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Tips on using Amazon affiliate links effectively for blogs

Discussion in 'Amazon' started by Parka, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. #1
    (Initially I wanted to post this on my blog with a text link here on digitalpoint. I really want to get some traffic from this post but that would not be targeted traffic and would skew my blog statistics.)

    Here's a guide on how to make money with Amazon affiliate links on your blog.

    It's a long guide. It contains what I've learn for the 4 months since I started using Amazon Associates. This guide will contain actual concrete examples compared to conceptual strategies like "get traffic", "target a niche", "build your blog".

    It's guaranteed to make money if you work hard. Results will come as quick but I can't give you a time frame because I'm not god. In fact, if you earn money, which you will, you can donate $1 (or more) to my Paypal account (teohyc at gmail dot com). I'm saving up for Comic Con 2009.

    To start things off, remember this principle that I base all my work on: In order to get something in value, you must sacrifice something of equal value. I apply that to everything in life. In the case of Amazon affiliate links, you must create something of value to the reader or why would they want to return that value to you? It is also the reason why I include "if you work hard" in the previous paragraph.

    My blog's on book reviews. Currently, I'm earning about US$100 per month. Not a lot, yeah. That's after 4 months of consistent work. It will grow. Content I have last month is still around in addition to new content added consistently.

    Note that this guide is for blogs. I've no success with my Astore as yet.

    Let's get started with things I learned

    Know what you like
    It is crucial to know your passion. Write something that you like. I've created countless blogs all to die within months simply because it became a chore to find content to write about.

    You're naturally more knowledgeable when you write about something you know.

    For example, I buy books. I know what people look for in books because I'm one of them.

    It is no coincidence that every business book or entrepreneur preaches this: Follow your passion.

    This is also the reason why you shouldn't be afraid of competition. People who have no passion will eventually find whatever they are doing a chore. I've no doubt writing about financial banking products can make money, but after a while I'll definitely be bored.

    Do what you do best and it takes you less effort. E.g. If you're pro soccer player, teaching soccer can't be too hard.

    Provide information the reader lacks in order to make a purchase
    I sell a very simple item, a book. Simple as that, I do book reviews to tell people about the book. What's inside, why it's good.

    I've absolutely no problem criticizing a book if it's bad. In fact, I've people that bought books from my blog that I thought was bad. Apparently, that book is bad for me only. So nowadays, for my reviews, I mention the type of people that might find the book interesting.

    Then I refer them to Amazon where they can read more reviews. If they buy anything, I make a little commission. I tell my readers I make a commission, whether that had any effect on conversion rate I've not tested yet.

    The reason why people are on your site is because they are looking for information on the subject. Provide them with that information, point them to where they can get more information, in this case the Amazon site. This helps them (first) and you (second).

    This works for simpler items like books. For more pricey items like electronics, people will want more information before they make any purchasing decision. For that reason, they will probably leave your site in search for more information. So just point them to Amazon where they can read more reviews.

    People don't like it when they are told to buy, buy, buy. Hard sell is a turn off. Focus on giving them value through either information or helping them save time. Sales will come.

    You can get started easily just by thinking from the buyer's perspective and writing down a list of things people care about when making a purchased. E.g. Warranty period, value for money, quality product.

    Put your links surrounded by context
    If you're using Adsense, you've probably sick from reading that the best position for placing ads on a page is under the title, beside the content. That's called placing the ad in context. The context is the title and content, information that people actually want. So people will look there and see the ad.

    For Amazon affiliate links, it's important to put them in context also.

    I've put text links in a list before to promote some products. They have incredible click-through rates (CTR) but they do not convert because there's no context. I didn't explain to my readers why those products are great. And I can't explain because I've not used them myself. Any attempt to do a writeup without using the product is no different from lying. People can detect lies and they hate lies. People leave.

    CTR is useless if people don't convert. So focus on providing useful context.

    Be authentic.

    (By the way, my Adsense earns single freaking digits. I still don't get how Adsense clickers think.)

    About using the different widgets, links, banners
    They each have different CTR and conversion rate depending on the context they are placed in. All you have to do is test them out.

    Test them out one by one and monitor your statistics. Never try to modify two variables at the same time because you won't know exactly which one is producing the change.

    Have Amazon Associates account from different countries
    You should know that Amazon Associates is available for different countries. They are USA, Canada, French, German, UK and Japan currently.

    Basically, using the same content, you can create links to the different Amazon sites all over the world.

    The problem here is not about making money which you will. It's about how you're going to get the money from Amazon after they pay you. As you know, they have only cheques, direct payment and gift certificates.

    It's important to check your web statistics to see where your readers are from before creating these links. Creating these links represents an investment of time. If there's no value return, there's no value creating the links.

    For me, I've noticed my readers are from these countries as well, which is why I create links to the various Amazon sites. It doesn't help Germans if you point them to the US site when they have a local German Amazon site already.

