How to Make Money with Amazon Associates in 2021

So, you want to know how to make money with the Amazon Associates affiliate program?

Well, listen up. I’ve been making money with the Amazon affiliate program since 2008.

In that time, I’ve made over $1,239,861 from it.

I’ve built dozens of sites which made money in this way — like this one below, which made $9,380.65 in a single month.

Amazon Earnings

There is a lot of bad advice out there, written by people who don’t actually make any money from Amazon Associates.

In this blog post, I’m going to set the record straight and show you how to do it right.

But first, let me explain something.

🏗 How Does Amazon Associates Work?

Amazon Associates is the Amazon affiliate program.

Once you sign up, you’ll find a special toolbar at the top of Amazon.com.

Amazon Associates Toolbar

You can use this to create an affiliate link to almost any product sold on Amazon.

You can share these affiliate links on your own website or on social media sites such as YouTubeTikTok, or Pinterest.

When someone clicks on one of your affiliate links, they get tracked using cookies.

Affiliate Tracking Code

“Cookies” are a web tracking technology and unfortunately have nothing to do with the chocolate chip cookies you had for lunch.

You earn a small commission on whatever the person buys while the cookie is active (which is 24 hours after clicking an Amazon Affiliate Link).

Amazon Associates 24h Cookie

The trick to making a lot of money? Recommend the right products to the right people

If you do this through a website or blog, you can start to make money passively.

Read on and I’ll show you the exact steps to achieve this.

It’s easy to agree that you like the idea of making money and recommending products.

But the next logical question is this: Who are you going to recommend them to?

If no one clicks, you won’t make any money.

And if that happens, your next instinct may be to spam your friends and family.

Family Chat With Affiliate Link

First, don’t be that person — nobody is going to want to talk to you at the next family barbeque.

Second, if you do happen to do that, you may get banned from the program. Amazon doesn’t want you to be that person either.

The right way to go about doing it is starting a blog and writing content about a specific topic.

Like Amazon Affiliate Kevin, from Epic Gardening, who wrote this blog post about the Best Water Chillers for Hydroponics.

Epic Gardening Review Post

Or Amazon Affiliate Josh, from Expert Photography, who wrote a blog post about the Best Nikon Cameras.

Expert Photography Review Post

Kevin and Josh both started out as bloggers passionate about a topic.

They wrote great, keyword target content and were able to rank on Google for some of these keywords.

Kevin now gets hundreds of thousands of people reading his gardening reviews, every single month.

Epic Gardening Organic Traffic

But this didn’t happen overnight.

Notice that in the early days, less than 100 people per day were reading his blog.

Amazon is not a get rich quick scheme or a magic money tree. 

But, it does represent a way to build an online business and make money — if you are willing to work for it.

I’ll show you how to build a business like Kevin and Josh later in this blog post. 

But first, let’s address the elephant in the room.

🤑 How Much Can You Make From The Amazon Affiliate Program?

The exact amount Amazon pays for each sale depends on the category of the item purchased.

See below for their current rates:

Amazon Commission Rates

Commission rates of just a few percent may seem small — and, to be honest, they are. More on that later.

But, the amazon affiliate program has several redeeming features.

First, you earn a referral fee for everything people buy — for up to 24 hours — after clicking your product links. Even if it was a totally different product.

And we all know how easy it is to buy a few extra items on Amazon!

Just last week, I went to buy some dog food and ended up also buying a new dog collar and an umbrella.

Amazon Order

In fact, “Amazon addiction” is now a thing.

My friend Kate, from Parked in Paradise, recently made $240 commission after someone bought a $8,000 metal detector. And her site has nothing to do with metal detectors!

Amazon Single Commission

Amazon also happens to be one of the most trusted websites in the world. Over 112 million Americans have Amazon Prime.

Adding to that, tens of millions more have their card details stored in their Amazon account, to make their next purchase quick and easy.

Meaning you can expect the volume of sales to be high with the Amazon affiliate program.

