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Posts from — May 2012

Using VigLink to Increase Affiliate Returns


In my last post I was talking about trying out affiliate programs, (who can’t do with the extra money :D) and how I set-up the Amazon Associate Program for myself. But then I got thinking and reading – there are a lot of affiliate programs out there and its difficult to choose which ones I want to be a part of, especially since I’m just starting out.

Looking around I came across two programs – VigLink and SkimLinks. Out of the two however VigLinks seems to be doing better in reviews. So VigLink it is for me.

What is VigLink?
An affiliate program is a set-up that pays you a percentage for every sale you bring to the site. E.g. If someone reads a review by me of a book, clicks on the link I have provided to Amazon and buys the book or some other product, I get a percentage of the sale.
A lot of merchants offer payouts to affiliates but it would be impossible I think to join so many and keep track of it all. This is what I like about VigLink. VigLink ties up with an entire host of merchants so I just need to use VigLink and don’t have to bother with the individual merchants.

VigLink Payouts?
VigLink takes a 25% commission for any sales you make through them. Now that’s a lot but the way I see it, without them I wouldn’t have made anything, so something is better than nothing, eh… 😀
However if you have already put in an affiliate link in you article VigLink leaves it alone. From the earlier example of my book review – if someone clicks on the link I have provided to Amazon; I get paid from Amazon and VigLink stays out of it (I don’t lose the 25%). But if someone clicks on any other link and buys something, VigLink tracks it and pays me.
To me right now it definitely looks like it will increase the possibilities of earning. Also VigLink currently does not have a minimum requirement as a payout.

VigLink for WordPress?
Setting up VigLink is quite simple. Go to VigLink and sign-up. You’ll be sent an email for verification. Verify it and you’re done.
Then in WordPress go to the PlugIns section from the column on the left of your Dashboard. Choose the ‘Add New’ option.
Search for the VigLink plugin and click the Install Now button. Once its installed Activate the Plugin. There isn’t much you need to do after this. VigLink will start working for all non-affiliated links on your blog.
This is good because it would take time to add specific affiliate links to old blogs posts. So, while old posts get updated slowly I still make affiliate money on my links.

I’ve just started out on VigLink so I’ll keep you posted on how it works out. But before you go, if you are considering VigLink and sign-up to VigLink from here they pay me 30% of their commission for the first year. So please do 😀

Other Reviews:
My VigLink Review – Giving Affiliates a Second Chance
VigLink Review – from an Actual User

May 30, 2012   6 Comments

How to Join the Amazon Associate / Affiliate Program

Affiliate marketing seems to be quite big and for a while now I have been playing with the idea of taking it up but how? I have a blog but its still small when it comes to traffic and I am yet to decide on one blogging category. I write posts about so many things – book reviews, recipes, product reviews, craft, rants, social media. And then there is my blogging consistency. With this much variation I wasn’t sure if an affiliate program would work for me. (If you’d like to know more about affiliate programs, there are a few links at the end.)

But lately I’ve been posting a lot of book reviews on this blog so I thought why not start with a book affiliate program, that’s where the Amazon Affiliate Program comes in.

Now I know that its unlikely that I’ll have a payout from them anytime soon but hey a start has to be made somewhere. Here’s the process I followed to sign-up as an affiliate/associate.

1. Go to the Amazon Associates sign-up page. Here Affiliate and Associate seems to be the same thing.
If you already have an Amazon ID choose the ‘Sign-in’ option. Click the ‘Join Now For Free’ button if you have to create a new ID.
I have an Amazon ID so I just went ahead and clicked sign-in and logged in.

2. The process of signing up is simple but tedious. There are a lot of questions to be answered. Starting with your account information – on this page you can add/remove/change the address and contact person details.

