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How Not to Sell Stuff on Amazon

Updated on June 5, 2011

Good Luck to Amazon Affiliates

People learn in different ways. Many students learn very well by a 'hands on' approach, requiring them to execute guided tasks either in a classroom or in the real world. Few people learn by simply watching someone else do something. Sitting in an Algebra class listening to a lecture, no matter how engaging the instructor, rarely produces positive or long-lasting results. Humans acquire new skills by practicing them.

Another educational methodology might be a "negative-feedback narrative integrated with real-time empirical examples." I just made that up, but it sounds mostly official. Expect to see that phrase in a textbook or a peer-reviewed paper very soon. offers an affiliate program that pays commissions. Web entrepreneurs who steer customers to may earn a percentage of purchases made by those third-parties. It's easy to get started and conceptually easy to participate.

Actually making a buck through this program has proven problematic.

Is this Amazon's Fault?

It's not Amazon's fault that my participation in their affiliate program has not put me in the rich house (opposite of poor house). Their system is fair, extensive, and transparent: I'm fully responsible for my failure. They provide oodles of wonderful name-brand products and boatloads of oddities. They sell clothes, books, computer products, tools, gewgaws, lagniappes, and knick-knacks. They stock stupid stuff and mind-bogglingly useful stuff.

My Flawed Methodology

Hubpages thoughtfully provides an Amazon Capsule that can be added to any article. Into this capsule the author places links to products for sale on It's easy.

My methodology involves leveraging these capsules with witty and wise prose. Hopefully, a deep-seated yearning for specific products will be engendered by my words. Is it my plan to entertain my readers while gently leading them into the world of online shopping.

To that end, I have published a boatload of product-centered hubs encompassing wide varieties of purchasable products. Each hub has a theme. Themes range from conceptual (Buy Stupid Online) to sublime (Golf Gift Ideas) but they all share the common thread of abject failure.

How Should a Hub be Titled?

Theoretically, humans go online to shop. They browse to Google with a general idea of what they want. They type in a thoughtfully worded search phrase and turn over their fortunes to the massive search engine.

As profit-minded writers, we spend our waking hours efforting to predict what our readers will type into Google. We're pretty sure that these words will appear in many search phrases:

  • buy
  • online
  • ideas
  • gift

We call these words the crucial quadrivial, at least I do. To that end, I titled my Amazon hubs using an ingeniously simple multi-modal dual-pronged 3-word strategy involving these words. One prong yields this template:

Buy {product category} Online

wherein I have craftily built 2 of the 4 crucial keywords into my title. The middle word specifically describes the general category of items being flogged. For example, I wrote these web masterpieces:

Not to be outdone by myself, I also wrote hubs titled according to this template:

{product category} Gifts | Ideas | Gift Ideas

Some products are given as gifts more than other products. Mother's Day, for instance stimulates purchases of motherly items such as flowers, chocolate, and dishtowels that might not otherwise be purchased for ones self. Several exemplary examples follow:

Where's the Affilliate Money?

I don't know where the affiliate money is. It's not in my bank account. I have not earned the minimum amount for my first payout.

Surely other enterprising entrepreneurs earn significant income from the Amazon Affiliates program. Amazon wants us to send them customers.

Amazon might be one of the top affiliate programs: I don't know. eBay turned down my application three separate times. The Amazon product line offers opportunities unmatched by most online retailers.

Should I give up?

Giving up is more work than moving forward with this program. My hubs persist, even if no one visits them or clicks through them to the Amazon store. Everything is in place and running like clockwork, albeit a clock with a weak battery that has to be shaken periodically and doesn't automatically change for daylight savings time.

It's fun to check my Amazon earnings and see what folks are buying 'from me.' Once I sold a relatively expensive winter coat. Several times I sold digital music downloads and realized about 4 cents in my account. Someday I will sell an obscenely expensive hunk of jewelry to an unknown obscenely rich cyber-shopper: that might make it all worth it.


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    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 3 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Saddled with a nofollow. Sigh.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 5 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Today I received my first Amazon check. Yay!

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      This month I did reach the minimum for an Amazon payout.

      The lead time is daunting: Amazon has a 30 day return policy. When every customer elects to keep their purchases rather than return them to Amazon, I expect that Amazon will mail me a check. Yay!

    • crankalicious profile image

      crankalicious 6 years ago from Colorado

      A lot of people don't realize how much work it's going to take just to net a few dollars. If it's related to your hub, then it might be worth it to pop in an Amazon link, but actually doing a lot of work in hopes of making money this way probably isn't going to pan out. At the very least, concentrate on the really expensive stuff.

    • Garrett Mickley profile image

      Garrett Mickley 6 years ago from Jupiter, Florida

      I'm with you on the lack of earnings. For me the problem is the 4% commission. I've made quite a few sales on a $15 product. Of course, at that rate, I need to make 166.66 (repeating, of course) sales to reach one months' worth of pay out.

      You should focus on that expensive winter coat you mentioned.

    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

      At least, then, I'm not alone in my lack of earnings at Amazon. I haven't checked my earnings there in a while since I simply got bored with that big fat zero I always find there in the "your earnings" box. Course, I can't think of a single product oriented hub I've written to date, except maybe to complain about a particular product. I keep putting something in the capsules and I'll keep waiting. At least you got your 4 cents worth. That's a lion's share when compared to mine. :)

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @drbj: the examples are in the hubs to which I linked. I am positive of that.

      @Randy Godwin: That has not worked for me either. Kudos to you. A commission that large would be a real hoot.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Ha! If your results are any indication of a successful "hard sell" technique, then I will stick to my own particular method of sales.

      I tend to use the informative approach by selling products almost as an afterthought on my hubs. I do sell quite a few expensive products in this manner and recently made $180 commission on a single sale.

      But who knows the best approach?

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      nicomp - Using your "negative-feedback narrative integrated with real-time empirical examples," I have news for you. You will not (negative feedback) earn any money from this hub because you did not (negative feedback again) include any Anazon products (empirical example).

      Don't bother to thank me; just doin' my good deed for the day.