What I Learned in 2010: CreateSpace, Amazon, Linkshare

The year 2010 has been a learning year for me. I didn't earn that much, but I learned a lot. Much of it had to do with how to make the most of my resources. I don't have a lot of common sense, so many of the things I learned this year may be things that most people have known all along. However, just in case some of my readers are in a similar developmental stage along the path of life, I will share what I learned with you.

An Amazon Capsule that Displays the Two Books that I Published in 2010

Amazon Capsules Are A Great Way To Promote Your Books

When I first joined Hubpages, I was told to avoid being "overly promotional". I was not at all sure at first what this meant. Would it be overly promotional to talk about Project Bow? Would it be overly promotional to write about myself? Would it be overly promotional to link to my Homepage? Were we supposed to pretend to be completely disinterested article writers who didn't have any kind of special axe to grind?

The reason I did not understand this "overly promotional" rule was primarily because I did not understand that people actually used Hubpages to make money, and that every link to an outside selling site had a certain value to the seller, a value that detracted from HP's earnings from the affiliate programs allowed on HP.

Very, very slowly, over a period of about two and a half years, I started to earn miniscule amounts of money from my HP account. The first payouts were from Adsense. Then, this December, I made my first Amazon payout.

One of the things I learned this year is how to write a hub aimed at Amazon income. The answer is fairly simple: describe, praise and display the product you hope to sell. Why didn't I think of this before? Because I'm a writer, not a salesperson. I thought the ads were just some kind of annoying marginalia that both the writer and the reader would have to tolerate in order to be allowed to read and write for free. They were like the commercials on broadcast TV, something everybody ignores.

But not everybody ignores the commercials on TV. That was just my family! Most people actually watch the commercials, and some people even prefer the commercials to the show!

There are readers out there that are surfing the web with money in their pocket, wanting to buy something, but not sure exactly what. Can you sell them anything? No. They know more or less what they want to buy, and how much they have to spend, but they need help picking out the exact version, make and model of the product they want to get. A good Amazon selling hub will display several versions of the same product more or less, and will compare and contrast them, so that the reader feels that he has a choice, but not so much choice as to be completely overwhelmed. The reader wants to delegate part of the product research to you, but he wants to make the ultimate decision.

So what about me? What do I want? Do I want to take my writing skills now and to devote them exclusively to writing sales hubs? No, not really. While I have found, quite surprisingly, that I can have lots of fun writing the occasional sales hub, I don't see a career change coming on. I'm not going to devote my life to writing sales pitches for other people's products.

As a writer, what I want, among other things, is to publish my books, get my plays produced, sell my poems and short stories. But that's where Amazon can be of immense help.

Amazon runs CreateSpace. You can publish your books as Print-On-Demand softcover editions, get them listed on Amazon, and then include the capsules in your hubs. You can sell your books as an Amazon associate and as an author both! And the best thing of all, it's not a link, so it's not "overly promotional." As long as HP get their cut, they're happy.

Another thing that I learned is that our friends here on HP can help us with this process, if they feel that our goals are worthwhile and our product is a good one. Here are two hubs written by fellow hubbers JustmeSuzanne and Kind Regards that include or feature one of my books:

http://hubpages.com/hub/When-Sword-Met-Bow-Book-Review

http://hubpages.com/hub/Its-the-Season-for-Shopping

I am very grateful for the help and support of these hubbers in featuring my product in their hubs. Because they considered Project Bow a worthwhile cause, they devoted their time, energy and talents to promoting it.

Which brings us to the issue of "consciousness raising hubs" versus money making hubs.

Bow 2010

Bow with his 2010 Christmas presents
Bow with his 2010 Christmas presents | Source

You Can't Sell People What They Do Not Wish to Buy

Someone brought up the question of consciousness raising hubs in the Forums recently. She suggested that if hers is not a hub aimed at making money, then she should be allowed to post links to it in the Forums.

