We all want to make money. Maybe you’re looking for a side-hustle. Maybe you need just enough extra income to pay your electric bill, or maybe you need it to pay for part of your mortgage. Maybe you need a full-time job. Maybe you have a job that you hate, or one that just doesn’t pay enough. Or possibly you’re looking to make a LOT of money.
There are people in the world who are making good money by blogging. How are they doing it?
They do it through affiliate marketing.
One of the biggest affiliate platforms on the scene today is Amazon Associates – Amazon’s Affiliate program. You’ve no doubt heard of Amazon.com, and there’s a good chance that you’ve bought something from them, or that you’re even an Amazon Prime member. A lot of people are.
As an Amazon affiliate, you can actually get paid to promote their products.
If you’d like to find a way to share some of the profits with this monster company, read on.
Why Choose Amazon?
A lot of people are familiar with Google AdSense for advertising on blogs. This makes sense because Google AdSense can be a big money maker and a lot of people use it.
However, the Amazon Affiliate Program can add an additional stream of income on top of AdSense.
Amazon Associates represents 1% of advertising on all websites. That might not sound like a lot, it is actually a huge number. 1% of all the websites in the world equally 5% of the total market share of the ways people choose to advertise on their sites. The only advertiser that outdoes them is Google, which is on 16% of all websites and represents 85% of the market.
Unreal Conversion Rates
Amazon.com is a conversion machine, which means it’s easy to sell something through them.
In 2012, Amazon had a 4% conversion rate, and that doubles during the holidays. That was a full 1% higher than the average conversion rate during the general season. A 2015 study by Millward Brown Digital found that Amazon converts 13% of all customers and a STUNNING 74% of Amazon Prime Members. Considering there are 100 million Prime Members, these are incredible odds.
Fill That Cart!
Let’s say you run a website or blog about gardening. You write a blog post about “best small tillers for your garden in 2018.” In the article, you could use a Special Link to direct people to buy a small tiller in hopes that you’ll receive a commission.
For the sake of explanation let’s say your readers forego buying a tiller, and instead, purchase fifty other items over the course of the next 24 hours. You’ll get a commission on their entire cart! It doesn’t matter if they buy the item that you sent them to look at — you’ll still garner a fee.
As stated above, Amazon is that they’re GREAT at selling things. If you get someone in the door, there’s a good chance that they will buy something.
Amazon Sells (Almost) Everything
Another good reason to use Amazon Associates is they sell SO many things. It’s not difficult to find something that relates to your website in their inventory. Almost every type of niche website is represented in some way or another through Amazon.
Not only do they sell a lot, but Amazon has the funding to have good customer service. This means you won’t have to constantly worry about the quality of service that your readers will receive through your affiliate partner. By selling through Amazon, you can have peace of mind knowing that your site visitors will be taken care of. If a product is not to their liking, it can be returned or replaced without a lot of hassle.
You Don’t Need to be a Bigshot
You don’t need to be a big-time blogger to be able to use Amazon’s affiliate program. They have no traffic thresholds or other expectations that will keep you from joining. This means that new bloggers or people who are still growing their fan base can still apply and get started.
A Good Reporting System
Amazon does a very good job collecting data on your sales so you can keep track of the most popular items purchased through your affiliate links.
Lots of Information on the Internet
Because the Amazon Associates program is so widely used, there is a wealth of knowledge available on the internet. If you have the time to study it, you will be able to learn from other people’s mistakes, and you can learn how they became successful as well.
Works with Social Media
Amazon’s Affiliate Program is not limited to blogs. It can also be used through social media accounts. This can be used as a stand-alone or in addition to a blog or website.
Cons of the Amazon Affiliate Program
Amazon Associates is not without its drawbacks. While it is worthwhile and definitely worth checking out, there are some things to keep in mind.
Low Commission Rates (especially in certain niches)
Unfortunately, Amazon’s Affiliate Program does not have stellar commission rates, especially in certain categories.
For instance, the purchase of wine and Amazon Gift Cards equals zero commission. Video games and video games consoles only give a 1% return, and televisions give a 2% return.
All of these fees are fixed, which means you’re not going to gain higher commission rates the more that you sell. Previously, Amazon’s affiliate program rewarded those who sold more, giving them a higher commission rate. Now their rates remain the same for everyone no matter how much they sell.
