The Amazon Affiliate Program is an excellent way for you to make money online. But if you’re new to Amazon affiliate marketing, the whole thing can be very confusing. I’ve been there, so I understand. This post rounds up all of the info you need to know by answering a list of FAQs for total Amazon affiliate beginners. Simple, straightforward answers to help you get on with starting your Amazon affiliate business. Let’s go.
Table of Contents
- Amazon Affiliate Beginners – The Basics
- What is an Amazon Affiliate?
- How do I Become an Amazon Affiliate?
- What’s the Difference Between the Amazon Affiliate Program and Amazon Associates?
- What are the Amazon Affiliate Program Commission Rates?
- Do I Have to Declare That I’m an Amazon Affiliate?
- Can I use the Amazon Associate Program on More Than one of my Websites?
- Am I Allowed to use Amazon Product Images on my own Site?
- Can I Include Amazon’s Prices in my Blog Posts?
- What is Keyword Research and why is it Important?
- Is the Amazon Affiliate Program Worth it?
- Why Does Amazon Have an Affiliate Program?
- Is Amazon the Best Affiliate Program?
- What is the Amazon Influencer Program?
- How Many Followers do you Need for the Amazon Influencer Program?
- Amazon Affiliate Beginners – The Money
- Amazon Affiliate Beginners – The Cookie
- Amazon Affiliate Beginners – The Amazon Product Advertising API
- Amazon Affiliate Beginners – The Links
- How do I Add Amazon Affiliate Links to my Posts?
- Can I use my Amazon Affiliate Links on my Social Media Channels?
- Can I use my Amazon Affiliate Links in my Emails?
- What Happens to the Affiliate Link if the Product no Longer Exists?
- How to Include Amazon Affiliate Links on a Blog or Website Without Impacting your Editorial Integrity.
- Text Links or Widgets – Which of the two Should I use?
- Why do I Receive Lots of Clicks on Amazon Affiliate links and yet Generate no sales?
- How can I Track the Number of Clicks on a Specific Affiliate Link or Widget?
- How many Amazon Links per Page are Allowed on my Website?
- Further Help for Amazon Affiliate Beginners
Amazon Affiliate Beginners – The Basics
The FAQs in this post are grouped by subject. And there’s no better place to start than with the absolute basics.
What is an Amazon Affiliate?
An Amazon affiliate is a website owner or content creator who recommends products to their audience and refers them to those products on Amazon via a special link. If a purchase is made within 24 hours, the referrer earns a commission from Amazon.
How do I Become an Amazon Affiliate?
You’ll need to have a fully functioning website with relevant content. If you have one then simply head over to the Amazon affiliate sign-up page and join up – it should only take a few minutes. Although the application doesn’t take long, your application will need approval from Amazon and this can take up to 24 hours.
Once you’re approved, you’re part of the program.
You then need to make three qualifying sales within the first 180 days. As soon as this happens, Amazon will review all of the sites you told them you would refer traffic from (Website, Facebook etc) to ensure that they adhere to Amazon’s criteria.
For a more in-depth look at this question, we’ve covered it off in this blog post.
What’s the Difference Between the Amazon Affiliate Program and Amazon Associates?
Nothing. Amazon Associates is the name given to Amazon’s affiliate program.
What are the Amazon Affiliate Program Commission Rates?
The Amazon affiliate commission rate differs depending on which country you’re in. For example, the commission rates on Dutch and German affiliate programs are higher (at the time of this writing) than those in the U.S. and the U.K. The reason is that Amazon is not so established in some countries and so offers higher commission rates to encourage affiliates to point their audience to the Amazon store. Whereas in those more established territories, the rates are lower as Amazon already has a larger market share.
At infrequent intervals, Amazon also changes the rates they offer throughout the different territories. Currently, in the U.S. the rates vary from 10% for items in the Luxury Beauty category down to 1% for Amazon Fresh, Physical Video Games, and Video Game Consoles, Grocery, Health & Personal Care.
Check out our guide on what Amazon affiliate countries are supported by AmaLinks Pro.
