Why I Don't Recommend Joining the Amazon Affiliates Program
Amazon sites are the 5th most popular multi-platform web properties in the US.
That makes Amazon one of the biggest markets you can leverage as an affiliate marketer.
But is the biggest always the best?
Absolutely not…although I wish my college girlfriend thought the same way.
Let it be known, I don’t recommend joining the Amazon Affiliates program (also known as Amazon Associates). If you intend on making money as an affiliate marketer, there are better options that this blog post will explain. However, for those who are looking to go down the path of being an Amazon affiliate, I’ll share all the tips you need to get started.
What is the Amazon Associates program?
The Amazon Associates program is an affiliate marketing program run by retail giant Amazon. This is the platform Amazon uses to recruit, manage, and reward its affiliates for referrals that end in sales.
The Amazon Affiliates is one of the biggest and oldest affiliate marketing networks around. One of the main reasons Amazon Associates is so popular is thanks to the easy setup process. Signing up is also free, so that’s another plus.
Like all other affiliate programs, publishers get paid a commission when someone purchases a product through an affiliate link.
How to become an Amazon affiliate.
So how easy is it to become an Amazon affiliate?
Pretty easy. All it takes are seven simple steps, and you’ll be on your way to earning money from selling Amazon products. Here’s a step-by-step overview of how to set up an Amazon Associates account:
Step 1: Create a website or blog.
To become an Amazon Associate, you must have online real estate to promote products on. One of the best platforms is a website or blog (WordPress is one of the best platforms). While you can promote your affiliate products on other platforms like your YouTube channel or other social media platforms, starting a blog is the best way to ensure you have complete control of your affiliate marketing business.
Do you need an affiliate website, but aren’t sure where to get started? I will show you step by step on how to create your affiliate website site in full detail.
Part of the application process to become an Amazon affiliate is to describe the purpose of your website. Make sure you fill out the application in full detail. This will help you quickly gain access to the program.
A well-designed and SEO-optimized niche website is essential to your success if you’re considering joining the Amazon Affiliate program. Learn more about choosing an affiliate marketing niche.
Step 2: Sign up on the Amazon Associates homepage to become an affiliate.
Once you have your website set up, the next step to becoming an Amazon affiliate is to create your Amazon Associates account.
To do that, visit the Amazon Associates homepage and click on the Sign-up button. Doing this will lead you to a page where you'll be prompted to log in to your existing Amazon account or create a new one.
Step 3: Enter your information.
You know your name right? Great! Don’t add fake info; it will make it harder to get paid later.
After logging into your Amazon account, you’ll be taken to a page where you’ll be asked to confirm your personal (payee) details, including:
- Phone number
After entering the information required, the prompts will take you to a section where you’ll enter your website address.
Step 4: Set up your profile.
Once you’ve input your details and website address, you’ll be prompted to create a profile. This is where you describe what your website is all about and the products you plan on advertising.
Step 5: Explain how you will obtain traffic.
Next, Amazon will want details of how you’ll drive traffic to your offer(s). Is it via a website, social media platforms, or mobile app?
You’ll also have to explain:
- How you use your website to generate revenue.
- Your link-building methods.
- The average number of visitors to your website in a month.
Step 6: Set up a payment method.
Step six involves entering your payment and tax information. Once this is done, you can proceed to your dashboard.
One fun option is to have all your commissions go right into Amazon credit…you know, so you can buy more stuff from there. 🙂
Step 7: Create Amazon links and promote them on your website.
If you did everything right, the affiliate managers for Amazon Associates will accept you into the program. Congratulations are in order at this point as you’re now an Amazon affiliate.
You can now create unique Amazon links and promote them on your website. To do this, you must first log in to your Amazon Associate account. Once you’re logged in:
- Click on “Product Linking” and select Product Links.
- Use the search bar to look up the product you want (or add the ASIN number from the product details page).
- Click “Go.”
- Click “Get Link.”
An alternative method would be to use the Amazon Associates SiteStripe feature. This allows you to create affiliate links directly from a product page. And that without having to log in to your Amazon Associates dashboard. You can find this easily at the top of any Amazon product page and quickly grab your link.
Once you have your Amazon affiliate links, you can then start promoting. How about a blog post about “10 best hemorrhoid creams” and showcase all your favorites…Gross, you say?! There is nothing gross about a keyword 6,000 searches on Google each month!
