I had with your article was that you stated: "I have un-affiliated the link - you can click happily". You state in your reply (not YOUR original article) that: "When I say I 'unaffiliated the link' - I unaffiliated Into The Gloss's link". My original comment and observations stand. Were you aware when you had affiliated the ITG link that the Pixi Glow Tonic link offered by ITG was for an Amazon listing of the unauthorised $50? If not, why not? Why would you not do your due diligence so as to ensure that you are not putting yourself in the position to be questioned about your integrity? If you want to come to your readers with clean hands then do it - come with hands that are clean.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. OMG really - I can't.
      Read my post again. Do your own bloody due diligence. I NEVER LINKED TO NOR AFFILIATED ANYTHING RELATING TO THIS POST ON INTO THE GLOSS. I mentioned on my Instagram - which incidentally you cannot link out from - that Into The Gloss had talked about cleansing routines in relation to Jourdan Dunn. Jourdan follows my routines. It was a proud moment.
      A reader - on Instagram - mentioned that THEY had read the original article and noticed that ITG affiliated out to amazon instead of Target/Pixi.

      NOTHING TO DO WITH ME. MY HANDS ARE LOVELY AND CLEAN. UNTWIST YOUR KNICKERS.

      My God.

      Delete
    2. I literally can't understand why Anon is having such a hard time with this, you would think this topic to her/him was university level differential equations in physics.

      1. Into the Gloss mentioned Pixi product, linked a 350% markup product to get more $$ if someone bought what they shilled. This was based on a Caroline Hirons rec that DID NOT have such an affiliate link to amazon, ITG added it because they are shady and want $$$.

      2. A reader saw this on Instagram and noticed the exorbitant link to route everyone to a product you can buy for 15.00 easily, for 50.00 instead, so that they can get 4-10% of 50.00, not 15.00. Plus, to further call into question their integrity at into the gloss, they linked to a second party dealer, who not only marks up the price by 350%, they could also be selling fake/expired/etc product.

      3. Caroline took the opportunity here to explain her practice when it comes to affiliate links, given that www.intothegloss.com did something extremely vile, and pulled her into it second-hand, by using her reputation and recommendation, to forward you to purchase, based on her recommendation, a product that is overpriced and potentially fake/expired.

      4. Anon proceeded to read this and misinterpret the entire damn thing. She included the UNAFFILIATED LINK (literally like if I read off to you www dot amazon dot com forward slash yadda yadda yadda, in one on one conversation) so you could see that into the gloss was in fact being shady ASF and linking you to a ridiculously expensive product from an unauthorized second party seller, that you can find for 15.00.

      What on earth is so hard to understand about that, Anon. You obviously have a axe to grind, I just don't know why you picked the literal dumbest subject to try to "call her out" on. Really, just stop. STOP.

      Delete
    3. Thank you! Wow. Some people.

      Delete
  21. Dear Caroline, HELP !
    the YT vloggers keep on showing tutorials / routines showing how they swipe their faces with micelar waters and then they straight proceed with layering skincare products... OMG ! without rinsing ! this is SO contra what you have been teaching us !
    and knowing the influence they have on young girls, this manner of use will spread and spread....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I try. Ultimately they can afford to be cavalier with their skincare because they're so young! It will catch up with them though :) x

      Delete
  22. Thanks for this, Caroline. I think getting paid on affiliate links is fair, especially as you link to sites selling/shipping at a far price. I read The Pool and other sites, and get that they do it. I'd much rather have that, continue to get great articles and honest advice, all without having to pay for it, or see banners cluttering up my feed! You can tell some publications/writers don't genuinely love the product, so I vote with my clicks/credit card, trusting those who are genuine and give sound reviews.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good - I'm glad you're happy to support blogs. :) x

      Delete
  23. Caroline, you are amazing. You take the time to explain affiliates and give us free of charge the benefit of you immense experience... and still people don't get it. You get a big thank you from me for everything you do for your online community.

