It's pretty easy to understand how to make money with Amazon Associates. That's the name of Amazon's affiliate program, and it's one of the most popular entry-points for anyone to start an online business.
This simplest explanation is of how the whole thing work is that you can earn money by getting people to click your Amazon links and buy stuff.
There's a difference between earning some extra spending money as a hobby and creating a legitimate business you can rely on to pay your mortgage. It's not impossible though. Many people earn thousands of dollars monthly from Amazon Associates.
You know what the good news is? Amazon's affiliate pay is pretty garbage (4%-10%), and there are many companies out there that pay 5-10x what Amazon pays.
How To Make Money With Amazon Associates
The Basics Of Being An Amazon Affiliate
Amazon Associates is an affiliate program that allows you to make money off of any product within the Amazon marketplace. Anything.
By joining the program you are given a set of tools that allows you link to any page or product you find on Amazon, and receive credit if someone buy a product after clicking your link.
You need a website to join and be accepted to the program, but once you're accepted, you get access to the largest inventory of products in the world. There's literally something for everyone.
The upsides to Amazon's affiliate program are obvious. It's a trusted company and most people already have accounts, so conversions are easy. Shipping with Prime is a huge incentive to buy. Plus, you get affiliate commissions for all items in the cart, even if the buyer only clicked your link for one of those items.
The downside to the Amazon Associates affiliate program is that they only pay 4% for many categories of products. Also, they don't allow affiliates in all states in the USA, and they have been known to change the conditions of the affiliate program from time to time.
Actually, I think the worst part is that you are not allowed to list the price of the item you promote! This is a major selling point for most product comparison charts, but they don't allow it because the prices of stuff fluctuate daily.
Despite those problems, making money through Amazon Associates is a perfect entry point to the affiliate marketing industry. Many full time online marketers made their first dollar here. Some people still make a full time living just from this program and rely on it for the majority of their income.
Create An Online Business As A Member Of Amazon Associates.
Knowing how the program works is one thing, but getting people to actually click your links and buy stuff is where the business strategy comes in.
It’s not as simple as grabbing a few links, sending them to your friends, and telling them to buy stuff.
I've simplified the process into four, easy-to-understand steps. Doing the work will take time, but the process is pretty simple
- Pick A Topic
- Create A Website
- Write Content
- Add Your Affiliate Links
Step 1: Pick A Topic
Your website will be much more popular if you pick a specific topic and market to one audience.
If you are a 50-year old woman looking to “get fit”, are you really going to read bodybuilding.com about how to get ripped and get laid? Nope.
Let's say you just got a new Boston Terrier puppy and want to teach it tricks. Are you going to read a website about Great Dane health problems? Nope.
Being specific means you can relate to a specific group of people. The topics you write about and products you recommend will be more relevant, and you'll make more sales.
=> How To Pick A Topic (Niche)
Step 2: Create A Website
You are going to need a website. You can't just send your links to friends and family because it's against the TOS. Amazon is trying to make money with their affiliate program, not just provide you an easy income!
WordPress is the way to go for building your website. WordPress is great for ranking, and great for easy customization using “plugins”. Plus, you don't need to know how to code.
The website will be the foundation and central hub for your business.
==> Build A Website
Step 3: Write Content
We are not Amazon, and you are not creating an ecommerce shopping mall. As affiliates, we need to think about how to create ‘value' for the visitor to our website.
This is done through content. In our case, written content. Your #1 job as an affiliate will be to write interesting articles to attract people to your website.
Don't worry, you don't to be a Pulitzer Prize winning writer. Here are some example post formats that are easy to work with:
- Top 10
- How To
- Product Review
- Top 10 Luxury Hotels In Costa Rica
- How To Build A Pergola In Your Back Yard
- GoSun Solar Cooker Review
Pretty easy stuff, right? It may take a few months for you to find your ‘voice', but keep writing, keep practicing, and you'll get good at it.
Step 4: Add Your Affiliate Links
Once your article is ready, you can add your Amazon Affiliate links. Find the product you want to promote, click the “Amazon Stripe” button, and copy your link. Insert the link into your WordPress site, then hit publish!
