Why I Am Not An Amazon.com Affiliate

A few readers were surprised to find out that the Amazon.com link in my review of the 4-hour workweek wasn’t my affiliate link. Lewis Empire asked the following question in the comments.

Why aren’t you an Amazon affiliate? It looks like you could make a bunch from this referral. Any reason to stay away from Amazon?

There is no reason to stay away from the Amazon.com affiliate program. I don’t use it because it doesn’t meet my requirements for a good affiliate program. What are you those requirements? I’m glad you asked.

High Affiliate Payout

Amazon.com offers a base commission of 4% on sales and the average book cost $15.00. I would need to sell a lot of books to make any money at those rates. When I’m on the lookout for an affiliate program, the first thing I look for is the payout. Four percent of sale and a $100 minimum to receive a check would mean I need to sell 167 book at $15.00 before I can get a check (it’s $10 if you choose direct deposit).

Text Link Ads pays me $25 for signing up a new advertiser or publisher. That’s the same as selling over 40 books on Amazon. For this blog, signing someone up for Text Link Ads is a lot easier than selling a book because it doesn’t cost anything. This brings up point number two.

Free Is A Very Good Price

All the affiliate offers I deal with cost nothing to the readers. It doesn’t cost anything to sign up for a Google AdSense or Bidvertiser account. Studies have proven that conversions increases when the offer cost zero (yes, they actually had to do a study to confirm this).

When free is combined with a very high affiliate payout, the results can be amazing. My post featuring the Gold Business Amex pays $200 when someone signs up for the card. If you read the comments, you’ll see that at least four people have taken advantage of the offer. I’m sure a bunch more order up the card but didn’t make a comment about it. How many Amazon books would you need to sell to match that?

I may take on an affiliate deal that cost money to the reader if the payout is very high (like 50% or more) and is very targeted to my market.

Sell Exclusive offers

I highly doubt my review of the 4-Hour Workweek would have sold more than a dozen books because the book is available at any book stores. Amazon.com doesn’t have an exclusive on it. Because of the competition, price pressure is placed on the product which lowers the selling price and with it, your commission.

All the affiliate programs I deal with have an exclusive on their offerings – you can’t get it anywhere else. The rule to remember is: if you can get it at the local Walmart, it’s probably not worth promoting on the Net.

Passive Income Potential

I will accept a lower payout if the affiliate deal offers residual income potential. While the $25 payout from Text Link Ads is very nice, I would like it a lot more if they give a percentage of affiliate sales. My private affiliate deal with Kontera gives me a percentage of the volume generated by sites I refer to the network. The same goes for AuctionAds and AGLOCO.

Passive income is really the best type of income you can make. Once you lay in the foundation, you don’t have to work anymore for the income to keep coming in. All those sites I signed up will continue to generate money for months and years to come. If you can get your passive income to cover all your living expenses you become financially free. That’s a very good position to be in.

Highly Targeted Offerings

If you look at my Make Money page, you’ll see that every single offer is highly targeted to my blog. While Amazon.com does have books that are targeted to my market, the program fails on all the other requirements.

99 thoughts on “Why I Am Not An Amazon.com Affiliate”

  1. Lewis Empire says:

    I didn’t expect a full length explanation to my question but thanks for the great information!

    1. Kunal says:

      I don’t konw why everyone seems so intrigued by this, at some point its just better business to show that you will not whore yourself out just to nickel and dime everything.

      It just shows better business, that once in a while you actually provide information where you don’t want anything in return.

      Sometimes good business is by not asking for business.

      1. Lewis Empire says:

        Of course it’s good business to provide top quality, honest reviews. It just makes sense that if you really like something and are willing to recommend it to people that you give the option for people to buy online.

        If John makes a recommendation and I buy the book, I’d be happy if he made a few bucks (especially when it doesn’t cost me anything extra).

        Hey John, maybe you should have an affiliate link when you like a book and no link when you don’t.

