In June, when Amazon shut its affiliate program to California residents, it threatened to displace more than 25,000 affiliate marketers who were making money from the Amazon Associates program, one of the most well established and respected affiliate programs in the United States.
Many of these affiliates are discussing leaving affiliate marketing altogether, assuming that this is the beginning of the end.
Where they go and what they do for a living is up in the air. Others are choosing to fight back. Some are moving the legal address of their affiliate businesses outside of California and some are legal action.
Can you make money from Amazon Associates?
If you’re a new or intermediate affiliate considering working with the Amazon Associates program, you’re probably wondering if you can make money from this program.
While Amazon’s program is impressive, you might look at the relatively low commission rates (4-8%) and wonder if it’s really worth the effort to sell Amazon’s products as an affiliate marketer.
Volume can replace high commission
However, there is one thing that can make up for a low commission rate, and that’s volume. Because Amazon is one of the best-known brands in e-commerce, you’ll have a much easier time converting people from readers to buyers.
Why? Because Amazon, which is on track to sell more than $40 billion (USD) of merchandise and services in 2011, has an enormous customer base. And millions of people have Amazon accounts and recognize the Amazon brand.
That makes it much easier to sell affiliate products through your website.
But you can’t expect to simply post an Amazon banner on your blog and start cashing checks. That’s just not going to happen. To make money from Amazon, you need to use the same kind of targeting strategy you’d use on any other kind of affiliate site.
Start by finding a keyword with low competition that has products you can potentially sell on your site. The more brand names associated with your keyword, the better.
Take this screenshot of the Google Keyword Tool results for “ladders” as an example.
The keyword “ladder” is enormous, with more than 4 million searches a month and “medium” competition. But that’s not targeted enough. Instead, look at the brand names in the results: “Keller ladders,” “Werner ladder” and “Louisville Ladder.” Of all three of these, “Louisville Ladder presents the best opportunity, with 9,900 searches per month and low competition.
With prices on ladders ranging from around $100 USD and up, this could be a great opportunity.
Pick the right niche
One challenge you’ll encounter is finding the right niche. Some of Amazon’s niches are great, but commissions are low (CDs, books, digital downloads). And some are crowded (electronics, computers), which means you’ll have a tough time getting natural search traffic to your site.
Make your content great, don’t rely on Amazon’s tools
When you do your research on affiliate marketing, you’ll find that many websites and gurus offer the same advice. You need to win your audience’s trust before trying to sell to them. And the best way to do that is through great content.
Give them advice on how to use the products you’re promoting. Help them understand the advantages and disadvantages of each brand. Write “top 10” lists of great products.
Don’t, however, rely on Amazon’s widgets to get sales. You’ll get much better results by linking within your content. Those widgets will help, but you’ll get many more sales by linking in your content.
Focus your efforts on the peak shopping season – November and December. If you get started now building your site and loading it with great content, you’ll be in a great position to make some money this holiday season.
And don’t, by any means, waste your time setting up one of Amazon’s “A Stores.” They have a reputation for underperforming, or worse, not converting at all.
Don’t give up
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And if you’re building, or rebuilding, your affiliate business, it will take time to develop great content and get traffic to your site.
But if you keep working at it, you will get results. And Amazon’s Associates program is a great program to participate in when you’re first getting started.
What’s your experience been with Amazon’s affiliate program? Please leave your feedback in the comments.