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Affiliate programs and the broke writer

Posted in Website

In my spare time, I like to fondle my stacks of filthy lucre in a vaguely homoerotic manner. Photo by Liz West.

I am writing this to solicit the opinions of my readers. How do you feel about affiliate programs? It is very common that when someone links to a site like Amazon or a vendor of sex toys, they include a small code in the link which gives them credit for any sales that are made during that visit to the site. Later, they get some small percentage of the sales.

So far I have kept affiliate links off of my site (except for a single link at the bottom of my About page), both when I post my sex toy reviews and when I randomly mention media I have recently consumed. My initial thinking was that it made me seem more honest — I have no incentive to rave about a toy I like other than genuine pleasure if I don’t make any money from future sales. On the other hand, if I genuinely like a toy and someone buys it because of me, is it wrong for me to make something? I know I have already sold one Club Vibe, the subject of an upcoming review, to a friend I talked about it with last night. Almost every day I get a handful of hits for my review of the FunFactory BendyBeads, some of whom may go on to buy one via the link in the review. I know that I don’t really think less of the people I read because they participate in affiliate programs; rather I look to whether they seem willing to give an honest, blunt opinion. And perhaps most importantly, I am really very broke right now and feel stupid turning down even the remotest chance to ethically make a few dollars.

It’s not like I am somehow 100% pure — I already link to sex toy sites as a result of my doing reviews, at least one of which I know carries toys that could be considered unsafe not to mention unsafe products like Anal-eze. I’ll happily speak out against these kinds of products, but I am still sending business there way. I don’t plan to ever include true advertisements, especially banner ads, on this site. But I am considering adding affiliate codes to the site.

So I am asking your opinion — when you see an affiliate code on someone’s site, do you think less of them? Does accepting money open me up to an ethical gray area? Would you give less weight to my reviews if I might make money from sales of the toys or products?

By the way, many people ask me how to become a sex toy reviewer. I sort of lucked into it, but here is a link to a series of posts on How to Become A Sex Toy Blogger, written by Kara Sutra and vouched for by Domina Doll, Mistress of the review program for one of my vendors.

Update: Based on overwhelming support of me adding affiliate links, I am going to do so. I am still open to opinions counter to this decision, they might change my mind, but so far it looks like no one minds as long as I don’t go overboard by selling out my honesty or linking like crazy.