Amazon is currently the most popular e-commerce site in the entire world, and with that they’ve obviously established an extremely reputab...

How To Make Money As An Amazon Affiliate

Amazon is currently the most popular e-commerce site in the entire world, and with that they’ve obviously established an extremely reputable brand. Their associate (affiliate) program is widely used by affiliate marketers and can convert quite well if you know how to market properly. As long as you live within an approved state or country (residents of Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, and Rhode Island are not allowed to participate) they aren’t very picky about accepting people into the program.

I don’t work for Amazon, so I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes when they approve or deny applicants, but as long as you fit their guidelines and have a semi-developed website with a privacy policy or disclosure you shouldn’t have an issue with getting in. Actually, they’re probably one of the most lax programs when it comes to accepting people as affiliates.

However, if you find yourself denied to the program make sure you are adhering to their terms and conditions. Usually it’s either because you’re violating their agreement (Amazon doesn’t approve websites with sexually explicit material, violence, discrimination, or ones that promote illegal activities) or because your site isn’t developed enough. When first starting out in affiliate marketing, many people get anxious and start applying for affiliate programs left and right, before they even have a solid foundation for promoting the material.

You can always wait and reapply after you’ve tweaked or added more content to your site. They welcome applicants to reapply at any time, so not getting in on the first attempt isn’t the end of the world.

But once you’re accepted, is it realistic to expect to make money as an Amazon Affiliate?

You can definitely make money using Amazon’s program, but the amount of income you make is going to be highly variable. There are right and wrong ways to market online; posting Amazon’s affiliate links around your website and social media isn’t going to be enough to make money. Sure, you may get lucky and get the odd sale here and there  – but if you’re not providing value to your readers, there’s no reason for people to buy from your link.

Another huge chunk of the equation is the types of products you are selling from Amazon. Their commission rates are generally lower than average, so if you’re promoting a $5.00 product at 4% base commission, that’s only 20 cents per sale! You’d have to make a lot of sales to even earn anything worth while, and it probably isn’t worth it.

The key is to promote higher priced items – ones that earn you at least $4 or $5 a sale, but preferably above $15. Keep in mind the more you can make per sale, the less sales you have to make to earn money; which ultimately comes down to less work for you.
Amazon isn’t a “way” to make money online, but it’s a tool you can leverage to help you out with the battle.  The program only will “work” for you if you put in the effort to make it work. It takes proper training and guidance to get started no matter what affiliate program you’re using.

But let’s talk a bit more in detail about Amazon….

I’ve used many affiliate programs as an online marketer, and at least in my experience, Amazon’s program has a relatively high conversion rate compared to other affiliate programs.
Many people prefer not to use the Amazon Associates program largely because the commissions are pretty small compared to some other programs. And that is very true, as it is not unheard of for other affiliate programs to offer up to 75% commissions. Let’s face it – compared to the 4-8% rate for Amazon, it sure seems a lot better.

But keep in mind your conversion rate is an extremely important aspect to your affiliate campaigns. And yes, your personal campaign will have a high impact on your conversion rate, but did you know the actual program you’re promoting also has a huge impact as well? If you’re promoting through a little known sales outlet people are going to be less likely to actually  buy, and not many companies have a conversion funnel as powerful as Amazon’s.

However, average commission rate largely depends upon your niche and what you’re promoting – so for many niches, 4-8% is about average. It really comes down to what you’re selling , so keep in mind that the Amazon program really isn’t the best option for every niche.

How the Amazon Associates commission structure works

Amazon has two different commission structures for their affiliate program – volume based rates and fixed rates. For certain product categories (as you can refer to the table bel0w) the commission rate you receive will remain constant, whereas for their general products your commission rate can increase up to 8.5%, depending on how much you sell.
amazon-associate-program-commissions amazon-associate-program-commissions1
It’s important to note the rate for volume based product commission resets at the beginning of each month.
Say you’re promoting something somewhat expensive, say around $400-$500 (like an iphone or tablet). Amazon has a fixed commission rate of 4% for electronics.
500 x 4% = 20
Even at just 4%, you’re still earning $20 per sale. What if you were able to make many sales per day? It’s easy to see that $20 would add up pretty quickly! (Note: While 4% may seem low, it is quite a high commission for electronics. Most affiliate programs within the niche, i.e. Apple, Tiger Direct, Toshiba, etc are much lower, starting at just 1  – 3 %!)
Obviously if you’re promoting things that aren’t so expensive you’d have to sell many more to add up, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.

