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April 2, 2015

Support your favorite blog: Use their affiliate links

by Donna Huber

Blogging is a fun task, but it is a lot of work. Some weeks it is almost like a second job. However, it is a job without a salary. Bloggers blog because they love it, but that doesn't mean they don't want or need a reward for their work.

Rewards come in different ways for different bloggers. For book bloggers, most of our rewards come in the form of free books. While free books are a nice perk, sometimes it just means more work. Also it doesn't pay for the expenses of running a blog.

I have kept my blog expenses minimal, only paying for a domain name. But for those who run a self-hosted Wordpress, there are hosting costs. Giveaways that the blog sponsors are often costly. Most giveaways are sponsored by the author or publisher, but occasionally I sponsor my own. Like the Box of Bookish Delights giveaway (you have entered, right? No, go here to rectify the situation), the books were donated by the author, but all the other bookish goodies were purchased by me.

How do I make this hobby self-sufficient?

It is frowned upon in the book world (at least what I hear from authors) to charge for reviews, though if you look at other product review blogs, many charge an administrative fee (particularly if the product is worth a certain price point, usually $25). As I add more reviewers and have to coordinate review requests for them, the thought of charging a small administrative fee has crossed my mind a time or two. But for now that's not an option.

Another way to raise funds are through ads. Girl Who Reads displays Google Ads and I do earn a few cents a day, more if the ad is clicked on. But Google has a high threshold before sending the funds - $100. I haven't reached that threshold yet. Many blogs use ads, either Google or similar program or they offer ad space to authors. Ads add clutter and if not laid out well on a blog, they can be distracting. I don't think my current layout is good for more ads than the Google ones. One day I may offer ad space.

Finally, an option that can be a great source of monetary rewards for a book blogger is affiliate links. They are great, because readers often already use the sites that bloggers have affiliated with. For instance, Girl Who Reads is an Amazon affiliate. Every time someone uses an Amazon link found on this blog to make a purchase at Amazon, it doesn't have to be for the advertised product even, a small commission is earned, usually 4 - 6 % of the purchase price. I use the money earned to pay for the domain and giveaways. I also reward my regular contributors whenever I can.

If you are a blogger who is wanting to earn a little money to help offset the costs of blogging, I recommend using affiliate links. Amazon is not the only company that offers such a program. Smashwords has a program, but you only earn a commission if the book the link is for is purchased. Barnes and Noble uses a third party company to administer their program and the application is lengthy. Amazon's affiliate program is great and you can easily sign up for every Amazon store (you do have to sign up for each country's affiliate program to earn commissions from the other stores). I think the best thing about the Amazon program is that it doesn't matter what the customer buys as long as they go through an affiliate link.

When I make purchases at Amazon, I always visit a blog I enjoy first and find an affiliate link to click on to take me to Amazon before starting my shopping. I like knowing I'm supporting other blogs. If you are a blog reader and have wondered how you could show your appreciation, consider using the affiliate links before you shop.

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