Amazon Affiliate Program (2020) – Beginner’s Guide To Amazon Associates

Amazon Affiliate Program (2020) – Beginner’s Guide To Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates Affiliate Program in 2020

You’ve heard about the Amazon Associates Program, you’ve seen the success stories of common folks earning money with Amazon affiliate marketing, and you desperately want to do the same.

But you’re not sure where to start.

Don’t worry! I’ve written this complete beginner’s guide to joining the Amazon Associates Program to help you start earning by becoming a proficient online affiliate. 

In this mammoth blog post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to get started with the Amazon Affiliate Program, the world’s biggest and most popular affiliate marketing program, plus the best practices that’ll allow you to drive traffic, steadily grow your commissions, and establish a viable affiliate marketing business.

Though, while I genuinely think online affiliate marketing is a fantastic income stream (it was my main earning stream for years) and Amazon’s affiliate program is one of the most reliable programs on the internet, I must caution you against using this as your primary source of income. Personally I believe affiliate marketing should be viewed as a monetization method for your website. And a monetization method is NOT a small business on its own.

This post will also explain to you how to safeguard yourself from many of the pitfalls new affiliates encounter while pursuing this type of venture.

Let’s dive in.

P.S. The Amazon Associates Program is also commonly known as the Amazon Affiliate Program, so don’t get confused if I use these terms interchangeably. They mean the same thing.

What is Amazon Associates and Why Is It So Popular?

Let’s start with Amazon first.

Amazon is by far the biggest retail eCommerce company in the world. There’s hardly anything it doesn’t sell and there’s literally no one I know who hasn’t bought something from it.

But that’s just me and my limited knowledge.

You might be hearing about it for the first time so let me simplify this for you and give you an idea of Amazon’s size with some mind-blowing statistics.

amazon revenue growth 2004-2018

As you can see, even in 2004, Amazon was making almost $7 billion per year. But today, it’s revenues are touching $300 billion.

Insane!

They must sell a lot of products to make that much money, right?

Here’s another eye-opening stat.

amazon products sold per minute

Source

Amazon sells 4000 products per minute on average.

That’s more units than many businesses sell the whole month.

This brings me to my main topic for this article, Amazon Associates.

One of the reasons why Amazon makes so much money is because it has an army of hundreds of thousands of affiliates promoting its products to their audiences across the globe.

Amazon gets the sales, the affiliates get their commissions.

Amazon Associates is the affiliate program through which Amazon recruits, manages and rewards affiliates.

amazon associates

Source

Understandably, it’s the world’s biggest affiliate program (with nearly 200 million websites using it according to W3Techs) in which affiliates can promote any product from Amazon to their audience and earn a commission per sale.

And how many products does Amazon currently have?

More than you can imagine.

total products on amazon

Source

More than 350 million products are listed on Amazon.

Imagine the choices affiliates working with Amazon have.

They can choose any product that matches the needs and interests of their audience and make money by selling them.

Plus, it has a pretty low entry barrier. As long as you have a decent looking website with reasonable content and traffic, they’ll welcome you as an affiliate.

But there are several other reasons that make Amazon Associates an attractive affiliate program for marketers across the globe.

I’ll explain some of them in the next section.

The Benefits and Advantages of Amazon’s Affiliate Program

Amazon Associates is the world’s most popular affiliate program because it offers more benefits and advantages than any of its competitors.

Here’s a quick look at some of its biggest advantages.

Amazon Offers Unlimited Product Choices

No matter what niche you’re in and what products you want to sell, you’ll find them on Amazon.

In fact, it can even help you find new products in your niche that you’ve never even heard of.

The result?

You have unlimited choices in product features, pricing, built quality, shipping time, and every other aspect imaginable.

This image will give you an idea of the product range available on Amazon.

amazon product categories

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These are the different product categories that you can browse on Amazon to find products.

Every category has dozens of sub-categories.

And many sub-categories have even more sub-categories.

For example, here are the sub-categories for Baby products.

amazon product categories1

Source

Each of those sub-categories has thousands of products from different brands, local stores, manufacturers, and retailers.

Amazon itself sells more than 12 million products and when you add the products by marketplace sellers as well, the number exceeds 350 million.

Here are some of the most popular product categories on Amazon that make up the majority of its sales.

amazon product categories sales

Source

With so much variety, you’d always have products to promote no matter who your target audience is.

Though, it is foolish to choose a product on Amazon and then find people who’ll buy it from you. It should always be the other way around. Start by finding a group of people with a problem(s) and THEN find the product(s) that solve their problems.

This is much easier and far more lucrative. You have more opportunities to sell them products when you do it this way.

“Sell a good night’s sleep, not the mattress”

Every successful business is based on a well-defined problem.

You make money by solving that problem, also known as your niche in internet marketing.

Start a blog, a website, an e-commerce store (or any other platform) once you’ve identified the core problems of your niche.

Your job is to build an audience around that problem and, once you have enough people to target, promote products that solve that problem. 

affiliate program preparation

So no matter how diverse of a marketplace and retailer Amazon is, ensure you have a well-defined audience and solution-driven content that truly helps them.

That’s how you make money the right way.

If you still can’t make up your mind, try Stuart’s eBook “Find Your Perfect Niche in 7 Easy Steps” in which he has broken down the whole process for you.

It’s a Trusted Brand With Millions of Shoppers

As an affiliate, you don’t sell products yourself. You only promote stuff from other sellers.

This means that no matter how effective your promotional strategies are, your sales numbers will always be determined by the relationship between your audience and the brands you’re promoting.

