The Power of Getting Readers in the Door at Amazon

Two weeks ago I started an experiment over at Digital Photography School which I think highlights the power of getting people in the door at Amazon using their affiliate program.

The experiment centered around a review that I wrote of a book – Complete Digital Photography.

The book is a brand new release (an updated version of an old book) which I ordered the day it came out so that I could be one of the first reviews on the web going around of it. Having owned a previous edition of the book I knew it was likely to be a good one – and it was.

In the review I linked back to Amazon where readers could get their own copy. The link that I used was my affiliate link and it contained a ‘tracking ID’ which enables me to track what those clicking on the link end up purchasing at Amazon. After two weeks the sales are continuing to come in but I think the initial results give some insights into what people do when following such links.

Here’s a summary of what people bought after clicking the link in this review post:

We’ll start with the books mentioned in the review:

OK – so no surprises so far – but what interested me most was in what else people bought – items NOT mentioned in the review: [Read more…]

Amazon Updates User Interface for Associate

AmazonI just logged into my Amazon Associates account and they’ve done an update to their user interface.

There’s nothing particularly new to what they’ve done that isn’t cosmetic – but it is nice and will make checking daily stats a lot easier.

For starters you now don’t need to scroll through paragraphs of notices to get your daily stats. Now you see the table (pictured left) on the top right hand side of your reports page. It gives you a quick summary of your stats for the last day (or month – depending which you select).

Amazon-2On the top left hand side you see another little table (pictured right) – this one has your tracking IDs all in a drop down menu so that you can quickly swap from one to another (again, much easier than the previous method which was quite convoluted).

By the way – many Amazon affiliates don’t know about tracking IDs – they are the equivalent of channels in AdSense and help you track specific affiliate links (or groups of them).

One other change is that in the top right hand corner you can now select different locations – if you are an Amazon affiliate for their different geographical stores. You can’t swap from one to the other without logging in – but it could be handy for some.

Other report pages and the ‘build links’ pages seem to have been tweaked also – but there are not really substantial changes that I can see so far in them.

This is a nice fresh new look that makes the back end of Amazon’s Affiliate program a little more functional. My wish now is that they update some of their banners, search boxes etc to bring them into a more modern look and not like they’re something from a few years back.

Do you like the new user interface?

9 Reasons Why I AM An Amazon Affiliate

John Chow today posted a post outlining why he’s not an Amazon Affiliate. It’s a good post in that it gives an insight into his approach to affiliate marketing. The best point John alludes to is that Amazon doesn’t ‘fit’ with his blog. He makes more from other better targeted affiliate programs than Amazon.

However the Amazon Associates Program is well worth considering for some bloggers. I use it and this month it’ll earn me over $2500 USD – not my biggest income stream, but not the ‘pennies and dimes’ that some say it has the potential to earn.

To bring a little balance to the debate over the Amazon Affiliate program I thought I’d give a few reasons that I am an Amazon Affiliate:

1. Amazon is a trusted Brand – I surveyed some of my readers a year back and asked them to give me a list of online stores that they had made purchases from in the last 12 months. Amazon came up number 1 as the most popular shopping destination mentioned. Readers know Amazon and are familiar with it – they trust it and do spend significant money there.

2. Commissions – John writes that he’s not satisfied with a 4% commission. He’s right in some ways, 4% isn’t that much when you’re selling a $10 book – however when you’re selling a Get a Price on the $5000 Camera or a $25,000 Tractor (I know someone who does quite well out of ride on mowers and tractors) it certainly adds up. Not only that, the 4% rate that John talks about is the base rate. Unfortunately it is as high as it goes on consumer electronics – however on most other products there is a sliding scale where the more you sell the higher your commission goes to. Sell more than 6 items in a month and your commission goes to 6% – sell over 630 and you’re up to 8% (the rate I’m on). The 4-Hour work Week that John uses as an example earned me around $1 a book. Still not a lot – but I did sell 100 or so of them (after my interview with it’s author) which not only earned me $100 but also helped push the numbers of sales up for the month, moving me into the next earning bracket.