How Much Does A Website Make From Amazon Associates?

Last month, a small sports site we own made $1,687.72 from the Amazon affiliate program.

Monthly Amazon Earnings

The site had 65,572 people visit in that time.

Monthly Organic Traffic

That works out to an income of around $25.73 per thousand visitors. 

Not bad, but not earth-shattering either.

However, this income represents less than half of what the website makes in total. It is monetized with other affiliate programs and also with ads.

In the same time period, the site made $2,007 from ads.

Monthly Ads Revenue

When you build a website to make money with Amazon Associates, you can earn a lot more by looking at other ways to make money blogging.

Remember, too, that a website can be sold for around 40x it’s monthly earnings.

So that $1,687.72 our site made from Amazon last month could represent over $64,000 of additional asset value!

One of the largest Amazon Associates website acquisitions was when The Wire Cutter was sold to The New York Times for $30m.

Wirecutter Acquisition

Amazon Has A History Of Slashing The Commissions They Pay

Many businesses have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. Just listen to some of the horror stories from the Antitrust hearings in 2020.

Affiliates have more reasons than most to dislike Amazon — the company has massively cut their commission rates, twice! 

Here is their most recent set of changes:

Amazon Affiliate Commissions Change

Many sites in the above niches lost half their income overnight.

Check our our reaction to the last big cut:

Not all categories were cut. But a great many were.

This led many to question whether Amazon Associates was still worthwhile.

Is Amazon Associates Still Profitable In 2021?

The short answer is yes.

Take Artur, for example. He made $1,500 per month from Amazon after a year.

Amazon Associates Earnings1

Or Baber, who made over $2,100 per month after just 10 months.

Amazon Associates Earnings2

There are countless other affiliate marketers making money with the Amazon affiliate program.

But, the changes from 2020 have pushed many websites to seek alternatives to Amazon.

The unfortunate truth is that there is no single alternative.

This means that sites must now apply to and manage dozens of separate affiliate programs

And while this can be a lot of hassle, there are some really high paying affiliate programs out there.

We’ve used high paying affiliate programs to grow a brand new site to $15,000 per month in revenue, in just a year and a half.

Revenue Overview

Think of Amazon Associates as the best place to start. Or your “everything else” affiliate program.

Amazon has the widest range of products and the most amount of consumer trust.

Then, as your site grows, start testing different affiliate programs.

There is no need, and little point, in testing other affiliate programs early on. Focus on growing your traffic at this time and optimize your monetization later.

Eventually, you’ll find a nice mix of individual high paying affiliate programs and the broad coverage that Amazon Associates offers. 

This is how you can best leverage Amazon Associates to make money in 2021.

👍 Step-By-Step Guide To Making Money With Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates is not a get rich quick scheme. But, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, you can make great money.

The best way to do this is to build an affiliate website around a single niche.

Here’s your how- to:

Step 1) Choose A Niche That Will Work For Amazon Associates

The number one tip when choosing a niche that will work for Amazon Associates is to follow the money.

And no, that doesn’t mean you need to start a site reviewing Rolex watches.

What it does mean is you need to make sure that the niche you choose is commercially viable — that other people are making money in it.

When I first started building sites, I spent forever trying to figure out a niche that no one else had discovered yet.

Hear my struggles in this episode of our podcast:

In hindsight, this was completely the wrong approach. If there is money to be made, someone will have already figured it out.

But, you can use this phenomenon to your advantage.

You can look for commercial activity in a niche and use that to validate it’s potential.

But how do we do that?

My favorite hack is to check writer jobs boards for sites who are hiring — the ProBlogger Jobs Board is a great place to start.

Problogger Job Board

Generally, businesses only hire people when they are making money, making this a sure fire way to tell if a niche is commercially viable.

Just follow the money.

You can use this same “follow the money” tactic to scout website for-sale listings on sites like Flippa and Empire Flippers.

