What is an Amazon Associate, and Starting as an online Affiliate

Many send emails asking about becoming an Amazon affiliate / or an Amazon Associate, and not too long ago I wrote extensively about affiliate marketing as a way of creating an online revenue stream and a way of making money online.

The response to this was fantastic and so I followed this up with a more in depth look at one of the topics that I covered in the initial article which was using Clickbank as a platform for affiliate marketing (which so far has also had a positive response).

I have also been asked about another affiliate programme that I recommended which is Amazon’s affiliate program, Amazon Associates. With Clickbank out of the way, it is now time to turn my attention to what is arguably one of the most lucrative and best ways that you can make money through your own affiliate marketing network.

amazon associates main page

As I have said from day one, this isn’t intended to be read as a template or a step by step tutorial. Instead, this article on Amazon Associates is designed to give you some ideas and insight into what to expect.

Truth be told, there are plenty of step by step guides out there but if you need somebody to hold your hand whilst you register with a website, affiliate marketing may not be for you.

I should also point out that for the purposes of this article, I will be looking exclusively at the Amazon Associates. Whilst I may well drift into other topics a little, what I want to explore is how much time and effort you need to put into using the Amazon affiliate programme as well as a few bits of advice.

With that in mind, let’s get started with the big question.

What is Amazon Associates?

If you haven’t heard of Amazon by now then chances are you have been living under a rock.

The company that started out with humble beginnings as an online book store is now one of the top online retailers in the world selling everything from A-Z (something that is demonstrated rather cleverly in their logo with an arrow forming a smiling face). Since then the brand has grown exponentially and year on year.

As a company, Amazon serve over 300 million users and that is only through their “.com” domain. This number grows rather substantially as you factor in localised sites.

With net sales over $136 billion recorded for 2016 and 80% of Amazon customers in the US making purchases at least once a month, the company is a genuine retail juggernaut.

What is interesting however is that research into online sales through Amazon show that just 44% of online shoppers go directly to the site. This means that there are still a massive number of people who are looking to make purchases that need a push in the right direction.

By offering the right advice, you can be that push and make a little bit of extra money for yourself.

Enter Amazon Associates. If you have read my article on affiliate marketing or Clickbank then you will almost instantly get the picture. For those who don’t, you can get paid for referring people to products on Amazon.

If they ultimately make a purchase, then you receive a percentage of the sale price of the item as a commission. It is a straight forward thing that can make a substantial income if you are skilled as an affiliate marketer.

amazon associates

How is Amazon’s Affiliate Programme Different to Clickbank?

To say that Amazon are a trusted brand is something of an understatement. They are prolific in their marketing, in their approach to online retailing, and that reflects in how people trust them.

Even their customer service is legendary with numerous tales of people getting free stuff etc. that has been delivered accidentally. By contrast, one of my biggest criticisms when it comes to Clickbank is that to those who aren’t in the know, the whole thing can feel a little bit “scammy”.

The problem that it has is because anybody can create content on any subject and charge up to 6 times the cost of a hard back book for a PDF, there will always be an element of mistrust. With Amazon Associates however, you don’t just have the advantage of having the Amazon brand behind you, but the brands of products that you are selling.

If you want to sell mobile phones on an affiliate basis through Amazon then you get to talk about Apple, Samsung, Sony, LG etc. All of these are brands that people know and trust.

Sure, you can also sell Cubot NOTE S:3G Chinese knock off, but that isn’t your only option. As such, you can generate an air of credibility about what you do that isn’t really there in the same capacity with Clickbank.

The other major difference is that you are dealing in physical items. This can make a huge difference in terms of how people feel about the purchases that they make.

Truth be told, there are some great products on Clickbank that offer a wealth of knowledge, however it can feel like you’ve not necessarily got what you paid for when you simply get a login to a member’s area on a website.

So How Does Amazon Associates Work?

As with any other affiliate programme, the core premise of Amazon’s entry is that you get paid when you generate a sale. The approach that is taken however is (perhaps not surprisingly) rather unique to the company.

