Brad Templeton's Photography
On affiliate links on my web pages

On affiliate links on my web pages

Some of my web pages have Google adsense ads, some have text ads and some have affiliate links, which means I get a percentage of sales from the links.

For Google ads, I have little influence over what ads appear and usually no knowledge of it, so those are pretty-non corrupting. When I see affiliate links, however, my intuition is to be suspect about the advice given, and it's usually a good intuition. So why trust me?

I had my page of advice on what lenses to buy for a DSLR up on my site for several years with no affiliate links at all. Then a user wrote me and asked why I didn't have some affiliate links. So I decided to give it a try. I selected two camera stores that I had used in the past with good results, and was very pleased with the revenue from doing so. (Strictly speaking, Amazon's program is much better than B&H's with better links and double the payout, so I use it more, but they are both good stores and I am happy to direct people through B&H's simple link if they like B&H.)

So how can you trust that the opinions aren't biased by the money? Well, in the case of that one page, you can visit the Internet Archive's "wayback machine" and see the history of my page. If you look at the version from March 23, 2007 or any earlier version of the page, you will see how it looked before I decided to add the links.

If you read the pages, you will find that, modulo some minor updates for new technology, the advice is generally the same. And that should assure you the advice given is not a result of trying to sell you something.

Will that remain the same forever? Well, I won't deny that the ability to make money from affiliate links does make it more likely I will write about topics that I can get paid for. For example, because the lens page was lucrative, I decided to add a camera page. However, from my other pages you should be able to figure that my net worth is sufficient that I am not going to sell out my opinions for 4% of the price of a camera or lens. As such, the camera page contains the same advice I would give without the links.

Is Amazon the best store? There are many good online stores. Amazon is one of the better ones, and I shop at it regularly myself. Especially for those of us near one of their shipping centers (e.g. the Bay Area) where the free ground shipping usually comes quite quickly. But I am happy to provide links to stores that have impressed me with good service and prices. You are also free to bypass the links and pick your store yourself, or as I advise in several places, to consider used products.