Your link will not earn money instantly. You have to get traffic first. Once people start finding your website in search engines, you'll start to get clicks, then sales.
In other words, don't overload your website with affiliate links in the beginning. Publish interesting articles that people want to read, and add affiliate links when it's relevant to what they're reading.
How To Get Started
If you already have a website and some ideas of things you want to promote, you can join Amazon Associates and start making money as soon as someone starts clicking your links!
If you don’t have a website yet, you are going to need one. If you want to learn how to write content that ranks well in search engines and can eventually make sales, you can do the same training I did.
Got a question? Leave a comment and I'll get back to you!
Top Reasons To Join Amazon's Affiliate Program
There are a couple ways that you can make money with Amazon, including selling items through an Amazon store and writing Kindle ebooks. However, one of the most powerful ways for newbies to get started is to make money as an Amazon affiliate.
There are a few very clear reasons why being an affiliate is the most newbie friendly way to make money with Amazon:
- 1) It's free to join
- 2) The startup costs are low
- 3) It's a simple business model to follow
- 4) Making mistakes is free (great for newbies!)
1) Free To Join
It’s completely free to be an affiliate of Amazon. You just need to apply to their Amazon Associates program, and as long as you have a website, you’re in! If you don’t have a website, you can start one here, or you can keep reading below to find out what kind of websites are most successful (and generate the most money).
Unlike some styles of home based business that charge your to be a member, being an affiliate of Amazon is free. Selling their products simply doesn't require any kind of monthly membership cost! The only cost you have to worry about is your website costs (details below).
This means you can “test the waters” and see if building an online business is for you.
Actually, there are thousands of other affiliate programs that operate very similarly to Amazon's, so this is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you have your website running, you can work with multiple companies at once, and promote any products you think are worth promoting.
2) Startup Costs Are Low
The cost of doing business is also extremely low. Freakishly low. Did you know that it would cost over 1 million dollars just to start a tiny nano brewery in your local town? Starting a restaurant could require that you take outa $200,000 loan or more! Rent for a small space in your downtown area could cost hundreds, or even thousands per month.
If you can't secure the loan, you might have to get a second mortgage on your house or use up your entire savings.
By contrast, it costs only $14/year for a website domain name! Hosting (where your website files are stored) costs about $10-$50 per month depending on your hosting company.
Your entire online business can operate for about $20 per month. Yes, you can start an affiliate business for the cost of a single restaurant meal.
3) It's A Simple Business Model to Follow
Even just comparing affiliate website operating costs to other methods of making money with Amazon, consider that you don’t need to stock inventory, don’t need to source goods, and don’t have to deal with any shipping, returns, or customer service.
The Affiliate Niche Blog Business Model
There are five steps you’ll need to take to be a successful Amazon affiliate.
- 1) Choose a topic for your website
- 2) Build a website (blog)
- 3) Do research on your website topic
- 4) Write articles based on your research
- 5) Link to products in your articles
Step 1: Choose A Topic
Think about something you are good at, passionate about, or interested in.
- Do you like eating healthy?
- Are you living a gluten-free lifestyle?
- Do you like playing games with your kids?
- Would you like to learn more about astronomy?
- Did you have an injury and recover from it?
- Are you into holistic healing?
- Do you love pugs, boxers, or huskies?
- Can you fix up old Harleys?
These are all possible website topics. For me, I love to brew beer at home, so I made a website about that.
Whatever topic you choose, there’s going to be a million other people in the world that are interested in the same thing as you. When they browse the internet, your website will pop up and they will look to you for advice.
When someone wants to know how to brew a stout, or needs to know how to find a keg leak, they can find my website online. The articles I write are designed to help them figure out problems, or to tell them interesting information.
This is why we choose a topic that’s interesting to us. Any topic can make money, so the focus of starting your first affiliate website should be picking something that will hold your interest for a long period of time (so you don’t get bored or burned out!)
We can discuss more about which topic will be good for you in a bit, I know this is something that a lot of folks struggle with.