I don't think that the distinction between "consciousness raising hubs" and "sales hubs" is a valid one, any more than I consider a public service announcement as being more "respectable" than a commercial for a product. One may tell you "Don't drink Coke" while the other shouts "Drink Coke!" Somebody is paying for each of them, and you can be sure that that somebody wants something!

If the product you are pitching is one you don't feel good about, then you should be pitching something else. Even if you don't carry any ads on your hubs, you're selling something: your point of view, your philosophy, your ideas. And as much as you might like it to be otherwise, people will buy what they want to buy, not what somebody else wants them to buy.

As much as I am proud of every cent I have made so far off my books, I can tell you straight off that I made a great deal more selling products made by somebody else. Why? Because the people vote with their pocket book, and the people buy what they want to buy.

Do I write consciousness raising hubs? I feel that I do. But that doesn't mean I don't make a few cents off them as well. And that's nothing to be ashamed of. It's how things work.

The Debt Collector

The year 2010 saw my collaboration with fellow hubber Daniel Carter come to fruition in the form of a video of a song from our musical, The Debt Collector. Here is a hub about that:

http://hubpages.com/hub/We-All-Share-the-Same-World-by-Aya-Katz-and-Daniel-Carter

The piano accompaniment is by my good friend Anita Hammond, who has been very supportive of Project Bow as well, and the vocalist is fellow hubber Hot Dorkage.

Censorship and the Antidote to Censorship: Alternative Sponsors

The year 2010 was one that saw me grappling with the issue of censorship. On Hubpages it was a very silly thing. I had published a hub called "The Secret to Making Money on Hubpages." It didn't actually give away any secrets. It was all about how to input your PIN in your Google account in order to get paid. But the Google robots decided for some reason that I had violated TOS, and I was advised that I would be better off un-publishing that hub, which is what I ended up doing.

I then re-published the same hub on Weebly, but without Google ads on my page, and without HP sponsorship, this hub that had gotten such marvelous traffic became dead to readers. It was buried away in the search rankings, never to resurface again. That's when I realized that the ads are getting us traffic, and that the search engines that most people use are not exactly objective in the way they rank things. Here is a hub that I wrote immediately after realizing this:

http://hubpages.com/hub/-How-Advertising-Shapes-Content-on-the-Web-and-Off

It became clear to me that if we want to be free to write whatever we want, then we cannot be dependent on a single publisher, website or even on a single affiliate program. We need advertisers not just because they pay us, but also because they influence the search engine rankings of the sites that feature their products. Because the same article that got lots of traffic on HP got no traffic on Weebly, I realized I would need to find alternative sponsors for articles that Google does not approve of. I started asking around about alternative affiliate programs, but for a good long while I couldn't find anything I liked. That is until about a week ago, when I learned something new from a Forum posting by fellow hubber Bill Manning. He was using an affiliate program called Linkshare. I joined, and I now have some links to that program on several of my hubs. For example, check out the link to Asian TV and movie provider TaiSeng in my hub on Learning Mandarin though Song.

I'm not leaving Hubpages any time soon. I'm happy here. But it's good to know that there are alternatives, and that even if we stay on HP, we are not necessarily completely dependent on the affiliates that they offer us. We are allowed two promotional links per hub, and here is the one I am putting in this hub:

Linkshare

If you would like to join the Linkshare affiliate program, just click on the link above. They give you lots of different choices of products and sponsors, and you get to pick and choose which of them appeal to you. The sponsors have to each approve of you separately, so there is a good fit between the products you normally sell and the products they have to offer.

It's good to have a choice. There can be no freedom of the press for those who don't own a press, and under search engine protocols of today, you cannot have readers unless you also have sponsors.

Is that right? Should it be this way? Is that even a valid question? At the moment, this is the way things are. So it's good to have a choice of more than one sponsor, and more than one stable of sponsors.


Looking Forward to 2011

In 2010 I learned a lot. I learned more than I earned. In 2011, I hope to reap the rewards of all this learning. I plan to publish seven more books with CreateSpace. I plan to produce more song videos from The Debt Collector.  I plan to move forward with Project Bow and to recruit graduate students to help me with my research. And meanwhile, I expect that by the end of 2011, my earnings from the various affiliate programs will have improved.