    And if your readers are French, do they read English? Don't assume. Translate your site into French (with the help of Google Translate).

    Lesson here is don't do things just because you can. Know why you're doing that in the first place.

    Did I mention that the US$100 I earn is from US alone. The rest add up to an additional $US100 (equivalent).

    REQUEST: If you know how to apply for a bank account in a foreign country where Amazon is located, please share with everyone here!

    Choosing between gift certificates, cheques and direct deposit
    It really depends on where you are and what are the options that are viable. If you're outside of the country where Amazon is in, you can only choose between gift certificates and cheques.

    Darren Rowse of problogger.net has an entry relating to this so I don't want to waste time writing the same thing.

    Gift certificates come approximately 2 months later from the month you made your earnings. Sales I made in October came in the last few days of December. Amazon is an efficient company, even on paying out commissions.

    About that low 4% commission rate and 1-day cookie
    If you sell more than 6 items, you'll be receiving 6% commission rate.

    When I first started out, I'm not surprised if I don't make any sales. Nowadays, with more traffic on my blog, I'm surprised if I don't make any sales. That traffic comes from helpful content. Crossing over to the 6% tier isn't really that hard. Currently, I'm at 6.5% going to 7% (that's 100 over items). I enlisted the help of my book loving friends to provide me with books also.

    Anyway low commission rate is a personal opinion.

    About that 1-day Amazon cookie, you can't change that so why waste time complaining? For the commission rate, you can change that, so change that.

    How much will you make
    It depends on the type of items you're selling and how many you're selling. Pricey items earn more but sales quantity are lower.

    When your visitor reaches Amazon from your links, anything they buy will grant you a small commission. I've people buying underwear through my book links.

    The important thing to note here is to do some financial projections. Look at your statistics in a few months to see if doing this will be a return on your investment (time and money). Not everything returns financially. See if it's worthwhile to do it for long term.

    It comes back down to why you create your blog in the first place. For me, I love reading books and collect books primarily. Doing reviews is just something that comes next naturally.

    Notice that I didn't mention that making money is the priority of the blog? Because it's not! In reality, you don't make money. You sell a service or product and make money. "Make money" has absolutely no meaning without context.

    Don't provide unrelated links
    This is very tricky because I'm not sure it actually true because I've no extensive numbers to back up what I say.

    If you're doing a review on golf balls, post links only to golf balls. Don't flood your entry with links to golf shirts, golf shoes, golf books, golf everything. That's hard sell. It turns your blog into a very hostile commercial platform. People hate hard sell and hostile environment. They leave by clicking the close button (or Ctrl+W) and not the Amazon links. And they never come back again.

    Be focused. This is similar to the tip on following your passion. Create a blog that people can easily see the focus. For example, facebook for social interaction, Ebay for auctions, Paypal for money transfers, Amazon for e-commerce. This is basic marketing.

    How long will it take
    My first sale was actually a bag that I bought from Amazon. It was the first time I was trying out the Associate link. That was in July 2007. My sale for that was in August 2008.

    My reaction to that was "hey, it actually works". If not for that sale, I won't be posting Amazon links on my blog.

    It will take time provided you have content. There's no such thing as overnight success. Every overnight success takes months and years to plan and execute.

    I've broken even already. So any sales that I make now go into my future book purchases. I chose to receive gift certificates as I'm not in US.

    Also, I've thanked by blog readers by holding a small contest and providing an Amazon gift cert (of course!) as prize. The amount is not a lot at $20 but it sure is cool to give back.

    Concentrate on providing value, helping people. It's not a matter of when, it's a matter of how much you will make.

    Conclusion
    My conclusion is just similar to the tip earlier, provide enough information for your visitors to make a purchase. I think I can get how online customers think. If you know their motivation, you can predict what they are going to do and that helps with whatever strategies you make.

    My guide is guaranteed to make money. The amount is a totally different story. That's what I told my friend, and I've actually proved it to him with him supplying me some books.

    When you make your first sale, do post back here and relate your experience. Do post actual concrete tips people can follow instead of those superficial high level strategic concepts no one can relate to.

    Hope this guide is of some help to some of you guys starting out, like I am 4 months ago.

    Any questions feel free to ask also. There's nothing better than having a few more actually useful blogs.

     
    Parka, Jan 6, 2009 IP
    Ibn Juferi, markowe and Glottis like this.
  2. markowe

    markowe Well-Known Member

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    #2
    Nice guide! And not trying to sell anything, like many so-called guides I've read here!

    Now how to apply all this to another area, not books, since they are low commission, and you can't really go out and buy all those iPods and Bluray players, but at the same time I also hate "made-up" reviews...
     
    markowe, Jan 7, 2009 IP
  3. morwanneg

    morwanneg Peon

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    #3
    Great guide! I'm sure it'll help the newbies out there.
     
    morwanneg, Jan 7, 2009 IP
  4. Ibn Juferi

    Ibn Juferi Banned

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    #4
    Fantastic post! I am sure it will help anyone who is interested in Amazon as it does me.
     
