Y’all, I have to admit, I wrote this post just as much for me as for you. See, I know about affiliate marketing. I’ve taken a great course on it. I used it. And then I got busy and I got rusty, and my niche changed, too. I started writing for college and grad students, and now I write for authors here and create Bible study resources at Real World Bible Study. If I want to learn about something, I research it and write it. And this time I wanted to learn about the best affiliate programs for authors.
This page contains affiliate links. That’s right, it’s an affiliate post about affiliate posts. These nifty links don’t cost you a penny, but they sure help to pay off those student loans! For more information, please see my disclosure page.
What to Look for in Affiliate Programs for Authors
First, look for products that you already love and already recommend! I just listened to a webinar from Michael Hyatt’s Platform University, and his “first step” for getting started with affiliate marketing is this: look around for a product that you use every day, sign up for an Amazon Associates account, and then use your link whenever you recommend that product. It’s going to be easiest to talk about the stuff you already talk about.
Occasionally I’ll go test out a new product because it has a great affiliate program, but usually, I start with something I already know and love.
Make Sure that Products you Promote Fit Your Audience
Think about what your audience needs. Remember that your first goal is to serve your audience well by giving them great recommendations. This is easier for nonfiction authors; readers come to you looking to solve a problem, and in addition to your own books, you can recommend products that help solve that problem. But fiction authors, your readers are part of your community, and they come to you for recommendations, too. How can you meet their needs?
And just remember that your relationship with your audience is based on trust. Recommend resources that you can count on, ones that won’t betray that trust. For me, this means I only endorse products I personally use or have used, with one exception. In certain cases, I’ll share something I would use if it applied to me, if it comes from a source that I absolutely trust and meets a need for my audience. For example, I might share about a book club for kids, even if I don’t have kids, if I trust the source and it helps my audience.
Consider the Rewards
Some affiliate programs offer a flat fee or “bounty” per referral, while others offer a percentage. And those percentages range widely, from the 1-5% you’ll find on Amazon to the 40-70% you’ll find with Ultimate Bundles. A low percentage doesn’t mean you shouldn’t participate, but you might choose to invest more resources in programs that offer a better payout.
Where to Find Affiliate Programs for Authors
There are three main ways to find affiliate programs.
First, sign up for an affiliate service such as Shareasale. These services help connect businesses with affiliates, so you’ll be able to find many programs in one place. That makes payouts much easier!
Second, go to the website of the store or service provider, and look in the footer area. Often, there will be a link to an affiliate program there.
Third, if you want to promote a product, and you don’t see an affiliate program, just ask! Some aren’t advertised. Some aren’t set up yet. Some are just hidden away in internet-land. Just ask. These might be the best relationships because you will already have a personal connection.
You can find more great advice for affiliate marketing as a writer in Joanna Penn’s How to Make a Living with your Writing. (Not surprisingly, affiliate marketing makes her list!)
Affiliate Programs For Every Author
I’ve listed out some author-specific recommendations here, but if you want 80+ recommendations for affiliate programs for different niches, check out the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course here.
This is the no-brainer for every author. If someone buys your book normally, you get paid…eventually, right? If someone buys your book through your affiliate link, you get paid twice: once for the affiliate sale and once for your book royalties. And then you’ll also get paid affiliate commissions for anything else your reader buys on that site.
Sign up for a free account at Books2Read.com, and you’ll be able to create a universal book link for each book that directs readers to their preferred retailer, with your affiliate link. You should use these to sell your own books as well as other books you recommend.
- Amazon Associates. Here’s why you need to be an Amazon affiliate if you’re an author.
- Plus, with Amazon you’ll learn a lot about your readers. Here’s how you can use Amazon Associates to learn more about your readers. Apparently, my study skills blog posts reach nursing students. Who knew?
- Barnes and Noble
Book Subscription Services
Bonus: Try to see if they are featuring a favorite author or even one of your own books!
- Bookroo (a book club for kids’ books)
- Booklender (Rent Books or Audiobooks – 60% Off First Month at BookLender.com – Code: SAS)
- CrateJoy (other subscriptions, but also lots of book clubs! Plus, well, my name is Joy 😉 ).
The Ultimate Bundles program is one of my favorite affiliate programs. (They also have a great new podcast about affiliate marketing!). Creators come together to offer tons and tons of resources for a low price…for only a few days. As an example, think about this: 1,072 recipes across 12 categories + 200 dessert and beverage recipes, 30+ ready-to-use meal plans with shopping lists and prep notes, 5 e-courses, 5 ebooks, and 4 printable packs & workbooks, valued at $1,038, but for sale for $49.95. Talk about delivering huge value for your readers!
Here’s why I love this program so much:
- 40% commission rate, or 70% if you contribute a resource to the bundle (such as an ebook, course, etc).