One of the first things that should be noted is that Amazon are much pickier about who they choose to partner with. Whilst some other affiliate programs will accept almost anybody, Amazon Associates will review your site before agreeing to work with you.

Amazon Affiliates How To

There are other differences too. Amazon do not simply provide you with a text link for spamming to your customers, they provide a number of tailored solutions ranging from images to banners and even widgets that you can use on your website.

A big part of this increased awareness of the visual element of marketing comes from the fact that with Amazon Associates, you are selling physical products and people like to see what they are getting.

Much of the way that you set up your affiliate network for Amazon Associates is the same as any other programme. There are however a few methods that have proven more successful than others that may not immediately spring to mind. The main way that I have seen people use the affiliate programme is to create a website that reviews products.

This means finding the products that you wish to sell as an Amazon affiliate and writing reviews of them for people to look at. You have probably seen websites that employ this before now without even noticing. For example, I ended up on one such site this morning whilst researching drones.

There is a distinctive pattern of grouping products by price and usually having a top 10 format. This allows you to market a decent variety of products without overwhelming people (something that is often overlooked and massively important as I will get to).

As you can see, fundamentally Amazon Associates is about as straightforward as it comes. Even if you do find that you are struggling, there is more help available from the team than I really know what to do with.

So What Kind of Things Should I Be Selling?

If you want to be involved as an Amazon Associate it is 100% necessary that you understand your niche. Whatever you choose to market is ultimately up to you as so long as it is legal, Amazon will have likely something for sale.

This shouldn’t be a problem but too much choice is sometimes more difficult to cope with than having no choice. For example, if you go to Amazon’s UK store and search for “speakers”, there are over 350,000 results. Search for PC speakers and this number drops down to 132,00 results. Portable PC speakers then becomes 22,000 results.

There is also a complete list of products you can sell and promote on Amazon’s site:

amazon banners and links

Even knowing your niche well, which of those 22,000 results do you opt for? It is a very difficult maze to navigate and truth be told, even trying to find a way to express the scale and work involved with finding items to sell was difficult. Now that you do have some idea however, I can start to look at what things you can do to find the best items to sell.

Whatever niche you are involved in you have to understand that Amazon will have items of wildly differing prices and quality and it is up to you to decide what is and isn’t worth selling.

A good rule of thumb is that if an item has over 100 reviews and are mostly positive, then it is something that is worth considering.

The fact of the matter is that reviews are king when it comes to products on Amazon and people will often overlook the same item for less if a listing has no reviews whilst another has hundreds. Another good point of reference is to identify your niche on Amazon and then find their best selling products.

This allows you to instantly get an idea of what people are looking for.

Because Amazon pay out different commissions depending on what you are selling, this may also influence your decision (I cover this in greater detail below). There are also special events where commission may be increased on certain categories of item which again, may influence the types of items that you want to sell.

Amazon Associate’s Operating Agreement

At the centre of the Amazon affiliate programme is their operating agreement which is a contract that you have to agree to in order to become an Amazon Associate.

This may seem straight forward at a glance however there are some very important and key things that are raised that you may overlook, especially if you are new to making money online.

What I have discussed so far provides a broad overview of what you can expect but truth be told, once you start getting into the nitty gritty of the operating agreement there is rather a lot to consider. For example, your marketing approach must fall into one of 8 categories. These are as follows:

  • A website who’s primary purpose is to display special offers, coupon codes, vouchers or other promotions.
  • A blog which may be any website that is formatted as an online journal on which entries appear in chronological order.
  • A website site which addresses specific content or a niche. These should be areas of interest and look at specific topics. An example of this could be a fan site for a movie.
  • A comparison shopping engine which will allow users to enter product related search terms for the purpose of viewing a list of products and comparing prices.
  • A website that you operate as a manufacturer or creator of content that is sold on Amazon, for example an author or publisher.
  • A none profit or charitable organisation
  • A portal or directory
  • Any other type of marketing

