Online Business: Affiliate Marketing for Authors
The bad rap Affiliate Marketing has – is probably deserved.
But there’s no reason to throw away money you could be making by making little changes. I’ve never seen Affiliate Marketing other than a peripheral add-on to your main line of content. All the tests I’ve done with this, and the examples I have seen, only support that. But small changes in the linking you already make with your content can bring you some extra income, anyway.
Authors are in the content business. Affiliate Marketing isn’t disrelated. In fact, most affiliate marketers use the same tools as authors – they just point them elsewhere. So it’s a natural extension for authors to learn and use the same tools to add additional income.
And those tools are simply linking with an affiliate tag when you send a link somewhere.
You probably already know about using Amazon affiliate links to track your marketing efforts. On your blog (you do have one, don’t you?) you will mention other books and authors. You might as well link to these and earn some income off the referral.
Sure, you can do book reviews with an affiliate link. But the outlets like Amazon pay too damn little to make it worth your while. (And look for Amazon to continue to whittle down their affiliate payments as they already have.) To make “real income”, top affiliate marketers will pitch a high-end product that pays double-digit commissions for every sale. This is where you’ll see certain “authors” with their courses show up. Not because they are great courses, but because those courses are priced and marketed to appear great – and give high affiliate sales commissions when they are pushed. (Elsewhere I’ve mentioned that the best courses you can get are around a hundred bucks or so. Geoff Shaw’s Kindling. And even they have affiliate offers. More on this later… probably a later post.)
The simplest approach is the best approach. We are all here to write and get our books sold, not to turn into full-time copywriters and marketers for someone else’s products. As above, when you find a really good book that helps you, then why reinvent the wheel? Simply link them and get on with your writing. That said, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get something back for your efforts.
Enter Draft2Digital and Their Books2Read
Books2Read.com (a brilliant service by the bright people at Draft2Digital) makes it possible to utilize any affiliate links that Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Smashwords, and Kobo allow. Just put in your affiliate links for the various book outlets on this page.
The trick with this is that they will also aggregate the books an author has published – as long as you search through them and make their Universal Links for each book. For instance, I recommend Chris Fox’s books. His dataset approach to Amazon helped me write “How to Quit Feeding the Beast“.
I put in his six main non-fiction books, and then Books2Read made a nice little page for them. So I now have a specific page where my readers can go to simply get his books. No “people who bought this also bought…” and other distractions.
While I was at it, I also added in some of his fiction works, just so you could see how that would work. (No, I haven’t read his fiction as that’s not my favorite genre.) But you can see how he walks his talk. You’ll also see how their interface splits the books into series. Usually Chris writes in three’s, so I don’t have them all. (This was just a test, after all…)
If you go ahead and click through, you’ll see that he really only publishes to Amazon. But the point is that now I can recommend him and people will get a sales page where they can buy his various books. Each book has it’s own sales page scraped from the site (Amazon, in this case.)
If you want to see a collection of my own books, then click on this link.
If you follow those individual books, you’ll see how it will recommend you to wherever you’d like to buy them. Of course there are only five places which give you affiliate links to use, but they sell over 90% of all the books taken together, so would be worth your time to set this all up.
(And you can do this with public domain books as well. Check out my collection of Jack London’s short stories.)
Custom Links Makes Life Easier
Of course, you’ll have to have the stupid and ugly FTC notices on your site. Because the scammers have mostly ruined the trust of Affiliate Marketing.
But there are other useful points like re-direct links so that you can track things within your site. I use Rainmaker Platform, but if you have a wordpress blog, you can get a redirect link plug-in to do that for you. Otherwise, something like bit.ly will give you some analytics on the links you make (warning: Google’s link shortener does not.)
The sweet spot of these redirect links is that they are very easy to remember. Or at least you can make them that way. And you can uptate where they point to (sorry, not on bit.ly or goog.le) with simple editing. (I had to do that today for the Kindling link.)
If you want to see the only places I send for other-than-book sales affiliate commissions, check out my Our Sponsors page.
This doesn’t mean I don’t link internally to my own books. But on those pages, you’ll find usually the Books2Read page, the Lulu storefront page (where everything is 50% off) and “Pay What You Want” for digital versions. Check it out here.
Until later, then.
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Also published on Medium.