Amazon’s Commissions are Horrible, But So What! (Earning Strategies)

3 September

A lot of people don’t bother with Amazon’s affiliate program because the commissions are so low (4-8% on average with the potential to earn a more if you refer large volumes of products).

So if you’re in a niche that averages 30-50% per commission on most products, Amazon’s program may seem like a waste of time.

Just look at my earnings snapshot from the current quarter that ends September 30th.

amazon earnings report

So basically, I’ve made nearly $3,000 for this quarter, and only have $170 to show for it.

In the Internet marketing niche, most programs would award me at least 1/3rd of those earnings, but here’s why I am OK with that.

Amazon is a Great Catchall Program

A lot of companies don’t have affiliate programs for their products.  So if I can’t find a program that corresponds with the product, I go to Amazon.  Sure, the commissions are low but it’s better than earning nothing at all.

Lots of Earnings From Products I Don’t Promote

What you have to love about Amazon is that they are exceptional at upselling.  And if you shop there, you’ve already witnessed this and probably become a victim of their strategy.

As soon as you add an item to your cart, Amazon lets you know what other products people purchased along with the item you are planning to buy.  Or they’ll show you items that are frequently bought together.

So you may refer someone to a Keurig brewer, but end up earning commissions on K-cups, the carousel and more related products in addition to the brewer.

frequently bought

Trust & Loyalty Matters

Since Amazon is a trusted brand, people are often more comfortable shopping there.

My conversions are usually higher at Amazon than many programs I promote, and I believe trust and familiarity is a big reason.  So that’s a nice bonus if you are an Amazon affiliate.

Most of my earnings come from my fitness and hair site, however over 65% of my commissions come from products I never even promoted.

Some of that comes from the “Frequently Bought Together” strategy that Amazon brilliantly employs, but the rest is from the can’t-buy-just-one-item philosophy that people have when they shop at places they like and trust.

Everyone has that store in their life where they end up purchasing way more than they intended to buy.  For me, that’s Target (or Tar-jay as some affectionately call it) and for many, that’s also

You know how it goes.  You start off ordering what you came to purchase and suddenly remember you also need X, Y and Z.  And apparently that’s what my visitors are doing.

How crazy is it that my highest earning commission so far this quarter is for 4 BFGoodRich tires?


Gotta luv it!

Other random items on my commission list include romance novels, Platex bras (Seriously!), pillow cases (the soft and silky kind, no less), a dog potty (Thanks, Fido) Crayola Crayons (Yep, school’s back in session), and I could go on with more random goodness.

These are all products that have absolutely nothing to do with any website I own.

So What’s My Strategy?

I hate to be overly simple, but it’s the same strategy I always talk about here…

I promote what I use.

For example, last year I discovered that camera-related searches were a fairly hot term on 2 Create a Website.  This was no surprise given the amount of questions I receive about what camera and software I use for my YouTube videos.

So I created a page to satisfy the curiosity of these searchers.

Because of that, I often see commissions from the Sony Camera I mention in that article.


Easy Azon

I also make use of Chris Guthrie’s handy WordPress plugin called Easy Azon.

I was fortunate enough to get a free, review copy last year (thanks Chris) and you can see my review of the plugin in the video below.

If you promote a lot of Amazon products on your WordPress site, the plugin will save you loads of time because Amazon’s link retrieval system could really use some streamlining.

With Easy Azon, you never have to leave the WordPress admin area to obtain your affiliate links.

Amazon Widgets

I’m finding that a lot of affiliates don’t even know this feature exists.  Nevertheless, it comes in handy when you want to create a nice visual of items you are promoting.

Your visitors can scroll through the carousel of products and click any of them to purchase. Each product link is automatically tied to your affiliate link.

Amazon Widgets

The only downside is it’s coded in Flash which means Apple products won’t display it.  So if someone is viewing your site on an iPad, they’ll see a big white space where the widget is supposed to appear. :(

This is one reason I use this feature sparingly — especially with so many people using Apple products these days.

To create a Widget, login to your affiliate account here and select the Widgets tab.  Follow the instructions to build your own.

Multiple Linking Options

Another bonus is Amazon provides a plethora of ways to link to their products.  You can use widgets as described above, rotating banners of products you select, individual links, product category links, banners and more.

The method you choose will depend on your situation and you should experiment until you find what works best.

Let’s say you own a site on car electronics and have a generic article that talks about where to buy products in your niche.

You could link to the generic Car Electronics category that will take your visitors to the homepage of that category so they can begin their search.

This comes in handy if you want to provide a link to Amazon, but don’t really want to link to any specific product.  I do this all the time.

Need a visual?  Here’s a video showing how I promote Amazon products.

The Wrap-Up

So yes, Amazon’s commissions or terribly low, but if you have no other option for certain products you may be promoting, why not use them? No doubt you’ll end up earning commissions from products you aren’t even recommending.

And while you may be tempted to throw up a bunch of Amazon banners, I’ve always found that contextual mentions work best — meaning I recommend products in relevant articles instead of just floating a random banner in a sidebar and hoping people will click and buy.

I’ll never get rich from Amazon’s affiliate program, but it’s a great bill-paying program. :)

So what about you?  What has your experience with Amazon’s affiliate program been like?  Do share!

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