If there’s a lack of trust between the two parties, the sale won’t happen which means you won’t earn any commissions.

This is where Amazon shines.

It is a trusted brand that receives more than 200 million visitors every month.

A study by BloomReach found that 55% of shoppers start their product search from Amazon. A 2017 survey found that 40% of American teenagers considered Amazon their favorite place to shop online.

When you promote an Amazon product, it’s much easier to convince people to by because they know

  • The product won’t be a fraud.
  • It can be returned if it doesn’t meet their expectations.
  • The shipment will be on time.
  • There will be support in case they need help.
  • Their payment information will be secure.

Talking of trust here’s a really interesting finding by PewResearch

amazon affiliate marketing building trust

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86% of buyers want to be able to ask in-person questions before buying while 84% of people want to buy from someone they trust.

Together, these two statistics tell you exactly why becoming an Amazon affiliate makes so much sense if you have a trusted audience on your blog or social media accounts.

People already trust Amazon, they just need the final push from someone they can ask in person about the product.

And that’s going to be you, the affiliate who’s promoting the product.

Amazon Is Super Optimized for Conversions

One of the biggest benefits of promoting Amazon products is that it has some of the world’s best conversion optimization experts working on its site whose job is to ensure that every visitor converts into a customer and every customer purchases multiple products.

This is why Amazon is an absolute beast when it comes to conversions.

Here’s one of its product pages.

amazon product page conversion1

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See the amount of information available to buyers, plus various trust elements like ratings, reviews, and comparisons.

And that’s not even the whole page.

There are CTAs and other subtle buying triggers on the page that persuade visitors to take action.

Consider this.

The average eCommerce conversion rates are around 4.31%.

This means if you refer 100 visitors to an eCommerce site other than Amazon, only 4 to 5 will convert into customers.

Amazon’s conversion rate, on the other hand, is an unbelievable 74% for its Prime members. For non-Prime consumers, the conversion rate is still a very impressive 13%.

So for every 100 referrals, you’d at least get 13 conversions if all of them are non-Prime consumers (which is rare). The actual conversion rates will be much higher.

All you need to do is to create content that aligns with your audience’s needs and persuades it to buy the product.

Amazon will do the rest.

It’s a Semi-Consistent Source of Passive Income

The relative reliability is a big reason why most affiliate marketers prefer Amazon Associates over other eCommerce affiliate programs. Once your affiliate website starts getting regular traffic, the sales start coming almost immediately.

The reason, once again, is Amazon’s brand image and optimized product pages that make sure no visitor leaves without buying.

There’s also no question of your commissions getting delayed or not being released by Amazon due to a lack of funds (they can hold funds for policy violations though). The sheer size of Amazon’s inventory and its audience means that there are millions of customers for every product niche.

Though, at the end of the day, you don’t have complete control over the destiny of your Amazon Affiliate Business.

No matter how big your business gets, you’ll always be living on rented land if your business is completely dependent on someone else. I hate to be the bearer of potential bad news, but it can be brought to the ground with a single algorithm change or a policy update.

That’s one of the biggest risks of starting an Amazon-specific affiliate blog.

The sole purpose of Amazon sites is to generate traffic and earn commissions from Amazon. As a result, their design, content and traffic sources are developed keeping Amazon in mind.

But what if Amazon pulls the plug on its affiliate program? Or excludes your product category from its affiliate program? Or reduces its already feeble commission rates even more?

While you’re still considering whether this affiliate program is right for you, I’d like to remind you of what happened last year when Amazon revised its affiliate commissions. There was panic all over the web.

You could see articles like these everywhere.

amazon associates press

There was panic in Facebook groups.

amazon affiliate facebook post about reduced commission rates

And people were looking for alternatives.

fat stacks article image

If these stories don’t deter you, then definitely try it out! 

You just need to be good at one thing – marketing the right products to your audience and publishing actionable and evergreen content that aligns with their needs.

Going back to my earlier point, as an affiliate, you should always try to make the internet a better place by creating value for your audience. 

Let’s be honest.

How many product review sites have you seen that actually focus on helping people buy the right products that fit their needs?

How many of them recommend products based on personal experiences and sample tests?

Many times, I see “reviews” on affiliate sites that are usually made up and based on no personal experience in order to net an affiliate commission, which can actually get you sued.

I recently researched more than 100 Amazon affiliate sites for a project and found that only a handful provided any real value to their readers.

Most of them were just commission focused niche sites publishing rehashed content that made no sense.

Like this one:

niche affiliate site

And this one:

niche site example 2

Both these sites are dedicated to two different product categories on Amazon.

All their content is copied/spun from other sites and gives absolutely ZERO value to the readers.

They’re clearly designed for search engines.

But even if they are getting a few hundred visitors from Google Search right now, it won’t last for long because of copied content, poor user engagement, and high bounce rate.

These are not isolated examples.

You can easily find hundreds of them because most newbies think that’s what an Amazon site should look like.

My advice is to emulate the efforts of better known and laudable sites like TheWireCutter and BestReviews that make millions of dollars every year just by publishing reviews of Amazon products that actually offer value to customers. 

Unlike one-man affiliate sites that curate content from all over the web and rewrite it to create product reviews, the posts published on sites like TheWireCutter and BestReviews are written after extensive testing by their dedicated staff.

company review sites

They have dozens of writers and testers who personally check and try every feature of a product in their testing labs before reviewing it.

Solve Problems With Highly Actionable Content Not Just Affiliate Reviews of Products

Developing an online business requires patience (a LOT of it). Before you can start making money you need to earn the trust of your target audience and become their go-to niche expert.