For certain niches, the outcome is better. For instance, they do have a higher commission rate for things like Fashion and Luxury Beauty. Home Improvement, Pet Products, and Lawn and Garden are also among the higher end niche products.
Special Links Don’t Last
Amazon’s affiliate links, called, “Special Links,” only last for 24 hours. That means from the time someone clicks a link on your site that directs them to Amazon, they have 24 hours to make a purchase if you hope to get a commission.
So let’s say you have a photography website and you’ve written a blog post about a new camera that you’d like to recommend. Your readers may choose to buy it, but they might take a few days to mull it over. If they don’t buy it in the first 24 hours after clicking your Special Link, you don’t receive any commission.
Strict Rules That Can Result in Being Banned
Amazon’s Associates reserves the rights to ban you if you are not in compliance with their terms. Unfortunately, the agreement is at times hard to understand and their bans can be really tough. If you violate their agreement, even without realizing it, they can ban you.
In addition, they are often changing and updating their terms. This means that you have to keep up with their changes in order to remain in compliance.
Later in this article, we will discuss some of the ways to avoid being banned from Amazon’s affiliate program.
You Can’t Use Email
If you’re using the Amazon affiliate program, you’re not allowed to send your link through email. This is important to keep in mind because the rule applies to blog posts that are sent out as emails.
13 Ways to Make Money Using the Amazon Affiliate Program
So you’ve decided you’d like to try out Amazon Associates and bring in some of that sweet cash. How do you go about it? What’s necessary to make enough commission to start accruing money?
Read below for the best ways to use Amazon’s affiliate program.
#1: Have Lots of Traffic
This may go without saying, but without traffic to your website or blog, you’re not likely to convert many sales (if you’re relying on your website for sales).
Building traffic to your site is one of the most challenging aspects to running an affiliate campaign, and really for monetizing your website in any way. Without readers, there’s no one to buy products. No readers = no commission.
#2: Build Loyalty
One of the ways to bring in readers is to build loyalty with your fan base. You’ll want to pick a specific niche and become the authority in that field. People want to know that they can gain good, truthful, and useful information from you so that they have reason to return.
It should be noted that, generally speaking, people choose to write a blog about something that they are passionate about. While making sales is one of the outcomes that people hope to achieve, the other is to sincerely share their passion with other people. People can usually tell when you’re sincerely interested in the things that you’re sharing, and ultimately this will help with reader loyalty and greater traffic.
Social media can also be a really strong way to help build a bond with your readers. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great ways to interact with people.
Your readers like to know that they’re not alone, and that you actually care about their personal success. It truly pays off to take the time to like and respond to comments left on your website and on your social media accounts.
#3: Be Honest
There’s nothing worse than wanting to find trustworthy information on a product, only to find out that someone has overinflated the truth in order to make a sale.
If you’ve already gained trust from your readers, don’t blow it by recommending a products you don’t really believe in. They want to know that you’re going to be truthful with them, not just try to make a dollar from them.
In fact, it’s OK to express the downsides of a product. This speaks well to your authenticity, and lets skeptical internet users know that you’re interested in helping them. It’s also helpful to explain why products might be good for some people, but not others, depending on what they are looking for.
Be genuine and it will not hurt you in the long run.
#4: Tailor Your Content To Sales
If you’re interested in making money from an affiliate program, you have to ask yourself if your content is conducive to making a sale.
Imagine you’re running a website for horse owners. You have a lot of traffic coming in, and people really seem to love your content. For some reason, the traffic just isn’t turning into sales. What might be happening?
In this case, you need to ask yourself: Is the content pointing people towards making a sale?
Maybe you’re writing posts about “best trail riding destinations” and “how to get your horse to canter correctly.” Unless you’re getting a kickback from horse vacation spots, the first blog post may not make a sale unless you find a way to tie in products. Likewise, teaching a horse to run the right way is not really selling anything, although it IS giving your readers valuable information.
These posts are still important and should be included, but they should be intermixed with content that leads to sales. For our pretend horse website, a good way to lead to a sale would be to write a blog post that rounds up all the best grooming supplies, halters, or water buckets.
Alternatively, you could still include how-to tutorials, but offer specific products as part of the how-to process.
