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10 Last Tips on Making Money from the Amazon Affiliates Program

Today I’d like to conclude my mini series of posts on how to make money with the Amazon Associates Program. In case you’ve missed them – the first two parts are at:

In this last post I’d like to share 10 more general and overarching tips and principles that I’ve found can help with making money with Amazon’s Affiliate program. I hope you find that together with the more practical tips from yesterday that you’ll find them helpful!

1. Time is a Major Factor

As I mentioned in my first post on the topic – the $119,000+ that I’ve earned from Amazon has only come over 6 years. While this last 12 months has seen me earn over $50,000 of this it took 5 years of building to get it to that level.

That was partly due to traffic but it was also partly due to my regular inclusion of affiliate links in my posts over time. I don’t promote Amazon in every post I write but in an average week I’d say that I’ve linked to Amazon in at least 5 posts. That adds up to 250 or so posts per year and around 1500 posts over 6 years.

These posts are each a doorway into the Amazon site and over time as their number have grown and as my blogs have begun to rank higher in Google and my loyal reader numbers have grown the number of people going through these ‘doorways’ into Amazon has grown – hence the escalation in earnings.

2. Start Early

As a result I do recommend that bloggers start to use Amazon’s Associate Program early. In doing so you’ll be populating your blog with links into the store that may not convert brilliantly early on before you have readers – but which can potentially convert for years to come as your blog grows in popularity.

The other good thing about starting early is that you’ll learn a lot about affiliate marketing. Most of the lessons and tips that I’ve shared in this series of posts have come directly from my own experimenting with Amazon’s Affiliate program.

In the early days of using it I knew so little and made a lot of mistakes – but each time I messed up I learned another lesson that has helped me to grow my Amazon earnings into a more significant part of my own business.

3. Experiment with Widgets and aStore

I’ve mentioned in my previous posts that I largely rely upon Contextual links to promote Amazon. I find that these convert best – however I do know of a few bloggers who’ve successfully incorporated a variety of the widgets that Amazon gives their Associates to use into their sites.

amazon-widgets.png

Similarly – I know some readers who do pretty well with aStore which is a tool whereby you create your own little online store using Amazon’s technology.

I’ve tried a couple of times to use this and have had a little success with my photography one and my ProBlogger Bookstore but know I need to do more with it to take it to the next level.

I guess it comes down to experimenting with the tools and seeing what works best with your audience. If you’ve used some of these widgets I’d love to see examples of where you’ve had them work for you – please share links in comments below so we can all learn!

4. Transparency with Readers

There is always debate about the topic of transparency when the topic of affiliate marketing comes up. Should you disclose that your links are affiliate links or should you not? Each blogger has their own stance on this and with a lot of talk about laws changing in some parts of the world it seems that some bloggers are now being forced to make such disclosures.

I personally don’t disclose every link on my blog in a direct way but do have disclaimer/disclosure pages on my blogs. I also have written numerous times on DPS about how the links to Amazon earn us money and help the site to keep growing and be free.

I was nervous the first time I mentioned this to readers and expected a backlash – however what I found was that most readers not only accepted it but encouraged us to do it. In fact a few of our readers tell me that if they’re going to make some kind of purchase at Amazon that they always come to DPS to click on one of our links to do so! Transparency isn’t as scary as you might think (although this might depend upon your audience a little).

5. Don’t Hype – Put Your Readers First

Whatever you do – always keep your readers best interests at heart when you engage in any affiliate marketing.

I’ve been critiqued for taking this stance lately by a group of bloggers who take a different stance and seem to put the priority on ‘making money at all costs’ – but while you certainly can make money without a focus upon quality content or building community on a blog and by hyping up the things that you promote – my approach has always been to put the reader first.

I do this because I want to build a solid reputation and a loyal readership who trust me rather than simply making money at all costs. I’d rather make less money and still have a reader than make lots of money and never see the reader again. For me this comes not only from my ethics but my belief that in the long term building a good profile and reputation leads to other opportunities for profit.

The problem with hype is that you set readers up with expectations that are beyond what the product you’re recommending can deliver. This might lead to a sale but it also leads to disappointment and anger – the loss of readers – damaged reputation etc.

