Millions of people spend millions of dollars on Amazon each year – and you can get a cut of the revenue by incorporating Amazon’s affiliate program as part of your website content.
Suppose you’re running a gadget blog and you’re delighted with your new Kindle Fire. So you write a post describing the new features and how you find it even more useful than your old Kindle. In the course of your post you add a text link to the product page on Amazon.com. You might mention that other users love it too, judging from the overwhelmingly positive user reviews, and maybe mention something about the range of Kindle Fire accessories that are available.
You can see from the paragraph above how easy it is to work links to the product page naturally into your writing. Those are affiliate links and when a user clicks one of those links and buys from Amazon the wonderful team here at Genius Startup will get a small commission for referring a customer.
I think I can guess your next question.
How Much Can You Earn as an Amazon Affiliate?
One of the myths that float around about the Associate program is that it only pays 4% commission. That’s not quite correct.
The commission structure for general productsstarts at 4% but the rate rises the more items you sell per month. After you’ve sold 7 items, for example, your commission rate will rise to 6%. Take a look at the table below and you’ll see the advertising fee – which is what Amazon calls commissions – keeps rising up to a maximum of 8.5%.
What’s great is that each time you move up to a higher level your new percentage is applied to all your sales from that month, not just the later ones.
In addition, all sales generated through Amazon owned MyHabit.com (discount brand shopping) and Amazon Supply (formerly SmallParts.com, selling building, engineering and scientific supplies) have a fixed commission of 15%.
Just to make it a little more confusing, some product categories – like electronics, MP3 downloads, Instant Video and Game Downloads – have a fixed fee rate which rises up to a maximum of 25% commission.
Even if a user buys a different product from the one you linked to, you still get a commission. In fact, you’ll get paid for everything bought within a 24 hour period of arriving on Amazon via your affiliate link.
If they don’t buy an item within the 24 hour period but add it to their cart, you still get a percentage provided they check-out the item before the shopping cart expires (usually after 90 days).
Given that shoppers often buy multiple items in the same shopping session, this can build up to quite an income.
How Do I Start?
It’s free to join the Amazon Associates program. Each geographical storefront has a separate program so there’s one for Amazon.com, Amazon.ca and Amazon.co.uk as well as for the stores in Germany, Japan, France, Italy, Spain and China. The rates I’ve mentioned in this post relate to the U.S. store but the rates for other regions are similar.
Account approval normally takes 24-48 hours.
Which Products Should I Promote?
Because Amazon sells just about everything you can imagine, you should be able to find a good selection of related products to promote whatever your site niche.
Always stick to products closely related to you site niche
If your blog focuses on compact cameras, don’t be tempted to work in promotions for SLR cameras just because they cost more and your commission will be bigger.
Readers looking for information about compacts are only looking for helpful information about which compact camera to buy. Concentrate on giving them that and visitors are much more likely to click through and make a purchase.
Should I Promote High or Low Price Items?
Low priced items fly into shopping carts because shoppers don’t think twice before buying them. Trouble is, the commission is low. For example, a book is likely to only make you an advertising fee of around $0.50 – $1.50.
On the other hand, large price items have much larger commissions but people are more likely to hesitate before buying.
That means the best approach is usually to go for medium priced items around the $150 – $300 mark. At this price point your commissions are good and the items still sell quite easily. In most categories you can find plenty of items within this price range. There are literally hundreds of consumer electronics items in that price range, for example.
Banner, Widget or Text Links?
Inside Amazon Associates you’ll find a variety of ways to generate affiliate links. The easiest way to get a link on your site is by using a banner ad. Unfortunately. that’s about the least effective way to generate sales.
Same goes for widgets. Nice and easy, but they don’t convert well. Not only will you get less click-throughs because they look like an ad, but they tend to be clicked by people who are bored and not in buying mode.
By far the most successful way to refer a visitor to Amazon is by using a text link within the text of a post, like I did in the second paragraph of this post.
How to Write to Generate Sales
Keep in mind you’re writing to help someone decide what to buy. Don’t try to sell them something.
