Have you ever wondered why so many websites link to products on Amazon? When I first started out, I would be browsing the internet, find some interesting article about some random products, and all the links would take me directly to Amazon! These are called “affiliate links” (from Amazon Associates), and it can be an extremely lucrative business model if you know how to generate traffic to your website(s)
Let me tell you how I got involved and why I lost my Amazon Associates Account because of one small mistake – something in Amazon’s “Terms of Service” (TOS). Hopefully, revealing my small mistake will save some of you the trouble in the future. I will also explain how you can also get involved in this business model, if you so wish.
The Story Behind Awesome Stuff 365
In mid 2015, I decided to create a website with a broad niche so that I would not be limited in what I could promote, as I had a strategy in mind for this type of niche. So I chose the name “Awesome Stuff 365” for my new site.
There are two reasons for choosing the name “Awesome Stuff 365”:
- I wanted to have the “keywords” in the domain name, which helps with SEO (search engine optimization). The term “awesome stuff” has about 6000 searches a month by itself, and my site now ranks very competitively for this term!
- I wanted the brand and website to be broad enough so as to not limit the type of items I promoted.
- I also wanted to keep my options open for other kinds of partnerships in the future.
First, I purchased the domain “awesomestuff365.com”. The domain name “awesomestuff.com” was already taken, and the current owners wanted a ridiculous amount for it because it was considered a “premium” domain name. This is why I choose to go with my own version that I considered was brandable.
Next, I purchased a great WordPress theme for my website, and then put it all together on the WordPress platform and published it on the web. I had already paid a freelancer to write a dozen articles related to twelve random and cool products on Amazon, which I had found from other similar sites.
Once all this was in place, I went to work on my social media strategy. I had seen other pages doing it – and growing at an insanely fast rate – so I knew I could do it also. Basically, I spent a few months growing my Facebook page with various growth strategies.
How Did I Make $10,000 in Amazon Commissions in Ten Days?
This is what happened – I simply posted a video on my Facebook page about a “cool product” with an affiliate link of the product to Amazon. The video went viral, and it generated hundreds of thousands of clicks.
The Result? $10,000+ in commissions in 10 days – the product actually sold out on the first day. However, as an Amazon Associate, if a user clicks from your product and goes on to buy something else from Amazon within a 24-hour period, you will still receive a commission for that sale.
That means that if someone clicks your link to look at your “cool product,” but then they go on to buy a different item from someone else, you will still receive a commission – and the commission percentages vary, depending on what category the purchased product falls under.
Learning Costly Lessons
Now that we have established how I earned the commission, I will explain how I lost it all, including my “Amazon Associates Account.”
The Reason: the video was doing so well on social media, so I decided to give it a little “boost” – I paid Facebook to boost the post to reach more potential customers. The trouble with doing this is that it then becomes a “sponsored post” – therefore it is “paid traffic directly to an Affiliate link” – this is not allowed in Amazon’s increasingly difficult to understand “Terms of Service” (TOS).
A few days after I had “boosted” my post, I received an email from Amazon to say that I had broken the rules of their “Terms of Service” (TOS), and that my account had been closed. I would not be able to promote content as an Associate any longer, nor would I get paid the $10,000+ in commissions that I had already earned up to this point. Brutal and heartbreaking, to say the least. One small mistake, and no second chances – trust me, I tried.
The moral of the story? Learn the “Terms of Service” (TOS) of companies you wish to work with BEFORE getting too deeply involved, especially when working with online business models such as Facebook, Google, or Amazon!
Also – NEVER GIVE UP!
I lost my Amazon Associates Account, but I never lost my website or my motivation. There are lots of ways to monetize a website – and I have managed to turn my website into a success by partnering with several other platforms and continuing to create great content!
Shane Paarman is a marketing entrepreneur and founder of Awesome Stuff 365 , a popular web magazine featuring Cool, Creative & unique things.