Link Cloaking – a bunch of Internet Entrepreneurs involved in marketing who cloak affiliate links do so to avoid commission sabotage and people stealing their commissions. I’m still undecided about doing this.
Just in case your not sure what I’m talking about, link cloaking involves hiding your affiliate link extension, making it look like a normal link so that people don’t know that your an affiliate. ie the normal link might look like www.bootstrapedia.com as opposed to an affiliate link looking like www.bootstrapedia.com/aff=id1450. So cloaking will remove the ‘aff=id1450′. The reason why people would cloak is to prevent people from sabotage or robing you of your commissions by just removing that little extension. I guess some people just don’t like to be the one helping other people profit. Call it greedy, mean, harsh or whatever but it happens.
Well of course I don’t want people to sabotage my links robbing me of a well deserved commission. At the same time I would hope that my community trusts me enough that I’m not just going to promote rubbish just to make a quick buck. So I havn’t been cloaking my links to my list at all and what you see in the url is what you get.
Once thing I really don’t want are my users thinking I am trying to ‘trick’ them. I believe complete transparency is valuable in developing trust among your users. For example if I was to sell a product to my list and they find out that I made a commission from it, I don’t think they will think less of me, but maybe if I had been completely open about it they would actually gain further respect. I know what I’d prefer and am happy to risk a couple of sabotages in return for gaining more respect from my users.
My approach is just to tell my users: “here is my affiliate link, if your interested in the product then I’d recommend to give it a go”. I don’t know but I don’t think that its a bad way to go about it. Its open, up front, honest and trust building. Again, whether it’s as profitable as the cloaking method I don’t know but I definitely feel better about it.
I’m not dismissing the concept of cloaking as ‘bad’ because using it on the front end of your blog is probably a great idea as your blog may attract plenty of viewers who are commission sabotage happy. On the other hand cloaking to your list, your loyal community and your fans is a whole different ballgame.