Why Starting an Amazon Affiliate Site is the WORST Thing You Could Do as a Newbie (And What You Should Do Instead)

Filed in Affiliate Marketing, Amazon by on February 13, 2018

I’m going to get a lot of hate for saying this but I’ll still say it.

Stop obsessing over Amazon Affiliate sites (or ANY kind of affiliate site for that matter)

Seriously! You’re NOT going to make a living out of it especially if you’re a newbie

If you want to build a sustainable, dependable, and long-term business, starting a product/category specific affiliate site that depends solely on Amazon commissions is the WORST piece of advice anyone can give you.

"But Jawad, 10Beasts is a one-man affiliate blog with only a handful of product reviews but it still made hundreds of thousands of dollars before being sold for $500K+"

I know, and I'm seriously happy for the guy.

But you also know that Google penalized 10Beasts for shady backlinks just days after it was sold.

The last time I checked, it had only partially recovered from the penalty and income had dropped massively.

Is another penalty coming soon? Who knows.

If it was your website would you like to spend every waking moment worrying about your income vanishing overnight?

Would you call this a reliable and long-term business model that can grow for years to come?

Is this an example you should emulate?

Should you even call it a business?

Not really.

Successful businesses are built on solid foundations that allow them to grow with time without risk of going out of business in a flash.

Online businesses are no different.

But first, let me explain my thoughts on Amazon's Associate program...

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)

 

Do I Hate Amazon Associates Program?

No, I have nothing personal against Amazon and I'm not saying you shouldn't use it.

  • I think it’s a great way (among many other ways) to monetize your site, provide extra value to your readers and make money at the same time.
  • It sells everything under the sun
  • People trust Amazon and prefer buying from it
  • Amazon is a conversion beast and easily lures people into buying multiple products

I’ve already shared some great examples of affiliate sites monetized with Amazon in my previous posts.

But it’s still just a monetization method. And a monetization method is NOT a business on its own.

It should always come AFTER you’ve identified a specific problem (your niche) and built an engaged audience around it.

It's foolish to choose a product on Amazon and then find people who'll buy it from you.

It should always be the other way around. Start by finding a group of people with a problem(s) and THEN find the product(s) that solve their problems.

This is much easier and far more lucrative. You have more opportunities to sell them products when you do it this way.

And here's the thing...

My problem with Amazon ONLY affiliate sites is that they scream "GIVE ME YOUR MONEY".

They usually don't give value to the end user or make the internet a better place.

The "reviews" are usually just made up and based on no personal experience in order to net an affiliate commission, which can actually get you sued as some mattress affiliate site owners found out recently.

 

 

The average Amazon site owner barely makes any money from a site like this. Sure $500 a month is nice but you'll never be able to change your life with that, will you?

And it takes the same amount of work to make $500, $5,000 or $50,000 per month assuming you choose the right business model. An "Amazon-Only affiliate site" is not one.

Seriously, I want you to make real money, not just dream about it or discuss it in forums and Facebook Groups.

And on top of that, I want you to build something you're proud of and make a difference in the world with a genuine problem-solving business that makes peoples lives better not just tricks them into buying products from your fake "reviews" of products you've never used.

Curious about my reasons and what I suggest instead?

Keep reading...

 

What You'll Learn In This Post

  • Why Amazon Associates is not a business model at all
  • Why starting a product-specific site is a bad idea
  • How the most successful affiliate sites minimize their risk
  • How you can create a longterm online business

 

 

1. You Have No Control Over an Amazon Affiliate Business

No matter how big your business gets, you’ll always be living on rented land if your business is completely dependent on someone else. It can be brought to the ground with a single algorithm change or a policy update.

That’s one of the biggest risks of starting an Amazon-specific affiliate blog.

The sole purpose of Amazon sites is to generate traffic and earn commissions from Amazon. As a result, their design, content and traffic sources are developed keeping Amazon in mind.

But what if Amazon pulls the plug on its affiliate program?

Or excludes your product category from its affiliate program?

Or reduces its already feeble commission rates even more?

Last year when Amazon revised its affiliate commissions, there was panic all over the web.

You could see articles like these everywhere

 

 

There was panic in Facebook groups

 

 

And people were looking for alternatives

 

 

But there are also some other kinds of disasters you can face if your business relies ONLY on Amazon.

 

 

Even experienced marketers can be victims.

 

The whole Amazon affiliate site model involves so many variables that it's not even right to call it a business model at all.

