How Developers Can Make Recurring Revenue as an Amazon Affiliate
You know how we’ve been discussing finding more and better clients for WordPress, right? Have you ever thought about creating an Amazon affiliate site on WordPress to supplement your income?
As a web developer, you are in a unique position to use your skill-set to create awesome content that converts. This is because whilst most people excel only in content (and probably SEO), you can use your WordPress talents to create the perfect post – every time!
Here’s how to create an Amazon affiliate site using WordPress to supplement or create a recurring revenue / passive income stream.
Research and Find Your (Profitable) Product Niche
(Do the math)
One of the most difficult parts of creating an affiliate website is finding the right niche. If you opt for a niche that is too competitive, you’re unlikely to get much traction. If you choose a niche that is too cheap or too unpopular, you are unlikely to generate much revenue.
To complicate matters, Amazon is notoriously frugal when it comes to sharing revenue. They have a business model where to offer the cheapest prices, they offer razor-thin margins from every possible angle, so you can expect they’ll squeeze affiliate margins as much as they squeeze supplier margins.
Affiliate share starts at about 1% for many products and goes up to a maximum of 10% for a few products. They’re also known to regularly shake up their fees, so don’t count on the fees always staying the same.
That’s nowhere close to some web design affiliate programs, some which pay 50%.
Yet, with Amazon you’re able to sell products that can cost $1000+. At 5% revenue share, a $1000 product returns $50. If you’re able to generate sales of 7 products per day at a cost of $1000+ you’re well on the way to generating $10,000/month.
Not a bad proposal if you ask me.
So, finding the right balance takes a bit of research. It also takes a bit of compromise.
You’ll spend hours and hours writing the best content ever, only for it to fall flat on its face just because the competition is so stiff. Or you might write some killer content that ranks, only to realize your average sale price is less than $20, making it ridiculously difficult to turn a profit.
Besides, there’s the question of competition. (You’re not the first to want to get yourself a passive income stream…)
Some niches are very competitive: beauty, fashion, specific types of tech. There are plenty of others (up and coming) or unpopular niches, that are underserved.
On the other hand, you should not choose a niche based on its potential only. The thing is this, if you’re going to enjoy working on this site, you must be spending the time working on something you love.
It’s imperative that if you are going to be the one who is going to work primarily on it, you should be, at the very least, happy to work in the niche.
Most of us have hobbies outside of our web design work that we sometimes become experts in. Whether that’s camping, fishing, PC or console games, technology, fashion, beauty, DIY, home improvement, most of us have something to keep us occupied outside of our “office hours.”
Now, imagine that instead of just keeping all the research that you do for yourself, you present that information in a nicely written article, ready for people who are about to make a purchase.
So despite plenty of people suggesting you don’t pick your niche based on your preference towards a topic, I would suggest you do the contrary. If you’re going to be working on something during your “off-peak” hours, make sure it’s going to be something you enjoy working on.
For a moment, let’s imagine I wasn’t passionate about all things, web design, WordPress, digital marketing, SEO and all the other stuff I can’t stop talking about. I wouldn’t be here sharing my experience with you, would I? It’s hardly likely I would get to a point, where I’m writing about these topics on an authority site, right?
This is the mentality you should have. If you want your site to succeed, you want to make it an authority site. And if you want to be an authority or be the owner of an authority site, this has to be a labour of love, not a means to an end.
Set Up Your Affiliate WordPress Site
If you’re on this site, you are most likely a WPMU DEV subscriber (or at least a fan!). If you aren’t, then you should become one! Since you hang around here, you already have a significant advantage on most Amazon affiliate site owners.
But first you need to pick a theme.
When a visitor arrives on your site, they make an automatic assessment whether your site is trustworthy or not. If your site looks cheap, your advice will not be trusted. On the other hand, if your site looks like a premium site, your content is more likely to be given the attention it deserves.
Using a premium WordPress theme makes your site feel trustworthy in the eyes and minds of your visitors. It also allows you to incorporate a lot of useful features that can drive more conversions.
If you’re into CRO (or Conversion Rate Optimization), you’ll know that the way information is presented, making it easy to digest and make a logical (and easy) decision, makes a huge difference in terms of conversions.
Setup Your Amazon Affiliate Account (and Get It Approved)
If you’re planning to make money via Amazon, you’ll need to register for an Amazon affiliate account. Simply go here and register for an account.
Registering your interest in becoming an Amazon affiliate is the easy part though. Slightly harder is actually getting approved for an account.
Essentially, when you register for Amazon, you’ll immediately get access and your own custom link to Amazon products. However, you are still not past the hurdle of getting approved officially as an affiliate.
To do that, you’ll need to get your website reviewed.
But before you do that, there’s an even harder step. You need to make your first affiliate sale through Amazon. So you’ll need to get writing and marketing content that is primed to send users to Amazon, who will then buy based on your recommendations.
Once you’ve made a sale through your link, your site will be queued up for a review.
It’s not easy to pass the review.
Your site must feel like it’s a useful site that is intended to provide useful information for visitors. If it looks like a site solely meant to shovel traffic towards Amazon for the affiliate links, it’s not going to pass the review.
