I was scrolling through my Google Reader today when I came across this post by Jamie @ The Book Junkie’s Bookshelf. It concerns the topic of affiliates in the blogosphere. As a lot of you have probably noticed, many bloggers are opening up the opportunity for affiliateship, and it’s definitely become a trend of sorts in the blogosphere. Basically, Jamie was questioning the purpose of affiliates and why they were becoming so prevalent in the community. I read the post, and Jamie had quite a few points that made me think. So much, that I didn’t think I could put my response in a comment, hence the reason behind this post.
First off, whether you think I’m right or wrong, I feel like I had a hand in starting the “affiliate trend.” Second, I know that there are people out there who might be offended or annoyed by the process. I can completely understand. After all, the process does often involve the accepting and rejecting of possible affiliates, which can create hard feelings. Since I feel responsible in some ways for this issue, I thought I should inform my readers and bloggy friends of why I decided to start accepting affiliates. Let me make one thing clear though. This isn’t a defense, it’s an explanation. I don’t want people to think that Jamie attacked me or the other bloggers who have affiliates (or vice versa), because that’s definitely not the case. I’m a follower of her blog, and she’s a follower of mine, so there’s no animosity between us. She just brought up some valid points and questions that I feel I’m able to answer.
Since I started blogging at the end of last July, I’ve been approached separately by three different blogs/websites who asked if I wanted to become affiliated with them. Two were book blogs that I highly respected, so I agreed. The third was a website that had nothing to do with books or reading, so I declined. As affiliates, we agreed to post each other’s information on our blogs. When they need help promoting a contest, giveaway, post, etc., I let my readers know about it, and vice versa. In the case of one of the blogs, she was approaching possible affiliates in order to find bloggers willing to work on a special blogging project, which is still in progress.
A few weeks passed, and I realized that I really liked being affiliated with the other bloggers. They developed into really good bloggy friends, and I found that we were talking about books more often and outside of just our blogs. We were commenting on each other’s posts more frequently and we developed a bit of a support system. I decided to expand that by extending affiliateship to other bloggers as well.
At first, I just put up a Google Form that asked for name, links, and a little bit of what the blog focused on. After a day or two of getting a ton of applications, I decided to add restrictions (3 months blogging experience OR 100 followers, similar interests, original content) because I was getting some requests from blogs that didn’t share any of my interests at all. Why did I think this to be important? The blogging experience/followers requirement was because I had people applying who had only a post or two up. I wanted to make sure that the blogger wasn’t going to disappear and get a handle on the personality of their blog as well to determine whether we’d work well together or if we had similar interests. This was also a way for me to determine whether the blogger was just blogging to get ARCs or points in contests (believe me, they’re out there). A way to bypass the 3 month requirement, if the blogger didn’t want to wait, was to acquire 100 followers. This wasn’t because I only wanted to be affiliated with “big” names, but because I thought that, chances were, 100 followers was some way to determine quality content. I know that sometimes a blog’s following can be affected by various incentives (points in contests, etc), but I decided to give the blogger the benefit of the doubt. Plus, I didn’t really think that anyone would go through that much trouble to affiliate with me if they weren’t serious about blogging. Concerning the requirement to have similar interests, I believed that my followers chose to read my blog because they’re interested in what I’m interested in. I believed the purpose of affiliates was to develop closer connections with bloggers of similar interests. I make a conscious effort not to load my blog with things I think my readers will be bored with. Let’s put it this way. If I was affiliated with someone who I thought was nice, but I wasn’t interested in a lot of what their blog was about, I would run the risk of promoting for promotion’s sake. I would feel obligated to promote that person’s posts/contests/etc., despite whether or not my readers would be interested in it. I didn’t want that to happen, which is why I made the similar interest requirement.
I will say that I do make more of an effort to be aware of my affiliates’ posts, and that, overall, I probably let my readers know about their content more than I do other blog’s content. However, I don’t post a weekly Affiliate Update. My affiliates are more likely to show up in my Weekly Wrap-Up posts, but that’s mainly because I read their blogs more often than the average blog. I only include what I think are really good posts in my Weekly Wrap-Ups, so if nothing of theirs doesn’t jump out at me, I don’t post about it. Not all of my affiliates are featured every week. Actually, it’s rare for more than 2 or 3 of them to appear each week.
As far as promotion goes, most of you guys already know that I’m an Global Studies/English major. While I LOVE reading and blogging, and consider it a hobby, I’m also considering a job in the publishing field. I don’t know about you all, but I’ve always considered my dream job to be doing that which I love. I’ve put my blog on several internship/job applications, and let’s face it: while I don’t consider blogging to be a job, a well-established blog that’s acknowledged by other bloggers looks great on an application in that field.
A lot of you might be thinking that the benefits of affiliateship that I’ve mentioned above could’ve been obtained without creating an affiliate program. I agree, to some extent. But I also know that I wouldn’t have some of the relationships and connections I have with other bloggers if I hadn’t accepted affiliates. Throughout the affiliate application process, I’ve discovered great new blogs, some I’ve accepted as affiliates, and some I haven’t. I also now have a bloggy support system that’s always willing to be there for encouragement, ideas, and help when I need it. Do I have these friends outside of my affiliates? Yes. Some of my favorite bloggy friends aren’t affiliated with me. But opening up the affiliate process allowed me to meet new people and make new friends, which I’m grateful for.
I hope this helped answer some of the questions out there. If you guys have any more, feel free to leave them in a comment below. Also, you’re welcome to tell me what you think about the affiliate program, good or bad. I won’t hold it against you!