Amazon’s Commissions are Horrible, But So What! (Earning Strategies)

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A lot of people don’t bother with Amazon’s affiliate program because the commissions are so low (4-8% on average with the potential to earn a more if you refer large volumes of products).

So if you’re in a niche that averages 30-50% per commission on most products, Amazon’s program may seem like a waste of time.

Just look at my earnings snapshot from the current quarter that ends September 30th.

amazon earnings report

So basically, I’ve made nearly $3,000 for this quarter, and only have $170 to show for it.

In the Internet marketing niche, most programs would award me at least 1/3rd of those earnings, but here’s why I am OK with that.

Amazon is a Great Catchall Program

A lot of companies don’t have affiliate programs for their products.  So if I can’t find a program that corresponds with the product, I go to Amazon.  Sure, the commissions are low but it’s better than earning nothing at all.

Lots of Earnings From Products I Don’t Promote

What you have to love about Amazon is that they are exceptional at upselling.  And if you shop there, you’ve already witnessed this and probably become a victim of their strategy.

As soon as you add an item to your cart, Amazon lets you know what other products people purchased along with the item you are planning to buy.  Or they’ll show you items that are frequently bought together.

So you may refer someone to a Keurig brewer, but end up earning commissions on K-cups, the carousel and more related products in addition to the brewer.

frequently bought

Trust & Loyalty Matters

Since Amazon is a trusted brand, people are often more comfortable shopping there.

My conversions are usually higher at Amazon than many programs I promote, and I believe trust and familiarity is a big reason.  So that’s a nice bonus if you are an Amazon affiliate.

Most of my earnings come from my fitness and hair site, however over 65% of my commissions come from products I never even promoted.

Some of that comes from the “Frequently Bought Together” strategy that Amazon brilliantly employs, but the rest is from the can’t-buy-just-one-item philosophy that people have when they shop at places they like and trust.

Everyone has that store in their life where they end up purchasing way more than they intended to buy.  For me, that’s Target (or Tar-jay as some affectionately call it) and for many, that’s also

You know how it goes.  You start off ordering what you came to purchase and suddenly remember you also need X, Y and Z.  And apparently that’s what my visitors are doing.

How crazy is it that my highest earning commission so far this quarter is for 4 BFGoodRich tires?


Gotta luv it!

Other random items on my commission list include romance novels, Platex bras (Seriously!), pillow cases (the soft and silky kind, no less), a dog potty (Thanks, Fido) Crayola Crayons (Yep, school’s back in session), and I could go on with more random goodness.

These are all products that have absolutely nothing to do with any website I own.

So What’s My Strategy?

I hate to be overly simple, but it’s the same strategy I always talk about here…

I promote what I use.

For example, last year I discovered that camera-related searches were a fairly hot term on 2 Create a Website.  This was no surprise given the amount of questions I receive about what camera and software I use for my YouTube videos.

So I created a page to satisfy the curiosity of these searchers.

Because of that, I often see commissions from the Sony Camera I mention in that article.


Easy Azon

I also make use of Chris Guthrie’s handy WordPress plugin called Easy Azon.

I was fortunate enough to get a free, review copy last year (thanks Chris) and you can see my review of the plugin in the video below.

If you promote a lot of Amazon products on your WordPress site, the plugin will save you loads of time because Amazon’s link retrieval system could really use some streamlining.

With Easy Azon, you never have to leave the WordPress admin area to obtain your affiliate links.

Amazon Widgets

I’m finding that a lot of affiliates don’t even know this feature exists.  Nevertheless, it comes in handy when you want to create a nice visual of items you are promoting.

Your visitors can scroll through the carousel of products and click any of them to purchase. Each product link is automatically tied to your affiliate link.

Amazon Widgets

The only downside is it’s coded in Flash which means Apple products won’t display it.  So if someone is viewing your site on an iPad, they’ll see a big white space where the widget is supposed to appear. :(

This is one reason I use this feature sparingly — especially with so many people using Apple products these days.

