Today, I was looking back over some of my earliest attempts at making money from blogging. I realised that this month marks 10 years of me using Amazons Associates Program.
How I Started Making Money with Amazons Affiliate Program
I first heard about Amazon’s Affiliate program in April 2003. I had been blogging for 6 months and was beginning to realise that this new hobby of mine was going to cost me a little money (for hosting, design etc).
I was newly married at the time and on a very tight budget. I realised that if I wanted to keep blogging, I needed to find a way for my blogs to pay for themselves. So began my hunt for ways to do just that.
I began to experiment with two methods of making money from my blogs – Google’s AdSense program and Amazon’s Affiliate program.
Of the two, AdSense has certainly earned significantly more money – however, Amazon’s Affiliate program has also been an important income stream.
13 Years and $600,000 later…
I’d love to be able to calculate exactly how much I’ve earned from Amazon in that time but their current reporting system only goes back as far as 2008.
However – in 2012 (after doing some reconstructing of my earnings) I put together the following chart of my earnings to that point (the years 2003-2007 are based upon earnings numbers mentioned in previous posts here on ProBlogger but are not exact).
Since 2012 I have placed less emphasis on Amazon so things have dropped off a little but I’m still tracking in the range of $50,000 to $60,000 per year from Amazon and overall I estimate my Amazon earnings, since 2003, are around the $600,000 mark (USD). Note: this figure was updated in March 2016.
So while it’s nowhere near my #1 income stream Amazon’s Affiliate program has certainly been important to me.
Note: I share my other income streams (there are 12) and how I added them one by one in this post and in this follow-up post I share more detail of a breakdown of how the income streams rank.
I share these results not because I’m the biggest Amazon Affiliate going around. I have no doubt I’m in the middle of the pack and that there are a lot bigger than me*. I share these results because, over the years, I’ve heard many bloggers write off the Amazon Affiliate program as not being worth the time.
*I make this assumption based upon the fact that I’ve never ever been contacted by Amazon directly and I know a few other affiliates who have regular contact with Amazon and who’ve been assigned account managers over the years because they do so well from the program.
Why Many People Don’t Use the Amazon Affiliate Program (and Why I DO)
The usual reasons I hear people giving for not being an Amazon affiliate include:
- The commissions are too small. They start at 4% and for most products can go as high as 8% depending upon how many products you see sold.
- Because most people on Amazon buy low priced products like books, so 4% of a $10 product doesn’t add up to a worthwhile commission.
- Because people have to make a purchase from you within 24 hours otherwise your affiliate cookie stops working.
The above reasons are all valid. There are other options that pay higher commissions (although not so many for the type of products Amazon sells), you can promote higher value products and there are programs that have longer cookies… but there are also some things I like about Amazon.
In 2007 I wrote a post titled 9 Reasons Why I AM an Amazon Affiliate and while the post is old, most of the points still are relevant today.
The main reasons I still am an Amazon Affiliate (apart from the obvious fact that it converts for me) are:
- Amazon is a trusted brand– everyone knows Amazon. If someone were going to buy online, Amazon would have to be one of the safest options.
- Commissions on higher value products – while 4% on a book isn’t a high commission, if you promote a high value product (like a camera) the commission can be decent.
- People buy more than one item at a time– when you send someone to Amazon you earn a commission on whatever they buy, whether they end up buying what you sent them to or not. Many people load up their cart with numerous items so commissions can add up.
- Easy integration– Amazon provides some good tools and widgets to help you integrate the sales channel into your website.
- Holidays are boom times– Amazon runs some good seasonal sales. Thanksgiving to Christmas can be a particularly profitable time to promote.
- Amazon has a wide array of products– Amazon is so much more than books these days. There are so many promotional options that most niches would probably find something relevant to their audience.
Obviously I’ll never argue that Amazon’s Affiliate program (or any other income stream for that matter) is perfect for every blog – but I do think it is worth considering.
How to Make Money with Amazon’s Affiliate Program
Here’s how to make money from Amazon’s Affiliate program (I’ll dig into each below).
- Build Traffic to your Blog
- Build Loyalty and Trust with Your Readers
- Think about the Intent of your Readers
- Find Relevant Products to Promote
- Get People in the Door at Amazon
- Use Social Proof with Best Seller lists
- Use Reader Reviews
- Make Genuine Recommendations
- Share Informational Links
- Share Contextual Links
- Promote Specials, Promotions and Discounts
- Share multiple affiliate links per post
- Link images to Amazon
- Use Buy Now Buttons
- Consider Multiple Promotions per Campaign
- Focus Upon the Holidays
- Promote Related Products
- Promote Pre-Orders
- Track your Promotions
- Small Ticket Items Can Add Up Quick
- Big Ticket Items are the Cream on Top