Join the Amazon Affiliates Program and Become an Amazon Associate the Easy Way
Here’s how I set up an Amazon Associate website and became an Amazon Affiliate the easy way: with a WordPress Affiliate blog. This would also apply with Clickbank or becoming a Google affiliate as well, but you obviously would need to tweak your strategy and site accordingly, and with their specific tools. We’ll focus on Amazon Affiliates here.
I would recommend becoming an Amazon associate, (or affiliate with Clickbank or the Google Affiliate Network or whomever), strategically from the start. Meaning from the very outset decide what your affiliate niche is going to be using the Google Adsense Keywords tool in conjunction with Google Insights at the very least for keyword research. Read my small series on how to set up a blog here, for reference. That’s what this site is about, after all.
Create a domain that encompasses the essence of your niche, and develop a plan of what you would like to sell, to whom, and exactly what angle on your site or blog. Some front-end preparation will save you a lot of time and frustration and improve your chances of success greatly.
I will let you go set up your site, get hosted somewhere, get on WordPress and all that. Go ahead! I’ll wait!
You should have the framework set up for your site now, with a structure of how you will funnel people to what they are looking for specifically. There are a lot of websites out there, so make sure you enable readers to find what they want easily, or they’ll jump ship. Draw your site structure out in a diagram for reference. That’s OK if they end up at Amazon.com via your site, but the goal is to convert while they are on your site, so they don’t decide while they are on your affiliate site, then come back later and bypass you. You’ve worked too hard for that to happen!
If you’re just starting and new to all of this, I would recommend a simple structure and “Store,” using 1 page for your niche storefront (a micro-niche is even better), and a few categories of that item, if possible or necessary. So for example, if I want to focus on a particular camera, I would have the camera as my main item , then include lenses as a category(maybe even break lenses down into sub-categories), camera bags, editing software, and other accessories that are appropriate, and not too broad. The more specific you can be, the better, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Keep it simple. The common thought is that the more options, the better. But people are overwhelmed by too many choices. Focus on quality versus quantity.
Another structure you may choose, if your niche lends itself to it, is following the “1 page, 1 topic” rule, which is what you should follow with a true blog. Each page (out of many) highlights a certain product, and only that product. That would make for good categorical SEO (make sure your permalink for each page is strong), and afford you the opportunity to really give valuable reviews, detailed information, specs, or anything else that would help the customer make a decision and compel them to buy it right then and there on your site.
Next Step: Become an Amazon Associate
Setting up an Amazon associate account and becoming an affiliate is very easy. Just go to Amazon.com and sign up if you aren’t already an Amazon.com member, then scroll to the bottom of the Home page and look at the center Amazon widget down at the bottom, which says something like “Be an Amazon Affiliate.” Apparently there used to be a vetting process for those webmasters that wanted to become an Amazon Associate, but I think Amazon.com has loosened their rules a bit as to what you need to join. You’ll need to think up an Amazon Associates ID, which is going to end up looking something like: “amazonassocitesid-20.” “amazonassociatesid” being whatever you choose. It should be related to your concept.
Set up an aStore on Amazon
What you will want to do, and the goal here, is to set up an “aStore” on Amazon. This requires almost no coding knowledge and can get your affiliate blog off the ground very quickly. An aStore is explained pretty well on Amazon’s site, but to summarize, it’s a storefront that is a page to put on your blog/site to sell products of your choosing through Amazon. You’re able to customize the appearance of the store/page to look like your website, or however you’d like, and choose the products to display and sell. You can place customizable (to a degree) Amazon.com widgets on your page and links to limited time deals and promotions. You place all these things on your site with code that Amazon generates for you after a few small steps, that you copy and paste wherever you want the item to appear. Your Amazon Associate ID is automatically included in each bit of code so that you get the credit for people clicking on the item and either buying it from you or being taken to Amazon.com with your site and link as the portal and them buying it there. That should tell you that you will need to be compelling so that customers will want to buy right there and then, otherwise you may lose the sale and commission!