Step 2: Build A Website
Probably the scariest part of the process for newbies is building a website. If you already have a website and are just wondering why your site isn’t making any money yet, keep reading to the next section.
Actually, these days, building a website is pretty simple. Software like WordPress builds the framework of the site automatically, with no code necessary.
You’ll be responsible for moving a few pieces around here or there, like menu items or links, but all of that is drag/drop.
Again, no code necessary!
Don’t get me wrong – this will be a new skill you need to learn, and it may take a couple weeks to familiarize yourself with how the guts of your website work. But you certainly don’t need a degree in hacking to build an affiliate site. lol
In fact, you can start building your first website right now. The site can be built and online in about 5 minutes.
Step 3: Do Your Research
Once your site is built, you need to start thinking of topics to write about. One of our main jobs as an affiliate website owner is to write articles. But how do we know what to write about?
There’s a few different methods, but the main two I use are these.
Keyword Research Tool: I use something called Jaaxy. If you are interested in knowing more about that, click the link to see some demos and how that will help you build your business.
But it may be a bit complicated for you right now, so I suggest just using the simpler method:
Google Instant: Know how Google finishes your sentences for you? That data comes from real web searches, so it can give you insight into what people are searching for.
For example, regarding my homebrew website I can type “how to beer” into Google to see what people are looking for related to beer.
Nothing interesting turned up, so I then type “a” and see what changes.
Now I know I can write an articles about how to make alcoholic ginger beer at home, and it will get some traffic to my site. Then I can promote some products like grain, boil kettles, or other brewing equipment.
I can try this with other letters to see what else turns up. People also want to know how to make beer can chicken. So I can write an article about that too. Then maybe I can promote some grilling tools or even a cool barbecue!
Step 4: Write Articles
Writing articles is pretty easy. Some people worry that they are not a good writer, so won’t make a good salesman. However, sometimes casual writing performs better than formal writing.
People want to read real information written by real people, not a stuffy library book. What’s more interesting: Learning how to barbecue some ribs from a Harvard graduate or a 50 year old, white bearded dude with decades of grilling experience?
Of course the second choice!
This is another reason to pic a topic you are familiar with or interested in. You can write in any style you want. Write like you are talking to a friend instead of a high school essay, and you’ll be fine.
You do not need to be a professional writer or use good grammar in order to make money as an Amazon affiliate. You just have to help people find the right products for their needs.
Step 5: Link To Products
There are many ways to link products, but the very basic technique is just making a text link. Find the product you want to promote from Amazon. They’ll give you a picture, a link, and then you create the link on your website.
Creating the link is a skill you need to learn, but once you do it 2-3 times it will become second nature. This really is a small step in the process.
After someone reads your article, if they like your recommendation and click your link, they are taken to the Amazon product page.
You get credit for anything they purchase within 24 hours of clicking your link. If the person actually puts some items in their cart, you get credit for those items as long as they purchase them within 90 days.
The code in the link makes sure you get credit for the sale.
Amazon pays 4% to start, but if you make more sales, they can pay up to 10%. That may seem like a tiny bit, but keep in mind that some people are making hundreds of sales per day through Amazon. A five dollar sale times one hundred sales is five hundred dollars per day.
Of course, it takes time to work up to those numbers, but many Amazon affiliates are making a full time income with the business model I just walked you through. It’s quite possible to have a five or six figure business just by writing articles and promoting Amazon products as an affiliate.
4) Mistakes Are FREE
This is a funny idea, but it's my favorite part of affiliate marketing. I was a newbie once, and my first websites were terrible! I would surely have failed and quit if I was running a traditional business. Running an online business is a whole different ballgame. For example…
What happens if you purchase $500 worth of inventory and it doesn’t sell? You are $500 in the hole!
What happens if you run a promotion for your clothing store, but no one comes? Your advertising budget was spent for nothing!
How about if no one walks into your restaurant this week? You still have to pay rent at the end of the month.