Amazon Affiliate / Associate Commissions

The operating agreement also sets out the commission that you can earn. This ultimately depends on the item that you are selling. At the time of writing, it looks like this:

amazon fees

  • Home Entertainment, Smartphones and Mobile Phones earn a 1% commission.
  • Computer, Electronics, Video Games, Camera, Major Appliances, Digital Software, Gift Cards, Kindle and Fire Accessories, Kindle (all devices) earn a 3% commission.
  • Home, Books, Kindle eBooks, Music, Musical Instruments, Kitchen, Toys, Home improvement, DVD & Blu-Ray, Software, Beer Wine & Spirits, Digital Video Games, Business Industrial and Scientific Products, Handmade earn a 5% commission.
  • Sports & Outdoor, Personal Care Appliances, Health & Personal Care, Stationary & Office Supplies, Baby, Grocery, Pet Products, Car and Motorbike, Lawn and Garden, Beauty, Pantry earn a 7% commission
  • Shoes, Jewellery, Apparel, Watches, Luggage earn a 10% commission.
  • All other products earn a 3% commission.

Amazon Promotions Hub

This is where Amazon really comes into it’s own as a publisher and friend to the affiliate world, because they have a whole section on their website which is dedicated to helping their affiliates generate a profit:

amazon promotions hub

This is the area that if you need to know anything, then Amazon has the answer. After all, they were one of the pioneers in the affiliate marketing world and probably have more affiliates than any other business on the planet, bar none, so please do not underestimate the tools they can provide to help grow your business.

Amazon Associates Banners:

amazon banners

Obviously if you are going to be promoting their products, then ideally you will need images to go onto your website/blog/Facebook, etc, and Amazon have a whole range of advertising tools for this job, and a section dedicated to banners, as you can see from the above image.

Amazon Link Builder:

The amazon link builder allows you to promote via links to any product you wish to make commissions from, and this is a downloadable piece of software that allows you to connect to your website, ideally WordPress, which I will go into shortly:

amazon wordpress

Amazon Associates and WordPress – Promoting!

And this leads me perfectly onto marketing, and how you are going to promote the products and then hopefully make commissions.

The majority of Amazon affiliates will be using WordPress to promote the products.

This will allow you to actually build web pages that are specifically designed to attract traffic from the search engines, because by doing this you will be in effect creating standalone pages dedicated to these exact products, and then you can create any persuasive content you require, and the search engines LOVE WordPress for that very reason – it has the tools, and creativity for any promotions you wish to undertake.

In fact, Amazon know that the majority of their users will be promoting using WordPress, and so have dedicated a whole detailed section to this area, including tutorials, and ‘how to’ manuals that you can read at your leisure, and be under no illusions – Amazon know exactly how to get the best out of your website, so I would advise that you read as much as you can on this section:

beginners guide to blogging

Read the manuals if you wish to know how to promote the products for maximum benefit (and commissions), it has been written by professionals, and nobody could deny that Amazon know how to build a business.

The content is detailed and leaves no stone unturned, and even advises on how to use SEO to gain search engine rankings, by providing quality conten that Google know will benefit it’s readers. Here is an example of the SEO section:

example amazon tutorial

Of course when you are up and running, and have starting building your new mini Amazon Associates empire, you will want to keep track of all the loverly sales that start pouring in each day (obviously it will take time to get to this stage, but you get my meaning…)

So Amazon have a fantastic portial where you can see exactly how much money you are making, and you can filter down into these statistics as much as you need to using their reports section:

amazon earnings reports

What Are the Pros and Cons of being an Amazon Associate

The biggest advantage to using Amazon Associates is definitely that you are partnering with one of the biggest online brands in the world. Whatever it is that you are selling, when somebody clicks your link and is sent to Amazon, you can almost guarantee that they aren’t going to click off it because they think that something is suspect.

There is also the fact that you can sell practically anything. Truth be told, I have avoided scratching the surface of niches too much when looking at Amazon Associates because there is simply too much availability.

The sky is literally the limit and this is a big advantage over something like Clickbank where certain niches perform much better than others.

In fact, these two things combine to become the main reason for signing up Amazon as an affiliate. You can sell almost anything and because it is through Amazon, people want to buy it. This isn’t the be all and end all however. There are a number of downsides to Amazon Associates as well and these are often overlooked.