Later in this article, we’ll cover different types of blog posts that can lead to sales in greater detail.
#5: Be Relevant
Another way to make sales through affiliate programs is to be relevant to people in your niche group. Why are they coming to your site? It may seem obvious, but you’ll need to imagine what type of items your niche group would actually be interested in. For instance, if you run a website about travel destinations, you’re probably not going to make a lot of commission on diapers and parenting books.
#6: Use Promotions
Amazon already runs plenty of promotions and it’s a good idea to keep up with them so you can use them to your advantage. If you’re aware of an upcoming sale or discount, alert your readers that it’s coming up in an email or newsletter.
#7: Guest Blogger Recommendations
Your readers come to your site because they trust you and have an expectation that you will give them helpful advice and recommendations. They also trust you when you pick other people to create recommendations. In fact, they might even be more interested in a third party’s thoughts, especially if that person has something to offer that’s different than your perspective.
Perhaps they have experience in something that you don’t, or maybe they fill a different demographic.
A guest blogger might also be interesting for readers because it offers another level of authenticity. If you like a product, and so does another person, it must be worth checking out.
#8: Social Marketing
Just as people like to hear from guest bloggers, they also like to know what other people are buying. Amazon’s customer review set up is one of the reasons people feel comfortable buying their products. If a product is terrible, people generally write about it.
In the same way, people like to know what’s popular among other people. If other people are buying it and enjoying it, there’s a good chance they will like it too.
An easy way to do this is to create a best seller list. You can look up products on Amazon affiliate reports and statistics to see what people are already buying. Then you can compile that in a post for your readers so they know what’s trending. You can also check out bestseller lists that Amazon creates. They have categories for lots and lots of different products so it should be easy to find something that relates to your site.
#9: Holidays Are Huge
Holidays are a big deal for any retail business, but they’re an incredible time of year for Amazon. During the Christmas season, Amazon sells a substantial amount of merchandise. On Black Friday in 2017, Amazon sold 1.4 billion dollars worth of items. It accounted for 27% of the total online sales for that day.
Around the holidays, people are already in the buying mood and you can jump on the bandwagon. You can create gift-giving guides, field questions from people searching for gifts, and encourage the general cheer of the season.
It’s also beneficial to tailor content around the smaller holidays and events. For instance, when it’s almost summertime you can create content that gets people excited about the upcoming warm weather. If you were to have an outdoor blog, summer would be a great time to sell gear.
Another big selling time is back to school. This is the time of year that you could encourage people to make big sale items like laptops, or small items like pens and notebooks.
Naturally, some holidays and events fit some niches better, but you should be on the lookout for times of the year that are particularly good for your business.
#10: Promote Pre-Orders
Let your readers know that you’re in the know by preparing them for new items. For much-anticipated items, Amazon sometimes allows people to pre-order. You wouldn’t be able to review an unreleased item, but you can create excitement. In addition, people may go to Amazon to investigate a new item and buy something else once they’ve reached the site.
#11: Promote on Social Media
You don’t need a blog in order to use the Amazon affiliate program. In fact, you can run your entire program through social media alone. However, it’s a really good idea to use social media along with your website.
People like having a landing spot like a website if they want more information than they can get from a brief Instagram or Twitter post. However, if you want to make a quick announcement, social media is a great platform. You can also use social media to promote future blog posts and interact with your readers. Let them know plans you have for your site, or ask them what kind of future content they would be interested in.
You can create listicles and put them directly on Facebook with your affiliate link, or make a YouTube video that shows an item you’re promoting in action. Social media opens the door for a lot of different ways to get people interested.
#12: Use Multiple Links and Link Your Pictures
Sometimes making a sale comes down to logistics. If you’re writing a very long single product review and you’ve only posted your affiliate link at the top of your review, chances are, there will be plenty of people who won’t bother to scroll back up to the top. They may decide it’s not worth it at all, or they may decide to check it out for themselves later without using your link.
To alleviate this problem, post your links multiple times in one blog post. Try to post the first link near the top, and the second one at the end of your article. That way if they’re just passing through they won’t have to read through your whole article, and if they’re truly interested in your entire review, they won’t have to scroll back to the top.
It can also be beneficial to link any pictures that you have that might relate to the item that you’re promoting. People tend to like to click on pictures even if they’re not linked to anything.
