If you’re looking to make money using the internet, you’ve probably come across a variety of options, including freelance work, affiliate marketing, taking surveys, and numerous others.
Amazon’s affiliate program, Amazon Associates, can be a very lucrative option. For some people, it’s enough to retire on. For others, it’s a great supplemental income.
If you’ve heard about the Amazon Associates program but don’t know a lot about it or where to begin, we can help.
We’re going to break down everything you need to get started.
Why Choose Amazon Associates?
There are a lot of options on the internet for monetizing your website, so why pick Amazon Associates? It’s true that Amazon’s affiliate program is not a perfect system, and we’ll later discuss the drawbacks of this program. However, it can be a highly lucrative choice for a number of reasons.
1. Amazon.com Is Fantastic at Converting Sales
Amazon.com is really good at what they do. According to a 2015 study by Millward Brown Digital, Amazon converts 13% of their site’s visitors into sales.
That’s unheard of on the internet where the average rate for online shoppers is around 3%. That alone is incredible, but the same study showed that Amazon.com converts 74% of visits made by Amazon Prime Members. That’s great news since Amazon currently has over 100 million Prime Members.
2. It Doesn’t Matter What Your Readers Buy
Another great perk of the Amazon affiliate program is that it really doesn’t matter what your readers buy. If you promote a specific item and your visitors follow your link, they can fill their cart with 100 other items, and you’ll gain a commission on every one of them. They don’t even have to buy the item you promoted!
3. Huge Inventory
Amazon has an incredible inventory which means that you have a lot of products to choose from. Depending on your niche, Amazon will provide you with tons of material for product reviews. Their large inventory also means that you can probably find products in every niche.
4. You Can be a Newbie
Amazon does not have a minimum website visitor requirement in order to become an affiliate, which is great if you’re just starting out. There’s no proving ground. All that’s required is an accepted application and you can begin promoting products on your site.
5. No Upfront Investment
When you choose to use an affiliate program, your commitment is very low.
You’re not in charge of inventory, shipping, customer service, or anything else that goes along with running an online business.
Since Amazon is a very successful business with a long track record of good customer service, you can rest easy knowing that your site visitors are going to be treated well. If a product ends up being defective, or if they decide that they don’t like it, Amazon will help them sort it all out.
Drawbacks of Amazon Associates
Amazon Associates isn’t for everyone, and there are certainly some drawbacks to the system. The things listed below are not disqualifiers, but they are worth knowing before you open an account with them.
1. Amazon Associates Offers Low Commission Rates
Compared to other affiliate programs, Amazon’s commission rates can be quite low. They offer a flat rate fee for products. Previously, Amazon Associates would pay higher rates to people who sold more inventory. However, today everyone receives the same rates.
Some niches come out better than others, such as a 10% commission rate on “Amazon Fashion Women.” Others, like gaming, can only expect to get a 1% commission on video games.
While this certainly isn’t the most appealing part of the Amazon affiliate program, if you’re able to make a lot of sales, those low commission rates can really add up. Some alternative affiliate programs may offer higher commission rates, but your probability of selling may be much much lower compared to Amazon’s very high conversion rates.
2. Affiliate Links are Temporary
Amazon refers to their links as “Special Links.” They’re links that are coded with your specific affiliate information so you can get credit for the purchases people make after clicking the link on your site.
The Special Links only last for 24 hours after someone clicks on them. Since we’ve already discussed how good Amazon is at converting sales, this isn’t the end of the world. However, if there’s an item that someone wants to think about for a few days, you won’t be getting a commission unless they re-click your link.
3. You Might Get Banned
The rules are also subject to change, so it’s imperative to recheck their terms in case something has been updated that you may not be in compliance with.
There’s a good chance that if you break a rule unintentionally that you will be given a warning first. Still, it’s important to do your best to keep up with the policies to avoid a potential ban.
How to Set Up Your Amazon Affiliate Website
If you sifted through the pros and cons of the Amazon affiliate program, and you decided you want to move forward, you probably want to know what to do next. Follow these steps to get started.