To create a Widget, login to your affiliate account here and select the Widgets tab.  Follow the instructions to build your own.

Multiple Linking Options

Another bonus is Amazon provides a plethora of ways to link to their products.  You can use widgets as described above, rotating banners of products you select, individual links, product category links, banners and more.

The method you choose will depend on your situation and you should experiment until you find what works best.

Let’s say you own a site on car electronics and have a generic article that talks about where to buy products in your niche.

You could link to the generic Car Electronics category that will take your visitors to the homepage of that category so they can begin their search.

This comes in handy if you want to provide a link to Amazon, but don’t really want to link to any specific product.  I do this all the time.

Need a visual?  Here’s a video showing how I promote Amazon products.

The Wrap-Up

So yes, Amazon’s commissions or terribly low, but if you have no other option for certain products you may be promoting, why not use them? No doubt you’ll end up earning commissions from products you aren’t even recommending.

And while you may be tempted to throw up a bunch of Amazon banners, I’ve always found that contextual mentions work best — meaning I recommend products in relevant articles instead of just floating a random banner in a sidebar and hoping people will click and buy.

I’ll never get rich from Amazon’s affiliate program, but it’s a great bill-paying program. :)

So what about you?  What has your experience with Amazon’s affiliate program been like?  Do share!

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  1. says

    Hi Lisa! Do you know why some items appear in orders, but then you don’t get commission on them? I know for a fact that the order was placed within 24 hours. Thank you so much!

  2. Jensee says

    You didn’t make nearly $3000. You sold nearly $3000. You earned $170. You could be making SO much more than that, by the way. There are people making 6-digit figures with Amazon.

    • says

      Indeed. I said “I made $3,000 FOR Amazon” meaning that is what I earned for them. Perhaps my wording was bsd. Notice I said “I only have $170 to show for it” so yes that is my commission. Yes, there are lots of people making more with Amazon no doubt. Fortunately I have diversified and do much better with different programs.

  3. says

    Hello Lisa,

    Really its Nice Post for us.

    I am Amazon Affiliate and also have store in the Amazon platform to sell things. I am having many questions to be answered, as I am the Amazon affiliate agent can I promote my amazon run products on my affiliate websites. Will there be any apis that will help me to do so. My moto is to get earned from the affiliates and would like to increase awareness about the product. I have my website too, please check the url and suggest me ways to promote this in the right sense on amazon.


  4. says

    Hi Lisa. Nice post.
    I’ve been amazon affiliate for two years now too and have created a ton of affiliate links. How do you manage this links? I mean what do you do with products that are not available (or out of stock) at amazon? Do you remove them? How you find out that product is not available or even worse 404 on amazon site?

    I’m searching for some solution to this problem of mine… haven’t found one yet :)

  5. says

    Amazon is an alternative earning beside Adsense. I just started put Amazon link into my new site and i got some order from that link . I am really happy with positive result on Amazon . Really love it now .

  6. dan says

    Hi Lisa there is an important question lingering around the web that no one seems capable of answering, maybe you might know?

    With an amazon store do you earn a commission every time even returning customers make a purchase through your store regardless of any cookie time limit?

  7. says

    Thanks Lisa you have pretty much reaffirmed the why I use Amazon too. With adsense as an example you can’t truly control what content is shown to your visitors, but exactly like what you demonstrate with the Sony Camera you can show people what you are talking about.

    I see Amazon links as a recommendation, so if we have written an article about a particular house plant or something to do with a plant related topic, you can link to the specific Amazon product within your article quite nicely without it looking out of place. Obviously your website needs to be trusted by the visitor for the recommendation to be worth anything, but that’s another story!

  8. says

    I appreciate your honest and professional tips you give out, either in your youtube channel and website.I watch your youtube videos always.

    I signed up with Amazon affiliate for a year now. I’m in the weight loss niche. I have recorded no sales yet. In your candid opinion what could be the cause of this. And how can i make sales?

