Amazon vs. Alternative Affiliate Programs

(Last Updated On: November 8, 2017)

I received an email today from a new blogger who signed up for Amazon’s affiliate program and was curious if this was the best option for monetizing their new blog.  This is a great question and because Amazon is not always the best option, I thought I would take the opportunity to share a quick perspective on this.

Please keep in mind this is particularly directed at new bloggers and sites that are not massive-traffic, product review sites etc.  This is for the everyday blogger considering new monetization approaches.

Amazon has its pros and cons when it comes to blog monetization. For one pro, they are such a trusted site people are quick to purchase from them.  This means your conversions may be higher than with other affiliate programs.  On the other hand…  they typically pay pennies compared to other affiliate programs so sales volume is really needed to make any real money.  On top of the low payout percentages, their payout structure quite frankly, sucks.

A quick overview of Amazon’s payout structure:

First, in order for you to get paid for a sale… a person must click on the link from your site, and place a product into their cart within 24 hours.  They then must purchase the item within 30 days.   If you refer someone to a product on Amazon, but they add it to their cart the next day, you do not get paid for that referral.  If they add a product to their cart within 24 hours, but they do not purchase it until the following month, you do not get paid for that referral.  It’s unfortunate, but although your lead resulted in a sale, that doesn’t mean you will actually get credit for that purchase.

Amazon Volume Based Payout Rates

Next, consider their % payouts.  Amazon’s payouts vary according to product category, but the majority are a measly 4% for the first 7 products you sell.  Sell over 7 products and that percentage goes up to 6%.  Over 31 products, 6.5%.  If you sell over 111 products… 7%.  It goes up to 8.5% when you sell over 3,131 products.  Even with their potentially higher conversion rates, that is still a significantly low payout rate.

Lastly, when you do get paid for a referral, keep in mind how much you will actually be making;  Let’s say a reader clicks your link and buys a $20 supplement-  you’ve made a whopping .80 cents.  🙁    Even if you sell 111 of these and your percentage is at 7%… you have still only made $155.  Boooooooooo!

Alternative Affiliate Programs

Now, let’s look at alternative affiliate programs to Amazon.  While Amazon may have great conversions, there are a number of other factors that you will want to keep in mind.  In fact, any ONE of these can influence your earnings to the point that conversion rate is pretty menial:  Payout rate, Conversion rate, Product pricing, and your own ability/interest in promoting them to your readers.
Here is a comparison of a few of my affiliate programs:
Amazon Affiliate payout:  7%   Products sold daily: 4-6   Monthly revenue:  $300+ (highest conversion, lowest earnings BY FAR)

Affiliate A payout:  20%   Products sold daily: 1-6   Monthly revenue:  $6,000+  (Note: highest priced product)

Affiliate B payout:  24%   Products sold daily: 1-5  Monthly revenue:  $5,000+   (Med priced product, higher % payout)

Affiliate C payout: 40%    Products sold daily: 3-6  Monthly revenue:  $4,000+  (Lowest priced product but highest % payout)

Affiliate D payout: 20%   Products sold daily: 0-1  Monthly revenue:  >$1,000 (These guys used to be one of my best affiliate partners but they became unethical, unreliable and greedy so I no longer actively promote them. In other words, my ability/interest in promoting them is nonexistent and they now only get sales from past blog posts and old links in my forums.)

As you can see, a higher payout rate doesn’t necessarily mean more revenue in the end.  Nor does a higher conversion mean more revenue.  For this reason, I strongly suggest focusing on finding products that are as specific to your personal followers, rather than numbers.  Find products you really feel will resonate with your readers- test them out. While they may only pay you 15%, their product may be $300, and your readers may absolutely love the product and buy it every month on subscription!

Hmm… that’s a far louder paycheck than selling 100 products on Amazon and earning $300 a month.

Here are a few more reasons I opt to focus on alternative affiliate programs over Amazon:

  • Other affiliate programs almost always have significantly higher payout rates.
  • You often have the opportunity to develop a relationship with other affiliate programs. This means the potential for special promotions for your readers; custom promo codes, exclusive offers, special packages, etc.  It also means you may be able to negotiate higher payout rates if you are doing exceedingly well.
  • With other affiliate programs, when I refer a reader to “Affiliate Partner X” and recommend their “Product #007” there is no competition on the page to steer them from that product.
    • While the conversions may be better with Amazon, one thing to keep in mind is the lower price product options your readers will have once they have been referred there.  Just because you refer them to a “Quality Product A” that you honestly love… does not mean they will not click that “Suggested Product B” Amazon conveniently places on the product page.  So while you have referred them to a quality product that costs $80 (whopping $3.20 commission for you) they instead buy “Suggested Product B” for $20 (whopping .80 cent commission for you.)

 

Where to find alternative affiliate programs:

A good place to start for beginners is Shareasale and Commission Junction.  Shareasale is great for the truly new since many of these affiliates will readily approve new publishers.  They offer some stats but again, I strongly suggest using stats and numbers as a simple guideline and focusing more on the product’s potential for you in particular.  Commission Junction on the other hand, still offers some affiliate programs that will approve new and intermediate publishers with the click of a button.  However, the majority of their affiliates will carefully review your application prior to approving you and may want to see an established publisher before sending out the welcome party.  CJ also offers some really helpful stats on each company, a user-friendly platform, and makes it easy to develop relationships with your new partners.  They also have a much larger database of advertisers to choose from and many well known brands (Travelocity, GoDaddy, Weight Watchers, Marriott, etc.)
In the end, I always suggest using Amazon for those “eh, why not” products that you don’t have a better affiliate option for, or for the phrase “Amazon” itself.  You can easily use a keyword auto-link plugin that places your Amazon affiliate link anytime you write the word “Amazon” in your blog posts.  If you happen to write an article about something and mention it is available on Amazon, that may just be a simple way to 1. offer a convenient link-taxi to your readers, 2. possibly make a few dollars from an Amazon sale and head out to spend that Starbucks money! 😉

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Jeni Hott
Professional blogger, entrepreneur, speaker, humanitarian.
My name is Jeni Hott. I'm a professional blogger and entrepreneur. You may have seen me speak, heard me on an interview, or know me from the movie Living Dot Com, where I was featured as the very first 7 figure blogger, and recognized for crossing 100 million visits back in 2013. I am honored to be considered a pioneer of the blogging world today, and one of the very first "Super Bloggers.” On a personal note... I love sushi, my son London and jet-setter travel… and I happily share my 7 figure blogging tips in exchange for frappuccinos and good conversation. Have a question? Feel free to ask- jhottinc(@) gmail. Happy Blogging!
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About the author : Jeni Hott

My name is Jeni Hott. I'm a professional blogger and entrepreneur. You may have seen me speak, heard me on an interview, or know me from the movie Living Dot Com, where I was featured as the very first 7 figure blogger, and recognized for crossing 100 million visits back in 2013. I am honored to be considered a pioneer of the blogging world today, and one of the very first "Super Bloggers.” On a personal note... I love sushi, my son London and jet-setter travel… and I happily share my 7 figure blogging tips in exchange for frappuccinos and good conversation. Have a question? Feel free to ask- jhottinc(@) gmail. Happy Blogging!

4 comments to “Amazon vs. Alternative Affiliate Programs”

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  1. Paolo U - March 6, 2016 Reply

    I think that alternative affiliate programs would do better since you can get more from a few sales. Personally, most newbie won’t get out of the %4 mark since they don’t have much traffic.

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  4. ross alan - October 25, 2017 Reply

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