Begin with an Idea
First, you’ll need to first come up with an idea for your website. Ideally, this will be a niche that you really want to pursue. Spend some time brainstorming this because it’s a crucial step in the process.
Your website will need to be interesting and popular enough to attract a lot of traffic. Without frequent visitors to your site, you won’t be able to convert many sales.
In addition to picking a topic that other people are interested in, you should pick one that gets you excited to wake up in the morning. Something that will be fun! You’ll be writing about this subject for as long as you run your website, so you’ll want to pick something that you like and know a lot about.
You’ll also want to pick a subject that can convert well to sales. Some things naturally easier to market. Also, keep in mind that Amazon Associates pays higher commission rates for certain niches.
Do a Keyword Search
You may be wondering how you can tell if the niche your interested in will be profitable. One of the ways to find out is to do a keyword search. A keyword search allows you to find out what is popular on search engines. If very few people are searching for your topic, it’s probably not going to be one that makes very much money.
First, you’ll want to find “seed keywords” for your niche. In other words, you’ll be look for overarching keywords related to your niche to find products that you could potentially promote. As an example, let’s say you’re thinking about opening a niche website about running.
For this exercise, we went to Google and typed in, “Women’s Trail Running Shoe Amazon” to see what would come up as potential items for our website. We’d like to see what a search comes up with, and what Amazon has to offer.
Our search yielded this result:
In the Google search results, you can see the rating for the product, how many reviews there are, and a short beginning description.
If you click on the links you can get more information on the products, and an idea of the price point that you are looking at. This is a picture of some of the top trending women’s trail shoes available on Amazon. You can see that most of them have a fair amount of customer reviews, and the prices range from about $40 to $150.
You can also take this opportunity to see what people are already saying about the products you’re interested in. Customer reviews on Amazon are usually a really good starting place to see if a product is worth testing, and if people like it.
Google Keyword Search
Once you have a set of seed keywords, it’s a good idea to do a Google keyword search. This lets you know if people are actually searching for the products you’re interested in promoting.
Go to Google’s keyword planner to begin researching the keywords you’re interested in. You will need to sign up for a Google account if you do not already have one.
When you put in your keywords, Google will give you related words and the search volume of each word.
In addition to the products you found in your Google search, you can look up other words related to running. Think of things that you think future readers might be interested in. For example, you may look up the words “ultra running”, “trail running”, or even put in the word “running” to see what might come up.
This first example is a search result for the keywords “trail running,” “ultrarunning,” and “running.” As you can see, the results show a LOT of searches in these areas. Trail running shoes alone get 10-100 thousand searches a month on Google.
This next search included the keywords, “Vasque trail running shoe” and “Merrell trail running shoe.” The results for Merrell are especially promising. If you’d like to change the results you can adjust filters and the way the keywords are ranked. For instance, you can click on the “competition” category to adjust it to show you “low” or “high” in increasing or descending order.
Check out the Competition
This is another time to use Google. Use the search bar to look for the products you found your search for seed keywords. For example, we looked up the words “Merrell Women’s Trail Crusher.”
This time, instead of looking for the product on Amazon, you’ll be looking for people who have reviewed this shoe on their websites.
If there are tons and tons of reviews on this product already, you may find that your site will get lost in the ocean of websites. Read through the competitor sites and ask yourself what they’re doing well, and what you would do to improve on their idea. How can you make yourself stand out? What can you do differently?
Another thing you can do is find out how successful the competitor websites are. How much traffic are they getting? To find out if their website is considered an authoritative source, it’s a good idea to find out how many “backlinks” they are getting. Backlinks happen when an external website links to another website. When sites get backlinks, it means that other websites believe that they have something worth sharing.
To find out how many backlinks a competitor website is receiving, you can copy their URL and drop it into a backlink checker. There are a lot of backlink checkers available, but a few that are popular are Ahrefs, Serpstat, and Majestic.
In addition to checking out the competition, you can use backlinks checkers to see how well your own website is doing. It can be a great tool to see if your site is growing in popularity.
