Hello lovelies, the weather has been chiller in my hometown and that is a welcome relief to the scorching heat. I’ve decided to write up this post based on my own experience with affiliate programs and I thought I’d include some heads up for other newbie bloggers like me!
I’ll start off by a brief description on what is an affiliate program? (Feel free to skip this if you already know!)
An affiliate program, also known as associate programs, is when an online merchant pays you for clicks on the link that has resulted in direct traffic to his site, which generally results in increased traffic for the merchant’s site. However, you don’t get payed until an actual sale has been made via your link.
The more people click on your link, the more people end up going to the merchant’s site. And the more people, the more chance there is to have an actual sale.
This is how you determine how much money you make out of the site. Each site has a specific commission percentage, these range usually from 1% to 7%.
Some sites have a fixed commission percentage and others have a buildup so you start small and slowly build up your percentage rate (These depends on how many sales you make aka sales volume in business terminology)
How do I know a good rate from a bad one?
Rates could be extremely tricky to judge because you either go with a lower commission for a major merchant but that ensures that visitors will most likely click on your link or go for a higher commission but with a lesser known merchant.
The general rule of thumb I would say is that a 4% or 5% rate is pretty good. If your merchant site is one that determines higher rates = higher sales volume (buildup) then you’re looking at a start of 1% or 2%.
I keep hearing about cookies and cookie duration, what is that?
Cookies are basically a text of data that has something totally unique to your computer or network, for example your username and password. In affiliate programs it usually means your unique affiliate link that you post on your site.
The merchant sets up a duration to each cookie and only within that duration if you make a sale via your affiliate link you are able to get payed. If the cookie duration ends and someone clicks on your link, the merchant is not obliged to pay you anything.
Normally cookies last about 30 days and the duration starts if someone clicks on the link for the first time. Recurring clicks are generally accepted by the merchant.
I came across sites that state their cookie duration is as low as one day (yeah I know), one day is definitely not enough to seal a deal in my opinion. With my blog posts I find that my readers increase over time rather in an initial spurt of views. So always go for cookies that have a 30 day duration at least.
Tools that you may find in affiliate programs:
▪️ Banners and graphics: These are basically the visual ads that you see on various sites and blogs (I have one on my homepage right under my “Latest” column). These are an “extra” way to help garner more traffic to the merchant’s site. Some merchants have seasonal banners (ex. summer sale, back to school, etc).
▪️ PPC (Pay Per Click): PPC is basically like the ads that first appear on the top of your search page when you search for something on Google or any other search engine. You can create your own PPC that links back to the merchant’s site but most likely you’ll have to set it up by yourself.
How PPC works is that each time someone clicks on your ad, you pay the search engine. You only pay if a click happens and not otherwise. After creating the ad you can then choose the suitable keywords that go with it (it’s similar to “tags”), for example as a book blogger, keywords that are suitable are “book blog”, “blogger”, “bookish”, “book blogging”, etc. When it comes to PPC you bid on the keyword you’d like to have. (Of course with bidding it’s a whole other story about choosing the right entry price to bid with, sizing up your competitors biddings, and knowing when a bid is not worth the money) I highly suggest doing more research before creating your own PPC.
▪️ Sign up Forms: Sign up forms are a way to generate more commission by persuading others to join the affiliate program, each time someone signs up from your sign up form you receive a part commission from them.
▪️ Protected ID Affiliate Link: This is a more secure ID for your affiliate link, it protects your affiliate link from theft and having someone else benefit from your profits. I personally use this and literally it’s the same URL but just another written text and data.
Now that you understood what it is, there are some points I want to call out:
▪️ Always check if certain tax laws are applicable to you or not (this is especially true for non US bloggers), I wanted to join another affiliate program but because they wanted to know which tax laws apply to me I honestly couldn’t figure it out and thought it was better to stick with a more flexible program. This was a US based program and even though I went to IRS site, I ended up in a loophole and got confused even more.
▪️ Affiliate programs are open to 18 and above (sorry for all my teen bloggers out there 😦 )
▪️ A great tip is sign up with an affiliate program that you can get behind and promote, it’s so much easier to promote something if you believe in it!
▪️ Some affiliate programs don’t mind you signing up with other affiliate programs, but others don’t. So if you have a plan to include more than one program check first with your merchant if that’s okay.
▪️ Account managers are a blessing! Yes some programs like the Blackwell’s affiliate program that I’m using have account managers that help oversee and guide you throughout the process. Don’t hesitate to contact them if you’re feeling lost!
Affiliate programs for book bloggers:
I’ll link up various affiliate programs for you to take a look at, including the one I currently have from Blackwell’s. Blackwell’s are indie booksellers based in the UK but have worldwide shipping and they’re known for having student discounts and coupons!
- Blackwell’s : UK Based, Worldwide shipping.
- Biblio: US Based, Worldwide shipping, specialist and rare books.
- Bookshop: US based, US shipping only
- IndieBound: US based, US shipping only
I want to you to know though that I’ve prioritized indie booksellers and stores for my mentioned affiliate programs, the pandemic has really affected so many indie bookstores and I’m doing the best I can to promote and advocate for indie booksellers!
If you wanted more info do check out The Uncorked Librarian’s Post “7 Book Affiliate Programs: Affiliate Marketing For Book Bloggers 101″, it has great resources and really insightful info!
If you’re reading this, congratulations you’ve made it to the end of this post! Give yourself a pat on the back. I hope you guys found this useful and I would love to hear your thoughts about affiliate programs and/or your experiences with it!