Excessively Transparent: Affiliate Links at Seeta Lee

close up photography of person holding crystal ball

My goal is to be excessively transparent as a freelance writer, and that includes explaining my affiliate links. So many business owners tack on fees and do shady stuff that it further erodes the already precarious trust we have in one another. This is especially true economically. I don’t wish to be a part of that. Even if I’m making billions some day, I want you to know where it’s coming from, and where it’s going.

Now, my entire life, I’ve been told it’s rude to talk about money. The judgments we make about one another based upon economic status is real and brutal. It’s also a construct within which I’ve grown tired of operating. What I’m saying is: Fuck that; I’m gonna talk about money.

affiliate links: pink piggy bank
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What Are Affiliate Links?

I’m trying to monetize this blog. That means you see affiliate links. Yes, those are advertisements. Yes, it can be annoying. Yes, it can turn some folks off.

If you don’t know, an affiliate is someone who gets a commission or percentage of a sale if a reader clicks a link and or makes a purchase using that link. So, if I tell you that Target has a cool product, and I link to said product, and I’m a Target affiliate, I’d get a small cut of whatever you bought using my link. It’s usually anywhere from 5% to 20% of the sale.

Sadly, I am not a Target affiliate. They flat-out rejected me because I’m small potatoes. I get it. But hashtag goals.

For monetizing this blog, I’ve not gone beyond those affiliate links and crowdfunded donations through Ko-fi. If you’re seeing ads on my blog in excess of those affiliate links, it is not my doing. I don’t want your experience on my blog to be unusable or unpleasant. Content remains queen here.

That said, the affiliate links are still ads, and I get that some of you are like, “Ugh, capitalism.” This is why I’m talking money. Capitalism sucks, but we’re stuck with it.

I do not get rich on being an affiliate. Not including Wealthfront, I’ve made $3.50 from affiliate links. The only people who’ve purchased from my affiliate links live in our house. It’s us. We’re the only ones who’ve purchased from the links.

And when I say “made,” I’ve not actually taken possession of said income. The affiliate in question doesn’t payout until we’ve made at least $20.

If you’re counting, that means I’ve made $0 on this blog. That’s not accurate, though. My webhosting through IONOS (affiliate) costs $7.01 monthly. It currently costs me to blog. That’s not a sob story. It’s the reality of just starting a blog. Target isn’t wrong; I AM small potatoes. This space will grow, but for now, Seeta Lee’s blog operates at a loss.

affiliate links: illustration of man carrying box of financial loss on back
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What Companies Will You See Here?

So, in the spirit of full transparency, these are the companies for which I am an affiliate (active affiliate links), and I am comfortable advertising for these businesses:

This isn’t to say that they are perfect companies. I could have a few chats with MLB Shop and Marriott. However, I regularly purchase products from those businesses, and I like sharing what they sell. I bolded Bookshop, Uncommon Goods, and Geeky Sex Toys because they are my faves.

I am also an affiliate for these businesses, but these are on a trial basis, meaning I’m not sure how I feel about them yet:

Lastly, I’m doing referrals for these two:

Loop doesn’t offer commission. It’s merely points, and after a certain number of points, I get money toward buying more Loop Earplugs. This fully benefits y’all because I don’t have a need for another pair, so when I get enough points, I’m going to giveaway a pair. I genuinely love Loop, so sharing their products makes me happy.

As for Wealthfront, that’s also a referral, but it’s for a 0.5% APY increase on my existing high-yield savings account. So, I *am* making money on that, but I love it because so does anyone who takes advantage of the referral. I’ve talked a lot about Wealthfront, and I’ll talk more about it because I find their model enjoyable. Flawed, but enjoyable.

Why I’m an Affiliate

I want to mention one more thing about transparency with monetization. There’s also a shit ton of joy here. I am picky about my affiliate companies. My values-based approach to capitalism continues here, and I would not frequently link to any company that makes me unhappy or has super shitty practices. Sometimes, I get a little squicky about Marriott, but I’ve yet to find a hotel chain that lives up to the values. I stick with them because we stay almost exclusively at Marriott hotels, and our experiences have been overwhelmingly positive.

I do walk away from some opportunities. I have multiple accounts with Chase, and I was looking at being an affiliate for them. However, their murky relationship with Jeffrey Epstein makes me uncomfortable having accounts with them at all.

Bookshop supports small and independent bookstores. Geeky Sex Toys is a tiny Australian company that makes beautiful stuff. I’ve purchased a ridiculous amount of stuff from Uncommon Goods, and I plan to buy even more from them. It’s a good place to find all sorts of artists and creators without the annoyances of Etsy. Good Vibrations is one of the oldest, sex-positive, inclusive adult stores in existence. And Bombas helps unhoused people. I truly do try to pick companies that do more good than harm.

With that in mind, I hope you feel comfortable clicking and purchasing any time I include an affiliate link. It helps me pay for the blog, and it lets me know what kind of stuff interests you. While I’ll always write whatever I want, I do still try to keep you all reading.

If you want more transparency with affiliate links, please let me know in the comments or send an email to seeta@seetalee.com!

Love, chai, and donuts. Seeta Lee

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