With these seven steps completed, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful Amazon affiliate.
What are the Amazon affiliate commission rates?
Once upon a time, Amazon had a fair commission rate for many of its products. They also had incentives for partners that drove lots of volumes. Combining this with the ease of Amazon product links made this a very appealing program to be a part of.
But eventually, Amazon got too big for their britches. They focused more attention on retaining and targeting customers and less time taking care of affiliate partners. Maintaining the lowest prices and free shipping would eventually lead to cutting costs.
The commission started to dwindle slowly over the years. Then in April 2020, Amazon Associates dropped the commission rates significantly. For example, affiliates in the furniture and home improvement products category will now be getting a 3% commission instead of the previous 8%. Another example is the outdoors and tools category — Amazon slashed the commission from 5.50% to 3%. Here’s a look at the new Amazon affiliate commission rates:
The lowering of the commission rates has created many controversies, especially since Amazon hasn’t explained the reason for the cuts. Unsurprisingly, many affiliates have been hurt by the commission cuts as their revenue has tanked.
Many affiliates in the industry had built their entire portfolio around promoting Amazon products. And overnight their commissions were cut in half.
I’m sure you can now begin to see why I don’t recommend joining the Amazon affiliates program. But let’s take a closer look at my other reasons.
The bottom line: Why I don’t recommend joining the Amazon Affiliates program.
Low Commission Rates.
Prior to 2016, Amazon Associates was an excellent platform for publishers who wanted to earn revenue from affiliate marketing. The commissions were good and one could rely on the program as a main source of income.
Not any more.
As already mentioned, Amazon slashed the commissions they pay out to their affiliates. For some products, the rate is 1%!
However, other ecommerce companies have much better margins on their sales and can afford higher commission rates. A standard commission rate for an ecom store is 8%.
A quick example of a product you would find at Amazon and Cabelas.
For this $400 product on Amazon, the affiliate is earning $4. On the other hand, if the same affiliate promoted this product and sent traffic to Cabela’s and offered a $20 coupon, they might earn up to $40 on this product.
If you’re planning on making serious money through affiliate marketing, Amazon sadly isn’t the place to do it. Not anymore. Join programs that will fit your niche.
Short cookie window
One of my biggest gripes with Amazon’s affiliate program is the extremely short cookie window. It only lasts for 24 hours. That’s nothing when compared to the 30 days you get with other affiliate programs.
Now, if you’ve been in sales of any kind, including affiliate marketing, you know that prospects usually take time to consider a purchase — especially if it’s a high ticket item.
Once a customer clicks on a link, they must purchase within a 24-hour window. Otherwise, you won’t be credited for the sale. After that, you don’t earn a commission from any purchase made — even if it was your link that sent the customer to that product.
One caveat here for Amazon Associates’ short cookie window is that if a customer adds an item to their shopping cart, the cookie’s lifespan is extended to 90 days. Unfortunately, though, most people don’t add an item to their carts until they’re ready to buy, so you’ll probably have to make do with the 24-hour cookie.
You must link directly to the product.
With most affiliate programs, you can choose to send potential buyers the ecommerce home page or to a deep link directly to a product. Your conversion for a sale will be much higher on the deep-link, but nonetheless, you still earn a commission if you send traffic to the homepage.
Amazon don’t play that homie! Direct link to a product or you get nothing!
Amazon can suspend your account.
Another reason I don’t recommend joining the Amazon Affiliates program is that Amazon can suspend your account at any time — without warning. This is one of the reasons I advise affiliate marketers to never rely on one merchant or program. You must leverage other platforms as well (we’ll talk about these in a moment).
Back to Amazon Associates, many affiliates report that the suspension issue is more prevalent on Amazon than on other networks. Once an account is suspended, it’s also difficult to get reinstated.
You can’t promote products via email.
If email marketing is one of your primary product promotion methods, Amazon Associates is not the program for you. I have never understood why they don’t allow this, but promoting products in emails violates Amazon Associates’ policies.
This is a huge blow to affiliates who build email lists that play a huge role in driving engagement and conversions in e-commerce.
3 affiliate networks to promote instead.
So, if Amazon isn’t the best place to succeed as an affiliate marketer, what other option do you have?