6. Pick Quality Products

This relates to the last point but is worth stating on its own. The success and failure of your Amazon Associates Program promotions hinges upon choosing good quality products.

When you promote quality it is much easier to be both genuine in your reviews and recommendations and get conversions that lead to commission.

Wherever you can test the products you recommend to ensure their quality (or find someone who can do it for you).

7. Be Bold

It has been interesting to read the comments on the previous posts in this series and to see that one of the recurring themes from readers is that they worry about using Amazon links too much. Won’t readers push back?

I’ve always shared this concern – but as you’ve probably picked up by now the reader push back has been almost non-existent.

Perhaps this is because I choose the products carefully or because I often promote these links in posts based upon reader feedback – but I can think of less than 5 occasions when I’ve had people on my photography site question the links. In fact, as I said above, I’ve had more people give positive feedback about them than anything.

I guess there would come a point where too much promotion would get a negative reaction so you do want to be at least a little subtle about it – but in general I think readers can handle more than we might think they can.

Note: I think the line where readers will push back probably will vary from blog to blog depending upon their readership. For example here on ProBlogger I get a little more negative feedback from readers on affiliate promotions – I guess ProBlogger readers are a little more tuned into the issue and suspicious of some of the affiliate marketing that goes on around the web.

8. Localized Audiences? Try Local Amazons

Another comment that has come up a number of times in previous posts on this topic is that Amazon.com doesn’t work brilliantly for blogs and sites with traffic from countries outside the USA.

A couple of reflections on this:

Firstly – it’s not completely true. I have previously had a blog with almost completely Australian traffic that did convert reasonably well with Amazon. Amazon does ship some products to Australia and other countries (books, CDs etc) so if you’re promoting those products it can work. Of course I always missed out on the bigger ticket items that didn’t ship outside the USA – this was part of the reason that I moved my efforts to starting Digital Photography School which has a more global audience.

Secondly – if your traffic is very localized to a country with its own Amazon store join the affiliate program for that store and promote it. I know of one UK photography site that does very well from promoting the UK version of Amazon. I also know one blog that adds two links to every post he does – one with the US and one with the UK store. I’ve also heard that some people use geo-targeting tools to look at where a reader is from and serving them a localized link for them.

9. Topics Convert Differently

In one forum that I came across discussing my previous articles a number of people reported that Amazon didn’t work on their sites (doubting whether I was telling the truth about my earnings). When I delved a little deeper and looked at their sites the reason for their lack of success with Amazon became apparent – their topics.

Some topics will naturally fit with Amazon better than others. In the end a lot of it comes down to the fact that Amazon is a product related affiliate program – it only works when people buy stuff. If your blog is on a topic that doesn’t have any natural connection to people buying stuff it is going to be an uphill battle.

In my experience it’s product related blogs that tend to do best with Amazon. Most blogs probably have at least some possibilities (for example here on ProBlogger I occasionally link to a book that relates or a computer or electronic tool that I think might be useful to bloggers) but the reality is that this blog will never convert as well on Amazon as my photography site.

Keep an Eye on Amazon

My last tip in this series is to keep an eye on what Amazon is doing. I mean this in two main ways:

1. Learn from Them – be a regular user of Amazon. You don’t have to be an active buyer – but regularly surf the site and pay particular attention to the way that THEY are promoting products on their site.

Amazon have spent years perfecting the art of online selling – they constantly test different ways of promoting products and have evolved their site quite a lot over the years. See what widgets they use to promote related products, watch how they use reader reviews, see the way that they describe products. You’ll learn a lot about online marketing by observing how they do it and you’ll also be in a better position to pre-sell the products you recommend if you look at the page you’re sending people to before you do it.

2. Watch for Opportunities – I mentioned earlier in this series that Amazon run a variety of promotions on their site that you can tap into. Some of these they promote directly to their Associates – for example they send out emails to associates semi-regularly promoting their latest promotions) and also have a blog where they do likewise. If you read the blog and get the emails you’ll see promotions where they are offering discounts to readers but also where they’re giving bonus commissions for some items or categories of products. Not all of them will relate to your niche but over time some will.