As a newbie, investing so much time and effort in building something so unreliable is foolish, to say the least.

If you put the same amount of time and effort into a more sustainable site you can build something longterm instead of having to start from scratch when the inevitable happens and your traffic and ranking drops or Amazon cut their commission rate again.

Which takes me onto my next point...

 

2. Amazon Review Sites Rarely Provide Value To Users

Let’s be honest.

How many product review sites have you seen that actually focus on helping people buy the right products that fit their needs?

How many of them recommend products based on personal experiences and sample tests?

Sure there are high-quality review sites like TheWireCutter and BestReviews that make millions of dollars every year just by publishing Amazon product reviews.

But have you seen their content and the process they follow to create reviews?

Unlike one-man affiliate sites that curate content from all over the web and rewrite it to create product reviews, the posts published on sites like TheWireCutter and BestReviews are written after extensive testing by their dedicated staff.

They have dozens of writers and testers who personally check and try every feature of a product in their testing labs before reviewing it.

 

 

Do you think you can compete with them?

Most Amazon affiliate sites don't even bother creating original content, you know that.

I recently researched more than 100 Amazon affiliate sites for a project and found that only a handful provided any real value to their readers.

Most of them were just commission focused niche sites publishing rehashed content that made no sense.

Like this one

 

 

And this one

 

 

Both these sites are dedicated to two different product categories on Amazon.

All their content is copied/spun from other sites and gives absolutely ZERO value to the readers.

They’re clearly designed for search engines.

But even if they are getting a few hundred visitors from Google Search right now, it won't last for long because of copied content, poor user engagement, and high bounce rate.

These are not isolated examples.

You can easily find hundreds of them because most newbies think that how an Amazon site should look like.

Why is this such a big deal?

Because successful businesses make money by offering value to their customers.

If yours isn’t, it won’t survive for long.

So do you want to make real, life-changing money, and help people at the same time?

Or just throw together some low-quality garbage designed to trick people into giving you some money?

I know you want to help people and make money ethically. It's hard to do that if you're creating an Amazon site where you are reviewing products you've never used.

And that takes me nicely to point 3...

 

3. The 24 Hour Cookie Period Limits Your Revenue

For all your hard work in creating content, generating traffic and sending your website visitors to Amazon, you get only a 24-hour window in which your referrals need to make a purchase on Amazon.

Any products purchased by YOUR referrals AFTER 24 hours of visiting Amazon for the first time through your link, won't earn you any commission.

This greatly reduces your revenue opportunities especially if you’re promoting high-priced or complex products that people don’t usually purchase on their first visit.

In comparison, other retail affiliate programs like Jet, Walmart, and Target offer cookie periods from 3 to 7 days.

You might argue that Amazon converts better than all other retail sites, and you're right.

Again, I'm not asking you to completely abandon Amazon.

Just reduce your reliance on them by diversifying your income sources.

For example, why limit yourself to just physical products when you can leverage other affiliate networks to promote digital and subscription-based products as well. Many of them pay as much as 75-100% recurring commissions.

The only way your Amazon cookie duration can be increased is if your referral adds a product to cart instead of just visiting the product page through your link.

In that case, the cookie duration increases to 90 days ONLY for the products that the referral added to cart within the first 24 hours of his visit.

Unnecessarily complex and greedy, I know.

And point 4 explains why Amazon isn't a long term option and what you can do instead...

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)

 

4. It’s Not a Long-Term Business Model

Short-sightedness is one of the most common newbie mistakes.

They’re attracted to quick and easy cash making methods instead of long-term businesses.

Amazon provides neither, yet most newbies kick off their internet marketing journeys with it because the so-called "niche marketing experts” say so.

Yet many of these "experts" either still work day jobs as they don't make enough from their Amazon review sites to quit their 9 to 5.

Or they know their Amazon Associates income is not sustainable because of Google algorithm changes and potential Amazon commission cuts or bans.

Some of them tell you to build Amazon Affiliate sites when they themselves don't actually build Amazon Affiliate sites.

So why are you even listening to these "experts"?

Out of all the super affiliates, top-level marketers and experts I know, very few run "Amazon Affiliate Sites" or even use the Amazon affiliate program at all.

As I said earlier, Amazon affiliate sites rely on so many external variables that it’s foolish to depend solely on it as a monetization method.

