Do you ever learn something and get so interested in it that you forget that you didn't know about it, and thus never think to explain it to others? It's sort of a reverse hipsterism. Anyway, the Amazon Affiliates Program is like that for me.
"What is the Amazon Affiliates Program?" you ask. The Amazon Affiliates Program is a service that Amazon offers whereby members (like myself) can provide links to products on Amazon's website, and act as a portal for people going to Amazon. If someone using that link or portal then makes a purchase from Amazon, then the Affiliate member (like myself) earns a small commission off of the sale. You ever notice really fancy, official-looking links to Amazon products embedded in blogs? That's the Amazon Affiliate program, and it's an extremely easy way for people to monetize their blogs. Also, the buyer doesn't pay any more for the product than they would otherwise.
So what's the downside? The downside is, as I mentioned above, if you're not aware of what the program is. If you see me blogging about how much I love my coffee maker and then see a nice link to it on Amazon, you might just think that I've provided you that link so you can get the specific information about it. And it's true that I did, but I'd be lying if I said that the tiny chance of earning a very small commission didn't have an impact on me discussing the coffee maker that I love so much.
Now, the real problem comes in when you don't know about this Affiliates program, and you find out after the fact. You realize that you've just been reading my posts about cooking or some other topic, checking out the products, and suddenly you feel like you've been taken for a ride. You start to wonder if I really like the product, because obviously I have a very specific reason for talking up a product like this on the blog--I make a little bit of money off of your purchase, just like a salesman in the store. Of course, it's all made worse by the fact that I didn't tell you about the program.
So let it be known: I'm telling you about the program, and I'd really appreciate it if you used it. But before you do, let me share with you my three rules for using the program:
First, I will only use an Affiliate link to a product that I actually own (most of these things I get from Amazon, though I may have purchased it elsewhere). I won't ever put up a link for something that "looks good" without making it extremely clear that I haven't purchased or used that item.
Second, unless you see otherwise, you should feel comfortable knowing that an Affiliate link from me is an endorsement of that product. I'm not interested in sharing links to things that I don't think are worth owning. If I think a product is flawed in a minor or serious way, I'll make that very clear in the post that I have reservations about the item. However, I don't think that's going to happen too often, since I'd rather focus on positive experiences I've had.
Third, you'll know it's an Affiliate link because it will look like this:
I won't ever use a regular link like this.
Sorry if this goes on a little long, but I'll confess: a big reason why I walked away from the blog for as long as I did was that I had a couple incidents occur where people suddenly had questions or issues about the use of the Amazon Affiliate program, and I took those concerns seriously. I don't want anyone to think that I'm being dishonest here--I stand by what I write about cooking and gaming and any number of other topics, and I don't think there's anything wrong in making a small amount of money off of that advice. Of course, if you disagree, that's what the comments section is for.