Publishing useful, accurate, and highly actionable content is one of the best ways to do that.

Find the most common questions of your audience and then answer them one by one in your blog posts. Don’t publish content just for search traffic. 

Think bigger. 

Make every blog post a comprehensive answer to your audience’s questions. Add lots of stats, snapshots, numbers and back your arguments with data evidence.

This will not only make your content much more credible to your audience but also significantly increase your chances of earning natural backlinks from high authority blogs.

MinimalistBaker is a great example of this. The blog makes a major chunk of its revenue from Amazon Associates, but instead of publishing reviews or comparisons, its content is focused on quick and easy vegan recipes.

The blog makes a major chunk of its revenue from Amazon Associates, but instead of publishing reviews of products or comparisons, its content is focused on quick and easy vegan recipes.

monetized affiliate blog

Source: Minimalist Baker

TheMilitaryWallet is another good example.

the miltary wallet

Source: The Military Wallet

The blog owner knows his audience (military veterans) and regularly publishes comprehensive and detailed blog posts that address veteran issues.

You can find many more examples in this post.

Every piece of content you publish becomes a business asset. Keep doing it consistently and you’ll have a solid foundation on which to build a thriving online business.

You’re Paid for All Purchases by Your Referrals

I’ve already mentioned Amazon’s amazing conversion rates in this post.

But here’s another great thing about it.

Amazon pays you a commission not only for the products you promote but also the ones that your referrals purchase within the cookie duration of 24 hours (90 days if they add the product to their shopping cart)

And this happens frequently because of Amazon’s exceptional UX and optimized product pages that often upsell related products to the buyers.

For example, this section appears right after the description of a digital camera on Amazon.

amazon product page related products1

Source

Smart isn’t it?

A person who purchases a digital camera would almost certainly need a storage card as well.

Easy upsell easy money.

But there’s more.

When you scroll down, this section appears on the same page.

amazon product page related products 2

Source

In short, it’s hard for a customer to leave without buying from Amazon.

Again, your job is to get them to that stage with your marketing skills.

  • Amazon Affiliate Sites Sell Like Hot Cakes

Did you know that sites monetized with Amazon Associates sell much faster than eCommerce stores or even product sites?

If a site is making even $500 per month from Amazon affiliate sales, it sells like hotcakes because investors love reliable passive income.

For example, here’s an Amazon affiliate website recently sold on Flippa.

amazon affiliate site sold flippa1

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It was making around $1000/month passively with $679/month in profit.

How much did it sell for? $28000!

That’s 28 times its monthly income.

What’s more, it’s just 1 year old.

You’ll find dozens of such examples if you go through the listings on Flippa or EmpireFlippers.

I’ve also done a mammoth post in the past in which I listed several unique sites sold on Flippa. Most of them were monetized with Amazon Associates.

When it comes to website flipping, Amazon’s affiliate sites are the best bet. BUT, to reiterate a important point, you must be very careful as to following Amazon’s strict rules and policies, otherwise your affiliate account will be shut down immediately and you could lose a ton of money.

These were just some of the major benefits of Amazon Associates. I can list a dozen more but I think you get the point.

If you’re convinced about the unique opportunity Amazon Associates offers, let’s see how it works and how you can profit from it.

How Does Amazon Affiliate Program Work?

Amazon Associates is a pay per sale affiliate program that pays you a commission for every sale you refer. This means you only get paid when your referral buys a product (not just clicks on your link)

And it doesn’t necessarily have to be the exact product that you promoted. As long as the customers come through your affiliate link, you’ll be credited with all the products they purchase within the cookie period of 24 hours.

In case a referral doesn’t immediately purchase a product and adds it to the cart instead, the cookie period increases to 90 days.

Here’s a graphical presentation of how the Amazon Affiliate program works.

how amazon associates work affiliate marketing

Source

The process is pretty similar to most other affiliate programs.

You sign up as an affiliate with Amazon (more on this later), choose the products that match the needs of your audience, promote them to your audience using the unique affiliate link you get from Amazon, and earn a commission for every product your referrals purchase.

There’s no limit to how much you can earn as an Amazon affiliate.

Amazon doesn’t mind if you make a million dollars in commission every month because your marketing efforts are earning them much more money.

In fact, there are examples of sites that consistently make six-figure commissions from Amazon Associates.

Honestly; if you want to build a sustainable, dependable, and long-term online income, starting the typical “product review” affiliate website that depends solely on Amazon commissions (or solely on any other affiliate network) and search engine rankings, you’re going to have to work EXTREMELY hard at it.

It isn’t easy, but it is possible to create a decent cash flow if you follow the rules and steps I’ve provided in this blog post. 

Gear Patrol, for example, is a multi six-figure site that made almost all of its money by promoting Amazon products in its early days.

gear patrol amazon associates1

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Even today, a major chunk of their earnings comes from Amazon.

I’ve shared dozens of other examples in this post.

I’m not saying it’s easy to get to this level, it’s not.

But you can expect to start making around $500-$1000 in 6-12 months if you choose the right niche, publish great content, and promote the right products to your audience.

This brings me to a key question about Amazon Associates – what marketing methods can you use to promote products?

Let me answer this in detail.

Ways You Can market Amazon Products

Amazon wants affiliates to promote its products in a legal and ethical way.

This means it does not allow product promotion through email spamming (or even simple emails), posting content on third party sites without permission, advertising on Google or Facebook and several other ways mentioned in its terms & conditions.

So what promotional methods does it allow?

