Here is a way to brainstorm blog post ideas for Christmas earnings and avoid tunnel vision. Doing it now will result in better reader engagement and more blogging income.
When Amazon Affiliate earnings decrease, it’s a smart move to take action. If you’ve been affected by the rate changes from Amazon, here are steps to take to replace your affiliate income.
The Dreaded Amazon Affiliate Earnings Decrease
Has it hit you yet? As predicted when Amazon announced the rate changes, many bloggers have begun seeing the Amazon earnings losses.
Some of my clients in the beauty and fashion sector are earning more than they were this time last year. But with generic lifestyle sites, educational or parenting sites, or Amazon feeder websites, ouch. Just ouch.
Read on and craft a recovery plan with these tips for when Amazon affiliate earnings decrease.
1. Broaden Your Focus
Using the program itself, there are at least 4 ways to increase Amazon affiliate payouts. Don’t discount the program completely without investigating and implementing these changes.
Read that article – it really is step 1.
Having said that, I can’t think of an affiliate program whose cookies are shorter than Amazon, so let’s take a breath from our Amazon affiliate earnings dropping and move onto other things.
There are just so many ways to diversify your Amazon affiliate income! Here are my favorites.
2. Go Direct
I am amazed at how many people do NOT contact companies directly about affiliate programs (tips on how to do that below). Do not make this same mistake!
When you have a consistently selling product (anywhere), go directly to the company. Tell them how much product you’re selling (you can even give them statistics) and ask for an ambassadorship or at least, ask them if is any direct influencer work with their brand.
There are many companies who would love to see influencers promoting their products directly and will even offer click campaigns in addition to the affiliate sale.
3. Blog Niches are Goldmines
Sell products from other bloggers in your niche. I’m in a number of niche groups on Facebook because of my different sites and every one of them has a group document for blogger products.
Get out there and seek out your “competition’s” products. Test them and take the steps to properly onboard a new affiliate program to your readers.
4. Create Your Own Product
One of the easiest(ish) ways to combat decreasing Amazon affiliate income is to create your own product (eBook, PDF, guide, or course) and launch an affiliate program for yourself.
You can create a digital product and sell it on sites like Gumroad or SendOwl to offset an Amazon affiliate earnings decrease. You can also incorporate plugins like WP Affiliate and sell them on your own site.
There are also other course delivery options to the big guys (Teachable, for instance). You can even host a course right on your own site using plugins or gated (password protected) pages.
5. Pitch It, Pitch It Real Good
If you sang that, we’re gonna be the best of friends.
Increase your pitching focus and narrowly target brands to work with. The biggest fear many of my clients have might be the same one holding you back: fear.
If you’re afraid of getting a ‘No” or you just don’t know how to pitch or position yourself, get Pitching Perfection. Templates, tips, and a whole lot of extras will have you sending with confidence.
6. Influencer Networks
Conversely, if you don’t want to pitch brands directly, you can join ALL.THE.NETWORKS! There is less money for you than if targeting the brands directly but the opportunities might come easier, depending on your profile and statistics.
Remember, statistics really matter with influencer networks unless you’re in a very narrow niche. Keep that in mind and fill out your profile as completely as you can to improve your chances of being selected for a campaign.
Additional Reading: The International Bloggers’ Association’s List of Preferred Affiliates
Bonus: POD or Serviced Income Streams
Just like your first financial advisor after college told you, “Diversify!” Developing multiple income streams is smarter than relying only on one.
Explore new revenue streams like designing print-on-demand t-shirts on Amazon Merch. You will not need to source the designs yourself or hold inventory under the Merch system. There is a delay in approvals so go sign up now. And read this post on Amazon Merch to make the most of that waiting time.
Another print-on-demand service you can try to offset Amazon affiliate earnings decreases are sites like Redbubble, Society 6, or Zazzle. They offer more than t-shirts which allow you to really target your audience!
Let’s say you’re pretty good with the camera… Sell stock images on niche sites (like food images sites or those which focus on diversity). Or, go broader and sell them on Creative Market Images or Deposit Photos (two of my favorites for blog stock photography).
If you’ve seen your Amazon affiliate earnings decrease in recent months, consider incorporating these tips to replace that income. Diversifying affiliate and blog income sources is just ‘good business.’
With the recent rate changes, many bloggers are seeking to increase Amazon Affiliate earnings. Here are tips to make more from your blog’s affiliate marketing efforts.
