Be Transparent, Your Readers Can See Through You Anyway

by Lori Taylor · 1 comment

Let’s Pretend

Scenario 1

A child knocks on your door asking if you’d like to buy a chocolate bar. You’d really like a chocolate bar so you ask the girl what she’s raising money for. She shrugs her shoulders and proceeds to tell you they’re $2 each.

How bad does it make you want the chocolate bar when you figure all this kid is doing is buying some chocolate and marking it up to fund her collection of funky plastic bracelets?

In most cases, you’re going to tell her you don’t need any candy bars. (Unless you’re reaaaally craving chocolate or somehow related to her.)

Scenario 2

Now what if the same child came to the door and told you she had these great fair-trade chocolate bars she was selling to fund her trip to summer camp because her family couldn’t afford to send her? In that case you would probably buy a bar.


Because she was honest and you could see where your money would be going.

The Bottom Line

If you’re using affiliate marketing to make a bit of residual income from your blog – promoting products you believe in to your readers – are you being  transparent with your audience?

If you’re totally transparent and tell people why you’d like them to click those affiliate links, they’ll appreciate that.

  • Are you doing affiliate marketing so you can keep your blog ad-free? Then say so.
  • Are you doing it so you can pay your writers to continue to give good content? Tell your readers that.

It’s easier for them to click on the link in your blog than it is for them to go to Amazon, anyway. In most cases, people don’t care who’s getting the money, they just want to get one of their needs met. And if they can help out a blog they like, without any cost to them, all the better.

A colleague and I wrote a lead magnet a little while back that included some fantastic resource books we highly recommend. Inside the document we wrote a disclaimer that basically says, “Okay. These are affiliate links. If you click these links and buy the books we’re going to get a little commission that helps out with our hosting costs and to pay the writers. If you find the book somewhere else, we won’t get a cent.”

The Ah-Ha Moment

We put the links side by side so they could choose.  Almost NO ONE chose the non-affiliate link.

Readers like the fact we’re telling them why buying through our affiliate links would be helping us out. And so far, nobody has sent us any negative feedback about our rather bold approach.

Most readers know you’re sending them to affiliate links, anyway, so you might as well be transparent.

When you see an affiliate link embedded somewhere do you buy through it or do you go get the product somewhere else? Are you more likely to click through if the blog is transparent about its affiliate sales?

Lori Taylor


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Marcia January 5, 2011 at 7:40 am

that’s a great analogy with the chocolate bars.
when i see blog posts loaded with affiliate links, i don’t want to read the blog anymore. there has to be a balance between quality of the posts and the amount of advertising of any sort.


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