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10 More Amazon Associate Program Lessons I Learned on My Way to Six Figure Earnings

Posted By Darren Rowse 20th of August 2009 Affiliate Programs 0 Comments

Yesterday I shared 11 of the lessons that I’ve learned in my journey to earning over six figures from the Amazon Associates program. Today I want to share 10 more. This time we’re going to drill down a little with a few more specific tips on some of the techniques I use within posts (many of yesterdays were quite ‘general’).

I hope you find them useful.

1. Multiple Links Per Post

Lets start with a simple yet powerful technique – linking to the product you’re promoting on Amazon more than once in a post.

When I used to write reviews of products with affiliate links I did so with one link. I’m not sure why but for some reason I thought a single link would be enough and I didn’t want to run the risk of annoying readers with more. However one day it struck me that the reviews I were writing were quite long and by the time people got to the end of them they’d scrolled down the page so that the link to Amazon was no longer visible.

At this point I started to experiment with a link at the top and tail of the post. I did some heat map tracking of which link proved to be most clickable and also used Amazon’s tracking codes to see which one would ‘convert’ to a sale more often. The results were interesting:

  • both links got clicked quite a bit but the one under the article was clicked on slightly more than the top one (despite being under the fold)
  • the lower link converted better than the top one
  • those who clicked on the top link still made sales (although not as many) – but interestingly it wasn’t always the product I reviewed – often it seemed to be related products

I concluded that having read a review of a product that people were now better informed to make a purchasing decision. As a result, if they did click a link after reading the review they were more likely to buy the product.

Those clicking on the top link seemed to be more in a ‘surfing’ mode. They clicked on the link less because they wanted to buy it but more out of interest to learn more. Some bought the product and some bought other products once they were ‘in the door’ at Amazon.

These days I generally use two links per review post. The first one is usually a link on the first time I use the product’s name – the second one usually has a stronger call to action (‘check it out on Amazon’ or ‘get a price on XXXX’ or ‘buy your own copy of XXXX here’.

Live Example: Let me illustrate it with a quick video that also picks up my next point.

2. Link Images to Amazon

One of the things I learned when doing some heat map tracking of where people were clicking on my reviews is that there was quite a bit of ‘click activity’ on images of the products in the reviews – even when those images were not linked to anything (note: I use CrazyEgg for creating heatmaps – it has the option to track clicks on all areas of your page, even where there’s no link to click).

There’s something about an image that people are drawn to and that makes them click. I began to experiment with linking images to Amazon with my affiliate links. Again I set up a tracking code to test whether they converted. While they didn’t convert as well as text links they still did convert in some instances and to this day I still use this technique most of the time.

3. Buy Now Buttons

buy-now-button-amazon.pngThis is a technique I need to experiment more with but which I’ve heard others having real success with.

It basically involves using a ‘buy now’ button in your post (I’d suggest below a review would be a good place to start using it). I’ve written more about the technique here but the blogger I first heard was doing this actually used the yellow Amazon Buy Now button in his posts – the familiarity of the button seemed to help increase conversions.

Again – it’s not something I’ve done much of but it could be worth a try!

4. Multiple Promotions Per Campaign

I’ve talked above about using multiple links in a post – but another way to increase conversions on a particularly hot product is to promote it more than once over time. I only do this on very popular or highly anticipated products – but it certainly works well. The key is to find a number of different ways to post about the product over a few weeks (or longer). I wouldn’t do all of the following for a single product but here’s a few ways I’ve done it on occasion in the past.

  • If a highly anticipated camera is announced by one of the manufacturers I immediately publish a post announcing it. Amazon often has advance notice of these announcements and will usually have a page up for it where it can be pre-ordered on the same day it’s announced. I link to it immediately in my announcement post.
  • A few days later I might post a post asking readers what they think about the camera or one of its features (for example I recently wrote a post asking readers what they think about the idea of a camera with a projector built into it after the release of the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj).
  • When the camera hits stores I might post a short post announcing that it’s available.
  • When we get a review product we’ll post a review of it with our recommendations.
  • We might at some point post some other reader reviews of the product if enough of our readers have it.
  • We might put together a compilation of quotes from other sites who review the product.
  • We might pull in and embed some videos from YouTube that show the products features

Again – I wouldn’t do all of these things with a single product but if it’s a significant product release and newsworthy over a month or so around its release we might cover it in 2-3 posts. You know your readership best so tune in to where they’re at and whether you’ve posted too much on the same product – you don’t want to over do it but if it’s a product your readers are discussing and are interested in there’s plenty of ways to bring it up (and promote it on Amazon) more than once.

5. Focus Upon the Holidays

amazon-associates-christmas.pngIf you check out the chart that I shared of my earnings in yesterdays post (also pictured to the right – click to enlarge) you’ll notice that 4th Quarters of years usually were bigger than those proceeding them. The reason is simple – Christmas.

The only December that I saw a downswing when my first site was temporarily de-indexed for a few weeks by Google. Each other year there has been healthy rises for the later half of November and all of December (last December was massive).