Increase Amazon Affiliate Earnings
It’s no secret I make money through affiliate linking on various sites. Each audience has a very different purchasing profile and keeping current with it takes work.
In early 2017, Amazon changed the rate tables and quite a few bloggers were hit hard. Over the past few months, however, I’ve gone back to the basics and worked hard to increase Amazon Affiliate earnings for two of my sites (the hardest hit).
Below are a list of general tips to help you increase Amazon Affiliate earnings this year.
In this article written to combat an Amazon affiliate earnings decrease, there are actionable tips to diversify your income OFF Amazon. We all know relying heavily on a single source of anything (earnings, traffic, referrals, etc.) is never a good strategy.
But before we go off-site, let’s focus on how you can use the Amazon Associate’s affiliate program itself to make more money from your blog.
After all, most shoppers are starting their shopping searches on Amazon. That alone should make us want to optimize this platform while it lasts.
Focus Closer on Amazon (With a Strong Caveat)
Before we dive deeper into the Amazon program to increase our blog’s affiliate earnings, let me provide a caveat.
Let’s call a spade a spade: it’s a warning.
For years, I’ve been saying those sites which are built as Amazon feeders are a bad idea. If you have one (or 5) of those sites, I urge you to diversify HEAVILY.
Bounties and Promotions
If your product groups were earning a good chunk of change and you’re now earning pennies, go for the bounties if you haven’t yet.
Bounties often pay more, so focusing on them might make up for lost earnings AND reduce your workload with less in-post linking and Native Ad creation.
If you’re an Amazon Associates affiliate, you know there is no shortage of promotions. Recently, Amazon has been paying out higher commissions on specific native ads (November 2016 and April 2017, to note). They also pay higher commissions on their products and services (do you promote the home services, games, or channels?).
To increase your Amazon Affiliate payouts, read through the associate emails Amazon sends, check into the forums weekly, and begin to promote those products and services which Amazon wants to put front and center.
Dig Into the Data
Within your Amazon reports, you can see a good bit of data to help you narrow your focus. Ask yourself: what products are people clicking versus what people are buying.
You could have a best-selling affiliate product hidden in your reporting. A quick adjustment in your on-site promotions could drastically increase your click-through rate!
I had no idea a good portion of one audience was interested in Mad Libs. Go figure, but they are getting quite a few sales these days. With that knowledge, I created a native ad targeting them as a search to draw in more clicks.
Gift Guide Optimization
Create gift guides outside of holidays and more around themes. You can stay with Amazon as your source or investigate programs directly with brands, move to smaller companies with Etsy, or even try to earn with Ebay.
Nearly every blogger who has been in this for longer than a year usually shares a gift guide for “some trait” during the holidays. The biggest problem there is that there is a time limit on that article.
Instead, write a gift guide addressing a searchable term. Create guides built around the best mermaid gifts, the most amazing accessories for the pool, or uncommon gifts for the bacon lover in your life. All of those terms are searchable and will be all year round.
If you’ve been affected by recent rate changes, use these tips to dig deeper into the program to increase Amazon Affiliate earnings and recover your blog’s income.
New and experienced bloggers alike want to use Amazon affiliate links on Pinterest and social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Here are the notes I’ve amassed and share with clients to stay legal and make money blogging with affiliates.
New: Get This in PDF Form!
I know this is a biggie, y’all and I want you to keep your Amazon Affiliate accounts open and earning. No email needed – just click here to get this in a PDF format you can save (and search) or print off.
Don’t forget: pin this to your favorite, “keeping it legal” blogging board. It’s a great reference piece (and a super-duper one to share in your blogging groups). Hint.
Use Amazon Affiliate Links on Pinterest and Social Media
Ultimately, this article is not written to rank. For this single post, I could care less about keywords which is THE cardinal sin of SEO. So don’t do it.
But I have to talk about a not-so-well-cloaked secret: most people don’t read the operating agreement or terms of service for their affiliate partners.
Bloggers will go into Facebook groups and ask other bloggers about what they’re doing before sending a quick email to the FTC or the affiliate program’s help desk. I’m not going to make a judgment call on that because everyone runs their business differently, but…
This post on how to use Amazon affiliate links on Pinterest and other social media is for me. I want to be able to short-link this thing and use it when people tag me. It’s massive which is why there are so many headings and a handy, non-gated PDF version.
