How to use Affiliate Links (for Quilters)

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Written By carolina

Over a decade of quilt industry experience in multiple roles.

Affiliate links can be a great way to add revenue to your quilty business, depending on your goals and your business model. Some quilters make hundreds or thousands each month by referring their fans and subscribers to online stores for making purchases. How much money you make will depend on a variety of factors, but it costs you nothing to get started! Let’s learn about how to use affiliate links for quilters!

What are affiliate links?

Affiliate links are links to shops, or specific items in shops, that have been altered to reference who referred the customer to the shop.

For example, I’m an affiliate for Accuquilt. This is a link to the Accuquilt 12″ Qube:

This is that same link, but after it has been turned into an affiliate link:

In some cases, such as with Amazon links, the referral code is simply added to the end of the product link. In some cases, as shown above, the link with the affiliate code does not resemble the original link at all. The affiliate code is a reference seen by the shop that the customer was referred by you. Any purchases that the customer makes may result in you being sent a commission, depending on the rules of that affiliate program.

How do affiliate programs work?

You must apply to an affiliate program, and be accepted, to be able to create these links with tags on them. For some programs, you apply directly through that company’s site. Amazon, for example, runs their own affiliate program. For some programs, you must first apply to the company they run their program through, and then apply for the program itself. For example, Accuquilt at Fat Quarter Shop both have their affiliate programs on the Share a Sale platform.

When you’re evaluating which affiliate programs to apply to, look at how they pay out. The two most important metrics will be the percentage and the “cookie.” The percentage tells you what percent of the sale you receive. For some programs, this is a flat percentage based on the total dollar volume of the sale. For some programs, it varies depending on the products purchased. Some programs offer a “bounty” rather than a percentage. A bounty is a fixed amount regardless of the dollar amount of the purchase.

The cookie length is also important. When a potential customer clicks a a link that has been tagged with your affiliate code, a timer starts. This is the cookie window. If the customer makes a purchase within that window, you receive the commission. If they don’t make their purchase within that window, you do not. Let’s use an example of a 5-day cookie. If a customer clicks on the link on Friday, but doesn’t complete the purchase until their payday on the following Friday, the cookie will have expired and you do not get commission on that sale. However, if they click on the link on Wednesday but come back on Friday to complete the purchase, you will get the commission because the sale was completed within the cookie window.

With most affiliate programs, you will receive a commission based on the total sale, not just the item you referred. If the customer clicked the link to check out a specific brand of needles, but ended up buying backing fabric for all their UFOs – you get commission on both the needles AND all of that backing fabric. While your initial instinct may be just to add affiliate links to high-dollar items, links to small items can turn into real dollars in your pocket!

How do you use affiliate links?

You want to carefully read the terms of any affiliate program you join. Some affiliate programs do not allow you to include affiliate links in emails. To share these kinds of links you may be able to create a blog post that includes information and the affiliate links, then refer email subscribers to the blog post. Some affiliate programs don’t allow you to advertise using variants of their name. Some affiliate programs don’t allow you to include the links on sites you do not own (social media sites, for example). Failure to follow the rules can get you removed from the affiliate program.

Once you understand the terms, simply add links to your regular content. But make sure to disclose that they are affiliate links. You can add the affiliate links to supply lists, shopping lists, unboxing videos, tutorials, and more. While this site does not offer legal advice, you should be aware of regulations regarding affiliate links. One of these is that you must disclose that you are using affiliate links before offering the link (not in a line of text at the very bottom of an email or blog post). You can read more about this on the FTC site. They have some information in the FTC endorsement guide.

Affiliate Link Best Practices

When using affiliate links, make sure that you know the guidelines for your location, as well as the affiliate program rules. And then use them naturally. Link to items that you know, love, and use. Consumers can spot a fake, and the affiliate commission isn’t worth tarnishing your integrity. You should focus on items your readers would actually be interested in. For quilters, we tend to link to quilting products. If you have a niche within quilting, such as green/sustainable quilting, faith-based quilting, or budget-friendly quilting, linking to items within your area of expertise will yield the best results.

As long as the program guidelines allow it, you can include links in a variety of places. Share your favorite products in your Facebook group. Link to items you’re using in your weekly newsletter. Include a supply list in the description of your YouTube video. If what you’re sharing would prompt a reader to ask “where can I buy that?” then it makes sense to include a link.

Learn more about email marketing here.

Are Affiliate Links worth it?

It may make lots of sense to use affiliate links, or it may not be worth your time. This is an evaluation you need to make for your own business based on your business model and goals.

If you’re trying to grow your own shop, it may not make sense to send people to other shops to make purchases, even if it does result in a commission. But if you regularly refer your followers to other shops, or recommend products you don’t carry, or don’t have a shop of your own… affiliate sales may be a great way to boost your revenue. In 2021, affiliate commissions represented 13% of my revenue. In 2022 I focused more on my own products, but affiliate commissions were still 5% of my revenue. By simply adding links to items I already love and talk about, I grew my revenue. What could an extra 5-10% do for your business?

Want to learn more about affiliate links? I gave an interview on the Craft to Career Podcast with more tips on affiliate links. Find the episode here.

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