    Ibn Juferi, Jan 8, 2009 IP
  5. Scripter

    Scripter Peon

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    #5
    That's a really awesome guide, well done!
     
    Scripter, Jan 10, 2009 IP
  6. 60minutesobama

    60minutesobama Peon

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    #6
    Thanks very much. Extremely informative. You are an absolute legend mate.
     
    60minutesobama, Jan 10, 2009 IP
  7. nicesurf

    nicesurf Active Member

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    #7
    Nice post but all people know that..
     
    nicesurf, Jan 11, 2009 IP
    Jenna Appleseed likes this.
  8. sakto

    sakto Active Member

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    #8
    Direct to the point and no ill intentions whatsoever. Thanks.
     
    sakto, Jan 13, 2009 IP
  9. napa

    napa Peon

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    #9
    Quality info, thank you so much.
    Although if I find myself on a site and see something interesting I never click the Amazon.com links, instead I go direct to Amazon.com, it is so easy to find everything there.
     
    napa, Jan 13, 2009 IP
  10. mdvasanth86

    mdvasanth86 Well-Known Member

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    #10
    ROFLMAO!

    You made my day!!
     
    mdvasanth86, Jan 13, 2009 IP
  11. Parka

    Parka Active Member

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    #11
    Updates on why it's not recommended to post multiple related post

    Because Amazon already does that on their page. Chances are they are better at recommending relating items.
     
    Parka, Jan 14, 2009 IP
  12. nhc1987

    nhc1987 Notable Member

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    #12
    Good job!

    I learned some more useful techniques on buying and selling from your post

    Thanks for sharing. Keep it up!
     
    nhc1987, Feb 9, 2009 IP
  13. Parka

    Parka Active Member

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    #13
    Choosing between paid hosting or free hosting (e.g. Blogger, Wordpress.com)

    I've just switched my blog from Blogger to paid hosting.

    Owning your content is extremely important. If you're content is on someone else's server, you're at risk. Risk comes in the form of the free hosting company going down, or they might even just ban you. Sure chances of that is low, but why not make it zero?

    Paid hosting nowadays are relatively cheap anyway. It's well worth the money. Mine's $4.95/month, easily offset by my blog earnings.

    If you're planning something big in the future, paid hosting is the way to go. You can literally customize your blog anyway you like. Put forums, Astore etc.

    My sales have increased since my first post on this page. I could feel my blog's growth potential and that's why I selected paid hosting.
     
    Parka, Feb 12, 2009 IP
  14. BCRed

    BCRed Active Member

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    #14
    Hi Parka, interesting thread. Considering you're selling books have you considered using other affiliate programs other than just Amazon. You can pretty effectively combine affiliate links with Alibris, Abe, BookCloseouts etc, without really cannibalizing Amazon sales. This is particularly effective for offering readers used copies as opposed to new. While Amazon are certainly dominant in new books, they aren't usually the best in prices when it comes to used.
     
    BCRed, Feb 16, 2009 IP
  15. Parka

    Parka Active Member

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    #15
    Thanks for the note on other book sellers. I'll definitely be checking them out.

    So far I've read a bit on their affiliate programs. They seem to offer a longer cookie period (30 days) as oppose to Amazon. Very interesting.
     
    Parka, Feb 16, 2009 IP
  16. BCRed

    BCRed Active Member

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    #16
    Most other places you look at will be having much longer cookie lives, largely in an attempt to compete for affiliates in Amazon. The main benefit you get with Amazon is their reputation, you'll have high conversion rates because their brand is so trusted.

    I think you'd see a lot of benefit linking through to a different bookstore such as Abe (on Google Affiliate Network) or Alibris (on Linkshare) for used books, as those sites are very competitive on price in the used market segment.

    Ive actually got some experience in this area so pm me if you want to discuss it further.
     
    BCRed, Feb 16, 2009 IP
  17. Lpe04

    Lpe04 Peon

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    #17
    Good post. Thanks.
     
    Lpe04, Feb 16, 2009 IP
  18. Afgunz

    Afgunz Banned

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    #18
    nice job...
     
    Afgunz, Feb 20, 2009 IP
  19. andaman

    andaman Peon

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    #19
    thx for ur tips
     
    andaman, Feb 20, 2009 IP
  20. chelle

    chelle Member

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    #20
    Amazon is interesting. What I understand the least is that not one person has ever bought anything I've ever recommended on any of my sites...yet they've bought other (completely unrelated) things. Like I might link to a movie...they will buy a toothbrush. I have a lot to learn obviously, so nice little intro to using Amazon :)
     
    chelle, Feb 20, 2009 IP