For example, you’ve nowhere to go if

  • Your product is no longer available on Amazon
  • Your ranking drops for the main keywords
  • The demand for your products decreases
  • Most of your referrals take more than 24 hours to purchase
  • You realize that your product/category selection was wrong from the first day
  • Amazon bans your account

Plus, since most affiliate sites never bother to build their email subscriber base, it’s very hard to get repeat customers.

There’s a reason why most exact match domains (BestBabyStrollers.com, BestDroneCamera.com, BestSurvivalKnife.com etc.) lead to websites that don’t exist anymore.

Even "niche site" experts are not immune to this. Remember what happened to the niche sites of Spencer Haws (NichePursuits.com)?

Yep, they all got hit by a Google penalty eliminating his income overnight and now none of them exist.

 

 

If the "niche marketing experts" aren't immune to it what makes you think you will be?

All of these sites last for a few months or a few years at best (this is so rare!) before they get hit by a Google penalty, stop ranking, or get abandoned because they aren't making enough money to be worth continuing with.

An Amazon specific site is like a house built on a sinkhole.

You never know when it’s going down.

Oh, and that reminds me the next point is something you need to consider...

 

5. You’re Completely Dependent on Search Traffic

I don’t have the exact statistics, but among all the top selling affiliate sites I researched on Flippa and dozens of others that I found during research for my previous NicheHacks post, hardly 10% were actively building email lists or growing their social media following.

The overwhelming majority was completely dependent on organic traffic from Google Search.

This itself is a disastrous and an extremely short-term strategy for any business.

Why?

Because when you’re completely dependent on Google Search for traffic, you’re actually fighting for one of the top 3 spots in the search listings since they get more than 60% of the clicks.

 

 

And beyond the first page, it doesn’t matter where you rank, you’ll hardly get any traffic to your site.

I love this quote by Brian Clark

“The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google Search results”

So open your eyes to other free traffic sources like email marketing, social media, networking & outreach, blog commenting etc. or even selectively use paid traffic sources like Facebook Ads.

Getting to the first page for any high traffic keyword is hard.

Making it to the top 3 is even harder.

But staying there for a long time is nearly impossible.

Even if it wasn’t, no smart business depends on just one traffic source.

But most Amazon affiliate sites do, putting them at great risk.

And how do you even plan to rank your site when no one is going to link to your content?

Which brings me onto point 6...

 

6. Amazon Review Sites Rarely Earn Natural Backlinks

I am a full-time blogger and contribute to many leading blogs and online publications like HubSpot, MarketingProfs, Business.com, Adweek etc.

As a result, I regularly get emails from people who’re willing to pay me big bucks just to include a backlink to their site in one of my blog posts.

But in most cases I can’t, even if I want to (I’ve received offers of as much as $1200 for a single backlink).

Because most of them are Amazon specific niche sites looking to build backlinks to their product reviews from high authority publications.

Understandably, most A-list blogs don’t allow linking to such sites because they’re mostly irrelevant and lack quality content.

Building or earning natural backlinks is pretty hard for Amazon affiliate sites because most of them don’t publish anything other than product reviews. So it makes no sense for high authority blogs to link to them.

As a result, most affiliate blogs turn to shady backlinking strategies like PBNs, linking from own Web 2.0 properties, paying big bucks to guest bloggers and the infamous scholarship links.

If you’re doing this, Google is going to catch you sooner or later.

10Beasts, which got stripped of all its rankings because of excessive scholarship links, is a recent example.

So again, how long-term are you thinking?

Oh, chances are you're already breaking many of Amazon's rules without realizing it...

 

7. Amazon’s Affiliate Policies are Complex and Change Frequently

How’d it feel to get banned from Amazon Associates with thousands of dollars trapped in your account?

I hope it never happens to you, but it has happened to hundreds of people around the world. Some even went from making $10,000+ to 0 overnight.

 

 

Why?

Because they somehow violated Amazon’s affiliate terms and conditions.

But why blame Amazon for this?

Because Amazon’s T&C are pages upon pages of content full of minute details and legalities that are often hard to understand for an average user.

As a result, you might get banned for doing something that was previously allowed or a minor issue that could've been solved if they had sent a warning email, like in the case of Dennis (snapshot above)

 

 

 

So you need to clearly understand the things you cannot do as an Amazon Associate because they're quite merciless when it comes to banning accounts.

Again, not the most solid foundation for a long-term business.

And how do you even plan to supplement your income let alone life changing income on penny commissions...

 

8. Amazon’s Commission Rates are Pathetically Low

The thing that has always bothered me about Amazon Associates is the seriously low commissions it offers.