I would like to interject here that there are WordPress plugins that enable you to add Amazon products as well. There is a WordPress plugin for everything. But I don’t use these for 2 reasons:
- They can slow down your page-load time. Google, Bing, Yahoo! and other search engines take page-load time into account now when ranking your page. I try to stay lean and mean, and
- Not all plugins are high-quality. Some can even hurt your site. I’m not saying anything about anyone and their plugin, but who’s to say when the developer decides to call it quits and then you’re left out to dry when WordPress updates? I like to be in control as much as possible, especially when I’ve done a lot of work on a website, and my customers and money are involved.
OK; back to business:
When you sign into the affiliate link at Amazon.com you’ll be taken to Amazon Associate Central, which is your dashboard. Hopefully you’re comfortable getting around website dashboards by now thanks to WordPress, but if not you will be soon!
You can set up to 100 aStores for each Amazon Associate ID. You can also add up to 540 (don’t ask me how they arrived at that number) items to each store, and each store will have a 3×3 grid, such as THIS. You will also be able to add Amazon widgets for your products on either the left or right side, as you’ll notice, in the sidebar.
The Amazon dashboard has several areas of note: the tabs at the top (particularly the ‘astore’ tab and ‘banners and widgets’ tab), the “Tracking ID” pull-down menu on the left top, and the “Offers – Deals & Promotions” link under the Promotions Hub Title under that. There are, of course, some other important areas but don’t worry about those too much at this stage.
You also should have noticed the giant “Get Started” button in between. That will take you on a quick tour of the site, and I recommend taking the tour. They will be able to explain the Amazon Associates program better than I can here, for sure. My goal here is to help you get up and running quickly and avoid some time-wasting pitfalls that are common.
Once you’re done with the breath-taking Amazon Associates tour, go to the pull-down menu with your Amazon Associate tracking ID(s) on the top left. Pick the one you want to load with stuff to sell and click the ‘aStore’ tab at the top. You’ll be taken to a page listing your Amazon Associate ID(s). You may only have one at this point, which is fine. Click the “Add an aStore” button, and you will go to a page that allows you to create a tracking ID for your store. It should be all lower-case and be descriptive. It will also end with -20 and if the ID you want is taken Amazon.com will give you some alternatives.
A tip is that if you don’t see an ID you like, you can keep hitting “Search” until one comes up that you do like. You may wonder why it matters, but if you plan to have several variations of a tracking DI, you may want to have them in a logical sequence. For this reason I will set up my desired ID with a ‘-00′ at the end if the one I wanted was taken. That way if I add another to that category later, I can put a ‘-01′ and ‘-02′, ‘-03′ and so on later. When your store starts growing it’s good to be organized, and starting at the beginning is wise.
You’ll then be congratulated on choosing an available ID (as if it’s a big deal) and then you may click “continue.” Keep in mind your store doesn’t have anything in it at this point. That’s no big deal, because you’ll fill it with inventory momentarily.
Create an aStore Page
This is where people tend to get confused, like me when I started. This is also where your decision of store structure earlier pays off, because this is where you set it up.
Click the ‘Add Category Page’ to add what your page will contain, whether it’s going to be just 1 item or 50. Then, as you determined, keep adding them all. You can drag and drop them around and use the bent arrows to move them around so that they are in a logical, hierarchical order.
Once you have your store categories arranged like you like it, look at the “Your aStore – Settings” panel on the right. You have 4 checkboxes:
- Simple link to my store as a standalone site.
- Embed my store using an inline frame.
- Embed my store using a frameset.
The first option, a link only, is the weakest in my opinion. I’m sure there are some good and valid uses for it, but I prefer option #2, especially for beginners. And if you aren’t a beginner, then why are you reading this?
The third option involves some work and knowledge of messing with code. If you’re cool with that, do it and it will look a little more integrated. However, the second option is very easy and really looks nice.
