Beauty Q&A: How Does Affiliate Blogging Work?

Dear Megan,

Are you selling makeup and skincare now? I noticed that your blog has makeup products for sale.

– Talia B.

So this isn’t technically a “beauty question,” but it’s an Amalie-specific question, and that’s close enough! I’ve received this question several times in the past 2 weeks, since we started working with ShopStyle, so I thought I would finally address it.

I’m 110% about transparency, so the blog seemed like a perfect way to address all the questions at once. If there’s something you’re still curious about, you can ask in the comments! ?


Question: Is Amalie now Carrying Other Makeup Brands (ABH, Glossier, etc.)?

You might have noticed recently some product placement within the blogs: widgets where you can look at and purchase products, links to buy. We are not actually directly selling or drop-shipping the cosmetics / skincare products that I talk about on the blog – unless it’s Amalie made-products (WINK, SHINE or Farm to Face) – we are simply linking to trusted vendors that sell these products, like Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Glossier, and others using affiliate links.


Question: Do you get Paid to Blog?

Kind of(?) Technically I do get paid through affiliate links, but I turn around and use the money to buy more products that you request for me to review. I buy all of my own products for reviews. I write my own reviews based on my own testing and opinions.

If tomorrow every single one of you went and bought every product I recommended, I might – maybe, just maybe – make back all the money I’ve spent to date on blog-related product purchases ?

As is, the returns are reinvested in the blog to keep delivering you great content, so clicking on affiliate links is a great way to say “thank you for great content, keep it coming!”


Question: How do Affiliate Links Work?

I use a blogging affiliate site called ShopStyle.

I have always linked to the products that I talked about. Now, instead of linking to any given site, I instead link to specific sites that sell the products I talk about. These sites are not necessarily any better or more expensive, they are just big-name, trusted vendors that have agreed to be part of the affiliate program.

The affiliate program is both PPC (pay-per-click) and pays based on conversions. In other words, anytime you click on an affiliate link – and they’re not all affiliate links – we earn a very small amount of money, whether you purchase or not.

Anytime that a blog contains affiliate links, I will include a disclaimer in the blog, letting you know that the blog contains affiliate links. Thank the FCC for this rule (it’s definitely necessary!).


Question: Do You Get Paid to Write Reviews?

No. If that changes, I will let you know on each blog if the review was paid for/sponsored or compensated in any way. This is not only required by the FTC (source), but also just practicing good journalism.

Right now, I purchase all of the products myself and only give reviews based on my opinions. I am not paid to write reviews by product manufacturers. I do not receive free product or press samples. If I do, I will make that clear.


Question: Why is Disclosure Important?

When you follow somebody: a blogger, youtuber, or any other form of expert big or small, you expect them to deliver you their honest opinion. You follow them for their expertise and suggestions. If someone is being sponsored by a company and not being open about the fact that they are sponsored, that’s misrepresentation.

This is why transparency is key (and the law); it’s to protect consumers.


Question: Do All Bloggers Follow FTC Rules?

No, they don’t. A lot of new bloggers and instagrammers are unaware of FTC rules. Any pros know that you need to disclose press samples, paid posts, and affiliate linking. This is just a reminder to take everything your read with a grain of salt! If someone IS disclosing, you have much less to worry about than if they’re not.


Question: Is Paid Blogging Bad?

Not at all.

I don’t think paid blogging or affiliate blogging is bad when used responsibly. However, content creators still need to get paid, and most go 1-3 years without earning anything from their work. They may have even sunk a lot of personal money into the upkeep of their blog, equipment, products, etc.

Affiliate linking is a very organic piece of the process (for example, I link products that I’ve tried and loved; otherwise I say explicitly: I’ve seen this, but haven’t tried it), but it doesn’t always pay the bills.

Paid placements help fund the content that you love.

If there’s full disclosure that the content is sponsored, that’s A-OK in my book. There still should be a good fit between the product and the artist; the artist should truly enjoy the product before promoting it. Makeup artist Samantha Ravndahl does an exceptional job at only saying “yes” to products and companies that she really believes in.


Question: What’s the Point of the Blog?

I blog because it’s fun, informative, and fills a need! Yes, it can be time-consuming (very time-consuming), but I always craved the kind of content that I write about now: fun, honest and smart beauty reviews – not just for skincare, but also makeup and a variety of your real beauty questions. It’s explorative and inquisitive, playful.

Before this blog started, I was already receiving dozens of emails every week from all of you–my Amalie customers–asking what do I think about this product or that product, what’s best for this or that. I love answering your emails. I love getting challenging questions from each of you, and answering them one by one.

Why not bring this Q&A to a larger context and share the knowledge, so that others can find the answer, too?

Additionally, I’m always doing crazy beauty tests and trying out products on my own. This isn’t something that I started doing just for the blog. I’ve always done it (that’s how WINK was born, duh!), so I thought that I might as well share those adventures. Not every one of them results in product creation, but they’re often fun and the knowledge is worth sharing ?


Question: What’s the Future of the Amalie Blog?

I like keeping the Amalie blog small and fun. It’s still pretty intimate.

These past 2-3 months, though, we’ve experienced a huge uptick in subscribers and views, so I know there is a big, big future ahead of us. ?

When things change, I’ll keep you in the loop. If I get free product, write paid posts, or use affiliate links, I will be very clear about that. It’s my duty to remain transparent and honest. In a sea of beauty reviews and secret paid posting, you will never have to worry about trusting my opinion. Whether or not you agree is a different thing altogether ?

From the new products at Amalie to the new opportunities the blog will present, I’m excited for all the new challenges that 2017 will present!


P.S. I’m currently planning a beauty trip to South Korea.. don’t worry, I will keep you in the loop with blogs and vlogs! Yes, vlogs are on their way. If you have anything you want me to try out, please email me or comment below ?

Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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