        1. as they say “every little helps”, and lewis does have a point there.

          as the link wouldn’t make you some serious amount of money, you can just have a link under BUY ME A BEER, and get a few dollars as it comes. it will add up surely…

          1. MrGPT says:

            It’s really only $0.60 though.

          2. Amazon is not an amazing income generator afterall.

          3. It may prove to be good for other sites. However, the bottom line is it just doesn’t meet John’s requirements and it looks like there might be no need for it on this site at all.

    2. Yeah, a thorough explanation yet I wonder why John keeps mentioning books only?

      There are a plethora of high-priced and high-quality products on Amazon other than books that readers purchase thru affiliate links.

      I know Amazon shifted down the percentage earnings on electronics six months or so ago, causing anger, but there’s still good money to be made.

      I don’t know.

      Maybe John knows of better affiliate programs for non-book Amazon products?

      1. MrGPT says:

        He has a huge list here. πŸ™‚

  2. John: I make around 7% on my amazon sales.. not 4…. you have to select their performance program to get a higher commission.. from 0 to 6 sales, you get 4%, from 7 to 30, 6%, from 30 to 100, 6.5, etc..

    It’s better than nothing if you ask me..


    1. Jarle says:

      But still… It’s not a lot. I think Amzon is the only one getting rich on their sales.

      1. ritchie says:

        but that’s true for most other affiliate programs, too. if you write a lot a about books, not affliate-linking them just means leaving money on the table.

    2. blogcrowds says:

      John you can’t leverage anything better than a 4-10% payout? (Like with Kontera).

      Come on man show us some classic evil scheme 😈

    3. That actually sounds perfect for those who are seriously into capitalizing from Amazon affiliate earnings.

  3. I was wondering too why you didn’t have amazon affs πŸ˜•

  4. Googlelady says:

    Totally agree with you John

    1. shaun says:

      yeh I agree to.. being an amazon affiliate just doesn’t seem worth it.

  5. Jamie Harrop says:

    All that is well and good, John, but I’m sat here thinking that it takes five minutes to become an Amazon affiliate, and 30 seconds to create an affiliate link for each product you want to link to and you don’t lose anything.

    With that in mind, surely it’s worth becoming an affiliate, right? I know… $100 isn’t much of an affiliate payout, but it would be a decent prize in a blog contest.

    Your answer was fantastic, but I’m still wondering why you’re not an affiliate. It doesn’t take much of your time, and you don’t lose anything in the process.

    If you have your reasons (and I’m sure you do) I would love to hear them. πŸ™‚

    1. john’s already stated the reasons in the post above

      1. Jamie Harrop says:

        He’s stated the reasons why he doesn’t want to use Amazon Associates.

        I guess I’m looking for his reasons why he doesn’t want to earn some more money for very little effort. πŸ™‚

        Sure, I could understand it if it had some other negative effect, but I’m not seeing any obvious negatives from using Amazon Associates. Of course, I’m sure John has his reasons (if he didn’t have his reasons, he would be using Amazon Associates), so I’m hoping John will enlighten us and share those reasons. πŸ™‚

  6. Great thoughts on why not to be an Amazon affiliate. Good points also on what to look for when monetizing your blog.

    1. webd360 says:

      Yes, I agree I actually learned a lot of what to look for when doing affiliate marketing (I currently don’t do it so I don’t know much about it, but if I decide to start I will definitely know what to look for thanks to this πŸ˜€ )

  7. Great thoughts on why not to be an Amazon affiliate. Good points also on what to look for when monetizing your blog.

  8. I use amazon affiliate occasionally but really its not the place I intend on making the money I do it because I like the way they make the box look for my book reviews.

  9. You are a genious

    1. MrGPT says:

      Right you are. πŸ™‚

  10. Rosinha says:

    You really break all the standards and rules people take for granted, or follow wihtout thinking too much about them. And that’s what I love about you…

    Not being an amazon affiliate is your option, we will have to respect that, but, if you ask me, considering your huge audience, you are loosing big bucks. I believe you would reach payout time in just a few weeks…

    But that’s just me.

