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Affiliate marketing is, first and foremost, about relationships. It relies on a relationship between a merchant (ie. Retailer) and you, the affiliate/publisher, as well as a relationship between you and consumers. When you promote the merchant’s product or service offerings (on your blog, website, social media feed, etc.) and a consumer purchases a product/service from the brand based on your promotion, the merchant pays you a revenue share of the sale that you helped generate. Compensation can include join incentives; special discounts or one-time offers to help you become more familiar with the merchant’s brand; product giveaways; blog post bonuses; and, of course, commissions.
There are thousands of companies that offer affiliate programs — from large retailers (Target, adidas, eBay) to small niche retailers. In fact, it’s estimated that over 80 percent of brands utilize affiliate marketing to drive sales, according to a Rakuten Affiliate Network survey.
There is no certification needed. However, we do recommend that you learn as much as possible about what it means to be an affiliate. Fortunately, there is a lot of information out there to help educate new affiliates, including podcasts, blogs, webinars, research reports and much more.
While you have total control over the information you share on your blog/site, you must adhere to the merchant’s terms and conditions of what you can/cannot promote on your site as it relates to the merchant’s brand. In addition, the merchant may have branded terms and trademark names and phrases that you are prohibited from using. All of that will be outlined in your affiliate agreement, which you will generally have the opportunity to review and accept prior to being approved into a program.
Do I need to disclose my relationship with a merchant?
Affiliates should take note that the FTC requires a disclosure statement within any and all pages, blog/posts, or social media posts where affiliate links are posted as an endorsement or review, and where it is not clear that the link is a paid advertisement. This disclosure statement should be clear and concise, stating that you may be compensated if a user purchases through your link. If you received a product for free, this also must be clearly stated in your disclosure.