Check Google Trends
Google Trends is a tool that you can use to see if the popularity of your niche is on the way out. It’s important to find out if your niche is a quick fad. Quick fads might work if you jump on the bandwagon right away and understand that your website will be a shooting star. In general, though, it’s better to pick a niche that has long-lasting potential.
To begin, go to Google Trends. Type in the term or topic that you’re interested in, and hit “enter” on your keyboard.
For our tail running shoe example, Google Trends yielded this result:
You can see that the topic has peaks and valleys, but it has been maintaining the same basic volume of searches for a year. You don’t see a sharp rise and a sharp fall that never rises again.
You can also expand your search to show a longer period of time like we did here. Using this graph you can see that there has been a recent search increase for this phrase in the past year.
If you’d like to work on targeting a specific market, Google also lets you see where the greatest searches are coming from. In the above search, we had the filter set to searches in the United States, but you can change that to specific countries, or worldwide.
Google Trends broke down our search by region in the United States and created a map showing where the largest concentration of searches originated from.
Choose a Domain Name
Once you’ve decided that your niche is promising and you want to move forward, you’ll need to choose a domain name. A domain name is the address that people will use to get to your website.
Choosing a domain name is an important step in the process of creating a website. It’s the name that you will carry for the length of your website.
Here are some quick tips for choosing a domain name:
- Pick a name that’s easy to pronounce.
- Try not to use irregular spellings or hyphens. You want something that’s easy to search for and remember.
- Keep it short.
- Never used trademarked names. Amazon, for instance, has very strict trademark rules. Their legal team will contact you if you use their name in any way.
- Use keywords that relate to your niche so your domain name will show up in search engines.
- After deciding on a name you like, make sure that you register it quickly before someone else takes it.
- If you’re having a difficult time choosing a name, you can use a domain name generator to help come up with a name.
Once you’ve decided on a domain name you will need to register it. Some popular places to register your domain name are, NameCheap, HostGator, Bluehost, or GoDaddy.
Pick a Web Host
If you’re using WordPress to begin your site you will need to set up a web host for your site. For those who are unfamiliar with the process, a web host gives you your place on the internet.
Think of your domain name like your street address, and your web host as the actual place where you house your text, images, and videos. In order for people to view your site’s content, the actual content has to be stored somewhere. Web hosting facilities store and transmit your information so others can view it.
Quick Tips for Choosing a Web Host:
- Think about how much bandwidth your business is going to require. If you’re a small business you will require significantly less bandwidth than another company.
- Consider your platform. If you’re using WordPress as your platform, you’ll want to find a hosting system that supports WordPress. Thankfully, many web hosting options support it.
- Identify your budget. If you’re just beginning, you’ll likely have a smaller budget and you will be searching for a more budget-friendly web hosting service.
- Find out what kind of customer service your web hosting provides. If your readers are having trouble accessing your site due to technical difficulties, you’ll want to be able to contact your host provider.
- Use reliable web hosting services. You don’t want to use a web hosting service that has poor reliability and is often crashing. Look for hosting companies that have good uptime scores.
There are quite a few web hosting companies to choose from, but some popular ones are, HostGator, Bluehost, and SiteGround.
Get a WordPress Account
WordPress is not the only platform that you can use for setting up an Amazon affiliate store, but it is a good choice. It’s easy to use and free, so your upfront costs and time will be limited.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
To get a WordPress account go to WordPress.org. It’s important that you go to WordPress.org, instead of WordPress.com, because these are two separate platforms.
WordPress.com is a website builder, but it will not allow you to use HTML and plugins. Plugins are very helpful for creating an online store, and WordPress.com does not give an option for an online store.
Depending on the web host that you’ve selected, you can easily install WordPress directly on to your new web hosting server. Many web hosting providers provide a one-click installation option that guides you through the steps to install WordPress.
Once WordPress has been installed on your web hosting server, you can begin working on your blog.
