Fashion Traffic School: What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Tfashion traffic schoolhis post is the first of a four part series to help you monetize your blog using affiliate marketing, brought to you by Fashion Traffic.

If you had asked me a year ago what affiliate marketing is, I would have looked at you sideways and cocked my head like a confused puppy. I was new to the blogging world and didn’t yet understand my site’s potential to earn money. For shame, am I right? Well, luckily for you I am much more on top of the goings-on in the blog-o-sphere these days, especially anything that can help you grow your blog to it’s fullest potential.


Affiliate marking has been around nearly as long as blogging itself as popular way for bloggers to make some extra money without sacrificing ad space or losing control of exactly what products and retailers are represented on their site.


In case this all sounds like Greek to you, let's rewind a little bit and break down what the heck we're actually talking about when we talk about affiliate marketing.


What is affiliate marketing?

At it's core, affiliate marketing is simply using one website to drive traffic to another. You, as the publisher of your blog are the affiliate. Whom you choose to run your marketing through is called the network, and the retailers and brands they work with are referred to as merchants. The network is essentially a liaison between you and the merchants, connecting you to e-commerce sites you may not have otherwise had been able to profit from.


What can affiliate marketing do for fashion bloggers?

Affiliate marketing is a way for you to earn revenue and endorse products you love and use in a way that's beneficial to both you and your readers. It's a way for you to customize the retailers and brands you support on your blog. It's an alternative (or addition) to selling ad space on your blog, and can build a more honest and relevant relationship between yourself, your readers and your network.


Some affiliate networks also let you share links from mobile devices and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, not just your blog. That way if you ever find a great piece that doesn’t quite have a place in a post, you can still share it with your followers and continue to engage with your network.


Can you make real money using affiliates?

The short answer is yes, the long answer is yes, if you're willing to be patient and diligent. Having a strong network and a following of loyal readers who trust your endorsements is essential. Most fashion-related affiliate networks are based on a system where you, the affiliate, gets paid if a customer completely follows through and makes a purchase through your link, not just for clicking on it to see what it is. That's where the trust and loyalty comes in – your readers will want to purchase products they see you wearing well or genuinely believe you like. As with all types of advertising, it comes down to the numbers, so building your network and growing your traffic are essential to making money through affiliate marketing.

How do I get paid?

There are a few different methods of payment used in affiliate marketing, and the jargon behind them can be kind of intimidating. However, it's important to understand the difference as best you can. Here's a brief break down of the different ways you can earn money from affiliate advertising:

  • Revenue Sharing (Cost Per Sale): You make a commission off any product sold through a link on your site. (For example, if you link to a $300 dress and one of your readers purchases it through your site, you might earn a commission of $30.)
  • Cost Per Click (Pay Per Click): The network pays you for each click on an advertisement or link (This means that even if a purchase isn’t made, you’re still making money from curious clickers.)

Keep in mind there are other methods, and it's best to investigate which one your affiliate network uses as thoroughly as you can to be a smart and savvy affiliate publisher.


How do I get involved?

There are numerous networks that work with fashion brands, boutiques and online retailers to provide affiliate links and marketing. Fashion Traffic is a portal to several merchants which give you access to a broad range of brands and products. Most of these sites have an approval process so their pool of publishers stays relevant and spam-free. Be patient, be diligent, and craft your blog into a platform that networks will see as valuable.


More information on affiliate marketing from IFB:
More Bang For Your Fashion Blogging Buck: Affiliate Programs vs. Affiliate Networks
How To Monotize Your Fashion Blog With Affiliate Marketing

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26 Responses

  1. style-delights

    Not to be a Debbie Downer here, but affiliate marketing works better for affiliates than bloggers. Reuters reported that much of the money flowing toward the Internet is concentrated on a few dozen of the most popular sites. That has left smaller, less well-known sites at a severe disadvantage when it comes to attracting advertising money and surviving. In the United States, the top 50 Web sites accounted for more than 90 percent of the revenue from online ads in the first half of 2007, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The top 10 sites accounted for 70 percent of the revenue. Wikipedia info says that Google has a $370 million balance of unpaid accounts as you can only get paid after you reach $100 limit. And Google is bringing in money every month from advertisers paying for that space. Is it clear who’s coming out ahead here?

