[I went back and forth on whether to post this because, on one hand, it’s not really necessary; on the other hand, the topic has been on my mind lately, while on the third hand, I didn’t want the whole thing to come out as a critique of affiliate links or the people who use them. This was mostly an exercise in thinking out and articulating my own stance/parameters on the issue. With that in mind, feel free to skip, or read, at your discretion.]

A brief summary for newer readers: BCRL is not a monetized blog. Part of it is attributable to my failings as a blogger. (When you have all of 8 readers, monetizing is a little, um, de trop.) Truthfully, for the longest time, that was the whole of it. Lately, though, it’s become something of a principle thing. Given the ways in which BCRL has evolved over the last 4 years, keeping it un-monetized seems like the right thing to do. I’ll explain.

The bread and butter of blog-derived income comes from two main sources: (1) sponsored posts and sponsorships; and (2) affiliate links. The former involve a company paying the blogger to either write a post about one of its products, or to run the company’s ad on the blog. The latter are embedded links that take you, the reader, to various retailers’ product pages; when you click on one of these links and/or buy the product featured on the linked page (or, potentially, any other product from that retailer), the blogger earns a commission.

Let me pause here to say that, as a blog reader, I don’t take issue with bloggers making money this way. I dislike certain practices that have developed around affiliate links, but I do not see the whole system as an inherently evil thing. Again as a reader, I appreciate the inspiration and/or entertainment I get from the (otherwise free) content put out by bloggers. I don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to hustle. Like I said, I certainly wouldn’t mind a piece of the hustle action if the opportunity presented itself.

As long as it didn’t make me feel like a big ole hypocrite. And that’s the part where I get stuck.

Integrity might sound like a mighty big word to associate with something as frivolous as a style blog, but here’s the thing. My blog means a lot to me, minuscule and unimportant as it is. It reflects a part of who I am, and it’s a part that doesn’t have a lot of other outlets. You, my teeny, tiny awesome audience, mean a lot to me too. And, for better or worse, affiliate links and sponsorships just don’t fit the philosophy behind BCRL.

Ooof, another big, pretentious word. Let me put it this way: BCRL is the style blog of an inveterate bargain shopper. It might not always seem that way; I spend ungodly amounts of money on my wardrobe, and I buy plenty of designer pieces, both of which might seem like the antithesis of a thrifty shopper. But. The vast majority of things I buy are either second-hand, or deeply discounted. I kinda pride myself on that. Getting the best quality for the lowest possible price is my thing. It’s what I’m really good at, fashion-wise. (Yes, possibly the only thing – bada boom, the jokes write themselves.) Sadly, I just can’t square that approach with the whole affiliate linkage business.

Most of the things you see here are from past seasons, and can’t really be monetized. (I could try linking to similar items, but I’m lazy.)

Or they are things I’m ogling online but would never buy at the listed retail price. I can’t and don’t expect you to either.

Or they are things from Old Navy. (And, let’s face it, no one gets rich from those affiliate links. Or maybe they do. I don’t know. Did I mention that I’m lazy?)

I suppose J. Crew could decide one day to start sending me freebies in exchange for glowing reviews. (Or Ferragamo. Or DVF. Or, be still my heart, the Marc Jacobs handbag division.) I mean, it’s possible in the same hypothetical way that pigs might fly one day. And if that day comes, I am selling my integrity and you lot down the river, no questions asked. Because I really, really, reeeeeally like that ish. You have been warned. But in the meantime, rest assured that this blog will remain 100% affiliate link/sponsorship-free. If I say that I like something, that something has been bought by me with my own cold hard cash (full disclosure: or, possibly, my husband’s). If I include a link anywhere in a post, that link is either (a) to a direct product page, or (b) another blog or news article. So, click away, my friends. It’s probably a picture of a cute kitten. Or Kit Harington shirtless.

Tl;dr – BCRL is not currently monetized, and that will probably not change. Blah, blah, Adina’s feelings, cute kittens. And this:

Photo credit: Vanity Fair
Photo credit: Vanity Fair

Yeah, I said “shirtless”. I lied. I’m evil like that.


5 Comments on A Quick Word on Affiliate Links

  1. thanks for writing about this. i’ve been blogging for a few years now, and i feel like there’s this huge expectation to be making money off of it. not that i wouldn’t mind some free clothes or be able to pay all of my bills every month, but i’m a blogger, not a business. i have a brand, which i take very seriously, but i write my own content and i don’t work for anyone. i’ve turned down plenty of giveaways (i’m actually about to do my first) because i didn’t believe in or already use the product. rewardstyle contacted me last fall and i used affiliate links for a few posts, but i didn’t really like it and i guess i’m lazy too because i hated having to go track down the affiliate links to put in my blog, when i could just link to the product listing. my readers and friends would probably be totally cool with supporting my blog financially if all they had to do was click a link and buy something i wrote about that they actually wanted in their own closet, but affiliate links were ultimately taking away from my blogging. i’m a blogger who shops, not a shopping blogger.

    ugh, sorry, longest comment ever. all of this to say, i’m with you.

    xo nicole

  2. I found this post really interesting. I had wondered how some of the other blogs I read managed to make money for their bloggers, and now I know. That being said, I trust that if you did do a sponsored post it would be because you truly loved the product and wanted to share it with everyone. I also appreciate all the text on your posts – some of us actually like to read about the outfits, etc., and not just look at some photos of the blogger posed cutely somewhere it doesn’t snow in May and then scroll through to the links at the bottom of the photos and no words!

  3. It’s actually interesting reading this, because I decided on my hiatus to quit monetizing my blog… I have a tumblr that is monetized (to be transparent), but I decided at the end of the day a personal blog (not a shopping blog – like my tumblr), should be centered around personal choices… And not fueled for the wrong reasons.

    I love transparency, so this post makes me happy