One of the best ways to monetize a blog, authority site, or other projects is through affiliate marketing.
In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is where you promote a company's product and get a commission anytime someone makes a purchase. Different affiliate programs might vary on how they work, but that's the core idea.
Your commission (the amount you get paid when someone buys something through your link) depends on the affiliate program. Here's a super simple example:
I sign up for an affiliate program and promote one of their products that costs $10. The commission is 10%, so each time someone clicks on my affiliate link and makes a purchase, I earn $1.
How do you track sales? Whenever you sign up for an affiliate program, you'll create a link with a tracking ID that tracks when someone clicks through your link and completes an action. This ‘action' could be making a purchase or filling out a lead.
Possibly the best all-around affiliate program to promote is the Amazon Associates Program.
A few reasons I like Amazon's Associate (affiliate) program:
- You can find almost any product to promote. No matter what niche your site is on, you'll have no trouble finding products that fit.
- People shop on Amazon a LOT. It seems like whenever I go on Amazon to buy 1 thing, I'm suddenly checking out with a cart full of stuff.
- For better or worse, Amazon has made buying online fast and easy.
- Amazon converts very well. They've mastered cross-sells, promotions, upsells, and probably any other eCommerce tactic we can think of.
- Why do I bring this up? A very good reason – when you send someone to Amazon through your affiliate link, you'll get commissions on whatever they purchase in a 24-hour window!
Here's a single example from one of our sites I saw last time I checked our stats:
We promoted a single DVD, that cost about $20. One customer clicked through and purchased the DVD, but also purchased $300 worth of other products. Some of the products they purchased were personal grooming items like shaving cream and razors. They also purchased a billiard stick, shoes, binoculars, and a few other things. We earned commissions on everything they purchased.
That's one really I love Amazon's Associates Program. The above example happens all the time. In fact, we often make more money (commissions) on random products people buy vs what we're actually promoting. If this wasn't clear – the customer doesn't even have to purchase the item we linked to. They could click through our link and decide they don't want the DVD, but purchase other stuff and we still get a commission on those items.
Amazon Associates Has Rules for Affiliate Marketers
Every affiliate program has rules and guidelines you agree to follow. Most programs enforce these, and Amazon is no different. You can get and will get banned if you break the rules.
I won't list all the do's and don'ts here because they change, and I would hate to have incorrect information that could get someone's account banned before I update it. A couple of big ones are – no affiliate links in email, no paid search traffic, no link shortening or cloaking, and no mentioning the price in your content.
Again, those are only a few Amazon Associates rules. Please take the time (I know, I know it's boring) to read the operating agreements. Ok enough talk, let's get started and…well, I guess we have to talk more, BUT it will get more interesting.
How Much Does the Amazon Associates Program Pay?
Amazon's commission percentage depends on the product category. Currently, luxury beauty is 10% and video game consoles are 1%. You can see the full and most current list here.
Below is a screenshot I took, but please check the link above for the most current information.
You can also promote items like Prime Video Channel trials which currently earn a flat $2.50 per signup, Amazon Prime, Amazon Music, and more.
Don't be discouraged if the commission rates seem low. Remember what I said earlier – customers you refer usually make multiple purchases.
How to Sign up to Amazon Associates Program
One more thing to mention before we start – Amazon requires new associates to make their first sale within 180 days of opening the account. If you don't generate a sale, your account will be closed. You can reapply at any time, but make sure you'll be able to generate the required sale.
Because of this policy, I wouldn't rush to get your associates account until your site has enough traffic you could reasonably expect a sale. What's ‘enough'? Honestly, it varies a lot by site and niche. A good test would be to promote another affiliate program and see if you generate any sales.
Here's a step-by-step guide to sign up:
Go to the Amazon Associates portal and click join now
2. Fill out the account information
3. Enter your website address here
4. Choose your preferred Associates store ID
This is just a tracking tag. I would use your site name. Fill out the rest to the best of your ability, but don't stress about what to put there.
5. Next, choose the type of traffic you'll use to promote your site
For most blogs, authority sites, or similar you would choose ‘SEO' and ‘Blogs'.
Agree to the terms, then confirm your identity on the next screen. Congratulations! You now have your own Amazon Associates account!
How to Promote Amazon Products and Make Money as an Affiliate
Amazon gives you several ways to promote products. Go to product linking, and choose one of the options.
Let's take a quick look at some of the linking options.
Amazon Associates Banners
Just like it sounds, these are banners you place on your site. They come in different shapes and sizes, here's an example:
Scroll down and choose a category. When you find a banner you like, copy where it says HTML
You can use a WordPress plugin like Ad Inserter to place the code and show banners on your site.
Native Shopping Ads
Native shopping ads automatically display relevant product recommendations based on your page content and visiting users. So if you had a page on hair care products, the ads would show relevant products, also taking into account what your visitors have looked at or purchased on Amazon before.
There are other ways to generate links and banners you can explore from the navigation.
Next, I'm going to talk about the way I link to products. I've tried banners and Native Shopping ads on numerous sites, but they haven't performed well or at least not better than my preferred method. I'm sure there are sites doing very well with banners and ads, so don't let my experience stop you from testing.
Linking Directly to Products
As you probably guessed, I have the most success linking directly to products. What does ‘linking to products' mean?