3. On the next page you have to profile you website. There are quite a few questions asked about your bog or website. How is it monetized, what other affiliate programs are you a part of, what your blog is about… Just fill it all up :)

4. You’re done with the form filling and now have an associate ID. Next you need to choose a payment method.

5. Amazon offers three modes of payment – gift card, direct deposit and check. The best option if you live in the US would be direct deposit because they do amounts as small as $10 and the service is free. Amazon changes a $15 fee for checks and the minimum amount of a check is $100. However if your billing address is outside the US they will not change a fee.
I chose the option of gift card as I don’t expect huge payments anytime soon and would rather use the affiliate money I make to buy stuff off Amazon. Ofcourse when the money starts pouring in I’ll switch to check 😀

6. There now you’re all set-up and ready to start.

7. The associates’ area offers a lot of different ways to promote Amazon products. You can choose from various widgets, use links and banners, build your own store and more. I’m going to be starting with the simple product link in the post.

Setting up the Amazon Affiliate Program is quite simple but it may not be as simple to get the money from it. Amazon for one offers a very low percentage on sales but you do grow up the percentage ladder as you go along. Also I don’t intend to use only Amazon’s Affiliate Program so we’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted :)

Here’s some more articles I’m reading on Amazon Affiliate Marketing – (Most of these are old posts but the content is still valid and useful.)
How does affiliate marketing work?
Affiliate Programs For Blogs
10 Tips for Using Affiliate Programs on your Blog
How to Dramatically Increase Amazon Affiliate Sales with Bestseller Lists

May 28, 2012   2 Comments

Book Review: Ruby by Lauraine Snelling

Title: Ruby
Author: Lauraine Snelling
Paperback: 285 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (Aug. 01st 2003)
Genre: Historical Romance
Read: eBook
Stars: ****/5
Summary: (GoodReads)
Kate has no time for meaningless romantic charades, and definitely no time for hot college professors who are full of themselves and smitten with her. Constantly battling eviction notices, tuition she can’t afford, and a sick, dependent mother, the last thing she needs is to be distracted with someone else’s complicated baggage.

When she stumbles into Ryan Campbell’s creative writing class, he is only “Mr. Campbell” to her, until Ryan finds himself captivated by her writing and she is forced to face their mutual attraction. His cocky know-it-all syndrome is enough to send her running in the other direction, and his posse of female admirers and playboy reputation are enough to squander any odds in her favor.

But underneath Ryan’s abrasive facade is something to behold, and she can’t stay away for long. Ryan and Kate must decide who they’re willing to become and fight against their former selves if they want to make things work. That’s if academia, vicious vixens, old skeletons, and their own mastery at self-destruction don’t pummel their efforts first.

My Review:



Thanks to Lauraine Snelling for giving away this book free for the Kindle on Amazon.

This book came as surprise. Like all romances I expected a happily-ever-after and its not there!

The story is about Ruby who leaves New York in a hurry to meet her dying father and claim her inheritance along with her sister Opal. Ruby arrives in Little Missouri and learns soon that life is very different here. Her father has left her a brothel that she decides to convert reputable hotel. The book goes on into her challenges and successes that are heart warming.

The girls who worked in the brothel before choose to stay on and stop selling themselves. Snelling deals with the troubles and pain faced by these girls well and I could feel for them. Very subtly but strongly Snelling makes points about why prostitutes are not bad woman, its bad situations that get them down to selling themselves. She make clear distinctions between prostitution and rape and just what a rape victim goes through even though she may have been a prostitute. Oops… That’s a bit of the story given away but hell, I liked the job Snelling did with the issue.

There are two strong heroes in the story. Captain McHenry – stationed in Little Missouri gets friendly with Opal and Rudy. Ruby and the McHenry get close and Ruby starts having feelings for him but he is transferred to Arizona. Rand Harrison is a cattle rancher, excellent horseman, loved by all person and a cool dude, not to mention good-looking. But he messes up big time with his courtship and proposal. Who will win Ruby? I kept looking at the percentage of the book left as I read because I could seen the end of the book coming but I couldn’t see the happily-ever-after coming!
‘Ruby’ is the 1st part of the Dakotah Treasures 4 book series so I guess this question will be answered in the rest.

So did I enjoy the book. Oh yes I did! An excellent Historical Romance of the Mid-West with emphasis on the woman’s day-to-day life and not just romance. I picked up some baking tips too!

I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Pearl (Dakotah Treasures, #2)
Opal (Dakotah Treasures, #3)
Amethyst (Dakotah Treasures, #4)

May 25, 2012   No Comments

Book Review: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Title: The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
Author: Eric Ries
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (Sept. 13th 2011)
Genre: Non-Fiction: Business
Read: eBook
Stars: ****/5
Summary: (GoodReads)
Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.