Psst: if you’re brand new to this aspect of making money with your blog, there are times when to use affiliate marketing and when not to use it.
Related Reading: How to Recover from an Amazon Earnings Decrease
UPDATE 9/2017: It’s been a year since I and so many other bloggers received “confirmation” from Amazon we could use their links on Pinterest. However, Amazon has STILL NOT UPDATED their terms of service or operating agreement. Because of this, I do not advise you to direct-link Amazon Affiliate products or search results on Pinterest. Create a post and send traffic to it first.
I am not connected to Amazon Associates in any way other than as an affiliate. I’d love to help you out with your questions, however, if it’s not on this list, I would recommend contacting the Amazon Affiliates help desk directly (and keep a record of the conversation).
Additionally, the FTC Endorsements section has a working email (ENDORSEMENTS@ftc.gov) and you can contact them directly. Misinformation runs rampant in Facebook blogging groups.
I am not an attorney, nor an employee of the FTC, so do not use my article or advice as a guarantee of compliance.
Any hey, why not throw in another disclaimer? This is the information I have available at this time. I will update this article for using Amazon links on Pinterest and social media, but please check with Amazon Affiliates.
How to (Properly) Set Up YOUR Account Once Approved
- Create the Amazon-required (exact wording) disclosure immediately on your website (can be found in the operating agreement, item 5).
- Fill out the required website and mobile app list links for Amazon Associates (covers your publishing websites and all social media platforms you will use to promote) – instructions to set up the website and mobile app list.
- Make sure you understand the FTC’s disclosure rules for both your site and on social media (links below); write them out for easy ‘copy + paste’ to avoid violations.
- Use Amazon affiliate tracking IDs to help you with your strategy (additional reading on creating an Amazon ads strategy and using affiliate links on Pinterest) .
- UPDATE: OneLink has finally arrived! If you have an audience in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, you can combine your logins and use a single link to share.
Where You CAN Use Amazon Affiliate Links
- Your own website
- Your own social media channels feeds (and some profiles)
- On your personal Facebook page and on your business Facebook page (assuming both are linked in your profile as directed above)
- In YouTube descriptions
- In live-streaming broadcasts
- I put this here (and below) ‘cuz I figured you’d read this… As of October 2016, Amazon REMOVED THE ABILITY for ‘incentivized reviews’ outside of their official ‘Vine’ program. Meaning, if you’re given free product or want to give free product (blogger authors), you cannot leave a review or ask people to do so. Additionally, you cannot be compensated to leave a review whether or not you plan to make affiliate income on it or not.
Where You CANNOT Use Amazon Affiliate Links
- You cannot use an Amazon affiliate link in any email (see section below for workarounds).
- the ones you send to your friends or family
- the ones you send to your blog’s subscribers
- promoting your OWN book (yep, you can’t even use affiliate links then)
- RSS feeds are considered as emails (and many of us learned this in Amy’s popular post about using affiliate links because she tells us how to avoid getting in trouble)
- Popups or transitional pages on your website (ads between page changes)
- Private (Closed or Secret) Facebook groups or private Facebook profiles (personal) – Anything which requires a login, signup, or friend request is off limits.
- PDFs (includes resource guides, checklists, and eBooks not distributed on Amazon)
- Books (applies to print or electronic, traditionally or self-published, and even to those created on Amazon companies like CreateSpace or using Kindle Direct Publishing).
Related Reading: 4 Ways (and a Warning) to Increase Amazon Affiliate Earnings
To Monetize Newsletters with Amazon Affiliate Links
I get asked all the time how to use Amazon affiliate links on Pinterest and social media, but I didn’t want to exclude all of you who have questions about email.
- Direct email subscribers to a post on your site with Amazon links embedded (or use native ads).
- UPDATE: aStores are being phased out in 2017. Keep your eyes on your dashboard for new options from Amazon.
Create an aStore or shop on your site and send subscribers directly to that instead of Amazon.
- Build a “Resources” section on your site linked with Amazon products or services and send subscribers there.
Important Notes About Links – This is Important Stuff
- Disclosures must appear before the first link and cannot be masked in any way (disclosures cannot be a smaller font or in an image; see FTC links and Amazon policy links below).
- Do not link to a Wish List (it’s a violation of the Operating Policies (item 8 p). Additionally, it’s rumored that if someone buys from your Wish List Amazon considers them part of the “Friends and Family” exclusion. #sad
- You cannot include any Amazon pricing information if it isn’t part of the code provided to you by Amazon. This includes terms like “on sale,” “special rate,” or other pricing-related jargon.