It is suggested that you write a number of affiliate neutral, useful content pieces that are displayed on the homepage before you start pushing people towards your affiliate content. This makes for an easier and faster approval of your account.
Linking Your Content to Niche Products on Amazon
There are multiple ways of linking to Amazon.
As a very basic concept, you can simply write content, and then embed Amazon widgets, which will automatically show content to your user, based on the content you are showing.
However, this is a bit of hit and miss.
If you’re writing generic content, your chances of conversion are likely to be somewhat reduced.
You’ll want to write content that is intended for your users which are primed for conversion. Users who are at the bottom-of-the-funnel. To use less technical terms, you want to write content for users which are ready to buy. These are people who are looking for a product to solve their need.
For example, users who are searching for reviews, are typically in a phase when they have nearly decided what they want to buy, but just want to see what other people are saying about that product.
Finding good reviews, highlighting both the strengths and the weaknesses of that product, will boost the chances that the person will make a sale following your recommendation. Especially, if you are, and position yourself as a niche expert.
So let’s take as an example, a pet project of mine. A few months ago I took a keen interest in drones. Being the tech geek that I am, I consumed as much content about drones and quadcopters as I could. I joined a dozen or so Facebook groups and read and interacted and learned as much as I could. I watched hours and hours of YouTube videos until I was not just familiar, but I had drone content coming out of my ears.
I became a drone nerd. Yes – a relative expert in the niche.
Eventually, I felt I was in a position to be able to share that knowledge and expertise I had gained from my keen interest. At that point, I started buying drones and writing reviews about the products, and my experience (and that of my peers) using that product.
Even better than reviews are comparisons. Best of lists, or head-to-head of popular products.
Why am I saying this? Because when you are writing for users who are primed for conversion, you cannot rely solely on the Amazon widget. You’ll need to link directly to the products you are pushing, especially if you want to hit the numbers we discussed at the top.
A further complication you have is you can’t use images from Amazon on your sites unless you use the Amazon API to display them.
What you need is a WordPress plugin that allows you to directly import and integrate selected products into Amazon.
Top Amazon Integration Products
So your best bet if you’re doing product roundups or head-to-head comparisons is to go for a WordPress plugin that pulls in selected information from Amazon and presents in an Amazon TOS-compliant way.
There are quite a few Amazon WordPress plugins out there, so I’m going to mention a couple of my favorites.
1. WooZone (Premium)
WooZone is definitely my favorite WordPress plugin for importing products from Amazon to my affiliate sites. Essentially, what WooZone does, it allows you to pull in data from Amazon (you choose what to import) and then it adds these products into WooCommerce.
Essentially, you’re creating a WooCommerce shop, using the products of your choice from Amazon. Which is exactly what we want.
After you’ve imported the products of your choice, you can use a shortcode to add your preferred product into the content. You either select the product, or just put in the Amazon ASIN code.
2. AmazonLink (Free)
This is a similar plugin which also has a built-in feature to actually redirect users to their localized version of Amazon. So UK-based visitors would get a link (together with your affiliate tag) to Amazon.co.uk – that essentially optimizes the conversion rates because you’re more likely to buy from your local Amazon site, rather than the generic Amazon.com
The difference between this plugin and WooZone, is that this is less of a visual product and more of a manual shortcode kind of plugin. It’s more suited for those who want absolute control and who prefer working directly through WordPress shortcodes and their parameters.
Essentially, you’ll be using shortcodes such that you have full manual control on the links.
There’s also the AmazonAssociates Link Builder Plugin, which is currently in BETA. But we haven’t tested this out. Ratings seem to hover around 3 stars, so we’re guessing it needs a bit of improvement yet.
Shortcut to Creating a WordPress Amazon Affiliate Site
If all of the above seems daunting, you could short-circuit all of this by buying a done-for-you affiliate site. If you search for “ready made Amazon affiliate” sites, on Google, Flippa or other marketplaces, you’ll find plenty of options.
Expect to pay anything from a few hundred dollars, to $1000+ for these sites, which include content and an aged domain ready to start earning money within 2 to 3 months.
Speaking of Shortcuts… and Additional Revenue
Given that the affiliate market is pretty hot right now, and is projected to grow to about $7bn by 2020 or so, there’s quite a lot of demand right now for affiliate sites.
Now, as a WordPress web developer, content marketing and ranking sites might not be your favorite thing.
But there’s even more ways of making money.
Build the Amazon niche sites yourself and sell them to those who are not designers. Just like we said above, ready-made affiliate sites can fetch more than a $1000 a pop. If you are able to quickly recreate sites for different niches, you can setup 20 different niches, find a good domain, setup hosting for the site and put them up on Flippa.
Ready to Start Your Amazon Niche Affiliate Sites?
Whether you plan on creating an Amazon niche site for your own passive income stream, or whether you want to sell a few ready-made affiliate sites, for those who are not designers, WordPress Amazon niche affiliate sites could be quite the low-hanging fruit in terms of income.
The above suggestions of plugins and themes, can take your sites to the next level, both from a design perspective and a conversion rate optimization aspect.
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