Hello and welcome back to Make That Sea Change – the site designed to assist you in setting up your affiliate marketing business to fund that sea change or simply just earn some extra income from home. If you are a new entrant into the world of affiliate marketing, then one of the quickest and easiest affiliate programs to set up is the Amazon Associates program. What is the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program you may ask? Well let’s check it out below:
Amazon Associates program
In short, the Amazon Associates program is the affiliate marketing program for Amazon.com, the largest internet company by revenue in the world. The program provides you with the opportunity to make affiliate commissions on over 3 billion products across 11 marketplaces worldwide where over 2 billion orders are placed daily.
Once you have joined the associates program, you are then able to post affiliate links onto your site that earn you commission on any purchase made within 24 hours of selection (or 90 days if the item is added to a shopping cart). It’s ease of use and access to such a massive array of products is the main reason that Amazon Associates has become one of the most popular affiliate programs for new affiliate marketers.
Who is it for?
As above, Amazon Associates is very popular with those new to the affiliate marketing world as its large array of products allows for new sites to provide a broader array of products as they mature. Many other affiliate programs also place traffic flow as a prerequisite for acceptance meaning that for many, Amazon is one of the few programs that will allow access as such as early stage. That is not to day that Amazon Associates will not work for more mature websites as well however.
The only thing you will need is to have a published, valid, non-offensive website on which you can post your links. There are some other details you will need to provide once you have signed up but I will expand on that a little more later on.
How to Join
The application process for Amazon associates is quite a simple and free to join. Before you begin however, you will need:
- The email address for your website – this is your login ID and also where your initial verification email will be sent.
- Your website name – the website must be valid and published.
- Your mobile/cell phone – you will receive a call from Amazon to verify your application finalisation.
Amazon will take you through the sign in process and ask for the information above as well as:
- They type of website you have.
- What products you intend to sell.
- Average monthly traffic numbers.
- How you intent to promote your products.
You will also at some stage be require to enter your country-specific tax and payment information to allow you to receive your commissions.
The Amazon Associates network has become so large that it is now domiciled in 14 countries including:
- The US
- The UK
- United Arab Emirates
This setup, with associate programs for a number of different countries, is one of the major downfalls of this program. You see, if you join one, you are not automatically a member of them all so if your site reach extends to a number of countries, then there is a good chance that you will be required to join more than one program. This is due to the fact that if you provide a link to the program for your country and the reader is redirected to the Amazon site of their own location, then you could miss out on the commission.
As a means of assisting with multiple Amazon Associate accounts, there is a tool that you can use called OneLink. Onelink allows you to connect all of your different accounts into one allowing for easier redirection for your readers to their own country site whilst ensuring that you do not lose your commissions. The Onelink tool is selected from the Tools menu within Amazon Associates.
From there, you simply select the Link Accounts option
From here, you can select the country or countries to link, apply to their programs if necessary and link them within your account.
Once they are linked, follow the instructions within the site page to copy and paste the required coding into the footer of your website.
Note: There are currently 14 different country programs available within Amazon Associates. Instead of taking a lot of time to apply to and add all of them, I would suggest doing a little research within your Google Analytics page and see where your traffic is coming from. If the main sources of your traffic are say Canada and Germany, then I would add them only for now and monitor accordingly.
How do I make money with Amazon Associates?
As with all affiliate marketing programs, money is made by convincing visitors to your site to click on a link and then make a purchase once they enter the Amazon site. There are a number of ways that this can be achieved but at the end of the day, you are trying to identify a problem that your reader has and solve it via the recommendation of a particular product. These methods can include:
- Review posts – review a particular item or product outlining their features, benefits and advantages – i.e. a person knows what type of product they might want but are not sure which one to get.
- Comparison posts – compare two products and make recommendations – a variation of a review post but with more options.
- How to’s – Write a post on how to undertake a process or use a particular product – This might be for someone who has the product but is not sure how to use it. These posts not only give you the chance to build some good authority bone-fides with your readers but provide a good opportunity for cross and up selling such as a cover for their barbecue or a better quality version of the product they currently own.
- Problem solving posts – These posts outline a problem and then make recommendations on products to purchase to resolve them – i.e. “Going camping in winter? use these…”
Note: The critical element here is that the posts must be written in a manner that assists the reader with their problem even if they do not make a purchase from you. If your post is overly sales focused, or contains too many affiliate links, you will not only lose your readers very quickly but also rank poorly within search engine results pages.
Links can be added to your website in a number of ways including:
This is where you add a link to your product onto a word or line of text. e.g.
“Use a coffee cup organiser for better presentation….”
Graphics can be added anywhere with a link attached to add an extra option if someone clicks on it.
