I’ve been asked a few times this year about the Amazon Affiliate program and thought that a post explaining it would be helpful to others. The program is a linking service where a blogger (like me) can link to Amazon using special codes that track the user while they shop on Amazon. If you land at Amazon using one of my links and buy anything, I will get a small commission, though your purchase price remains the same. Each month my commissions get tallied up, and then I get paid via direct deposit or Amazon gift card.
It took a long time for me to enter the program, January of 2013, considering that some sites I built in college were using the Amazon images rather than my own. I link to Amazon also because it’s a single place rather than finding author’s or publisher’s websites. Plus it’s where I keep my own list of books that I would like to read.
To start, you head to https://affiliate-program.amazon.com to join for free. Once there you can setup your account and get linking to the books, movies, etc., that bring the commissions. You can link to anything on the Amazon site, but because I do mostly books, that’s the process I’ll share.
Once you have an account, log in and type what you’re looking for, in this case I’m looking for “The Alchemist”. This search feature is not as kind as the one you might be used with Google or the Amazon homepage. Incorrect spellings or jumbling of words won’t get you the results you’re looking for. Once you do find what you want hit enter or “Go.”
Here are the results for “The Alchemist.” Most of the time I want just the URL for the page. For that I choose the black drop down arrow (being shown by the red arrow) to get the box with the link. These are long links that look like this: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061122416/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0061122416&linkCode=as2&tag=miksblo09-20&linkId=HLMJYEZDNUXHZLVR
Next I choose the yellow button, “Hightlight HTML,” copy it, and then go to my original text to insert a link. And that’s it if you want to get started with just text links. Sometimes though I include pictures of that items, and for that you can choose the “Build more links” button or “Get link button.”
That will lead you to a page that looks something like this:
From there you can grab the HTML for the detailed listing, image only, or add to widget. Below what you see above will be the code that you can copy and insert on your own site. Visitors will see the same Amazon they always do, but they’ll be arriving from your links and the earnings will be reflected in your account. But how much do you earn?
My monthly report for part of October shows that people have ordered six items via my links for a Total Earnings of $6.78. If you click the “View full report link” it shoes the image below. As you can see, the commissions are sometimes minuscule. For example, when someone bought a used copy of The Social Animal (one of my favorite books) I earned no Advertising Fees. When someone bought A Wizard of Earthsea though, I earned $0.30. These little bits add up and most months I earn about $20, and get paid in Amazon gift cards. Why the gift cards, because I buy enough books and my daughters by enough granola bars that it’s simpler this way. The gift card comes via email and with one click it’s applied to my account and then purchases are automatically deducted from it.
If you want to get started with the program you should search for some more comprehensive summaries. There are probably people online who do a lot of testing about what sort of images, links, and products sell best. For me the balance is between making a bit of money but not diving deep into something complex and energy intensive. This program is basically to fund my reading habit, which is does.