The Common-Sense Approach to Earning With Amazon’s Affiliate Program

make money with amazons affiliate programThis is a guest post from Jeff Carson from Azon Classroom. Jeff makes some very solid, practical, and simple tips that will help you improve your Amazon affiliate business.

Amazon Niche Selection – My 3 Most Important Lessons Learned

I’ve learned a lot over the past couple years creating niche blogs that sell Amazon products. Perhaps the most important lesson was, don’t put the word ‘Kindle’ in a domain name…you’ll get your account shut down and all your accrued earnings held hostage for months, provided you can get them at all.

Uh, okay…moving onto other lessons…

Some (other) most important lessons I’ve learned about making money with Amazon Associates surround the process of selecting a niche.

I personally found it difficult in the beginning to choose a niche that I felt comfortable with. Would I make any money with it? Would it be a waste of time? These are thoughts my mind wrestled with. The more I teach people, the more it seems we all think the same way about this.

But it doesn’t need to be so mind bending and stress causing in my experience.

In this post, I’m going to detail three lessons I’ve learned that allow me to make money each and every time I enter a niche now.

I’m not going to tell you any formulas to follow, as I haven’t been able to identify one with my experience with Amazon Associates.

What I have been able to identify, are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way about selecting niches that seem to make or break my success. Here they are…

Lesson 1 – Choose Something You Have an Interest In, Or a CHANCE of Being Interested In

I used to find myself asking the success-shattering question, “What if I don’t succeed in this niche?” I then later found myself asking a more relevant question – “What if I DO succeed in this niche?”

Here’s what I mean…

I started out writing about all sorts of very strange subjects for the purpose of entering a niche that I thought would make me money. What I ended up with were niche sites based on topics I had absolutely no interest in whatsoever.

Coffee tables? Office furniture? Shoe storage? Good Lord…just reading those topics has put you in a state of boredom. I’m sorry I did that to you…But nonetheless, I built entire blogs around those topics.

What happened? They started making money at the beginning, but I simply despised the blogs. So, I didn’t even look at them. I didn’t add more content. I looked forward to getting myself on a different track. So I moved onto another strange niche, and so the process repeated itself.

In the end, these sites dropped in rankings, stopped making money, and I didn’t care. Done.

Conversely, when I was interested in a niche, the writing came naturally and was very persuasive. I didn’t even have to think about it. I had more to write about, so I had more content bringing more traffic. The sales increased dramatically and work was actually enjoyable.

Specifically, golf is my favorite niche. I love golf. I feel like I could have an informed sounding, coherent conversation with anyone about golf. I feel I could teach anyone golf. I would listen to or watch anything that was about golf over most anything else…you get the point.

So, back to the “What if I DO succeed with this niche?” question…

So now if someone asked me, “Oh cool, you make blogs. What are some of your blogs?”

Telling them I have a few golf blogs and listing them off felt cool. “Yeah, I have a site that reviews the best GPS’s, one that sells training aids, and another that reviews golf nets, I also have an instructional site…” etc… I felt good about it.

I can tell you when people asked me about my blogs and I was saying “Uh, I have a blog about coffee tables, office furniture, kitchen tables, ummmm, what else…oh yeah, shoe organizers…” I was thinking to myself AS I was telling these people what I was doing, what the heck am I doing? Their facial expressions would tell me they were asking the same thing.

I wasn’t proud of what I was doing, and my level of success followed suit.

I don’t mean to demean anyone for any niche they have chosen. Because the bottom line is I made some good money with some of those sites! Some random niches I chose became VERY interesting me when they were making hundreds or thousands of dollars a month!

I’m just saying, I go with topics I like from now on. I find success easier – much easier.

Lesson 2 – Niches With Cross Selling Items and Items That Sell In Numbers

If there aren’t any items that are an obvious cross-sell, or any items that sell in numbers in the niche, I don’t usually go into it.

A Good Example – Golf Grips

If someone is purchasing a golf grip online, then there is a large likelihood they are going to purchase 16 to 20 of them. That’s because if a golfer knows what they are doing, then they will want a consistent feel on all the clubs (and I’ll tell them they do!), so they’ll purchase new grips for ALL the clubs.

Because the golf competition rule states that one can only carry 14 clubs in the bag, most people have 14 clubs. So, let’s add a few in case they screw up putting them on. That means they are buying at least 16 grips.

Furthermore, most amateurs have more clubs than 14, since they aren’t in competition, so they’ll probably buy 20 grips.

THEN, the customer will need some double-sided tape, a pack of hooked razor blades, some fluid, a vise, maybe a blowtorch and maybe even a few more things if they want to do the job right!

It’s now easy to see how this one person has just purchased 33 things from my link in one sitting!

