Amazon's affiliate program pays you for referring business

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If you have your own website or blog, then you know how hard it can be to monetize your traffic. Last month I wrote a post about different ways to make money with a blog, and I want to dive deeper into one of those methods: the Amazon affiliate account.

Amazon offers a program called Amazon Associates. It's basically a way for you to market products sold on Amazon and take a small commission on all the sales you generate. This can be a nice alternative (or addition) to advertising on your site because it's much more focused and targeted.

Here's an example of how it might work. Let's say you periodically review books on your website. Normally you would include a link to Amazon or some other online bookstore so that your readers can buy it if they're interested. With Amazon Associates, you'd log into your Amazon account and generate a special link to the product page for that book. Whenever someone clicks on that link, Amazon knows that they came from your site, and so they pay you a small commission on the sale. The experience is exactly the same for your users, but you get a small reward for referring potential customers to Amazon.

Obviously you can do this with more than just books. If you write a tech blog, link to electronics on Amazon. Music sites can link to MP3s. Virtually all websites talk about products from other companies in one way or another, so it shouldn't be too hard to see where Amazon can fit in. (Note: In case you're wondering, no, we don't use affiliate links on this blog. The Less Annoying Blog isn't meant to make money)

So first thing's first. How much money can you make? The rates vary based on what types of products you sell (MP3s pay better than electronics for example) and how much you sell. The lowest you can make is 4% of the total sale amount, and it can go as high as 15% for some items. You can see the full fee structure here, but it looks like most websites with moderate traffic would be making about 6% commissions.

Now let's take a look at some of the different tools Amazon offers to help you market their products. There are four things in particular that I find interesting.

I explained how links work in my example earlier. Basically you can just make a custom link to any product on Amazon. You include that link somewhere on your website, and then you'll get credit for any sales from the link.

Banners are sort of like pre-made advertisements that you can easily include on your site. Because the banners have graphics in them, you can't generate your own which means they don't actually point at specific products. Instead, you pick a general category for the banner (like "electronics" or "Health and Beauty") and Amazon gives you a list of options to choose from. Then you just copy and paste some HTML code and you're done. This can be a great alternative to ad networks like Google Adsense because you have a lot more control over what your users see.

Amazon offers all kinds of widgets to include on your site. The widgets are big and graphical like the banner ads, but they're also interactive. For example, you can include a "My favorites" widget so that your visitors can see products you recommend. Other interesting widgets include "Search", "Deals", "MP3 Clips", and "Wish List".

This feature is really cool. You can build your own customizable store populated with products from Amazon. This allows you to sell appropriate items to your audience, and it's incredibly easy to set up. If you have real products to sell you might be better off using something like Shopify, but this is by far the easiest option I've seen if you're just reselling products.

So if you're looking to make some extra money with your website, definitely take a look at Amazon Associates. Signing up only takes a few minutes (here's the link), and you can start building links, banners, widgets and more right away.

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