Here’s a quick look at the most popular ways you can market Amazon products and earn commissions as an affiliate.

  • SEO and Content Marketing

Creating high quality, actionable, and engaging content that’s optimized for search engines is the best way to make a consistent income from Amazon Associates.

How does it work?

Instead of directly asking people to buy a product, you identify their problems through audience research, find the right products on Amazon that can resolve those problems, and then create content that provides actionable information and positions your products as the right solution to your readers’ problems.

Here’s a really good example.

amazon associate content marketing

Source

From the outside, this article seems like a really good resource for people who suffer from sleep-related problems.

It doesn’t directly pitch any products and is genuinely useful for anyone looking for such information.

However, within the content, the article links to multiple sleep-related products on Amazon that readers can buy.

The advantage of this approach?

It helps you rank for high traffic keywords, brings in lots of traffic, and helps you sell products without coming across as a desperate salesman.

To create such content, you need to have a basic understanding of SEO and have a fair idea of the needs of your audience. Plus, you need to know the art of creating high-quality content.

Thankfully I’ve written extensively about all those things here on NicheHacks.

Overall, a successful affiliate content marketing strategy publishes three types of content

  • Top of the Funnel Content
  • Middle of the Funnel Content
  • Bottom of the Funnel Content

You can read about this in more detail in this article.

As a part of your content strategy, here are some of the article types you can publish,

  • Information articles that target the broad questions of your audience.
  • Buyer Guides that share step by step details of how to buy a product.
  • “Best of” articles listing down multiple products from your niche.
  • “Best Products Under $100” (or any other price range)
  • “Product A vs Product B” posts that compare different products and their features.
  • “How To” guides that explain how to use a product for different objectives.

There are many other article types you can use as a part of your broader content strategy. You can find more information about them in this post.

Social Media Marketing

You can’t market Amazon products using social media advertising.

But if you have a loyal following on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social network, you can create organic social media content and include your affiliate links in it.

Here’s an example.

amazon associates facebook1

You can do the same on YouTube or Instagram.

amazon associates youtube marketing1

You can’t directly share Amazon affiliate links using Facebook ads, I’ve already told you.

But you can use Facebook ads to promote blog content and articles with affiliate links in it.

As for generating sales organically, the key is to build an engaged and loyal subscriber base on social media that waits for your content.

And that can only happen if your content is high quality

You can’t go around randomly posting your affiliate links and expect people to buy.

That’s spamming, not marketing.

Here’s a detailed article about generating traffic from social media.

Email Campaigns

You cannot use Amazon affiliate links in your email content.

Amazon will suspend your account if you do it consistently.

However, like Facebook ads, email campaigns can be used to promote your blog content with affiliate links.

Apart from SEO, email campaigns is the most effective way to generate affiliate sales from your site.

Here’s what a recent survey of marketers by GetResponse found.

marketing channel effectiveness

Source

Email campaigns came out as the most effective marketing channel ahead of social media and SEO.

Clearly, it’s an opportunity you need to grab with both hands.

I’ve described the whole process of using email campaigns for Amazon affiliates in this detailed article.

Make sure you read it.

Native Advertising

Amazon is the world’s biggest retail eCommerce company, you already know that.

But did you know it is also one of the most frequently used search engines in the world?

An eMarketer study found that 46.7% of all product searches in the US start with Amazon. That’s more than Google Search where 34.6% of shoppers went first.

You can take advantage of this search volume and make extra sales by using Amazon’s native ads in your blog content that are tailored to the search habits of your website visitors.

amazon associates affiliate marketing native ads

Native ads can also be configured to show the product range you choose or the products related to your content.

It works just like Google Adsense but you get paid for sales, not clicks.

Now that you know how to market Amazon products, let’s see the commission Amazon offers for different product categories.

Amazon Associates Commission Structure

Amazon’s affiliate commission rates aren’t great.

When compared with some of the other affiliate programs, Amazon Associates is at the bottom of the list in terms of the commission percentage it offers on every sale.

But that’s got to do mainly with their business model.

They make profits on volume sales and want their affiliates to do the same.

Here’s a look at their commission rates for different product categories.

amazon associates commission structure

Source

As you can see, the highest commissions are for the Luxury and Beauty categories at 10% per sale.

For furniture, home improvement and pet products (popular categories) the rate is 8%.

For other categories like electronics, games, toys, and others, the rate varies between 2% to 6%.

Not very encouraging numbers I know.

This is why a couple of things are so important if you want to build a successful Amazon affiliate site.

  • consistent and high volume traffic
  • choosing a niche with higher-priced products.

I’ve done detailed articles on both traffic generation and Amazon niche selection so make sure you read them both for more actionable tips.

In general, Amazon is a much better choice to promote physical products instead of eBooks and other types of digital products.

And even in physical products, it makes more sense to promote electronics, home appliances, PC accessories, and other high-priced products.

However, if you already have a site, you need to align your product selection with the needs of your audience because promoting irrelevant products is unlikely to work.

Now, let’s see how you can join Amazon Associates and integrate it with your site content.

How To Become an Amazon Affiliate

Becoming an Amazon affiliate is pretty easy.

If you have a website, a blog, a popular social media profile, or a mobile app with regular users, you can apply to become an affiliate on Amazon Associates.

The signup process consists of 5 steps

amazon associates sign up process1

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To begin the signup process, you need to have an Amazon account first.

Once you register an account, with all the relevant details, you need to list the platforms (website, app, social media) you’d use to market Amazon products.

amazon associates sign up process1

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As you can see, you need to list down the URLs of all the sites or profiles you own where you plan to market Amazon products.

