Saturday, July 19, 2008

Helping a Client I Helped Myself

Making the Most of an Amazon Associate Account
by Alan Eggleston, writer and editor

In trying to help a client set up an Amazon Associate’s account to earn passive income from her book recommendations page, I learned a little something that may help myself. This is a good example of lifelong learning and the concept of advancing by applying the things you learn along the road of life (or work). (Because I’m benefiting from this I’m not charging my client for helping her, by the way.)

In 2004 or thereabouts, I set up an online bookstore. My initial idea was that most bookstores have a business section, but most booksellers don’t know much about business – they mostly know about books. What Grand Rapids needs is a good bookstore that caters to business people, someone who’s been in the business world and worked among books enough to know how to help them find what they’re looking for. So I set up as a way to meet that need.

The engine that drives is I know about books and I know a fair bit about business, but Amazon knows a lot about books and book distribution, so I’m letting them handle the warehousing and delivery while I handle the marketing.

My client is an executive coach. She helps executives and companies become better executives and better companies. I’m writing a website for her and she wants to recommend some books she thinks will benefit her clients and make them readily available. The easiest way to do that is to provide links to an online bookstore where they can find the book, add it to a shopping list, and have it shipped directly to their door. No fuss, no mess. For making a recommendation and for making a referral, my client can also make a very small percentage on the sale. Voila!

When I created, I programmed all the links by hand. Today there’s “
astore,” which allows you to set up a page very easily by category. It doesn’t allow you to customize as easily as by creating the links manually (which you can still do at Amazon, by the way), but it allows you to simplify creating pages of book recommendations that fit into a category. The Business section of my bookstore is set up by category – management, leadership, biography, investing, real estate, etc. – just like in a real bricks and mortar store. So this actually fits in with my format, which is how I benefit. It doesn’t fit so easily with my client’s. But that’s okay, because her list of recommendations is fairly short. Some day she may want to expand her associate program to do what astore allows her to do, however.

Just about anyone with a website can set up an
Amazon Associate’s account and sell books online. If you’re a business person in a profession with books to sell, this is a good way to make a little money on the side (passive income) just by referring your readers to Barnes and Noble also offers a similar program. And there’s at least one other:

Alan Eggleston is a Web writer and editor with e-Messenger Consulting Corp.

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