My commission percentage is now going to go up for all my items that month. That’s going to make a huge difference for the $500 golf mats I’m selling!

(NOTICE – Since I’m so interested in golf, I know about this opportunity. You can see  it’s very related to the first lesson.)

A Poor Example (for me) – Shoe Organizers

I don’t know what people want to buy along with shoe organizers. Shoes? No, that doesn’t work…I don’t care…why are we talking about this again?

Lesson 3 – Don’t Be Afraid Of Hot and New Niches 

The hotter a niche is -> the more reviews products within the niche are going to have -> the more products are going to sell in the niche -> the more potential money your blog can make per visitor to the blog.

That’s what logic says, and I’ve found it to be the truth in my experience.

Most people balk at the competition at this point, however. “Yeah, but everybody and their sister is trying to sell these things then! How will I stand out?”

Yes, but everyone is usually trying the exact same angle. They are trying to write content that is “Product X” with a “Review” tacked onto the end of it. That’s great for unsaturated niches, but for established hot niches, you may need to find a different angle into the niche.

So, instead, perhaps you could talk about “Product X vs. Product Y – Which Is The Best?”

Or, maybe a how-to topic that teaches a subject, then recommends the product There are many different ways to claim a portion of commissions for a hot product, or hot line of products.

What about NEW hot products?

I learned a couple years ago that a large percentage of people simply do not take action writing content for brand new products.

I learned this by writing about products that came out the day, or maybe the day after, they were released, and finding my content on the front page of Google for many relevant keywords in a just a day or two.

These are often products that become very hot, and then everyone else is playing catch up and climbing over themselves to rank highly months later, when it’s much more difficult. Why? Because your site has been at the top getting shared, and getting commented on, and getting views…and that kind of stuff can entrench content in the search engines.

The point is, a little action with hot niches, or new niches, can really go a long way.

It’s tough to calculate your way into these opportunities as stats often won’t exist. Instead, it’s more done with gut feeling and action.

I hope that you found my three learned lessons useful to you.

Jeff has put together a very in-depth training course that walks through setting up a successful Amazon niche site from top to bottom. It’s called Azon Classroom and it’s a great course that will teach you how to set up your site the right way, and how to write content that generates sales.

Limited Offer: Name: When I was just starting to figure things out, I did an interview where I walked through exactly what was working for me.

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About The Author

Nate

Nate is a blogger, fitness enthusiast, and designer.

37 Comments

  • Alan

    Reply Reply September 17, 2012

    Great post. Really enjoyed reading.

    I’d like to learn more about backlinking and getting targeted traffic to my site.

    • Jeff Carson

      Reply Reply September 18, 2012

      Hi Alan,

      Thanks a lot. I think the whole “targeted traffic” concept begins with niche selection. If you know who is searching for the keywords, then set up the site for the keywords (at least with a niche-site model) then any search engine traffic you get will be ultra targeted.

      I usually just do a lot of white-hat back linking, guest posting, article writing, web 2.0, etc. That’s always been enough to get the job done in my experience.

  • Mike

    Reply Reply September 17, 2012

    I like the idea of doing a site you have an interest in.
    That being said about how many pages do you need to have before before you can realistically expect to bring in $750-$1000 monthly?

    • Joe

      Reply Reply September 18, 2012

      100s of pages IME

      Totally depends on the amount of commission you get per sale though.

    • Jeff Carson

      Reply Reply September 18, 2012

      Hi Mike,

      In my opinion, I think that’s a false line of logic to go down…there is no set amount of pages/posts to get to a set dollar amount.

      But I think the more content you put up, in a nicely organized fashion, the more chances a post will be picked up in Google and start generating commissions.

      The amount of content on a certain blog needed in order to get to a certain dollar amount is going to be vastly different from person to person, from niche to niche.

      For the example site in Azon Classroom, it’s 16 posts finished a couple months ago = $200 per month at the moment. So, more content = more commissions? Undoubtedly yes.

      Although, I’ve had sites with 30 posts, with 1 post making all the money, earn thousands of dollars in a month in a completely different niche.

      It’s a common question..one I had at the beginning. I understand it completely…but it’s really impossible to know.

      • Mike

        Reply Reply September 18, 2012

        Jeff,
        Appreciate the response.

        Warmest regards
        Mike

  • Diana

    Reply Reply September 17, 2012

    I find it difficult to find a way to write content on a new product with no reviews and no feedback.

    Doing a comparison is a great idea if you can find a similar product.

    Thanks.

    • Jeff Carson

      Reply Reply September 18, 2012

      Yes, it is difficult for sure. In the past I’ve sourced out friends who had the products and borrowed it from them for a day or two…if they don’t have them, then you really have to use your critical thinking to imagine what people would like or dislike about the product.