You need to apply for up to 50 sites.

In the next step, you’d need to choose your store ID and give them a few reasons why you’ll be a good affiliate for Amazon, what your audience is about, and the kind of products you plan to promote.

amazon associates sign up process 2

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Plus, you need to tell them about your traffic sources and any other monetization methods that you’re using.

amazon associates sign up process 3

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Don’t take this step lightly because it’s going to decide the fate of your application.

Next up, you need to verify your identity by entering your phone number where Amazon will send an authentication code. Once you enter the code, your affiliate account will be created.

But you do have the option to enter your preferred payment method and tax information.

I recommend doing this now because you’d have to do it later anyway.

amazon associates sign up process4

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Currently, Amazon offers payments by credit card, cheque, or Amazon gift card.

If you’re outside the US, you can use a service like Payoneer to receive payments in a US bank account.

This is it.

Now your next target is to drive at least 3 sales in the first 180 days of becoming an affiliate.

This is why I recommend signing up for an account only after your site starts getting a few hundred daily visitors regularly and you have some content on the site.

Your account will be suspended if you fail to make the required sales.

You can reapply later but you’ll need to show that your traffic numbers have improved and you’ll be able to sell this time.

Targeting International Traffic in Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates is currently available in 13 countries. The US version is the most popular since the majority of Amazon sales come from the US.

However, the program is open to other countries as well.

For example, here’s the Mexican site of Amazon Associates.

amazon associates mexico

Here’s the complete list of countries where Amazon Associates is currently active.

This doesn’t mean you can’t become an affiliate if your country is not on this list.

You can become an Amazon affiliate no matter where you are located.

What this list means is that if your site’s traffic is coming from Brazil, you must be a registered affiliate with Amazon Associates on its Brazil site in order to earn a commission.

If you’re an affiliate on the US site only, you won’t earn a commission from the sales coming from Brazil, Mexico, China or any other country.

If you want to create a site that targets customers in the US, you need to sign up with Amazon Associates USA.

Therefore, if you want to cater to customers internationally, you should sign up to all the Amazon Associates sites separately (recommended) because all these sites are separate entities.

Creating Product Links for a Local and International Amazon Audience

To get credited for referring a sale to Amazon, you need to create your unique product link whenever you want to promote a product.

You’d use this link in your content and anywhere else where you want to market Amazon products.

How do you find product links on Amazon?

There are two main methods both of which are accessible from Amazon Associates Central.

Create Links With Product Linking Tool

Go to the Product Linking section in Amazon Associates Central and click on Product Linking in the dropdown.

amazon associates product linking1

In this section, you can look for products all over Amazon or in specific product categories.

amazon associates product linking2

If you’re looking for a specific product, enter its Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) to find it.

You can find the ASIN for every product in its product description

amazon associates product asin

If you want to search for different products, just enter its main keyword like “men’s t-shirts” or “hoodie for women” to get a list of different products.

From here, click on “Get Link” to grab the link of the product you want to promote.

amazon associates product linking3

You can choose text links, image links, or image and text links.

Just grab the code and use it to create links on your site.

Create Links With Site Stripe

Site Stripe is another way to create any kind of link for Amazon products.

In fact, it’s much easier than the product linking tool.

Browse to any product page you like on Amazon and grab the link type you want.

amazon associates site stripe product link

From there, you can grab the code and use it to create links on your site.

Other methods like Publisher Studio and a few others are not as frequently used and it’s best to create links with the two methods I’ve listed above.

Create International Links With OneLink

OneLink is a feature in Amazon Associates that allows you to create a single link affiliate link for every product that works for traffic coming from other countries like Mexico, Canada, UK, etc.

Without OneLink, you’d need to create separate links for every product to cater to international visitors.

You can find OneLink in Amazon Associates Central.

amazon associates onelink1

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With OneLink enabled, Amazon will automatically redirect visitors to the right Amazon site depending on their country.

You can learn more about this feature here.

So, now that you know how to add products to your site, let me share a few quick tips you should keep in mind if you want to make money consistently with Amazon Associates.

Proven Tips To Make Money With Amazon Affiliate Program

  • Don’t Create a Product Specific Amazon Site

Most newbies create small niche sites for very specific products that publish nothing but sales content. The reason being is because the so-called “niche marketing experts” say so.

Don’t make that mistake.

Create an authority site that addresses the problems of your audience and has the capacity to expand into other closely related niches.

Here’s a complete guide on doing that.

  • Understand the Needs of Your Audience

You can’t create high-quality content unless you understand the needs, wants problems, aspirations, hopes, and fears of your audience.

Audience research is crucial for affiliate marketing success.

Here’s a detailed guide that’ll teach you how to do it.

  • Create a Well-Rounded Content Strategy

Successful affiliate sites don’t publish just reviews and comparisons of products.

They create well-rounded content strategies that cater to all three stages of the content funnel and focus on selling stuff by solving the problems of their readers.

Here’s a typical content marketing funnel.

content marketing funnel affiliate marketing

Source

I’ve previously written a complete guide to setting up a winning content strategy that you can read for more actionable tips.

  • Use Insights From Reviews of Products

While creating content about a product, never forget to read the reviews by past customers.

1-star to 3-star reviews, in particular, are very useful in finding out the problems people are facing with the product and how it failed to meet their expectations.

You can use these insights to create more useful content for your website.

  • Grow an Email Subscriber Base

Email campaigns, as I’ve already mentioned, are one of the best ways to drive traffic to your affiliate content.

