How Affiliate Marketing and Blogging Work

Saturday, August 18, 2012
If you guys didn't know already, I work in the affiliate marketing industry for my day job at Shopzilla, a shopping comparison website. This is one of many avenues bloggers use to earn money, myself included. This post will give you, whether you are a blogger or a reader, a better idea of how bloggers earn money through affiliate marketing. The below explanation is through my knowledge and experience at Shopzilla.

Oh, how I love my dual monitors.

There are two types of affiliate marketing programs:  cost-per-acquisition (CPA) and cost-per-click (CPC). CPA programs pay when someone buys an item from a blog/site. An example of a CPA program is Reward Style. CPC pays per click. Some examples of CPC programs are ShopStyle, Shopzilla, Commission Junction, and LinkShare. CPA programs usually pay more since they pay on a percentage of the price of the item bought. But if you have a lot of traffic, CPC may be a better program to take advantage of each click. Depending on your audience, either is a sufficient model. I use both. Please keep in mind that these programs can track suspicious activity, including repeatedly clicking on your own links!

Affiliate marketing starts with merchants (retail stores, busineses) who pay for exposure on a site such as Shopzilla's Bizrate or Beso. There are also merchants who don't pay because either their adsvertising budget has been expended or they are already well-known and don't need extra exposure. Usually, these merchants are still included to offer a more diverse shopping experience for the customer.

Sometimes these shopping sites have affiliate programs, such as the Shopzilla Publisher Program. To give merchants more exposure, Shopzilla splits the revenue they receive with publishers/affiliate marketers. The commission rate can vary depending on your traffic volume and quality. Generally, clicks are worth anywhere from $.05-$.30.

The Shopzilla Publisher Program may look generic and difficult to navigate, but once you have a registered Publisher account, you can earn revenue through the Beso Affiliate Portal for fashion and lifestyle brands, which is what I primarily use.

So, why should/do bloggers use affiliate marketing?
Bloggers give merchants a lot of advertising by wearing their clothes, promoting favorite products, etc. and usually without pay. Affiliate marketing turns this free advertising into a revenue stream. I see it as you're giving them free advertising and should get something out of it. I like to use it so readers and visitors can purchase similar items to recreate an outfit or when I showcase a favorite product.
But, what about non-bloggers?
Beso is working on a way for all users to be affiliates, not just bloggers. Why should bloggers be the only ones to reap the benefits of affiliate marketing? If you have a Beso account, you'll be able to earn money soon!

I hope this helped give a little transparency into how affiliate marketing and blogging work. If you have any questions about it or want more information, let me know in the comments below and I'l do my best to answer!


  1. Thank you so much for this post. I am currently trying to weigh what type of affiliate marketing I want my blog to be a part of. Your explanation definitely helped me make a decision.

  2. Thanks for this post! I'm looking to get into the marketing field, so this was a welcome surprise on a fashion blog I've been following for a few weeks now.

  3. I think this was an interesting, informative post. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Hey, this was really interesting! So, do you get paid to promote a product, or is keeping the product in itself the compensation?

  5. That's actually related more with Sponsors than affiliate marketing. AM works more with text links and assets. Products and direct compensation to promote a product is separate from affiliate marketing.

  6. Hi, Elaine! Great post and very helpful to those that need some clarification. :)

    Just wanted to say that some Commission Junction programs pay CPA...but it depends on which company you are affiliated with as Commission Junction has a ton of companies represented.

  7. Thank you so much for YOUR clarification!