Here's to 2011! Happy New Year!


(c) 2010 Aya Katz

My Second Promotional Link: Project Bow astore

The Project Bow Amazon Store -- where you can buy books recommended by Project Bow.

More by this Author

  • How to Change Language Settings in YouTube
    21

    Suppose you go into your YouTube account and start browsing and suddenly all the labels are in a different language -- a language you can't read. How do you change it back? Easy. You find the label that says...

  • Cod-liver Oil: What's it Good For?
    26

    Somebody in the forums recently mentioned that cod-liver oil really sells itself. People write articles about things entirely unrelated to cod-liver oil, or even to cods or to livers, and then they end up being credited...

  • Why Prejudice is Bad
    60

    Everybody agrees that prejudice is bad. I have never in my life met anyone who was in favor of prejudice. There is such universal agreement on this topic that it makes us feel united. Except when it comes to actual...


Comments 34 comments

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

Very good stuff here. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to reading more of your work.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, RTalloni! Happy New Year!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA

Good to know there are other options out there at least.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, SweetiePie! Options and choices are always good to have.


Misha profile image

Misha 5 years ago from DC Area

Cool Aya, you seem to be firmly established on your way to filthy riches. May it come in 2011 to you! :)


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, Misha! Although I'd be happy with "respectable earnings" rather than "filthy riches."


davidrio profile image

davidrio 5 years ago from Lisbon

Happy New HubYear!


simeonvisser profile image

simeonvisser 5 years ago

Happy New Year! We all learned something new in 2010 and that experience should make 2011 an even better year!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, DavidRio! Happy New Year to you, too!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

SimeonVisser, best wishes for the happy new year! Here's to a productive and profitable 2011 for all of us!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

Thanks for this useful information which I enjoyed reading about. Useful for me and for many other Hubbers, I'm sure.

All the best for 2011!

Love and peace

Tony


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Hi, Tonymac04! Thanks for dropping by. Glad I could share this information with you. Very best wishes for the year 2011!


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 5 years ago from London UK

Aya - I have to wonder if you are referring to a thread I started in the forums recently. I did indeed start a thread talking about awareness raising hubs but I did not explain what I mean by this really. I have a number of hubs that are what I consider awarness raising ones, to do with human trafficking and sex slavery, the dangers of legal party drugs, stuff that to my mind is a real social issue that many people probably do not know about at all, let alone enough to try searching online for information on these types of topics. My legal party drug hub had no traffic since being published (a few hits from friends the first day then nothing what so ever) until the day I posted that forum thread. I had a comment from someone who has been using a powder legal party drug (I assume for snorting) who was experiencing weird growths on his scalp and face plus violent rages as was his girl friend. It saddened me to think that if he had found my hub a year ago, before trying a legal party drug he might not be taking a risk with a drug whose dangers are completely unknown. I think that there are issues that can be addressed and awareness promoted with hub pages that is more important then making money or friends or whatever other reason we writers write for. I do hope you understand better what my intention was with that thread was (assuming my assumption that it was my thread you were referring to is correct). Have a great new year!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Kristenblog, Happy New Year to you, too! I wish you all the best in the new year, including the opportunity to make a difference in other people's lives.

Yes, you're right, I was inspired by the thread you started when I wrote the section on "awareness raising hubs". I know your intentions are good, and I did feel that what I had to say on that thread was largely ignored or misunderstood, so I wanted to spell it out here.

I think we probably are going to disagree, and I just want to let you know that if you do disagree, I respect your right to do so, and I understand that different people come at this issue from different perspectives. I am a libertarian, and I suspect that you are not. But if you'd like me to explain how I view it, here's the gist.

Somebody is selling "legal party drugs". People are buying legal party drugs. Some of the people who use these drugs are suffering self-inflicted injury as a result of their choice to hurt themselves. You are writing some hubs to let people know what bad things can happen to them if they go down this self-destructive path. So far, so good. Everybody is doing what they think is right, and all the sides of the issue are being discussed. However, you think you should be given an extra boost, because your side is the "good side" and the other side (the legal drug sellers) is the "bad" side.

