Permitted Affiliate Links
As of the latest change to their policy (Nov 20, 2014), WordPress does allow bloggers to use affiliate links from “reputable merchants” under certain circumstances, e.g. reviewing a favorite book and linking to its Amazon page with your Affiliate code.
Affiliate links must be in the text of an article itself–links on images or videos are considered ads and fall under a different policy, and widget links, so far as I can tell, are still not allowed.
Here is WordPress’s latest policy on Affiliate Links, which mentions circumstances in which they can or cannot be used.
Here also is their Sponsored Post policy. If you’re given books for the express purpose of reviewing them, then this is the policy for you. Case in point, I’ve a few free ebooks from my social networking contacts asking for reviews, and entered a fair few giveaways on Goodreads that encourage reviews. These would all be sponsored posts. (The FTC requires that reviewers also disclose that such books and products were given in exchange for a review.)
And finally, we have the Types of Blogs that are permitted, which lists Affiliate Blogs as forbidden… but which states that book reviews and the like, or attempting to sell my own products, do not count as “affiliate blogs.” So book reviews are fine, pay-to-click referral systems and similar are not.
Ergo, it would seem that I am permitted to use a few affiliate links within any related posts, whether I was asked or even paid to write such a review or not, provided those links are text only (no images, no widgets), and provided the posts in question are either reviews of whichever product I am linking to at that point, or a description of a product of my own that I wish to sell.
Although I don’t get paid affiliate fees for selling my own work, so I probably don’t need to add those to my affiliate links.
It also does not mean that I cannot have images on the post itself–cover art of the book I’m reviewing, for instance–only that the Affiliate link cannot be on the image.
Further, I do not recall if a particular number was given in any other forums, and I do not see it now in their policy, but I assume that I am expected to keep that number down.
I have been told that I should be all right with, say, 3 links on a given page–one for Amazon, one for Barnes & Noble, one for Smashwords. More on that in a bit. But I see no need for more.
Given the nature of how I might use them, I expect to need no more than one affiliate link for video game or movie reviews–simply pointing to that product on Amazon and nowhere else–maybe three links for book reviews (Amazon, Smashwords, and BN.com)… or possibly a single link to an Amazon list in place of the others if the entire post refers to multiple items (e.g. my Reference Library).
And, of course, a list of my Affiliations… on my list of Affiliations. 😉
Now, given those requirements, I could not turn an embedded YouTube video into an affiliate link, but I can use those ads on YouTube itself, and…. I’m still looking into YouTube’s policy on whether I can include affiliate links in any descriptions.
List of Affiliations
Side Quest Publications is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to product pages on amazon.com,
as well as the Smashwords ebook store (you must be a member to be an Affiliate) which operates in the same way.
I am in the process of applying for the Barnes & Noble affiliate program, a.k.a. Rakuten Marketing through Linkshare. (Because I’m currently working at a Barnes & Noble College Bookstore and probably ought to include it because of the competition clause in my contract.) I will add a link here once I have been approved.
I am currently researching other sites that provide affiliate memberships in the same way these do–each one allows me to earn a commission on purchases made through my links–but I believe these three allow me to reach the broadest potential customer base for the fewest links at present.
How your purchases are tracked
First off, I do not actually sell anything through this site. Not yet.
Anything I do “sell” just now is via a link to another site, be it to Craiglist or eBay in the attempt to de-clutter my home, to online booksellers to promote my own writing, or specifically via Affiliate links to such sites (again) by way of reviews of books or other products I’ve tried and wish to spread the word.
That being the case, shopping through any of these other sites may require those sites to place a “cookie” in your web browser, to track what purchases you have made, to recommend other products you might enjoy, and to determine which purchases qualify to earn me commissions when relevant.
These cookies also expire in a matter of days, as per each site’s policy–within 24 hours on Amazon, for instance, and 48 hours on Smashwords. That is assuming you don’t set your browser to clear its history whenever you close it down, in which case the cookie (and thus the commissions I earn from it), will only exist during the browsing session in which the link is clicked.
How Affiliate Links Work
I will occasionally supply links related to what the post is actually about–a book review would link to a copy of that particular book, a gameplay video about Skyrim would link to a copy of that game, etc.
Some such reviews would result in linking to free items, which logically I would earn no commission on, or my own writing, which I also do not qualify to earn commissions from.
However, you do not need to buy whatever item I’ve linked to for the link to work. I’ve linked to items I find of interest, products that I would like to recommend, but I am fully capable of providing a very short list across my entire site and earning from so much more.
All it takes is one affiliate link to the site in question–e.g. Amazon–and for you to purchase anything that qualifies during that session, and I will earn a commission on those qualifying purchases.
Of course, given my earlier remark about clearing out your browser’s history, how long that “session” is rather depends on your own internet shopping habits. 😉
That being said, I can actually get in trouble with Amazon if I mostly “promote” free things… such as the “free debut novel” for a number of series or new authors I might point to.
With that dilemma in mind, and to cut down on the number of links involved, I expect to link to series or author pages near as often as to individual books, even if all I’m reviewing is that first book.
Pretty please keep that in mind when deciding what to buy when through my links. 🙂
You can join, too!
If you would, instead, like to use the services themselves, there are many other options.
Amazon allows you to advertise your site and bring in more traffic by creating product ads through them. See Amazon Product Ads for details. And, of course, you have the option to sell just about anything you like.
And Smashwords is a great place to both shop for ebooks and publish your own for many formats and many devices.
Barnes & Noble, once again, to be linked to after I am approved to use their system.
And WordPress, finally, has their own advertising system–WordAds, which allows a blogger to earn a small income based almost entirely on how much traffic their blog receives. The trouble with WordAds, as I see it, is that it requires a blog with a custom domain, which means, among other things, paying for that blog… and I lack both the income to do so and the traffic to make it worth my while at this time. Some day soon, I hope, but not yet.
My other funds
In addition to affiliate links, I do have other ways to earn money.
I have books of my own that I’ve published via Amazon.com and Smashwords,
various items I’m trying to get rid of via eBay or Craigslist and de-clutter my living space, and those I’m similarly selling as an Amazon Secondary Seller,
and different Tip Jars for anyone who simply feels generous.
Please note that while I do offer items for sale, they can only currently be purchased via eBay (in my sidebar), the previously-listed stores, or Craigslist. And thanks to Craiglist’s system, I can’t very well link to those listings without having to edit the link every time I renew the listing. (Good grief.)
I do not yet have a means to actually “sell” anything through the blog itself.
If you make a purchase through the other links and have a question or problem with the product, please contact the vendor via the site where the actual purchase was made.
Plans in Progress
Edit my older pages and posts, of course, to be sure that they comply with the changes to WordPress’s policy, as well as to allow me to earn that small commission should anyone care to use the links.
- Affiliate Links in Ebooks are a No-No (e-bookbuilders.com)
- Are You Sure You Want To Be An Amazon Affiliate? (business2community.com)
- On affiliate links, ethics and advertising (news.trafcom.com)
- How To Make Money On Amazon (howtomakesmoneyonline.wordpress.com)
- Groupon Mocks Amazon; Announces Delivery Catapult (patspapers.com)