Us Q107 Pricingtiers Unbox

3. People Buy More than One Item – the great thing about Amazon is that you don’t just earn a commission on the product that you people to, but anything that they buy once they’re at Amazon. I did an experiment earlier in the year where I published a review of a digital photography book on my blog and placed a tracking code in the link to see how much the review earned me specifically. What I found was that the product in the review did quite well – but the sales of other products that people made once they got to Amazon was actually much greater than the sales of the actual book. People went on to buy all manner of products (other books, electronics, cosmetics etc) – I earned a commission on each one of them – now that’s passive income. You earn a commission on anything that a person buys within 24 hours of you sending them to Amazon.

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10 Ways to Maximize The Value Of A Product Review

The following guest post has been submitted by Trent Hamm from The Simple Dollar

Most serious bloggers occasionally find opportunities to review some sort of product related to their blog niche, whether it be a book, a piece of equipment related to their blog’s area of expertise, or so on. I often see these used as off-the-cuff posts with at best an affiliate link to Amazon. These posts are usually quite forgettable, and for good reason.

I’ve found, however, that I can often use a well-written review in a large number of ways that can drive traffic to my blog over a long period of time. Here’s the procedure I usually follow when writing a killer review that will excite and entertain my regular readers, bring in new ones, and also earn some money via affiliate sales at Amazon. To illustrate this, I’m going to give an additional shout out to a friend and another ProBlogger guest blogger, Penelope Trunk, and discuss how I wrote and then utilized my review of her book, Brazen Careerist.

1. Focus on a product that you’re passionate about that also relates to your blog

I’m the author of a personal finance and personal development blog and I’m also an avid reader, so the big products that I usually find that I’m passionate about are books on those topics. Before you even start thinking about putting forth the effort to writing and marketing a really killer review on your blog, you need to ask yourself if the item in question really stirs something inside of you. If it doesn’t, it’s going to be hard to convey any sort of feeling or emotion about the product, and it is that sense of emotion that really captures readers and makes for a killer post. If you’re not feeling it, you can still write a review, but don’t invest the time in turning it into a real anchor post.

2. Write the review

When you write a review that you intend to use as anchor content, you should make sure that it covers the product in detail (I usually move through a book chapter by chapter), clearly relates your own views on the title, and also ties into some of the content you’ve already written. Since the piece will probably have some length to it, you should also use bold to highlight the main points. Another useful tip: I often link back to my own anchor articles when writing reviews of products so I can highlight specific points and illustrate how the item I’m reviewing is connected to the overall message of my blog. Want an example? Here’s my review of Brazen Careerist.

3. Include affiliate links in the review

When you’re reviewing an item, including affiliate links that enable the person to buy the item is mutually beneficial: your readers have the opportunity to investigate and buy the item, and if they choose to purchase it, you get a portion of that purchase price. I typically just stick with Amazon’s affiliate program on my blog because of the book selection (my primary review area) and the ubiquity of Amazon – everyone seems to have an account there so it’s easier for people to order the item if they want it. Within the review, I usually just link every instance of the book title to the Amazon page for that book.
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Why Affiliate Links are the best Form of Blog Advertising

This Post was submitted by Matt Jones, the author of Blogging Fingers

With bloggers looking for alternatives to AdSense, which is renowned for it’s low click-though rates on blogs with ‘web-savvy’ readers, one of the golden oldies of Internet advertising has been making a comeback. Namely, using affiliate links.

Out of all forms of advertising affiliate links are the least obtrusive to the reader. Long lists of affiliate links are unnecessary because the key to affiliate marketing with blogs is pre-selling and so other than ‘top 5 affiliate programs’ in a sidebar there is little use for listing large numbers of affiliate links.

Pre-selling is content for your blog! Writing a fair review of an affiliate program or of a product (from a certain affiliate program) is both useful for your readers, while being fantastic for the search engines.