Contrast that with an affiliate website…
I write many articles per month that don't rank and don't make money. Total cost: $0
I do lots of online research and make notes about the topic of my website that never get published. Total cost $0
With an affiliate marketing business, the worst that can happen is that you waste some time moving in the wrong direction. You make a mistake, then you fix it. That's how we learn. With affiliate marketing, learning is just an interesting experience, and you don't have the stress of inventory sitting in your garage or rent due soon.
Remember, your business is only costing a couple hundred dollars per year. Wow. The internet is a crazy place.
3 Solid Methods To Make Money With Amazon
Let's make one thing clear: It's 100% possible for YOU (or anyone) to start making money with Amazon this year. There is no “maybe”. As you'll discover in this post, there are at least two methods of earning a full time income ($100k+) per year with Amazon. There are only two things you need to do.
- Decide which method you want to use
- Commit time an energy to learning and taking action
I am not a college educated person, nor have I studied online marketing. However, by taking a few online courses and dedicating a year of my life to building a business, I'm now able to work from with an online business. Of the three methods of earning money with Amazon I discuss below, I've only focused on one of these models to make my income.
However, I'd still like to introduce to you the other ways to earn so that you know all your options, as well as the pros and cons of each, before you get started.
Method #1: Amazon FBA
- Cost for courses: $150 – $5,000 one time fee
- Potential Profit: Infinite (use your imagination!)
- Money Investment Level: High (need to purchase inventory)
- Time To Profits: Fast
Selling real, physical products on Amazon is probably the first thing that comes to mind when trying to make money on Amazon. It's the most obvious method – buy something cheap, sell it at a higher price online. The concept of how to make money isn't very hard to grasp.
But learning how to do it, or even just what the first step is going to be to start your own Amazon store is a big challenge!
Questions like these need to be answered:
- Where do I source my products?
- How do I take care of shipping?
- Do I need to pay for an Amazon store?
- What types of products sell well?
- What's going to make me the most profit?
- Do I need to store inventory?
- How do I deal with competition?
In combination with selling on Amazon, there's a program called Amazon FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon). When starting your Amazon store, you have the option to ship directly from your home or other storage location. You also have the option to ship to Amazon's warehouses, let them store your product, and have them take care of all the shipping stuff.
The advantage of the first option is more profit for you. The advantage of the second situation (FBA) is less hassle for you. But other than organizing the details of shipping, the rest is pretty much the same.
If you have never started a business, and never sold anything online before, I would highly recommend you enroll in an Amazon selling course to get started. It will save you a lot of time and headache, and get your business moving much faster than if you had done the research on your own.
I have reviewed many great products on starting an Amazon store (list of product reviews). The best post to get started however, is my article on cheaper alternatives to Amazing Selling Machine. ASM is a popular product in this industry, but it costs over $5k and is only intermittently available. In that post I break down 5 other products teaching essentially the same thing, with equally high quality, and link off to the full reviews.
Cheaper ebooks and courses on the topic will cost between $150 and $400, depending on the quality of the course, the materials delivered, type of support, and amount of resources available to members.
Method #2: Kindle Publishing
- Cost: $5 – $500+ One Time Fee
- Potential Profit: Infinite (Limited only by what you publish)
- Money Investment Level: Low
- Time To Profits: Slow
If you are a writer or enjoy writing, you cannot ignore Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) as a potential way to earn money online. I recently published my first book and have been amazed by the results so far.
Even if you aren't a natural writer, you should seriously consider looking into becoming a Kindle author…or at least paying someone to write books for you. If you are thinking, “this isn't for me”, then you need to think again about the diverse type of content that's published online. Just some ideas off the top of my head:
- How to start your own hydroponic garden
- Fruit beer recipes
- How to age whiskey at home
- Family cake recipes
- Art projects for kids with autism
- How to toilet train your cat
- Winter camping tips
- Classic motorcycle repair and maintenance
- Dating for newly divorced women
- …and anything else you have experience with or want to research
- Romantic novellas
- Scary stories for kids
- Detective novels or True Crime
- Fan Fiction (Harry Potter, Twilight)
- Science Fiction
- Well, any genre really. Or combine them like Sci-Fi Romance, or Harry Potter Crime!
