Referral Links: What’s the point?

Referral links is a common business practice when a company provides you a link that you can use to share with your friends, family, social media followers, YouTube channel or blog. If your friends, family, social media followers, YouTube subscribers or blog followers use the referral link to make a purchase, they get a discount off of their purchase and you get a credit towards your next purchase with that company.

This is different from affiliate marketing because, with affiliate marketing you make a small commission from someone purchasing a product that you’re advertising. This commission varies depending on the type of product, the following you might have and the amount of people who purchase. It can be as low as a few cents that you get per purchase that someone makes on a product that can cost fifty or sixty dollars. If you save that money up over time, it could turn into a pay cheque of sorts, but unless you have a vast reach across the web, it’s likely only ever going to equal pocket change.

With referral links, the company guarantees that if you sign up one of your friends or family members, one of your blog followers or YouTube subscribers, or someone from social media, the money is given to you in the form of a credit off of your next purchase. The value does not change, and the referral link is only for a certain period of time.

So, Company X will say ‘If you share this link with your friend and they make a purchase, they will get $20 off their purchase and you will get $20 off of your next purchase as a thank you for referring your friend to our company’.

Why referral links are so beneficial? If you’re smart about it, you can share with your blog, social media accounts, friends and family a referral link to a company that you already make purchases from. So, if one of them does make a purchase, then you’re essentially lessening the amount that you’re required to pay the next time that you order that thing or use that service.

Take for instance the company that I purchase my contact lenses from. I’m blind as a bat without some form of glasses or contact lenses so, over the years I have become frequent purchaser of contact lenses from an online distributor. This distributor offers their lenses at anywhere between $20-$50 less a box than if you were to purchase them from your local eye doctor. So you’re already getting a great deal. My contact lenses cost $140 every three months. Now, due to my frequent purchases from said company, the company has recently provided me with a referral code. This referral code is for $20. If someone uses my referral code to purchase contact lenses or glasses for themselves, they will get $20 off of their purchase and I will get a $20 credit for my next purchase. If three people use this referral code, each of them will get $20 off of their purchase and I will get $60 off of my next purchase, making the cost of my next order of contact lenses $80 rather than $140.

It’s a way that companies use their own customers to market their products to new customers. In the case of the company that I purchase contact lenses from, if I were to share my link and have just seven people make a purchase using my link, the next time I went to purchase contact lenses, they would be free.

Sweet deal, right?

There’s inherently more value to someone for choosing to use a referral code rather than trying to use affiliate marketing for their blog. Whilst referral codes might not put money directly in your pocket, they do make the items you use cheaper, thus leaving the money in your bank account that you would otherwise need to spend.

Keep in mind, if I referred even one person to purchase their contact lenses from the same company that I do, that’s $20 that stays in my pocket because I have a credit from the company. A program like Amazon affiliates, depending on the size of your following and how hard/fast you pump out the affiliate links, may take you several months to reach a $20 sum that you can cash out for money in your pocket. So, if you’re already using said service or program anyways, its a worthwhile consideration to see if there’s a referral code available.

Some examples of companies that offer referral codes (in no particular order):

  • Uber
  • HelloFresh
  • Clearly Contacts
  • AirBnB
  • RobinHood Commission Free Investing
  • Rakuten
  • Daily Harvest Meal Prep
  • Grove Collaborative

Some companies, such as Uber, offer a referral code to every single customer who has an account. All you have to do is share this code with your friends to start earning credits towards the next time you need to take an Uber.

Other companies will send out referral codes to customers who are frequent purchasers from their company.

And some companies you can receive a referral code for sharing by contacting their customer service department.

Please note that the value of each referral link will be different as they are all set by each individual company. So, one referral code for a company might have a value of $20 whilst a referral code for another company might only be worth $5. I would highly recommend that if this something you’d like to consider doing, when doing your research on referral codes that you would like to share and use, make sure you don’t just share every referral code you can get your hands on, but that you choose to share the codes that will bring you the most benefit. If you don’t order meal prep then don’t share a referral code for Hello Fresh. If you do take Uber rides frequently, then share that code as far as your reach can reach.

I would also like to add and important point here in that Referral Codes are different from Discount Codes. Discount codes are those which a company creates to give to an influencer to determine their reach. The company keeps track of how many people use that influencer’s code to determine the value of working with that influencer for future projects. And, in turn, the influencer gets a small commission off someone using that code (usually a percentage of what overall purchases were made with said code). So, providing discount codes is essentially another form of affiliate marketing.

