Updated November 5, 2016
What I’m about to tell you is probably going to ruffle some feathers. And it should.
You’ve been lied to and mislead this entire time about how affiliate marketing with Amazon is supposed to work.
If you’ve spent any amount of time trying to learn about how to get started with affiliate marketing, you’ve heard (probably dozens of times) that in order to make money online, you have to carefully research your niche, build a platform around that niche, and try to get traffic from people interested in that specific niche.
Yes, that’s a viable option, but it’s difficult. And with the nature of Amazon’s affiliate platform, it’s kind of short sighted and stupid.
Let me show you what I’m talking about. I’m going to give you a few links to some case studies that are specific to niche sites. For the record, these are GREAT articles and absolutely worth the read.
- Spencer Haws – Public Niche Site Project: Strategic Plan
- NicheHacks – Case Study: How to Create a $20,000+ p/m Affiliate Link Site Like ThisiswhyI’mbroke.com
- Nick Leroy – Announcing My Amazon Associates Niche Site Experiment
I could post these links all day long.
Please don’t misunderstand, these tactics are good, but there are way more things you can do outside of these very similar recipes.
Ready to learn stuff?
The Amazon Associates Affiliate Program
The question we are all dying to ask is how can we make money with this program. The easy answer is this: people click your link and buy something and you get paid. But there’s a bit more detail to it than that.
First, when someone clicks your link, they get a tracking cookie. This helps Amazon determine where the traffic came from (so they know who to pay).
Here’s a bit more on how this works. From Amazon:
How long do visitors have to add an item to their Shopping Cart after clicking on one of my Amazon links until I no longer earn advertising fees on their purchase?
In most cases, you earn advertising fees for visitors that come to an Amazon site and place any qualifying items in a customer’s Shopping Cart within 24 hours of their arrival at most Amazon sites.com or 30-days for MyHabit.com. However, this 24-hour window for most Amazon sites and 30-day window for MyHabit.com will end before it expires once the customer submits his order or reenters Amazon.com through a Link that is not your Special Link. Once the window is closed, you will not earn advertising fees on any subsequent purchases. However, if the customer then returns to Amazon.com through one of your Special Links, this opens a new 24-hour window for most Amazon sites or 30-day window for MyHabit.com.
It is of course possible that a customer may arrive at an Amazon site (including MyHabit.com) via your Special Link, add an item to his Shopping Cart, and then leave Amazon.com or MyHabit.com without placing an order. As long as the item was added to the customer’s Shopping Cart during this 24-hour window for Amazon.com or 30-days for MyHabit.com, you will still earn an advertising fee if the order is placed before the Shopping Cart expires (usually after 90 days). The advertising fee will not be credited to your Associates account until the customer has purchased the item, accepted delivery, and remitted full payment to Amazon.com. For complete details, see the Operating Agreement
The important thing to keep in mind is that Amazon doesn’t care if you sell what you’re advertising.
If you’re running a niche site that talks about energy drinks (hey, we’re not called The Sugarbuzz Project for nothing…), then you’re most likely promoting them and sending people to Amazon through links to some kind of energy drink that’s for sale on their site. For this example, let’s go old-school and assume you want people to buy Surge.
Well, let’s assume for a minute that your reader isn’t quite ready to spend that much on sodas (or memories…although Josta was WAY better) and so they start looking at random things on Amazon. Eventually, they decide that they can’t live without a case of glow sticks, so they place an order. Guess what? You just earned money…even though the product that was purchased had NOTHING to do with what you were advertising.
Are you starting to see where this is going?
Basically, the thing to keep in mind is this: it doesn’t matter what people buy, as long as they buy something. And that’s the best part: all you really have to focus on doing is driving traffic to your links.
That’s it. Seriously.
Amazon gets over 70 million visits per month. Some of those people actually buy stuff.
Alternative Amazon Affiliate Strategies
One of the things that I love most about the Amazon Associates program is that it’s stackable with other types of offers. For example, let’s say you do run a niche site that talks about whatever product. Your main products might not be through Amazon, however if the item does sell there, it’s a good idea to give the reader some kind of link (think “read more here”, “more info”, etc.) that way if they don’t get the item from you, you can still bring in some income.
A little is better than none.
In one of my earlier posts, I talked about a way to use the Amazon program to make money with direct sales products without being a member of the MLM that sells them. The same basic strategy applies. You have immense flexibility with Amazon links, but “conventional wisdom” doesn’t really address the flexibility.
Start thinking outside the box.
An Example of an Amazon Affiliate Campaign
A while back, this site had a lot more information on it than it does now. I blame Russian hackers. No, really, they keep screwing things up. But anyway…
I had a post that was titled “How to find HUGE discounts on Amazon”, and it talked about how to alter the URL string in your browser to search Amazon for items that were marked down. Some of these items were crap, but most of them were some awesome values.
After it pretty much ran it’s course (making over two grand in the process, I might add), I made a follow-up post with this information on it:
A while back, I posted an article about how to find discounts on Amazon that appears to have helped a lot of people save a LOT of money. In the post, I listed the category codes so that people could easily edit the URL to find discounted items in different categories, but I thought that it would be a good idea to go ahead and make it really easy for everybody. I hear that saving money is good for the heart…right?
Here is a list of the categories. Clicking the category will take you to the discounted items.
The point to this follow up wasn’t just to give the user more information…it was to give them a reason to click the affiliate links. Rather than forcing a user to check out the example in the previous article, it broke the links down to make searching for items in certain categories really, really easy.
The easier you make it for people to click your referral links, the easier it is to make money…but still, you need to make sure they have a reason to click. In this case, they are probably looking for filler items to qualify for free shipping and just need to make up a buck or two, so giving them the ability to go quickly to cheap stuff that they want really does push people to click.