There’s been a lot of noise lately about affiliate links, especially in the makeup community. So what’s going on? Why do people hate them so much?
The Good Ol’ Days
Back in the good ol’ days of youtube, there weren’t a bazillion different affiliate links that could be handed out like sweets to viewers. When someone reviewed a product you weren’t wondering if there was some kind of ulterior motive to the review.
On top of that there companies weren’t paying for vloggers to go on great trips, sending them boxes and boxes of products to feature or straight up giving them money to talk about certain products. All of that is just another reason to try and stay in a brands good graces with flattering reviews of their products. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a fancy trip to the caribbean all for the price of saying a few nice words about a brand (well, that and the price of your loyal viewers trust).
Basically, in the good ol’ days we could trust what vloggers were saying, there was no incentive for them to lie, and nothing to sway their opinion.
The Good Ol’ Now
Nowadays there’s all kinds of ways for vloggers to be making money online, and affiliate codes have become increasingly popular on youtube.
It’s a nice quick passive way to make money. Vloggers pop their affiliate links in the description box, if the audience wants to buy the products they can click the links and the vlogger gets a percentage of the money from the sale. Hurrah!
The problem is, it gives the vloggers an incentive to say that a product is good. There’d be little point in creating a video slamming a product then expecting people that have watched your review to want to buy the product. The audience can no longer 100% trust what the vlogger is saying in a review because it’s possible that there is an ulterior motive.
Are They Shills?
Shill is another word I see thrown around quite a bit in relation to vloggers and affiliate links, so is it true? Are bloggers all turning into shills? Sadly, there’s no straight answer. There are definitely honest vloggers out there that only use affiliate codes for products that they genuinely like and give honest reviews of them.
But on the other hand there are shills out there. A lot of popular vloggers have come out and admitted that in the early days of their careers they’d been involved in some kind of promotion for a product they didn’t like just for the money and that kind of throws all vloggers under the bus. Now, every vlogger that uses affiliate links is going to make viewers wonder whether or not they can really be trusted.
Down With Affiliate Links?
The big question now is, should vloggers stop using affiliate links? Ultimately, whether you’re using them in the right way or not, they can make viewers raise an eyebrow and wonder if they can really trust you. It sucks if you are doing things the right way by declaring your affiliate codes to your viewers, and giving totally honest reviews of the products you have affiliate codes for. But, unfortunately the industry has started to change and it’s not a good change in my opinion.
Originally youtube was all about the audience and the community. There wasn’t much money to make so vloggers cared more about their audience than they did about paying the bills. No one was relying on youtube to keep a roof over their heads. The tides are turning and now there’s a lot of youtubers that are more concerned with their incomes than their audience and it’s kind of ruined it for everyone. Now we’re all under scrutiny.
Recently a lot of vloggers have started trying to clear the mystery surrounding affiliate codes. There’s been videos released explaining how it works with vloggers trying to assure their audiences that they aren’t up to anything shady. Some vloggers have come out saying they will no longer use affiliate codes because they feel that it has a negative impact on their channel and their audience.
So, should we be ditching affiliate codes? It’s a tricky question especially for smaller channels that don’t get a whole lot of income. When your a small channel the money you earn from affiliate codes could be making the difference between keeping your channel going and having to stop altogether. On the other hand, having an audience that trusts you can equally mean the difference between your channel surviving another month or not.
What do you guys think? Should youtubers be ditching affiliate codes in favour of their audiences trust or does there just need to be more transparency about what’s going on and how they are using their affiliate codes?