The commission per sale that you earn as an Amazon affiliate is significantly less than it can be with Clickbank. Where you can typically expect between 50% commission and 75% commission selling information products, Amazon offer much less than this.

Furthermore, most of the products that you will be selling through Amazon Associates aren’t necessarily high value items. For example, 10% on Jewellery sounds great however of the top 20 best sellers, just 3 are priced at more than £10 and none are valued higher than £30.

I also feel that the products that you are selling as an Amazon Associate, whilst infinitely more varied, inherently come with more competition.

This means that getting your marketing platform ranked and gaining traffic can be a very difficult thing to do. Especially considering you are working with much broader search terms than a lot of Clickbank products.

Conclusion on Becoming an Amazon Associate

Truthfully, Amazon Associates is a funny old thing. It is almost impossible to say that it is bad. After all, you are getting access to one of the largest inventories online and one of the most respected companies.

All that you have to do is get people’s eyes on your website and you can start making money, but this is sort of where the problem lies.

Because Amazon is as broad as it is, it can be very difficult to get yourself noticed. Sure, some niches are much easier than others to get going with, but even then, there are big questions over the economical viability of marketing some of their products. Truth be told, I don’t think that Amazon Associates is really a very good affiliate marketing platform.

This is a controversial statement and I can hear some people crying out at me that I am wrong already but hear me out. In my opinion, Amazon Associates is fantastic for monetising a website.

This is very different to affiliate marketing though. Affiliate marketing is a business in its own rights. There are thousands of people who every day create websites specifically to sell a product.

There are however likely millions of websites that aren’t created to sell a product that aren’t making any money and these are where Amazon Associates can come into its own.

Blogs written by stay at home Mums, websites ran by people who keep pigeons or even something as completely random as a fan site for a Reliant Robin. These are websites that might get a few hundred visitors per week.

When you compare Amazon Associates to something like Clickbank, there is a clear difference in supply and demand of resources. What I mean by this is that for Clickbank to succeed, it needs affiliate marketers.

Without them, content creators would not utilise the platform and the whole business would fall apart. You are so much more than a middleman there and this is reflected in the commissions and how simple it is to get involved.

When it comes to Amazon, the fact of the matter is that they could do away with their affiliate programme entirely and I don’t think that it would really make a dent in their sales. This means that they don’t have to dedicate as much time, effort and resources to their affiliates.

Don’t misunderstand me, you are far from alone. There is a whole team in place and they have plenty of information and training available if you want to get involved. I also feel that I should point out that there is still a lot of money to be made for the right person.

In fact, my research has shown that there are over 100,000 people making more than £100,000 per year as an Amazon affiliate. These are big numbers.

So what are my final thoughts? Amazon Associates isn’t bad. In fact, I think that Amazon are quite generous to have the programme open at all. I simply don’t think that it is a great affiliate marketing platform in terms of making a business.

As I have said before now, if you have a website and you already have visitors, then it is perfect. In fact, I think that it is probably preferable to what I suspect the real rival to Amazon Associates is, Google Adsense.

Just as an interlude to this, I thought it would be interesting to see how Amazon’s delivery service works, should you decide to become an Associate, and you can see the process from order to delivery:

In fact, I think that statement sums up neatly what Amazon Associates is about. It isn’t an affiliate marketing platform in the traditional sense of things. It feels more like a rival to Adsense that can be used to build an affiliate marketing business.

For my money, I would have it over Adsense almost any day of the week. Being able to select which products you are advertising and keeping them properly relevant to your niche will only result in more sales.

When it is put next to Clickbank however, I do feel like Amazon Associates looks a bit like an afterthought. This is somewhat ironic as it has been operational for over 21 years now.

So Amazon Associates definitely has its place. I just don’t think that it is at the top of the current available affiliate marketing platforms – commissions are fairly low compared to other affiliate platforms

More details can be found here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.co.uk/

 

Related Content and Resources:

How To Make Money Using ClickBank, A Detailed Affiliates Review

How to Make Money Online From Affiliate Marketing – The Reality

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