Empire Flippers Listings

Remember, though, that money isn’t everything.

It’s far better to choose a niche where you have the ability to create high quality content.

For example, if you happen to be a dog trainer like my wife, you should strongly consider the pet niche.

Be sure to validate your niche by making sure there are several smaller or newer sites ranking for some of the competitive keywords.

If your niche is full of giant media companies, consider choosing an easier niche instead.

Step 2) Build Your Affiliate Site

In 2021, you can easily build an affiliate site with zero design or coding skills.

You’ll need a .com domain and a hosting company. 

We recommend SiteGround for both — hosting starts at $6.99 per month.

Siteground Pricing

If you are building an Amazon Associates site, definitely choose the WordPress platform. It’s by far the best, it’s built into SiteGround, and it’s free!

Setting it up is as easy as clicking two buttons.

Siteground New Site Setup

GeneratePress and Kadence offer free and premium WordPress themes that work really well for Amazon Associates sites.

Use Coolors to pick a color scheme that looks awesome.

Coolors

Then, use Fontjoy to select some modern fonts. Both are free to use.

Fontjoy

You can even use the free version of Canva to make your own logo, with zero design skills necessary.

Canva

We have a comprehensive guide on how to build an Amazon Affiliate site. Check it out for a step-by-step tutorial.

Step 3) Sign Up To Amazon Associates

It’s fast and free to sign up.

Head over to the website and click the “Sign up” button to begin your application.

Amazon Associates Program

You’ll then need to create an Amazon account. You can sign in to your existing Amazon shopping account here if you have one.

Amazon Sign In

Enter your address details, or select an existing address from your Amazon account.

Amazon Associates Account Information

Next, enter your website URL in the first box and click the “Add” button.

Amazon Associates Account Website

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) means that Amazon Associates does not accept sites aimed at children. Select “No” if your website doesn’t qualify.

Amazon Associates Coppa

You’ll then be asked to create a store ID. This is a unique ID that will appear on all your link URLs.

Amazon Associates Store Id

Next, you have to enter a short description of what your website is about. Just write a few sentences talking about what content you plan to create.

Amazon Associates Website Description

After that, select the appropriate topic for your website and tick which products you plan to promote.

Amazon Associates Website Topic

Choose how you plan to drive traffic to your website. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is how I usually do this.

I’ll cover that in Step 6 of this article. Select the appropriate options from the remaining drop down menus.

Amazon Associates Traffic Monetization

Once you agree to their terms and conditions, that’s it — you’re in! You’ll receive an email with your account information.

After signing up, you have 180 days to make 3 sales. If you fail to do that, you have to sign up again.

After making 3 sales, Amazon will manually review your website to make sure it conforms to their quality standards.

They just want to check that you are following the program rules and not deceiving anyone.

One of the most important rules is to put the Amazon disclaimer on every page of your website.

Amazon Disclaimer

You just need to include the text, “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Step 4) Publish Commercial Content

Commercial content is used to review and promote affiliate products.

The focus of your article should be a product, and this works great for Amazon Associates since you’ll get people who are already interested in the product coming to your site from Google.

They will most likely be considering making a purchase — the perfect time to show them your Amazon affiliate link.

The thing is, the big players know this too.

Serp Results With Commercial Content

That’s why huge publications, such as national newspapers, have recently been churning out hundreds of affiliate reviews every month.

They tend to target higher priced products, as they pay higher commissions.

With this in mind, don’t try and compete with them — at least not while you’re just starting out.

Even if you write a great article, you are unlikely to get much organic traffic if you have to compete with the big boys.

Instead, go for more obscure keywords.

The “vs article” is perfect for this. Simply compare one product to another. 

For example, take the keyword “Royal Canin Dog Food review.”

Several established sites are already targeting that:

High Kd Serp Results

We can even see that some Reddit comments are ranking — a signal that competition is much lower.

If we write a comparison article discussing the various features and benefits of Royal Canin to Purina One, we have a decent chance to rank for this keyword.

