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Top 5 Worst Ways to Make Money with Amazon Associates

Earlier this week I shared the top 7 tips I used to earn $41,438.42 with Amazon Associates in 2009. Today I’m going to show you the 7 worst ways to make money with Amazon Associates. I’m using data from over 40 different tracking codes I used during 2009 so that I can show you with actual numbers the worst ways to make money with Amazon Associates.

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.

Wrap Up

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?

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53 comments… add one

  1. I think that some of it are elementary.

    btw, when are you going to share which sites you are using Amazon on?
    .-= Palabuzz´s last blog ..Darna and Last Prince battling over rating according to AGB =-.

    Reply
  2. Palabuzz, I suppose I can agree with you on that point but I also continue to see websites running Amazon banner ads AND ones that aren’t even related to their niche either.

    Also, be showing my results by running them with respect to my overall earnings it helps to further drive home my point about just how terrible they are.

    I run Amazon on every single website I own (about 20) but a smaller portion contribute most of the earnings. I’ll share this info at a later date. I can still prove points without having to show off all the sites I run – besides there are always people that try to compete right?

    Reply
  3. Great info Chris! I’m curious, do you use the crappy links that Amazon gives you in from Amazon Associates Central, or create them some other way?

    Reply
  4. Thank you for all the great posts from last year! I look forward to reading your blog, because they are always full of information that I can put to use. Thank you again, and God bless you in 2010.

    Reply
  5. @Jeremy actually I just use the links Amazon provides. I’ve heard it’s better to cloak them etc. but the way I see it is that so many people trust Amazon using a link that reads as: http://www.amazon.com/blahblahetcetc will get more clickthroughs than a link that’s cloaked.

    Reply
  6. Hey Chris. Great info here, mate. Have you tried the “My Favorites” widget from Amazon? Seems way better than the carousel widget and you can add comments on each product within the ad.

    Reply
  7. Hey Andrew, I have but only to a limited extent. I’ve found that the more I tried to rely on Amazon’s own system to help sell products the worst I was able to perform. :(

    Reply
  8. Great article man! Keep up the useful content. This is quite interesting.
    .-= PDXReader´s last blog ..Will Coca Trio Live Thursday! =-.

    Reply
  9. I spent a fair amount of time getting an Amazon store set up on my golf blog but it seems to be a waste of time at this point. If (when) I get a golf forum going then that may be a more appropriate place to set something like this up, but I believe that I’ll end up taking it off the blog at some point soon.

    Like you recommend in your previous article, I’ll focus on product links within posts periodically.
    .-= LoneWolf´s last blog ..Battling Comment Spam =-.

    Reply
    1. Yah don’t even bother with the Amazon store. Yah they’re ok for driving a little revenue but not very much at all when compared to what you can do by linking via in content etc.

      Reply
  10. Hi Chris,

    Each time I read your email or the posts on this site, I always learn something new. Thanks

    I am now planning to build a large site to sell Amazon products under a generic domain but with the main keyword in it eg. candycotton rather than any specific product names. This is because Amazon has a ton of low-priced products under the same niche which makes it impractical to dedicate a domain name to any single specific product. Do you think this is a good idea.

    Another thing, do you purchase all the products that you are writing a review on?

    Greg

    Reply
    1. Hey Greg,

      Yes I think that could be a good idea to try out (go broad but still specific enough to rank in search engines). No I don’t, companies either send me products and/or I just look at other reviews from around the web. (Almost everyone else just does this as well anyway)

      Chris

      Reply
  11. Another awesome article! I think I am going hit that making money on Facebook article next:) Thanks again Chris!

    J

    The Cartoon Coach
    .-= Carstarphen´s last blog ..The Difference Between “Looking” and “Being” =-.

    Reply
  12. Do you think you’ll share one of the mini-sites with your readers? I’d be interested to see if its more of a blog/review site with links into amazon, or a portal that’s basically designed to draw in traffic and then run by itself a bit more
    .-= James Nissen´s last blog ..The Shark Tank =-.

    Reply
    1. If I do share some of the sites I run I have to be prepared to lose the income from them, so what I’ll likely do is show them in some sort of a paid program or something (I’ve had numerous people request that I do something like this). But it’s not really one specific type of website though. Yes I have some review sites but I also have some general info sites as well. The key is how you present the links, which what frequency and in which channels (i.e. both on the website itself and via email follow ups etc.)

      Reply
      1. Completely understand Chris. (Just throwing out this idea): What may be cool is getting some screen captures going as you look for a new niche to make a site for, but I don’t know if that would give away too many of your methods for now.