This is where I disagree. If you respect people's right to choose, then you respect their right to have access to all sides of the issue.

Look at it this way: I write hubs on some nutritional issues. I believe lots of people have become diabetic as a result of being told by the government and the medical establishment that a low fat diet is good for them. I believe that for most of these people, a low carb diet is good. But on Hubpages, we have equal opportunity for both peddlers of the "low fat" and the "low carb" camps. What if I demanded that I get an extra boost for my hubs, because I am right? (I am right, BTW, but not everybody agrees.) Not everybody agrees about legal party drugs, either.

Also, take into consideration that when you write about the sex trade, many people read those hubs strictly for titillation. When you write about sexual predators, you get many readers who are intrinsically interested in that for all the wrong reasons. If you don't turn off the ads to those hubs, what kind of ads do you get for those keywords?

I stay clear of the "vice" topics, precisely because of the mixed signals that people get from them. Do I think people should take party drugs? No. But does it do good to tell them not to? How much has the govt campaign against drugs helped?

Lastly, I think my hubs about ape language studies are very consciousness raising and will utlimately do humanity more good than telling people not to hurt themselves and each other.

In fact, it's another less direct way to raise consciousness. But I don't think I should get a special dispensation.

We all think what we have to say is important, or we wouldn't say it. The best possible world is the one where the readers decide what to read, not anybody else.


Kind Regards profile image

Kind Regards 5 years ago from Missouri Ozarks - Table Rock Lake

Aya Katz, This was very interesting. Good to know about Linkshare. Thanks for mentioning me. That was very sweet of you. Kind Regards

Happy New Year to Aya, Sword, Bow, Lawrence and any new Interns and All Hubbers!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Kind Regards, thank you! I am so glad to have made your acquaintance on HP and am truly grateful for your support and good wishes. I wish you all the best in the New Year and success in all that you set out to achieve!


kirstenblog profile image

kirstenblog 5 years ago from London UK

Aya - Thanks for responding to my comment! I think you are right about one thing, that we might not see eye to eye on certain issues and thats cool. It takes all colours to make a rainbow (or something like that).

I am actually thinking about doing something like a simple blog and posting any/all awareness hubs there for the back link and possibility for extra traffic if I ever get the time to get to the details. If/when I get something live and online I probably will link your hubs if you are happy for me too.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks, Kirstenblog, for understanding. We may never agree on all things, but it is good that we can exchange views in a way that is mutually beneficial.

The blog idea is a very good one, and, of course, I'd be delighted to have my hubs linked there!


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago

Blessings and Happy New Year to you Aya and all fellow Hubbers!!

GREAT Hub and GREAT comments that follow! It is so nice to read a dialog of intelligent civil enlightened people!

Blessings to each of you in 2011! EarthAngel!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Earth Angel, thanks for dropping by! The very best to you in 2011!


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

Hey! Thanks for promoting me! ;D And thanks for the information on LinkShare. I have been wondering if I could get that sort of link to work here, but I haven't put any effort into finding out about it. I wonder if my NetFlix affiliates links would work for me here...


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thank _you_, Suzanne!

I think if you are already in another affiliate program, such as NetFlix, then if you sprinkle their links in some, but not all, of your hubs, you will not be labeled overly promotional, and you can use HP to make money on an outside affiliate program. The hubbers who are knowledgeable about marketing have been doing this for years, but I only just now found out about it!

The key is to not put more than two such outside links in a hub, and not to do this with too high a percentage of your hubs. (I'm not sure what the exact percentage is, yet.)


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

I see! Well, I tried that with my Luci Hub, but it was not allowed. I guess they allow some but not all types of affiliate links. :)


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Suzanne, that's odd! Was it just a plain link to landing page, or was there something special about it?


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

Are there fees to use CreateSpace?


