If you’re looking to build a passive source of online income, Amazon affiliate marketing can be a great way to monetize the readers coming to your blog—by tastefully weaving in links to helpful products that can be purchased on Amazon after clicking through from your website.
Then, in return for referring that product sale to Amazon, you’ll collect a commission ranging anywhere from 1% to 10% of the sale price for the items your readers purchase during the session they start after coming from your website.
My best example of a blog post that generates a consistent stream of income from Amazon affiliate marketing is my roundup of the best business books for entrepreneurs, where you can click through and quickly pick up whichever books you want.
But… I’m an amateur at Amazon affiliate marketing, compared to some…
And today’s guest post comes from one such good friend that I’ve gotten to know well over the past 6 years because of his awesome websites (one of which actually helped me sell my first product, the iStash), his crazy photography skills, and so much more.
Andy Feliciotti of Awesome Stuff to Buy is a man of many talents. He’s a Washington, D.C. based web designer and WordPress developer by trade that’s worked on building everything from eCommerce websites to the online presence of restaurant chains. He runs a five-figure website on the side, Awesome Stuff to Buy, which he’s talking about today.
From here on out, I’m going to turn this over to Andy so he can share his story and break down everything he’s done to grow his main affiliate site (Awesome Stuff to Buy) well into the thousands of dollars in monthly side income.
And once you’re ready to start earning as an Amazon affiliate, head over to my guide on how to build a profitable blog here in my ultimate guide to starting a blog.
Want to Start Your Blog (the Right Way)?
Check out my ultimate guide How to Start a Blog (on the Side).
Always remember too, that when you publish a post on your blog containing affiliate links (like this post does), you’re required to have a disclaimer like this one here:
Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products, tools, services and learning resources I’ve personally used and believe are genuinely helpful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to purchase them. Most of all, I would never advocate for buying something that you can’t afford or that you’re not yet ready to implement.
Now, over to you, Andy!
I want to give you a breakdown of how I built my side hustle, AwesomeStufftoBuy.com, which all started with just a simple Google search…
In 2012 I was looking for fun stuff to buy so I searched “awesome stuff to buy” and after seeing plenty of sites just using Amazon’s affiliate program I knew there was potential in this niche.
Plus the fact that that awesomestufftobuy.com was available I knew I had to start something.
Today, the site brings in around $1,000 a month consistently (with the holiday months often jumping up closer to $7,000), which is nice to have as a little extra side income for me.
I know it’s not $130,000 a month like some of Ryan’s friends, but no matter how much you earn monthly, it’s rewarding to share your knowledge online (in a way that’s fun for me) and actually get paid for it!
I was posting products for 4 months before actually seeing any kind of traction on the site.
In 2012 it was easy to make your traffic explode with StumbleUpon so when the time was right I submitted to StumbleUpon.
If you’re building something that you believe can bring value keep at it, if I gave up 3 months in I wouldn’t be at the point I am today.
At this point Awesome Stuff to Buy is over 1000 posts with over 5 years of additional income with this side hustle.
Most of my extra income is from showing up in Google results so this guide will show you how I pick blog niches and use strategic keyword research to identify product opportunities and write articles.
If you haven’t started your site yet be sure to read Ryan’s guide to starting a blog where he covers every aspect of building a site.
How to Find Your Amazon Affiliate Marketing Website “Niche”
Honestly if you’re into a topic, kettlebells, yoga, photography, or even food I think there is always room in the market for more content about your niche.
I wouldn’t recommend pursuing a niche if you are only trying to make money, it’s essential to be passionate about the topic you’re blogging about. It’s better to make a few hundred extra dollars a year with a topic you’re motivated by, than to get burned out on a topic you are unfamiliar with.
Let’s say you’re into Netflix, even something as simple as that has massive potentials for articles.
Best Netflix Movies, best things to watch on Netflix, best kids movies on Netflix, there are a limitless of topics you can think of just based on one subject.
Moz will even offer search suggestions which you can use to write your articles. I will note you only get a limited amount of data for free but it’s enough to start and give you guidance.
For “best movies on Netflix” Moz suggested “best teen movies on Netflix” for example, this is a smaller place to start and would be easier to rank when starting out.
These longer phrases are searched less but the difficulty to rank is much lower. This slow land grab for these longer terms will make your site rank slowly overtime.
Additionally many Niches have plenty of room for videos, so if you think you would be good on camera making affiliate money on YouTube is always an option.
How to Creatively Write Your Affiliate Articles.