A great place to start are affiliate networks. These are networks that have been proven to be user-friendly and payout better commissions. These networks have hundreds of affiliate programs to choose from. Here are a few of my favorites.
ShareASale is a popular network that attracts many merchants and affiliate marketers thanks to it having over 40 categories — with both digital and physical products to promote. This means no matter what niche you’ve chosen, you’re bound to find products to promote. Yes, even if you’re in a niche site.
Account setup on ShareASale is super easy, so is navigating your way around the dashboard. Running an affiliate marketing business couldn’t be easier with a platform like ShareASale. As for commissions, each merchant sets its own commission rates.
Keeping track of your performance on ShareASale is easy, no matter how many products you’re promoting. That’s all thanks to features like real-time analytics and reporting.
With Impact, you get access to over 9 million products from top brands like Adidas, Lenovo, HSBC and more. You’ll also be equipped with tools that will help you develop relationships with merchants and your audience.
Other reasons many affiliate marketers love Impact include:
- Flexible payment systems (plus, you can receive payments in any currency).
- Connects you directly to global brands.
- Exclusive promo codes that attribute sales to you, even if another website or partner shared the code.
- Tools to help you create positive user experiences for your audience.
Helping entrepreneurs make money online since 1998, CJ Affiliate is another veteran affiliate network you should consider instead of Amazon Associates.
One factor that makes CJ Affiliate attractive, especially to beginners, is the ease of use. From signing up to finding profitable affiliate programs to join, you’ll find the platform intuitive and easy to navigate.
CJ Affiliate has partnered with many big brands and retailers across the globe to offer users a wide variety of products to promote. Notable names include Barnes and Noble, Verizon, Zappos, and GoPro, just to mention a few.
A standout feature you’ll love if your affiliate site gets a lot of traffic is the ad placement feature that allows you to sell ad space on your affiliate site. Other handy features include:
- Real-time reporting, so you know what’s happening at any time of day.
- Affiliate customer insights. These show customer shopping behavior and preferred channels.
- Cookie-less tracking (across multiple channels)
If you’re looking for an alternative to Amazon Associates, CJ Affiliates is one of the best. With its long track record and advanced affiliate marketing tools, your chances of running a successful affiliate marketing business are pretty good.
Amazon Affiliates FAQ.
It’s impossible to cover everything on the Amazon affiliate program, but I’m pretty sure we’ve covered most of the basics. However, before I sign off, let me quickly answer some of the most common Amazon Associates FAQs.
How much do Amazon affiliates make?
There is no cap on how much Amazon affiliates can make. Depending on niche and product promotion strategies, Amazon affiliates earning potential is only limited by the traffic volume they generate. However, with the low commission rates and the short lifespan of cookies, hitting four figures and beyond takes a lot of work. You must optimize for very high click-through rates.
What is an Amazon affiliate?
An Amazon affiliate is a blogger, influencer, or any other content publisher that promotes Amazon products on their digital assets. To become an Amazon affiliate, you must apply for the Associates program and be accepted.
How do I find affiliates on Amazon?
If you’ve joined Amazon’s Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) program, one of the best ways to move your products is to recruit affiliates. You can find affiliates by:
- Find influencers that are creating review content for products
- Searching for websites, especially product review sites, in your niche.
- Make sure they sell products on Amazon.
- Reach out and pitch your specific product.
What are the requirements for Amazon affiliates?
Becoming an Amazon affiliate doesn’t require much. All you need is a website, social media profile, or app that you’ll use to drive traffic to the products you’re promoting. Make sure you clearly state your promotional methods to ensure you are accepted to the program.
You’ll also need to have a method of receiving payments. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t use PayPal, but you have other options like direct deposit, Payoneer, and other PayPal alternatives.
The Amazon Affiliates program — It shouldn’t be your first choice.
Many affiliate marketing gurus sing Amazon’s praises as having one of the best affiliate programs. But I beg to differ. Having been in the affiliate marketing industry for over 10 years, I can tell you that there are better alternatives to the Amazon Affiliates program.
If you’re looking for affiliate marketing success, it shouldn’t be your first choice. From the low commission rates to the short cookie windows and everything in-between, Amazon Associates has fallen behind the standards of private programs and affiliate networks.
If you’re an Amazon affiliate, I’d love to hear your opinions. Kindly share your experiences with the Amazon Associates program in the comments section below.