Sign up for Amazon’s Affiliate Program
In order to become an Amazon Associate, you’ll need to sign up for the Amazon affiliate program. Before signing up, you’ll need to read through the Associates Program Operating Agreement and the Associates Program Policies. Make sure that you are well acquainted with their policies so you don’t risk getting banned or audited by Amazon.
Once you’ve decided that you can agree to Amazon Associate’s terms, you’ll need to complete an application. At this time you will need to have established your website so Amazon Associates can review it.
After your application is submitted, Amazon Associates will need to make sure that your site complies with their standards. There are some restrictions which will cause your site to be rejected. For example, they do not accept sites that promote or contain sexually explicit materials. They will also deny websites that promote violence or illegal activity.
If you’re planning on creating a website that is directed towards children under the age of 13, your site will also be rejected. They include this rule so they can be in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
How to Choose Products
If you have been accepted into the Amazon Associates program, you can begin promoting their products on your website.
Earlier we used Google Keywords and Google Trends to help select a niche and to begin searching for products to promote on our niche website. In addition to those tools, there are some other things to consider when choosing products.
High End or Low End?
Basically, there are three schools of thought when it comes to choosing products. There are those who say to only choose high-end products to promote. Then there are those who choose to promote less expensive items. Lastly, there are those who choose to promote both – and all the ranges in between.
Why Choose High End Products?
The reason people like to sell high-end products through the Amazon affiliates program is due to their low commission rates. They argue that it will take a lot of sales to create a revenue when you’re only getting a small return.
However, if you sell a high ticket item, you might actually start making money. For the sake of argument, let’s say you sell an item for $1000. Depending on your niche, you could make between $10-$100 on one sale.
If you’re selling a $10 item, your return will be between 10 cents and $1. You’d have to sell quite a few $10 items to create the same revenue.
Why Choose Small Items?
Some people like to focus on smaller or cheaper items. But why?
While you certainly make a higher commission rate on big ticket items, it’s MUCH easier to sell a cheap item. Let’s say you’re averaging 1,000 visitors to your site every day. It’s far more likely that a higher percentage of your visitors will be willing to spend $10 than they will to spend $1000.
Over time, those small ticket items can add up to create a higher revenue.
Why Choose Both?
In reality, it’s probably best to choose items at every price value. When you’re fortunate enough to sell a high ticket item, you’ll make a much higher revenue at one clip.
In the meantime, you’ll be able to add up sales of smaller purchases that are more likely to be impulse purchases.
Keep in mind that whether people purchase the specific items you’re promoting or not, if they make a purchase, you still get a commission. Remember also that Amazon is great at converting sales. So whether you get people in for small or large items, there’s a good chance that you’ll make some sort of commission once they click your affiliate link.
How to Know if Your Products Will Sell?
You’ll want to make sure that you’re choosing items that are actually in demand. At this point, you have a pretty good idea of what people are searching for on Google. What you need to ask next is, are they actually making purchases?
First, as stated earlier in this article, you can see how many reviews there are on Amazon’s products. If there are very few reviews on a product, there’s a good chance the item is not very popular. Also, if the product is getting very poor reviews, it’s a good idea not to choose that item to promote.
In addition to these options, you can also use a tool called JungleScout.
JungleScout is widely known with people who use Amazon’s FBA program, but it can help people with Amazon affiliate sites as well. While you may not need the biggest package available through JungleScout, it can be helpful to get their Chrome Extension.
Basically, the Chrome Extension allows you to see the estimated sales and revenue of a set of products. It also lets you see how each product ranks compared to other products in its category, the number of reviews it receives, and its average ranking. All this can be seen in a moment and doesn’t require a lot of extra work on your part.
If the product you’re trying to promote isn’t selling at all on Amazon, there’s not a very good chance that your site is going to generate sales. You’ll want to pick items that already receive a healthy amount of sales on Amazon.
Add a WooCommerce Plugin
As mentioned before, one of the wonderful features offered on WordPress.org is the ability to use plugins. Plugins are pieces of software that allow you to extend features or functionality to your WordPress website.
WooCommerce is a helpful plugin for your Amazon affiliate website. It allows you to make a storefront featuring the Amazon affiliate products that you want to promote.