One big mistake I see people do when starting out is writing without a person in mind. Think about what someone would Google to get to your article and think backwards.
Search the terms you want to rank for and study all of the top results, a small article most likely won’t make Google rank you above well researched articles.
We’ll be using the “best teen movies on Netflix” as our example. Just from quickly glancing at search results I can see most articles have around 15 movies listed. So if I can write a better post with more information in a better format I will be ranking with the bigger pages.
Try to put as much effort into your articles as possible. You should shoot for 2000+ words in your articles since articles around 2000 words rank much higher.
Luckily if you’re using WordPress the bottom left of the edit screen will constantly monitor your word count.
Once you’ve mastered your writing; elements like photos, graphics, and layout play a huge part. You really need to study competitors pages and see what works and doesn’t.
For example having a giant red button to each video on Netflix would be great for our example. When I was building Awesome Stuff to Buy I realized clicking next page was annoying for example so I added infinite scrolling and time on site spiked.
I have articles revolving around places to photograph and was annoyed by other sites lack of links to Google Maps so I added them to my article.
Just finding those simple pain points can pay out big, if a user clicks you article in a search and hits the back button that triggers Google to know your page wasn’t what they were looking for. So it’s huge plus to keep people glued to your page and providing them the information they need. For even more ideas, check out this related guide on Google Maps marketing.
Once you have written a piece of content it’s essential to return to it every few months to update the content. Even if an article isn’t initially ranking in Google updating it overtime to have more and more content could lead to success.
Tips for Promoting Your Affiliate Content.
The first thing you should do when your site is ready for the world is sign up for Google Webmasters tools. In here you can give Google your sitemap which can be generated for free on Yoast SEO if you use WordPress.
You can also use a service like Quuu to promote your items on social. Once approved they’ll share your content through their network of people who share their content. From my experience you don’t get major traffic from this source but it is a simple and easy way to start.
Building connections in your niche is essential. Once you know people posting similar content you can work with them to write guests posts on their blog. This is a great way to get backlinks since you’ll be writing the content on their blog. If you have a huge article about the “best kettlebell for beginners” for example you could guest post for people in the health niche with kettlebell exercise tips. Building backlinks to your article and site is essential when trying to show up high in Google search results.
I have found that if you write a comprehensive post with 2000+ words you’ll slowly start to rank up as you add more content to your site.
Also you’ll want to constantly update your pages for the most accuracy. I have a page about vlogging cameras and everytime a new camera fits into this category I add it to my list and make improvements. This shows Google that the content is relevant to the parent topic and that it’s an updated piece of content.
Fill out all meta information if you’re using Yoast SEO it’s easy to fill out a meta title and description. It’s essential to fill out this information since Google will be displaying it. Compare your title to other articles for the term you want to rank for and accurately describe the page using the meta description.
Something to not overlook also is Pinterest, on almost all of my popular posts I spend the time to make a Pinterest specific image for them. If you don’t know how to use Adobe Photoshop you can use a free online tool like Canva to create images. There are also plenty of WordPress plugins that add pin buttons to your blog as well. There are plenty of ways you can use Pinterest to drive traffic, see more tips on Buffer’s blog.
How to Become an Amazon Affiliate
I only recommend joining the Amazon Affiliate Network after you’ve graduated from choosing the best website builder, to fully learning how to make a website and on to actually growing your blog up to daily traffic over ~100 visitors with strategies like guest blogging and perfecting your blog SEO. If your site has low traffic and doesn’t have users to click your Amazon links you will be kicked off the affiliate network for having low sales.
While signing up you’ll give Amazon the list of website(s) you’ll be advertising on. If your site is low quality they won’t approve your site which is why it’s so important to get a few well written articles initially.
During the sign up process you’ll also select your Amazon tag to be used for affiliate links which you can always change later. This is just a simple query string appended to urls like this “?tag=yourtag-20”. After signing up it’s as simple as adding that to Amazon urls to make them affiliate links.
After your account gets approved and you start posting links on your site you’ll want to include a disclaimer about your affiliate links so you don’t get kicked off the network. (Ryan included an example of a disclaimer at the top of this article)
In addition to not including a disclaimer you can be removed from Amazon’s Affiliate Network for linking to products in emails (email marketing), cloaking links, including links in eBooks, noting a static price of a product and more. So you’ll want to be familiar with Amazon’s rules before posting content with links.
Additionally there are tons of tools and plugins to automatically add your affiliate tag to links which you can see below.