You’ll need to attract thousands of visitors and generate hundreds of referral sales to have any chance of making a minimum viable income.

But if the commission rates weren’t already bad enough, Amazon recently revised its commission structure for many product categories and lowered them even further.

 

 

Good luck building a long-term business promoting video games on Amazon.

As a newbie, the odds are seriously stacked against you.

Why put in so much effort to build an Amazon-specific site that makes you pennies?

And point 9 leads me to the biggest problem of all when it comes to Amazon sites...

 

9. You Can’t Promote Affiliate Offers With Email Marketing

Email subscribers are the number one source of recurring revenue for most online businesses.

In the U.S alone, more than 66% of online consumers (15 years or older) made a purchase in the last 12 months because of a marketing email.

 

 

Most Amazon affiliates, though, never make full use of this critical marketing channel.

As a matter of policy, Amazon does not allow affiliates to directly send referral links in an email.

The best you can do is to send over links to your latest product reviews or blog posts that contain your referral links.

This is why you’ll rarely find any Amazon-specific niche sites, even the successful ones, actively building their email subscriber base.

Such a big drawback, seriously.

Because it discourages you from building an email list – an online marketer’s biggest asset.

Here's why...

The REAL money in business, both offline or online, is in the follow up with prospects to turn them into new customers.

And following up with existing customers to get them to make repeat purchases.

No real business can survive on one-off sales.

Most people just won't buy the first time they encounter you or your business. Especially online where everyone is naturally skeptical and doesn't trust strangers.

Don't just take my word for it, a study by ProppellerCRM (a tool for sales marketing professionals) found that 82% of customers viewed 5 or more pieces of content on a website before buying anything.

 

 

And that people who you followed up with were 20% more likely to buy from you.

A study by FiveStars Marketing found that more than 50% of businesses revenue came from repeat custom and not new customers. With existing customers being worth up to 10x as much as a new customer.

So why are you not trying to make repeat sales?

Without an email list you can't do any of this and because of it, you're loosing out on lots of easy money.

All your email list has to do is send your visitors back to your money making content and instantly you're increasing the chance of someone buying from your affiliate link.

Now you know what you're doing wrong, here's how to do things correctly...

 

The Alternative Approach: Think Long-Term Build a Brand That Solves Problems

 

Here’s how you can do it no matter what stage of your career you’re at.

 

1. Identify a Niche You’re Passionate About

“Sell a good night’s sleep, not the mattress”

I don’t remember where I read this, but it hits the bullseye as far as your business philosophy is concerned.

Every successful business is based on a well-defined problem.

You make money by solving that problem.

In internet marketing terms, it’s called your niche.

Start a blog, a website, an e-commerce store (or any other platform) once you’ve identified the core problems of your niche.

Your job is to build an audience around that problem and, once you have enough people to target, promote products that solve that problem.

 

Source: HelloPrint

 

That’s how you make money the right way.

That’s when people not only buy from you but also thank you for sending them the right products.

And guess what

We’ve already done the hard work for you by thoroughly researching more than 1781 profitable niches for you.

We’ve listed everything from the core problems of every niche to their top keywords and the products you can promote from Amazon and other sites.

If you still can’t make up your mind, try Stuart’s eBook “Find Your Perfect Niche in 7 Easy Steps” in which he has broken down the whole process for you.

In short, start your affiliate marketing business with a clearly defined problem, not a product.

 

2. Solve Problems With Highly Actionable Content

Developing an online business requires patience (a LOT of it)

Before you can start making money you need to earn the trust of your target audience and become their go-to niche expert.

Publishing useful, accurate, and highly actionable content is one of the best ways to do that.

Find the most common questions of your audience and then answer them one by one in your blog posts.

Don’t publish content just for search traffic.

Think bigger.

Make every blog post a comprehensive answer to your audience’s questions.

Add lots of stats, snapshots, numbers and back your arguments with data evidence.

This will not only make your content much more credible to your audience but also significantly increase your chances of earning natural backlinks from high authority blogs.

MinimalistBaker is a great example of this.

The blog makes a major chunk of its revenue from Amazon Associates, but instead of publishing product reviews or comparisons, its content is focused on quick and easy vegan recipes.

 

 

TheMilitaryWallet is another good example.

 

 

The blog owner knows his audience (military veterans) and regularly publishes comprehensive and detailed blog posts that address veteran issues.

You can find many more examples in this post.