You can find the Amazon affiliate commission rates for each country here:
- Amazon Affiliate US
- Amazon Affiliate Canada
- Amazon Affiliate UK
- Amazon Affiliate Australia
- Amazon Affiliate India
- Amazon Affiliate France
- Amazon Affiliate Germany
- Amazon Affiliate Italy
- Amazon Affiliate Sweden
- Amazon Affiliate Spain
- Amazon Affiliate Brazil
- Amazon Affiliate Mexico
- Amazon Affiliate Japan
- Amazon Affiliate China
- Amazon Affiliate Netherlands
- Amazon Affiliate Singapore
- Amazon Affiliate United Arab Emirates
- Amazon Affiliate Saudi Arabia
- Amazon Affiliate Poland
Do I Have to Declare That I’m an Amazon Affiliate?
Yes. It’s crucial that you do. The currently recommended wording from Amazon is:
‘As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.’
Check Amazon’s Operating Agreement for more information.
You also have to ensure that the placement of this wording is prominent, adhering to both the Amazon affiliate disclosure and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines. Check out our Amazon affiliate disclosure quick guide to this crucial question.
Can I use the Amazon Associate Program on More Than one of my Websites?
Yes. You’re allowed to use the Amazon Associate program on more than one website. If you do this, make sure you set up more than one tracking id so that you know which website the click has come from. Also, make sure you register each URL you will be placing Amazon affiliate links on or risk getting your Amazon Associates account banned.
Am I Allowed to use Amazon Product Images on my own Site?
You are allowed to use Amazon’s product images on your website under the strict condition that they are pulled directly from Amazon either via the API or SiteStripe. These images can only be used in posts and articles that use your affiliate link to promote that specific product on Amazon.
To quote Amazon directly:
‘You will not display on your Site, or otherwise use, any Program Content to advertise or promote any products that are offered on any site that is not an Amazon Site.’
To clarify, you cannot use them to point readers to other affiliate programs, even if you also direct them to Amazon in the same post. This rule catches many Amazon affiliate beginners out. In other words, you cannot link to Amazon and other retailers in the same post if using product data provided by Amazon.
For example, if you write a review post for the best camping hammocks, if you’re pulling data from SiteStripe or the API to use in this post, then this post can only link to Amazon.
You are also not allowed to download images from Amazon and then re-upload them to your website, even if you are just using them to refer customers back to Amazon.
Can I Include Amazon’s Prices in my Blog Posts?
Yes. BUT you’re not allowed to write out the prices yourself. The prices change regularly on Amazon, so the chances are the prices you display would be out of date very quickly, which is a big ‘NO’ in Amazon’s eyes. The pricing data should always be pulled directly from the Amazon API so that it is always up to date.
What is Keyword Research and why is it Important?
Understanding keyword research is a vital skill in affiliate marketing. Keyword research allows you to learn which words and phrases people search for, how often those terms are searched for and how difficult it is to rank for that search term in a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Knowing this information allows you to target specific keywords that have a low difficulty score but still with enough searches to land people on your website.
Is the Amazon Affiliate Program Worth it?
The short answer to this is, absolutely and 100% yes! The commission rates may be lower with the Amazon affiliate program than with other affiliate networks, but due to the sheer numbers of people shopping on Amazon, you stand to make good money as an affiliate if you do your job properly. And for beginners, it’s by far and away the simplest way to get started with affiliate marketing.
Why Does Amazon Have an Affiliate Program?
It’s a cost-effective way for Amazon to drive business to their site. As an Amazon affiliate, your job is essentially to pre-sell an item through your content. If you do your job right and your readers click through to buy, then the commission that Amazon pays you is much less than they would have to spend on advertising the product or recruiting new customers through their own marketing channels.
If we take the U.S. as an example, in 2020 Amazon dominated the online retail space with a 38% slice of the market share. While this is a HUGE percentage for one company to own, it still means that 62% of online sales are spread across other web retailers. Amazon wants more of those sales to come to them.
Is Amazon the Best Affiliate Program?
There are lots of other affiliate programs out there. The reasons Amazon Associates is so good for a beginner are:
- It’s easy to get set-up and start earning money.
- Amazon is a hugely popular eCommerce store. This means that most people are comfortable buying on Amazon because they trust the site. This leads to higher conversion rates – i.e. readers click through and buy rather than click through and hesitate (or click through to a store that isn’t Amazon and then go to Amazon to price compare and buy on Amazon because they’re a Prime member!).
- Amazon has a vast product range for you to choose from.
We took an in-depth look at this topic in this post.
What is the Amazon Influencer Program?