    • Ashe

      Wow, Style Delights– that’s AMAZING. There have been a few companies I’ve been irritated with because I didn’t make enough to pay out (and some of them start penalizing you by stripping AWAY money when you aren’t earning enough– Commission Junction, I’m looking at you!). I’m not surprised to hear that there’s that much revenue floating around because people can’t claim their money!

    • Samar

      Thanks for the info style-delights I think that’s really important for bloggers to know. Of course this is a 4 part series so I’m interested to see what else IFB has to say on the subject.

    • Courtney

      So basically unless you’re one of those 10 sites, affiliate marketing is a way for companies to basically get on your site for free and never pay you a single penny.

      Not all it’s cracked up to be, eh?

    • Mr Green

      You do understand that affiliates can be bloggers? Anyone with a traffic source can be an affiliate. I’m unsure what you mean by affiliate marketing works better for affiliates than bloggers?

      Did you mean affiliate marketing works better for affiliate networks/affiliate offer owners than for affiliate marketers?

      I’d love to know where you got that info that Google’s affiliate network has a $370 million unpaid account balance. I tried looking on Wikipedia.

      Affiliate marketing is extremely lucrative for bloggers. No it’s not as easy as finding an affiliate link, putting it on your blog and twiddling your thumbs hoping for a bounty of money to come your way.

      I personally know at least 50 millionaires who have made their millions for affiliate marketing. This is their fulltime jobs. Yes it is what it is cracked up to be. The problem with the affiliate marketing industry is there is a lot of misinformation. A lot of people know bits and pieces of information, with a lot of assumptions in between.

      • style-delights

        Hello Mr Green,
        I am not saying NO ONE can’t make money by affiliate marketing. Your ‘data’ about personally knowing 50 millionairess proves my point of ‘select few’ making a lot while regular small bloggers making money (without getting paid much) for the affiliate companies!

        Secondly, as you run a marketing company yourself, I am sure you know more about marketing affiliate links. wiki info was a long time ago data, may be they removed it, but here is another link – which is a simple analysis of the adsense business model – no assumptions here -

        If that seems amateur, you can see problogger’s Darren Rowse’s video on his blog on “why he removed adsense’ from his blog. It works for his other blogs (and again, he is one of the prominet bloggers out there) but not his main!

        There are examples on both sides, but all in all – affiliate marketing is not the money maker for most bloggers. When a blog becomes big enough to earn money from affiliate links, it probably becomes big enough to make money from direct advertising.

        All I wanted to point out was that Affiliate link companies make more money (way more) than a regular blogger via links.

        I am no way attacking the affiliate marketing, just pointing out that before getting swayed by ‘make money on your blog via affiliate links” we should consider all options. For example, may be a blog that doesn’t have thousands of pageviews, has a niche and even limited readers, but those readers spend more time on the site (average blogpost gets less than 30 second time from readers). This blog can still go to an advertiser and sell adspace for a small but guaranteed income instead of making money for adlinks and getting pennies or nothing in return!
        Happy Holidays!

  2. Ashley K. Edwards

    This is a very thorough post. Nice!

    While I believe there is merit with some of the comments here, I think bloggers can make some decent money through Affiliate Marketing. It just depends on how hard they’re willing to work to market and promote their affiliate partners. The type of product can also play a factor.

  3. style-delights

    Thanks Ashe and Summer. Although, if you love to blog and will do it anyway, whether you get paid or not, having an affiliate link (which is relevant to your blog posts and useful for the readers) is not a bad idea. I have some on my blog, but still have to see the first ‘pay-check! LOL! But I love to just blog, so it doesn’t matter!
    I am looking for the rest of the series too. Good article!