Every piece of content you publish becomes a business asset. Keep doing it consistently and you’ll have a solid foundation on which to build a thriving online business.

 

3. Build Your Subscriber Base from Day 1

Almost all conventional affiliate sites ignore email list building because their sole focus is on growing their organic traffic.

Needless to say that’s a highly flawed approach.

If you’re not building an email subscriber base, you’re not building a business.

It’s as simple as that.

Successful businesses are built on repeat customers who not only purchase from you frequently but also bring in referrals and spread the word about you.

You can’t have such customers if you’re only focused on search traffic that visits your site once and never comes back again.

This study by eMarketer backs my claim.

 

 

More than 81% small business marketers in the US not only consider email the number one customer acquisition channel but also the most effective way to retain customers.

So no matter what niche you target, start building an email list now.

It opens up SO many possibilities for you to connect with your target audience, strengthen your relationship with them, and make more money.

 

4. Reduce Your Reliance on Search Traffic

Why would any sensible person build an online business that is COMPLETELY dependent on search traffic?

I’m not denying the importance of Google Search, but you need to actively diversify your traffic sources to reduce your dependence on the big G.

WhatMomsLove is a brilliant example of a diversified traffic profile

 

 

More than 70% of their traffic comes from their email list, Pinterest profile and Instagram profile.

EveryDayCarry is another affiliate site with just over 30% traffic coming from Google. The rest comes directly or from their email list and social media profiles.

 

 

Even if Google penalizes these sites and strips them off its SERPS, it won't cause a huge dent to their overall business performance.

That’s how smart marketers work.

Google is a great source of traffic when it’s working.

Use it to build your brand’s assets (email list, social media profiles) while the traffic is still flowing in.

 

5. Diversify Your Income With Multiple Monetization Methods

When you create an Amazon specific affiliate site that only publishes product comparisons and reviews, your growth prospects are fairly limited.

But when you think big, create a site around well-defined problems. And publish useful content that answers the questions of your target audience, there are unlimited ways you can make money.

You don't  need to limit yourself to just Amazon, there are dozens of other affiliate networks and monetization methods.

 

Source: SmartInsights

 

MakingSenseOfCents is one of the best examples of this strategy.

 

 

This blog is owned by Michelle who has been sharing personal finance and money making tips for the last few years in her blog posts.

She makes more than $100K every single month, but income distribution is so impressive that she’s not dependent on any single revenue source.

She has published hundreds of posts on her blog and built a huge subscriber base. As a result, she now makes money using the following methods.

  • Amazon Associates
  • Google AdSense
  • Digital Products/Courses
  • Affiliate promotions for different software products
  • Personal coaching

It doesn’t matter if Amazon bans her from its affiliate program or if one of her affiliate partners goes away. She has just too many options to make money.

That’s the kind of site I want you to make.

OhSheBlogs is another blog you can emulate

 

 

From affiliate marketing and personal coaching to Google AdSense and digital products, this blog does it all

But of course, it all happens with time.

When your audience trusts you it’ll buy the products you refer from ANY site or create yourself.

In the early days of ProBlogger, Darren Rowse asked himself a question that changed his business forever.

"Is there a single thing that could kill my business right now?"

Back then, more than 90% of Darren's income was coming from Google AdSense.

But after realizing his mistake, he started diversifying his income and traffic sources straight away.

 

 

In 2018, ProBlogger has so many ways to make money, it won't make a difference if a couple of advertisers leave them.

 

 

Darren applied the same strategy to his affiliate site, Digital Photography School.

DPS started as a typical Amazon affiliate site publishing reviews of digital camera and photography accessories.

However, it gradually diversified its income and traffic sources and is now a well-known brand in the digital photography space that does not rely on one any single revenue or traffic source.

That's what you should aim to achieve as well.

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)

 

Are You Ready To Build Your Online Business the RIGHT WAY?

I hope I’ve made it clear that I don’t consider Amazon Associates anything more than a monetization method.

It’s not a business model on which you can solely rely.

There are MUCH bigger and better things to look forward to.

So think of Amazon as just one of MANY other monetization methods you can apply once you create a site that addresses a well-defined problem and answers the most pressing questions of your audience.

That’s the only path to a sustainable and long-term online business.

I’m eager to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

Comments (47)

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  1. Hey Jawad!

    Niche marketing is where the real long-term income is at. That is for sure.

