For anyone who is first starting out with making money online, particularly in the context of starting a new blog but easily applicable to many other ventures too, there are two big names that stand out as potential opportunities. There is Google AdSense for mostly CPC (cost per click) based advertising and then there is the Amazon Associates program for CPA (cost per action) or CPS (cost per sale) based commissions. That’s also known as affiliate marketing.
I’m not necessarily saying that one is always better than the other, nor are they mutually exclusive. I’m not saying that you should definitely start with these two (or that you definitely should not). What I can say is that a very common question people have is how much money can they really make sending people to Amazon to buy stuff.
Boosting Your Amazon Earnings
There are many simple strategies and tactics you can employ in order to maximize the amount of money you make as an Amazon affiliate. It’s a good idea for you to browse around some of the top affiliate forums to key in on the experiences of your fellow dot com entrepreneurs.
Just like everything else to do with making money online, the key is to experiment, to test and to track. Try a variety of different methods and strategies, carefully split-testing to see what works best for you.
Blogging or Niche Sites?
As an Amazon affiliate with the ultimate goal of generating as much income as possible, your objective is two-fold. First, you need to get traffic to your site. Second, you need to then send that targeted traffic to Amazon so the visitors actually buy something. Realistically, that second objective is two parts in and of itself.
Put another way, you have to put the notion of a “conversion rate” in at least two different ways. First, what percentage of visitors to your site are going to click on the link and be sent to Amazon? Second, what percentage of the visitors you get to Amazon will actually buy something?
The nature of your content will have a dramatic impact on both of these numbers. Many people have said that while consistent blogging is good for getting people to read your content, it isn’t as good for converting into sales as having a targeted niche site or microsite.
People who read a blog are interested in reading. People who arrive on a shopping-oriented niche site are more interested in buying. As a result, the conversion rate on a niche site could be higher. And let’s not forget about the “bounties” that you can earn for getting people to sign up for Prime or an Audible subscription.
Other content and affiliate marketing specialists may disagree, saying that leveraging your blog into more of an authority site with a buyer’s guide is the most effective way of generating Amazon sales. The actual conversion rates will vary widely. Some bloggers report rates as low as 1% (clicks-to-buyers), while some very targeted niche sites can have conversion rates of 10% or more.
A Completely Counter-Intuitive Approach
Here’s another thought that I encountered during my journeys through the web and the resulting conclusion is almost a little ironic.
Most bloggers and other site owners would like visitors to their sites to stay on the site as long as possible, reading as much content as possible. Time on site is a fantastic metric to measure. If you can get the average number of page views per unique visitor up, that’s a good thing for your overall traffic numbers.
But it might not be so good from the perspective of making money from the Amazon Associates program. One affiliate tested this theory and found that his “ugly” site converted far better than his better designed site. The presumed rationale here is that the visitor wanted the fastest way to get *off* the site rather than sticking around and the embedded Amazon links or banners were the easiest way out.
And when they get out, they’re on Amazon. And when they’re on Amazon, they’re ready to buy.
Who Are You Targeting?
A big contributing factor that simply cannot be ignored is the type of product that you are promoting. Convince someone on your site to buy a brand new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV digital SLR at about $4,500 and you’ll stand to earn as much as $450 off that single sale if you are at the top 10% commission rate. Even at the lowest 4% rate, you’re getting about $180.
And let’s not forget that someone interested in buying a higher end digital camera like that is likely also to invest in some new lenses and other premium accessories, quickly growing your commission off that single referral.
Contrast that to promoting a cheap $5 e-book that’ll earn you 50 cents in commission at best. The $5 e-book may be more of an impulse buy and there’s a possibility that you’ll do higher volume, but how much volume do you need to make up in order to get at the same level as the guy who promotes high-end DSLRs? All he needs is one sale to blow you out of the water unless you are literally sending over 900 times the number of paying customers.
That’s how you can end up spending $150 on paid traffic only to generate a mere $18 in earnings. You’re wasting your money.
The Short Answer: It Depends
When you ask someone how much they can expect to earn flipping burgers at the local fast food restaurant, you can probably expect a rather specific number. If you ask someone how much a typical nurse working at the hospital can earn, you can pull up numbers based on your local area.
If you ask someone how much they can make as an affiliate with Amazon Associates, the number is much more muddled. There are people who slave away at pushing Amazon links for years, barely making a few pennies a month. Other people are earning thousands of dollars every month. With such a huge variance in conversion, products promoted, traffic generated and more, it’s not surprise that we can’t find a straight answer.
So, it depends. It depends on you and what you’re able to do. What we can say is the opportunity is certainly there. Sell a few high end cameras, run hundreds of high-converting micro sites, and you could have an Amazon-fueled empire on your hands.