- You cannot promote via advertisements (this includes Facebook ‘boosts’ or ads, Google Adwords, or any other paid avenue which sends users directly to Amazon); to clarify, you CAN boost Facebook posts which go to YOUR site/post which contain Amazon affiliate links, just not those which go directly to Amazon with the user’s click and your ad dollars.
- You cannot incentivize any click (you cannot “add a bonus,” “donate to charity,” or dangle any other incentive to promote your readers to click, either from social media or from your site).
- Not all brands and products participate in Amazon’s program even though they appear on Amazon, so adding your referral ID to a product (outside of the API portal or site stripe) might result in non-payment. Or worse.
- You cannot cloak links (Pretty Links, bit.ly links, or your own site’s shortened links are all prohibited). You shorten links with the site stripe or associates portal only.
- If you promote affiliate links in images (for example, “click on an image, it takes the reader to Amazon”) or within image captions, mention it within your disclosure statement to avoid any potential conflicts or deceptive practices.
Do I Have to Disclose If I Received Product For Free?
This is “the myth which won’t die…” Does a blogger have to disclose if they received product for free? Yes. The FTC requires it (no matter what Betty Blogger told ya). Go to the endorsement guide, search for the word ‘free,’ and Bob’s your uncle. You need to disclose.
Amazon has also addressed free content in their review guidelines. They’ve even added it to their review guidelines. Basically, if you receive free product (outside the Vine program) you cannot write a review.
How to Properly (and Legally) Use Amazon Images
- Use an approved image from Amazon’s API (logged into the associate portal + image-only tab)
- Do not grab any image from Amazon thinking you’re legally allowed to use them (not for your own site or social media). There are copyright rules because Amazon is given the ability to provide images for promotion but YOU are not. Only use images provided in the site stripe or within the API (approved images) or by contacting the manufacturer or seller (whoever owns the copyright).
- Do not make a collage, video, or slideshow on your site or social media of images pulled from the product page on Amazon. You do not have permission to alter images.
- If you want to create a collage, contact the manufacturer for images detailing their use in the collage (with other brands, for example). DO NOT pull them from the product page on Amazon.
- Do not upload Amazon images to your site unless you have express permission from the manufacturer and that is clearly stated (to allow for an appeal should Amazon penalize you).
- You can use images associated with the OFFICIAL Amazon plugin . Many use the EasyAzon 4 plugin (I am not recommending this nor am I recommending against this non-official plugin).
- Amazon (and the seller or manufacturer) allows you to use the image which comes up in the site stripe for promotion only – do not use it in other capacities (memes, logos, video introductions, etc.).
- Do not “freeboot” a video (download from YouTube and upload the original OR a derivative) to your site or social media. That’s just a clear-cut violation on all counts.
- Do not use videos available in the product pages unless you have express permission. This also applies to Amazon Video Shorts and manufacturer videos. Unless they are YOUR videos, sharing them on social media and monetizing them might be a copyright infringement which could result in non-payment and account termination by Amazon. Also, the image owners are well within their rights to report you to all social networks on which you used the image or video.
And that would stink.
Use of Amazon Affiliate Links on Social Media
- Myself and others have been told (from Amazon Associates help desk) that we cannot ‘boost’ posts on Facebook, buy promoted Pins on Pinterest, or buy promoted tweets on Twitter which lead our audience directly to Amazon. To clarify, Facebook doesn’t disallow it, Amazon does.
- You can use them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and most other social media sites which allow affiliate promotions (note you must fill in your website and mobile apps list within the affiliate portal mentioned above).
- Use your own image (wisest option), use an approved image from Amazon’s API, or contact the manufacturer or seller on Amazon directly to avoid infringing on rights. Read more in the images section above.
- You must disclose per the FTC’s guidelines even if you’re NOT a US-based marketer but are reaching US citizens.
- You must also disclose per any rules for the social network.
- Even if you’re not in the US, if you are marketing to US citizens, the FTC’s disclosure rules apply to you.
- Identification of relationship (disclosure) should be within the first three lines on Instagram so it is not ‘hidden’ in a list of hashtags or is missed when users don’t open the full text.
- I use the full explanation of the relationship of an affiliate link, as the FTC is slowly announcing things like “aff link,” “aff,” and “affiliate link” do not properly identify the relationship. Head on down to their press releases.