    Especially, for a newbie online. It would be much easier for someone to succeed with something they are very passionate about. And in today's world, and with the help of technology, anybody can start an online business in a niche. Of course, it takes time and effort but it can be done. There is no doubt about it.

    This blog shares a lot of super helpful knowledge on niche marketing. I always refer to nichehacks when there are questions on these topics. The key here would be the passion you need to have in a niche. So, doing your research and dabbling in what you are more attracted to and more passionate about is important.

    Thank you for sharing such helpful post!

    Best regards! 😀

  2. Hello Jawad,

    Thanks for sharing these amazing post. I haven't created any Amazon affiliate sites. However, cookie based advertising now becomes a big challange for affiliate marketers. Thanks for sharing these great tips here.

    Have a Great Day 🙂
    Vishwajeet

    • Hi Vishwajeet,

      It's always been a challenge, but like Jawad said, you need to diversify your income.

      You should not create an "Amazon" site, but one that has multiple income sources. You could even have an affiliate blog mixed in with your own products.

  3. Roshan says:

    Hi Jawed .
    I liked this post since it's very informative.
    I started a blog in the ending of December. I have published 8 posts so far 3 of them are review based.

    BTW it it effective to build backlinks with infographs

  4. if i started amazon affiliate site now then how much i want to wait for make $$$$$

  5. Alex says:

    So, Amazon Affiliate site is a bad thing to do!
    But take a look at other articles on this site!
    Many of them talk about how people are making huge money with Amazon!?

    • NicheHacks says:

      There is NOT single post on this site that says "BUILD AN AMAZON AFFILIATE SITE" or that "BUILDING AN AMAZON AFFILIATE SITE IS RECOMMENDED".

      In fact, at almost every opportunity I say in posts on the subject of Amazon you should avoid building an Amazon Affiliate Site.

      I'm not sure why people are unable to differentiate between being an affiliate for Amazon (this is fine) and building an "Amazon Affiliate Site" (a foolish move for anyone hoping to create long term, sustainable, income) as they are quite different.

      Plenty of ways to utilise the Amazon Affiliate Program without building a "product review" website that clutters up the internet and provides no value to anyone.

  6. Julia Fernandez says:

    Hi!

    I'm a RevGlue.com affiliate. I have to admit, I hardly make anything from affiliate marketing off of my blog directly. I do expect this to go up over time, especially as my organic rankings increase (search engine traffic only accounts for about 1/3 of my visits) as my old review posts don’t get much traffic on their own.

    Affiliate marketing used to be my main source of income, but more than 90% of that income came from my email list itself. Of course, the posts would play a part of that as I’d schedule them to be sent out in my autoresponder but the majority came straight from the emails themselves.

    You’ve given a lot of great advice here that is bound to help me make more from the posts themselves which is something I’ve always struggled with.

    Thanks!

    • NicheHacks says:

      Your email list is your greatest asset here, use it to build trust and authority with your audience and continually nudge them back to your money content / offers. Increases exposure (done correctly) = sales.

  7. Bobshegz says:

    Thank you Jahad for this post. It's very detailed and informative.

  8. Darryl Smith says:

    This completely validates my thoughts and where I must go now. I had many Ad-sense sites but discovered they are fruit loop too. (Got banned) But now I will move onwards and upwards in a new single site in one niche

    Darryl

    PS - After this post anyone want an Amazon Aff site - apply within. Joking...I'm off to Flippa.

  9. Dave Starr says:

    Great advice here. The typical idea of writing reviews of bicycle pedals and expecting someone to follow your link in order to buy a pair is dead. Now if you are actually a cyclists, and you know something about all the different types of pedals, and why different types solve different cycling problems, then hey, welcome to the world of providing useful content.

    Also, in several of your example sites, note that many provide monthly income reports. Makingsenseofcents is one that comes to mind. These reports are a treasure trove. Every month Michele publishes a complete list of her affiliate income and who is paying her. Pat Flynn is another who is very regular and consistent with this practice.

    This is like a free graduate level college course every month available just for the reading. And unlike most college professors, these guys and gals are actually earning in the real world. Michelle made well over a million USD last year from mainly affiliate programs,AFTER she paid her running expenses and US taxes. She sure didn't do it by reviewing bicycle pedals 😉

  10. Jan says:

    This is a fantastic article that has made me sit up and think. I have built a Amazon niche site with 75 pages, good useful content as well as review pages. 18 months in and I'm earning practically nothing from it.

    Getting to page one of Google is proving elusive and I'm not interested enough in my niche to promote in other ways.

