Blogging Tips

Blogging Tips #4: Affiliate Programs, Sponsored Posts & Free Products

tip 4 affiliate program group

This week’s topic is multi-layered in regards to making income on the blog…

Do you belong to any affiliate programs? If so, recommendations? Have you worked with brands (free products, sponsorship, paid posts)? What tips do you have? Have you personally reached out to any brands? 

Firstly I want to preface this post by saying making a steady income through blogging is not an easy or simple task. Not that it can’t happen and I think most of us make some income, however, being able to turn your blog into a career is no small endeavour.  I’m a believer in following your dreams and if your dream is making your blog into a full-time living know that you will need to invest significant time, effort, money and need to build a strong following to make that a reality.  Make sure it is something you truly have a passion for because if you start a blog with the sole purpose of making money it will become apparent to readers resulting in alienating potential followers. You may be one of the people who can quit your job and make enough of an income off of your blog, in fact I know a few people doing just that and I have so much respect for them. Keep in mind that those bloggers more often than not have other products/services they are selling in addition to their blog.

Although I am not blogging to make a living I do make some income off of the blog and below are some ways how.


I am a part of affiliate programs which are rewardStyle, JORD Wood Watches and SheIn. When you join a program you will be given a referral tracking link to use when you create links to products on the company’s site.  This is then used to track purchases and/or clicks that are coming directly from your site. You are then eligible to possibly make a small commission on purchases and/or clicks made, see more below on which companies offer what.

I have had a good experience with SheIn thus far and it’s a company my readers do shop from so it made sense to go with this particular affiliate program. You receive commission from them on purchases made from their site. I have also additionally received clothes from them for review on the blog.

JORD Wood Watches Preferred Partner Program pays a commission rate on sales of their watches. This is a company I have grown to respect and their watches are of impeccable quality so this is another individual retailer program I wanted to join.  I have additionally received two watches from them to review on my blog.

“rewardStyle is an invitation-only monetization tool for premium style publishers” (taken from their site) and they have over 4000 potential retail advertisers to choose from. Having access to so many retailers in one convenient place simplifies the process of using affiliate links as you don’t have to sign-up for countless affiliate programs offered by single companies. The rates of commission vary for each retailer offered on rewardStyle and you can see a breakdown of this on their site once you are accepted into the program. My recommendation would definitely be to go with programs such as rewardStyle.

I just very recently joined Social Fabric (an agency that connects you to brand campaign opportunities but you have to apply for each campaign) and ShopStyle which is the same concept as rewardStyle, however,  they pay a very tiny percentage for the amount of clicks you get on a link whereas rewardStyle only pays on actual purchases. I haven’t had any experience with either of these given I have not used them as of yet.

**Note for Canadian bloggers: You are paid in US currency when working with US and international brands.**

You will be sought out by individual retailers to sign up for their affiliate programs but in my opinion it’s not worth it to be a part of too many individual programs.  The more you join means you have to now worry about using different affiliate links for many companies as opposed to using options like rewardStyle where it is all in one place.

WORKING WITH BRANDS (Free products, paid sponsorship & paid posts):

I have worked with brands and this is a definitely a fun aspect of being a fashion blogger.  You get to work with some great companies and discover cool new brands to share with your readers.

Some of the amazing brands I have had the pleasure of working with are: eShakti, JORD Wood Watches, SheIn, UncommonGoods, Daniel Wellington, CaseAPP, and Shopbop.

For the most part I have received free products in exchange for a post review and some companies will continue to collaborate with you if they are impressed by your work.  I have also done paid posts for companies, you will need a PayPal account as this is how they usually send you payment.

I participated in a paid sponsorship with the online retailer Shopbop. They search out fashion bloggers to enter into a contract for a specified period of time, you generally start with a 3 month trial.  If you are doing well they will extend this and I had the opportunity of continuing with this partnership well beyond the trial period.

There are many more ways of trying to monetize your blog such as using GoogleAdSense, reaching out to brands, searching out sponsors to advertise on your blog and requesting only monetary compensation for post reviews or working with companies, this really is a matter of choice and what you feel comfortable with. At this point these are not avenues I have ventured into.  I don’t want to become overwhelmed by too many options or be consumed with trying to make money off the blog.