Set up Your Amazon Associate aStore
Highlight the code, go back to your WordPress site and get on the appropriate page where you want your store to be. (You should have a set of pages created already with each page corresponding to each category.) Make sure you clicked on the HTML tab at the top of the editing box, and paste your code.
Note, in the code, that the page length is 4000. That will make a very LONG page, which you may not want. You can enter another number (around 1000 works well sometimes) and see how that looks. Play around with it until it looks normal to you and a customer.
Remember that your store is empty? Go back to your Amazon Associate dashboard and click on the aStore Tab at the top, with which ever aStore URL and tracking ID you want to put items into. Again, if you only have 1, then you only will have 1 choice. Click ‘Edit’ on the left. Look familiar? Highlight the Category you want to stock, and Title it if you haven’t already. You have 3 options to add products:
- Individual Products
- Add Products by Amazon.com Category
- Add products from a Listmania! List
Adding individual products is tedious, but I personally like the control of that option. Option #2 leaves too much to chance for me to be comfortable with. I may not have my aStore category maxed out, but at least I won’t be offering junk or unrelated items, or items with no photo. I personally think having a photo is important. If you are comfortable with having an entire category displayed, then go for it.
Option # 3, adding products from a Listmania! List, is very convenient. The way I like to use this option is to create a Listmania! list under my account for whatever category I need, then just copy and paste the Listmania! list ID into the box and BAM; done.
The issue with doing it this way, however is that to create a Listmania! list, you have to have bought something with that account. If you just set up your account, then you either need to buy something quickly, and give it 24 hours (Amazon.com rules) or copy someone’s list ID who has some stuff you want to put in your store. Also be aware this limits the number of items to the number of items you can put in a Listmania! list which is far less than the 540 you are given with the other options. That could be a problem or may not matter, but it does require you to be more selective.
When you shop on Amazon.com you will also now notice an Amazon Associates Bar at the top of your browser page. You can turn this on and off, but if you’re serious about your affiliate blog, it’s nice to have when you come across a perfect item for your store. You get used to having it up there, and it’s pretty powerful to be able to shoot things right to your store. But like most of this entire activity, it’ comes down to personal preference.
Adding inventory and maintaining it can be the most time-consuming part of the process, but it’s very important. Visit your “Manage Your aStores” page in your Amazon Associate dashboard often to make sure everything is where and how it should be. Amazon helps you with this by putting Content Alert buttons in your aStore directory telling you if something needs attention.
Amazon Affiliate Links, Banners, Deal & Promotions
You will probably still want to use some of your real estate on your blog to market even more. That’s where widgets and affiliate links come in to play.
On the left there is a section for Offers and Promotions. You can snag links from it to paste into widgets to highlight limited-time only promotions, such as Back to School sales.
Depending on the layout of your blog, you can add banners or varying sizes and widgets to your site as well. The tab at the top left has some nice options as well as a couple of tools you can use to check and create links. Pay close attention to the sizing and try to make your Amazon Affiliate blog look integrated and not overwhelming with Amazonia stuff everywhere, which can be a turn-off to customers.
As you become accustomed to the layout and workings of the Amazon Affiliates program, you will surely want to use the Reports generated on your site. You can view 6 types of reports, and you should use these numbers to your advantage. Do A/B testing to see which banners, widgets and products convert. Put more like those up, and take down the junk that isn’t working. You also will have a report summary at the top right of your aStore page, which is nice to see how your Amazon Associate store is performing at a glance.
And that’s it in a nutshell! Amazon.com also has a few other Amazon Affiliate programs you may want to branch out into, such as Audible.com, AbeBooks.com, Amazon Supply Associates, Endless Associates, and Amazon Wireless Associates. With diligence, some SEO activities, good site design and time, you should start seeing some money start coming in. And that’s what it’s all about!
If you have any tips, questions suggestions or questions, please leave them below! We’re all learning from each other around here.