22 July 2015

Author Tips: Generate Income from Affiliate Partnerships

Affiliate ProgramAnyone who has written a book knows how hard it is to make a buck on their work. One of the problems facing authors is the pervasive thought that “the only way I can make money is by selling my book.” That mindset automatically shuts down the possibility that there might be other ways to generate income from your work. Authors who are successful at generating income view any book project as a small business. If you opened up a retail store, you would tell someone that they were destined for failure if they just sold one item. The book business is no different than retail. Authors must seek out ways to generate multiple streams of income from a single project to reap any financial rewards.

One passive way we’ve found to generate extra income is through affiliate partnerships. An “affiliate partnership,” or sometimes known as an “affinity partnership”, is a term coined by a marketing guru that slightly obfuscates how and what these programs are. Basically, an affiliate partner is someone who advertises a website and is paid on a by the click or a percentage of sales basis. So you’re getting paid for advertising and promoting a specific website. Here’s how these programs generally work. After being approved as an affiliate partner by a website, you are given links, banner ads, or other online tools that are specifically linked to your account. When someone visits your website and clicks on one of those links, you are paid a percentage for anything purchased on that site while their browser is open. (Per click payments are much less common in affiliate partnerships for obvious reasons, but they do exist.) Amazon, Barnes, and Noble, and Book Depositary are all online booksellers with affiliate type partnerships.

Here’s a practical example from the perspective of an author that has an approved affiliate partnership with an online bookseller. On your blog or website you’ve posted a link for your book from a bookseller, A. Someone visits your website and is intrigued by your book and clicks on that link. After reading the description of your book, our visitor decides he / she isn’t interested but does remember he / she was going to buy a copy of Go Set a Watchman. Since that person purchases Harper Lee’s book while he / she has entered the bookseller’s website through your link, you get a percentage of that sale. You’ve made a little money for someone not buying your book. (If you didn’t notice, we inserted an Amazon link in the first reference to Go Set a Watchman. It’s really that easy...)

Of course, you don’t just have to slave affiliate partnership links to your book. Most affiliate partnerships have unique reference codes slaved to your account for any item sold on your partner’s website. So if you’re writing a blog post about a book you’ve referenced in your book, use your affiliate partner link to that book in your post. If you are tweeting about a product you’ve recently seen, use your affiliate partner link in your tweet. Does your affiliate partner have a banner ad for their digital reader? Place that ad on your website and you’ll open another potential for income after someone clicks on the banner ad.

While all of this seems too good to be true, affiliate partnerships do exist and are relatively easy to set up. As with anything in the business world, there are some things to watch out for. First, keep in mind that the percentages you’ll be making on affiliate link sales are relatively small. The going rate is anywhere between 3-6% of the final purchase price. (Commonly these percentages increase with purchase volume.) Secondly, closely review the terms of service for any affiliate partnership you are evaluating. Some of these partners stipulate that you cannot have multiple affiliate partner links on your website. This means that if you’ve signed up as an affiliate partnership with booksellers A and B, you won’t be able to post links to both. Some affiliate partners stipulate that you cannot link to products you are directly selling. This is a bit of a gray area if you have a publisher. Technically the publisher is selling your book and not you. Just be sure to clarify that fine point before entering into an agreement with a vendor who has this stipulation. Finally, you have to keep up with changes websites make in their affiliate partner programs. What was acceptable when you started your partnership will likely change over time. Don’t get caught being in violation of your ToS agreement through ignorance of changes.

More than likely you’re not going to buy that Ferrari you’ve had your eye on with income from affiliate partner links. However, you’re creating a potential stream of income for altering links you’re probably already throwing out into the internet universe. The other benefit is that affiliate partnerships are a “fire and forget” prospect. Once you’ve created and posted a link, it’s always out there with the potential to generate income. Of course the more links(and traffic to your website) you have, the greater your chances of success are.

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