        Since they are video, they could even get streamed into a PDF, and could make for a great free download for the site
        .-= James Nissen´s last blog ..The Shark Tank =-.

        Reply
  13. Hey Chris,

    Thanks for the reply. Doubtless, there must be many people wanting to take a peek at your sites since there are review sites as well as general info sites to target Amazon.

    If you are planning a paid product in the future, I hope you can offer it first as a WSO and please do inform your subscribers.

    I know that just a few months back at least 2 guys had already launched their WSO Amazon courses. But I believe that yours could be different when you concentrate on the conversion aspects which you are best at. That way I don’t have to build 100s of sites.

    Greg

    Reply
    1. I’m guessing they sold at prices below $50 and now they sell for $97 or something like that?

      Reply
  14. Very interesting points. I’ve debated about putting up an Amazon store, but haven’t for various reasons. I do have My Favorites widgets on a set of pages on my blog site, but don’t know how effective they are. I feature individual products often and have what I call my Amazon Pick of the Week with the product image prominently displayed. What do you think of that idea?
    .-= John´s last blog ..Shop Burpee.com for Your Survival Gardening Needs =-.

    Reply
    1. It all depends on the niche, but as I stated in the article above the worst ways to make money are using an Amazon store and their various widgets so I wouldn’t even bother with those.

      Reply
  15. I have definitely made the first 4 mistakes (and am still making them in part because I’m having trouble monetizing one of my sites). However one of my other sites is doing well with Amazon, and 99% of the sales come from links within the blog posts (as you said in your Top 7 tips post). Since I read the top 7 post a few days ago, I’ve started adding links on a bunch of my pictures, and it’s already seemed to increase sales on those posts! I hadn’t done it before because I couldn’t figure out how to use the Amazon code on images, but I realized you can alter the code and it will still work.

    My biggest gripe with Amazon is the way they handle discontinued products. It just goes to a page that says “this product is not available” or something like that, but it doesn’t offer you alternative choices of stuff to buy. I would say 20% of my older links were doing this. So while you still get the 24 hour cookie, I doubt many people stay on Amazon to look around after that since there’s nothing to click on, except the homepage link.
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..KISS Guitar Picks =-.

    Reply
  16. I forgot to mention the other thing I started doing a few days ago is opening all outside links (including Amazon links) in a new window – before I had them all open on the same page. I know some people get annoyed with this, but I also monetize my other site with google ads, and I wanted to see if it would have a positive effect on the CTR (so far it has – could be a fluke though). It’s a pain to update all the links!
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..KISS Guitar Picks =-.

    Reply
    1. Hmmm, I’ve never tried opening the links in a second window but perhaps I may test that out as well…

      Reply
    2. Hi Jen,

      This is a good idea. I have been opening all external links in a new window for years now. It has been working greatly. I still have a large portion of my visitors drop from pages right away (bounce rate,) but it definitively has a positive effect.

      This is particularly true if your link is near the top of the article. Lower down doesn’t matter since the user already pretty much read the whole thing.

      I don’t recall having anyone say it was bad to get links in a new window (or tab) in a long long time…

      Reply
  17. Wow! You must have been looking at my niche sites when you wrote this. I’ve tried all of the Amazon gadgets, stores, etc. on my niche sites to no avail. My first Amazon sale (other than books from a book review site) was off a Squidoo lens just last week. Just started connecting with you and this site, so now I am going to read the related Amazon article. Thank you for this information; it certainly confirms what has been happening on my sites.

    Reply
  18. nice tips

    Reply
  19. Wow making money without a job has sometimes on the occasion been really hard; usually I get some programs and work from those. although they are extremely expensive! Trying to make money without any sort of job experience is even harder. Some stuff is just useless, however this post really helped me out. Great Information! :)

    Reply
  20. I have an Amazon store for close to a year now but have not realized any sales from it. To be honest I have not done much with the store since starting it but have now decided to concentrate on it. That is my reason for doing a search for ideas and I came across your blog. Thanks for the tips. I will definitely be checking out a few more of your blogs. Thanks for sharing.

    Treating Cancer with A Natural Product: Soursop
    http://hubpages.com/_1xbypcoxa12kd/hub/Treating-Cancer-with-A-Natural-Product-Soursop

    Reply
  21. Great article! I have definitely making all of the mistakes you describe.