Referral codes are for anyone who uses that business or service. Whether you’re an influencer or not, whether you have ten followers on social medial or a million, you can have a referral code. Because the company banks off the fact that you’ll promote to more people than they’ll have to give company credits for, it’s largely free promotion for them. Also, a lot of people never take advantage of the credits earned. Which in turn makes the referral program even more valuable for a company.

If you use it properly though, stick to the referral links that are most valuable to you, you can purchase items that you need for free.

Considering referral codes? Do your research. Find out of there are companies that you shop with online, or through apps like Uber, that you can get referral codes from to start saving you money off future purchases. Stick to only companies that you use and make an effort to share that code as far and as wide as possible.

Personally, I haven’t seen too many bloggers use Referral Codes as a means of monetizing their blogs. But if done properly, it is a smart way to monetize your blog. If you have any questions about referral codes, leave them in the comments section below.


Lastly, for self promotional purposes, if you purchase your glasses or contact lenses online and live within Canada, The USA, Australia or New Zealand, you can use my referral code. In the case of “Clearly” (also known as “Clearly Contacts and Glasses”, it’s a referral link.

CLICK HERE TO USE MY REFERRAL LINK >

If you use my referral link to purchase your next pair of glasses or order of contact lenses, you will get $20 off your purchase and I will get a $20 credit that will go towards my next order of contact lenses.

If you’ve never heard of this company before but order your glasses or contact lenses online, have a poke around their website and see their prices. You might be surprised. They’re very competitively priced and base shipping largely takes only 2-3 days… even with the ongoing pandemic. Their website can be found here >

Who knows, you might like them and want to start ordering from them and ask the company for a referral code of your own if you’re blind as a bat like I am.

If you purchase glasses or contact lenses online and haven’t been getting much out of it CLICK HERE TO USE MY REFERRAL LINK > or seek out to get your own referral link from this company.

Blog Monetization Options

Photo from iheartradio.ca

Have you ever wondered how people make money from their blog? This post will break down some of the more common options (not every option) that people use to monetize their sites and earn income from blogging, as well as share some of my personal insights as to the positives/negatives to each of the options.

I will also provide some links to other resources that might help if you’re considering any of the options for your blog.

Disclaimer: I do not recommend any one option over another. If you’re looking to monetize your blog, please do research before you go ahead.

AFFILIATE MARKETING

One of the easiest options to use as a means to monetize your site, affiliate marketing is when you share an affiliate link (a link generated by said company to track useage) to a product online. If someone purchases that product using the link that you have provided you will receive a small commission from their purchasing of that good.

The biggest player in affiliate marketing in 2020 is Amazon. Read more about the Amazon affiliate program here >

You can also get affiliate links from platforms such as Uber, Hello Fresh, AirBnB and Sephora if you do some digging and contacting of companies. Affiliate marketing is something that works really well if you already use and speak of the products prior to getting an affiliate link. You’ve built a rapport with your readers, so to speak, so when you begin providing them links, they trust you’re being honest with them. Nobody wants to buy dog food from someone who’s recommending it even though they don’t own a dog.

Please note that all affiliate programs only works if people purchase the goods that you’re linking. You do not get money just for linking an item. So, you’re peddling products and giving companies free advertising without a guarantee that you’ll earn anything from it.

SELL SOMETHING

You can use your blog to sell just about anything your little heart could dream up. Whether it books, blogging courses, crafts, consultations, copywriting services, voiceover work or whatever it is that you are good at, if you think that you could turn that into income, then do so.

You will be responsible for ensuring the consumer is happy with the product(s) being provided to them, so there is some… due care required in the process.

It’s also worth noting that you do not need to purchase the premium/business WordPress account in order to sell things. You can purchase the premium/business account, but you can also use E-Transfer, Paypal or Venmo as long as you make arrangements to guarantee delivery of product or service to the consumer. Some bloggers even have their books available on Amazon and simply link to Amazon from their blog.

Please note that just because you put something for sale does not mean that it’s going to be purchased. A lot of people believe that all they have to do is acknowledge their product or service is for sale and people will run to buy it. This isn’t always the case. You should be doing market research on any product or service you’re offering prior to offering.

ADVERTISE

With respect to WordPress, if you have purchased the premium account, or higher, you have the opportunity to earn income from the ads on your website. This is not available for people who use the platform for free, nor is this available for the people who’ve purchased the personal account.