You will regularly be approached by companies to do sponsored posts or receive free products.  However, be careful with who you partner with and don’t accept anything just because it’s free.  When I first started I did make the mistake of doing one paid post for a company I did not research and that was a lesson well learned.  I now partner with maybe 20% of companies that approach me. I have to ensure they offer products/services that I value and would personally use myself. It’s also important to make sure what a company offers is aligned with your blog theme and are products your readers would appreciate.  I have to feel confident in promoting products/services to my audience whom I really value.

Also, beware of companies who are soliciting your hard work for free. Yes unfortunately it happens All. The. Time. More often than not if a company approaches you with no mention of any type of compensation whether through a free product, paid post or some type of sponsorship chances are they are not willing to pay for your service.  When you respond and try to negotiate a payment, they either will not respond (that speaks volumes) or will tell you they don’t have budget to cover paying bloggers.  They have pitches as to why you should collaborate with them such as possibly being featured on their social media for more exposure, being entered into a contest or participating in a fun competition/challenge.  As a new blogger this can be distracting and you may be naive especially if it is a well-known company reaching out. You may think that posting for them will give you a level of credibility or they will pay you “next time” but neither are true.  Please don’t fall for these well-marketed pitches and sell yourself short. No one should be working for free unless it is charitable work for a great cause but that simply isn’t the case with these companies.  Take it from me as I learned the hard way and fell for this twice in the first year of blogging…you live, you learn! I hope this helps other bloggers or bloggers-to-be not to fall into these same traps. If you want to work with a company who has approached you then negotiate a price, free product or service but if they are unwilling to do this I would recommend not to work with such companies.  Life is short and all of our time is valuable so whether you have 50 page-views a month or 50,000 working without compensation when the sole intent is for you to advertise for a company for FREE is unreasonable and undermines your work.

This is a blog-hop so next visit Deena from Shoes To Shiraz for more helpful advice.

If you missed the first three posts in this series check them out here.

tip 4 affiliate program bw

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

Linking up with these blogs here.


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  • Reply Sierra Berry

    Great tips! I couldn’t agree with you more about some companies that try to be cheap. Recently a really big yogurt company contacted but didn’t mention giving me anything in return for my hard work. Although I would have turned them down (I don’t eat yogurt), it was very disappointing to see such a big company trying to be cheap.

    Random question, what do you do about the Kickstarter emails? Lol, I usually delete it without replying but they keep coming out of nowhere.

    Sierra Berry | @itsberrystylish

    May 17, 2016 at 1:26 am
  • Reply Blaire

    It’s amazing how many companies out there expect bloggers to work for free! These are such great tips Marta!
    xo, Whitney and Blaire
    Peaches In A Pod

    May 17, 2016 at 7:24 am
  • Reply Evelina

    I’m a Canadian blogger and have always wondered if things work differently for us. So many of these programs are US only!
    Evelina @ Fortunate House

    May 17, 2016 at 7:42 am
  • Reply Jill

    I fell for the posting for free in exchange for social media exposure a few few times my first year of blogging. The companies never fulfilled their end of the bargain. You definitely need to research each opportunity fully and make sure you are not being taken advantage of.

    Doused In Pink

    May 17, 2016 at 7:54 am
  • Reply Kathrine Eldridge

    This is a terrific post! I love to hear what you have experienced. I really want to check out the ShopBop program you mentioned. Love them! Thanks for all the great advice. 🙂

    May 17, 2016 at 9:17 am
  • Reply Emily

    Love this lost! It both encouraged and motivated me, and made me excited for future collaborations! I absolutely love finding new brands to latch on to and support, when it’s mutually beneficial. I’m starting to convince myself that I can be worth sponsored posts, and I shouldn’t shy away from them so much!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Darling, Dearest

    May 17, 2016 at 9:17 am
  • Reply Laura

    I so agree! Don’t do free posts! It’s so annoying when companies reach out and claim is a great opportunity! It isn’t!

    May 17, 2016 at 11:59 am
  • Reply LISA

    Marta – you shared so many good tips. I agree – our time is not for free, and partnering with those that are good companies is so important. Blogging is a lot of work – and it is a not a get rich quick venture – that is for sure!

    Daily Style Finds

    May 17, 2016 at 12:29 pm
  • Reply Deena

    So many great tips- I am going to have to look into some of those affiliate programs!