#13: Track User Movement
Another way to find out where to put a link is to see where people naturally click on your site, or where they let their mouse hover. There are tracking tools available that will let you know where the most activity is on your website. Some of them create a heat map for you that shows the “hottest” area on your page, followed by the areas with less activity.
Six Types of Blog Posts that Work with the Affiliate Program
It’s usually not enough to just put a banner ad on your website somewhere and hope people buy things. Out of context, most people don’t just intentionally click on random ads. Many more people choose to click on an ad after they’ve been given a good reason to do so. Here is a list of blog posts that work well with affiliate programs.
#1: Single Product Review
A single product review is an in-depth look at a particular item that you think your readers would be interested in. This is probably the most common kind of review, and it gives you the opportunity to go into great detail about something. The more information you’re able to share with your readers, the more value that you can offer them.
A product review can be positive or negative, or it can be a mix of both. While you may not make a lot of money from a review that is completely negative, it does show your readers that you are honest with your reviews. Think of negative posts as playing the long game when it comes to affiliate sales. It shows your readers that you want to offer them real and valuable content, not just make dollars from them.
#2: Round Up of Best Products
Another popular type of blog post is one that rounds up the best products in a specific category. Think of this as a buying guide in which you give ratings to each of the products and their pros and cons. For each item listed, you would have an affiliate link attached.
You can also use a table at the beginning of your review that quickly shows the reader each product you’re going to talk about along with a short rating system. You could also include your affiliate link within this table. Keep the table simple, and then go into greater detail within the context of the blog post.
#3: A Round-Up with a Final “Best” Product
Sometimes you can do a round-up of products, but your end game is to really explain why one product is the best of all of them. In this type of review you would acknowledge the other products on the market that are similar, but then you would spend the bulk of the blog post discussing why this particular product is the best.
Listicles are a way to show a lot of similar products and a very quick review. In fact, you could come up with an image in which you list the bare bones of a product’s pros and cons so people could scroll through the items quickly and gain a little information on each. Include a short and unique description of each item, and what makes that particular product stand out from the rest.
Listicles can be a handy tool. However, to add more value to the list it can be helpful to provide a link to a fuller review. If something stands out to your reader they can then get more information than is accessible in the original listicle.
#5: Product Comparison – This vs That
Many times when people are looking to make a purchase, especially for one that is on the more expensive side, they’re stuck between a couple of products. If they’re looking at a product review between two products, they’ve probably already done some initial research, and now they’re ready to narrow it down between two competing products.
These types of post help people decide which product is best for them. Unless one product is clearly superior to another, chances are they’re both going to have their pros and cons. They will also likely have benefits that will attract different people, and you can highlight these differences in your review.
In your review, your final summation could be that product a is much better than product b, OR you could explain how they’re both awesome products depending on what your readers are looking for.
Some examples of tutorials include how to’s and problem-solving articles. Affiliate links can fit into this type of blog posts easily.
Do-it-yourself articles can easily include sellable items. Lots of people love DIY, and if you’re recommending a certain item that you think will help them make something, there’s a good chance that they will be interested in it too.
Problem-solving blog posts are also good platforms for merchandise. For example, let’s say you run a dog owner’s website and you want to write an article about leash training for difficult dogs.
You might write something like, “Seven ways to leash train even the most difficult dogs.” One or two of your points might be particular items that could help make leash training easier. Chances are people who are reading your article are having a very difficult time, and if you have a product you’re recommending that can make their life easier, they might just be willing to try it.
How to Use Amazon Associates on Your Site
Once you’ve determined that your site has good traffic flow, great content that can be used to convert sales, and the determination to get through the potentially slow starting months, it’s time to sign up for Amazon’s affiliate program.
To sign up for the Amazon affiliate program, go to affiliate-program.amazon.com.
Make sure to read through their information and disclaimers to see if it is a good fit for you. You’ll also need to understand how the process works, and what products are eligible.
Enrollment and Eligibility
After you complete an application, Amazon will review your site to see if it fits their criteria. There is a list provided that will outline things that could cause your application to be rejected. Some of these things include; websites that promote or contain sexually explicit materials, ones that promote violence, or ones that promote illegal activity.
