Sometimes they are called Amazon Auto-Posting Plugins, other times they are called Amazon Import Plugins. Most of the time you have to dig though the marketing hype with phrases like “turn your WordPress site into an Amazon store”.
Whatever they call it, the idea is simple. Grab content from Amazon and automatically generate content and links on your blog.
Can you make money in this way?
No. It's a waste of your time.
Even plugins that claim to make searching through Amazon products and pasting affiliate links onto your blog easier are absolutely useless. In fact, these types of plugins may actually be damaging your site.
Amazon Import Plugins
I actually tried one of these because it seemed like a legit idea to me at first. This type of plugin automatically grabs pictures, descriptions, and even reviews from Amazon and posts it to your website.
Type in a few search terms, and you don't even have to pick specific products – the plugin will pick it for you.
Duplicate Content Issues
The first thing you should be worried about is duplicate content. There is absolutely NO WAY to rank for content that's been taken from other places, even if you make small changes to it. I knew this going into it, but I have read numerous times that duplicate content does not penalize your website.
My plan was to create a blog with 100% unique content written by me, and have an “Amazon store” featured on the blog where people could browse items related to what I was blogging about. I would also have the option to link internally to these products as they came up in my blog posts.
I shared the heck out of it on social media and was receiving 10-20 visits daily from social media. I targeted keywords with zero competition, and was receiving comments from social visitors. Still, I was ranking for nothing at all. My site was indexed, but was nowhere to be found within the first hundred pages of the SERPs.
Why Use This At All?
I thought I had a pretty good plan, but I knew that there would be a lot of work involved. My plan crashed and burned even though I knew that ranking and selling would not be “easier” with this plugin.
The issue that I think is most obvious with Amazon Auto Import plugins is that most people are looking for an easy fix. For me, the autoposting was a convenience – something to add to my blog. But do not be deceived into thinking that installing this on a WordPress blog will allow you to “set it and forget it”, then start raking in the commissions.
You should also think about the visitors interaction on your site. It's very obvious to a user that you are not Amazon. It's also obvious that you are taking content and pictures from there. So why should any visitor be on your website at all? If there's nothing of value there, then they might as well head to the source.
Amazon Auto Link Plugins
I have not personally tried this type of plugin, but I also have very negative things to say about it for some similar reasons from above.
First off, machines are stupid. No matter how smart you make them, they are still going to be dumber than you. If you are depending on a piece of software to decide where to place your links, then there are going to be mistakes on your blog.
If you have ever seen a blog that uses infolinks, you know that automatically generating links and placing ads on them is the dumbest way to advertise anything. I can write a post about how to brew beer and when I mention “barley”, would an auto-link generator link me to a nice sack of malted barley or a breakfast cereal made of barley?
You might sneak a few sales in when an unsuspecting customer clicks your link then buys something later that day, but I find it very hard to believe that you will be able to make consistent sales in this manner.
Too Many Links
Are you seriously going to put more than one affiliate link on every post of your blog? That's a terrible idea. Google is not dumb and knows when you are trying to make money from content. If you start linking to Amazon in every single post, the authority of your website will be in jeopardy.
So, now you have to decide which posts to activate the plugin on, and which posts to leave it off. My question is, if you are going to have to manually control a plugin that should be doing something automatically, why have the plugin at all?
I have been an online marketer for 4 years and I can tell you this – you'll make a lot more money with a few well-placed affiliate links than shotgun blasting your link everywhere *hoping* for a sale.
What About an Amazon Store
Some products these days (though more so in the past) claim that turning your WordPress blog into an Amazon store is the way to fame and fortune.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but it isn't.
I asked it once above, but it's worth repeating: Why should people even go to your website if they can get the same info, (most of the time better + more complete) from Amazon?
Even if you took the time to write custom descriptions, titles, meta data, and even edit the pictures, they are still shopping on your website only to be taken somewhere else to buy. You have to consider the VALUE that you are providing to your visitors.
It's easy to get caught up in the “I just want to make money and I don't care how!” style of thinking. But you need to remember that there is a real person on the other end of the transaction, and something you NEED to learn before you start making money in online business is that people will only buy when there's a good reason to.
They are not going to land on your site, have a bit of a shopping spree, and think, “Hm, how can I help this guy make some money”. They don't care about you or your business other than knowing how it can benefit THEM. If you can give them some kind of benefit to being on your site, then you're in business!
Can You Actually Make Money With Amazon?
Absolutely! Millions of people make money with the Amazon Associates program every year, and some depend on it as their full time income. They don't pay very well compared to other programs in my opinion (about 5%), but they are one of the largest, most diverse, and most reliable affiliate programs around.
So How Do You Do It?
First off, you need a niche. This is a specific topic that your website is about. Next, you need to create content – lots and lots of content. Blogging on a regular basis about the topic of your website will be your main weapon for ranking well in Google and giving people a reason to be on your website.
Lastly, of course you need those affiliate links! But you need to use them sparingly. You need to pick only the best products that are most appropriate for your target audience, and you don't have to try to sell EVERYTHING!
If you are in the running niche, there's no reason at all to put an affiliate link on your blog for a pair of shoe laces that cost $1.50 and will give you a 5% commission. ($0.08). It's not even worth your time or the link to Amazon.
However, some $300 specialized running shoes would be a great product to write a review on, or an MP3 player would be a good option too.
Reviews VS Other Content
Another mistake people make a lot is ONLY writing reviews. That is one strategy, but it can make your blog very dry. Actually, there's so many products to choose from, and you don't have to own everything you review, so you would be busy for many years just writing reviews alone.
However, you can still make money through Amazon without even reviewing products. Again, if we are talking about the running niche, you can write a post about the dangers of running in the winter. It's not a review at all!
Somewhere in the post you might want to link to some winter running shoes, or special leg warmers, or any gear aimed at the winter running crowd. You can link directly to Amazon or you can create a review of the product first, then link your “other” content post to your review post. Both strategies work fine.
The Final Point
Unique content well placed affiliate links are going to be what makes sales. Auto generated content with randomly placed links is a recipe for failure.
What's been your experience with these types of plugins? Have they worked for you?
Have you made any decent earnings with Amazon? Share your strategies in the comments! Oh, and I found a really cool podcast episode here about how some guy made a bunch of money on Amazon selling physical products. It's a bit different what I do, which is affiliate marketing, but is worth a listen to demonstrate the Amazing possibilities of online business. I'm not endorsing this guy or anything he's promoting, but it's a fun podcast to listen to.