Amazon’s affiliate program, also known as Amazon Associates, has slowly become my biggest source of income from blogging. By slowly, I mean I spent months earning less than five dollars from it before realizing what a great program it was. And that’s the thing about affiliate programs—so many bloggers give up on them early because they’re not seeing results, and miss out on a great opportunity!
With the right tips and a good amount of effort though, Amazon affiliate earnings can be a great source of blogging income. Last month, I reported over $2,000 in earnings from Amazon Associates alone. Your monthly average will depend a lot on how much traffic your blog brings in, but the tips I’m about to share are applicable to blogs of all sizes!
I’ll be referencing the Associates Program Operating Agreement quite a bit so that I don’t have to type out a ton of legal info, so to make things simple, I’ll refer to its numbered sections throughout this post in case you want the extra info!
If you’re already an Amazon affiliate, you can skip the basics and head straight to the tips, or keep reading to make sure you know your legal stuff!
So, what is Amazon Associates?
Amazon Associates is an affiliate program, which is essentially an arrangement between a retailer (Amazon) and an advertiser (you) through which the retailer pays a commission to the advertiser for some particular agreement. In the case of Amazon Associates, you’ll receive a commission when someone clicks on your Special Link (section 3) and makes a Qualifying Purchase (section 7).
An important thing to understand about affiliate programs is their cookie duration, or session. A session is basically a period during which you can earn a commission from a Qualifying Purchase made by the customer that started that session. For Amazon Associates, a session begins when a customer clicks through a Special Link on your blog and ends upon the first to occur of the following:
- 24 hours elapse from that click
- The customer places an order for a Product that is not a Digital Product (section 7)
- The customer follows a Special Link to the Amazon Site that is not your Special Link
Basically, you have one day to get that person to buy something.
One of my favorite things about Amazon Associates is that the more items you get shipped through your links, the higher your commission rate gets. You can see the full commission structure here, but all you really need to know is that the more effort you put in, the more money you’re able to make.
The biggest jump happens when you have more than 6 items shipped within a month, as your commission rate will go from 4% to 6%. A good goal would be the 7% range, which you’ll get to after shipping more than 110 products within a month. Once your funds are that big, just a .5% change in your commission rate makes a huge difference!
At the beginning of every month, your rate will drop back down to 4%, but if you get it to rise throughout the month, all of the commissions you’ve made so far will increase as if you’d started at your new rate. Basically, if you had 6 items shipped already at the 4% rate and get bumped up to the 6% rate, the commissions for those 6 products will increase to what they would’ve been at a 6% rate! Some products have a fixed commission rate, but the majority will follow that increased rate.
There are three different payment methods available to you as an Amazon affiliate:
- Direct deposit – this is the method I use. Your earnings will be deposited directly into your bank account after earning more than $10.
- Amazon.com Gift Certificate – you’ll also need to earn at least $10 to get paid.
- Check – to get paid by check, you’ll need to earn at least $100, and you’ll have to pay a $15 processing fee (unless you live outside the U.S).
Regardless of the method you choose, you’ll get paid about 60 days after the end of each month. Most programs work this way, so don’t be turned off by the long wait!
Why I Like Amazon Associates
Along with everything I’ve said above about the commission rates, these are a few other reasons why I love using this program:
- It’s easy to understand and start using right away, making it a great program for beginners
- There are tons of products to promote, so bloggers of almost any niche can benefit from it
- It’s a trusted retailer that most of your readers already know about, so they’re more likely to make a purchase
Before I get into the tips, there are a few things you should know about the terms of being an Amazon affiliate. If you live in certain states (section 2), you actually can’t participate in the Amazon Associates program!
If you’re not in one of those states and become an affiliate, you need to make sure you use a disclosure on any post that includes affiliate links. I’m in no way a legal professional, so you should probably do your own research to ensure that your disclosure follows FTC regulations, but you can click here to see what my disclosure looks like.
Your disclosure needs to appear before any affiliate links do, meaning you can’t put it at the end of your post! As an Amazon affilate, you also need to include Amazon’s specific disclosure (section 10).
You also can’t use Amazon affiliate links in your emails, newsletters, or RSS feeds. That means you can’t send your posts to your subscribers in an email format, so if you already do this, you’ll either need to stop or simply not become an Amazon affiliate.
Tips for making money as an Amazon affiliate
1. Understand what your audience can afford – As a college blogger, it wouldn’t make any sense for me to promote a $75 face wash. I can’t afford that, and most college students can’t either. Understanding who your audience is and what they can afford will help you pick which products to promote.
