Amazon Associates is an affiliate program which provides a number of unique opportunities in addition to the standard referral commission. These features include hand picked recommended products, widgets which can play songs, and even full storefronts. This tutorial will provide an overview of why to use Amazon Associates as well as how to sign up and get started.
What is an Affiliate Referral?
The easiest way to explain is through an example. Below is an affiliate link to Amazon. It will take you to their website and includes information to let Amazon know that you clicked on my link. While you are at Amazon if you purchase something, then I will get a commission. For you the shopping experience is identical to if you went to Amazon.com directly. But, since my webpage referred you, Amazon says thank you to me by giving me a percentage of the sale.
What is Special About Amazon Associates
What makes Amazon special is the number of different options available for commissions. Through most affiliate programs all you do is provide a link which takes a visitor to the advertiser’s site. Amazon allows you to do this of course, but they also provide a number of other options.
Widgets allow you to display a selection of products which you choose. You can craft lists of recommended books or pet supplies. You can provide an MP3 player advertising Amazon’s music selection. You can supply a search of Amazon without leaving your site or even a complete store! And if you aren’t sure what to offer, Amazon has a feature to analyze the content of your page and choose a selection of items to display based on that.
Amazon is for buying things, so why not allow people to start the buying process without leaving your website? Let’s say you have a cleaning business, would you like to recommend products to your customers? Would you like them to go to your website and be able to purchase products you recommend? And would you like it to be easy with almost no work for you and no worrying about credit cards & delivery? Then aStore is probably the solution for you.
Many programs only provide a couple of products, so there isn’t much to track. But with Amazon, there are a lot of products! So there is also a lot of reporting options. You can see what people are ordering, what general buying trends are, and more. As your visitors make purchases through your associate links, you will be able to adjust your links to suit your specific visitors.
How to Get Started
Getting started is easy, especially if you already have an Amazon account that you use to buy things. To get started go to Amazon Associates and click on “Join Now for Free”.
You will be prompted to enter your email address, and if you already have an Amazon account, your password. If you don’t have an account, you can create one here.
Once you are logged in, it’s time to set up your Associates Account. You will need to verify the address and phone number for the payee.
Next you will need to provide details about the website on which you will be listing advertisements. Amazon will go to this website and verify that it is what you say it is. The information that you input here about your site will help Amazon to target specific ads if you use that feature, so do yourself a favor and be honest.
The third step is verifying that you have a working phone number. Just enter your phone number and click on “Call me now”. Immediately after you click a verification code will be appear below the phone number and you will be called by an automated system. The system will ask you to input the verification code. The automated system will tell you whether or not you inputted the correct code, and then you should see a verification appear on your the webpage.
Once your phone number has been verified, you will need to agree to Amazon’s terms.
You will receive a thank you message letting you know what your Associates ID is. You will be granted access to the Associates Central where you can do important things like specify how you would like to be paid and also select what affiliate options you want to use. I recommend that you set up your payment information first.
Access to the Associates Central is granted on the assumption that your account will be approved. In most cases approval happens within a few hours, however it may take up to 3 business days. You will receive an email notifying you once approved.
Go to your Account Settings (upper right of Associates Central) and there is a link to update payment settings. Also, if you haven’t set up a payment method, on your Associates Central there will be a notice encouraging you to do so. If you are in the U.S. or a U.S. citizen or business, you need to fill out taxpayer information.
Most affiliate networks will require a Tax ID, so if you are a U.S. individual trying to make some side money from affiliates, you may want to consider getting a Federal EIN. You can talk to a CPA about it, but for a number of people giving out an EIN is more comfortable than giving out their SSN.
Amazon has three methods of payment available. Remember, you can decide to change your payment method at a later date.
- Amazon Gift Card – If you do a lot of shopping on Amazon then this might be a good choice. Gift cards are issued starting at $10 in earnings.
- Direct Deposit – This is only available for U.S. taxpayers. Payments start at $10 in earnings.