    Beijinho (kiss)

    1. good point, rosinha

    2. Jarle says:

      $100 in a few weeks isn’t exactly big bucks. The space is probably better spent advertising other products.

      1. Jamie Harrop says:

        Oh, now this brings up an interesting point.

        John, are you talking about links to products within a blog entry, or are you talking about a block of Amazon advertising in a side bar or header of a Web site? If the latter, it seems your logic is very solid, because there are far better affiliate programs out there that can live in that ad space.

        However, if you’re talking about a basic link in a blog entry which would have been a link to Amazon whether you are an affiliate or not, I’m still a little surprised you opted for the route of no affiliation.

      2. I think this comment sized it up exactly. To make any revenue on Amazon, what would John have to give up?

        There’s only a limited amount of space on each page, so to make it worthwhile, he’d have to give up

        TTZ Media

        or one of his other streams of income.

        It’s not that he couldn’t make money, but compared to his existing schemes, he’d make less money for more work…

        now that ain’t evil, it’s just dumb. 😈

        1. Indeed, good points made by Rosinha, Jarle, and Investor. John’s maximizing his affiliate space and with the way things are going for him right now, looks like he’s doing pretty well even without Amazon.

  11. I have several books of my own on Amazon, and I agree with where you are coming from. I find that most of my sales come from bookstores…

  12. In addition, alot of people buy the books used from Amazon. Thus they pay $7 used vs a new $15 book and you end up getting $0.28. Woo hoo! πŸ˜›

    1. That’s for the used-books category alone though. As others have pointed out, I understand their concern for other potentially “lucrative” categories on Amazon as well. A colleague of mine just recently purchased a pink iPod shuffle on Amazon; he could’ve found it from an affiliate link. πŸ˜‰ Well, to each his own, right?

  13. If you are going to use Amazon as an affiliate, you must target high dollar items like electronics. But since JC already has that with TTZ he has no need to use Amazon.

    1. There you go; good point, Win.

  14. The key to making some profit with amazon is only to provide a way into the site.. I link to some lcd screen cleaners in one of my article, and often end up selling books, cds and even cosmetics through the link.

    Someone even bought a huge compost pail on Monday πŸ™‚

    1. A pale? Seriously? This strategy seems to be working well for you; well done. And yes, geeks are sexy.

  15. DerekBeau says:

    I don’t think thats a very good reason to not be an Amazon affiliate.

    1) 4% is only the base rate
    2) 4% is still greater than 0%
    3) The affiliate link doesn’t effect those who purchase anyways
    4) People buy all kinds of stuff on Amazon, not just books. I have sold thousand dollar stereo systems while promoting a dog brush πŸ™‚

    Weren’t you the one who wrote a post about setting cookies to catch sales? I go directly to “amazon.com” weekly to buy stuff, but I would guess that 90% of my purchases are giving commissions to someone else. Not because they referred me to a product, but because they got their affiliate cookie on my computer 😯

    One thing that does bother me about Amazon though is their 24-hour cookie. If I was going to boycott them for something, that would be it.

    1. Derek, another great information on amazon affiliate program.

      But really setting up amazon affiliate links is hard work. If there is an easy way to set up a amazon affiliate link in my blog, i don’t mind to do it.

      1. Debra Hamel says:

        Setting up an affiliate link isn’t hard work. It takes seconds. Just get their standard text link and replace the ASIN with the appropriate number for your product. You certainly don’t have to go into the site each time to make links.

        1. This is very helpful information, you guys. All this time I thought it took longer than seconds to set it up.

  16. uday says:

    Good article John Chow. I am becoming a die hard fan of you.You know the ad market in and out…keep the good work going

  17. chris says:


    I agree with your logic, but again, being in the top 100 blogs in the world I’m sure you could turn a few extra bucks through amazon. It could at least pay for your web hosting. πŸ™‚


  18. la bloga says:

    I guess itΒ΄s the reasson you doesnΒ΄t use Comision Junction

  19. GA says:

    John I am surprised then you haven’t signed up to that gaming network you did a reviewme for a while ago for me.