    Reply
  22. thanks for the useful tips. that was quite handy in designing one of my sites

    Reply
  23. Wow, a lot of absolutely GREAT content and informations I found out from this article… Thanks a lot for sharing these infos, I surely think, now my earnings will start raising, thanks to you. I’ll start right away using the tips found in this article. I also didn’t knew that trick of simply creating my own ads for products on Amazon… really nice. Have a great day, Maria.

    Reply
  24. Great advice.

    Has anyone here tried using CPA offers on their sites? I was just wondering if it effects the CTR to Amazon as people who are in a buying mode most likely wouldn’t get distracted by a CPA offer i would have thought although it would be good to hear people’s experience.

    Reply
  25. Daily niche site ideas that you can monetize with Amazon Associates can be found on my website. I use micro niche sites paired with Amazon Associates to make a semi-passive income each month. You too can cash in on the lucrative opportunities that exist in micro niche sites. Check it out!

    Reply
  26. I like your principles! Thank you so much for the tips.. I’m thinking to join Amazon and I could use your tips here..

    Reply
  27. All doable opportunities but first you have to commit yourself to doing ‘something’ and then you have to ‘do it’. Not always an easy thing for most people.

    If you have a natural entrepreneurial spirit, a skill, you’re a self-starter and you have the will to be successful, you’ll be on your way ;-)

    Reply
  28. I understand the reason not to use amazon but what would be better? I get pretty good click throughs with Amazon but no conversion :(

    Reply
  29. Awesome blog, It’s so infomative and usefull, thanks a lot! If you post more of this great stuff, I’ll visit your blog again!

    Reply
  30. Thank you Chris,

    Ive just ‘hit’ your page today.. Thank you for your hints…
    I hope to be able to put some of these into practice.

    Thanks again..

    Blog Newbie……

    Reply
  31. Awesome Post, It’s so infomative and great stuff, I’ll visit your blog again!

    Reply
  32. Amazon knows well every day and every day it is purchased worldwide via Amazon Shop. The selection of products is as follows unbelievable that can work with almost any web page offers something to suit. Be it books, electronic products like televisions, computers, or other BlueRay players, children’s products, cosmetics or clothing. You will find everything on Amazon!

    The commissions are at Amazon, however, relatively small. As an affiliate you get at the beginning only 4-5% of the sold item. For electronic products, it is a little more (if I remember correctly). Amazon moves in a relay process and you always get a bit more when the next threshold has been reached on product sales.

    Basically, Amazon is a good choice for webmasters and you can find your way around fairly quickly with the affiliate. The generation of products links and widgets takes seconds and you can embed the same advertising and make money with Amazon. Have fun and good sales.

    Reply
  33. Agree on all what you said , I usually use text only in my posts , If not i design my own custom Ads and link them with amazon!

    Reply
  34. this make me to more and more learning amazon ads deeply,,,

    Reply
  35. Interesting views-anyone with an idea of the best perfoming products categories at amazon?

    Reply
  36. Good info – I came across your stuff while listening to Pat Flynn’s passive income podcast – that was a really good episode (actually, I think you were on two episodes). Just wanted to say thanks for the good info and advice/data.

    Reply
  37. Good info, I always try to maintain that. If you see my site, I have all sorts of information and have links in few! Thanks

    Reply
  38. My sites been running for a year, amazon store iframed, picture links, carousels the lot. Result 70,000 hits, 25 clicks and no sales….LOL. Forget using Amazon associates it’s a waste of time and IMHO pure luck if you make money. Your better off building your own brand with your own store!

    Reply
  39. Dont try to shovel over your user`s throat products. put just one or two niche-specific ads and pray.

    Reply
  40. Hiya! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know
    how to make your site mobile friendly? My site looks weird when viewing from my iphone4.
    I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to resolve this
    issue. If you have any recommendations, please share.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  41. Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It’s the little changes that make
    the greatest changes. Many thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  42. I’ve tried making money with amazon, but it’s not as easy as I thought, must be patient and have little investment with a strong web.
    through this article I knew I was missing something.
    I will start again after reading this
    Thank you very much

    Reply
  43. Your article turn me to think more again to change the way I blog amazon products.

    Reply
  44. Great Post. I just made my first $.02 from Amazon this week after working on my site for the past few months. It’s not much, but that first $.02 is now the start :)

    Reply
  45. Currently i am writing my amazon affiliate course so this information will help adding more points to my course.
    i too have tried placing amazon banner ad at the sidebar of my blog with 0.09% ctr that horrible i think the look and feel of amazon banners are not user friendly they are hardly clicked.

    Reply

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