- Amazing support. The Ultimate Bundles team provides great images, copy, promotional calendars, and fun competitions. Their entire business is based on affiliate marketing, so they really help you succeed.
- Confession Time: I first signed up for Ultimate Bundles’ affiliate program because as an affiliate, you get the bundle at 40% off, and I really wanted some of the resources in the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle. (I still use them!)
Not every bundle will fit your audience, but some will. For instance, the Ultimate Productivity Bundle and the Master Your Money bundles were a fit for me, but the Herbs and Essential Oils Super Bundle, not so much – that’s not what I write about. But maybe it speaks straight to your audience! Or maybe, you’ll find a bundle that isn’t a fit for your audience (like me above), but it is a fit for YOU and you want that discount.
Affiliate Programs for Non-Fiction Authors
If you’re a nonfiction author, you have SO many choices of affiliate programs, it’s not even funny. You write about something to meet a need, to solve a problem. Your readers go to you for the how – your books, blog posts, courses, etc. – and they also come to you for the tools to carry that out to completion. Don’t promote a course that’s in direct competition with your own offerings, but promote resources that will supplement your offerings or help you put them into practice. I’m not going to list these individually, because they will be different for every author and every niche. But here are a few examples:
- Write about productivity? Promote your favorite planner, app, or virtual assistant service.
- Create resources for writers? Promote your favorite books on craft, software, and courses for writers.
- Write about photography? Promote your favorite camera equipment.
- Write about going to college debt-free? Promote your favorite test-prep software, like the one I used to rock the GRE.
Think about the tools it takes for your reader to get whatever outcome is desired from your book, and think about how you can offer those tools. Another way to look at affiliate marketing is to think of it as providing tools to your audience without having to reinvent the wheel or create them yourself!
Affiliate Programs for Bible Study & Devotional Authors
If you’re writing Bible study or devotionals, there are some affiliate products that might work especially well for you. Ultimate Bundles sometimes offers a bundle on Christian living. Your favorite Study Bible is a great option, too. If your readers like to go deep, offer a resource page of Bible study library items that you recommend. Dayspring has great faith-based gifts, Bible journaling supplies, calendars, planners, and the beautiful Illustrating Bible.
Also, think about what else might supplement your devotionals or Bible studies. Maybe there’s a topic that your audience is interested in, but you haven’t written about. Find your favorite resource on that topic (such as praying for your kids), and share that with your readers. Again, it allows you to serve them even if you haven’t created your own product to meet that need. If you write Bible study guides, I’m pretty sure you haven’t written about every book of the Bible or every topic available. So when there’s a topic of interest that you haven’t covered, that’s a great chance to promote your favorite Bible study guide, course, or tool.
Affiliate Programs for Fiction Authors
For fiction authors, it’s a little less obvious. You can definitely promote your books and others’ books using affiliate programs for book retailers, book clubs, etc. as described above. But what else?
Well, as a fiction author, remember that you’re also a lifestyle influencer. Your readers want to get to know you and your characters. Find your favorite lifestyle influencer on Instagram or on their blog. Take notes – not of the specific products, but the types of things they promote. It’s everyday stuff, y’all! If it’s a part of your life, share affiliate links in the same way you would naturally recommend a product to a friend..which is, actually, what you’re doing, right?
You could even take it a step further. If you create a lead magnet or freebie related to your books or your characters, think about including affiliate products. Example: Susy’s chocolate chip cookie recipe? Link the ingredients you use or the stand-up mixer Susy was using when she had some personal disaster. Chautona should be an affiliate for Dropps, because I definitely signed up with her link after reading a blog post about one of her characters. (Actually, I didn’t see a regular affiliate program for Dropps, but they do have a referral program. So if you want almost-zero-waste laundry detergent mailed to you, here’s $10 off. Leave it to me to get sidetracked by detergent.)
The point is – be creative.
You’re an author. No matter your genre, you’re supposed to be creative. Look around your house, or at the applications on your computer. What do you use every day? What do you LOVE? What do your readers need or want or ask for?
Relatively, at least. But it’s not always so easy to get good at promoting them. I’ve tried some things that have worked, and some that have flopped. Some of it is practice – getting to know your audience and what is a good fit. Some of it is skill and technique, and the legal things you have to be aware of to make sure you don’t accidentally break any laws!
But you don’t have to figure it out from scratch. I didn’t. I started learning about affiliate marketing from Abby Lawson at Just a Girl and Her Blog. Then I went deeper and took the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. I applied some things, and now I’m getting ready to go back through the material again. I’m so excited to announce that for the next few days, there’s going to be a sale on Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. From October 17-20, 2019, you can take $28 off the course with promo code OCTOBER2019CC.* Click here to sign up now!
What are your favorite affiliate programs for authors?
Jump into the comments and let me know!
*Discount is only available on the one-time payment option, not the monthly payment plan.