Written by: Greg Ellifritz
About 8,000 of you are currently reading this post via an email I send to your inbox. A thousand more of you are reading it through some type of RSS reader or program. This message is for you.
Since I’m a cheap bastard, I use free services to create both the emails and the RSS feeds. I use Google’s Feedburner service to create the emails. The process is completely automated. Every time a post an article, Feedburner copies the post and sends the copy out in the form of an email to all my subscribers. The email update that Feedburner sends out is an exact copy of the text I write on my page. A similar thing happens for those of you looking at this on your RSS news reader.
Here’s the problem…
I regularly link to items for sale on Amazon.com in my articles. If you buy the products I’m writing about, I get a small referral fee (around 4% of the item cost on average) from Amazon. You pay nothing for this. You get the same prices through my links as you would if you purchased them after going directly to Amazon.com.
The money I get from these affiliate sales is how I pay the bills to keep this site hosted and maintained. I’m not getting rich from Amazon affiliate sales, but the money does help defray the costs of the website and allows me to provide content to you for free. You’ll notice that many other sites like mine use a “subscription” model where readers have to pay a small monthly fee in order to read the “good stuff” on the blog. I don’t want to limit my reach by requiring paid subscriptions, so I add an occasional affiliate link to my articles to help cover the costs of hosting the blog and writing three or four articles a week for your enjoyment.
Amazon recently changed its affiliate linking rules. Amazon now forbids placing affiliate links into any form of communication except the website to which the affiliate link is registered. If I send out any links via email or RSS, Amazon can revoke my affiliate account and refuse to pay me the affiliate commissions from the links I share.
I don’t want to lose this income source, so I have to change how I do things around here.
I could just get rid of the email subscriptions and remove my RSS feed, but that would leave a lot of you unhappy. I want you to be able to read my stuff in whatever format is most convenient to you. I also don’t want to lose my Amazon affiliate income.
Instead of scrapping the email updates and RSS feeds, I’ve chosen to send my email and RSS updates in the “summary” rather than “full text” modes. That means you won’t get the entire article in the email I send. Instead, you’ll get the first 50 words of the article as a summary along with a link to click on if you want to read the remainder of the article.
If I do this, I can just avoid providing affiliate links in the first 50 words of the articles I write and still be in compliance with Amazon’s affiliate sales requirements. You’ll still get notified of all my new content, but you’ll have to click on the link provided to read the rest of the article directly from my site.
I know that requiring you to click on a link to read my stuff is inconvenient compared to providing the entire text of the article in an email or via RSS, but I can’t keep sending full text articles out on email if I want my affiliate commissions to keep coming in. Starting tomorrow, your emails or RSS entries will only contain a limited amount of text and a link so that you can read the rest of the article if you so desire.
I apologize for the inconvenience, but it’s the only way I can keep providing you with quality content without charging membership fees. The changes will be effective tomorrow. Thank you for your understanding and support.