Linking to products just means linking keywords in my content to specific products. This doesn't mean I'm always specifically mentioning that product though.
In other words, it's not always like ‘hey check out this blue coffee cup here'. I do use that method, but I don't always go out of my way to write my site's content around a product or products.
Take this example where I link relevant keywords in my content without specifically calling out the product from a post is titled ‘How to Have a Productive Morning':
I know some people like morning, but I'm not one of them. I would happily sleep until 10am if I could, but I would rather accomplish my goals than sleep the day away. So, how do I make my morning more productive? The first step is making my way to my cup of coffee. After that…etc, etc.
In the above example, the words ‘accomplish my goals' might be linked to a daily planner or a book on motivation. That's the main way I work Amazon affiliate links into my content.
Here's an example, where I'll specifically mention/recommend a product:
I've found the best way to get a good nights sleep is by listening to this relaxation music album from Sleepy Sleeperson.
Obviously that example is made up (unless I just haven't heard of sleepy sleeperson!) but you get the idea.
How to Link Directly to Amazon Products
I'm going to assume you use WordPress since that's the best CMS (Content Management System) to create a blog or website.
Countless tools exist to help you build links and display products from Amazon. There are link management tools like Pretty Links and Thirsty Affiliates, and plugins with multiple functions like AAWP. Those tools are good, but I rarely use them when promoting the Amazon affiliate program. One note in case you do try them – remember that Amazon doesn't allow you to cloak/shorten your affiliate link which some tools do by default. Read the instructions to make sure you stay compliant.
So if I don't use fancy plugins or tools, what do I use? My strategy is almost comically low tech but it's been super effective for me, and it's easy to get set up.
Step 1. Go to where you add a plugin in WordPress and search for ‘Amazon Affiliate Tag Maxime Bridon'. Install and activate the plugin.
Step 2. In WordPress, go to Settings–>Amazify and put your Amazon Associates store ID where it says “Your Amazon Tag”. You can find it in the top part of the Amazon Associates site when you're logged in. It will look something like yourstore-20
Step 3. Now comes the hard part. I mean like, you probably need a degree in rocket science hard. Ok not really…
Find a product you want to promote on Amazon, then grab part of the link from the address bar. You only want the highlighted part shown in the screenshot below. Everything up to the question mark.
Here's what the link should look like after copying it:
All I need to do now is find the word or phrase I want to link in my content, and insert it like any other link:
Save and preview the post. If you hover over your link, you'll see your store ID has automatically been appended to the link..cool huh?
As long as that plugin is installed, you can add links exactly like above. Whatever product you want to link to, you just grab the same part of the URL. It's always going to have this kind of structure no matter what the product is like:
So that's my super low tech, fast and easy way to do Amazon affiliate links. You can use another solution of course, and sometimes you might need more features.
I would also recommend checking out the Amazon Link Engine plugin from the company Geniuslink. A cool feature of the Amazon Link engine plugin is it will localize your Amazon affiliate links, meaning you can earn commissions on people visiting from other countries. You don't need a Geniuslink account to use the plugin, but you do need a paid plan if you want to use all the localization features.
Amazon Associates has separate programs, and you have to sign up for each one individually. Example: Here's the Amazon Associates program for the UK.
After you sign up and configure that account with Amazon Link Engine/Geniuslink you're set. If someone from the UK visits your site, the plugin will use your UK affiliate link so you get the commission.
How to Increase Amazon Affiliate Commissions
The main thing you'll focus on is driving targeted traffic to your site. The more targeted traffic, the more visitors there are to click on one of your links and convert.
There isn't just one ‘best' way to get more visitors to your blog or site. It's going to depend on your niche and site.
So while I (unfortunately) can't give you a magic formula, I can tell you what's overall most effective for me and my students. Below are the two ways I would focus on increasing your site traffic. You can expand at some point, but this will give you a solid way to build long term traffic and growth.
The majority of your traffic is most likely to be from search, specifically Google. Although not all sites get most of their traffic from Google, most long term established sites receive a lot of traffic from organic searches.
Search traffic is more of a long term plan. You won't flood your site with traffic in a month just focusing on SEO. Realistically you're looking at anywhere from roughly 6-12 months before Google ranks your content high enough to get a substantial amount of traffic. In the beginning, it feels like you're putting in a lot of effort for little return. I promise you though, you'll look back in 6-12 months and be glad you stuck it out.
The main tactics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) are optimizing your content, optimizing your site, and getting backlinks (people linking to your site). A good place to start is with our keyword research guide.
Pinterest is a great source of traffic, and you can generate a lot of visitors faster than with SEO strategies.
Some people think of Pinterest as a social network, but it's really a search engine. More specifically, Pinterest is a visual search engine. I've had a number of students get a good deal of Pinterest traffic in their first month.
You can optimize your pins, and there are Pinterest specific strategies to follow that are considered best practices. The reality though, is that even with the best strategy, some pins will take off and some not – that's just the name of the game with Pinterest. Of course, you can increase your chances of creating popular pins.
Tailwind has some good guides on Pinterest. They also have some webinars with people from Pinterest, so you can get the best information straight from the source.
You're now armed with the knowledge you need to get started using affiliate marketing and the Amazon Associates program. Give it a shot, and if you have trouble let me know in the comments – I'm happy to help! 🙂