      That’s the thing. I’m giving companies free advertising anyway by wearing and referencing their products, so I may as well include an affiliate link!

  4. Moe

    If you are working with affiliates DO NOT be afraid to dump them when they change their terms. Many want you do a lot for nothing.

    The going phrase lately is, “Thank you for all your hard work in promoting us but with the economy we have to reduce the percentage payout blah, blah, blah.” I dump affiliates for this.

    They are essentially getting free advertising until someone buys something through their links. And then if it gets returned we still get penalized by a loss of commission (although there are a few companies out there that do not take commissions back on returns).

    The last year or so I’ve noticed affiliate companies are getting worse at taking advantage of bloggers by offering less or reducing commissions or number of days a cookie is good for (45 down to 7 is becoming common).

    If they were to buy actual advertising space they couldn’t just reduce the cost or take their money back if something is returned.

    Even if no one buys through their banners they still benefit by being visible.

    Really pick and choose your affiliate programs and companies and do not be afraid to dump them if they do not appreciate you. Make sure you email them and tell them too. I have had companies come back with a special offer. But some times you have to let a company go, even if it is a favorite.

  5. FashionistaNYC

    Is anyone using an affiliate marketing company that caters to fashion bloggers who have less than 10k monthly visitors? I know Style Coalition requires at least 10K. I am using Google Ads but want something more fashion oriented.

  6. Pearl Westwood

    Woop woop Style-delights right on.

    I personal have to loose a bit of respect for this post since it is sponsored by fashion traffic which is basically an affiliates scheme network.

    I am yet to see an affiliate who has beneficial terms for the bloggers. Personally I refuse affiliate ads as they are take up valuable retail space on my site, I only accept fee paying ads. I think the more that also do this the better deals bloggers will be getting!

  7. The fashionable ESQ

    This all confuses me but is informative as well. So which are some of the better affiliates to go with? I run a personal style blog and link back to where I bought an item ( like most do) so in theory, I should be associating with at least one brand… Can anyone with experience using affiliates provide more insight here or email me? Thanks in advance, I appreciate it.

  8. Albert De Castro

    This is not a matter of how hard you try to earn money. You are running a blog, not a brands’s marketing office.
    You don’t get paid but you are doing ”free” advertising till then, so they must pay. Comission Junction’s terms and conditions are just ridiculous.

  9. Jamie

    This is great but more information would have been nice. Do certain affiliate sites require a certain number for unique traffic? I would love to know more about this subject.

    Where fashion is in the eyes of beholder

  10. Jessie

    I have VERY mixed feelings about this topic, and I think it really depends on which side of the affiliate links that we’re talking about here.

    I personally share affiliate links that connect my readers to items I wear (or something that is similar) in the notations in my outfit posts, and agree with Style Delights that it can be a useful thing to share with your readers.

    However – I cannot for the LIFE of me understand why some bloggers have affiliate ads (that look like sponsorship buttons) on their site, but then try to sell fee-based ad space to other brands. Why would a company pay a monthly fee to have a button on your site when you have what are essentially buttons of large retailers (lots of ModCloth, Need Supply & Asos, to name a few) for just PENNIES! I used to run an online vintage shop, and as someone who had paid advertisements on other blogs, I definitely pulled my own ads when I saw this happening. It just doesn’t make sense for the smaller brands to work with you if you have both fee-based ads and affiliate ads on your site.

    If you’re a blog that is hoping to monetize through fee-based ads or even content partnerships, I would HIGHLY recommend removing affiliate ads from your site because I would venture to guess that it is deterring smaller companies from reaching out to you. Would love to hear what everyone else thinks about this! 🙂

  11. MightayMightay

    Thank you, thank you! This article and all the comments poked me to do something I’ve been promising to do for about a year: Removing affiliate ads from all of my sites. Those ads have brought in so little money that (as some of you have pointed out) I’ve basically been advertising for some of these companies FOR FREE. FOR YEARS. What a great deal for them! I actually had my webhost tell me that Linkshare in particular wasn’t properly tracking my links.

