We tend to like things the easy way.
But today we’re going to discuss 3 strategies for making more money as an Amazon Affiliate that aren’t so easy.
They aren’t difficult in a technical sense, but they are going to take some time, some effort, some know-how, some stick-to-itiveness, and probably some other things.
We’ll also share a couple of stories of people who’ve actually done these things with a great amount of success.
Amazon Affiliate Sites and Amazon Associates – Brief Intro
If you’re a blogger at almost any level, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the Amazon Associates program.
If you aren’t familiar with how the Amazon Associates program works, click here for their getting started tour.
Here is my CliffsNotes version of how the program works, if this is all new to you:
Amazon Associates is an affiliate program which allows you to send people to Amazon via personalized links (that they give you) and then earn a commission if that visitor makes a purchase. The visitor doesn’t have to purchase the item you linked to – the commission would apply to any purchase they make on Amazon over the next 24 hours. Generally, commissions range from 4% – 8.5% of the purchase price, based on how many sales you refer in a given month.
Since Amazon sells over 250 million different products in the US alone, it’s easy to see why so many bloggers use their program:
1. No matter your niche, they likely sell stuff your audience will want
2. Many people are loyal customers to Amazon and some pay extra for fast shipping with Amazon Prime
3. Since Amazon sells such a variety of things, it’s not uncommon for you to get commissions on completely unrelated products.
I won’t spend anymore time explaining the “how and why” of Amazon Associates. I’m going to assume you are on board and already see the potential value of having a successful Amazon affiliate site.
While the technical aspects for getting started with the Amazon Associates program are pretty easy, being a really successful Amazon affiliate is not.
Here are 3 ways to make more as an Amazon affiliate, if you’re willing to work for it…
1. Don’t Look Like A Typical Affiliate Site
If you’ve been around for a little while, you can smell a “typical” affiliate site the moment the page loads. It doesn’t feel like a real brand and it seems like everything on the site only exists to get you to go to Amazon and buy whatever it is that they are “reviewing.”
I’m not saying you can’t make money this way, but I would contend that those who integrate Amazon affiliate links into a branded, authority site will earn considerably more over time.
What might this look like?
Check out what Brian Lam and the team does over at The Wirecutter.
They write real, in-depth product reviews and comparisons. In the context of those reviews, they have affiliate links to go purchase the product from Amazon, like this:
Besides specific guides like “The Best Android Phone” they also do wider categories like the best gear for travel. Notice that they have a custom designed feature image which further creates a sense of trust with the user that this is a legit, trustworthy site.
In their guide to the best travel gear, they cover just about everything you can think of.
Bluetooth speakers, luggage, pillows, towels, and much more.
If you want to buy any of the travel gear they recommend, guess where they send you to buy it?
The entire experience at the Wire Cutter demonstrates that they are truly experts in the topics they cover. In the end, you’d almost feel dumb for not buying the product that they recommend.
That is the recipe for an Amazon affiliate site that rakes in money.
Just How Well Do They Do?
The powerful thing about following a model like the Wire Cutter is how willing people are to take your recommendation. After all, many of your visitors have come to your site because they are intent on making a purchase and you’ve just delivered almost everything they need to know in order to make an informed buying decision.
According to a 2012 article in the New York Times about The Wire Cutter: “The vast majority of its revenue comes from fees paid by affiliates, mostly Amazon, for referrals to their sites… In fact, 10 to 20 percent of its visitors click on links, a rate that would make ad sellers drool.”
They go onto say “Mr. Lam’s revenue is low, about $50,000 a month, but it’s doubling every quarter, enough to pay his freelancers, invest in the site and keep him in surfboards.”
That was in 2012…
How You Can Do the Same
Let’s be honest, going from nothing to The Wire Cutter is a monumental task. However, you should be encouraged that according to the same Times article, Brian Lam did “bootstrap” that site with no outside investors.
Fortunately in 2015, there are so many cheap and free tools available for website design, graphic design, and other services that you can look much bigger than you really are without spending a fortune.
I’m also going to assume that many of you wouldn’t need to make 6 figures per month – you’d be thrilled to make just a few thousand, which is much more doable.
The key takeaway for you should be that if you are building an Amazon affiliate site, you should only do it with excellence. Yes, that will take more time and effort… but that’s kinda the point! There are tons of low quality Amazon affiliate sites out there, but there are very few Wire Cutters.
Here are few tips:
- Really know your niche, or hire an expert/writer that does. Expertise or lack thereof will show through
- Don’t forsake design. You have less than a second before a user forms an opinion of your site.
- Use Canva to design first class images like “The Best Travel Gear” above. It’s fast and free.
- Once you start to grow, seek out influencers in your space to contribute to your site. Here is advice on how to do it.
2. Target Buyer Keywords
We’ve already established that your site has to cut the mustard. You need to look the part and provide high quality, accurate and helpful content to your users. In return, many will trust what you tell them and buy the products you recommend.
But what is the best way to get potential buyers on your site?
One of the most effective (and free) ways is to target the right “buyer keywords” in your content. Buyer keywords are simply phrases that one searches which show clear intent to buy something. Maybe it’s “Brand A vs. Brand B” or “Best Laptop for $500” etc.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
Let’s assume you are doing an Amazon affiliate site that is all about tires. You are going to review car tires of all shapes and sizes.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your site could rank on page 1 for “tires” or “car tires?”