The upswing in sales around Christmas is partly natural as people are more in a ‘buying mood’ at that time of year – but I also create content at this time of year that is specific to the holiday season.

Such content includes buying guides, reader questions getting people talking about what they’re looking to buy or would like to receive for Christmas, lists of popular/recommended products etc.

6. Promote Related Products

One of the challenges I came up against when writing about cameras regularly is that while a certain percentage of my readers were actively shopping for a new camera – many already had them. In fact writing a ‘photography tips’ blog kind of means you attract more people wanting to learn how to use a camera that they already had rather than buying a new one.

As a result I often do more promotions on ‘related products’ than cameras themselves.

In my space that means promoting lenses, flashes, memory cards and other photographic accessories as well as photography books (which is strongly related to my core ‘tips’ focus).

One great way to get suggested related products to promote is to look at the stats/reports that Amazon gives you to see what products readers are buying. After a while you’ll start to notice that they’re not only buying the products you directly promote but other products. Some will be completely irrelevant to your niche – but many times trends will emerge that could signal other products that it might be worth promoting.

Lets look at an example of this. Following is a screen capture of a small part of the orders on my Amazon account for last quarter. I have arranged them in order of how many were sold.


What you can see in this screen grab is that the #1 electronic item sold in the period was a Canon 50mm lens. You can see that in the ‘product Link Clicks column’ that people came to Amazon directly through a link from my site to this item – it’s something I promoted on DPS.

However look at the next most popular item (the Tiffen 52mm UV filter). You can see in the ‘Product Link Clicks’ column that there is a ‘0’ figure there. I never promoted this product directly on DPS – yet 44 people bought it.

The next two items were things I promoted but the next 8 were things that people bought in number by themselves without me promoting them at all. To me knowing about these items that people buy without my prompting is GOLD! These are hot products that almost sell themselves for one reason or another.

The reason may be that Amazon is promoting them heavily or that one person is buying a lot of the one product – or they just could be great products. Whatever the reason I’m sure to look into them further and see if they could be products I should be promoting somehow.

7. Promote Pre-Orders

I’ve mentioned this one above already – but one of the things that I do that I see some other bloggers don’t do is promote the ability to Pre-Order products on Amazon.

It doesn’t happen for every product but I find more many significant ones that Amazon will create pages for new products before they’re even available for purchase.


When I post an article announcing a new camera I always check Amazon first to see if they’ve already created a page for that product. If they have I make sure to mention that the product is already available for pre-ordering on Amazon.

For example last year when Canon Released the Canon EOS 50D DSLR I used this technique. This post generated 10 sales of the camera before it was even available in stores. While two of them cancelled their orders later 8 sales of a $1000+ product certainly add up!

8. Track Your Campaigns

Until a bit over a year ago I was lazy and just promoted every single Amazon affiliate link with the one tracking code. As a result while I saw what products were selling I never really knew what links on my blog were converting and what ones were not.

I eventually decided that I needed to know more about what was working for me and decided to start tracking campaigns. Amazon allows you to create 100 tracking ids (once logged into Amazon Associates you manage them at this link). I didn’t realize there was a limit until a month or so back when I hit the maximum and wish Amazon would increase it. To be honest I find their tracking system pretty messy and think it needs an overhaul – however it is great for testing what works and what doesn’t – most of what I’ve written about in other tips in these articles was learned through tracking.

Because there’s a 100 tracking code limit I would suggest creating a few general tracking codes – one for each blog, perhaps one for each category on your blog – and then use other codes for major promotions that you’re doing. This way not every Amazon link will be tracked but important ones will.

Note: I’m told that Amazon do give more tracking codes if you email them – however it’s a bit of a drawn out process. If you need more it’s worth a try (I know I’ll be trying).

9. Small Ticket Items Add Up

One of the most common criticisms that I hear of the Amazon Associates program is that it’s just too many small commissions. Getting a commission of a few % on a $15 book just doesn’t cut it for many. Some people use this to justify not using Amazon at all while others just promote big ticket items and ignore the smaller ticket products like books, DVDs, CDs etc.

While I agree that these small commissions are not much on their own – they do add up.

Yesterday I earned $401.49 from Amazon. It was actually a pretty good day, higher than average. One might think the higher than normal figure came from selling some big ticket items – but that was not the case. The highest commission for the day was a $21.34 commission. The vast majority of the sales were books sold from my list of photography books which went up on the blog recently.

The other beauty of getting lots of smaller ticket sales is that they go towards increasing the commission tier that you’re on. The more items you sell (not the more $’s you refer – but item numbers) the higher % commission you make from Amazon.


As you can see from the above screen capture – when you go past 6 items referred you move from a 4% commission to a 6% commission. Keep referring more and the commission increases. The only category of product not included in this is consumer electronics (frustrating for a camera guy!).

This means that if you refer enough small ticket items you can double your commissions.

Note: Amazon lets you choose two types of payment structures – ‘Classic’ and ‘Performance’. The classic one has a 4% flat commission – while the ‘performance’ one has the tiers. I’m not sure why anyone would select ‘classic’ so make sure you choose ‘Performance’!