6 High-Impact Tools (and Tips) for Affiliate Marketers
Once you have built your blog, written some high quality pieces of content, and have joined the Amazon Affiliate program. you’ll want to optimize your income.
There are thousands of other affiliate programs and international Amazon programs that you will want to be part of and these tools will help.
1. International Amazon Links.
Once you have people clicking your Amazon links geni.us is super useful for gaining a ~6-8% boost in sales via international sales. You’ll need to signup on all of Amazon’s international affiliate programs and geni.us will automatically redirect users to the correct Amazon store.
Extra tip: If you’re having a hard time depositing international payments, Payoneer will let you direct deposit from the international Amazon affiliate networks.
2. Other Affiliate Networks.
The easiest way to add monetized links to your site for all links besides Amazon is Skimlinks. This is the easiest way to make all links use affiliate networks.
I recommend signing up for Amazon affiliate network and skimlinks, Skimlinks will let other sites like Thinkgeek, Newegg, and tons of others. I find this the easiest way to adding affiliate links from the one off sites I link to. Plus they offer a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to integrate to your site.
About 10% of my income comes from Skimlinks so it’s not something to overlook. Plus if you’re in a specific Niche that doesn’t have products on Amazon it can help.
3. WordPress Tips & Plugins.
Besides the essential WordPress plugins for performance and security here is my list of niche plugins I use for most projects (If you want more suggestions for plugins read my list of best WordPress plugins).
GeneratePress: One of the best WordPress themes (which I use) to start most of my projects. It offers a very minimal clean slate for you to start your site. Plus you can expand to a page builder if you need more complex layouts. I highly recommend adding Elementor which will allow you to build pages with a drag and drop interface (perfect for landing pages!).
Yoast SEO: Obvious requirement for all WP sites, lets you have full control over your page titles, descriptions and what pages are indexed. This is essential for any WordPress site looking to rank well. Plus Yoast SEO will create a sitemap that you can use to submit to Google Webmasters, this way Google will index all of your pages.
Auto Post Scheduler: If you’re queuing a lot of posts in WP it can be annoying to manually set publish times for posts, this plugin will space out publish dates automatically. This is great is you have a large site where you are constantly adding content.
Media File Renamer: Removes the pain of manually renaming every image file (though I still recommend manually renaming images) but I highly recommend this for SEO, it’ll automatically rename files to match the post they are attached to.
Requirements Checklist: If you have other authors on your site requirements checklist is perfect for forcing posts to have specific requirements (2 tags, a featured image, body text, etc).
PB SEO Friendly Images: Automatically adds alt or title to images when they are uploaded.
Pinterest Automatic Pin: Posts to a Pinterest board automatically when a post is published, great if you have a lot of images per post. Surprisingly Pinterest can be a great source of website traffic if you work on your boards often.
4. SEO Tools.
When trying to brainstorm for article ideas or finding low hanging fruit on my site I use Ahrefs. At $99/mo I really only recommend this tool to people who already have established sites with revenue.
To start I would Google a niche you’re looking to get into “Best Drones” for example, the related searches is a gold mine for free. Just from this quick search I can see a site focusing on “drones under $200” would be a popular article.
Ahrefs is great at picking apart a competitors top pages and learning what works for competitors in your niche. Additionally I use Ahrefs to find keywords I rank for in the 5-8 positions on Google. This is great for knowing which pages I can put a little bit of effort into and gain big results by moving a few positions up.
5. WordPress Hosting.
If you’re starting a WordPress site I highly recommend using a premium WordPress host like WPEngine, Kinsta or one of these best web hosting plans from reliable hosting companies. I see way too many people using cheap hosting which will slowly screw you over in the end. Google will be ranking you based on site speed and using https which most premium hosts will handle for you.
For more about how to start a blog read Ryan’s post.
6. CDN & Performance.
Setting up a free Cloudflare account is a must for any website. It’ll add a performance boost and security with almost zero effort. One tweak I recommend in Cloudflare is turning your wp-content/uploads directory into a fully cached directory using page rules. This means Cloudflare will serve all images from cache acting as a free CDN plus it’s very simple to set up. Once you have the budget you can spring for the $20/m Cloudflare account which will automatically compress your images on the fly.
I hope these Amazon affiliate marketing tips have been helpful!
I’ll be reading the comments, so if you have any questions about affiliate marketing let me know in the comments below!
Once you’re ready to put your Amazon affiliate marketing into practice and build a profitable blog—head over to my ultimate guide to starting a blog.
Want to Start Your Blog (the Right Way)?
Check out my ultimate guide How to Start a Blog (on the Side).