    ReplyDelete
  24. On behalf of all Australians, I am really sorry that we get so grumpy at you when certain sites either won't ship to AUS or charge astronomical prices to do so.

    We realise it's not your fault, we just all suffer from displaced anger...and heat-stroke.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL it's ok. I love me some Aussies :) No the snakes though. Or the spiders. But the people yes :) x

      Delete
  25. This is why I love reading your blog, honesty. No nonsence. No BS.
    You rock, Lady H.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I always thought the difference was that Into the Gloss and other sites are only subject to US laws-- as far as I can tell, the UK has much more stringent laws about disclosing sponsorship/affiliate links than the US (there are lots of examples of YouTube videos by American vloggers that are sponsored, without clear disclosure). I haven't looked into it, but I think that might be at play here as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's all very grey, but I would rather be open x

      Delete
  27. Brilliant post! Thank you so much.
    BTW: I am more than happy to support you because I trust you when it comes to skincare. :D

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  28. As a blogger, one that as of yet has never used an affiliate link or done a sponsored post, I'm still really shocked that people aren't so honest and clear with their readers, it would weigh heavy on my conscience if I weren't to disclose if I were being paid [thought we had to use #AD or similar now anyway]similarly I wouldn't use Aff links or do a sponsored post on something I wouldn't recommend to my best friend anyway but that's another topic entirely.

    Thanks for introducing me to Pixi [bought at M&S] and decent skincare in general, my face appreciates it.

    Jamie-Leigh x
    http://missjamieleigh.com

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  29. Hahaha we Australians are angry people :)

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  30. Thank you for being so honest

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  31. Thanks Caroline, this is really interesting. As someone who has a fledgling blog that one day I will hopefully have the time to develop, is there any other advice you have? It seems like a bit of a minefield. Are there any useful resources out there for what you can and can't do/say sa a 'blog' rather than a 'website'?
    Thanks x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not really, always use caution and be open and honest. And write about your passion. Anything else is boring and forced IMO. Good luck! x

      Delete
  32. Where the best/most appropriate place to ask questions related to your previous recommendations? I have acid toning questions!
    ps - When I purchase products based on your recommendation, I WISH you were getting proceeds! You have saved me money, time, and skin problems by doing the research, trial-and-error, and ingredient analyzing for me. Endless Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading Yvonne. I try and answer as many Qs as I can but it's not always easy x

      Delete
  33. Thank you for the explanation! It's much appreciated :)

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  34. Still trying to get my head around affiliate links and how to use them. Any recommendations for useful articles guys?

    www.upyourvlog.com

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  35. Question about unauthorised resellers - I buy Pixi from Asos, because it's easy place for me (outside UK, inside EU). It is a "safe" place?

    ReplyDelete
  36. I don't understand how people do not trust your reccommendations. They must not be real fans of yours, I can tell you that much. I have been reading your blog since 5 minutes after your first video on Pixiwoo. I am happy to use your affiliate links and I'm sorry you cant use them more because people are so ANNOYING!!!

    ReplyDelete
  37. hi- as a stateside user of the Pixi Glow Tonic, it should be noted that the size listed as $15.00 though Target is almost half the seize of that in the U.K. I find it cheaper to buy mine through Cult Beauty in the the U.K. than to buy 2 of the $15.00 ones here. I don't have a lot of money to spend on products, but consider this one worth the small investment. You have to shop around.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Hi Caroline, just out of curiosity: do you only get payment from an affiliate link if the customer buys the specific product? Or if they buy something else from the site in the same session which originated with a click from your site, is there any payment for that? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can do a 'deep link' which means if someone buys something from the brand page as opposed to the single product, you get a % on the order. Every retailer is different. I'm not fully up to speed with them all to be completely honest. I google it, take the first stockist in the UK and US and hope for the best ;)

      Cx

      Delete

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