Becoming an Amazon affiliate was one of the biggest turning points in my career that eventually led to the success that I have today.
Back in 2013, when I was just starting out in my eCommerce journey, I suddenly quit my job to become a full-time entrepreneur. Before quitting, I was selling products on Amazon – sunscreen, to be exact. I was constantly selling out of inventory using my makeshift Word document email list since we were being “budget-conscious” and didn’t want to pay for an email provider.
I saw how to sell Amazon products and knew I wanted to do more of that, but for myself. Since back in the old days it wasn’t as easy to find products to sell compared to today, I decided to become an Amazon Affiliate.
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What is an Amazon Affiliate?
An Amazon Affiliate is a person who makes sales commission from Amazon products. For example, you might add Amazon affiliate links – a link with your specific reference number to track that you drove traffic to Amazon’s website – on your blog or your own online store that direct traffic to Amazon.
What’s the Difference Between an Amazon Seller and an Amazon Affiliate?
An Amazon seller finds products from a wholesaler, buys them in bulk, and either ships directly to the customer or has Amazon ship it for them. The seller sets their own prices and earns the majority of the earnings of the sale.
An Amazon affiliate only earns a small commission of up to 10 percent of the product’s sale but doesn’t set their own prices.
Being an Amazon affiliate was one of the most exciting parts of my early career. Like I mentioned earlier, I had just quit my job to embark on my first entrepreneurial journey. I made some mistakes back then, and I see new store owners making similar ones today.
The biggest mistake I made? Launching four Amazon affiliate online stores at the same time.
I didn’t know it at the time, but to be a successful Amazon affiliate, you need to have hyper focus. Instead, I created four online stores in various niches (because I’m so indecisive I couldn’t pick just one). And then I stocked up those stores with hundreds of products. I had an online store catered to the bridal niche where I spent a week writing product descriptions for over 600 products. What the heck was I thinking?
The good thing about writing unique product descriptions for each website was that within a short period of time I was ranking in search results for products and I was driving a high volume of traffic (okay, maybe not actually high but I remember thinking it was a lot at the time).
The downside, though, was that for one of my four stores, a board game store, Google penalized my website due to “thin content” – essentially, my product pages didn’t have enough content on them.
I blame my lack of focus for this. I mean, writing hundreds of product descriptions per store isn’t really going to result in a thoughtful approach.
My favorite thing about my experience as an Amazon affiliate was how easy it was to do it. The tool I used back then was kind of like Oberlo but allowed you to import Amazon products. I was able to sell products from any niche and from top brands.
But there was a massive downside to being an Amazon affiliate that completely threw me off guard. And we’ll get to that later on.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing with Amazon
Want to be an Amazon affiliate? You’ll first need to get accepted into their Amazon Associates program.
What do you need to have figured out before becoming an Amazon affiliate?
- A niche for your website (that doesn’t conflict with Amazon’s content policies)
- You need to be of legal age
- A website that already has some high-quality content on it (such as a blog)
- A look at the Amazon affiliate program policies to ensure zero violations prior to applying
- Traffic through reputable sources (organic, referral, social) – no bots
Amazon Affiliate Program Perks
- Earn a commission of up to 10% through the Amazon affiliate program. You can view a commission breakdown based on niche here
- Choose from millions of Amazon products from top brands to sell on your store
- By getting accepted into their program, you can promote products from almost any brand without needing to get separate approvals from each brand
If you want to skyrocket your Amazon affiliate earnings, you’ll need to focus on keeping your costs low and your sales volume high.
#1. Build Up Your Audience First
The easiest way to increase your Amazon affiliate earnings is to have a pre-existing audience already built.
I did the opposite. And boy did I live to regret it.
Whether you build out a blog in a specific niche or build up a massive instagram following, you’ll be better off having an audience you can sell to if you want to start strong with your Amazon affiliate earnings.
Of course, you can do what i did and start from scratch, but there’s no overnight successes in that strategy. And it could take months or even years before you make enough passive income to brag about.
#2. SEO Will Result in Your Biggest Wins
My biggest Amazon affiliate earnings came from a strong SEO strategy.
The reason why SEO was so effective is because organic traffic costs time instead of money.
Plus, as long as you hold your top positions, you can make recurring income from traffic that visits that page over the long haul. This is one of the most affordable ways to get clicks on your affiliate links.
If you make a conscious effort to embed links within articles, you’ll get your visitors to the Amazon website helping you increase your Amazon affiliate earnings. Cha-ching! Or you can do the time-consuming task I did of writing product descriptions for a high volume of products so that you increase your odds of having your product pages found in search results.
