It’s time for me to set aside the spatula and turn the focus inward to talk about blogging! This time ’round, I’m talking about one of my favorite income sources—the Amazon affiliate program. Since January 1st of this year, I have sold $35,594.13 worth of items through my Amazon affiliate account. Now, only a small percentage of this total goes in my pocket, but still, a small percentage of $35,000 isn’t so small!
Having a strong strategy for Amazon affiliates is one of the most important parts of my blog’s monetization plan. Amazon is a wonderful affiliate program to be part of because almost everyone orders from Amazon! In our house, we have packages coming from Amazon multiple times per week. Amazon is well-trusted, priced right, and your readers are, without a doubt, already shopping there. So you might as well make a little kickback when they do!
About Affiliate Marketing
If you’ve never done an affiliate program before, here’s how it works: you create a link to a product that has your unique tracking code embedded in it. When a reader clicks that link, their browser stores that tracking code. Then, when they make a purchase (of any product, not just the one you linked to), you get a small kickback from the company for referring them at no extra cost to the reader.
In my opinion, it is one of the most wonderful ways to make an income from your blog. Chances are, your readers are already asking for your product recommendations, and using your affiliate link is completely pain-free for them. They get to support a blogger they love and you get to make an income. It’s a win-win!
There are a ton of websites and books out there that will give you all kinds of tips and tricks for affiliate link strategies. Some are good and some are shady. The thing to always remember with affiliate links: disclose they are there (I have always have a disclosure in my side bar). Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also required by the FTC.
How to Rock Amazon Affiliates
There are as many affiliate programs out there as there are websites selling stuff, but Amazon is Queen Bee in my world. Unfortunately, the program isn’t available for everyone (sorry, people in Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, Maine, and Rhode Island—your state’s tax code makes Amazon Affiliate unable to operate there), but if you can sign up for the Amazon affiliate program, do it! And once you do, here’s a few tips for how to totally rock it:
1. Use your power as an influencer to recommend products you love.
How many times do you get asked what slow cooker you use or what your favorite brand of whole wheat pasta is or where you got that awesome watch? As a blogger, you are an influencer of your readers’ consumerism. Your recommendation is just as important (if not more important) in their decision to purchase an item as it would be if they got a recommendation from a friend. Keep this in mind and keep your recommendations authentic. Really focus on the products you use and love, your readers are more likely to hear your recommendations that way. It’s not a coincidence that the products that perform the best on my Amazon affiliate program are the products I use and love daily. Readers can tell when you really, truly love something!
2. Think of product links as a place for readers to get more information.
When you’re doing a web search for information about a product, do you often land on the Amazon product page for that item to learn more? It’s not that you are there to necessarily buy that item, but the Amazon product page is a great place to see more pictures, get the specifics, and read reviews from real users. Amazon is so engrained in our web behavior that we use it as more than just a store—we use it as a resource. Embrace that fact! When you talk about a new product, instead of linking to the website of the company, try linking to the Amazon product page with an affiliate link. The reader will still get more information about the product (and maybe even more than what would be provided on the company website), plus, if they end up purchasing anything from Amazon, you’ll get the affiliate income.
3. Use affiliate links organically in your lifestyle content.
Products are an inherent part of our day-to-day lives, so it’s only natural that when we talk about ourselves in lifestyle posts, we mention products we use. We talk about this new book we read or the water bottle we are loving or how we spent the weekend installing a new car seat. Chances are, even if you don’t link up those product mentions, many of your readers are going out and doing a web search for them independently to find out more information. Save them a step, and make yourself some possible income by linking up your product mentions. Of course, there is overkill. If every sentence you write has three or four affiliate links, people are going to get annoyed and link-blind, but if you use them sparingly, your readers will appreciate the opportunity to get more information.
4. Think outside the text link.
Text links within content are the bread and butter of my Amazon affiliate strategy, but it’s important to think outside of just linking up products in your text, too. Add in a sidebar widget that links to products you are loving. Make a page or two that shows of your favorite products (like my In My Pantry and Good Reads pages). Text links are just one way to populate your blog with affiliate links.