Heck, there are some really weird books out there that are making sales. How about The Zen of Farting, or How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men. It may sound silly (OK, the fart book is a comedy book), but there definitely Asian guys out there that want to date white women, and will buy that book.
If there's a problem that you can solve with knowledge, you can make money by publishing your own book. If there's an interest that you can feed by writing your opinions, you can make money selling books. I tend to gravitate towards the non-fiction part of publishing because that's how my mind works, but there are large groups of fiction publishers online that are also making money self publishing on Amazon.
Most people are not going to have a “big hit”, so volume of money is made with volume of publishing.
For example, my current book is only making about $100/month. But if I publish 10 books, each making that amount of money, now I have $1000 in passive income from online publishing.
The thing that stops most people is that they think, “I'm not writer and don't know how to publish a book.”. But it's actually very easy.
Fire up a text document, and start writing. End of story.
Once your book is done, you can then either figure out how to format and upload the book yourself, which could take a few hours, or pay someone do it. It cost me about $200 for professional formatting, and $5 for a book cover. You may want to pay an editor, or just take the time to edit yourself for your first couple publications, depending on how much money or time you have to invest.
Another thing to consider is that you can actually pay people to write books for you (ghost writing). This will definitely bump up the level of investment needed, and thus require you to do more research into which publishing topics will be most profitable. But it is an option!
Imagine paying $500 for a book that you now own the rights to and can earn you $100/month. After five months you'll have made your money back and will be earning passive income from someone else's words!
I don't currently have any in depth reviews for publishing courses, but my #1 recommendation so far is Self-Publishing School from Chandler Bolt and James Roper. Other people worth checking out are Steve Scott, The Self Publishing Podcast, and Joanna Penn.
Method #3: Amazon Associates (Affiliate Marketing)
- Cost: $47/month (training) + $14/year (website address)
- Potential Profit: Infinite (the internet never sleeps. People shop 24/7/365)
- Money Investment Level: Low
- Time To Profits: Medium
This is how I personally earn money online, and the method I know most about.
You might not have heard of this section of Amazon, but the “associates program” is how they manage affiliates. There are lots of tools already in place within the Amazon website that can help you promote ANYTHING you find there.
To join, you just need a website. Your site can be about anything you want except of course things like violence, sexually explicit stuff, or any discriminatory/hate topics. If you don't have a website yet, I'm going to show you how to make one on this page.
You can have one site, or multiple sites, and the program is available in many countries from around the world. Not all countries however, and very surprisingly, it’s also unavailable in the US States: Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri, and Rhode Island.
There a few specific rules you need to follow to keep your account in good standing:
- Your website must be clearly marked as an affiliate site
- You cannot click your own links to buy stuff
- Your friends cannot click your links to buy stuff
- You cannot take content, reviews, or ratings from the Amazon website (Pictures and specs provided by the vendor are OK)
I know that starting with a bunch of requirements probably bored you to tears, but I the main thing I wanted to let you know is that all you need to make money as an Amazon affiliate is to have a simple website where you can publish information like articles and product reviews.
Bonus #1: Amazon Handmade
This is a new venture by Amazon, and not full developed, so I wouldn't count on it to be around in a couple years. It might though! So for now, I'd stick with Etsy, although Amazon Handmade could be worth your time if you can dominate in your category of handmade goods. While everyone's busy fighting over Etsy traffic, you can master Amazon's version and figure out a system before anyone else does.
I don't dabble in handmade stuff, so haven't even begun to investigate the details, but it's just one more way to make money with Amazon.
Bonus #2: Amazon Mechanical Turk
This is a weird site you may not have heard of, but it's basically a “micro task” website, meaning you get paid to do small, repetitive work. This could include naming images, organizing files, or clicking buttons. It's boring stuff, that pays horribly, but it's very simple to do, and if you develop a system, you can actually make reliable money here.
If you want to spend the time to pick away at small projects as you have the time, instead of building out a big, complicated business, then Mechanical Turk could be an option for you. It's much more reliable than many of these “get paid to watch TV” or “get paid to take survey” type of junk that are advertised online.