However there are other opportunities that they don’t promote to us as affiliates but which you can still tap into. For example – today I was surfing on Amazon and this popped up at the top of the screen:

promotion.png

It’s an internal promotion that Amazon are currently running for a series of new cameras that Canon released this week. It seems to appear to anyone surfing through the camera section on Amazon. The promotion links to this page (I’m not sure how long it’ll be up so here’s a screenshot – click to enlarge).

amazon-pre-order.png

The page is a sales page specifically designed to hook in people looking to pre-order newly announced cameras. Amazon are heavily promoting this page – they wouldn’t do so if it didn’t convert – so I’m jumping on board created an affiliate link to the page (you can create an affiliate link to ANY page within Amazon including these kinds of pages, search results, category pages etc) and I’m promoting it to my readers.

They more you keep an eye on how Amazon are promoting products to their readers the better informed you’ll be about how YOU can do the same thing.

Share Your Amazon Associate Program Tips

This brings to an end my mini series of posts on this topic. I’ve shared everything that I’ve tried – what about you? Got any tips to add?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I’ve heard a lot of stories about Amazon not paying their affiliates so I’m hesitant of trying them out. It seems that once you start to generate a certain amount, they start to really get on your case.

  2. @Lara Kulpa Thanks for clarifying that for me.

    I put the question to Amazon and here is what they said:

    “Hello,

    I’m sorry for any misunderstandings about that section of the Agreement.

    However, we do not require exclusivity in order to become an Amazon.com Associate. You may access detailed information about the Associates Program at:

    http://www.amazon.com/associates

    What you are not allowed to do is use our links or information provided from our site, to drive traffic to another website. There you’ll find a complete program description, a thorough FAQ, the complete text of the operating agreement, and an online self-registration form.

    As always, please feel free to contact us should you have future questions or comments, and thanks for your continued interest in the Associates Program.”

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  4. Dean Saliba says:

    All three of these articles will surely help me when I creat my amazon affiliate-run blog next month.

    Thanks Darren. :-)

  5. hugerewards says:

    This is really a post with abundant information!
    In order to make success, this seems to share the extremely wonderful idea.

  6. Ashok says:

    A great post with a lot of insights about Amazon program.

  7. PCTechBytes says:

    We have never had much luck with Amazon. But I have to admit that as a blogger, their store is so compelling you have to keep trying. Finding the right article and product–it just makes sense to use Amazon for targeting.

  8. Stephanie says:

    Darren, this has been an excellent “series.” I truly appreciate your authentic, helpful posts. Unlike many of the bloggers in your niche, you provide solid content backed by experience.

    Keep up the great work!

  9. Christian says:

    Here in germany are other rules for consumer elektonic. You can only earn as much as 10 Euro for one item. This is really sad. Your 4%-rule is much better ;)

    By the way the Amazon program is my second most profitable income source for the last five years. And I always have your “add-dorways-over-time” philosophy in my mind while writing and blogging. Thank you.

  10. Nate says:

    Hey Darren! Great stuff here. I’ve been an affiliate for some time, but never really did anything with it. This is mainly because I wasn’t sure how best to go about it.

    Your mini-series here really helped out, and now I’ll be implementing some of the ideas into my own blog.

    Thanks again, you rock!

  11. Lynda says:

    I have a consulting company that provides ethical online marketing for small and medium sized business. I have found that there are several types of customers, those who need my help, and those who want to go it alone. I try and give as much value away on my website as I can. Using Amazon affiliate links and telling the do-it-yourself’ers what vital books are on my bookshelf is one way I can provide them with value and make a few bucks (with no cost to them)

    It’s a win/win situation

  12. Good post. Good points are given. All the points seems to be very informative one. Especially that 4th and 7th point is very important. Making money money from affiliate program is not very easy. Sure these points will help me to get a good profit when i start with affiliate program.

  13. Chris says:

    I think this is great timing of the articles because I believe retailers are going to start moving away from PPC and traditional ads (like banners) and more into using their marketing budget on affiliation. Especially after the effects of the global recession, only paying up once they have the sales is a lot more attractive then other pre-paid marketing methods.

  14. MusicVL says:

    I read this post some days ago and signed up for the Amazon program. (or had signed up a year ago but didnt knew how to do and so started using again)
    I have my blog of music which includes Mp3 and what i thought was rather then including the illegal links of downloading the MP3, i would link to the Amazon page to download it.
    i hope this will work and have used it at http://www.musicvl.com
    Thanks for sharing awesome tips.