    I'm now considering working on a blog that interests me and what will provide answers to problems.

    Thank you for a brilliant read...

    • NicheHacks says:

      Hey Jan, glad it made you think. As you've found out it's not easy to rank #1 on Google especially when so few people will link to your product reviews. You need to tackle a specific niche with a focused target audience as a whole and build a community of like minded people around your site in order to make any significant income online sustainably and for the long term.

  11. Nalin says:

    Great post. First stumbled upon nichehacks during its early days and really like how you've stuck to your message of having a broad diversified REAL business.

    Couldn't agree more. Gone are the times when the internet was just being accepted and you could make a lot of money by providing literally no value. Today, most of the ppl are aware of the affiliate sites purely made to make money which offer no real value to the visitor.

    It's all about branding these days. The more you work towards building your own brand, the better chances you have of succeeding online .

    • NicheHacks says:

      Glad you liked the post and have been following us for a while.

      It's especially true now that the big media players are finally waking up to affiliate marketing (NYTime buying WireCutter and SweetHome) and BestReviews (which was already an epic product review site in it's self due to the fact they built their own 10,000 sq ft testing lab) being acquired by Tronc (owns the LA Times and half a dozen more publications).

      This is just the beginning and these guys, with their million dollar budgets, established brands, teams of experts, and huge marketing budgets will dominate the SERPS and make it near impossible for a bedroom affiliate churning out keyword laden generic affiliate "reviews" (of products they've never used) to compete, which is a good thing IMO.

      If you want to continue to make money online / from affiliate marketing going forward you'll need to step up your game and move away from the bog standard product review model so many affiliates rely on.

  12. Elliot says:

    Many of them pay as much as 75-100% recurring commissions.

    Can you name few of them in any niche?

    • NicheHacks says:

      Go on Clickbank.com and find endless products 50-75% commission.

      JVZOO (which is mostly online marketing) is almost all 100% commissions on front end products.

      Then there's endless private / self hosted affiliate programs all across the net with similar.

  13. johnson says:

    Good article and enlightenment.

    If amazon affiliate can not be said as a business, then what should be done by newbie to make money online?

    Create a website with a concept like what can make money and can be called as a business?

    whether to create a website in accordance with our hobby / passion?

    I want to earn about 500 dollars a month online, is there any good advice? what should I do to be able to generate that amount online?

    • NicheHacks says:

      It's not that you cannot use Amazon Associates program as part of the income for your business it's just that Amazon affiliate income alone is NOT a business as you have no control over that.

      You cannot build your business around another businesses platform because if you get banned from the platform, the commission payouts get lowered AGAIN, or the affiliate program gets cut then you're out of business instantly.

      You need to diversify and take some control back.

      There's some good examples at the bottom of the post of what websites that are sustainable and real businesses, check them out.

      They all have a very specific topic, usually around something they know well and like, and a focused target audience. This is your "niche" and it's essential.

  14. Great post , I do read a lot of the Nichehacks articles and this one is so true. At the moment I am in a niche I'm passionate about and yes although I am primarily using Amazon to monetize my site, I will be branching out to use other methods very soon. It frightens me to think the plug can be pulled at any time! I intent to use other affiliate programs as well as Amazon, maybe Google Adsense, I'm not sure yet, some digital products and also to build an email list.

    After reading this I think I will get on and build that list, I've been busy with other things but do realise the need for this. I also have brand related social media accounts and work at building these up also. This does take time but I know it's worth it, I made a couple of sales in the first month with my site using social media sharing.

    • NicheHacks says:

      Hi Suzanne, thanks for commenting. Branch out ASAP and most importantly build your email list starting from TODAY. It is your absolute priority, this is how you'll build a real, long term, and sustainable business with repeat sales and raving fans for customers.

  15. Nigel says:

    Hi Jawad,

    You've hit the nail on the head here.

    The Amazon affiliate game is getting steadily harder. Big names have moved into the space now, such as Wirecutter.

    Like any sustainable business, if you are going to compete, you are going to have to fill a gap in the market, add some real value, or have a USP.

    Too many of the Amazon affiliate sites do none of the above and as a consequence, are going to get steamrolled.

    It's no easy road either, but building a credible ecommerce brand, that serves a market and adds vaiue, will always be a better long-term play.

    Cheers for the great read.

    • NicheHacks says:

      Great comment Nigel and glad you agree.

      Wirecutter and SweetHome were already big enough...then the NY Times acquired them!

