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How to earn money with an Amazon Affiliate website (plus examples)

How to earn money with an Amazon Affiliate website (plus examples)

Amazon’s affiliate program is one of the most in-demand and lucrative ways of earning a fairly passive income. US spending alone on affiliate programs will likely cross the $8 billion mark by 2022. And Amazon’s continuing surge in revenue may largely be because of its affiliate websites that are doing well.

Today, we’ll take an look at what an Amazon affiliate site is and what it takes to be successful. So, if you’ve been wondering how to earn money with an Amazon affiliate website, this brief guide is the right place to start.

My Experience

I’ve ran a couple of sites monetized with Amazon over the past five years and had one ‘Amazon affiliate’ site. Whilst earnings for these sites can be excellent and relatively fast compared to other types of sites such as blogs, you either need to be ‘into’ what you are writing about, or very methodical and disciplined.

I started my Amazon affiliate site in 2017 and sold it in January 2021. It was about audio equipment, something I thought I’d really enjoy writing about. Except I didn’t. It earned a nice sum considering the limited amount of posts and zero updates in several years. This is because what I lacked giving it in content, I had more than made up for in keyword research, backlinking and on-site optimization.

As like most business opportunities, to be successful, you’ll need to dig in and learn some stuff!

Why are Amazon Affiliate sites so popular?

There are three main reasons;

  1. All-in-one program and thus easy to manage: You only need to register for one affiliate program and you have access to nearly every product you can think of and in multiple geographic regions.
  2. Click throughs get higher conversions (sales): Amazon are the biggest retail outlet in the western world and their Amazon Prime is available in several countries. A trusted site with ‘free’ shipping on many products means higher sales conversions.
  3. All items purchased qualify for commission: Unlike many other sites and affiliate programs, when you send someone to Amazon, you will earn on any purchase, not just the item you sent them to. For example, you have a lawnmower review site, you may find yourself earning commissions for random items such as a cocktail shakers and teeth whitening kits.

What makes an ‘Amazon affiliate site’ different from a blog?

There are many different types of websites with different styles of content. Most small-medium sites are monetised by display advertising or affiliate content. The lion’s share (and then some!) of display on these sites is Adsense, whilst for affiliate it is Amazon.

There is however a difference between sites that are monetized with Amazon, and sites that are specifically designed ‘Amazon affiliate sites’.

Most blogs, including the majority of van life blogs you read are ‘monetized with’ Amazon (and usually Adsense too). Some may have other monetization such as direct affiliation, selling ebooks etc. Over time, this site will probably be partially monetized by Amazon – it already has a few Amazon links.

However, an ‘Amazon affiliate site’ is a site setup almost exclusively to target a specific niche and monetize with Amazon (very often, exclusively with Amazon).

Here is an Amazon affiliate site tools niche example and here’s one developed for tents. There are also sites that get even more specific. These are known as ‘micro niche sites’. For example, you could make a site about outdoor movie projectors or one about reclining chairs….or maybe you’re more of a massage chair kind of person?

Yeah, it’s amazing how many ‘niches’ there are!

Sometimes you will find general Amazon doing well, for example 7best, however for the most part a ‘niche’ focused site will generate returns faster. Either way, you’ll see a pattern when you start looking at these sites which are highly optimized for Amazon monetization.

How to sign up for Amazon Associates

Setting up an Amazon affiliate account aka Amazon Associates is pretty straightforward, so I won’t get into those details here.

But one very important condition to note here is that Amazon will review your website for suitability soon after you sign up.

Your site will need to look good and contain fresh content. There’s also a list of objectionable content like sexually explicit material or illegal activities that can prevent you from getting on the program.

And once you’ve got on the program, there are a number of requirements. The major one to be aware of is that you’ll need to make three sales in 180 days or less, or they will boot you out.

For this reason, I recommend ensuring your website has some steady traffic before signing up.

Picking the right ‘Amazon’ niche

There are a few things you can do to research and narrow down your niche, however it comes down mostly to your personal preferences, especially if you’ll be the one doing the research and writing. Otherwise, you’ll get bored pretty quickly.

One thing you should do is check the commission rates for different products on Amazon, you’ll find various rates for different categories.

Popular categories like home, tech, and fashion range around 2-4%, but the competition is high in these categories: video game consoles and groceries may be easier to sell, but the payoff is less (so you need volume). And luxury beauty goods have a whopping 10% commission, but the target audience is specific, and conversion more difficult.

In addition to these commissions, you get ‘bounty’ rates if people sign up for Amazon’s services via your link eg Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited. This can be a niche in itself (many book review sites rely heavily on Amazon).

Most Amazon Affiliate sites gain traffic via search engines, which requires SEO. That means, keyword research!

I do love keyword research, however it’s far too big a topic to cover within this post. What I would suggest is getting some high level keyword research carried out based on a few niches you might be interested in.

Basic / preliminary research: First, narrow down a list of niches based on your interests &/or products that sell on Amazon. Simply browse/search Amazon and when you find something that interests you, has a reasonable BSR (Best Seller Rank) and positive reviews such as the example below.

Then, do a Google search for it (or the niche). What you are hoping to find is ‘low quality’ sites at the top of the search results — sites you can potentially beat. After you find a few potential niches (this could take you hours/days), then ideally you’d do some deeper keyword research.

There are lots of keyword gigs on Fiverr that will find you metrics on search volume and competition (ensure you are asking them to find phrases with commercial or buyer intent) or you could sign up for a free trial on my favourite keyword research tool, ahrefs and do it yourself. There are also lots of free keyword generator/ suggestion tools such as https://keywordshitter.com. Gotta love that name!