  9. says

    This is great, thanks! I didn’t realize once you direct someone to Amazon, you earn from any product they buy, not just the one you sent them over for! Does this only work for the recommended products, or if you send them say to a set of paintbrushes, but something else catches their eye and they go back to the original paintbrushes and they buy it? Do you still earn a commission for that?

  10. says

    Hi Lisa
    I like your website and learned something from it. I signed for Amazon Affiliate Program and Made this blog recently:
    Got 10 orders, which are from date 5th May and 11th May, still Today it’s May 24th and I don’t see any shippings or commission. Can you please explain how it works. I am new for this program, so I don’t know whether it’s OK or Not.

  11. says

    Amazon affiliate program is indeed terrible but it’s better than never. It should not be the main monetizing scheme but only be an addition to a more profitable affiliate programs.

  12. says

    II have emailed three Amazon gurus to ask a question and not one has come back to me Maybe you will maybe you won,t .
    I have a tracking ID that got 13,000 clicks today and not one sale .
    For the past 2 weeks i have been getting 4000 clicks a day to products on Amazon through my tracking ID and not one sale .

    If someone could tell me what is going on I would be eternally grateful!

    • says

      Hi Kathy

      Is the traffic targeted? Meaning are they relevant visitors? I’m assuming you have a link in an article? Tell us more about how you are sending people to Amazon.

  13. says

    You are very correct. The advantage of joining Amazon is we can get a commission from the purchase of products that we do not promote. Although I only promote seat, for example, but I can get a commission from the sale of cameras, sports equipment, books, etc. This one I like the Amazon affiliate. Thank you.

  14. says

    Hi Lisa, I just found you on YouTube, I’ve been blogging for a little over a year and I’m just now starting affiliate marketing on my blog. I have set up Amazon, but was a little nervous about Google because of people having their accounts cancelled. I’m going for it anyway and see what happens. You have a new follower, thanks!

  15. says

    Hey! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Cheers

  16. Ron says

    Thanks for an interesting post.
    one question that i couldn’t find and answer to so far – does Amazon pays affiliate commissions also if the user the affiliate brought already had an account with Amazon?
    i guess they do pay commissions for existing users, but i’m interested to know it for sure.

  17. Mellow says

    People who say Amazon affiliate commissions are horrible, what percentage do you expect them to be? You are just referring people to Amazon. They’re the ones who have to provide the product, ship it, deal with customer inquiries, etc…

    What do other physical affiliate programs pay in comparison?

    • says

      Hi Mellow,

      I belong to Commission Junction, and some retailers do offer up to 25 or even 30%. 10-20% is usually the norm. That can make a big difference in earnings. But I understand why Amazon does it from a business perspective. With 3rd party merchants, shipping, etc. and so many low price products they have to leave something for themselves. That’s why I prefer digital affiliate programs. They can afford to pay more.

  18. says

    Hi Lisa. I have been following your material for years and you never cease to deliver. Thanks. I think one reason why new online marketers (and old) have forgotten about Amazon is that it takes work to build a business. Most people don’t want to commit to the process.

    Online shopping is only growing (especially internationally), so there is still money to be made from any shopping site. With Amazon there are so many different product angles to choose from and it that if you focus on big ticket items within a niche, those smaller commissions really add up. Amazon also ads great value to your existing niche site for your visitors as well .

    Keep those great articles coming :)

  19. says

    I’ve been an Amazon affiliate for…ever. And it’s one of my favorite programs — in spite of the low commissions and short cookie. If I’m writing a post and refer to something I’ve used or like, it’s almost always on Amazon. I can pull the link in just a second and be done with it.

    Over the years (on multiple sites) I have opened up so many different windows to Amazon through myriad posts. I’m always surprised at what people have purchased after clicking through my links. So many products I didn’t even know existed end up in my account.

  20. says

    really good information about affiliate marketing, before this m think affiliate marketing is too difficult to earn. but after read your post right now m create an affiliates account.

  21. says

    I’ve been experimenting with Amazon Associates and Bingads. Trying to get a balance where the Amazon profits are greater than the Bingads expense isn’t easy, but it is (just about) possible.

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