Amazon has been a great income earner for affiliates for many years, but changes to a variety of factors such as SEO and the habits of your typical web surfer have made it a much different environment than it was a few years ago.
It was once possible to create micro niche sites that focused on a very specific niche subject, or even one single product, and make very good money. Google seemed to love those micro niche sites, and it was very easy to rank them and make a lot of money quickly.
But times change. Google apparently decided they wanted that most micro niche sites were spam, which was mostly true, and decided it wanted to rank sites that had huge amounts of quality content instead. It destroyed a lot of businesses, and domains began expiring left and right because they lost their rankings and were no longer profitable.
With all these changes making old methods difficult, if not nearly impossible, is it still possible to make money as an Amazon affiliate?
The answer is a resounding, “YES!”
The methods may be different, but it certainly is possible to earn very good money as an Amazon affiliate, and you’re going to learn how in this post. So let’s begin.
The first thing you need to do is toss out your old notions of micro-niche sites. These sites are a lot harder to make profitable, and it requires a lot more marketing and promotion. It’s simply not feasible.
Google doesn’t like tiny websites, because they are often nothing but spam. For this reason, it’s incredibly difficult to rank a “thin” website, meaning the original purpose of micro niche sites (to bring in a large amount of traffic to promote just one or two affiliate products) is pretty much dead unless you’re willing to put in a ton of time and effort into other marketing methods.
Instead, it’s important to focus on wider niches, because if you’re going to put so much effort into promotion, you might as well have a lot more products that you can potentially sell.
Another thing that is practically dead is the review site. Review sites just aren’t going to rank in Google, and most people just go to Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, or some other major retailer to find reviews. People online are more savvy than ever, and they have learned that the average “review site” is nothing more than a thinly-veiled affiliate site.
While review sites can work, it’s just so much harder than it once was. You can no longer easily rank these sites, and they require a lot more promotion, and since people no longer trust them like they once did, they really aren’t as profitable.
Fortunately, there’s a better way.
It does NOT involve:
- Creating “thin” affiliate sites with little to no original content
- Focusing on single products or narrow niches
- Spamming Google and other search engines
- Registering dozens of domains (or more)
- Intense keyword research
- Paid advertising
This method is actually easier and more fun than the old method, and requires less financial investment than the old micro niche method, because you only need one domain, or maybe a handful, instead of dozens, hundreds, or thousands. You can focus on a broader niche, while still attracting Google traffic and getting traffic from other sources.
In fact, this is actually the type of method Google prefers, because you’re creating REAL website with REAL content and REAL benefits to your visitors!
Choosing a Niche
Alright, the first thing you need to do is choose a niche to focus on. This method is so much easier than the micro niche method, because it doesn’t involve hours upon hours of researching products, affiliate networks, and keyword tools. You just pick a niche and go.
Okay, so it does involve SOME research, but the research is faster and easier using this method, and using a few free tools you can complete this in an hour or less in most cases.
The first thing to do is figure out a niche that has voracious buyers but NOT a ton of competition. This is the toughest part, because most markets with voracious buyers are insanely competitive. (Some competition is good, but too much competition makes your job much harder.)
Golf, for example, is a popular niche for internet marketers to get into. This is especially true for beginners. Yes, golfers do tend to have excess income to spend. Yes, they do tend to spend a good chunk of that excess income on their on their hobby. But because pretty much everyone knows this, competition is ridiculous. There are just too many established golf websites for the average marketer to compete.
Is it possible to compete? Absolutely. But unless you are extremely good at marketing and/or have a huge budget for advertising and content creation, you’re not likely to make a whole lot of headway in this niche. It’s just far too over-saturated.
A great idea is focusing on a broad interest group rather than a more competitive niche. Take a look at DIYReady.com (http://www.diyready.com), for example. They have a niche-DIY-but it’s broad enough that they have a huge number of topics they can focus on within the DIY spectrum, which also gives them a broader range of products they can promote.
Because there are so many individual topics under the DIY umbrella, virtually anyone can compete in this particular niche. People who enjoy this type of content typically frequent multiple DIY websites, and those users are easy to access because they are prevalent on Pinterest and other social websites.
This is the type of niche you should try to locate. You want something broad-but not too broad-with voracious buyers and fans that are easy to locate.
Some examples include:
- DIY, crafts, home improvement, gardening, etc.