Reasons why Amazon’s affiliate program can be very profitable for marketers

It’s a very reputable and trusted brand

Let’s face it, who hasn’t heard of Amazon? They’re the #1 E-commerce site in the world – millions of people buy from them every single day. This is good news because it means there’s already an existing trust factor between your customer and the brand. Most likely your audience has purchased something from in the past, so they would be less hesitant to buy from them again and you’re more likely to make a sale.

You can promote virtually anything

What can’t you buy on Amazon?
There are many, MANY niches that are relevant to products sold on Amazon.

Amazon has an amazing sales funnel that’s proven to convert well

For example, let’s say you’re interested in buying this camera…
amazon-sales-funnelThey’ll provide you with everything you need to know – lots of pictures, product information, customer reviews. They even show you related products and accessories that you may not have thought about, but would be more likely to consider buying now that it’s displayed in front of you!
Oh yes, thank you Amazon. I would like that lovely pink case to go with my cute pink camera…

People find product reviews very helpful and they definitely increase sales (assuming they’re positive).

You get commissions for ANYTHING the customer buys if they land on Amazon via your affiliate link

In 2013, around 30% of my Amazon sales were from products entirely unrelated to my niche. This means that if you can catch people in a buying mood, they’re likely to be tempted to buy something from Amazon just from clicking around the site. Like I said, GREAT SALES FUNNEL!

A few tips for getting higher conversions via Amazon

This question gets asked all the time, “Why would people buy from you instead of going directly to Amazon?
And it’s a perfectly legitimate question, why would they? You need to give your visitors a reason to buy it from your link. It’s unrealistic to expect people to click and buy from your link just because it exists.
  • Capture your audience when they’re already in a buying mood –
    This means aiming for keywords that people are typing when they are already looking for information or reviews on a particular item. Take a look at this article about the customer purchase life-cycle, it will provide you with a clearer idea.
  • Provide a personal and trustworthy review of your own – 
    Don’t just link a product or provide links to lots of products (like using an Amazon shopping store via your website). They won’t convert well. Remember you need to give your visitors a reason to want to buy from you. Write a review of whatever it is you are selling, but don’t just rehash the same reviews that already exist on Amazon’s website. Make it personal, interesting and most importantly helpful!
  • Provide a text link to the product within your content – 
    I find that a text link within the review has a much higher click through rate than just a big banner ad for a couple of reasons. Firstly, people tend to ignore anything that looks like an ad online because they are so used to seeing them they’ve just learned to tune them out. Secondly, many people have ad block software installed in their internet browsers and if you only provide an affiliate ad with no text they won’t be able to see it! Last, your readers that actually read your content are more likely to trust you.
  • Pictures, pictures pictures! –
    You know what they say, an image is worth a thousand words. This is especially true when you’re trying to get someone to buy something. Amazon provides images of nearly everything they sell, so you can always use the ones they provide you.
I find Amazon to be an excellent affiliate program despite the lower commission rates, and for me has proven to be a very high converting one at that. If you were questioning if you could really make any money being an Amazon Associate, I can assure you it’s entirely possible if you’re smart about it.

Remember, your effectiveness with online marketing all comes down to providing value to your customers!

Be information, provide value and earn your readers trust. Don’t just sloppily post your Amazon links all over your site with no valuable or unique content; your readers won’t have any reason to buy from you versus going directly to Amazon, or another affiliate’s site that is perhaps more helpful than yours. Because of their lower commission rate, you do have to sell a lot more product than with some other programs to make decent money, but it can still be done. If you follow my advice, you should see the program start to work for you.

100% free to start, no credit card required

This is just coming from what I’ve experienced with the program, so what’s your take on the Amazon Associates program? I’d love to hear other people’s personal experiences!