Why I Use Affiliate Links

If you’ve been following along here at Cobbled Together you will know that one of the topics I wish to write about is my effort to “cobble together” enough income for our family to live on.  For us – at least for now – it’s a little bit here and a little bit there and it’s an adventure to create a life based on our values and our goals for this next season in life.

If you’ve been reading, you will also notice that I often mention something called affiliate links. In today’s post I’d like to take a moment to explain:

  1. What an affiliate link is and how it works.
  2. Why I use affiliate links.

What Are Affiliate Links

Webopedia defines affiliate link in this manner:

In affiliate programs, it’s a special URL that contains the ID or username of the affiliate. This URL is used by the advertiser to track all traffic the affiliate sends to the advertiser’s site as a part of the affiliate program.

Many businesses have affiliate programs.  Amazon Associates is one that I use the most when I write about books but I will also from time promote products from individuals as I did when I wrote about Tent Bloggers Blogging Starter Kit which I also promote on the right sidebar.

The basic gist of these programs is that when someone clicks on a link on my site, a program tells the affiliate program where the new customer came from and then gives a percentage of the sale to me should a purchase be made.

So, if you were to click on one of the book titles in one of my posts, you would be directed to the Amazon sales page.  If you were to purchase that product (or any other product within fifteen minutes), I would get somewhere between 4% and 7% of the sales price.  The price in no way changes for you the customer, I just get a commission so to speak.

While Amazon pays out 4% – 7%, other programs pay out more.  Those hosting their digital products at ejunkie for example pay 50% of the sales price.  This is a great deal for me both as a seller of products and as an affiliate partner for other people’s products.

The aforementioned Blogging Starter Kit is this way for example.  The e-book costs $19.99.  If one of my readers visits and makes the purchase, John over at Tent Blogger would be paid and then would send me 50%  –  $9.99.

As another example, I sell a number of ebooks for language learners from my other site, The Everyday Language Learner.  These ebooks range in price from $2.00 – $20.00 and come as pdf files or bundles of products including pdf files, audio and video files.  In order to streamline the selling and buying process, I host all of my guides at ejunkie, an online store for digital products.  At ejunkie, I also have an affiliate program that you could join.  I too pay a 50% commission.  This works out for me because it gets my products in front of a lot more people.  It is a win-win situation.

Why I Use Affiliate Links

As we returned to South Dakota and as we have laid out a rough vision for what we want our life to look like and what we want to be about, the way forward has led us to not pursue full-time employment working for someone else.

That would leave too little time and energy for accomplishing our goals.

But we still need to earn enough money to pay the bills and feed the kids.  To do that we are working to grow my consultation and writing business online at The Everyday Language Learner, The Turkish Listening Library, Stories from Turkey and Ingilizce Ogrenmek (Learning English).

Income is generated at those sites through the sales of guides for language learners that I have written (you can listen to the audiobook version of my main guide for $3.99 [not an affiliate link]), through Google Adsense and through affiliate links.  Occasional advertizing opportunities also arise and I also offer the Ten Week Journey language course on a donation basis.

I also work as a language coach, which is what I really want to focus on.  This is accomplished over the Internet as well through Skype calls.  Helping people learn languages more effectively, efficiently and to have more fun doing it is what I love to do.

It’s a little bit here an a little bit there and as strange as it seems, it’s working.  Slowly income is growing.

Affiliate links are a part of the overall strategy.   In the old economy it seemed that for every winner there needed to be a loser.  Coca-Cola ran an ad during the nightly sitcom.  They won exposure.  You lost thirty seconds of your time.  Interruption marketing is what Seth Godin calls it.

But with affiliate links, I can write about the things I would naturally write about anyway, things I enjoyed or found helpful, things I would recommend to my friends anyway and irregardless of whether I made a few pennies on it or not.

So that is it. Affiliate links are one part of the quest to pull together a sufficient income to live.  Part of my vocation is that I am a writer.  Affiliate links create a new avenue to leverage that to earn a little bit of money.  Not from you the reader, but from the distributors of products.

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