It just isn’t going to happen. Let’s look at “Tires” in Long Tail Platinum:
It gets searched over 300,000 times per month, with a keyword competitiveness score of 55. The top 10 results are littered with the big guys in the industry like Cooper Tire, Tirerack.com, Sears, etc.
Somehow I don’t see some site called www.best-tire-reviews-2015.com cracking the top 10 here…
Focus on the Positive
You can absolutely build a niche/authority site about tires and do very well by targeting the right buyer keywords.
If you are looking for some ideas of terms that typically show up in buyer keywords, check out the list from Niche Hacks. Best, avoid, compare, dependable, how to get rid of, are just a small sampling of things that can show buyer intent.
To illustrate the point, someone simply searching “tires” doesn’t have the clearest of intent. What exactly do they want to know about tires? It could be simply doing general research, looking for bike tires, and tons of other possibilities.
However, the guy searching “best tires for driving in snow” has a very clear intent. You know what he’s looking for and your site has a much better chance to rank in Google for “best tires for driving in snow” than you do “tires.”
Here’s how you can use Long Tail Platinum to look for keyword ideas that contain buyer intent. Notice in this search, I’m using “tires” as a seed keyword and then adding “best” to the list of words that it must include. Therefore, all my keyword ideas will include the word “best.”
Now I’ve got a bunch of keywords to analyze the competition for:
Focus on the Negative
On the flip side, don’t forget about the “negative” keywords.
Many people are looking for “problems with” or “complaints about” certain brands or certain types of products. When you can provide content that addresses those problems, again you have the opportunity to present a solution.
It might go something like this:
“Yes, the Cooper x3000’s have problems in the snow. However, if you do X, Y, and Z you should be just fine! If you live in an area with large amounts of snow, then I’d suggest taking a look at our highest rated snow tire the Goodyear B105 (Amazon affiliate link).”
Here’s another example where something negative can be a selling opportunity:
Somebody searching “how to get rid steering wheel vibration” is someone whose problem might be solved by getting a new set of tires. By educating that person on the common causes of your steering wheel vibrating (like worn out tires), you then have the opportunity to suggest a recommended set of tires to them.
If you cover both good and bad buyer keywords, you’ll have many more opportunities to recommend products as an affiliate.
[su_note]Start finding your best buyer keyword for free! Click Here to try Long Tail Pro[/su_note]
3. Let Your Passion Guide You
Before you start rolling your eyes, hear me out on this one.
You’ve probably seen and heard countless times to “follow your passion” and things will work out.
That’s not exactly what I’m saying here.
However, I want to show you a brilliant example of someone who started with a mission they were passionate about, and later turned it into Amazon affiliate income.
Enter Jason and Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food.
According to their story, they are parents of 2 kids who were eating a “diet” just like a typical American family. Then, in early 2010 they learned about the importance of eating non-processed food and what the benefits could be.
They started a personal challenge to cut all processed food from their family diet after reading “In Defense of Food.”
Lisa says “It’s been such an eye opening experience for us that we didn’t want to keep all this exciting information to ourselves. So soon after we started making changes I launched a blog called The Food Illusion…”
The original blog turned into a challenge, which ultimately became 100 Days of Real Food.
Interestingly enough, I’ve personally been a reader of Lisa’s blog for a year or two and never even realized that being an Amazon affiliate was part of their business plan.
I was drawn in by the clever ideas for eating well on a budget, real food substitutes for picky eaters, tips for what to have in your kitchen, etc.
More recently, I discovered her husband Jason’s blog which gives insight into how they make money on their real food site. According to his report, they do make a full-time income blogging and about 23% of that comes from affiliate sales (mostly Amazon.)
The most relevant piece of this story is their mentality going in.
They didn’t start by saying “I’d really like to make an Amazon affiliate site, what can we do it about?”
Instead, actual life events led them to sharing their story about healthy eating, which turned into a natural opportunity to make money as an Amazon affiliate (among other things.)
That is a HUGE difference.
As we stated at the very beginning, Amazon sells just about every kind of product that you can imagine. So while some niches may be more lucrative than others, if you are creative enough there are probably opportunities to incorporate Amazon affiliate links in a site that is focused on what you are truly passionate about.
Here’s how 100 Days of Real Food did it:
I love learning from examples, and Jason was generous enough to share a blog post that lists their top 10 pages for Amazon affiliate income. Here is a link to the full post.
I’m including the list here if you want to check out some of the pages:
It’s interesting that they have several different types of pages/posts here that are performing well. It really helps cement the point earlier about the variety of keywords that can really be buyer keywords if you structure it properly.
They have “tutorial” posts like “how to use thermos food jars” which answers the question and then links to their preferred thermos on Amazon.
They have lists posts like “10 ways to switch up your kids lunch” where again they will give authentic product recommendations in the context of a very helpful post.
They also have pages that are still helpful, but were likely built with the intent to sell – such as “recommended reading” and “my kitchen essentials.”
In the blog post referenced earlier, Jason said “Talk about products you actually use and recommend. People actually value a legitimate product review, and providing examples of the product in use can make people want to buy.”
Again – this is a shift in mentality.
The site is there to genuinely help people first, not to sell products.
Hopefully you’ve come away with at least one thing that you can use to make more money as an Amazon affiliate.
The good news is also the bad news…
Doing each of these things takes time and effort. It’s good news because most of your competitors aren’t willing to dig into keyword research and build high quality sites that provide true value to the user.
It’s bad news because you can’t be a success overnight. However, you can start today!
Have any other advice to add, please share below in the comments!