Fresh Organic Traffic

Normally the name of the affiliate program/product will naturally be in the posts’ title and throughout the main text of the post. If people link to the post they will probably use something like E.g. “Matt’s review of – insert name of affiliate program” – in the anchor text, which also helps that individual post rank very highly in the search engines.

In other words, reviewing a post about a specific affiliate program/product automatically adds a keyword phrase (usually the name of the affiliate program/product) to your sites ‘long-tail’ of keywords and provides prolonged low levels of organic traffic.

This screenshot of part of my long-tail traffic helps illustrate this:

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How to Dramatically Increase Amazon Affiliate Sales with Bestseller Lists

A sales technique that many businesses and industries employ is to create ‘Best Seller Lists’ to highlight to consumers what others like them are purchasing.

A few examples spring to mind:

Of course there are many more we could list. Virtually every music, video and bookstore have their own version of these sorts of lists, as do newspapers, magazines and other kinds of stores.

Another recent local example was a department store here in Australia who had the Top 10 Selling Mens Fragrances strategically placed next to the sales counter of their mens clothes section.

Best Seller lists work in many industries for a number of reasons

  • As much as we like to think of ourselves as unique individuals, we’re social creatures and like to know what others are doing
  • We like to feel a part of trends and don’t like to feel left out
  • We are lazy and any short cut to finding something of a good quality appeals to us
  • We know that there’s some truth to the idea of The Wisdom of Crowds

How to Create Your own Best Seller List

A number of months ago I realized the power of best seller lists and decided to start exploring them on my blogs. It struck me that my readership might just like to know what they were buying collectively and that I actually had those figures at hand – in my Amazon Affiliate Program Reports.

At the end of every day publishers in the Amazon Associates program are presented with a number of reports for the previous day. These can be viewed by day, month or any time frame. These reports not only tell you how much you earned over the timeframe selected but shed some light on what items people are purchasing.

This information is both interesting and useful – particularly when you present it back to your readers.

Here’s how I last did it over at DPS – as a Popular Digital Cameras and Gear post.

The post identifies 6 major categories of products within the niche that DPS readers buy. I manually listed the top 10 products in each category, listing each with an affiliate link back to Amazon. I explained that they were affiliate links and that the commissions earned from purchases were sown back into improving the blog.

The Results

There a number of tangible results of producing such a list:

  • Sales – every time that I produce one of these lists (and I tend to do it on a quarterly basis) I see an increase in sales at Amazon. Users do take the recommendations of their wider community seriously.
  • Conversation – as you’ll see on the post at DPS, there’s been a reasonable amount of conversation as a result of the post. We’re up to 20 comments on the post – with an array of responses (most positive).
  • Increase in Commissions – one of the side benefits of driving up the number of sales is that you also drive up the percentage in commissions that Amazon pays out if you’re tier payment system. I find that the months that I do these types of posts that the number of sales goes up and I generally see my % payout increase a percentage point or two (it’s just a pity that Amazon don’t include consumer electronics in the tiers – they stay at a flat 4%).

A Word of Warning

Do keep in mind that making these types of posts too regularly could leave some readers feeling a little disillusioned. I tend to do them on a quarterly basis (they work particularly well in the lead up to Christmas) so as not to seem too greedy or take the blog too far off topic.

A Tip for Increasing the Longevity of the List

Using this type of post can be an effective technique – but once it drops off the front page of your blog it converts significantly less. One way to increase the length of time that the post is effective is to link to it prominently. You’ll see I’ve added a link in the DPS top menus to ‘Popular Cameras’ which links to the post in question. Initial testing shows that this is a fairly well clicked on link in the menu and drives good traffic to the post over time.

A Wish

One of the things that I’d love to see Amazon develop is to have some way of automating this process. To be able to have a way to automatically compile such a list of purchases made through a publisher’s account would be a pretty useful thing.

