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Writing a Travel Book Part 8 - Affiliate Sales Programs and Tips to Succeed

By Livingthedreamrtw @livingdreamrtw

Writing a Travel Book Part 8 - Affiliate Sales Programs and Tips to Succeed During our time putting together our first self-published travel book, The Long-Term Traveler's Guide, we had to spend a lot of time learning about the self-publishing process and the travel book industry in general.  In order to save future author's time and money, this ten-part Writing a Travel Book series was born! 
The following is a quick list of the entries into this special feature. To learn more about our book launch and other information associated, please check out the Travel Book sidebar on this site.
Part 1 -  Finding a Niche and Writing
Part 2 -  Editing and Formatting
Part 3 -  Evolution of a Cover Design
Part 4 -  Digital Packages and Special Features
Part 5 -  Developing a Website for Sales
Part 6 -  Distribution Companies
Part 7 -  Pricing Development and Launch
Part 8 -  Affiliate Sales Programs and Tips to Succeed
Part 9 -  The Cost of Writing and Sales Summary
Part 10 - Final Thoughts
Writing a Travel Book Part 8 - Affiliate Sales Programs and Tips to Succeed
One of the biggest driving forces to persuade all would-be author's to release a book in digital format is the allure of affiliate sales.  This method of advertising is tantalizing due to the fact that putting your product out into the affiliate marketplace is equivalent to letting others do the work to sell your product for you.  While this potential is appealing, don't rush into affiliate oriented marketing just yet, as the major benefit to the programs are also their drawback - it is hard to find people to promote your product!
Unless you have a clear direction with how you will target gathering affiliates to sell your product, your affiliate marketing program will fall flat and not lead appreciable sales.  Luckily, for the release of The Long-Term Traveler's Guide, our affiliate network was quite large from its inception due to the nature of us running a relatively large travel blog, being friends with many other travel bloggers, and that our book is dedicated for others looking to do what we all do on a daily basis.
With this compatibility, our simple formula for affiliate success was a slam dunk:
Bloggers Looking to Earn Money + Websites Tailored for Your Product = Affiliate Success!
You do not have to run with this formula for great affiliate marketing, but without having a way to partner with perspective affiliates and a way for those affiliates to sell your product, where will the interest come from?
Part of the reason we partnered with ClickBank for our digital package sales is to be listed in their product database for their quoted "100,000" sellers to possibly become our affiliates.  While this process is not guaranteed to launch your product to stardom, it definitely wouldn't hurt.  After two months of being live, we can easily say that we've seen significant traffic come through our website from these affiliates who we never heard of before and have even made a few sales with them as a referrer. 
For more immediate affiliate sales, we looked to our professional network and developed some ways to encourage our fellow bloggers to sign up.
1)  Have Participation from Day One
Allowing those in your network to contribute to your product is a great way to build a relationship with others in your industry who may one day drive affiliate sales.  This could be as simple as asking for advice on how you form the product to having others contribute full segments of your package.   Be sure to reward all contributors for their help proportional to the what they provide, as you should not expect anyone to help out for nothing.
For The Long-Term Traveler's Guide, we had several of the world's best travel bloggers contribute quotes to the included topics as a way to introduce each chapter in the book.  It was a creative touch for a cover page, and all those who helped out are getting prime exposure in the book's reference page and digital package features.  Free exposure in a potentially large book for a few minutes of effort is an easy decision for most bloggers, and being able to promote and make money off the product that you are featured in comes as a natural extension.
For full disclosure, all those who were featured in our guide received a free copy of the digital package as well as a printed edition for their contribution.
2)  Offer Attractive Payouts
One of the biggest mistakes that digital sellers make with affiliate marketing is not giving their partners a large enough commission for their work.  If your product is $50 and you only offer a $5 commission, it is quite likely that many potential affiliates will pass you right over.  But if your $50 product offered a $25 commission per sale, you may generate a lot more interest in gathering affiliates to sell your product for you, especially if it is a product many people truly believe in.
We chose our digital pricing to be $25 for The Long-Term Traveler's Guide, a value that we feel is either right at or slightly less than what most people would be willing to pay.  But to offer only $2.50 commission to our affiliates would be an insult and not worth their time.  As our base affiliates are comprised of those who helped contribute small features that made the guide the amazing product that it is today (see tip #1), we felt like we could offer no less than 50% commission on all sales.  Cut out the ClickBank commission, and the final sale price is $11 for us, and $11 for our affiliates.
So far, we've heard no complaints.
3) Give Select Affiliates Bonus Incentives
While you may not personally know all of your affiliates, you do have the opportunity to gain a few through bonus incentives.  A common bonus technique is a tiered commissioning platform in which the most successful are given higher commissions above the base (+10%, +20%, etc).  Our partner service does not offer such tiers unlike a few others that do, so we had to investigate other avenues to generate interest in our program.
As a way to generate interest in our product and attract people to become an affiliate, we are offering those with top rated travel blogs the chance to giveaway a copy of our book to a reader in exchange for a review.  The partner places their affiliate link to generate sales from their review, more people will read it as the review doubles as a contest, and interest in our package increases.   Good for us, and good for our affiliates.
The way you promote your affiliate program is up to you, but our initial formula has proven a great success for our product.  Using databases as a way to pick up affiliates is one technique that requires no effort, but targeting those that will be more effective at selling your product is a win-win situation.  Take a while to reflect on your product, determine where would be the best spots to sell it, and figure out what incentives you may be able to add in order to make it marketable to affiliates on Day 1.
While no product will truly sell itself, having others do it for you is a very close second; and paying your affiliates fairly is the least you can do for their effort.

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