      I’ve often thrown up a review and thought “Wow, that really isn’t a very good review…” lol, but the point was, I wanted desperately to get it up in the search engines first. I will then go back and improve it the more people talk about the products and the more I realize the reasons it wasn’t good in the first place.

  • This almost makes me want to pick up my Amazon sites and dust them off for another try. I built quite a few Amazon sites back a few years ago and I’ve learned so much since that time. I bet today I could do a much better job with the whole process.

    Thanks for the inspiration and tips. I like the concept of promoting products that automatically moves the person to multiples or other products. Great find!

    • Jeff Carson

      Reply Reply September 18, 2012

      Thanks Steve, I appreciate the kind words. Yeah, I’ve found it makes sense that the more products you can sell in a focused niche, the bigger the site can grow, the more money you can make, etc…

  • Don

    Reply Reply September 17, 2012

    Hi Jeff,

    Nice post.

    I can relate. I currently have a site about window shutters and that is certainly not something that I am all that interested in. lol

    Here’s a question I’ve pondered for a long time. Perhaps you can give me your opinion.

    I have always been interested in music (singing in particular), however the research I’ve done has never shown it to be a profitable niche and on top of that, it seems to be rather competitive.

    Would you recommend moving on to another niche?

    A second question I have using your golf niche as an example is “how can someone like yourself, have extensive knowledge about multiple products, such as a set of golf clubs, when you probably only own 1 set?

    Do you know what I mean. Another example using myself might be drums. I use to play drums in a band many years ago and I still own a set of Rogers (brand name), but how could I inform my website visitors about other brands, such as Ludwigs or Tama to name a few, when I don’t have any experience with those brands?

    Don

    • Joe

      Reply Reply September 18, 2012

      You just have to make up your reviews or re-hash other peoples. It is unlikely you will have enough products in any niche to be able to do numerous meaningful comparisons.

    • Jeff Carson

      Reply Reply September 18, 2012

      Possible singing profitable niches – Microphones? How to sing with a microphone, best singing microphones… Karaoke machines? Recording software?

      I know a lot about ALL golf club sets in the way that I know about the components that make up golf clubs – graphite vs steel shafts, forged vs cast irons, grips, etc. You just need to know what makes a good product, not have actual experience of the product…does that make sense?

      Drums – You could talk about the different wood that makes the drums, and the different sounds they produce? The hardware included with a kit? You just want to inform the buyer so they can make an informed decision. You do the research, so they don’t have to.

      Hope that helps Don.

  • Definitely agree that it helps to promote products that you know a lot about or are passionate about using. Expensive sports equipment tends to do well from my experiences. Great approach you have here!

    Thomas

    • Jeff Carson

      Reply Reply September 18, 2012

      Hi Thomas, thanks! Yeah, I’m having good luck with expensive sports equipment as well – also electronics has been good to me, also software (non Amazon stuff).

  • Neill

    Reply Reply September 18, 2012

    LOL – Nate’s huge list strikes again!

    Bandwidth exceeded at azon classroom!

    • Jeff Carson

      Reply Reply September 18, 2012

      Thanks for the heads up Neill!
      lol…mercy…it’s back up and running now. Notice I didn’t make any technical suggestions in the above article! 🙂

  • Bruce

    Reply Reply September 18, 2012

    What a useful post.
    When I look at some of my own selections, makes me realize that common sense is sometimes an uncommon attribute.

    • Jeff Carson

      Reply Reply September 18, 2012

      Bruce, I know what you are saying…intimately! I think it took my wife turning to me month after month and saying “Can we just let this domain name go?” to finally drill it into my head that certain niches worked for me and certain others didn’t. And for the most part, they weren’t niches anyone else was saying worked for them…they were like “my own little niches”.

  • Alex Newell

    Reply Reply September 18, 2012

    Very funny Jeff to read that you despise some of your old blogs. I felt the same about lots of the niches I came across in market and keyword research.

    Content matters hugely and high quality content comes from enthusiasm and knowledge.

    Thanks for the tip about writing on very new trending topics.

    🙂

    • Jeff Carson

      Reply Reply September 18, 2012

      Your welcome Alex. Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly about the enthusiasm and knowledge.

  • Marty

    Reply Reply September 18, 2012

    I totally agree with “lesson 2”. Cross Selling extends your reach dramatically. It an easy way to leverage your niche product into a much broader market. If you take the time to understand your niche market, it will become obvious which products you can cross sell.

  • Greg Purnell

    Reply Reply September 18, 2012

    Thanks, Jeff, for sharing your thoughts and experience. I have a site on camping gear, and I am not really a camper, so I don’t write with much enthusiasm.

    I think I will check out your course. Maybe I could create a site about racquetball, travel, missionary work — all things I am interested in.

