Making Money Selling Products Online with Amazon's Affiliate Program
My Love Affair With the Amazon Affiliate Program
As with many of the most enduring love stories, my love affair with the Amazon affiliate program started off pretty rocky. New to the world of internet publishing, earning money from home and selling products online, I had doubts that we were really suited to one another. I'd flirted with a couple of Amazon based, product oriented articles, which were resoundingly unsuccessful. I'd added related Amazon products to my informational articles, which again, made very few sales. Feelings of rejection and doubt in my ability to write sales copy, led to a brief break up - we were going nowhere. The charming beast that is the Amazon Affiliate Program was just not for me.
Despite being thrown only a few dollars a day, Adsense was clearly the lover to stick with. There's no doubt that he's a tightwad, but at least he is reliable and consistent!
So I'd made my choice, the brief fling with Amazon Associates was over. Or so I thought. Occasionally I would still hear a faint call from Amazon.com in my quieter moments. Quickly ignored, I'd aligned my loyalties to the big G and that was that. But the quiet, whispering calls became louder, "Give me another chance", "Please take me back", "Learn more about me and you'll like me, I promise". It was hard to resist.
Ever the optimist and a sucker for sweet talk, I realised that I hadn't really committed to earning money selling products - I'd been ambivalent and stood lamely on the sidelines which is no way to make a relationship work. It was time to give this charmer another chance and I'm glad I did. Far more generous that Mr Google, the Amazon Affiliate Program just keeps on giving.
You Just Gotta Love Amazon Associates at Christmas Time!
Earn Selling Products Through Your Website, Blog or Web 2.0 Articles
My love affair with Amazon Associates was rekindled with the 60 Day Challenge which took place in April/May of 2010. The 60 Day challenge was/is great (I'm still benefiting from taking part) and so thanks have to go out to sunforged, a fabulous internet marketer and top geezer, who came up with the 60DC and took some of us along for the ride into the world of making money online. Part of my personal aims for the challenge was to make a concerted effort to write more sales oriented, product review articles, based on Amazon products, to boost my residual income levels. I wrote 30 hubs (articles) in 30 days, 14 of which were product reviews. Added to the 16 other product review hubs I have written, that's a total of 30 Amazon based articles in my portfolio, that are consistently earning between $100 - $200 per month (and more recently over $300 per month).
So, since the challenge I've been pretty successful with the Amazon affiliate program here on Hubpages and my amazon earnings have started to overshadow my adsense earnings. I know that if I continue writing and promoting sales oriented articles I can increase my residual income earnings exponentially. Another 30 product review hubs could bring in an additional $100 - $200 per month and on it continues ...... Yes, product reviews can be a bit boring to write, but they earn and they'll help me achieve my real aims, which are to earn $1000 per month in residual income by the end of the year, and get on with writing that novel - it's going to happen!
What I've Learned About Selling Online through Amazon
If I can earn a few hundred bucks a month from Amazon, anyone can earn selling Amazon products through their blog, website or Web 2.0 site (such as Hubpages or Squidoo), as long as some basic ideas are followed. These are the top 10 things I've learned about selling through Amazon in the last year.
Adding Amazon Products to Purely Informational Articles Doesn't Work
In the 9 months from May 2009 (when I started at HubPages) to the end of February 2010, I sold a total of 21 items from non product orientated hubs. That's just over 2 products a month at an average referral fee of 0.50 cents per sale. So I was nowhere near being able to retire on my Amazon income! I also made the error during the health contest here at Hubpages, of thinking that my informational articles on particular ailments would make a lot of amazon sales - they didn't then - and they don't now! To make a decent income through Amazon you need to write specifically about products and there are a variety of formats to choose from.
Your sales hubs can be on:
- One Specific Product
- Top 10's, Top 5's or Top 3's - e.g. Top 10 iPad Accessories
- A Range of Products within the Same Category e.g. Educational Toys for Under 5's
- A Range of Different but Highly Related Products - e.g. Matching Kitchen Accessories
- "Bests" - e.g. Best e-readers
I Use Market Samurai
When I got serious about earning online I decided to spend some of my income on a couple of tools to save me time. After lots of research I plumped for Market Samurai's software and I'm glad I did. MS has helped enormously with keyword research, assessing competition and keeping an eye on serps positions.
Ensure That Keywords Reflect What People Search For When They Want to Buy
All online writing that has making money as the focus needs to attract readers, but not just any old readers. To make money with product reviews we need targeted readers- ones that are highly likely to buy. So how can you tell if a search term is commercially viable? If it has the word "buy", "best" or "purchase" is in the keyphrase, then your chances of good sales conversions are pretty high.