Writing like that will make you seem like a pushy salesperson desperate for a sale.
Instead, think about the kind of things someone who is almost ready to buy wants to know. These are the easiest visitors to convert because in many cases they are just looking for a final piece of information to confirm that product X is right for them. If you are the one supplying that information you stand a good chance of bagging a commission.
Among the most common things potential buyers hit the internet to research are price, features and comparison to other products. Make sure you cover these three areas when you write along with any other useful insights you might have.
Keep it balanced and write about both the pros and the cons of the item. Maybe there are more features on X but Y is half the price? Are the extra features worth the extra cash? Maybe the new version just isn’t as good as the old one? Say so. And say why.
By writing a balanced article you’ll come across to your readers as a trustworthy, reliable source. Nothing will prevent you from making affiliate commissions more than being relentlessly chirpy about every item you write about.
Why can’t I just copy and paste the Amazon description?
Because that’s not helping anyone and copying content will harm your search engine rankings. There’s no harm in using the product description to help you write your piece but the end result needs to be in your own words.
What Should I Link To?
The best conversions come when you link directly to the product page rather than a search results page or a category homepage. It’s all about making it as smooth a transition as possible between reading about the product on your site and buying it on Amazon.
You’ll increase conversions if you link to products that have a lot of positive reviews – it’s one of the most effective forms of social proof there is.
Link to Special Offers
Inside the Associates admin panel you’ll find details of the latest deals. Everyone loves a bargain, so if the offers are related to your site content you’ve got yourself a blog post.
Advanced Linking Strategies
Once you’ve generated your affiliate links, where are the best places to use them?
Use At Least Two Links Per Post
It’s not just your mother who reads right to the end of your blog posts – visitors in buying mode do too. Adding a link to the end of your review will tend to convert well for that reason.
But make sure there’s a link at the start of the post too, when you first mention the product. It’s easier to find if someone stops reading your post halfway through but is still interested enough to click through to Amazon to find out more.
If you have a very long review, try to include links frequently enough so that as one scrolls off the screen another scrolls on. That way, users don’t need to look too hard to find the link.
Use Image Links
People considering buying products are naturally drawn to images of the product, so experiment with linking the image to the Amazon product page.
Track Your Links
You can create multiple affiliate tags for the same account which allows you to track which types of links work best. You might use different tags to compare text and image links for example. You’ll definitely want to use a different tag for each website you have.
For more in-depth tracking you could set up Goal Tracking in Google Analytics but the Amazon system works fine for simple tracking.
Write Multiple Posts For Best-Selling Products
If you find that a particular product is creating a lot of interest it’s probably worth creating a number posts about it. Review round ups, You Tube videos and reviews of specific features – and what you can do with them – all help to stimulate buying mode.
Final Tip: Brace Yourself for the Holidays
Most affiliates do double the business over the holidays and many a lot more. The biggest times of the year are Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the few days either side. It’s also pretty manic until Dec 25th. Other holidays like Memorial Day Weekend will also show a peak in income.
Keep an eye on the Amazon affiliates blog because that’s where you’ll see current and upcoming Holiday deals listed.
How To Add Amazon Links to Your Site
Make sure you’re signed in to your Amazon Associates account. Then visit the page on Amazon for the product you want to sell. At the top of the page you’ll see a link that says Link to this page. Clicking that will open a box.
Choose the Text link option and edit the link text to suit your content. By default, the link text is a long product title which looks odd and too much like a sales pitch when used in a blog post or review. You’ll get better results if you shorten the text to a two or three word product name.
The next step is to copy the HTML code from the box underneath and paste it into your content where you want the link.
The Easy Way
If you’re not confident with cutting and pasting HTML code, or you just want to add links without going through the hassle of all the steps above, check out a WordPress plugin called Easy Azon.
It lets you search for and add products from right inside the WordPress Dashboard, grabbing images and product info for you. It’s a major time-saver.
You can also use it to automatically show links to the appropriate international Amazon store so you can make money from international visitors, and quickly create professional looking product information grids (great for review sites).