      Now Tronc acquired BestProducts.com who already were a behemoth with their custom built 10,000 sq ft lab for testing the products.

      The average Amazon affiliate (especially those with straight up affiliate sites) has NOTHING to offer that can compete and when more big players enter the scene they'll be eliminated.

  16. jerry sheppard says:

    Great article and certainly much to consider. I have just completed building two niche sites that currently have products but none of the site is affiliate in nature.
    My idea of monetizing the two sites was through social media and email.
    Of course the problem is "How to get started with each?"

    • That's a big question Jerry that I could answer in 2 sentences but you're best off using our "Start here" page (list building) which is located on the menu, at the top.

      You'll want to create email optins or free "gifts" so people sign up for emails initially.

  17. Phil says:

    But I love my best razor shaving device that makes you the focal point of majority women! /sarcasm

  18. Jason says:

    Great article, and so true. Amazon has built a monster brand that they have to protect and with their extensive T/C a site is going to be in violation at some point. Let's be real, Amazon really does not need affiliate sites anyway, when I want something I usually go directly there anyway and read customer review.

    I have started looking at affiliate networks and finding products to promote that way. Also going to try to utilize a Youtube channel with promotion, as well as some paid advertising. It all works with the right amount of patience. I do have an Amazon Affiliate account that I can link too, but diversifing and learning to branch out is key. Truthfully I do not think the Amazon associate program is all that newbie friendly.

    • NicheHacks says:

      Good comment Jason, at some time in the future Amazon may decide they have so much market share they don't need affiliates anyway. I mean, if you're just sending them people who are already Amazon customers there's not so much benefit there for them. Or they may decide to only work with select HIGH QUALITY affiliates and the average "affiliate site" owner will not be chosen.

      And you're right why go to an affiliate site when most of them tell you nothing new. They just list features and pro's and con's and then usually give a biased recommendation that you purchase the highest price product they get the most commission for...and they've never actually used the product anyway!

  19. Marcus says:

    I am in the process of building a great authority site in a womens sub health niche and was just going to use a few of the posts as Amazon Affiliate links. Do you think its reasonable to use about 20% of your posts as Amazon affiliate links on a good Authority site?

    • NicheHacks says:

      There's no problem with having some of your content monetized, just make sure you're building your email list so you have more control over your traffic and income.

  20. Rob says:

    Hmm, this is exactly what i was thinking. I had an ecommerce store and was looking to convert it to an amazon affiliate site. But you are right I was doing it backwards. Better ways to do it, Good article thanks

  21. I have practically been on the wrong path for the past one year when I started my online business. Even though I started making money from Amazon, it's nothing to write home about. You have set me free. Thank you for this amazing post. I will sit back to built a better blog with a promising business model.

    • NicheHacks says:

      Thanks Valentine, I love to help people get free and change their paths! 🙂

      You've tried the Amazon Affiliate Site model and it hasn't worked after 1 year...now it's time to do the RIGHT thing. You can do it!

  22. Ankita says:

    For a new website, amazon affiliate is a hard thing. Thank for writing this article for newbie bloggers. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  23. some of this makes sense , but long term bsuienss on blogging , really?

    • NicheHacks says:

      Blogging in it's self isn't a business per se. Blogging after all is just publishing posts to the internet.

      However, if you use a blog to draw in traffic and build a fan base you can then use that audience to sell products or fuel a business.

      That's how your blog should be used. Plenty of highly successful businesses are built around having a blog on the front end.

  24. Anil Agarwal says:

    Great post as always Jawad,

    Indeed, Amazon has really made a lot of people rich via their popular affiliate program, but as you rightly said, it also comes with a lot of limitations. I generally love and agree with the idea of having different monetization strategies instead of focusing only on Amazon, in case something goes wrong.

    Also, relying on Google traffic alone is typically suicidal, hence the reason we should always take list building very seriously.

    Thanks for sharing Jawad.

  25. Hi Jawad,

    I am new to this website and the funny thing is that l was looking for an objective analysis on starting an Amazon affiliate site. Your review on this issue is the BEST that i have ever seen in the last 3 years. This article was a joy to read. It was detailed, honest and very hard hitting especially when you are trying to get readers to understand that they MUST diversify their traffic sources and STOP relying on getting to first page on Google. As a result of reading your article l am changing my digital marketing services, affiliate marketing and , e-commerce strategy. I look forward to hearing new and innovative ideas from you on internet marketing. Keep up the great work!!!