- Check – Payments start at $100 in earnings and if you are a U.S. taxpayer there is a $15 processing fee (they really want you to use direct deposit). If you are outside the U.S. they waive they processing fee.
Your First Ad
Everything is setup and you are ready to put up your first ad. It’s decision time, do you want to use an advertisement, place a widget or put in a whole store?
- Advertisement – If you have a blog and want to have general advertisements for Amazon this is a good choice.
- Widget – Would you like to recommend specific products? Perhaps you have a cooking blog and want to recommend specific tools or cookbooks. Using a widget to create a list of your favorites would be a good choice.
- aStore – Are you a business which would like to sell specific items? Perhaps items which complement a service or product you sell. Adding in your own branded store could help customers associate you not just with a service but also with support products.
Once you decide which option you will start with, select the corresponding tab at the top of Associates Central to get started.
Links & Banners
You can choose to insert either product links or banner links. A product link is helpful if you are reviewing or recommending a specific product. Banner links are best when you want to provide an ad for a category of products.
If you select a product link, you can search for specific products. Once you have chosen the product that you want to link to click on “Get Link”. You will be taken to a page where you can customize how the product link will look. As you make changes, you will be able to see exactly how those changes will look with the live preview feature. Once you are satisfied with the link, get the code for it by clicking on “Highlight HTML” and then copying the code. Go to your website and insert the HTML code where you would like the product link to be displayed.
If you select a banner link, then you can choose a category of banner. Once you’ve selected the category you will be presented with a variety of banners in different sizes. If you know the size that you want to insert, you can skip directly to those banners by clicking on it.
When you have selected the specific banner that you want to display on your website, highlight the HTML and copy it. Then go to your website and insert the HTML wherever you would like to display the banner.
To display a widget on your website, select the Widgets link. Here you can choose from a variety of different widgets. Select the one that matches your needs and click on “Add to Your Webpage”. Once you have selected a widget there are easy to customize options. Once you have customized the widget, you will be provided link code. Just press “Copy” and then go to your website and insert the code wherever you would like the widget to be displayed.
To get started with an aStore, click on the “Build an aStore Now” button.
The first step is to add products to your store. You have the option to hand select each of your products, use an Amazon Listmania list, or select categories and have the top selling products in those categories displayed. You should choose the options that best suits your needs. To start adding pages to your store, click on “Add Category Page”.
This will add a new page to your store. From here you can title it, select the type of page, add items, and add a description if you would like. When you are done adding your pages and items, scroll down and click on “Continue”. You can also save your store and return to editing it at a later time.
The second step is customizing the look of the store. You can change the settings to match the look of your website. Once you have customized the look of your store, the third step is to add any sidebars that you would like to use. Select the options that are most appropriate for you.
The final step is getting the link for your site. You have three options and I would generally recommend using one of the first two.
- Link to your aStore as standalone site – This is just a simple link that you can place anywhere on your website. When your visitor clicks on the link they will be taken off of your website to Amazon’s store. If you are uncomfortable with code copying & frames, then I would suggest this choice. However, this does take visitors off of your website.
- Embed your aStore as an inline frame – This is an iframe, and the choice I would recommend. Inside the frame is controlled by amazon, but outside the frame is your website under your control. iFrames can generally be embedded easily into most pages. Just copy the generated code and paste into your page. The best part is that visitors stay on your site while they shop.
- Embed your aStore as a frameset – Framesets have been largely discontinued on websites with the advent of iframes. So unless your website is already using framesets, just avoid this one.
Amazon Associates provides a lot of affiliate referral options for website owners that can be tailored to your specific needs. From standard links and banner advertisements to customized widgets to a store for your website, you can probably find a way to incorporate Amazon Associates into your website monetization plan.
If you’d like a little more information on what to advertise and get some advice from someone who’s made 6-figures on Amazon, you might be interested in Amazon Associates Tips.