Once you’ve installed the WooCommerce plugin to your WordPress website, it will prompt you to set up your store. Fill out the required information and then you can start adding products.
When you add products to your store it’s very important that you select “External/Affiliate Product” instead of regular products. It should be clear that you’re promoting someone else’s products, and not your own.
WooCommerce will ask you for a URL to put in for the product you’re putting in your store. To get this, go to your Amazon Associate dashboard. Search for a product that you’d like to use and then select the “get link” button that Amazon Associates provides. Once they give you a URL with your affiliate link, use this URL to plug into your WooCommerce page.
WooCommerce gives you the option of selecting a button for people to press to link to Amazon. You can choose different types, but the original options are “shop now” or “buy now.” If your readers press that button, they will be taken to that product page on Amazon.
Below the button, you’ll see the picture of the product that you’re promoting. You’ll have some options for how you’d like the image to appear. Once you’re satisfied, you can move on to the item description.
Once you’ve put in your description, hit the “Publish” button, and your item will become live.
Create Great Content
Most people who run an Amazon affiliate website don’t stop after creating a storefront. If you want people to visit your site, you’ll need to offer them something of value. In other words, why would they visit your site when you’re only listing items they can already see on Amazon?
In addition to creating a virtual store that people can look through, you should create compelling content that makes people want to visit your site. Without content, your site doesn’t have as much to offer, and likely won’t attract as many visitors.
Some content that you create may have very little to do with selling products directly. You want to establish yourself as an authority in your niche, so you’ll want to provide content that people can use in their daily lives.
For our pretend running website, you might include articles on great running trails, or tips and tricks for running greater distances. You’ll also want to include articles that include your Amazon affiliate links.
Below is a list of types blog posts you can use that can help generate sales. Remember when you’re including your affiliate link that it’s usually helpful to include your link in your blog post at the beginning and the end to increase the likelihood of being clicked.
Single Product Review
A single product review is usually the most popular type of review. In this type of blog post, you will take a single product and give an in-depth look at it.
To use our running website example, you could do a long review on Merrell’s “Women’s Trail Crusher Trail Runner.”
Your product review can be positive or negative, or in most cases, it will be both. While you probably won’t make a lot of money from a negative review, it will show your readers that you’re honest and that you’re not just trying to make a sale. You want your readers to trust you. If they think you’re willing to stretch the truth to make a sale, you will quickly lose readership.
Roundups of Best Products
Roundups of products is another popular blog type. For this type of post, you will likely want to look at three to five products that are in a similar category. We could use our earlier search of trail running shoes to create this blog post.
You’ll want to list each product’s pros and cons, and a fairly in-depth review of each.
Listicles are a good way to show a lot of products quickly. This is good for a person who wants to see a quick list of available products before they narrow it down to a smaller category.
It’s a good idea with Listicles to link to longer reviews for those who want more information than the quick list can provide.
Product Comparison – This vs That
Product comparisons are a good follow up to listicles. Once a person narrows down their search to a couple products, they often get stuck deciding.
A product comparison helps them decide which one works best for them. For this type of post, your job is to explain the benefits of each. If you’re discussing trail running shoes, you may want to explain why one shoe works better for a particular type of trail. Maybe one works better for longer distances. Perhaps one is waterproof, and the other isn’t.
Once a person reads a thorough comparison of two similar products, they will usually feel a lot more confident in making their final selection.
How-to’s and problem-solving articles are great platforms for making sales. Many how-to articles include specific items that people need to accomplish a task. If they trust your authority, they will also trust your recommendation for products that will help them do or make something.
Problem-solving is a great tutorial type that helps people resolve their pain points. Our running blog might include an article that talks about reducing the risk of shin splints. Your article might be “6 Ways to Avoid Shin Splints.” One or two of those solutions might include products that Amazon sells.
Amazon Associates can be a very helpful affiliate program for those who are willing to put in the work. There are many great examples of people who have put in the effort and reaped the rewards of the affiliate program.