So you’re looking to build your affiliate marketing empire?
You’ve seen all these other people talk about how they’ve replaced their full-time income through this affiliate thing — and now you want your piece of the pie.
So becoming an Amazon affiliate must a great idea, right?
You get to leverage the power of this awesome, massively trusted marketplace that everyone buys their stuff from. And there’s a ton of products to promote so you’re bound to find something with relatively low competition that you can build a site around…
Except, it’s not a great idea at all.
In fact, the Amazon Associate affiliate program is one of the worst ways to build a stable, long-term income through affiliate marketing.
And in this post, I’ll outline why you should avoid becoming an Amazon affiliate and focus your efforts on promoting products that are WAY more lucrative.
1. Low commissions on products
Let’s kick things off with the elephant in the room — Amazon’s commission structure leaves a lot to be desired. And to add insult to injury, on March the 1st this year, they announced a change to their affiliate payout structure.
Previously, the Amazon associates program worked on a variable fee model. This meant affiliates were paid higher commissions for selling more of the same product. The scale ranged from 4.5% to 8%.
But now they’ve changed this to a flat-rate system based on categories and reduced the affiliate payout to zero for some product types.
Amazon claims to have made this change to “simplify the system” but judging by the feedback from Amazon business owners, the majority have suffered a fairly significant drop in revenue since the change.
Here’s what the current commission structure looks like:
This is pretty awful. For anyone looking to make serious money, the changes render some categories obsolete for affiliate promotion.
Aside from these changes, most physical products, in general, have low affiliate commissions due to the high number of overhead costs.
So promoting physical goods from an affiliate perspective isn’t the best idea.
Which leads me to my next point…
2. Lack of information products
If you already know a thing or two about affiliate marketing, you’ll know that information products (think digital downloads, training courses and software services) are where you can make real money.
Because some of these products pay insane commissions for making a referral. It’s not uncommon to find info products that offer 70% commissions on a sale.
This is a game changer for anyone looking to build a serious side income or even replace full-time work wages.
Unfortunately, Amazon don’t have much in the way of information products and the software products they do have are banned for affiliate promotion.
The one thing that separates the winners from the losers in affiliate marketing
Becoming an Amazon affiliate also means you’re missing out on high paying affiliate programs.
These programs offer products that are priced much higher than the average stuff you’d be promoting as an affiliate.
So instead of busting your balls getting 5 million people to buy a crappy $20 e-book, you sell a $4000 training course and make 50% commissions.
This way, you’ll only need to refer a very small number of people to make a solid income.
One such example that I’ve previously promoted is an e-commerce training called Amazing Selling Machine.
This is a comprehensive course that teaches people how to start their own e-commerce business from scratch. The course retails for $4000 and the commissions are 50%.
Do you see how powerful this is?
By making just one sale, I’ve already made $2000 dollars. At five sales a month, I’m doing way more than most people earn in their day jobs.
This is life-changing stuff.
3. No recurring income
Did you know there are hundreds of software tools out there that pay lifetime recurring commissions for referrals?
That’s right. You refer someone once to a product and you get paid every single month for the lifetime of that person’s subscription.
These products are only becoming more popular as more businesses move towards a subscription-based pricing model.
An example of this is the Instapage affiliate program.
Instapage is a platform that helps companies build high-converting landing pages:
Their pricing starts at $69 and goes up to $179 per month.
As an affiliate, you can promote the tool and earn 30% lifetime commissions for every single person that signs up through your link.
That’s up to $54 per month for a single referral. Get 100 people to sign up through you and you could be at $5400 a month.
That might be enough for you to quit your job.
The beauty of recurring income is you only need to put in the work once. After you’ve done the initial work, those commissions keep coming in.
Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t offer any product with a recurring commission structure.
You can find more affiliate programs that pay recurring commissions in this post I wrote here.
4. Extremely short cookie duration
Affiliate cookies determine the duration of time that a sale is attributed to you after someone clicks on your special link.
Most affiliate programs have 30, 60 or even 365-day cookies.
But the Amazon cookie is only valid for 24 hours.
So if someone clicks on your link and buys the product 2 days later, you won’t make any commissions.
This gives you a really small window to make that sale and I can imagine this being fairly problematic for some of the higher priced products like DSLR cameras.
5. Overly strict terms of service
Amazon associates are notorious for banning affiliate accounts that have supposedly broken a rule in their TOS.
They have an extensive list of terms that you must adhere to as an affiliate — some of which are just way over the top.
Case in point:
If you don’t make a sale within 90 days of opening your Amazon affiliate account, they shut it down…
Also, you can’t do any of these things:
- Promote Amazon products by email.
- Add affiliate links to e-books and PDF’s.
- Mention the price of products on your website.
I could go on but this gives you a rough idea of the meticulous nature of their terms of service.
Many Amazon affiliates have spent years creating profitable businesses, only for them to be slapped with a permanent ban.
Worse still, Amazon are super vague about the reasons for banning your account, so it can be extremely difficult to know what caused the violation.
6. Lack of exclusive offers
Another downside to promoting products on the Amazon Associates program is the lack of exclusive offers.
Amazon sells products that can be found in various places on the internet and in retail stores globally. This means they’re competing heavily on price, which in turn means your commissions will be lower.
Also, you can’t offer exclusive deals.
For other affiliate programs, you’ll have special offers that you can give to your readers.
As a Bluehost affiliate, I can offer a special deal for anyone looking to sign up for their web hosting packages. And although other affiliates will have similar offers, it’s nice to be able to offer semi-exclusive deals to your customers.
Also in some cases, you can come up with totally exclusive deals by working directly with a company. These partnerships usually come about from being one of the top affiliates for a given product/service.
Discovering a superior alternative
The superior alternative to becoming an Amazon affiliate is to promote information products.
And don’t waste your precious time on any old junk (don’t even think about using Clickbank). You could easily struggle just as much by selling low-priced e-books that no one really wants to buy.
The foundations of a successful affiliate business are finding the right products to promote.
In other words:
You can’t polish a turd.
You must find high-quality affiliate programs and combine this with sound marketing knowledge.
Affiliate marketing isn’t easy. Far from it. It requires learning and mastering a lot of new skills.
But the rewards can be absolutely incredible. Passive income. The ability to travel the world, be location independent and live life on your own terms are just some of the things that are possible for you.
Bringing it all together
So now you know the truth about the Amazon associates program. It’s really not the best way to get started in affiliate marketing.
That said, plenty of people have created profitable businesses promoting their stuff.
But why go through all that struggle and risk when you can earn so much more promoting high-ticket affiliate products instead?
This blog will help you find some of the best affiliate programs out there and put you on the path to passive income through affiliate marketing.
So what’s it going to be for you?
Amazon Associates or lucrative information products/services?
The choice is yours.