    The residual income is going to be phenominal.

    Maybe you’re waiting for it launch as opposed to being in pre-launch, but then again you got into Agloco.

    The market for online gaming is HUGE!!

    Best wishes all,


  20. Mike Panic says:

    Sorry, I don’t agree with you. After you sell I think 6 or 9 items your commision jumps to 6%, after 30 items it jumps to 6.5% (per month) and all items are retro pay. So the first item you sold gets you 2% more money when you make the jump to the 6% threshold.

    Books are no longer Amazon’s major business anymore either. Sure they have a ton, but they also offer nearly everything under the sun, usually its free shipping. I’ve bought my microwave, calphalon pots / pans, vaccuum, video ipod and a bunch of other stuff from them in the last year (all free shipping). Every friday they do huge sales, sometimes 75% off. 6 months ago they had ipod wall chargers (off brand) for 1 penny + $4.99 shipping. Sure you make almost nothing on that commision, but chances are they will order something else, or better case scenario, the word gets out and a TON of people buy them bumping you into a higher commision bracket.

    About a year ago they did a sale on “battery operated massagers” for 39 cents, free shipping over $25. I posted it on one of my blogs, someone on a forum picked it up and said he bought 300 of them to send to his ex-girlfriend cuz he hated her. Sure enough the next day, it showed in my commisions and drasticly improved ever other real item I sold.

    The other thing to consider, it is one of the MOST trusted names on the internet.

    Ok, now I sound like I’m pushing them too much, whatever, I’ve been happy with them for years.

    1. Now thats pretty funny. hehe

    2. “[Amazon] is one of the MOST trusted names on the internet” — it would be safe to assume that we all agree with you on that one.

  21. I just took them off my blog…today….still debating on if I will put them on or not. πŸ˜‰

    1. Just curious, but why did you decide to do that?

  22. bob cobb says:

    I dont how people think this is a good post. I normally enjoy all of your posts, but it simply makes no sense to not be an affiliate. Signing up is free, and you don’t HAVE to post stuff just because you’re an affiliate. But when you do post something you can make a few more bucks from it at no cost to anyone.

  23. Rhys says:

    I have amazon affiliates through my site, and it earns me a fair amount. Reason being is I tell all my friends/relatives to buy through my site. They do, and I earn comission on it.

    Play the game flower! πŸ˜‰

  24. Robert says:

    Most of your posts are very good (other than the food stuff that I can live without). However, this one makes little sense.

    As other commenters have pointed out, Amazon sells more than just books. Commissions are higher than 4%. And, you forgot to mention that you are using Amazon in your TTZ ads. You might consider a re-write.

    1. I actually miss the food write-ups; one food post a month isn’t so bad, is it?

  25. Churchill says:

    I’m surprised you said this, and surprised nobody else has commented. You wrote:

    “The rule to remember is: if you can get it at the local Walmart, it’s probably not worth promoting on the Net.”

    You should read the Long Tail by Chris Anderson – a very good book, and will also enlighten you on the way that that mentality is one contributing factor to why many Europeans consider America to be cultureless! (i.e letting Walmart decide what music/books/film are profitable I mean “worth it”)

  26. Pretty good reason right there. Wow TLA pays you that much! I gotta go try that out.

  27. Casey says:

    I’m glad you pointed out these points. I’ll use these when signing up for affiliate sites.

  28. Hi,

    I agree that is Amazon Affiliate program is close to worthless. The only person making money on this is Amazon!

    1. 4% base earnings from actual link sales is huge for some — not just as significant for John.