Just don’t make the mistake of not writing enough text. Google really hates that.
#3. Create Content
Most of the Amazon affiliate links that I accidentally click on come from YouTube videos.
I’ll watch a hair tutorial, hear about the product a YouTuber uses to get her hair looking flawless, click on the link, and bam! She gets her affiliate commission.
By focusing on platforms like YouTube or Instagram, you benefit from building your audience but you also build a sense of trust with the community, which makes people more likely to buy.
Product reviews on specific products or comparison articles can also perform really well for some Amazon Affiliates.
#4. Use an Amazon Checkout
Using a now-defunct Amazon plug-in, I was able to automate the process of adding my affiliate link and bringing customers to an Amazon checkout.
The layout of my website was designed so it looked exactly like a standard ecommerce store. However, after adding multiple products to their cart and proceeding to checkout, customers were automatically sent to Amazon’s checkout page. This helped boost my Amazon affiliate earnings because buying from Amazon fairly reputable but it also automatically sent Amazon affiliate traffic.
So even if the customer didn’t end up buying the products from that purchase, they’d still be likely to buy from Amazon later on.
Why I Stopped Being an Amazon Affiliate
Despite benefiting from my Amazon affiliate earnings, it was pretty clear to me that it wasn’t the most sustainable model to make money online.
To increase my Amazon affiliate earnings immediately, I’d need to invest in ads. And since that would eat away at how much money I’d make, I focused on a slow and steady approach.
Unfortunately, after a few months of playing the long-term game, I’d run out of funds to keep myself out of the workforce and was forced back into it.
During my time at my day job, I focused on what resulted in my biggest losses. And it boiled down to two things:
- Low margins
From a preparation standpoint, it was pretty reckless of me to quit my 9 to 5 jobwithout having built up an audience first. Had I focused on investing in creating my own asset while still being employed, I would’ve been able to quit once I was making enough to replace my salary.
And to be honest, at that time my salary was so low I wouldn’t have needed much to replace it. Plus, because I had spontaneously quit, I spread myself thin by trying everything rather than trying to zero in on one singular focus: only one store. I was too scared that Id make the wrong choice so I tried multiple ecommerce niches which quickly led to my epic failure.
The next tragic flaw to my Amazon affiliate gig came down low margins. I was only making a small commissions. I think at one point I went up to 5 percent. But let’s be honest, if you sell an item that costs $9.99 and make a 5 percent commission, you’ve only made about 50 cents. And all that work invested isn’t worth such a pitiful amount.
So, when I went back to the drawing board, I asked myself, “How can I sell products online where I can control how much money I make?” And that question eventually led me onto a new path: dropshipping.
Having been an Amazon affiliate for six months, I knew what I really liked about it. I loved how products could be imported to your store in only a few clicks. I loved how I didn’t have to carry inventory or ship out boxes myself.
I loved that I could choose from millions of the best products to sell. But I really hated how little money I was making.
I’d go on to dabble in print on demand, but I wouldn’t go on to find the right business model until about a year later when my partner recommended a new marketplace called Oberlo that had a tool that was similar to what I used on Amazon.
Since I had been looking for a new side hustle, I decided to try it out. I stumbled upon an ad on Facebook that had more likes and comments than I’d ever seen. The person was selling mandala blankets.
I decided to browse Oberlo to see if they carried any. And sure enough, they carried the exact same product that the ad was selling. That product became my best-seller and helped me build a six-figure business for the first time in my ecommerce career.
But the brutal honest truth is that if it wasn’t for the dropshipping model, I would’ve never made anywhere near that. With dropshipping, I was able to control how much my product cost to ensure that I made enough money after paying for product and marketing expenses.
There are so many ways to make passive income, even in the ecommerce space, but for me that’s what’s worked out to be the most profitable and sustainable model.
But in the spirit of honesty, if it wasn’t for my experience as an Amazon affiliate, I never would’ve learned the skills and the lessons that come from making beginner mistakes.
Everyone’s journey with the Amazon affiliates program will be different.
Some will skyrocket into six-figure success and others, like me, will develop skills that can be applied to other models. Being an Amazon affiliate can be a great way to start your ecommerce career, but you may find that you’ll eventually need to transition to a more profitable and sustainable model to help you succeed as an ecommerce entrepreneur.
Have you ever dabbled in the Amazon affiliate program? Did you stay in it or try something else? Comment below!