Most affiliate sites I have researched never bother to build out an email subscriber base, which makes it very hard to get repeat customers. 

The overwhelming majority is completely dependent on organic traffic from Google Search.

This itself is a disastrous and an extremely short-term strategy for any business.

Why?

Because when you’re completely dependent on Google Search for traffic, you’re actually fighting for one of the top 3 spots in the search listings since they get more than 60% of the clicks.

serp traffic distribution

You can’t directly share Amazon affiliate links via email but you can market your content to your email subscribers.

I’ve described the different ways you can benefit from email campaigns, how you can create lead magnets and the tools you can use to build an email list.

  • Optimize Your Content for Search Engines

Google is going to be the primary traffic source for your affiliate site.

I love this quote by Brian Clark: “The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google Search results”

This is why you need to understand the basics of SEO and follow proven methods to drive traffic to your site.

Again, I’ve written a lot about SEO on NicheHacks that you can read for more details.

So open your eyes to other free traffic sources like email campaigns, social media, networking & outreach, blog commenting, etc. or even selectively use paid traffic sources like Facebook Ads.

Getting to the first page for any high traffic keyword is hard.

Making it to the top 3 is even harder.

But staying there for a long time is nearly impossible.

Even if it wasn’t, no smart business depends on just one traffic source.

  • Build Backlinks the Right Way

I have learned that it is difficult to earn natural backlinks as an Amazon Review site. 

I am a full-time blogger and contribute to many leading blogs and online publications like HubSpot, MarketingProfs, Business.com, Adweek etc. As a result, I regularly get emails from people who’re willing to pay me big bucks just to include a backlink to their site in one of my blog posts. 

But in most cases I can’t, even if I want to (I’ve received offers of as much as $1200 for a single backlink).

Because most of them are Amazon specific niche sites looking to build backlinks to their Amazon reviews from high authority publications.

Understandably, most A-list blogs don’t allow linking to such sites because they’re mostly irrelevant and lack quality content.

Building or earning natural backlinks is pretty hard for Amazon affiliate sites because most of them don’t publish anything other than reviews of Amazon goods. So it makes no sense for high authority blogs to link to them.

As a result, most affiliate blogs turn to shady backlinking strategies like PBNs, linking from owned Web 2.0 properties, paying big bucks to guest bloggers and the infamous scholarship links.

If you’re doing this, Google is going to catch you sooner or later.

In order to help new affiliates avoid breaking Amazon’s Affiliate program rules, I’ve written about building backlinks and avoiding the common link building mistakes.

Make sure you read both of them because you can’t drive consistent traffic from search engines without building links the right way.

 Ready To Start Making Money With Amazon Affiliate Program

There’s a lot more I can write about Amazon Associates because it is such a comprehensive affiliate program.

However, the topics I’ve covered in this guide are more than enough for you to get started.

Don’t get confused with all the extra details.

Just start taking action and keep learning more on the way.

Making money with Amazon isn’t easy but it is possible as there are thousands of examples.

You need to be patient and follow the proven methods that I’ve discussed in this article and the other posts on NicheHacks.

Stay focused and always keep your audience ahead of everything else.

If you create a genuinely useful site that people can trust and refer to every time they need help, you’ll be able to sell a lot of products and make a lot of money without even pushing people to buy.

Amazon Affiliate Program – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Don’t have time to read the complete article? Read the most commonly asked questions about the Amazon Affiliate Program.

  • What is Amazon?

Amazon is more than just an online store. It is one of the world’s biggest technology companies with a global workforce of more than 750K employees. But it’s best known for its retail eCommerce and marketplace website that ships everything under the sun and serves millions of customers across the globe.

  • What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a business model in which you’re paid a commission for selling someone else’s products. Essentially it makes earning money possible for people who simply make product recommendations. 

  • What is the Amazon Associates Program?

The Amazon Associates Program, also known as the Amazon Affiliate Program, is the world’s biggest and most popular affiliate marketing program.

  • What is an Amazon Affiliate Site?

A website that makes most of its money by promoting products from Amazon. This is where a given site owner will form helpful product recommendations and build links that connect online shoppers to an Amazon seller or another product page hosted on Amazon.

  • How does Amazon Affiliate Program work?

The Amazon Affiliate Programs works like any other conventional affiliate program in which marketers with an Amazon account can register themselves with Amazon as affiliates, promote products to their audiences, and make money online by earning a commission on every sale they refer.

  • How do I sign up for Amazon Affiliate Program?

You can join the Amazon affiliate marketing program by signing up on the Amazon Associates Homepage. You’ll need to put in important details like your email, phone number, and payment information.

  • Can I become an affiliate for Amazon without being a site owner?

Yes you can join the Amazon Associate program without being a site owner. But then you need to have some other platform like a YouTube channel or a mobile app where you can market Amazon products connected to Amazon’s online store. You can’t become an affiliate if you don’t have any of those things as there is no platform for you on which you can build links and native shopping ads that funnel shoppers to a given Amazon seller.

  • Should I sign up for Amazon Associates immediately after starting a site?

You can create an Amazon Affiliate website immediately, but the better strategy is to first publish some content on your site, work on its SEO and traffic generation, and sign up for the Amazon Associates Program only when your site starts getting a few hundred visitors per day regularly.

  • Does Amazon pay per click?

Amazon pays per sale which means you only start earning income when your referred traffic makes a purchase on Amazon. You don’t get paid for clicks only.

  • How much commission does Amazon pay per sale?

