How I Earned $34.91 with Referly

Its been two weeks since we launched Referly to the world, and I’m proud to report that I’ve earned $34.91 using the service to share products I own and love.  I’ve tried to act like a (somewhat) normal person with Referly and only share things I’m proud to vouch for, either because they already belong to me or because they were suggested to me by a trusted friend.

At this rate, I’ll earn over $900 in a year – so I’m already thinking about what I want to save up for (and maybe I’ll even build a feature for goals like this into the product!).  Maybe a weekend in Napa, or a trip back to Seattle to see my parents.  Or maybe I’ll do something much less exciting and just pay down my credit card debt… never know.

Refer Products You Own & Love

It was interesting to see that of all the products I referred, the things I actually owned did much better at earning rewards.  In fact, I own every item that generated revenue (see below).  I think this is because I can speak about these products credibly, and give them the most meaningful and honest recommendations.  I pointed out other stuff I found in passing, like a “cute dress for summer!” or “awesome iPhone case” but I wasn’t speaking with the authority of the owner in those cases, and I think people could tell.

Even better is if you have your own pictures of the product (hello Instragram can we do some biz dev?), or a story about how it was useful or enjoyable to you recently – as I did here in my blog post about how to make my favorite drink the Kir Imperial.  Tweets and Facebook statuses are more than ads, they’re the shortest advertorials in the world.

Be Helpful, Not Spammy

Don’t bother sharing hundreds of Referly links in hopes that someone somewhere in your social network will click and buy.  That’s just not how it works.   In fact, each time you refer something that people don’t want you lose a little bit of credibility with them, and eventually you run the risk of being called out for being spammy.  Good referrers focus on finding recommendations for specific people or groups of people that are actually relevant to them, and helping the recipient of the recommendation understand the reasoning behind the suggestion.

Spammy Example

Helpful Example

Referly doesn’t pay on clicks, so even if you have a huge audience you’ll find that if they don’t take any action on the things you say you aren’t going to get rewarded.  You’re better off having a tight network of 100 friends, or 1000 adoring fans, instead of 50,000 Twitter followers who would never ask for your advice in real life.

If Something Works, Keep Sharing It

Referly saves all your links, so you can begin to curate a batch of products that you find useful to share in different situations.  For me, the books below are usually right at hand when I am talking to other startup people.  The kitchen products are all about my resolution this year to drink more water and work “farmer” hours where I wake up between 6am and 7am (more on that in another post).  Both topics come up a lot, and people ask me for my suggestions.

In Case You’re Curious – Here are the Products I Shared KOR ONE BPA Free Hydration Vessel Bodum 5500-01US Ibis Cordless Electric 57-Ounce Water Kettle, Black

The Marketing Playbook: Five Battle-Tested Plays for Capturing and Keeping the Lead in Any Market by John Zagula

Voss, Water Artesian Sprkl, 27.1-Fluid Ounce (12 Pack)

Thomas A Edison Benefactor of Mankind by Trevelyan & Miller Francis

Growing Pains: Transitioning from an Entrepreneurship to a Professionally Managed Firm by Eric G. Flamholtz Bodum Pavina 12-Ounce Double Wall Thermo Tumbler Glass


That’s what I’ve figured out, there is so much more to do.  Happy referring!


  • Cameron Newland

    I love the Bodum Pavina Double-Wall Tumblers. They use the mini ones for espresso at my favorite coffee shop.

    Good advice on how being genuine and not spammy helps to build your authority within your social network, as opposed to undermining it. Those particular examples are illuminating.

  • Nolan Clemmons


    When I was a young college student, I would donate blood plasma for money. For only two trips per week I’d receive a total of $75 in cash. Each trip took only took about 2 hours and as you long drank plenty of water and ate a healthy meal beforehand, you didn’t feel dizzy. I only passed out once, and that was because I was doing some serious physical activity. 
    Your goal should be to make $75 per week per user the median reward level for

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