  • Matson Magleby

    Reply Reply September 18, 2012

    Jeff,
    Wouldn’t you be better off making one golf blog that talks about all those topics instead of building multiple golf blogs?
    Matson

    • Jeff Carson

      Reply Reply September 18, 2012

      Yes, I do think that consolidating as much into one blog as possible is probably better…it would reduce wandering of focus as well.

      BUT, at the same time, I would be wary of trying to cover too much on the blog, so it’s not all over the place. “Golf” is such a massive niche in itself, that I’d rather focus on a smaller sub-niche of golf for more success. (mastering one area)

      So, for a very large blog, I might call it “Golf Training Aids”, which would cover all sorts of training aids. (Nets, clubs, swing plane trainers, putting aids, etc etc)

      But if I just decided it would be about “golf”, it could become crazily unfocused – tournaments, golf aids, putting tips, Tiger Woods, golf carts…

      IMO. Does that make sense?

  • Stan Cahn

    Reply Reply September 18, 2012

    I have an amazon and adsense blog, and I like the idea of cross selling. It may work very well.

  • carina

    Reply Reply September 20, 2012

    Hi Jeff:

    I love your post. Writing about what you have interest in is a lot more fun and for that easier than writing about something you don’t care much. (Easy concept many times overlooked though)

    The topics I like are way to competitive, is there a chance to target them in an specific way to have a good chance of success using amazon (since it is what you teach in your course) or any other affiliate networks?

    For example I like, health and wellness, fitness, energy (like energy healing, wellness, etc).

    In your Azon Classroom course do you offer support? meaning if we have questions like the ones asked in this thread which are kind of marketing oriented (or more specific questions ), can we get those questions answered?

    Can you create a list with this type of blogs? Do you teach that in the course?

    Thank you so much for your post

    Carina

  • carina

    Reply Reply September 20, 2012

    Jeff:

    I forgot to mention this. One of the things I like the most about what Azon Classroom offers is that you teach about 3 types of content readers and how to write content for each of them.

    I guess you mean that not always we need to write a “review”, maybe the reader is craving for a “how to” type of content, they need “social proof”, etc.

    Is that what you address in the “Anatomy Of An Amazon Sale”?

    Do you go in detail about how to write content for these 3 types of readers?

    One more time thank you so much

    Carina

  • Jeff Carson

    Reply Reply September 22, 2012

    Hi Carina, yes, I’ve set up the presentation of the course to include discussion underneath each video. Otherwise, I’m always available for support.

    I go into extreme (lol) detail about how to write content in the included 130+ page PDF, and different ways to approach it.

    I see those niches you talked about as niches with a lot of subniches, a lot of opportunities, a LOT of potential.

    Hope I answered your questions well enough…

    Jeff

  • Mike W.

    Reply Reply September 28, 2012

    Thanks for the article. My first amazon project was based on keyword research on a product I have zero interest in. I have never completed the site because I just found it too tedious and boring. I will probably finish it because a) I started it and b) I believe it will make money. But your point about choosing a niche you have interest in is a good one.

    I have a question about amazon affiliation, and I’m too lazy to read the TOS at this time. ;-P So I’m hoping one of you amazon experts can help me with the answer.

    Is an amazon affiliate allowed to turn amazon product links into short urls (tinyurl or bitmark etc) and post them on twitter, facebook, forums etc.?

    I was going to tweet a comment and link to a product I think my followers might be interested in but then I wonodered if that would get me in hot water with amazon.

    Also amazon has that page where you tell them what sites you are placing your links on – do you have to put every site/page you have links on, or not?

    Thanks.

    • Jeff Carson

      Reply Reply November 20, 2012

      Hi Mike, I’m not sure about the terms of service thing, but you don’t have to list every site you are going to put links on – just a site, or even a free Blogger blog, etc.

  • Ray Boreham

    Reply Reply November 15, 2012

    Great post, Jeff, thanks. I’m intereted in your course & you say you provide support – is contact info provided within the members’ area?

    Thanks,
    Ray

    • Jeff Carson

      Reply Reply November 20, 2012

      Hi Ray,

      Yes, there is contact information, and discussion underneath each video for everyone’s benefit (if people feel okay with sharing…which I encourage!)

  • Sharon

    Reply Reply November 16, 2012

    Wow Jeff, I really need to thank you for sharing so much information in both your post and comments. I have so much to lean from you, especially since I am a newbie and just starting out. I will be working out to set aside the fee for your classes real soon. Looking forward to have you as my teacher. 🙂

  • Joe

    Reply Reply November 20, 2012

    Are your amazon affiliate sites, or at least the pages with affiliate links, on still ranking?

    • Jeff Carson

      Reply Reply November 20, 2012

      Yes. Many of my pieces of content still rank and make money each day/week/month.

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