When you’re just starting out as a blogger, you’re keen to make money in any way you can, and a great way to do this is by opening up and using an Amazon Associate account. It allows you to pepper your articles with custom HTML links to Amazon, which sends you a commission for every product sold. The great thing about these links is that they stay on your website forever and will continue to send you money for years to come.
Setting Up Your Account
Before you do anything, you need to have a close look at your analytics and find out where the majority of your traffic is coming from. If your website is about local crafts in the north of Canada, you of course want to use a Canadian Associates account, but for most websites, a US one is most suitable. I’m British, but I use a US account because I want to appeal to as many people as I can, even if that means I have to wait longer for the money. As you can see, I get two thirds of my traffic from the US, with only 10% coming from my home country.
When you’ve got your account, making the links are pretty self explanatory, but I’ll walk you through it. When you’re logged in, you can browse Amazon and you’ll see that you have a tool bar at the top of the page with a number of options. When you’re on the page you want to link to, just click on ‘Link to this page’ and follow the instructions, depending on what you want your link to look like. I only ever use the text only option as I like to make custom images, but it’s really up to you. I also shorten the titles as the full title is usually too long for what I want to use it for, and then I highlight the HTML and paste it in the HTML section of my post page. As you’ll see from the image below, my ID is embedded into this code so that whenever anyone clicks on the link, Amazon will know who sent them.
Your Commission / Advertising Fee
The more you sell, the higher your commission becomes, at least in most cases. When you’re selling general products, you start off with a 4% commission rate each month, but that soon increases to 6% after just 6 sales. Then incremental steps of 0.5% increase your commission all the way up to 8.5% after you’ve sold 3131 products. Unfortunately, this only applies to general sale items as they have the biggest mark up, and you’ll only ever make a maximum of 4% on electrical goods, even if you’re selling you 10,00oth product. There are some exceptions where you’ll earn more money, such as digital good (mp3, video, etc.) which are set at 10%, but some of them are capped at $1.50, meaning you can’t really earn too much from them, but they will push up your commission rate. At the end of each month, your commission rate goes back down to 4% and you start again.
All this considered, regardless of your niche, if you sell a lot of products, you can make a lot of money. I’ve put together some plans for the future in which I’m going to be reviewing more products in a way that’s particularly useful to the reader, encouraging them to buy. Not only that, but I’m going to include links to alternative products and accessories with photos to match, helping to ensure the sale. I’ve actually had some pretty unexpected results from my experience with Amazon Associates, which is encouraging me to keep it up.
When I first set up my account, I linked to a top list of photography gear, but I didn’t really expect to sell much from it, so I just left it alone. Then I got an email from amazon telling me that I needed to update my payment options as I was owed over $100, which surprised me as we’d only had about 3-4000 visits to the list. Turns out that it doesn’t take much to start selling your products through the blog; my top list didn’t even have any photos. That was when I realized that I needed to have a good look at what was making me money.
The unusual thing that I’ve noticed from studying my reports is that out of the 124 items that I’ve sold through my website, only 19 of those were items that were actually listed on my site. What this means is that people were coming to my site, going to amazon and seeing products elsewhere which they wanted and then bought those instead. I’ve had all sorts of products bought through me, from a camera flash to a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ fancy dress costume for adults.
You don’t earn money on products that are returned, or if you try to buy for yourself through your own links, but usually this doesn’t make a lot of difference. It usually takes a few days for the sale to go through from your orders report to your earnings report, and show you your commission, but if you’re really impatient you can work it out for yourself. I just sold a camera and two lenses for $2350 and the commission on that will be $94, so as you can see, these small links can start to add up. None of the items that make up that money were listed on my website, or even mentioned before, which goes to show that just having these links on your site can make you some decent money.
If you really want to encourage people to buy through your website, then you need to make it easy for them to do so. By this I mean writing monthly lists of products that you recommend for different reasons, complete with a description, review and photo. Make the list as inviting as possible and as popular with the search engines as you can, and it’ll only be a matter of time before you’re making commissions on the sale of a wide variety of items. Have a look at the screen shot below, taken from my Ultimate Office Shopping Guide and you’ll see how I like to put together my lists.
These lists can take a little while to put together because of all their extra parts, but they’re by far the easiest to write about. All you need to do is include a little bit of a personal touch and then copy and paste some relevant information from Amazon. This isn’t plagiarism because this text has been written by the seller or manufacturer to help promote the sale of their products and that’s exactly what you’re doing. Same goes with the photos, just make sure you’ve got them looking good and in keeping with your website and you’ll be onto a good thing. I take a lot of time over photos because they can really help to sell the product to the reader (something I never used to do), which you can see by looking at my first post to use Amazon Associates.
It’s important to get started on Amazon early because the sooner you build a following and start to rank higher for your referring posts, the easier it will be to break into a higher percentage rate each month. It’s the sort of thing that sits and does a lot of the work for you so that you can sit back and watch the money come in. Even though it may seem like a lot of effort to make a big post that no one is really reading when you start out, it will still prove to be worth it as it makes you money in the years to come.
The most popular time to make money though Amazon is around the holidays and that’s why I’m already planning a post to be published around early to mid November, called something along the lines of ‘Top 50 Camera Gear To Buy This Christmas’. I will throw in loads of photos, links to everything as well as extra links for accessories for the items on the list. I want to market it as a one-stop shop for people to come and find presents for people with a love of photography. And this is relevant to every niche; let me show you just how easy it is to come up with your own:
Top 20 Christmas Presents For Gamers
Top 20 Things To Buy Fitness Freaks For Christmas
Top 20 Presents To Make An Entrepreneurs Christmas
Top 20 Albums To Buy This Christmas
Top 20 Presents For A Movie Buff
When it comes to payment, you have a three options; bank transfer, cheque, or store credit. As I’m in the UK and using a US account, they won’t transfer the money, and US store credit isn’t much use to me, I have them send a cheque. Usually there’s a $15 fee for this, but this is waived because I can’t get the money through any other means. I’m sure that if I did live in America then I would be forever shopping on Amazon and take no money away from it.
The great thing about being able to keep them money in Amazon is that you can use this money as part of a prize offer on your website. Encourage people to like your Facebook page and then when you’ve reached 1000, or whatever your target is, you pick one at random and give them the money as a gift card. This is one of the best ways to get people to like your page as it’s hard to turn down potentially free money, and it’s not as if it’s coming straight out of your pocket.
As I’m sure you can see by now, Amazon Affiliate posts appeal to you and your reader, providing them with a useful resource and money for yourself. I would encourage you to study where your traffic is coming from and make an Associate account today. Even if your site isn’t popular yet, it’s only a matter of time before these links start to pay you back for your time.