An extension to the Amazon affiliate program, the Amazon influencer program allows those with large followings on social media to make commissions on the products they promote. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Effectively, Amazon gives you your own URL which you can use as a storefront to display the products you recommend to your audience. Click here for an example.
How Many Followers do you Need for the Amazon Influencer Program?
Amazon is unspecific on this. Some reports suggest 1000, others 10,000. It seems to be decided on a case-by-case basis and so you would need to apply to see if you’re accepted.
Amazon Affiliate Beginners – The Money
Let’s get down to business and talk about the money side of being an Amazon affiliate…
How Much Does it Cost to be an Amazon Affiliate?
The short answer is absolutely nothing – the Amazon Associates program is completely free. The slightly longer answer is that you’ll have your hosting and domain costs for your website, but the rest is up to you. If you have a little money to invest in your business, then there are some incredible paid-for Amazon affiliate WordPress plugins (like the AmaLinks Pro WordPress Plugin) out there that will really help you to maximize your chances of success. But if money is tight then you can definitely bootstrap your business, to begin with, and use free tools and methods to build out your website.
How Much do Amazon Affiliates Make?
The simple answer to how much you can earn as an amazon affiliate marketer is this – it’s down to you. Although the commission rates listed above will have some impact on the amount you earn, the more crucial factor is how many readers you can attract to your site. If you can provide unique and useful content of very high quality for a specific niche and keep doing this for years, you will attract thousands of readers. The more you have the higher your conversion rate will be. Some of the really successful bloggers earn in excess of $10,000 per month!
How do I Withdraw Money from my Amazon Affiliate Account?
If your earnings reach the minimum threshold – which differs for each country – Amazon will pay you via direct transfer 60 days after the end of the month for which they are paid. For example, any January earnings will be paid in late March as long as your January earnings hit that minimum threshold. If they fall short, they’re rolled over to the next month.
How Long Does it Take to Earn Money as an Amazon Affiliate?
You can start to earn straight away if you already have an audience. Simply add affiliate links within your existing articles, starting with your most popular. But if you’re creating an affiliate website from scratch then it will take a little time to build an audience and gather momentum. The answer then really depends on a few factors:
- How popular is your niche? Too popular and you’ll find it hard to rank as a beginner, too obscure and you’ll struggle to get a big enough readership. If you need to learn more about how to choose a profitable niche, this deep-dive video is an excellent place to start.
- How often will you post? You’ll rank better on Google if you post regularly, once a week at the very least.
- How much time per week can you commit to building out your affiliate site? Some of the top-earning affiliate marketers suggest that you’ll need to put in around 2500 hours worth of work before you see a decent financial return. If you can dedicate 20 hours per week to your affiliate business, then it’s going to take you at least a couple of years.
In short, building an affiliate website isn’t usually a fast solution to earning money online. It could take a year or more before you start to see serious results, and perhaps double that before your income is really significant. But stick with it, and you stand every chance of earning really good money.
How do I Monetize International Traffic?
If your audience is made up of people from different countries, you will want to make sure that you’re not losing out on your affiliate commissions outside of your own country. This is especially relevant for English-speaking countries where a sizable part of your readership could come from several high population countries. This post gives an up-to-date list of countries that have Amazon affiliate programs.
Although Amazon provides a tool called One Link to help with this, it can severely slow sites down. The better option is Genius Link. We’ve explored both options in this article about Amazon link localization.
Do I Have to Pay Tax on Affiliate Earnings?
Yes, you do. Different laws apply in different countries, but if your earnings from your affiliate business generate enough money to take your total earnings into the taxable income bracket, then you will need to pay. So, if you have a day job and are doing affiliate marketing as a side hustle, your total earnings will be taken into consideration for tax purposes.
Amazon Affiliate Beginners – The Cookie
We’ve all seen the little pop-ups when we land on a website asking us to accept or decline cookies. But how do they work in affiliate marketing…?
What is a Cookie?
A cookie is a piece of data that is stored on a user’s computer/device when browsing a particular website. In Amazon’s case, when one of your readers clicks through to Amazon from an affiliate link on your website, a cookie will be activated. This enables the user’s click-through journey to be tracked via your affiliate link. The cookie identifies the publisher (you), which in turn allows Amazon to credit you with the appropriate commission.
How Long Does the Amazon Cookie Last for?
The cookie lasts for 24 hours. As soon as the click is made the timer starts. Any purchases made during that 24 hour period earn you a commission.