  12. Tracy

    They’re not a very tactful company – I applied to them because I though “why not?” but now I wish I hadn’t. They sent me a message simply saying ‘Your application has been rejected by Fashion Traffic.’ I’m trying not to let it get me down, but it was discouraging and disheartening, as I have a lot of fun with my blog and it’s a great creative outlet for me. I wish they’d just never answered, or that I just hadn’t applied.

    As someone who’s trying VERY hard to make some money from home through different venues for my family, (as I’m not physically well enough to hold an outside job right now, and times are so hard) I found it to be a very hurtful way to respond to someone who is making herself vulnerable by putting her endeavors out there. If they didn’t think my blog was right for them, they could have told me more kindly, or just refrained from responding. It always hurts to feel rejected.

  13. Tracy @ The Wardrobe Wanderer

    one thing that especially hurt was that I had a couple of pictures of my precious daughter in my most current post when they probably looked. I just wish I had stayed away 🙁 I think that success in blogging should be defined as making friends and helping fellow bloggers out. That’s what I aim to do. I find that you can’t get the “succcessful” bloggers to give you the time of day when you’re a little guy out there..I would never want to become that way.

  14. Sarah

    I am surprised IFB let Fashion Traffic pay for these four articles. I thought IFB was unbiassed? Makes me think differently about the articles.

    • Jennine Jacob

      Hi there, IFB’s mission is to create content that is beneficial to the community, to help bloggers improve their experience. This post has been clearly marked that is was paid content. Branded content is a common way to monetize your blog. I don’t know what to say… we’re doing the best we can do, and I believe this post to be sound, which is why we partnered with Fashion Traffic to bring you this series.

  15. CR Cataunya Ransom


    This is to address style-delights and Mr. Green comments. To your defense style-delights, I understand how you feel I too felt exactly the same WAY! I did, I did, Lord knows I did.

    I am considered a luxury PR expert, by hard work I have earned that title. I salved over thousands of luxury PR campaigns over the years creating buzz for luxury brands. Then it happened the economy went bust the unexpected luxury industry market died. I cried at first and then I GOT Over it…

    I asked myself four years ago where to from here? My very smart husband and also business partner (in crime) suggested that we explore affiliate marketing. What? No way, no how luxury is just too exclusive!

    We built a team using social media mainly Twitter, never saw the value in Facebook for our world. Not to say that it does not work, I adore Facebook for what it is a community to engage my family and friends. However, Twitter, for us is a place to not only engage but to be influential. That is the point of affiliate marketing if you can be influential you can sell by influencing others to BUY through an you endorse link. Most affiliate don’t truly know how to endorse a product or service.

    Being a PR pro I have some advantages but the world of affiliate marketing is a very tried and true method. Don’t mix the formula it is already designed for success. Believe me I came into affiliate marketing with my Fortune 500 background and luxury brand expertise. It did not work, I failed, failed….

    style-delights no lie, without having any incredible rank around 3 to 5 million or spending any money on advertise being 100% organic you can make tons of money in affiliate marketing.

    We are working with an affiliate marketing training program to get the basics down. I have learned a great deal from this company. Everyone should have an expert mentor when taking on any venture. The affiliate marketing business works best with taking a niche and branding the source (yourself).

    Sell what you have a passion for! Everything else will come into play like discovering WOW I just made $$$$$!!

    Most often those who decide to enter affiliate marketing are pushing products just to make money. First element is to establish the brand for the source. Consider your brand message and then evaluate what affiliate products will add value to your business model.

    Do your research enter markets that you know something about. How can I sell you on a link that I can’t PITCH well enough to make you want to buy it?

    The future is making sure that your website is mobile friendly to sell your affiliate marketing products and services.

    Mr. Green I enjoy reading your blog very much! style-delights I wish you the very best. If only someone had told me about affiliate marketing 10 years ago I could have spent more days at the beach instead of working so hard… Affiliate marketing is the best business model ever….