You love to share your favorite products with your blog readers. You love the notion of making money blogging. And you are sold on the idea of having a creative outlet and making bank by doing what you love.
But there’s a tiny little problem. You can’t seem to grasp how it all works. And you make mistakes. You struggle because deep inside you know blogging should feel amazing. Instead, you feel overwhelmed and confused.
I was you once.
I joined the Amazon affiliate program what seems ages ago. And for the longest of time, I only made cents with it. I didn’t have a strategy and I didn’t make a point of including special links in my content.
Obviously, you can’t earn an affiliate commission if you don’t do as much as place affiliate links in your posts. It’s like expecting to win the lottery without ever buying a ticket.
Oh, and I was biased because I thought it was impossible to cash in monthly checks by curating inexpensive rose gold office supplies and recommending AmazonFresh to busy boss babes who don’t have time to go grocery shopping.
But with 100 million Prime subscribers and over 40% of all e-commerce sales in the U.S. taking place on Amazon, not leveraging the power of this giant would mean leaving money on the table.
As reflected in my first income report, I didn’t place any Amazon affiliate links in the first month of this blog. But then I decided to give Amazon Associates a second change (and actually take it seriously this time) and out of the first $1,000 I cashed in from this blog, over 40% were made through Amazon. (If you are new to affiliate marketing, you might also want to read my affiliate marketing tips for beginners.)
I put myself in my readers’ shoes and learned all about the different ways you can promote Amazon products. And then I started seeing my commissions take off (I share my best strategies in my eBook, How to Make Money as an Amazon Affiliate).
‘If you’re a blogger and you have a hunch that your audience shops on Amazon as well, I highly recommend investing in this eBook. You won’t find anything more in-depth, and so well-written that even a non-techy would understand. Not to mention that it’s one of the prettiest designed eBooks I’ve ever read!”
– Ana Savuica, TheSheApproach.com
Like most bloggers, you are probably an Amazon Associate. And like many bloggers, you are probably struggling to make more than a few bucks per month with Amazon.
So you should know that there’s a right and there’s a wrong way of including Amazon links in your content.
If you are making these mistakes when you share Amazon affiliate links… stop. Because they could get your account closed.
Mistake #1 | You include your special links where you shouldn’t
Amazon wants their affiliate links where they can see them. This means you cannot hide your affiliate links behind a subscription wall or a log in button. You are not allowed to share your affiliate links in closed Facebook groups, on personal Facebook profiles, your newsletter, ebook or even a PDF you give away for free to your readers.
Mistake #2 | You shorten your links or cloak them
Amazon has their own link shortener – amzn.to. If you want to shorten those long, ugly affiliate links, this is what you should be using; not bit.ly or any other link shortener. Amazon makes it so easy to create short links. Don’t complicate your life unnecessarily.
However, more tempting than link shortening is link cloaking. I personally love using a plugin called Pretty Links for all my affiliate links, except Amazon links. Amazon won’t allow link cloaking. They want readers to know you are linking to Amazon. And given the massive trust they’ve garnered, this works to your advantage as well.
Mistake #3 | You mention item prices in your posts
Amazon is an incredibly dynamic online store. Merchants can (and most likely will) change their prices over time. Amazon will run promos for certain trending products or product categories.
I’ve actually noticed this first hand. I published several adult coloring books with them a couple of years ago and they always seem to have these massive sales around the holidays.
Amazon is super invested in providing accurate information and product descriptions. They don’t want their customers to be misled by outdated prices. At the end of the day, this can also work to your advantage. Mentioning the full price for a product that’s currently discounted can mean missed sales and commissions.
Now I can certainly see the appeal of showing prices on your blog together with the product review, and there’s actually a way to do this through the PA API. I explain how this can be done in How to Make Money as an Amazon Affiliate.
Mistake #4 | You use customer reviews as your own
Amazon is happy for you to write your own product reviews (in your own words and based on your own personal experience). But they are totally against their affiliates copy + pasting customer reviews from their site to use as their own.