It will also be declined if it is specifically directed towards children under the age of 13. This is in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
There are many rules listed under Amazon’s affiliate program. Make sure to read through all of them before signing up or using links on your site. As mentioned before, Amazon Associates can be strict with their terms and at times will ban people even without a warning. Make sure once you’re a member to check their terms from time to time to make sure that you are in compliance with their rules.
Below is an incomplete list of their rules in our own words, but some to keep in mind before you begin promoting products. This is not a binding agreement with Amazon’s affiliate program and is absolutely subject to change.
If you want to be an Amazon affiliate you must clearly state that you are the one on your website. They give you a specific wording that you can copy and paste on your page, or you can come up with your own similar phrasing. They also don’t allow you to imply that they are your sponsor or are in any way connected to you outside of the affiliate program.
In Amazon Associate’s Operating Agreement it’s written like this, “You must clearly state the following, or any substantially similar statement previously allowed under this Agreement, on your Site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Content: “‘As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.’”
Only Links From Your Site
While it may seem profitable to ask your readers to save your Special Links for ongoing business, it is not permitted. Special Links must be accessed directly from your site. This also applies to emails. You may not email your affiliate links to your readers.
Be Careful with Listing Prices
Adding promotions to your site is a great idea, and can really help bring in profits, but make sure that you remove the promotional prices once it’s over. Likewise, if you’re listing prices on your site, make sure the link is from Amazon and reflects current prices, or you use the PA API. Amazon’s prices are often changing so it’s important not to list inaccurate prices.
Amazon Associates Program Policy explains it this way, “Product prices and availability may vary from time to time. Because prices for and availability of Products that you have listed on your Site may change, your Site may only show prices and availability if: (a) we serve the link in which that price and availability data are displayed, or (b) you obtain Product pricing and availability data via the PA API and you comply with the requirements regarding use of the PA API in the License.”
No Pop-Up Ads
Amazon Associates gives a lot of options for advertising but pop-up ads are not allowed. They must be linked directly on your page.
Amazon cautions to never intentionally mislead or over inflate the value of a product that they sell. This is a good general rule because you will soon lose your readers’ trust if you give them inaccurate information.
Make Sure Your Social Media Accounts are Listed
It’s okay to use Social Media through the affiliate program, you just need to make sure that they are added to your approved website list. Amazon Associate’s wants to be certain that they are verified before you post their affiliate links.
Don’t Use Your Own Special Links
Using your own affiliate links can seem like a great deal because you would gain a commission on your own sale. Unfortunately, Amazon Associates does not allow you to do this. Technically you’re not even supposed to encourage friends and family to use it.
In Amazon Associates Program Policy they write, “You will not directly or indirectly purchase any Product(s) through Special Links, whether for your use of for the use of any other person or entity, and you will not permit, request or encourage any of your friends, relatives, employees, contractors, or business relations to directly or indirectly purchase any Product(s) through Special Links, whether for their use, your use or the use of any other person or entity. Further, you will not purchase any Product(s) through Special Links for resale or commercial use (of any kind) or offer any Products on your Site for resale or commercial use of any kind.”
A Few Words
It’s also important to understand how Amazon Associate’s payments work. According to their term agreements, payment comes approximately 60 days following the end of the calendar month in which the products were purchased.
When it comes to being paid, Amazon gives you three options. You can have your collected fees deposited directly into your bank account, you can receive a gift card, or you can be paid by check.
For gift cards and direct deposit, Amazon reserves the right to hang on to the fees they owe you until the amount reaches $10. If you choose to use a check, Amazon reserves the right to retain fees until the amount reaches $100. Amazon also subtracts a $15 processing fee for each check they send you.
Amazon Associate’s rates have been listed earlier in this article, but it’s worth repeating.
Amazon Associate’s pays as little as 0% to as high as 10% for each transaction. 0% commission only applies to wine and Amazon gift cards, but there are others which have quite low commissions like video games and TVs. Amazon Fashion Women, Men & Kids Private Label, Luxury Beauty, and Amazon Coins are all categories that give a 10% commission return.
Special Program Fees
Amazon Associates does give an additional way to earn commission through what they refer to as “Special Program Fees.”
Within this category, they list Bounty events which include referrals to things like Amazon Family, Amazon Wedding Registry, Amazon Prime Free Trial and many many more.