If you’re not entirely sure, you can link to a variety of options at different price ranges. That’s what I did in my college shopping list, because I know students often have different dorm budgets.
2. When creating lists, be specific – A go-to affiliate post is just a list of a bunch of stuff that fits together, like the college shopping list I mentioned. While that one was originally written without the purpose of making money from it, I’ve learned that such broad lists don’t usually perform so well. A better idea might have been to split that post up into “College Bedding Essentials” and “Must Have College School Supplies”.
You basically want to provide something that your reader hasn’t seen all over Pinterest already. Narrow down your category, and make sure your list is actually helpful! There are hundreds of “Gift Guide For The Blogger” posts out there, but what about a gift guide specifically for college bloggers? Or food bloggers that are focused on baking? Get creative and search through Pinterest to see if you still need to narrow your topic down.
3. Your experience is your best tool – My post on 12 dorm room must-haves is pretty simple. It’s just a list of some things I used a lot in my dorm and their corresponding affiliate link. And yet, it makes just as much or more money than my college shopping list, which has over 100 items listed!
The difference is that in my must-haves post, I wrote an entire paragraph about each item and my personal experience with it. This not only shows the reader that I actually purchased and used the item (so I have a reason to recommend it), but gives them a recommendation directly from a college student they “know” rather than a stranger on a review website.
Writing about your experience with a product also makes the promotion more natural. It sounds less like you’re trying to sell something, and more like you’re genuinely recommending something because you love it!
4. Don’t push products on your readers – Since you get paid for anything someone buys within their session, regardless of whether it’s the item you linked to, all you really need to do is get your readers on Amazon and in the buying mindset. Instead of writing an entire post around a single product, write a helpful post and recommend products where they fit naturally. By the end of your post, there’s a good chance they’ll feel like they need the product without you ever pushing it on them.
5. Monetize old posts – If you’re just now starting to monetize your blog, there’s a good chance you’ve already written some posts that could be updated to earn money. There are some obvious places, like sentences where you literally recommended a product and just used a non-affiliate link that could be replaced, but sometimes you’ll have to write a few more paragraphs to make it work. Focus first on your most popular posts, so you can start earning right away!
6. Watch your stats to see what works – The Amazon Associate dashboard is something you should get used to navigating. It offers a ton of information about how your links are performing and how much you’re making, along with exactly what people are purchasing through your links. By checking these stats on a regular basis, especially after writing a new post with links or updating an old one, you can see what works best on your blog!
7. Don’t get link-crazy – When you first join an affiliate program, there’s a lot of temptation to write a bunch of lists full of affiliate links so you can start earning right away. This is usually called selling out. The last thing you want to do is turn into the blogger who only posts “my favorite products this week” and “top 10 _____” in order to make a easy money. Readers will catch on quickly, and this will only end up hurting your reputation as a blogger, leading to less income and traffic.
I asked my followers on Twitter if they had any specific questions about being an Amazon affiliate, and I got some great responses! If you have a question that you don’t see here, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll update this post with an answer.
How many page views do you need to apply? There isn’t a minimum, so bloggers of any traffic size can join!
What’s a good ratio of posts with affiliate links to just regular posts? It depends on what kind of posts you’re writing that contain affiliate links. If you’re only writing product lists, I would say 1 affiliate post to every 4 regular posts. If your affiliate posts are really just regular posts with the occasional affiliate link though, I’d say the ratio doesn’t matter much at all!
Do you get a commission when someone clicks on your link, or when they actually purchase the product? Only when they purchase a product within their session.
Do you only get a commission for the products you linked to? Nope! You’ll get paid for every qualified purchase made during a customer’s session. The majority of my earnings actually come from products that I didn’t link to, but were related to that product (say I linked to a comforter and someone bought a sheet set).
How can make the links fit naturally into my posts? One of the best ways to make your links fit naturally in a post is to make helpful recommendations. It sounds simple, but there’s a difference between saying “I love this product, you should buy it with this link!!!” and offering helpful advice that includes a link.
For example, in my post about college move-ins, I wrote a section on helpful things to bring on move-in day. It was advice I would’ve given anyway, so adding a link to a product I’d recommend wasn’t much of a stretch. I also wrote about products I absolutely needed in my dorm, gave a reason why, and linked to the product I personally used as a reference.
As always, if you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!