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

CreateSpace tries to sell you all sorts of packages, but if you decline the sales pitch, you can do it for free. If you are willing to do all your own typesetting, all your own promotion and don't need any special kind of help from them, then you can publish and get listed on Amazon.com for free.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

Cool! Write a HUB about that! :D


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Suzanne, okay, maybe I will! (When I have a spare moment.)

Meanwhile, I'm trying to recruit interns and students for this summer:

http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/jobs/listings/258

If anybody you know is right for this, please share it with them!


Springboard profile image

Springboard 5 years ago from Wisconsin

Amazon's been a non-earner for me, but then, I haven't written any sales hubs. It's something I may work on doing through 2011, focusing on perhaps next Christmas. By then I should be able to have a couple of core product reviews written that would be well indexed...

The trick is getting off my kiester to write those. They are not fun for me to write. Not like my opinion writing, which I enjoy very much, and that do, much as you've observed yourself about consciousness raising hubs, earn a few cents. The trick is in writing what you know about...that's what attracts readers to your hubs. And there's a wide audience out there. In my opinion there is plenty of room for us here on HubPages. Poets, short story writers, serial novelists, opinion and blog writers, self-help writers, and sales pitchers...

The Internet really is a big place, much like the world is. It should be as diverse as the world is as a result, and I think it is.

As far as the censorship issue is concerned, I think the issue with HubPages regarding that, and perhaps with Google as well, as these folks are not writers. They are businessmen, and business works a bit different than writers work. They are less concerned with censorship than you or I. HubPages, in a sense, is like one big, giant magazine as well. We are here so long as we write stuff that adheres to this magazine's brand and standard. They have editorial control, and we have the right to write whatever we like someplace else if HubPages finds it does not like it to be written here. And then there's that CreateSpace thing. There I'm sure you could write extensively on any topic you want. You could write a book about the Internet, sites like HubPages, and influences like Google and Internet advertising and no one could necessarily stop you from that effort.

Great hub, and I look forward to reading about what you'll inevitably learn in 2011. :)


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Springboard, thanks!

I think even writing a sales hub can be fun, if you are in the right mood when you write it, and if you choose products to promote that you feel good about.

Some of the marketeers do burn out writing sales hubs, but I think it's for two reasons: they force themselves to write more articles than they are internally set up to do, and they allow considerations of keyword research to dictate the subject matter. One fellow stated that he would much rather write hubs about zombies, but what really sells is viagra. (Or toilet seats, or something like that.) So he writes exclusively about what sells, and he feels really bad by the end of the day. I don't think it's worth it to do that. I write an occasional sales hub about a product I like, or at least a product that seems nice to have, when I'm in the mood for that sort of thing. But then I keep on writing about the things that really occupy my thoughts, and that kind of writing is helpful to me on so many levels that it actually improves my mood, rather than bringing me down.

I agree with you that there is plenty of room for all kinds of writers on HP, and we don't all have to do the same thing to profit from this online environment.

Here's to a very productive 2011 for all of us!


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 5 years ago from London, UK

Great share - one to definitely bookmark.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Lady_E, thanks! Glad you found something useful here.


Celticmelody 5 years ago

Thanks for the info on Linkshare. I didn't know much about it. I too am a fan of low carb diets. And, there are more than one. I guess I should write a hub on THAT. LOL!

I'm just getting back to Hubpages after taking care of my husband thorugh his cancer treatment. I enjoy your hubs. Keep posting! I've got lots of catching up to do.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 5 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Celtic Melody, thanks for your comment. I am glad to share this information with you. I would also add that a lot of things have changed since I wrote this hub. In February of 2011, Google changed their algorithm in a way that really hurt Hubpages, reducing the traffic to this site to a considerable degree. At first, Hubpages and Hubbers were united in our efforts to overcome this obstacle. But with time, the Hubpages management changed a lot of the rules, including those about affiliate links, like Linkshare. I would check with Hubpages staff to make sure this is still allowed.

I have started an alternate site that incorporates much of what I have always liked about Hubpages, without the new, less friendly rules. It is called PubWages.com. Affiliate links are allowed and even welcomed on PubWages. Please drop by and give it a look!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working