Yesterday there was a post to Hacker News about a blog post written by Antonio Cangiano (the author of the Prag Prog Technical Blogging book) about Amazon Associates and how to effectively use the program to make some money with your blog. It drew quite a bit of derision from a few HN commenters.

Do you see what I did there? :)

Here’s my stance:

Amazon Affiliates is awesome. If you have a blog, you should be an affiliate.

I’m an affiliate, but so far I’ve made a sum total of about $2.50 (not enough for Amazon to even pay-out).

People like Jeff Atwood and Marco Arment (I read both of their blogs) often post Amazon Affiliate links. Jeff gets called out quite harshly in the HN comments about his “spamming” of affiliate links, but Marco’s just as guilty (although he may have a smaller readership). But I like that Jeff and Marco use affiliate links!

Marco does reviews of sometimes rather esoteric things that can be bought on Amazon (bathroom fan times, anyone?) which are entertaining to read but also could be very useful for that time (which doesn’t come very often, I’ll admit) where you just need a new bathroom fan timer. Before reading about Marco’s experience with bathroom fan timers, I would never have known that the type he likes even existed, let alone how it works and why I should pick the 15 or 30 minute kind. Now I do. And! If I go buy one though his affiliate link, he gets a little kickback but I pay the same price as if I had not clicked through the link.

How is that hurting me?

I’m not Marco’s friend. I read his blog, am a subscriber to Instapaper, and listen to his podcast, but I do these things because I think he has interesting things to say, not because I know him personally. So it’s not like I’m over at his house and he’s recommending I buy some fan timers from this guy he knows who will give him a kickback, I’m some random guy on the Internet reading what Marco’s experience was with buying quite a few different fan timers and trying them out. Why shouldn’t he get some money for that?

In the same way, Jeff posted about wifi routers recently. His post has a few affiliates links in it. OK. But if he actually did a bunch of research about these routers and can condense it down to 1 article that I can read in 5 minutes to gain the same information, that’s saving me time and effort the next time I’m in the market for a new wifi router.

I think Amazon Affiliate links are great. I wish I had time to review more things I buy (or to just have more time to buy things) and provide links to them so I can make a few dollars from my blog.

Where’s the harm?


26 June 2012