While you’re creating your article, be sure to research each brand individually so that you can write a solid comparison.

Great commercial content starts with a strong introduction. Get to the point and avoid telling your reader stuff they already know.

Another tip to make your content more engaging is to film a YouTube video on the topic and embed that in your article. 

Don’t have time for that? Well, you can embed almost any YouTube video from any YouTube channel into your article instead.

In fact, I’ll do that myself just now.

Check out this video I made with expert writer Kevin Meng on how to write good commercial content:

Once you’ve seen some success from writing “vs articles,” you can try some other types of commercial content:

  • Alternatives Posts — Ranking alternatives to a certain product
  • Roundup Reviews — Comparing the best products for a certain use
  • Single Product Reviews — A detailed review of a single product

Check out our other blog post on how to write product reviews that sell.

After writing commercial content, you can start to add your Amazon Associates affiliate links.

Log into Amazon Associates Central and then navigate to Amazon.com. You’ll see the SiteStrip bar at the top of the page.

Amazon Associates Sitestrip

Go to the product page you want to create a link to, and click the “Text” link under “Get Link.” 

This allows you to generate an Amazon affiliate link.

A good tip is to always use the “Full Link” rather than the shortened link. This makes life much easier as your site grows. You can also create product images to link to.

Insert this Amazon link into your article.

Amazon Text Affiliate Link

Select the Image link on the SiteStripe bar. 

Choose image size Large — even the large images can be quite small.

Then, copy the link and insert it into your article as an HTML block in WordPress.

Amazon Image Affiliate Link

It’s usually best to include Amazon links in the following places in your content:

  • At the start of the article in the first few paragraphs
  • Any time you use an image of the article
  • Any time you mention a new product or alternative for the first time
  • At the end of the article in a call to action statement

Step 6) Use Search Engine Optimization To Promote Your Site

Once you’ve started publishing content on your site, the next step is to start building links to it.

Most search engines view links from other sites to your site as a sort of voting mechanism.

The more links you have the better. And the more links you have from high quality established sites, also the better.

So, how do we get these?

Enter HARO.

HARO stands for “Help a Reporter Out.” 

It’s a tool which journalists use to source quotes, opinions, and expertise for their stories.

Once you sign up, you’ll get 3 emails per day with a huge list of queries.

They look like this:

Haro Queries

When you find a query that you can respond to, open it up and you’ll get a more detailed question. 

Here is an example of one that I responded to:

Haro Response

Journalists want a unique personal story, so share something from your own experience if possible.

Here is the email I sent back to the journalist above:

Haro Reply

She ended up quoting me in her article — and I got a nice link out of it, too.

Haro Link Result

Answer a few questions every day, and you’ll soon start to build a lot of links to your own site.

You can stack this approach with other link building tactics such as Guest Posting and skyscraper link building.

Also, check out this video on how to build your first 100 links to a new site:

Link building can be a grind, and it definitely takes time. But once you’ve built up a lot, you’ll start to generate traffic every day from Google and other search engines. 

This is how you build an Amazon Associates business that can make you real passive income.

Remember, too, that SEO is not just about link building. You’ll also want to level up your On Page Optimization and internal linking.

Step 7) The Winning Formula

The truth is, there is no secret to making money with Amazon Associates.

The winning formula is to provide value through your content, attract visitors with SEO, and monetize using Amazon affiliate links.

Then, look at other ways to monetize your site that work in parallel with Amazon Associates.

There are no shortcuts or silver bullets here — beware of anyone who says otherwise.

It takes a lot of time and effort to start and grow an Amazon affiliate website. Most people won’t do it. They would rather just watch Netflix than learn digital marketing.

But, if you are someone who has the determination to succeed, then I’d encourage you to get started.

The first step is always the hardest.

As someone who has been in this industry since 2008, and as someone who has sold multiple businesses in that time, I can tell you for a fact that it is absolutely worth it.

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