Even if you credit the original customer who posted the review, this is still not okay. That’s because customers can edit their reviews and star ratings at any time. A buyer who was happy with her dress when she first got it and left a stellar review, can come back a few days later and change it in case the fabric turned up to be crap after machine washing it.
Mistake #5 | You make no sales for 6 months
Amazon lets you create special links to use on your blog or social networks from day one of signing up for an affiliate account. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods just yet. You have to refer a minimum of 3 sales in the first 6 months or your affiliate account will be closed.
What’s maybe even more disconcerting is that by the end of the 6 months, you’ve most likely put in tons of work and wrote blog post after blog post around various products. If your account gets closed, you’ll be left with a bunch of broken links and content that makes no sense and serves no purpose.
Say you reapply when you have more traffic and have built a community around your blog. But your new affiliate ID will be different so you’ll have to redo all the links. That’s a colossal waste of time if you ask me. So you better do your very best to close at least 3 sales in the first few months.
This shouldn’t be difficult at all, and even if you have a small blog, you can still do it.
I constantly make $100+ in Amazon commissions for every 3,000 visitors this blog receives. I used to do this even when my blog wasn’t getting more than a handful of pageviews per day. In How to Make Money as an Amazon Affiliate I teach you everything I’ve learned about promoting Amazon products that people can’t wait to purchase!
Mistake #6 | You don’t disclose your affiliation
To stay on the FTC’s good side you must let readers know that you have a financial relationship with certain companies and if they click through one of your affiliate links and make a purchase, you’ll earn a commission.
In their Operating Agreement, Amazon gives you the exact wording you should use in relation to them – “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
If you have an older account, you might be using a different phrase. Amazon says that using ‘any substantially similar statement previously allowed’ under the Operating Agreement is just as good.
Mistake #7 | You pester your close friends and family to buy through your Amazon affiliate links
While this can be annoying for them and uncomfortable for you, this is not the only reason I highly encourage you not to do it.
The Associates Program Policies states: ‘You will not directly or indirectly purchase any Product(s) through Special Links, whether for your use of for the use of any other person or entity, and you will not permit, request or encourage any of your friends, relatives, employees, contractors, or business relations to directly or indirectly purchase any Product(s) through Special Links, whether for their use, your use or the use of any other person or entity.’
So they not only prohibit you from referring yourself. They are not happy about you asking your loved ones to buy through your affiliate links in order to manipulate your earnings either.
Amazon used to ban accounts if the owners made purchases through their affiliate links.
After talking with several other bloggers, it seems that nowadays, purchases made by close friends and family members are likely not to be considered ‘qualifying purchases’, which means you won’t get a commission on them.
Don’t ask me how Amazon knows this stuff (it probably has something to do with IPs and social media interaction), but they know.
Banning or not, I still wouldn’t want to anger the Amazon gods. Better to prevent than cure, right?
Feeling inspired to put Amazon back on your to-do list?
Make sure to check out my eBook, How to Make Money as an Amazon Affiliate. It’s probably the most thorough resource on the subject if I may say so myself. I keep on receiving emails from readers raving about it!
‘I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you so much for this eBook! I just finished reading it, for the second time. I didn’t want it to end! (I know, I’m a nerd, ha!) It has taught me a great deal and given me so much more confidence with affiliate marketing. It’s so wonderfully written, it really was a joy to read. I recommend it all the time. I can’t help but rave about it. It truly was a huge help!’
– Jeannie Daigneault, JeanniesVirtualDesk.net
Amazon’s affiliate program can quickly add to your bottom line. They already have a huge customer base, are widely trusted, and your audience will never have second thoughts about buying from them through your link.
Plus it has this huge advantage that it can work for pretty much any niche. Awesome, right?
Hey girl hey! I’m a writer, designer and the creator of I Am Unstoppable: A Journal For Winning At Life. I’m on a mission to inspire and empower women to simplify their blogs and business so they can show up for their dreams in a sustainable way. I also love to travel, play with kitties and decorate my home.