We’re getting a lot of questions lately around what approach to take when looking at becoming an Amazon affiliate. Do you go all out and build an ecommerce site with hundreds of products or do you concentrate on producing brilliant content and build a blog site with products reviews, product comparisons and how to guides.
We’ve done both and, in the video, we talk about the pros and cons of the different scenarios. Back in 2018 we published our annual ‘build an Amazon affiliate site from scratch’ video using Woozone to go down the ecommerce route. This year we’ve focused on the blog and content route and there is a reason for this, which will become apparent as we go…
Amazon affiliate ecommerce sites – the pros and cons
This is where you have a shop on your site where users can either click to buy or add things to their cart. An example of one of these is thisiswhyimbroke.com. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of this site and I think it goes against Amazon’s new policies, but it’s a well-established site with lots of traffic.
PROS OF THE ECOMMERCE AFFILIATE SITE
- Access to the API allows you to create hundreds of product pages on your site without too much hard work. Although, when importing products from Amazon we would always recommend writing your own product descriptions, which can be time consuming.
- Depending on how well you do it, an ecommerce site can look less affiliate spam and more professional. If it’s done well.
- If the customer clicks to buy a product or enters the checkout and is passed to Amazon but doesn’t buy there and then, the 90-day cookie has already been dropped so if they go back to Amazon and buy a product then you will still get the commission for it.
CONS OF THE ECOMMERCE AFFILIATE SITE
- It is very hard to do well. So, if you don’t do it well it will look spammy, sketchy and untrustworthy and the customer won’t buy anything from you.
- It’s hard to keep on top of the Woozone/API updates. If you’re displaying the wrong prices for the products on your site, Amazon could shut you down. And you are definitely not allowed to hard code the prices in. That’s a big no-no.
- Google doesn’t rank nasty looking affiliate sites well.
- If you don’t generate at least three sales off your own back, Amazon will not give you access to the Amazon API and you won’t be able to install Woozone to import your products.
- If your site ends up being spammy and sketchy, Amazon won’t like you and they will shut you down and that will be that. They probably won’t even tell you why, ‘Cos they can.
- Amazon just don’t seem to like the purely shop-driven websites anymore.
Amazon affiliate blog-style sites – the pros and cons
This is the website that is almost completely content driven, with product reviews, comparisons, guides and editorial-style articles. fatherly.com is a good example of a great-editorially-led affiliate site.
PROS OF THE BLOG-LED SITE
- They are relatively easy to set up. All you need is a good domain name, WordPress and a decent looking theme. And some content.
- You don’t need access to the Amazon API. You can use Amazon SiteStripe to add your affiliate links and product images. Check out this video out if you don’t know what SiteStripe is.
- You don’t have to constantly monitor Woozone to check that all your products and prices updated.
CONS OF THE BLOG-LED SITE
- You have to have chosen a fairly good niche that gets traffic and isn’t too crowded.
- You have to create lots and lots of good content. Our friends at Income School recommend having 150 posts or articles on your site to even be in with the chance of generating income. That’s a lot of writing.
- If you’re not a natural writer or if you’re competing in the US/UK markets and English is not your first language, it can be hard to produce good quality content in a timely fashion. And if it’s not good quality, it’s a waste of time.
- Outsourcing content writing to decent content writers does cost money. If you go cheap, be prepared for poor quality.
- If your content isn’t quite hitting the mark, the danger is to overcompensate by adding too many affiliate links or AdSense ads. Then you run the risk of becoming a dirty rotten spammer. Amazon hates that, Google hates that and most of all, your target audience will hate it.
So, what's the verdict? Blog or Shop?
Let’s not forget that Amazon has moved the goal posts again and changed its terms so that it is now more challenging that ever make a living from the Amazon Associates Programme using the Amazon API. For Amazon to even consider giving you access their API you have to generate three sales off your own back within a 180-day period. They might make allowances for sites that are well established with a good amount of traffic, or for blogs with a healthy amount of good quality content and ultimately, that’s what you should aim for.
At the end of the day, Amazon wants to do what any other business-owner wants to do; build mutually beneficial relationships with affiliate marketers that are going to work hard to drive traffic and sales through nicely-built, user-friendly websites with original, quality content. Simple!
There’s no denying that it’s hard and time consuming to make money as an Amazon affiliate. But it’s not impossible. You might have seen our interview with WP Eagle subscriber Tim. He’s starting to see his Amazon affiliate income build and puts it down to content. He has also got some product pages so maybe a blog-led website with a smattering of well chosen, nicely presented products is the way to go.
A nice example of this is makesushi.com (although they haven’t installed their SSL certificate. Tut tut). They have a lot of recipes and a sushi university where they show you sushi rolling techniques. On top of that they have a shop where you can buy all sorts of sushi related products including the fish!
At the end of the day there are some key things to remember:
- If you’re going to build an ecommerce site, make it the best it can be and write unique, original product descriptions.
- Add a blog to your ecommerce site.
- If you’re going blog-led, write and add fresh, original content as often as you can.
- Don’t be spammy. It’s not 1999. Be a valuable source of information.
Here are some useful links…
- Build an Affiliate Marketing Blog Site
- Build an Affiliate Marketing Shop Site
- Keyword Research Playlist (helps you come up with ideas for content)