Ahrefs also have some awesome blog posts on how to do keyword research. You’ll be looking for ‘low hanging fruit’ with buyer intent, and very often this is people searching for a review on a specific item.

In general, most successful affiliates will advise you to pick a niche that’s within your area of expertise and where you can truly engage with audiences. And I’d have to agree – otherwise you may end up like me; realising you don’t really like writing about speakers and headphones that much! A great example is Home Grounds – a coffee-lover’s paradise!

If, however you are disciplined and can ‘just do it’, without the need to be fully or emotionally engaged in the subject, there is definitely success to be had in most niches that many would consider boring; pool cleaners, compact toilets, pillows

If you can name it, you can niche it!

The dark (sad) secrets most blogs won’t tell you

If you’re thinking about an affiliate site as an income source for your van life, I reckon you’re probably a pretty decent person. And you probably have idealistic thoughts about developing a site based around a hobby, your pet or van life itself. A site full of genuine product reviews.

However, as you may have already figured out by now, the truth is that most Amazon Affiliate sites are designed purely for profit.

And there’s often little integrity; many ‘reviewers’ have never even touched the items they review, nor do they particularly care. At best, they do secondary ‘research’ (and there are some great sites based on secondary research – most smaller sites will be primarily secondary research and that’s OK). At worst, these sites just make shit up — all they want to do is rank for a keyword/phrase in Google and get that click through to Amazon and earn some commission.

They will churn out content, filled with phrases that people might search for. Often many similar posts such as “Top petrol mower”, “Best petrol lawnmower 2020”, “Best petrol mower 2021”, “Best petrol lawnmower under $300”, “Best petrol lawnmower under $500”….you get the picture. Essentially (in many cases) it’s the same regurgitated shit reworded so Google might think it’s unique content and rank it highly.

Mostly, they’ll also only ever ‘review’ products with hundreds of 5-star reviews — why? Because when you click through to Amazon and see all those 5-star reviews you’re much more likely to buy it….and the referring site will get their commission.

The good news is that there is definitely room for authentic, passion-driven affiliate sites.

And no, of course you don’t actually have to own everything you review — quality secondary research done right is grand, however it is obviously better if you have some first hand experience.

Developing the right website (SEO and structure)

You’re likely going to want to use WordPress as there are multiple plugins that can help you input Amazon products with ease and assist with the onsite aspects of SEO (search engine optimization). There are also lots of developers available to help you get started.

Most successful sites have a ‘silo’ structure to their SEO, which basically means organised buckets containing similar stuff that search engines can more easily understand and hopefully rank.

These sites will have buyers guides for 2021, ‘best {product} for {whatever}’ and ‘best {product} under $XXX’ posts.

They will have articles structured with ‘Pros’ and ‘Cons’. Very often they won’t give you the price, as they desperately want that click to Amazon.

To compete, you’re probably going to have to do something similar. Even if you are developing a more genuine brand, using some of these techniques will help get you traffic and conversions.

Review profitable Amazon affiliate sites for ideas

If you’re totally new to online marketing you may already be feeling a bit lost. But fear not, there’s a great way to see what successful sites (and niches) look like…and that’s by checking out websites for sale. Here are handy places to look for ideas;

  • Motion Invest: The majority are fairly small Amazon affiliate sites and their income has been verified.
  • Flippa: Lots of sites (and lots of rubbish!). Filter your search to display established review sites +1yr old with +$70 income & +500 visitors.
  • Empire Flippers: For inspiration – these are bigger sites with great revenue that has been verified.

You’ll need to register on each of the sites above to get best access, but it’s worth it. You’ll soon see the styles and techniques that work. Possibly you’ll get some ideas for a niche too! Some people make a full-time living just ‘copying’ these sites; producing similar versions with re-written content.

Most of what you’ll find will be very niche sites focusing on one tight subject. However as already mentioned, there are exceptions that sometimes take off such as the rather awesome https://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com.

Final tips for running an successful Amazon Affiliate website

Read the Amazon Affiliates Agreement

Too often, we’re in the habit of skipping user agreements or terms & conditions that appear in long walls of text. And yes, it’s exhausting. But in this case, it literally pays to read up on the stuff Amazon expects from you and the various tools on offer. Much like Adsense, you really do not want to get banned by Amazon!

Learn some basic HTML & WordPress skills

Get a basic grasp of HTML to manage the contents and structure for using links and tags correctly. You don’t have to be a nerdy full-stack developer, but a basic understanding will help.

Use keyword research and produce quality content

Post content that has been researched for search volume, competition and buyer intent. Make sure it is SEO-optimized, informative, easy-to-read, and well-structured so that visitors read, and eventually click through via your referral links.

Pay attention to structure, aesthetics and interface

If content is king, then design (or rather, user experience) is certainly queen. But cheesy royal tags aside, your website’s layout and user experience matter a lot if you’re trying to create engagement and drive sales. Make sure it’s intuitive and easy to browse for both savvy surfers and novice buyers.

 Summary

Like most businesses, it’s going to take a fair bit of time and effort to create a successful Amazon affiliate website that actually earns money. And you’re going to need to decide what type of site to develop; a crude money-maker or something that is more of an authentic brand.

Realistically, it will likely take 6+ months to generate any income (in addition to the content you need, Google can also take several months to rank a new site). However, in time, an Amazon affiliate site can become a fairly passive source of income.

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