Amazon operates a volume-based structure for advertising fees. The more products that are purchased as a result of your affiliate links, the more you’ll make per sale. Once you have sold enough products to move up to a different rate based on the way Amazon structures its advertising fees, all subsequent sales will give you commission at that rate, until and unless you reach the next fee level. 

Amazon has different commission rates for its product categories. You can see the most recently updated commission structure here. Note that some products are exempt from this commission structure.

  • How much money can you make with Amazon Affiliate Program?

There’s no limit to how much you can earn as a member of the Amazon Associate Program. There are complete businesses based on Amazon affiliate sales making millions of dollars in commissions every year. It all depends on how much relevant traffic you can drive to your Amazon affiliate site. However, newbies can start earning around $500-$1000 per month in around 1 year through Amazon affiliate marketing if they choose the right niche, create the right content and relevant native shopping ads, and build an engaged subscriber base.

Further, you can drive more conversions by identifying specific problems your target audience experiences and helping them discover meaningful solutions and relevant products that alleviate or solve their issues. By building engagement, the sky’s the limit for how much money you can make via affiliate marketing.

Thus, the more value you are able to provide the end user, the more money you’ll be able to make.

  • Who can make money with the Amazon Affiliate Program?

Anyone who has an audience on their website, blog, YouTube channel, or social media profiles can make money online with Amazon Associates. The more of an engaged audience you have, the more money you can make. And the best part about it is that you don’t incur any advertising fees, as it can all be done through the native shopping ads you establish on your site or other platforms.

  • What is the cookie duration for the Amazon Affiliate Program?

Amazon cookies last for 24 hours which means that if your referral doesn’t immediately buy any products on Amazon but returns to make a purchase within 24 hours, you still get the commission. Any products purchased through your referrals after 24 hours of visiting Amazon for the first time using your link, won’t earn you any commission.

Yet on the flipside, the cookie duration on Amazon increases to 90 days if your referral adds a product to their Amazon shopping cart which makes earning money even easier!

Because of this, you might find that the 24 hour expiration of a cookie greatly reduces the revenue opportunities of your small business especially if you’re promoting high-priced or complex products that people don’t usually purchase on their first visit.

  • Do I get paid for other products my referral purchases?

Yes, you get paid for any products, not just the ones you promote, your referral shopper purchases on Amazon within the standard cookie duration.

  • What are the other alternatives to Amazon Associates Program?

There are some alternatives to Amazon Associates, but because Amazon has such a huge product range and audience size, the other affiliate programs seem to pale in comparison. The other retail affiliate programs, in my opinion, offer moderately more attractive commissions for similar products. You can find the complete list in this article

  • Other ways to diversify your revenue streams with different affiliate programs and products  

If you create an Amazon specific affiliate website that only publishes product recommendations, comparisons, and reviews, your growth prospects are fairly limited.

Even though Amazon converts better than all other retail sites (hopefully within the 24 hour window), I would suggest diversifying your source of income beyond purely Amazon affiliate income by including other affiliate programs into your business plan like Jet, Walmart, and Target which offer cookie periods from 3 to 7 days.

Further, when you think big, create a site around well-defined problems, and publish useful content that answers the questions of your target audience in addition to well-curated native shopping ads, there are unlimited ways you can make money.

You don’t  need to limit yourself to just the Amazon affiliate marketing program, there are dozens of other affiliate networks, like the ones mentioned previously, and monetization methods. 

For example, why limit yourself to just physical products when you can leverage other affiliate networks to promote digital and subscription-based products as well. Many of them pay as much as 75-100% recurring commissions.

See below for more information on how to expand your revenue streams with other affiliate marketing platforms:

affiliate diversification how to diversify affiliate programs

Source: SmartInsights

  • What are the best affiliate products to promote on Amazon?

There’s no fixed answer to this. Certain product categories have higher commission rates as compared to the others which makes them more attractive for Amazon affiliate marketing. However, what products you promote primarily depends on the needs of your audience and how well you integrate your native shopping ads into the relevant content you create.

Amazon recently revised its commission structure for many product categories. See the infographic below to learn more about the specific commision rates for different product categories:

amazon affiliate commission structure

Although the commissions seem fairly low overall, one of the upsides of building your affiliate business with Amazon is that Amazon is a well-trusted brand and therefore, encourages high conversion rates in large quantities. Thus, even though the commission rates remain low, you still stand a high chance of coining money because of the large volume of traffic thats Amazon attracts. 

  • How do I get paid as an Amazon affiliate?

Amazon Associates supports three payment methods – a bank transfer via direct deposit, a cheque, or an Amazon gift card.

In my experience, however, some of Amazon’s policies can be a bit hazy, and I have heard of instances in which earned money can be trapped if the program’s operating agreement is not followed correctly. 

Even worse, if you violate the operating agreement and are banned from the Affiliate Program, you risk kissing that direct deposit goodbye and losing all your earned money overnight with a slim chance of being able to recover the majority of it. 

Unfortunately that’s the tradeoff of working with Amazon. But some might argue, “no risk, no reward.”

To avoid the pitfalls that I’ve heard of other small business operators encountering while promoting their links on sites through the Amazon Associates Program, definitely read the operating agreement thoroughly. It can be found by clicking through the Amazon associated homage. You can also learn more by reviewing the information contained in Amazon associates resource center.

Whatever you do, don’t try to cheat the system. You’ll get caught sooner or later. 

  • What is the average conversion rate for Amazon Affiliate products?

As discussed earlier, Amazon is a conversion beast which means your referrals are much more likely to buy on Amazon as compared to other eCommerce sites and small business retailers. The average conversion rate for Amazon Prime members is 74% and 13% for non-Prime users which is still great. 

