1. Do not use Amazon.com banner ads: 5% of total 2009 earnings
Even though I made 5% of my total earnings from Amazon banner ads (which is the same amount as the Buy Now buttons I implemented on my websites) it’s important to recognize just how much screen real estate I devoted to their use (most times a 468 x 60 ad and a 300 x 250 rotating ad unit with Google Adsense both above the fold). The reason why I believe these ads perform so poorly is two fold:
a. Web visitors avoid clicking advertisements in general, but I’ve found the Amazon ads especially tend to convert very poorly (all varieties)
b. The ads Amazon does offer are far too general and don’t work well for niche specific websites. i.e. if I was running a site focused on just LED HDTV’s the closest ad I could use is one for electronics.
The most effective Amazon ads I did run were carousel widgets and even those performed poorly when compared to the tactics I know work. One unknown trick is to simply create your own ads for products on Amazon; however, you must email the customer service team to get approval before running them (if you want to play it safe that is, which I always tend to do). The ads I did go through the hassle of creating and getting approval for were even more effective than the carousel widgets, but again none of these solutions were as effective as linking to content within posts my most effective means of earning money from Amazon. In fact, as you can see from the last post I earned over 80% of my total income share based on in content related tactics.
More terrible ways to make money with Amazon Associates are continued after the break
2. Do not use an Amazon store: 1.2% of total 2009 earnings
I used Amazon stores for almost every one of my websites in 2009 and linked to the store via the navigation bar on each respective website. I would also link to the store from time to time when new products were made available for purchase. In the store I’d include products that were related to the niche and include both low priced items and high priced items. I’d also customize the color scheme to match the site in an attempt to make the appearance look seamless. So what I’m trying to get across is that I did everything right that Amazon describes for the best results and I still couldn’t any money. I wouldn’t even waste your effort building a store and instead use the space freed up in the navigation bar to link to “money articles” or categories.
3. Do not display ads unrelated to your niche
This is an obvious tip in my mind, but I’ve seen new and experienced bloggers alike use Amazon consumer electronic banner ads on their blog about puppies (as an example). At the very least display ads related to dog toys and even then that’s not going to make you much money as you can see from my results above. It’s all about staying within the confines of your niche if you want to get the best results. Remember, people came to your blog, website, forum etc. for the topic you’re covering – that’s it! So your readers will respond best to content related to your niche.
4. Do not link to Amazon products in every single one of your posts
You don’t want your readers to think the only reason why you’re writing something is so that you can sell them on a new product (even if that’s the only reason why you’re blogging in the first place). Instead you need to mix up the frequency with which you link to Amazon products in your posts. I believe this can vary greatly by the niche you’re in. If you’re a tech blogger and you cover the latest and greatest products you can get away with doing so much easier than if you’re a blogger writing about how to make a living online. Using this blog here as an example, the only time I’ll link to an Amazon product is once or twice (max) per month and the only time I would do that is if I was reviewing a book like Crush It! (which coincidentally I’ll write a review on as soon as I find a way to get off of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and devote more time to reading).
5. Do not abuse the trust of your readers
Never recommend a product that you yourself would not spend your money on. If you give everything a good review in the hopes of earning more a few sales I assure you that in the end this will hurt you. The more you can build the trust of your readers by recommending great products the better. I’ve had multiple readers refer friends to websites I own because of the free help I’ve provided through the content I publish online or via personal email interactions. These situations could have just as easily gone the other way if I tried to earn an extra sale by recommending a shoddy product.
As you can tell one of the worst ways to make money online is by using the resources Amazon provides. This is why so many people complain they can’t make money from Amazon’s affiliate program. It would be great to just put up an Amazon store, throw up some Amazon banners and watch the money roll in but it doesn’t work like that. I spent a considerable portion of my time optimizing the best ways to make money on Amazon and time and time again across multiple websites the same dismal results showed through with Amazon banner ads and Amazon stores. Beyond abusing the trust of your readers and going overboard with excessive linking – what are some other ways you’ve tried to make money with Amazon’s affiliate program and failed?
Update: I’ve greatly expanded upon the principals I shared in this post and put together an entire video training course that teaches you start to finish everything it takes to be successful making money with Amazon Associates. You can get access to this course for free. See more details about it here:
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