  29. Hi,
    I agree with you. I do not think anyone makes any serious money with amazon except maybe amazon!

  30. KCLau says:

    John, it doesn’t sounds like you in this article. You are evil and calculative. You want the 1% refund from the expenses you charge on the credit card. But ironically you let go of the 4% affiliate sales from Amazon which only take a few minutes to sign up.
    Are you looking down on small money nowadays?

  31. simon says:

    Good points! I think Google AdSense got the highest payout in all affiliate network. I do benefited from it.

    1. MrGPT says:

      Where would we be without Google Adsense?

  32. Marc says:

    nice post john with a good point. Same reason I dont use them not enough payout!

  33. HMTKSteve says:

    I ran Amazon aff for over six months. The only sales I got were when my wife bought something. I’ll never see that money…

  34. Amazon works on product related blogs. I don’t think it would fit well with your site, but it does have it’s place and people do make decent money from it.

  35. I think TeamTutorials summed it up pretty good.

  36. Jamaipanese says:

    excellent post John

    I too don’t think highly of Amazons program

  37. Very well put, but let me add that Amazon is good for certain things, especially high cost items that you might not find anywhere else. I belong to a different number of affiliate programs, and the content on my site is very diverse at http://www.agrandioseblog.com. Under the cocktails sections of my site, I use Amazon for high ticket items, like this commercial manual juicer

    Amazon works for me on some items, and not so well on others. Thing is you just have to pick and choose, rather than leaving money lying on the table. Half a loaf of bread is better than none.

  38. Darin Carter says:

    I have never liked the Amazon Affiliate Program … like you said … the commission structure is way too low. I’m not really sure how anyone can make any money with amazon!


  39. Jack says:

    Thanks a lot for your advices. I would like to ask you : I tried to sign Text Link Ads, but I was refused because my sites ( more than 300 thousand page views month ) were refused because my sites are in Portuguese.

    Do you have any tip ? I mean, is there a way I can sign Text Link Ads anyway?


  40. LL says:

    It’s up to individuals to decide the best monetizing strategy for their blogs. John’s obviously thought it through. If I recall correctly, there was a post on ProBlogger a few weeks ago that praised Amazon. Different strokes.

    If a genie were to grant my Amazon aff wish, it would be for a master Afffiliate account ID that would work across all Amazon stores, combined with a system that would automatically redirect potential buyers to the Amazon store in their country. THAT would rock. Wish I had the skills to create something that would do that.

    1. I defiently agree with you LL

  41. Benny says:

    I agreee with you john, i think it’s not worth it to promote things that hard to sell.

    Nice Post!

  42. Benny says:

    Great post! I agreee with you john, i think it’s not worth it to promote things that hard to sell.

    1. MrGPT says:

      Either way, he is already posting a link. Mise as well take the 10 seconds to make it into an affiliate URL and the next time he makes a blog post about a book, he can use an affiliate URL again.

  43. Artem says:

    Why John is always so motivating πŸ˜› . Anyway here was written very right and useful things.

  44. I am reliable mostly on passive income, however you have to work hard to start generating passive income but once it is there than you just maintain it.

  45. dotnetnuke says:

    I am not an affiliate either.

  46. John Cow says:

    ProBlogger had an article in which he said he is making some nice money with them.

  47. Greg says:

    John although I agree that Amazon may not be a good fit for this site I disagree with your reasons. First of all, you can make 8% if you sell enough items – which I do. Amazon is the easiest site to get commissions for since it is probably the most trusted site to buy things from on the internet. Also, I have great success selling things that you can buy at Walmart. If you can just get someone to go to Amazon from your site you have a great chance to get a sale whether it’s something you’re promoting or something else they end up buying after going thru your aff link.

    Anyone that does not take advantage of the Amazon affiliate program is really missing out on some potential extra cash every month – that is if it would be a good fit for your site.

    I earn about 3K every month from just one site. I’m getting ready to create some more sites and I’m pretty sure I could earn around 5 – 6K from these.

    Greg’s last blog post: Kindle DX Great For College Students

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