There is an exception to this. Some affiliates use what is called an “Add to Cart” affiliate link. If this link type is used, the user does not get directed to the product page on Amazon, and instead, the item is added directly to the user’s cart. In this instance, that cookie lasts for 90 days. If the user completes that purchase within 90 days, the affiliate gets a commission. Most affiliates choose not to use the “Add to Cart” link because you only get credit for that one item. The ‘normal’ 24-hour cookie link gets you credit for ALL items purchased on Amazon by the user within that 24-hour period.
And there is a caveat to both of the above. Once the cookie is activated, if the person who clicked through from one of your links then leaves Amazon, goes to another website, and re-enters Amazon via somebody else’s affiliate link, then your cookie will die and theirs will be activated. It’s probably rare that this will happen, but it’s worth knowing.
Do I Earn Commission on Just the Item I Referred or the Whole Cart/Basket?
If you use the ‘normal’ affiliate link type (like most affiliates do), you’ll earn a commission on any items added to the cart (or basket) within the 24 hour period that the cookie is activated. If you use the less-common ‘Add to Cart’ link type, you only get a commission for that specific item that was added to the user’s cart as long as they purchase within 90 days.
Disclaimer Regarding Cookies and Commissions
There is a caveat to ALL of this, as well. Everything stated above regarding cookies and commissions is based on our current interpretation and best understanding (at the time of this writing) of Amazon’s policies based on many years of experience. Amazon can change their policies at any time and you should always verify this type of information from Amazon directly.
Amazon Affiliate Beginners – The Amazon Product Advertising API
What is the Amazon Product Advertising API?
API is short for application programming interface and can be a source of confusion for many Amazon affiliate beginners. Formerly known as the Amazon Associates Web Service, the Amazon Product Advertising API essentially allows you access to a host of Amazon resources including:
- User interface designs
- Other creative designs
- Textual materials, such as textual Product information.
Items such as in-text product links and the main product image can be pulled into your website through Site Stripe (see below). But for the rest of the elements, you’ll need access to the Product Advertising API.
How Do I Access the Amazon API?
When you’ve earned your three qualifying sales you will be able to access the Product Advertising API. But in order to keep your access, you need to make at least one qualifying sale per month. Your account will lose access to the Product Advertising API if it has not generated referring sales for a consecutive 30-day period.
What Counts as a Qualifying Sale?
Any sale that is generated via a click from your website is generally considered as qualifying, as long as the person who buys doesn’t return the item. For a full list, click here and skip to ‘Header 2. Disqualified Purchases’.
Do I Need the Amazon API?
Yes and no. You can still have Amazon affiliate links on your site without having access to the API through using SiteStripe (see below). Having access to the API makes your affiliate life easier and faster, as well as giving you access to be able to use many tools or WordPress plugins. AmaLinks Pro works both with or without the API – head over to Matt’s super-useful article for full details.
What is SiteStripe?
SiteStripe allows you to access Amazon’s product catalog without the API key. So for total Amazon affiliate beginners, this is how you’ll start. Create your content and then add things such as in-text links and the main product image manually from SiteStripe. Earn those three qualifying sales this way and then sign-up to the API. Check out Amazon’s guide here.
Amazon Affiliate Beginners – The Links
The affiliate links that you generate through the Amazon Associates program are referred to by Amazon’s technical documentation as ‘Special Links’. And there are some very specific rules about where you can and cannot deploy them. It’s well worth paying close attention to the following FAQs, as one mistake could get your account banned…
How do I Add Amazon Affiliate Links to my Posts?
There are essentially two ways to do this. The free and slow way is to manually copy and paste HTML links from SiteStripe. The paid-for and faster way is to use a WordPress plug-in like AmaLinks Pro. Matt talks us through this in detail in our blog post about getting started– scroll down to the ‘How to Insert Amazon Affiliate Links in WordPress’ header.
Can I use my Amazon Affiliate Links on my Social Media Channels?
Yes. Amazon allows you to use your affiliate links on any social media channel that you are the sole moderator of. You’ll need to declare in your account set-up which of your social media channels you intend to link from. You can’t use affiliate links in any closed groups or forums – if Amazon can’t see them, then don’t include them. There are also further specific rules surrounding groups and forums – for a full list click here.
Can I use my Amazon Affiliate Links in my Emails?