  • Is there a minimum payment threshold for Amazon affiliate payments?

Yes, you need to have at least $100 in your Amazon account to get paid via a direct deposit, a cheque or an Amazon gift card. And, the minimum amount is $10.

  • Is there a payment cycle for affiliate payouts?

Yes, payments are made 60 days after the end of the month in which you made the sale. This means payments for any commissions earned in January are made in March.

  • Do I still get paid if a customer returns a product?

No, returned products and canceled orders are considered as disqualified purchases and no commissions are paid for them.

  • What are the different types of affiliate links on Amazon Associates?

You can use text links or add product banners and image links to your content.

  • How do I find a product’s affiliate link on Amazon?

When you’re logged into your Amazon Associates account via the Amazon Associates homepage, you have a SiteStripe bar on top of your screen from where you can create any type of affiliate link for any page or product on Amazon.

You can also create links with Product Linking Tool.

  • Do I need to make a sale to remain an active Amazon affiliate?

You need to make at least 3 sales in the first 180 days after signing up as an Amazon Associate.

  • What happens if my account is suspended for lack of sales?

You can reapply to Amazon Associates but you need to show how you’ll drive sales this time.

  • How can I market Amazon products as an affiliate?

Many of the affiliate sites I see nowadays are not ideal in my opinion. I am directly referring to the kinds of ‘affiliate sites’  that only (or mostly) ‘review’ products (usually products that the reviewer has never even used, making their respective reviews fake). You know the type of Amazon niche site I’m referencing… 

One that simply regurgitates facts, pro’s and con’s, and features regarding the product which have been taken directly from Amazon or blindly copied from other sites without sharing any personal experience of using the product or given any value to the reader.

You’re NOT going to make a living out of building an affiliate website with non-helpful, pseudo-reviews today as this isn’t 2012 anymore where basic affiliate sites ranking in Google and reviewing products were a gold-mine. The average web surfer is too smart these days and Google prefers not to rank low quality affiliate sites like this either. And what’s worse…

This is especially difficult if you’re a small business newbie because as all the super profitable affiliate niches and keywords are dominated by big brands or highly experienced SEO’s and affiliates who have years more experience and a much bigger budget than you (certainly you could earn some dollars but it will never be life changing or job replacing).

Successful businesses and websites are built on solid foundations that allow them to grow with time without risk of going out of business in a flash.

Online businesses should be no different. So this warning is my way of helping you build a long term, evergreen, and sustainable income that benefits you for years to come.

My advice for anyone trying to become a successful affiliate is to create high quality, actionable, and detailed content that solves the problems of your audience, answers their questions, and helps them choose the right products.

You can do this on your website, blog, YouTube channel, or any other platform where people follow you.

  • Can I buy from my own Amazon Affiliate link?

No, you don’t get paid for purchasing products using your own Amazon affiliate link.

  • Can I post Amazon affiliate links on Facebook?

Yes, you can use Amazon affiliate links in your Facebook posts and drive sales from them. But you cannot promote them using Facebook Ads. Doing so is a violation of Amazon Associates terms & conditions and can result in account suspension.

  • Can I promote affiliate links through email campaigns?

No, you’re not allowed to promote your affiliate links directly through email. But you can, and should, promote your website content or YouTube videos which contain your affiliate links.

I have found that most Amazon affiliates never make full use of this critical marketing channel, such as email campaigns.

The REAL money in business, both offline or online, is in the follow up with prospects to turn them into new customers. And following up with existing customers to get them to make repeat purchases. No real business can survive on one-off sales.

Most people just won’t buy the first time they encounter you or your business. Especially online where everyone is naturally skeptical and doesn’t trust strangers.

Don’t just take my word for it, a study by ProppellerCRM (a tool for sales marketing professionals) found that 82% of customers viewed 5 or more pieces of content on a website before buying anything.

brand touches by ProppellerCRM

A study by FiveStars Marketing found that more than 50% of businesses revenue came from repeat custom and not new customers. With existing customers being worth up to 10x as much as a new customer.

Without an email list, you can’t do any of this. 

Your email list will send your visitors back to your money making content and instantly you’re increasing the chance of someone buying from your affiliate link.

So make sure you have a way of gathering and saving contact information from those visiting your site so you can effectively retarget them with helpful products.

  • Can I have more than one Amazon Associates account?

No you can’t have multiple Amazon Associate accounts for the same country (for example Amazon USA). However, you can create separate affiliate accounts for international Amazon sites like Amazon Canada, UK, Japan, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany (the 7 countries where Amazon currently runs an affiliate program).

  • Are Amazon affiliate links valid for specific countries only?

Yes, affiliate links created for Amazon USA products will only result in a commission if a buyer is coming from the US. If a visitor from the UK clicks on that link, they’ll need to purchase the product from Amazon UK where your affiliate link won’t be valid. As a result, you won’t get paid for the sale.

  • Can I sign up as an Amazon affiliate in multiple countries?

Yes, if you have visitors coming from other countries where Amazon Associates program is active, you should sign up as an affiliate on all the relevant Amazon sites so that you’re credit for any sales that are referred through your links.

  • Is there a way to use a single affiliate link that works on all Amazon sites?

Yes, you can create universal affiliate links that work across different Amazon sites using OneLink, a feature in Amazon Associates dashboard.

  • How do I protect my Amazon Associate account from getting suspended?

Make sure you read and understand the policies of Amazon Associates program and play within the rules. 

I would recommend checking the resource center as well if you continue to have more questions about this.

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