10. Big Ticket items are the cream on Top

While I strongly advise promoting small ticket items to help boost your sale numbers and for the commission that lots of such sales can generate – it’s also worth
doing some bigger ticket promotions too.

In my experience they don’t convert anywhere near as well as cheaper items – but when they do they can give your revenue a real boost. As someone promoting cameras that can sell for several thousand dollars – I’ve had single commissions in the hundreds of dollars range (even when the commission is limited to 4% on consumer electronics). Here’s a few from the last week:


I hope that today and yesterday’s tips have been of help to you in growing your Amazon Associate program income. I’ve decided to wrap up this series tomorrow with a few last thoughts – 10 more slightly more general and over arching tips (update: you can read my 10 last tips for making money with Amazon here).

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I actually learned a lot from these two great posts and got some great ideas. Thanks for sharing and now I think it’s time to make more money online with Amazon!

  2. Very helpful piece Darren and I don’t say that lightly.

    Up until now I have steered clear of any significant Amazon promotion because of what I thought were low commissions but I will now reconsider things.

    I also heard Amazon are now collecting taxes on behalf on the Fed. Have you been affected by that or do you know anything about it?

    Roy Barker

  3. That is amazing results from Amazon, congrats. I have tried but not earned any since economic crisis happened. T

  4. Hi Darren, thanks for making your earnings so transparent, and providing this thorough of an analysis and report. It’s good to see the thoroughness, openness and applied intelligence in your work. Clearly, you’ve earned your way.
    – Satya

  5. I want to use products from Seikosha, printers and ribbons but Amazon has pull out almost all products from Seikosha. Right now I only have watches from Seiko, made in Japan.

  6. Wow, i hope we make that kind of earnings too. Thanks for the tips Darren.

  7. It is very informative. I’ve found it quite helpful. Thanks for sharing this great information.

  8. This is the best thing to do on my blog also. I will use the buy now button to produce more selling. Thank a lot!

  9. Darren, 1 piece of advice I needed:

    Mine is a Christian blog and I have put up Amazon text and image links for music. Can you suggest any related product that could be that “big ticket”? I plan to add books. In fact, I have already put up text links for the Bible at 3 places onthe page, so as people scroll down, they can see it. They don’t have to look too far.

    Overall, a site which is a God-send for me. Keep it up!

    Ketan Rindani

  10. What I took from your blog was the CrazyEgg website. Think I needed that, and having multiple links per post. Thanx for the updates, I throughly enjoy them ;)

  11. Thanks for passing on your great expertise!

  12. I really appreciate the lessons that I’ve learned in here. It’s really difficult for newbies to learn selling online. Thanks I learned a lot from your posts.

  13. I. like others in your comments, appreciate you sharing your tips about Amazon. Looks like I should be getting to work in this area. More reviews with muliple links should help, thanks again!

  14. That is very good results from Amazon, I have tried but not earned any since economic crisis happened. Thanks

  15. Darren,
    Excellent articles, all 3. I’ve had very similar experiences & can verify most of your insights.
    I have a question for you – when you track commissions on pre-orders AFTER the product becomes available, how can you tell if the earning is from that previous pre-order, or if someone bought the item that very day? E.g., I have 210 orders for item x in September, but no earnings. Then one day in October I see the earnings for item x trickle in… how do I know if this is from a previous order, or a fresh purchase that day?

  16. Great tips, i am sure it will help anyone to increase sales through amazon.

  17. Good one, I got some tips, specially the one about promoting related items. And definitely, even if you want to talk only about big ticket items, the small, quick-moving ones help raise the percentage.

    I’ll practice a bit (I’m still learning, it’s almost a hobby) and see what happens, thanks!

  18. Great post…but I’m wondering if there is a daily ‘traffic threshold’ you have to obtain before you can make any statistically relevant decisions on your user behavior?

    Or better yet…is there a certain minimum number of daily visitors you must have before you can expect to make any sales on Amazon?

    Also how long do Amazon cookies stay on visitors sites?

    I’ve had 5 Amazon sales on my blog http://www.modelsandmoguls.com but not one of them were for the product/link I posted.

  19. Darren,
    Thank you for 2 informative blogs on the Amazon Associates program.
    I am thinking of joining the program myself.
    I live in South Africa.
    Will that be a problem as far as payment is concernd?

  20. Thanks for this deep and very detailed infomation. I’m just starting being an Amazon affiliate I found several good hints at the first reading (I think I’ll have to read it some more times to be well prepared)!

    thanks, Dani

  21. I have been testing many strategies for this amazon program with little results. I will try to implement your tips. They are logical and seem to work for you and your readers. So thank you for the tips. Also by using http://hubpages.com/_Mainpage1/ they allow you to write hubs about specific products and integrates amazon links for you. its a pretty nifty site is anyone like to write or blog.

  22. Thanks for this post. I just started as an Amazon Associate myself and the tips you discussed here will definitely come in very handy.

  23. Thanks so much for the great tips. This is totally gearing me up to start doing more with Amazin.

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