It is our policy to be transparent about our business model so that you can make informed judgments about the objectivity of the information we present.
YLF has three main sources of revenue: Advertising, Affiliate Programs and Sponsored Posts. We have taken an approach that is (1) transparent through disclosure and (2) minimizes the potential for real or perceived conflict of interest.
We belong to several ad networks and occasionally we will also run ad campaigns for specific clients. It will be obvious from the content of the advertising banners that they are advertising and not editorial content.
YLF is an affiliate partner to many retailers and fashion brands. When one of our readers follows an affiliate link to one of these partners and then makes a purchase, YLF receives a small commission. There are three types of affiliate link:
- Mentioned Products: Sometimes the links to products that we mention in the YLF blog are affiliate links. Through affiliate partners we have access to the inventory of Nordstrom, Macy’s, Zappos and many other stores and brands, but we also regularly link to products from companies that aren’t affiliate partners. We always display or link to the products we think best reflect the point we are making in the blog post.
- YLF Finds: Think of YLF Finds as Angie’s boutique and Inge’s bookstore — they stock the things they love and YLF makes a profit when people buy these items. Angie fills the Finds fashion section with products that she or her clients have experienced. All of the links in YLF Finds are affiliate links.
- Automatic Affiliate Links: We currently use a service called VigLink that in some cases will automatically add the affiliate code to links on YLF. These could be links that we create ourselves, or links that our members create in the forum. In either case, we do not know in advance which links will generate affiliate revenue.
Our approach with affiliate programs is to earn revenue for YLF without any conflict of interest, real or perceived. The first important part of this is disclosure. In the cases where we explicitly create affiliate links in blog entries (#1 above), the affiliate nature of the links is disclosed in the blog entry itself. Links in YLF Finds (#2) are affiliate links by default. We can’t disclose automatic affiliate links (#3) in every case because we can’t predict in advance which links will be affected. Of course, the fact that we can’t predict which links will be affected also eliminates the potential for conflict of interest.
The second important part of conflict of interest is influence. We only mention products because we think they illustrate a point or are worthy of consideration, not because they might generate affiliate revenue. We disclose explicit affiliate links so you can make this judgment yourself, but we would also point to the fact that almost every available mainstream product is available to us through one affiliate program or another. In footwear, for example, our affiliate partners include Zappos.com, 6pm.com, Nordstrom and several other retailers.
Readers can also support YLF by using the list of links in the sidebar labeled “Partners” to go to online stores. When they make a purchase after following these links, YLF receives a commission.
In addition to banner advertising, companies can get exposure on YLF by sponsoring a post. This means that they pay us to be mentioned as the sponsor of the post and (sometimes) to have their advertising on the page where the post is published. Sponsorship does not in itself represent an explicit endorsement.
Sponsored posts are always disclosed in the post itself, in a message that appears at the top or the bottom of the post.
Companies that sponsor posts do not review the post content before it is published — this is one of our pre-conditions. Sometimes the company will have their own condition for sponsorship, and in that case we will note it explicitly in the sponsorship notice. For example, in this post sponsored by Zappos.com, Angie illustrated her points using examples drawn from Zappos.com.
Prior to October 2011 we occasionally did product reviews. The client provided the product(s) under review free of charge, and we charged the client a fee for the production of the review. This was clearly disclosed in the post. We no longer do paid product reviews because although we can stay true to our principles and always give an honest review, some readers will always have a nagging doubt. We were also worried about the inevitable situation where a company providing the product would be unhappy with negative statements in our review.
We are always learning, so it is likely that we will make changes in the way we make money over time. For one thing, we would love to simplify and streamline our approach as we figure out which models work best. When we do make changes, we will update this page to reflect them.