Once in awhile, someone will send me a message telling me that they don’t appreciate that I review and endorse programs/services, participate in product launches, and otherwise earn an income from my website, stating that it makes me incapable of being trusted, invalidates my opinion, hurts my credibility and reputation, or something to that effect. I’ve even heard it rumored that some people truly believe it’s wrong to make money online – period. Can you believe that? I mean, anyone who earns an income from an internet business must have hidden motives. Right? Give me a break!
I’m glad to report that these messages are few and far between, and I could probably count on one hand how many times this subject has actually come up since I founded Physical Living back in 2008. And it doesn’t bother me in the least when it does. I certainly don’t lose sleep over it. But in the event that there are swarms of other people who don’t like that I make money online from doing something I love, and in an effort to be completely transparent with you, I’m about to lay everything out for you to understand exactly how I earn an income from this website. I’ve got nothing to hide, and honestly, I didn’t even think writing something like this was necessary until I got yet another message about it not too long ago.
The honest truth is that I have absolutely zero qualms about making money from this website. Thousands of hours and thousands of dollars have been invested to build PhysicalLiving.com and keep it running (and growing!), and it is definitely not cheap to keep it up and running every day.
So, needless to say, I’m not at all ashamed of bringing in a side income from it, and anyone who knows how much work I put into this wouldn’t blame me. It’s just like any other business.
So, this brings me to how I actually do earn an income from this simple blog. There are several ways, but I would estimate that roughly 99+% of my earnings come from a method called affiliate marketing. If you’re not familiar with this, here it is in a nutshell:
Let’s say a company has a product for sale, and I like it. So, I recommend it to my readers and subscribers by writing about it in a blogpost, and some of those people end up buying the product from this company as a result of my referral. I will then be paid a balance from the product’s company based on the number of sales I referred.
For example, I have a review of the clubbell strength training tool, and whenever someone buys a clubbell from the company after clicking through one of my affiliate tracking links (to attribute the sale to my referral), I will be paid a 15% commission on that purchase. So, if a customer spends $100 on clubbells after clicking through one of my referral links, I’ll make $15 for referring that sale. If they spend $1000, I’ll make $150 (hint: that doesn’t happen very often).
The details of how it all works will differ from company to company, but that’s the gist of it, and that’s how I earn the vast majority of my income from PhysicalLiving.com.
Many people I talk to have never heard of affiliate marketing before, but many internet businesses have been offering affiliate programs for years. Maybe you’ve heard of some of them. Does Amazon.com ring a bell? How about Google? Seriously, this has been going on since Al Gore invented the Internet, folks. It’s just another method of revenue sharing. If you’re interested, you can learn more about affiliate marketing at the Wikipedia page here. Oh, and you could always read the official version of that explanation in legalese on the disclaimer page here. Or, you could just ask me.
One thing of note is that I’ve been told that affiliate marketing is unethical in-and-of-itself, but I don’t think that’s true at all. People make unethical decisions, and many affiliate marketers will do anything to make a buck, but that doesn’t make affiliate marketing a unethical marketing strategy. As I said, it’s simply a model of revenue sharing that is meant to help more people find the products/services/solutions they’re looking for, and it’s my priority to use that model in an ethical manner through honesty, transparency, and disclosure.
You will notice that I don’t host any advertisements on my website – no sponsored ads, paid ads, Google ads, text ads – nothing. It’s not that I disapprove of advertising. It’s just not my style. Plus, it clutters up my “house,” and I like to keep things as neat and clean as I can – even with my major lack of programming skills (thank you wordpress!) – so that, ultimately, you can find what you’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible. That doesn’t mean I’ll never post an ad in the future. It’s just not my preference.
One of the nice perks of being an affiliate marketer
In the early days, I would buy every single product that I would review and potentially endorse. Nowadays, things are a little different. You see, I’ve done enough product reviews over the years to earn a bit of trust and gain a reputation for being honest and critical in my reviews, and now that I have that reputation, confident companies are usually willing to send me samples of their products/services/equipment/etc. in hopes that I’ll review it and publish something positive about it, and thus, refer some sales. So, lately, I’ve been amassing a large collection of training equipment, programs, etc. I’ve been sent everything from kettlebells, to minimalist footwear, to books, DVD’s, and other training programs. Some guy even sent me an oxygen supplement in an aerosol can, if you can believe it.
Most of the time, I will only accept a product if I’m actually willing to review it and think that I’ll like it. That said, there have been many times that I’ve reviewed products that were complete garbage, and those ones never see the light of day. There was one exception though. My Truth About Abs Review was utterly honest and although I did my best to be fair, overall, it was a pretty negative critique. OK, ok, you got me. I completely tore it to pieces (but nicely) and was perhaps a bit too generous with a 2 out of 5 stars rating. But that’s beside the point.
What I’m trying to say from all this is that while I have and will continue to make it a priority to provide a ton of free, valuable information, I also want you to be aware that I am going to endorse and recommend products and services from time to time. You can rest assured that I will only ever recommend what I’ve actually tried and tested myself, and what I think would be useful for you, but I’d still encourage you to do your own due diligence when evaluating any potential purchase – whether online or offline.
You should also know that I’ve considered releasing some of my own products and services for awhile now, and that may happen at some point in the future. It all depends on what you guys are looking for.
I appreciate each one of you who reads my site, and I want the best for all of you. If I can help you to get stronger, fitter, and enjoy a higher quality of life, then I’m doing my job. And if I’m getting paid for what I love to do, then it’s oh-so-much-easier to justify spending more time on this side, hobby business. Thanks for reading!
Now, if you want to see what happens when I get my hands on a product that is (almost) complete garbage and actually live to tell about it, then go and check out my Truth About Abs Review and watch me rip it to pieces. I’ve been told this is perhaps the most honest product review in the history of the Internet and I think that’s probably about right (for better or for worse).
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CST Coach, CST-KS
Health-First Fitness Coach