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  • Marie McKinsey

A Few Words About Affiliate Marketing

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Like most bloggers, I have affiliate marketing ads on my site. What that means is that whenever someone clicks on a Google Adsense ad, or buys a product through an advertising link on my blog, I get a commission.

These commissions don't amount to much. This year I'll make just about enough to cover my blogging expenses. Lately, I've questioned whether it's worth the trouble to run ads at all. But as I thought about it, I began to realize that I had more of a problem with who my advertisers were, than the business of advertising itself.

I've long been a member of the Google and Amazon affiliate programs. But Google has been found guilty of privacy and antitrust violations. And after making record profits during the pandemic, Amazon is now laying off thousands of people just before the holidays. Those aren't behaviors I want to support.

So I started looking for alternatives - smaller companies whose business models feel like a good fit for my values and the subjects I write about. I'm pretty excited about what I've found. Take a look. is a non-profit devoted to supporting local, independent book stores. Since 2020, they have raised more than $23 million to help these stores thrive.

The way it works is that if you buy a book through my link above, not only do I get a commission, another 10% of the sale will go into a pool of funds that is divided up among the 1,600+ stores Bookshop supports. There may be one in your neighborhood!

If you've ever felt bad because you buy books online instead of supporting your local book seller, this might be your solution! It's the best of both worlds.


Botanical Interests

Botanical Interests is a family-owned seed company based in Broomfield, Colorado. Curtis and Judy Jones founded the company in 1995, with a commitment to delivering high quality, organic, heirloom, non-GMO seed. They long ago outgrew the spare bedroom and garage where they started the business. They now offer over 600 dependable varieties of seeds to gardeners across the country.

Curtis and Judy started the business in part because they didn't think seed companies provided enough information on their packets. Today, Botanical Interests seed packets are famous for their beautiful botanical illustrations and the wealth of information they provide. (Be sure to open the packet all the way when you take out the seed. There's a lot of information inside that you will want to refer to during the season.) Their website is also an abundant source of gardening information, with growing guides, harvesting tips, and recipes - everything you need to succeed as a "seed gardener."


Grow and Make

This Portland, Oregon company is on a mission to encourage people to start doing more things for themselves, with an inspiring lineup of DIY kits. There are kits for making hot sauce, candles, cheese, soaps, and lotions. There's a gardening kit for kids, plus kits for growing edible flowers, your own tea, and more.

All kits are assembled by hand, using sustainable ingredients, mostly sourced in the USA. All materials (except for the alcohol for the "mixology series" kits) are provided. Instructions take the guess work out of the process. The kits are packaged beautifully, and they make great gifts.

Their blog features more do-it-yourself inspiration with gift and craft ideas, recipes and how-to guides.


Starwest Botanicals Inc.

This business began in a small storefront in Sacramento, California in 1975. Today, it sources herbs and spices from growers in over 20 countries. They offer culinary, health and wellness, and beauty and body care products. Products may be purchased in personal sizes or in bulk.

In 1989, Starwest became a Certified Organic Processor, and since then all of their organic products have been grown and harvested in accordance with the USDA National Organic Program. They are also a Kosher Certified Facility. Starwest Botanicals is a member of the United Plant Savers, and they offer a large selection of Fair Trade Teas certified by Fair Trade USA.

The Starwest Botanicals blog provides recipes, information about how to use botanicals, and "sourcing stories," which feature their growing partners in other parts of the world and describe some of the programs in those countries that support growers.


There you have it! My new lineup of advertisers.

So far, I've changed out most of the Amazon book links, which are most of the Amazon links I've ever had. I'm keeping some Google ads, but I'm moving them down lower on the pages to give better positions to the small companies I have added. I'm still going through pages to see what I've missed. I expect to complete the changes in the next week or so.

I'm curious what you think of my decision to downplay the tech giants on my site. Does it matter to you? Are you more or less inclined to buy from small companies? Leave me a comment below.

Thank you.


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