Keyword research - If you're new to keyword research (which is a fundamental aspect of earning online), here are a couple of articles I recommend reading which each use different, but trusted, methods for finding good keyphrases: The can also be used in concert with each other, which is the method I prefer. The first article on the list also explains how to assess publisher competition, which is another underpinning skill you'll need to start earning online.
Choosing What Products to Sell
The first thing is to find your niche or niches. Are you going to write about baby products, dance wear, motorcycle accessories, interiors, gardening products or something else you know about? Depending on the strength of your research skills you might decide to write only about products you use, especially in the initial stages of learning to write sales copy. Later on you might feel confident about writing on a variety of products.
Strategy - Whatever products you choose to write on, one good strategy when choosing what products to sell is to have some high volume, low priced, product pages in conjunction with pages promoting both medium value items ($200 - $500) and higher value items ($1,000 +). Selling a lot of low cost items will not make you lots of money on their own, but will help you increase your referral rate if you are on the performance payment structure. This is something that was suggested by internet marketer extraordinaire, Mark Knowles - and it makes perfect sense.
Another trick that seems to work very well is to write 10 or more hubs on similar products within a niche and link them together through anchor text. So if you are interested in writing about motorbike accessories, you can write articles on motorbike leathers, motorbike jackets, motorbike gloves, helmets etc etc. The more articles you can write within a topic specific niche the better.
Make Your Sales Pages at least 700 Words in Length
Words, words, words! Google loves content, ie: words, and so ensuring that there is plenty of text for the Google bot to crawl is something to keep uppermost in your mind when writing sales copy. Take the advantage over other websites that sell products by writing at least 700 words for each of your sales pages. Most websites' product descriptions are around 100 - 300 words (if that) which means that you can often beat big retail websites with lengthier, well optimized and more informative content. I usually aim for about 1000 - 1200 words per article.
Use Plenty of Synomyns (related words)
When selling products on the internet, related to the amount you write, is what you write. Another top tip is to use as many related words in your text as possible and not simply sticking with your main keyphrases (though do make that sure your main keyphrase is in the url and page title). So if you have a keyphrase like, "best backpack", use other words in your text like "top", "ideal", "excellent", "cool", "knapsack", "kitbag", "rucksack". Use an online thesaurus to get ideas for highly related words to use in your article.
Write with Authority
Whether you use the product or not, write with authority and stick to the product you're writing about. You want to create a sense of trust between you and the reader and wandering off into your life story won't help. If you do use the product, tell them, but I would suggest being cautious about overdoing it with the use of "I". It can put a lot of readers off. A little personalization is good - too much is off putting.
Product Placement and Page Layout
There are of course hundreds of variations in page layout and as yet I can't say which layout is the number one to go for to get the best conversions, but one piece of advice I can give is this: Don't be shy! One little amazon capsule or widget can easily be overlooked by your reader and you don't want that. Make sure your amazon capsules (or product widgets if you're on a blog or website) are highly visible. Here are some good examples of product placement in hubs designed by hubbers making good money with Amazon Associates:
Choose the Amazon Performance Structure over the Classic Payment Structure
The performance structure payment method is far superior in my view to the classic payment structure. The more you sell the higher the % you get and it's very motivating. Currently I'm trying to get up to 7.5% referral fees which means I need to sell at least 320 items within a month. Once I hit that, I'll be pushing onto 8%.
Backlinks or Off Page SEO
There are two main approaches to making money with product reviews. One is to write lots and lots of product pages, do little or no promotion and get sales through the quantity of your pages. The other tactic (which I have gone for) is to write fewer product reviews but spend time promoting them to get them higher in the search engine results, which results in higher traffic and therefore more sales.
Without any backlinking I find that my Hubpages (which are optimized onpage for search engines) will usually naturally sit on the bottom part of page one or somewhere on page two of the search results for my chosen keyphrase. This is ok, but to make a lot of sales we need to get our pages in the top spot or at least in the top 5 spots of the serps. Unless you have found a completely untapped market or a promising new product, (if you have good luck to you!) backlinking is essential to get in the top spots for your niche.
Related to tip number 9, is using internet marketing techniques to get your pages higher in the search results and increase web traffic. There are various methods such as:
- Article marketing (writing supporting articles on other article sites)
- Creating a supporting blog or website
- Building a Social Network
- Creating Supporting Videos
I don't use all of these methods of internet marketing, so don't feel overwhelmed thinking you have to start doing all these new things! I've used article marketing, RSS feed distribution and creating supporting blogs and for me the most successful have been article marketing and RSS feed distribution.
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Make Amazon Associates Work for You
So the deal is sealed - me and Amazon are an item and it's going to stay that way :) Let the love affair continue and hopefully it will become a happy marriage.
If you are a Non US based Amazon Affiliate, make sure your account is with the right Amazon Program for HubPages.