What Works with Affiliate Sales

This post was submitted by Chris Garrett from

The other day I was telling Darren about an accidental affiliate success I had on my digital SLR blog with a dirt cheap ebay gadget (GadgetInfinity ebay slave triggers). We thought it might make an interesting guest post for Problogger readers as this audience likes to learn tips for how to make money and I learned a lot from this happy accident myself.

How did this early Christmas present fall into my lap?

Last year through blog I became interested in photography lighting. Like most people who followed the tutorials I started acquiring all the gear I needed. One item was out of my budget though. It was an accessory that allowed you to trigger your flash remotely via radio signals. The price was just too high for my amateur photography budget (and my marriage!). All was not lost, I heard about some cheap knock-offs doing the rounds on ebay.

After research it seemed most people were either absolutely in love with the gadgets or dead against, either because of a bad experience or out of snobbery. As the price was so low I snapped up a set, at the very worst it would make excellent content for my blog.

I couldn’t have been more happier with the gizmos when they arrived. Not only were they cheap, they worked and opened up my flash photography in a way I couldn’t have hoped for. Being the geek I am I had a variety of gear to test the gadget with so I could right away reassure people that they in fact did work with Canon brand flashes. This added considerably to the weight of my recommendation.

Once I had written my post I recalled I had signed up for the CJ ebay affiliate program. (I was going to write a blog about ebay). As these products were mainly available via ebay I took the opportunity to go back and edit my links with my affiliate codes.

Immediately something wonderful happened, I was making commissions! One or two came in almost right away. What really sent the sales coming in though was a link from Strobist. A few days later I was getting search traffic also.

[Read more…]

Let Your Readers Do the Selling For You

Sometimes it’s best to let the readers of your blog recommend affiliate products instead of doing it yourself.

As much as I often talk about blogs being a great way to build credibility and trust with your readers and how that credibility and trust can lead to nice returns when you recommend affiliate products – sometimes a stranger’s recommendation can carry a lot of weight.

Let me explain with a short story.

Since starting Digital Photography School I’ve recommended one digital photography book more than any other (The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby – aff). I’ve talked about this book on a number of occasions in different posts and in different ways and as a result have seen a reasonable number affiliate sales for it at Amazon.

However this week I published a reader review of the same book. The review was originally posted in the DPS forums and I simply republished it on the blog where it would get a little more attention.

The review was written by a junior member of the forum (‘ny156uk’ – they’ve posted 28 times) and not from someone with any real profile or credibility (I don’t even know if they’re male or female).

However despite their anonymity their review sold triple the number of copies of the book that I’ve managed to sell over a 12 month period.

While I topped and tailed the review with my own very brief recommendation – it was the relatively anonymous review of a reader (as well as some positive supportive comments from other readers in the comments section) that seems to have struck a chord and generated some nice result.

The Secret to Increasing Amazon Associate Earnings – Time

Amazon-Logo-1-1One of the income streams that I’ve been using lately that’s really starting to prove to be a worthwhile one is the Amazon Associates Program.

I’ve noticed an upswing in the earnings from the program over the last few months and have been a little confused as to why there’s been a continued increase in earnings.

At first I thought maybe it was as a result of some unknown page on one of my blogs getting and then sending extra traffic to Amazon – but after analyzing the types of products that people are buying and by doing a little tracking of outbound traffic I was still unable to identify any single reason that explains the increase in performance.

But then it struck me – the reason is actually quite simple.

The reason for the increase in Amazon earnings is simply that I’ve been using the program for four or so years now and that over time I continue to add new doorways into the Amazon site.

Everyday I continue to add new pages to my blogs and while I don’t link to Amazon in every single post I do link to products there each week and every time that I do it I create another pathway for readers into the Amazon store.

Over the last four or five years I guess I’ve added 1000 or more Amazon links to my blogs (in fact it could be 2000 or even more) and while in the early days I was lucky to earn see a sale on any given day it’s now not unusual to see 50 sales in a day.

Overall income isn’t quite as spectacular as some of the other income streams that I’ve got running but it’s coming close to make me have to update the rankings on my How I Make Money from Blogs post.