5. Consider creating affiliate-focused content.
If you’re really serious about generating a good chunk of affiliate income, you might consider generating affiliate-focused content. What does that mean? Well, think about all those gift guides you see in December each year—boom, affiliate-focused content. They are posts that still provide a service to your reader (like, in the gift guide example, giving your reader gift ideas), but the main purpose of the post is to get affiliate click-throughs. These types of posts aren’t right for every blog, and, like everything with affiliate marketing, when done too much becomes annoying and a little bit shady. But when done with your audience in mind, they can perform incredibly well. Two of my biggest months with the Amazon affiliate program were months where I published affiliate-focused content (a post on baby products we loved and a holiday gift guide).
6. Link up all kinds of products.
Don’t be afraid to link up products that people don’t typically buy online—remember, your affiliate income isn’t only about people buying the specific products you link to. Sure, linking to a 12 pack of tortilla chips on Amazon isn’t going to nab a lot of people (although it totally would me, I buy bulk groceries on Amazon all the time!), but if they click the link, and then see another product that interests them—you still get the affiliate income. If it lives on Amazon, link it up! Amazon does an amazing job of sucking people in to buy all kinds of things (when’s the last time you just ordered one thing from Amazon?). So you just send people to Amazon, and then let Amazon do what it’s good at—getting people to buy anything and everything!
7. Think of affiliate links as a collective strategy.
Each affiliate link you post on your blog will be lucky if it generates you a few cents of income. Some won’t generate you anything. If you just have one or two links, you’re probably thinking this affiliate marketing thing is a total sham. In my experience with Amazon, you only really start to see big income numbers when your whole blog is populated with links. Some bloggers give themselves a quota to hit (for example: one affiliate link per post), but I prefer to be much more organic about it. It can take a while to build up a library of affiliate links on your blog. My goal is that no matter what page a reader enters on, they are given an opportunity to click an affiliate link (either in the post or in the side bar). Instead of looking at how each individual link is performing, think of all of your Amazon affiliate links as a collective whole.
8. Don’t forget to link up your recipes.
If you are a food blogger, I hate to break it to you, but you know that prose you spent hours perfecting? Chances are, the vast majority of people skip right past it to the recipe. I’m sorry. It hurts, but now that you know that, you can understand why it is so important to make sure your recipes include affiliate links in some form. A very large portion of your pageviews are only viewing that content your blog, and if you’re not linking it up, you’re missing out! Especially when you consider you’ll probably get a comment or two asking what slow cooker you use. Recipes are a small space, so it can become overwhelming linking them up (I’ve admittedly, gone a little over-the-top with some of my affiliate links in recipes before), but if there is one brand of whole wheat breadcrumbs you love—link it up! If you can’t live without your baking mats—link it up! You can do this with text links, or like I do, create a custom widget for each post that showcases items.
9. Go back and link up popular posts.
You wake up, and that one post you wrote two years ago has suddenly taken off on Pinterest and you have 10,000 views on it before you’ve even had a cup of coffee. Congrats! That’s awesome! But, hey, you’ve got some work to do. Go into that post and add affiliate links! Even if you linked it up before, use this as an opportunity to clean up the post, and get those affiliate links front and center. For example, during Christmas, my How to Make Cinnamon Dough Ornaments post went crazy viral—and it didn’t have any affiliate links in it. So I went back, and updated it to have links to some of the ingredients and products I used to help me make the ornaments, and I sold quite a bit through those links!
10. Listen to your readers.
You have a treasure trove of market research in the comments section of your blog. Listen to your readers. Listen to what products they are asking about. Listen to what products they are using. Those are the types of products they are more likely to click on and purchase. For example, when my first Lunches Lately post went up, I didn’t have any affiliate links in it, but the longer it was up, the more and more comments I got asking about the lunch boxes I used. It never occurred to me that people would care about my lunch containers—but oh boy, did they! I added affiliate links, and I consistently sell 3-4 of those lunch boxes every, single day through my Amazon account. Let your readers guide you!
Those are my big tips for rocking Amazon affiliates. Share your tips in the comments!