The Lean Startup approach fosters companies that are both more capital efficient and that leverage human creativity more effectively. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, it relies on “validated learning,” rapid scientific experimentation, as well as a number of counter-intuitive practices that shorten product development cycles, measure actual progress without resorting to vanity metrics, and learn what customers really want. It enables a company to shift directions with agility, altering plans inch by inch, minute by minute.

Rather than wasting time creating elaborate business plans, The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs – in companies of all sizes – a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it’s too late. Ries provides a scientific approach to creating and managing successful startups in a age when companies need to innovate more than ever.

My Review:



Now this book is really good for entrepreneurs and start-up businesses so I wasn’t really sure if I would find it helpful. I’m not yet an entrepreneur you see. 😀

But I did find it helpful in the work I do right now. Actually I think it would be helpful in almost all you do.

Ries says “The concept of entrepreneurship includes anyone who works within my definition of a startup: a human institution designed to create new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty.”

This to me means an entrepreneur is someone who creates new products or offers services in conditions of uncertainty. But that is what I do at work and at home but I am do not have a startup. (well when I cook I work under a lot of uncertainties – my hubby’s mood, his appetite, the taste of the food… and my product is a tasty meal :D)

Ok seriously – Ries talks about a method of approach that will help make whatever you are doing better incrementally. Simply put he asks us to experiment while monitoring and accessing results.

Here are some of the things he talks about –

1. MVP or Minimum Viable Product – Once you have an idea, don’t wait to perfect it, just put together the idea in its minimum form and share it to see the response of people. That means you make the product better as you go along in small increments rather than waste your chance making something perfect that people don’t want.
This works in almost everything I do. I tend to spend too much time perfecting plans and realize now that breaking up the plan into small chunks and implementing each turn by turn will help the overall plan get much better. This way the overall plan can be fluid and change as and when required and I save a lot of time.

2. Metrics – Measure your experiments; approach them with a requirement, objective and outcome in mind. The key is learning with each trial and making sure not to make the same mistakes again. Don’t fall for vanity metrics that show great numbers for a while but deceive you in the long term. Choose your metrics based on what you want long term for your product and watch them like a hawk.
With each trial you should learn and make the next iteration better. Use a root cause analysis and go back atleast 5 levels when checking an issue. What makes you better than your competition is how little time you take in each iteration. The faster you learn, the better your product gets.

3. Pivot/Persevere – This is a neat concept. A lot of times I’m not sure if I should continue what I’m doing even though its not showing results because it seems like pay off is just round the corner. If my metrics are right and I have defined the outcome of the action I should know pretty soon if my activity is working or not.
This data from my trial is really helpful to decide whether to stop or continue. So I can pivot and try something different or I can persevere. Even if I persevere the metrics will help me fine tune and make the iteration better. Either way I save time and learn more. A pivot does not mean my idea failed, it just means I’ve found a better way to do it.

Ries puts across some really useful ideas through the book. My only complaint is his rambling. He rambles a lot in the book and especially a lot at the end. The book could have been shorter and I’d have been happier. I remember struggling towards the end to finish.

May 23, 2012   No Comments

Book Review: Preservation by Rachael Wade

Title: Preservation
Author: Rachael Wade
Paperback: 217 pages
Publisher: Rabbit Hole Press (May 25th 2012)
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Read: eBook
Stars: ***/5
Summary: (GoodReads)
Kate has no time for meaningless romantic charades, and definitely no time for hot college professors who are full of themselves and smitten with her. Constantly battling eviction notices, tuition she can’t afford, and a sick, dependent mother, the last thing she needs is to be distracted with someone else’s complicated baggage.

When she stumbles into Ryan Campbell’s creative writing class, he is only “Mr. Campbell” to her, until Ryan finds himself captivated by her writing and she is forced to face their mutual attraction. His cocky know-it-all syndrome is enough to send her running in the other direction, and his posse of female admirers and playboy reputation are enough to squander any odds in her favor.