- Prepping, survival, outdoor skills
- Model building (cars, ships, airplanes, etc.)
- Various careers
- Pets (specific breeds, or types)
The great thing about this method is that if you discover one aspect of a particular niche isn’t working for you, it’s easy to switch to another one as long as you get a domain that covers the whole, broad niche.
For example, if you decided to market to model builders and want to focus on model cars, you might want to register a domain like modelbuilders.com instead of modelcarbuilders.com so you can branch out into planes and ships later. (I’m sure those domains are taken, I’m just using them as a basic example.)
Worst case scenario, if you create a large amount of custom content in a niche and it doesn’t pan out the way you hope, you could sell the website or articles to someone else in the niche to recoup some of the costs you incurred, and probably make a good profit.
Once you’ve chosen a niche and bought a fairly broad domain, it’s time to move on.
Building the Website
I’m going to recommend the use of WordPress to build the site, simply because it’s easy, quick, has pretty decent built-in SEO, and has tons of customization options available for appearance, security, functionality, etc.
I’m not going to give you a step-by-step guide to building a site with WordPress, because there are thousands of those online already. Just search Google or YouTube if you need a tutorial on how to build a site with WordPress. It’s a lot easier than you probably think!
You’ll need the following:
- Domain name, purchased through NameCheap or other registrar
- Hosting, purchased through NameCheap, HostGator, or other
- WordPress, free and easy installation often included in hosting
- A WordPress theme, free or paid
Once you have a basic website built, all you have to do is start adding content. You can create this content yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. Just make sure the content is well-written, grammatically correct, and interesting, because Google has become a lot more strict about the quality of the content it indexes.
We’ll talk more about content creation in the next section, so let’s move on.
The content on your site is probably the single most important element of this system for many reasons. Because you won’t be focusing solely on getting traffic from Google and sending that traffic straight off to an Amazon product, the content on your site must attract the right types of traffic and grab and keep their attention and interest.
We’re going to take a look at a few different factors regarding the content on your site.
The quality of the content on your site will have a lot to do with its success-more so than ever before. Not only are web surfers more in-tune with what quality content should be like, but Google also uses quality as a ranking factor.
Google does check the overall content on your site to make sure it’s relatively free of typos and errors, so it’s important to make sure your content is well written.
In addition to this, Google also pays attention to the average length of time a visitor spends on your site, and whether or not they visit other pages of your site. This is known as “bounce rate”. If you have a high bounce rate, it means people are leaving your site without looking at any other pages, which Google takes to mean your content isn’t what people are looking for. This will hurt your rankings.
Google wants to see the average user staying on your site for a good length of time, as well as visiting other pages. Make sure your content quality supports this!
Keep in mind that visual content like videos and photo slideshows, along with interactive content like quizzes and surveys, are more likely to go viral and bring in a lot of traffic, as well as getting people to spend more time on your site.
Make sure you include relevant images in your articles, too. Images are vitally important these days. Not only do they make your article more interesting to visitors, but they provide a great way to let people share your content on social media and bring you more traffic. If you don’t include relevant images, you won’t see anything show up on social media, or you’ll see only your site’s logo or background, which could be worse than having no image at all.
The length of your content goes hand-in-hand with its quality, at least in the eyes of Google. While it’s been proven that the average surfer these days has a very short attention span, Google seems to thing that very, very long content is “quality”, and short content is not.
It used to be that putting up ten 150-word articles would bring in far more traffic than putting up one 1,500-word article, but those days are gone. These days, content should be the longer, the better. Not only that, but Google seems to favor content that is actually updated on occasion-meaning it’s better to add a bit of content to an older article than to create a new one-at least once your site already has a good amount of content on it.
Generally, articles should be at least 500 words, and up to 3,000 (perhaps longer in some cases) is even better. Who knows why Google seems to be so adamant about longer content considering declining attention spans, but as it is, length matters.
Another important factor is making sure you create a variety of content, including various forms of media such as videos, slideshows, and even downloads.
You don’t actually have to create videos yourself. You can just embed other people’s videos in your pages. But if you can create your own, it will help you get additional traffic from places like YouTube and Facebook.
Having a variety of posts on your site will help you get more traffic and make your site more interesting, so try to include some different types of content for variety.
Aim for having at least ten posts on you site before you attempt any type of promotion or add any affiliate links. This will help you rank in Google, as well as giving visitors additional content to visit, hopefully lowering your bounce rate.
