When is a recommendation a shill?

We got this question about affiliate marketing and recommendations from our web guru, Alan Seiden:

Q: I’m an affiliate of BlueHost and FastMail because I use and trust them. I’d recommend them in any case, so why not collect affiliate checks? I would like to display my affiliate links to these services (especially BlueHost) as much as possible. I am chagrined when people tell me they signed up for BlueHost but didn’t know I had an affiliate link.

The question is, what wording could I use in my "sig file" so that the link is there but is not hucksterish? I want to preserve my dignity as a trusted source of advice.


Alan Seiden, trusted source of advice
blog: alanseiden.com
powered by BlueHost

Any thoughts?

A: Alan, I like what you’ve done here and I don’t think it appears hucksterish.

I think there is some confusion about what makes you appear to be too "sales-y." It’s not that you pass a resource along; it’s how you do it.

For example, we use the word "partner" when we talk about our arrangement with MyEmma.com. I always tell people that the reason we chose to partner with this company is because we love their services. I tell them why and then I leave it at that, so they can make their own decision. You can see the wording we use here (and feel free to check them out, too).

I think the key is to let people know this is a resource you trust and endorse. You can literally come right out and say so — even in your sig file!

Any other thoughts about this?