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Monday, February 25, 2013

Upsetting news.....

I had an email from Amazon 3 days ago (but only saw it today) with some very bad news for this blog.  After February 28, they will no longer be supporting with affiliate income all those people who both 1. list primarily free Kindle books AND 2. result in 20,000 free Kindle downloads or more in a month.

  However, they won't start supplying reports for me to KNOW how many free downloads have been made until the 1st of March. I don't know how many to expect, as I can't get a report for the past.  In the month of January, there were nearly 50.000 product clicks, and 500 purchases.  I don't and can't know how many of the 49,500 difference resulted in free downloads.  Even if half of them, it would exceed the limit.   What could I do to not lose all income?  When the magic number of 20,000 free downloads is being neared, stop listing any more for the month?   List a lot fewer books so it's less likely to be neared?

I'm sorry if that gives a very mercenary impression.  If you're new here, you might not know how this blog and affiliate linking developed.  When I first started this blog last April, I didn't even know about affiliate stuff and searched and listed books for several months just to help other people; I wanted many of those books myself anyway.  Then a kind reader told me about being an affiliate, and I joined, but didn't tell readers, so any income was very minimal, and accidental.  I figured it was roughly $1 an hour, or less.  As I started listing more books, taking more time, I finally told people, and was very blessed by their support when they would make an Amazon purchase after one of my links, just to be kind and help out.  I am SO grateful to every single one of you who helped in this way.  THANK YOU,  FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!

Next, If you've read the Q and A page you'll know that currently I get up between 4 and 6 am and spend 3-6 hours a day on this blog.  It is tiring but I have been very committed--(and perhaps a little obsessive--such as no days off except when I was away and with no computer, which equalled only a few days out of all that time. )  Although I have been getting tired and burned out lately, I'm really attached to the blog and the books. I love books, and this has been such a big part of my life for so many months.

The affiliate income lately is still probably less than a quarter of minimum wage, so I'm not making  a fortune, in case anyone was wondering.  Why does any of the income matter?   That income was what helped me to make the time I spend finding and listing books make at least a little sense to my family--and myself.  For example, it was enough one month to buy the kids an airplane teeter totter--and I can't tell you how great it was to just be able to decide to get them that!  Even when it's been very low, the hope of it helped keep me going on bad days too.  I am honestly really upset about this sudden change and the future of the blog, and am not sure what to do!

..........not to mention I also just began the Preparedness Fair (including many, many hours of research, inviting people, and paying a year's subscription for the program to do that).  Without a book blog with lots of readers, there is no audience for the Fair and I don't see a good way to build one to help it grow.  I would love to continue it but without a new idea or some help to publicize it it will die a lonely death.  Well, it will die a death and I will be lonely!  :D

Any ideas on either issue would be EXTREMELY welcome.

  • And if you've benefited from this blog and got a bunch of free books and would like to help at all, I would be so grateful to you if you could pack all the Amazon shopping you planned to do in the next while into the next 3 days!  As of March 1, I won't get any more guaranteed commission.  This involves clicking on one of the Amazon links on this site BEFORE purchasing anything else.

Now, a few hours have gone by to reflect and come up with some ideas.

The only way I can see to continue listing free books and still get any compensation is to cut down on the number of books downloaded.  I can try to list the "cream," and quit listing the least popular ones,* the poorer or questionable quality ones, more ordinary or less specialized ones.

As I was approaching a bit of a burn-out anyway, this could coincide with a need to cut down on the time. Of course, telling the cream from the skim takes time too.  And of course the Fair was going to require quite a bit to get built up, so I don't know if  saving any time would actually happen in the end result.

Input is very welcome.

And THANK YOU SO MUCH to all of you who have loyally and regularly come here, and to those who have made a point to support my efforts by making Amazon purchases.  YOU ARE STARS!!!


*perhaps using the results of the poll, which I had no idea would be so handy!


  1. This is terrbile news! I think the best thing for you to do is be highly specialized about which free books you link to, sticking with prepper/homesteading books that are decent quality (not just a 10 page collection of tips for example) and use the poll results to help you decide. I subscribed here mainly for these types of books as I have subscriptions to other specialty websites (a family budgeting blog often links to money and homeschooling) so there is ussually overlap with the books I see there.

    1. Thank you so much, Stephanie. After a day of consideration I finally did the math--700 people downloading 1 book a day would still be too much! I may still cut down for time's sake (though it takes even more time to judge the quality of each book!) and for you readers' time sake. I'm posting a new post today about what I think I'll try doing. Thank you again. :)

  2. Thank you for the work you have put into the free book links. It has helped me tremendously.

    I agree with Stephanie about sticking to the prepper and homesteading books.

    1. Thank you, I really appreciate that it's helped you! That's wonderful to hear!

      I had to rethink the idea of cutting down the number of books, as I wrote to Stephanie above, and I'll also write in a new post.

      Thank you again. :)

  3. The way I see it, you'll probably get almost as many clicks by listing just the high-quality books as you currently do. Those are the ones that most of us are already clicking on anyway - you'd only be removing the ones that don't contribute much to your click-through totals.

    One idea might be to split your site into multiple sites, each covering a single topic (e.g. gardening, cooking, prepper fiction, etc). Each site would have its own affiliate ID, so should stay under the magical 20,000 downloads.

    Maybe also promote more of the heavily-discounted books, so Amazon can't accuse you of "primarily promoting free Kindle eBooks"?

    Removing affiliate links from the free eBooks might help some - I realise it might reduce your earnings a little (you'll miss people that pick up the freebie and then also buy something), but probably not by much. Keep affiliate links on the discounted-but-not-free books.

    Maybe you could also sell advertising on your web site and in your RSS feeds and newsletters - especially if you have decent traffic numbers.

    Keep your eye on other blogs and affiliate forums, and see what other freebie sites are doing. Hopefully you can get some ideas to keep going!

    1. Hello, Darren, I so VERY much appreciate the time you took to think through this and offer your very wise thoughts.

      I also realized that reducing the number of books wasn't going to solve anything--I remembered that there are 700-1200 pageviews a day here--if there was only an average of 1 book downloaded each, that would already be too many!

      However reducing the number could have another object, that of changing the proportion of free to paid items, especially if I start adding lots of paid books and other items at the end of posts. (addressed again below)

      I like the idea of multiple sites, but Amazon I believe would just combine the totals, knowing all the different affiliate IDs belong to me (as they would have to for me to receive any compensation.)

      I think I will follow your point of promoting paid books more; however at the moment it's very hazy how they are deciding which you are primarily promoting; it may be down to the subjective opinion of someone at head office. I was thinking I would also add lots of linked non-book items that would be of interest to preppers/homesteaders/self reliant types, with the honest objective of promoting them too.

      Well, it's all a process and I'm sure all will change yet again! Thank you so much for your reply.

  4. I also go along with just listing prepper books. Your service is invaluable. Too bad Amazon is ruled by the almighty dollar!

    1. To hear you say that was so encouraging, thank you so very much! I'm glad it's been so useful to you.

      I've rethought the idea of reducing the books--while it might help other things, I've realized it won't help this, as I explained above to Stephanie.

      Thank you so much! :)