  15. Jane says:

    Really great and helpful post. I wish you well in all your online endeavors. Thanks for sharing. By the way, this might interest you too. I ask you to take a look at this unbelievable Educational courses available to all levels of traders, to Alternative Investment Opportunities that will give you massive returns for a small initial investment, you will be on your way to creating multiple streams of income in no time. Have a remarkable day!

  16. Brad says:

    Darren, I have been an Amazon Associate for years and I have never been paid a penny. I have written them numerous e-mails asking them to take a look at my site and determine what I have done wrong. I know of people who have purchased books and cameras through my site, yet their purchased don’t appear in my account. Maybe you could take a look at my site and give me some advice? Thank you.

  17. Great advice, as always! Thanks for taking the time!

  18. untreatable says:

    Thanks for the tips. I have always found Amazon a bit frustrating but I see that I have been looking at it the wrong way

  19. Chris Monty says:

    Thanks for this awesome series. I just finally surpassed $2,500 per month with Amazon. These tips are right on the money, literally, for anyone who wants to be successful.

  20. I totally had a dream the other night I got my first refer all sale though amazon for $45.

    I’m sad that way. :D

  21. manboo says:

    thank you for the tips,
    i’m using amazon affiliates program in my site,
    and it converts money now

  22. Rita says:

    This is terrific information. I write for baby boomer consumers and often write about helpful books.

    I haven’t known how to go about using Amazon. Your series is helping me get started.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide at http://boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com.

  23. Amyrhiz says:

    I heard a lot about amazon and based on your post it looks like it is really a great source of money. I been with Clickbank and I’ll try this amazon to get additional income. :-)

  24. I was not successful with selling Amazon books – not yet – but it certainly gives value to a site, as with books one can show there is more to be read about this specific topic which this site or article is about and it shows that the author researched the subject,, at least little bit.
    Too many widgets slow the downloading of a site. I took all widgets off my site, left only two on one site and linked references to this one single site.
    Maybe with your tips I will do better with Amazon.
    Thank you.
    Christa
    http://www.privatedimension.at

  25. jules says:

    Hi

    could I ask: If a readers 1 day cookie has expired and they return later and click on a link (via your site) is the cookie renewed again for a day for returners?

    I’m thinking you might need to inform your readers if they choose to buy via your link to return to your site first and reclick link if they take more than a day deciding else they’ll go straight to Amazon next timeand you wont get any commission.

  26. khmerbird says:

    i tried putting amazon product on my blog, in many ways but i didn’t get any result,

    i want to put back the amazon link but i don’t really know what is the best way to promote, should be after the content? the widget? or write a full review in the post?

    should i could get some advice from your guys

    all the best

  27. Paul says:

    Hey, nice articles…

    Good to know I’m on the right track :) My earnings have doubled every month since I started 5 months ago.. I’m alost at a stage where I can call it a job haha.

  28. SRK07 says:

    Great article……I too have a site on how to make money on Amazon geared towards retail businesses and individuals with rare hidden gems available on Amamzon like How to videos to get started including various aspects of Amazon including info on Amazon hosted websites for retail stores, marketers and affliates…..ay better than an AStore.

  29. Nail says:

    Just finished reading the third of the Amazon Tips series. I began to modify one of my blogs which I have amazon links on. Not commissions yet, though I am getting some clicks and I will work on this, sure it will be better. What your posts taught me is to go after long term success and build a community-based business, not a blog to make some affiliate sales overnight.

  30. keith says:

    I’d say I’m pretty new to the whole affiliate game, I have a few links and a few clicks but no sales, It’s weird cause I’ve been researching affiliate programs for a while and every time someone recommends a program it’s never google affiliate and thats what I’m using at the moment, is there something wrong with it? or is there just better programs out there?

  31. Logged into my Amazon Account today and notice something different. ‘Ordered Items’ no longer was at zero. Yes! First referral.

  32. tonrich says:

    Nice tips .. i will try to make money with amazon.
    Thanks.

  33. apol says:

    hi Darren…

    Your tips is very helpful specially for new bloggers like me. I’m scanning every article you have about blogging and monetizing it and i’m learning a lot…

  34. dr2web says:

    Thanks Dareen ^^ nice tips