What If You Don’t Have A Website…
Building a website these days is easier than you think. If you use a site builder like WordPress, you don’t even need to know any code. The website actually builds itself, and you are just responsible for writing the content. Things like informational articles, research, and product reviews will be the things that attract visitors to your site.
Most of the time, boring sites convert to sales much better because people can read the product information more clearly.
But our business strategy is not as simple as creating something called “Mike’s Virtual Mall” and sticking a bunch of pictures and links on there!
Developing a plan of how to get your website found in Google is very important. Our job as a website owner and online marketer for Amazon products is to find the people that want to buy stuff, and help them find the best products.
For example, if I want to sell some running shoes, I can put a page on my website called “Top 3 Brands For Running Shoes” and compare the top 3 brands.
Then I can make a different page called “How To Size A Childs Running Shoe Properly”, and link to some popular kids shoes. After I make bunch of pages like that, Google can see that my site is about running shoes, and start to rank my website in search engines for those terms
When I get ranked and people find my pages, that’s how I start selling stuff from Amazon! And did you notice?
- I don't need any inventory
- I don't need to pay for any resell rights
- I don't handle customer service
- I don't deal with shipping or returns
- I only promote the products I truly believe in based on personal experience or research
How To Actually Make Money
Amazon will provide us with a special link that contains code unique to us. That code is called an affiliate code, and it leaves a “cookie” that is stored on a persons browser when they click your link. The cookie lasts 24 hours, so if someone buys within that timeframe after clicking, you get credit (90 days if they add to cart after clicking).
Other affiliate programs have anything from 7 day cookie life to lifetime cookies. It varies. They also pay different size commissions. Best Buy only pays 1%, while other programs pay 50%-75% per sale. Amazon pays between 4% and 10% depending on how many items you sell.
To be honest, the base commissions of 4% from Amazon isn’t bad, but it’s not great. As you sell more volume, you get bumped up to the 10% range, which is actually pretty darn good for physical products. It can be tough to sell a $10 item and make $0.60 per sale, which is why many affiliates go for high ticket items. Selling something for $100 will result in a $6 sale. Sell 10 of those per day, and now you are getting paid $60 per day as an affiliate advertiser for Amazon!
How Much Can You Earn with Amazon?
This is the big question, and I can only give you an answer you don’t want to hear: it depends!
Boring answer, I know, but it's true. A lot depends on which products you promote, who you promote them to, and how well you do your job! Some people make a full time income just from Amazon's program. Other people like myself, earn money in several affiliate programs (so they don't put all their eggs in one basket).
I earned $100 in 2015 from a website I built as part of an experiment I was playing around with. A hundred bucks doesn't sound like a lot of money, but I wasn't serious about that website as a business. A few of my more serious websites earn between $1,000 and $10,000 per month and are still growing.
There are more than 2 billion people that use the internet every day, and another 4 billion or so that will get access at some point in the future. Thousands of visits each day to your website may seem like a long shot at this point, but every website starts the same way – at 0! Getting 10,000 visits to a website when there are 3.5 BILLION searches in Google alone every single day.
If you invest time and resources into yourself and learn how to build an online business, earning a full time income is possible for anyone, including you. All you need to do is to take action! The first step to earning money is not collecting a check.
Just for fun: I have 1 website that makes me $3,000 per month with only 50-100 visits a day. This is a highly specialized site, and not all sites can be this amazing, but I wanted to show you the incredible possibilities of affiliate marketing.
It's Only The Beginning
Amazon is just one website that has an affiliate program. It's one of the most widely used because it's a famous website and they have tons of products to choose from. It's an easy choice, and simple to understand, so I talk about them a lot here on One More Cup of Coffee.
But there are many other websites out there that also have affiliate programs you can use. Some pay as much as 75% commissions per sale! If Amazon Associates doesn't operate in your area or they don't have the products you want to promote, you can always find something else to take it's place. Chances are, some of your favorite brands are are being sold RIGHT NOW by affiliates.