    May 17, 2016 at 4:55 pm
  • Reply Rachel

    I thank you for these tips. Was Shopbop by invitation only or did you reach out to them? Thanks for being a part of this nice collaboration.
    Thank you for linking up to “Bloggers Who Have Inspired Me”
    Rachel xo

    May 17, 2016 at 9:23 pm
    • Reply Marta

      Hi Rachel, thanks for stopping by and commenting! The Shopbop partnership was an invitation-only opportunity, they search out fashion bloggers who fit their criteria and then invite you to participate in the program. It never hurts to try to reach out though.

      May 18, 2016 at 6:21 am
  • Reply Amber Shannon

    I appreciate this insight and am pinning this post for reference!! Social fabric reached out, as well as some other affiliates, and I always have a hard time determining their legitimacy… so I just ignore them… oops!

    All the Cute 🎀
    Today’s Post: Sequin Skirt

    May 18, 2016 at 9:05 am
  • Reply Abby

    I love the comprehensive tips Martha! I’ve joined in on some of the affiliate programs you’ve mentioned, such as Shein and JORD. Love these companies to work with!

    Abby | Life in the Fash Lane

    May 18, 2016 at 9:19 am
  • Reply Andrea@WellnessNotes

    Great tips! It’s amazing how many emails I get that promise me “exposure” and nothing else…

    May 18, 2016 at 11:26 am
  • Reply Shannon

    So many great tips! Loved your take on these topics!

    <3 Shannon
    Upbeat Soles

    May 18, 2016 at 12:57 pm
  • Reply Erica

    So much wonderful information given here!! It is such great advice that bloggers shouldn’t do reviews/promote for these companies for free.


    May 18, 2016 at 1:54 pm
  • Reply Cara

    Great tips! I definitely agree it’s smart to not accept everything just because it’s free. You still want to maintain integrity as a blogger and only review products you absolutely love and/or would purchase yourself.

    May 18, 2016 at 4:49 pm
  • Reply Len Parent

    Amazing ladies!! Thanks for sharing, Marta! Happy Wednesday!
    much love, Len

    May 19, 2016 at 2:16 am
  • Reply Johnnie Quinn

    Love your ideas here, amazing post!

    May 19, 2016 at 5:10 am
  • Reply Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom

    Great tips! I think working for some companies for free at first to get your foot in the door is ok, but after awhile you start to value the time and energy you put into those posts and except some compensation! I love working with SoFab!

    May 19, 2016 at 6:55 am
  • Reply Ashley

    GREAT tips, doll. Saying no more than you say yes- to the right opportunities!- is so key. And you have to stand up for yourself and not fall for those well-rehearsed (and tired!) media pitches that don’t offer real compensation.

    Le Stylo Rouge

    May 19, 2016 at 12:07 pm
  • Reply Mica

    Great advice! Especially the part about being selective with who you work with. A lot of blogs are just endless advertisements, it’s not fun or interesting to read so I usually just skip onto the next blog if all I see is adverts as the first couple of posts!

    Away From The Blue Blog

    May 19, 2016 at 11:21 pm
  • Reply Shannon at Gamine & Stripes

    Thank you so much this was super helpful. I’m going to save this post and share it in one of my FB groups as a resource. x-S

    May 20, 2016 at 9:07 am
  • Reply jennifer

    These are great tips! Thank you! As a very new blogger, I have no idea if my blog will grow into anything, and I just have fun with it, but it’s helpful to know what to watch out for in the possible future! Thanks for looking out for us newbies! 🙂

    May 20, 2016 at 11:11 am
  • Reply Jacqueline

    These are great tips! Blogging is way more work that it appears to be!
    Stylin In St. Louis

    May 20, 2016 at 3:58 pm
  • Reply Jane Doe

    Thank you for sharing this information. I’m definitely going back to read the other posts in this series. I appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge on blogging! Found you through A Pocketful of Polka Dots link up, by the way.

    May 21, 2016 at 10:37 am
  • Reply Dawn Lucy

    Thanks for sharing these great tips! Wish I had had them when I first started out! ;D

    Thanks for sharing with Fun Fashion Friday!
    Dawn Lucy

    May 21, 2016 at 7:20 pm
  • Reply Jennie

    Great tips all around, Marta. In the beginning I said yes to pretty much all opportunities. These days I am really selective and make sure it is worth it, as these type posts are quite time consuming.

    May 25, 2016 at 11:54 am
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