Please note that considerable traffic is required in order to even make a small amount of money using advertisements for monetization. (I used to run a corporate blog that had 50,000 hits per week, on average, and we made roughly 70 cents per day in ad revenue) Pay per click requires people to see advertisements in order to click them, and if you don’t have sizable traffic viewing your blog each day, earnings from advertisements might not even be enough to cover the fee you paid for the premium WordPress account.

PRINT ON DEMAND

Websites such as TeeSpring and Bonfire offer a service known as print-on-demand. Print-on-demand involves creators designing merchandise and marketing said merchandise to their readers/viewers. Each print-on-demand company takes a base fee off the sale of any items that are sold and will create each singular item as they are sold… hence the phrase print on demand. The company will then ship it to whomever made a purchase of said item, thus ensuring creators are not on the hook for holding stock of said items, or investing any real money into the sale of the items whatsoever.

A great Youtube channel to learn more about print-on-demand is Wholesale Ted. Sarah is a seasoned vet with print on demand creation, promotion and sales who shares her wisdom with the internet, for free, as a means to try and help others find success using the very services she makes her living from.

Please note that print-on-demand services have slowed considerably due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a lot of warehouses needing to close down to protect the employees who work for them.

SPONSORSHIP

Sponsorship looks different for every blogger. It’s dependent on companies, your traffic, your followers, your engagement and your earning potential. It’s also dependent on you reaching out to a company that you’d be interested in working with and asking them if they would be willing to sponsor a post, or a series of posts, for your blog. You have to make the first step, which is why a lot of bloggers stray away from this route.

If this is an avenue that you would like to take, networking is very important to gaining sponsorship from various companies. Introdue yourself to companies through email or LinkedIn means. Don’t just say ‘Hey, can you sponsor me?’ Wine and dine them, so to speak. Let them know what you do and what you’re good at so that when you approach the subject they’re already aware of the benefit that could be had from sponsoring content on your blog.

*Sponsorship can be monetary, or they can come in the form of being gifted products in exchange for speaking about them on your blog.

Please note that if you’re gifted any product, or being paid to talk about any products on your blog you are required to follow the guidelines of the FTC (in the United States) and/or the equivalent in your country of residence.

CEATE A PATREON ACCOUNT

Patreon is a membership platform based in the United States that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service. It allows creators and artists to earn a monthly income by providing exclusive rewards and perks to their subscribers, or “patrons”.

Whereas you are required to have a certain amount of subscribers to set up memberships on Youtube, you can set up a Patreon for free with any amount of followers on your blog, whether it’s 2 or 2 million, and ask for your blog readers to support you through becoming a Patron.

Patreon Website >

Patreon then takes a small fraction of your earnings from each month to pay their fees (staff salaries, money transfers, etc) and the remainder you can transfer out as you please.

I have a Patreon account actually introduced myself on there to people who support me through Patreon. The people who support my Patreon at the $5 level are actually listed on the ‘Supporters’ page in my blog menu.

Please note that a Patreon account might be difficult for people to contribute to during the present pandemic state the world is living in. A lot of people who might have considered supporting you and your blog prior to COVID-19 now have a much tighter hold on their spending to ensure that they make it through the next few months of not working. So, if you create a Patreon account, please keep that in mind. Everyone is struggling right now… unless you’re Bill Gates.

CHARGE FOR GUEST POSTS

If your blog is in high demand and you’re looking for a means to take advantage of that, offer people the ability to write guest posts for your blog for a small fee. It could be as little as one, two or three dollars per post. They’re getting advertisement out of being able to share their writing on your blog and you’re getting content and earning that fee.

Please note that you cannot guarantee any person a certain amount of views or followers will be gained by writing a guest post for your blog. So, if you’re charging people for guest posts, you need to ensure you’re not making false promises (that I see a lot of people make). Be real, reasonable and honest with anyone who wants to purchase a guest post for your blog – it’s an opportunity for further reach, not a guarantee.


As with any information that I provide on this blog, please do your research before taking a deep-dive into any one of these categories. Be responsible, be smart and invest your time and energy wisely to ensure that if you are going to monetize your blog, it’s going to be worthwhile.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to monetization, so please adjust any and all strategies according to you and your blog. If you have questions, leave them in the comments below and I will try to answer, or direct you to someone who can answer.