But underneath Ryan’s abrasive facade is something to behold, and she can’t stay away for long. Ryan and Kate must decide who they’re willing to become and fight against their former selves if they want to make things work. That’s if academia, vicious vixens, old skeletons, and their own mastery at self-destruction don’t pummel their efforts first.

My Review:



Preservation is the first book I’ve read by Rachael Wade. I’d heard about her paranormal books so when I saw this one free for the Kindle I picked it up.

The book is a nice read though I am starting to think I am more of a historical fan rather than contemporary, so I may not be the best judge here.

The characters are interesting and I quite liked crisp Ryan though he seemed too loose (for want of a better word; promiscuous was too tame a word). I agree, he had been ‘burned’ by a woman but using women and discarding them just isn’t my kind of hero.

I understand Kate’s need to be independent in the story and found Ryan a little too controlling. That said this might be because Wade hasn’t seemed to spend too much time on romance. The characters meet briefly a couple of times, then Ryan declares he won’t sleep with Kate while she’s in his class and then promptly the two fall into bed. I just like a bit of love and romance before sex I guess. :)

The first 12% of the book is quite draggy but it picks up after that. The story seemed to me more about two people who have found great sex together rather than true love. A bit more romance would have been nice.

In the second half of the story Ryan sets Kate up with a chance to publish her book and then double-crosses her to get the deal for himself. This is something Kate later forgives. Really!!! How do you forgive that in a relationship? What about integrity? At this point in the story I expected a real surprise, coming from a woman I didn’t expect to see the lead female character just give her self-esteem up so easily.

Wade though has put Kate through her paces – her mother dies and she is almost raped. The bit about her mother seemed a bit over dramatic but Wade has dealt well with the almost rape and I could feel for Kate.

Two endearing characters in this story are Kate’s best friends – Carter and Dean. They make it easier to endure Ryan and Kate :) Carter loves Kate and frankly I did expect him to be Kate’s soulmate. When Ryan double-crossed Kate I really expected Kate and Carter to get together. Now that would have been a cool end.

What I did get though was an OK read. You can get through the book for sure but I don’t guarantee enjoying it. I think Wade could have done better.

May 21, 2012   No Comments

Book Review: Lady Sophia’s Rescue by Cheryl Bolen

Title: Lady Sophia’s Rescue
Author: Cheryl Bolen
Paperback: 20,000 words
Publisher: Self-pub Kindle (Aug. 22th 2011)
Genre: Historical Regency Romance
Read: eBook
Stars: ***/5
Summary: (GoodReads)
As Lady Sophia passes through the gates of her new bridegroom’s country estate and he begins to whisper in her ear the delights that await her in his bed, Lady Sophia realizes she has made a most dreadful mistake. There’s only one thing to do. She must bolt.

The bride-on-the-run is rescued by the exceedingly handsome William Birmingham who thinks she’s a woman named Isadore, and though he’s the richest man in England, she mistakes him for a common (but well-to-do) criminal. Since she’d rather be dead than wed to her wretched bridegroom, Sophia pretends to be Isadore and take her chances with the provocative Mr. Birmingham. But how could she have known that her ruse would bring the gallant Mr. Birmingham into such peril from the wicked man she married? And how could she have known her enigmatic rescuer would ignite passions she never knew she possessed?

My Review:



Lady Sophia’s Rescue is a nice feel-good read. My only complaint is that its too short. Yes, I know it is a novella but I wish Bolen had sketched out the story more. It could definitely have been a full-fledged book.

I really liked the characters but again they could have been sketched out more. I would have liked to know each of them better. Especially Mr. Birmingham – he must have so many adventures to recount. And the villain Mr. Finkel – he seemed to give up so easily, I would rather he had put up a bit of a fight.

The story has a sense of adventure that is fun as you read but the end leaves you with a lot of loose strings and unanswered questions. I would have liked to know more about the scandal involving Lady Sophia’s sister and the yarn about the gold bullion would have made for excellent reading. I so was looking forward to the real Isadora’s entry.

Aside: The book cover could definitely have been better. Cutting off the heroine’s head at the top of the cover just seems gruesome and odd.

On the whole I enjoyed reading the novella and look forward to more books from Cheryl Bolen.

May 19, 2012   No Comments