- My disclosure used on Facebook (before any link) is “This is an affiliate link which means I could receive a small commission if you purchase the product through this link.”
- My disclosure on Pinterest is sometimes the same as above or I use “Sponsored” to avoid confusion.
- My disclosure on Twitter is always “Advertisement” or “Sponsored” because I don’t trust “AD” will keep me out of trouble. Many compliant posters use #ad (though there is NO reason to use a hashtag unless it’s a requirement by a brand or influencer program).
- Use the full link (instead of the shortened site stripe link) on Pinterest because they do not like shortened links (or any form of cloaking).
- Disclose “Sponsored” within the first 3 lines of an Instagram share.
How to PROPERLY Link Amazon Links
Now listen, this is a guide on how to use Amazon affiliate links on Pinterest and social media. This is not a guide on how to be an Amazon affiliate. The affiliates program has put together a robust help section (linked below).
- Login to your Amazon Affiliate Account.
- Look up the product you wish to link
- Make sure the Site Stripe bar is turned on to select a tracking ID OR go into the product look up in affiliates portal.
- Copy the shortened or full link (exactly as-is).
- Paste the as-is link in your website or on social media.
- Use a description of the product to which you’re linking instead of “here” or “this” as it’s more helpful to the reader.
- For Pinterest, upload an image and edit it to include your disclosure and affiliate URL.
Important Amazon Links
- Operating Agreement
- Discussion Boards (these are VALUABLE)
- Get Links, Banners, Ads, and aStores
- General Help Section
- Contact Amazon Affiliates directly – seriously, use this if you have a question!
- Report Infringing Sites (if you want to spend time doing so)
- .com Disclosures
- What People Are Asking
- Email the Endorsements group at the FTC: ENDORSEMENTS@ftc.gov
- Advertising Guide for Small Business
- e-CFR (electronic code of federal regulations) – specifically, disclosure of material connections, Section 255.5
- Advertising Endorsements (and Press Releases with FTC spankings)
- Native Advertising – this applies to companies who want to provide you content for you to include Amazon (or other) affiliate links within
- Recent Instagram Update
Blogger Advice on Using Amazon Affiliate Links
If you’re still reading, kudos. If you’ve skimmed, you might have missed some important stuff but you’re a business owner and you know you can Pin this to your “Blogging Business” or “Legally Blog” board on Pinterest.
Because I’m NOT the Amazon affiliate police or your consultant, below are just some suggestions from myself and others on how to use Amazon affiliate links on Pinterest and social media.
- If you’re uncomfortable with the disclosure, don’t take part in the program.
- Be a resource by linking them to products you actually use instead of just think would be good to draw traffic.
- Never monetize other bloggers’ content unless you have explicit permission to do so.
- In a roundup, do not use someone else’s image and link your affiliate products to it (or below it)
- On social networks, do not share others’ original content and affiliate link it
- On social networks, do not share someone else’s previously affiliate linked share and replace it with your own
- Pay attention to your audience because different countries have different Amazon affiliate programs; not all programs accept international sign ups, but many do); note that you can use (semi-accurate) geo-targeting
- “When creating gift guides, make them non-holiday specific so that they can be used/circulated all year.” Kori, Kori at Home
- “Try to write one specific Amazon post with a specific person in mind. Think of someone who is READY to shop, they just need a bit more information/convenience/etc. and write to them. I make almost all of my Amazon money ($) off of 1 post.” Kaylene, This Outnumbered Mama
- “Make sure to pay attention to what is actually selling and adjust when needed. Meaning, if you are seeing a high-selling product AFTER your link is clicked, advertise that somewhere on your site or write up a dedicated post.” Herchel, Gym Craft Laundry
- “Promote the bounties!!! I make $ [every] month from baby registration! Write posts about them, write what comes with your registry, etc.” Katelyn, What’s Up Fagans?
- “Instead of a specific product – link a search in the case where a brand specific item isn’t needed.” Deborah, Salvage Sister and Mister
Pin or Share This. Please.
I’m asking you to pin this or share it to Facebook, please. I hate hearing when someone loses their Amazon Associates account!
Just hit the Pin It button hovering around here (or use your browser extension).
I’m sharing how to use affiliate links on Pinterest tips, including how to find and use images legally, disclose, and write descriptions to get clicks. Learn how to use affiliate links on Pinterest!