No. This will get your account banned. Many Amazon affiliate beginners (me included) make this mistake, but Amazon forbids the use of affiliate links in any kind of off-line scenario, including:
“…with email, offline promotion or in any offline manner (e.g., in any printed material, ebook, mailing, or attachment to email, or other document, or any oral solicitation).”
You’d be forgiven for thinking that email is online, and of course, it is. But there are ways for them to be viewed off-line through syncing. The easiest way to think about it is if Amazon can’t see the link, then don’t use one. So ebooks, newsletters, and closed social media groups are all forbidden.
What Happens to the Affiliate Link if the Product no Longer Exists?
If the product you recommend no longer exists then readers who click through from your link will either be presented with an error page or it will be shown that the product can no longer be delivered. This means you will need to audit your links every so often and update your posts by replacing any obsolete products with new suggestions. There are paid tools and solutions available to help you easily audit Amazon affiliate links on your site if you wish to do so.
Here is an example of a product page on Amazon for a product that is no longer available – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CC3FKKC
As you can see – the listing is still shown, but the product can no longer be purchased. The great thing about Amazon is that it still shows suggested similar products below and if you used the ‘normal’ 24-hour affiliate link, you will still get credit if your reader purchases something else from Amazon within 24 hours!
How to Include Amazon Affiliate Links on a Blog or Website Without Impacting your Editorial Integrity.
When crafting your posts and articles you want to use a selection of different types of links and CTAs (Call to Action). Within your text, seed text links through your writing in relevant places, perhaps one at the start and one near the end. The trick is to keep it natural. If you try to crowbar a text link for something only slightly relevant (or even worse, completely irrelevant!) in the hope of a click, you’ll put a lot of readers off.
At the end of your article, add an image link and a well-designed CTA button that matches your site. If your post refers to more than one product, a comparison table is a GREAT way to increase your CTR (Click Through Rate). AmaLinks Pro offers a complete range of beautifully designed product showcase boxes, CTA buttons, and CTA buttons to help make your website look great and earn you more money.
Text Links or Widgets – Which of the two Should I use?
Both. Amazon gives you the option to use a standard text link that you deploy within your text, as well as providing a plethora of widgets to choose from. To add variety and visual interest to your posts, it’s best to use both.
The widgets are essentially like mini adverts that you can use to add a little visual spice to a post. As an example, you could opt to add a text and image widget at the end of a product review to give readers a visual of the product. This helps to grab a reader’s attention, especially if they’ve just skim-read your words. As such it’s more likely that a skim-reader would click the widget rather than the in-text link.
Why do I Receive Lots of Clicks on Amazon Affiliate links and yet Generate no sales?
If your articles are linking to products that are available and have positive reviews, you will make sales from your click-throughs. So if you’re seeing a lot of clicks through from your website but no sales, you need to check that your affiliate links are tracking properly to your id. If not, Amazon won’t know where to credit the commission. If using API-generated links, this article explains more – scroll down to the ‘So, how do I know if my sales are being attributed to the API?’ section.
How can I Track the Number of Clicks on a Specific Affiliate Link or Widget?
Google Analytics provides a whole host of tracking tools. But on its own cannot track your Amazon affiliate links. AC has written a great article explaining how AmaLinks Pro’s powerful features can be combined with Google Analytics to track all of your Amazon affiliate links.
How many Amazon Links per Page are Allowed on my Website?
There are no limits imposed by Amazon, but you should exercise discretion when including links in your posts. Too many and it can come across as salesy or pushy, meaning many readers will exit your site without reading the whole article.
Further Help for Amazon Affiliate Beginners
I hope this list of FAQs for total Amazon Affiliate beginners has helped you. When you’re just starting out it can take a long time to find quick answers to the multitudes of questions that inevitably arise. I wish I’d had access to this post when I was starting my first affiliate site! It would have saved me heaps of time and frustration. And I hope it saves you some, too.
The AmaLinksPro blog has a wealth of useful content for beginners. Many of these have been linked to in the article above, but these posts are especially beneficial if you’re just starting out:
- Revealed: The Next Affiliate Marketing Golden Bubble is Upon Us!
- How to Monetize ANY Blog Post with Amazon Associates
- Can I link to Amazon AND other online stores on the same pages?
- How to Start Making Money on Your Blog with Amazon Associates
- See What’s New in AmaLinks Pro 2.0
Good luck with your new business venture – we wish you every success.