“I like this organiser as it allows me to keep my area neater:”
Both text and graphic
These are usually added at the bottom of a paragraph or post to allow people to purchase once they have read your information:
These links are located within the Associates stripe at the top of your general Amazon page.
Note: Generally, and depending on the editor used, you will need to add the coding for the graphic and text and graphic options via the HTML Code section of your web page.
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Commissions within Amazon can be quite low compared to other programs. Some will say that is ok as you have more options to sell, others steer away for this reason. The table below shows the commissions paid by amazon for particular items:
Perhaps one of the best-selling points of the Amazon program is the fact that once you refer a person to them, you will earn commissions on every purchase they make during that purchase. For example, if you refer someone for the purchase of a $10 book and they decide to buy a $2000 television while they are there… you get the commission on that too!
Note: The associate programs in some countries use a sliding scale commission structure or have different percentage rates meaning you the commission amounts you earn may differ. Select the Advertising Fee Schedule option under the Help menu for each program’s rates and percentages as well as a breakdown of the ‘bounties‘ available for other purchases.
One of the most common phrases I have heard around the traps when it comes to the Amazon Associates program is “Not long after I joined Amazon my account got shut down”. Amazon may let you into their program quite easily, however they are pretty strict when it comes to enforcing their affiliate rules. There are a number of reasons that you can get banned for shonky behaviour however many are from making simple mistakes. The most frequent of these mistakes that will get your account terminated are:
- Number of sales – This is technically not a ‘shut down’ however to be fully accepted into the program you will need to drive at least three independent sales to your account within the first 180 days. This is often easier said than done for new sites however it is not a case for concern. If you are rejected for this reason, you are permitted to immediately re-apply.
- Copying and pasting images – This is a funny one but if you are using amazon product graphics within your posts you must do so by copying the coding from the Associates Stripe, API keys or widgets into your website rather than just a copying and pasting it. This ensures that Amazon can meet quality requirements of their vendors on your sites.
- Buying from your own links– This is a big no no and something that will get you banned forever from Amazon. Many people do it to get their first three sales up whilst others think of it as a way of getting some money back off of their purchase. Amazon see it as fraud. The same also goes for sharing links with family and friends. This one is harder to prove but will also get you banned if caught.
- No Affiliate disclosure – It is a legal requirement in many countries that if you are running an affiliate website, then you must advise any visitor to your site accordingly. The most common means of doing this is to include an affiliate disclosure on your site – many also add a one-liner to each post. If at the very least you have no disclosure statement, you will be booted.
- Changing or hiding links – there are many sites out there such as Bitly.com or the Pretty Links plugin within wordpress that allow you to shorten or rename URL links. Do not use these on your Amazon affiliate links.
- Copying Amazon reviews – You may be tempted to paste the reviews you see inside of Amazon to your site to give your product reviews a little more spice – Don’t! Amazon considers that to be their content.
- Emailing affiliate links – This is a common mistake that can not only get you in trouble with Amazon but also your Email Autoresponder service provider as well. Amazon frowns upon their affiliate links being emailed directly to your email list. Just refer them to your website post instead.
Those are the basic mistakes that many make so I have mentioned them on more detail. Other things that will get you banned are:
- Offensive, pornographic or violent sites
- Sending links to children under 13
- Shonky website behaviours such as automatic linking, placing links on site that are not yours (such as in the comments of another site) or redirecting links from other sites to your amazon link.
Do I recommend it?
At the end of the day, with the vast array of products available, I definitely see advantage of utilising the Amazon Associates program for websites of any affiliate marketer. I do know that as many mature their sites however, they tend to rely on Amazon less and less as they move to more targeted or higher paying affiliate programs. That said, Amazon is a very effective way of making continued passive income over the long term due to its ongoing popularity and solid, trusted name.
The Pros of using the Amazon Associates Affiliate program include:
- They are a trusted brand so people are more likely to make a purchase from them.
- They have a massive range of products suitable for almost any niche.
- The affiliate program is simple to access.
- You earn commissions on any product that your referral purchases during their visit.
- They maintain the safety and security of a large multinational company.
The downside of this program includes:
- Relatively low commission rates compared to other programs.
- Cookies are only active for 24 hours so if they don’t add to their cart (which remains active for 90days) within that time frame and come back later, you lose your commission.
- They don’t accept PayPal.
- The programs of different countries do not link automatically.
- Some complain that they are quick to act first and ask questions later (or ask none at all) when it comes to terminating accounts for rule breaches.
So that is Amazon Associates in a nutshell. I as have said, I definitely see it as an advantageous program for new and mature sites alike. Just don’t break the rules and in time, you should start to see some commissions rolling in.
Do you use Amazon? Please comment below with your experiences
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Until next time
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