Amazon Associates also provides commission rates for Prime Video Channel Subscriptions like “PBS KIDS”, “STARZ,” and “Indie Club.”
Amazon runs a trade-in program that allows customers to trade-in books, electronic products, and video games in exchange for Amazon gift cards.
When your readers follow a Special Link through your page and consequently use the trade-in program, you are eligible to receive a commission. The commission rate for the trade-in event is 4%.
How to Add Products to Your Site
Once you’re an approved member for the Amazon Associate Program, you can begin to search for products to promote on your blog, website, or social media. When you search for products, Amazon Associates will give you access to the use of “Special Links.” These links keep track of reporting and accrued fees.
One of the really helpful things about Amazon’s affiliate program is that they offer a lot of different ways to display ads on your site.
Freedom and Responsibility
As the site owner, you’re responsible for the content, style, and placement of the links on your page. It is also your responsibility to make sure that the Special Links are formatted properly in order to be tracked. You also have the freedom to use an image and text, or just a text link. Since these decisions are yours, it makes it a lot easier to create links that match the rest of your site.
It’s up to you when you’d like to add or delete items from your website and it does not require special permission from Amazon to do so.
Product Link Tool
The product link tool is the most basic way to find links for your site. In order to use this, log into your account in Associates Central and select “Product Link” in the drop-down menu.
It will then allow you to search for a product that you’re interested in promoting. For example, you could type in “waffle maker” and it would take you to a list of waffle makers that you could promote. You can also type in a specific brand or model if you already have something in mind.
Once you find the product you’re looking for, you can either copy the text URL, or you can hit the “get link” button at the right of the screen.
If you click the “get link” button, it will give you an HTML code that shows a specific picture and text. You’ll be shown a preview so you know exactly what the ad will look like on your website. You can also choose to display the text only if that’s what you would prefer.
Amazon Associates gives you the option of shortening the URL link if you’re planning on copying and pasting the exact URL link. This is helpful for places where your entire link will be seen, as opposed to inserting a link into words. An example of this would be copying and pasting a link to a YouTube video description.
The link that Amazon has created for you, called a “Special Link,” will have your affiliate information in it so you can use that to put right on your site to attract income. The great news is even if someone closes the tab that has your affiliate code in it, and they purchase something within the next 24 hours, you’ll still get credit for it. In other words, they won’t need to re-follow your link if they decide not to purchase immediately.
If you select “Banners” in the Product Listing drop down menu you will see an option to use “Promotional Links”, “Rotating Banner Campaigns by Category,” or “Banner Links by Category.”
Promotional links include easy links which are rotating promotions or announcements that you can put directly on your site.
Rotating Banner Campaigns is an ad system that will automatically update to the newest items available in the category that you choose. Once you’ve selected the category that you’re interested in, Amazon Associates will create an HTML for you that you can then paste in your website. You’re able to choose the banner size and style that you’re most interested in. This takes some of the work involved in making sure that you’re constantly on top of the newest products.
You can also choose “Banner Links by Category” for a single banner ad in your specific niche.
SiteStripe is a cool feature that Amazon Associates provides to help their affiliates. Unlike the Product Link Tool, SiteStripe allows you to create links from Amazon.com without having to go through Associates Central.
Native Shopping Ads
A native ad is an ad that is relevant to the content that you’re creating. Amazon Associates creates relevant ads in one of three ways: Recommendation ads, Search Ads, and Custom Ads.
Recommendation ads are created by matching products that match the content of your website. So for example, if your site is about gardening, Amazon Associates might display ads of gardening tools.
Search ads are created by recommendations that are based on search phrases that either you or your reader determines.
Custom ads allow you to select which items you would like to promote as a native ad.
These ads can be formatted either in a grid format or a list format.
Lots and lots of people use their mobile devices for online shopping so it’s important that Amazon Associates has provided a mobile-friendly ad. The Mobile Popover feature creates an ad that pops up as someone is scrolling down a page on their mobile device.
To find out more about Amazon’s interactive mobile ads, you can check out their Mobile Education Center.
Ready to Make Money
If you’ve decided that Amazon’s affiliate program sounds like a match for you, don’t be discouraged if it takes some time to really see a cash flow. Amazon Associates works better for some people than others, and it will take time and effort to create a strong marketing campaign.