Once your site is up and populated with a few articles, you can start adding some affiliate links. But remember, you can’t treat this the same way you might have those micro niche sites that were so popular a few years ago! It takes finesse!
Don’t put affiliate links in every single article. Don’t use banners on your site unless you’re using a PPC ad network for extra income. Banners just don’t work anymore.
Instead, you should create posts that are solely mean to promote a particular product, without making it seem like you’re promoting the product.
Basically, this means demonstrating the use of the product in some way without making your post seem like nothing but an ad.
For example, let’s say you want to sell some really cool kitchen gadget. You could make a video of yourself preparing some dish that uses the gadget and shows just how cool it really is. (Alternately, you could embed someone else’s video and just talk about how cool it is in your article.)
Then you could provide an affiliate link to the product at the end of your article. Do not use banners or anything like that, because you don’t want to seem too promotional, but at the same time, don’t hide that you’re using an affiliate link, because that’s against Amazon’s terms, and could also upset your visitors.
I would promote an affiliate product in maybe 1:5 posts or 1:10. I know this seems like you won’t be making much money, but if you’re promoting affiliate links more often than that, people will become blind to them and think you’re all about money rather than user experience. In the long run, you’ll make more money with fewer ads, because more people will visit your site often in anticipation of new content.
Make sure you find the best-of-the-best when it comes to the products you promote. If possible, test each item yourself so you can be sure it really works. An added bonus to testing it yourself is the ability to post your own pictures and/or videos, which will help you seem more authentic in its promotion, thus increasing sales.
Also, be sure to promote products in a wide range of prices. If you’re only promoting products over $100, people will grow tired of it. Not everyone can afford to splurge on expensive items often. Be sure you throw the occasional $5 item into the mix. You can even say, “I can’t believe how inexpensive this is!“
And don’t worry about the minuscule commission you’ll receive when you promote a $5 item. Many people will end up ordering more than just that $5 commission, and you’ll make money on whatever else they purchase, too!
Perhaps the most difficult part of this process is finding traffic, but even that isn’t particularly difficult once you understand the various social media outlets and how they work. It’s actually easier than ever before to get traffic to a website!
It’s a good idea to have a presence on all of the most prominent social sites, including:
If you’re not very familiar with social media, it’s time to change that. If you’re going to be successful online these days, social media is an absolute must unless you’re willing (and able) to shell out big money on paid ads. Plus, the most effective paid ads these days tend to be on the social networks, anyway. Either way, you need to get familiar with all of the major networks.
You don’t want to jump into too many new sites at once? If you only want to get started on a handful of sites, first, that’s okay. There are really three sites you should focus on in the beginning:
1. Facebook – This is the goliath of social media. It’s important to get a fan page created for your website ASAP.
2. Pinterest – There’s not many sites that can bring more traffic than Pinterest, especially if you use it correctly. Post often, post relevant content that is likely to be re-pinned a lot, and follow as many accounts relevant to your niche as you can.
3. Instagram – You may have been expecting Twitter to be the third site, but I’ve actually found Instagram a lot more effective than Twitter. There are no “secrets” to Instagram, really. Just follow relevant users, like and comment on their content, and post great images on a regular basis with relevant hashtags. It’s easy.
Twitter is probably the next one you should focus on, followed by YouTube, and then others like Snapchat.
Be careful to grow your social media at a natural rate. If you follow too many people, make too many comments, etc., too quickly, you could get banned.
I know it’s tempting to hold onto those old methods of making micro niche sites that focus on a single product, or a single niche product, but those days are over-at least as far as making nearly hands-off income. Google isn’t ranking tiny websites well anymore, and making a micro niche website work requires so much promotion through social media and/or paid traffic that it’s no longer profitable to create them.
These days, it’s all about creating niche sites that are broader in coverage, creating killer content that keeps people coming back, building a solid base, and promoting a wide variety of products within that broader niche.
This method does require more work, overall, than building micro niche websites that you could “set and forget”. Instead of creating a website, getting a few backlinks, and letting it run on its own once Google rankings kicked in, it requires an ongoing commitment to keep creating new content, updating old content, and promoting on social networks.
However, the rewards are also much greater. Instead of making $3-$10 per website each month and needing to keep up hundreds of domain names each year to make good money, you only need a handful of domains-or even one. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort it takes, you can make huge money with Amazon.