how i earn money as a blogger

Hello, my gorgeous people!

Yesterday, something beautiful happened. And if you don’t know where this is going, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but you’re an idiot. I’m sure it’s not your fault, but I’m even more sure that it is. Unless your parents dropped you as a baby – then I think you may actually be able to blame them.

So, I received this comment yesterday  (I get ones like it quite often), and it inspired me to remind you that I have a blogging advice category here and to write this post. Also, you can . . . well, just ask me. In fact, after looking at my pitifully empty blogging advice section of this site, I’m going to start a series of posts about starting and maintaining your own blog.

inspiring comments

 

Now, I know it would make sense to start at the beginning and do some blog set-up tips or tutorials- but I do have 25 Things You Need To Do When You Start A Blog on my abandoned blog, and I just got my first cheque (I’m incredibly excited, in case you couldn’t tell), so sharing how I did that might be a good way to to begin!

So, to be completely specific and clear, this is a post on:

How I (A Small UK Fashion/Beauty/Lifestyle Blogger) Used Amazon Associates Affiliate Programme To Earn My First Paycheque

Before we begin, I just want to kind of clear up a few things that some of you may be wondering about.

  • I earn in a variety of different ways, but I want to write a massive detailed explanation of how I earn at the end of the year. This is one: because I want to total up my income for the year and the year obviously isn’t finished yet. Two: I’m planning to write it as part of my yearly review, as my New Years Resolution was to be more successful and that will be a nice post to wind the year down on. Also, I can’t definitively say how much I generally earn through Amazon in a year until the end of the year, because this is only my second year using it and the first year I had no clue what I was doing. And three: that post will be an overall guide to affiliate programmes and kind of showing you the workings behind how I earn and how to capitalise and monetize what your blog is already doing (the stats and everything else), whereas this post is going to focus solely on using Amazon Associates and how I can possibly help you to do that.
  • This actually isn’t my first time being paid by Amazon Associates, or through blogging – it’s just my first time receiving a payout from the US branch of Amazon Associates (which is sent through a cheque).

Okay, now all those things are out of the way . . . let me tell you about the programme!

Amazon Have An Affiliate Programme? What Even Is An Affiliate Programme? And How Does It Work? Can I Be One?

An affiliate programme is a way that bloggers can make money through their audience and advertising; you post a link to a product and you get paid for audience engagement. Different programmes work in different ways (for example, some programmes pay you per click you generate, whereas some pay you per item someone you refer buys) and have different commission rates. Commission is the amount you are paid out of the total price (Amazon calls this “Advertising Fees”, I believe) your audience pay.

For those of you who feel a bit cringy out of earning from your audience, they don’t pay any more through clicking your link – so regardless of if you’re using an affiliate link or one from your address bar they’re still spending the same amount of money. The only difference is if you get a cut.

amazon affiliate tips

Amazon have their very own affiliate scheme, which is (in my opinion) the best one around. I say this because it’s very easy to use, there are a lot of tools available for it – and Amazon stocks everything from make-up to power tools. So, regardless of your niche or post topic, you can find something your readers will be interested in. A good plus is that, unlike some sites, they don’t have strict requirements on your blog – you don’t need a certain number of followers to sign up and start earning. Also, they use cookies that last for upto 60 days, whereas most programmes only use 30 or sometimes 10 day cookies.

Cookies? What Are Cookies – And Why Do I Want An Affiliate Programme With Cookies?

Answer: cookies are these delicious baked treats that people feed you to lure you to the dark side. I’m sorry – it was just there.

Cookies are essentially tracking data that records you while you’re using a website. I know – it sounds creepy and privacy invading, but that’s why websites that use cookies now have to tell you that they do (there’s usually a pop-up when you first visit, or a footnote or something); however, it sounds worse than it really is. What cookies are really used for is data collection. (BTW – you don’t particularly need to know what cookies are, it probably isn’t something you’re going to have to hands on deal with)

In context, what cookies usually do is something like this:

  • You visit a site, and browse a few items. You plan to come back and buy something you’ve seen at a later date, or just continue browsing another time. Cookies will record the data from this session and all this data will be turned into analytics and studied and analysed.
  • When you come back, these cookies throw your recently viewed items into a widget so you can see them – and there will be some recommendations based on what you’ve been browsing. If you created an account, your email address and password may already be remembered and inserted in for you.
  • (So if a few people that bought a T-Shirt you’ve been stalking then went on to buy the same pair of jeans, the jeans would pop up in your recommended feed, for example.)

See, it’s not so nefarious – it is annoying advertising at times (especially if your data is sold to third party companies, or you’re bombarded with targeted ads), but that’s completely irrelevant to what we need to know. So now you know why the websites themselves use cookies, you want to know why you should join an affiliate programme that features them.

Simply put: you’re more likely to earn. If you have a 60 day cookie window, you have 60 days for the person to revisit Amazon and purchase something, with you still receiving a commission. So regardless of if they’re revisiting through your link, or even for something relevant to the product you were advertising, you still receive a payment.

For example: somebody random finds your blog post about weird dog clothes and clicks a link to browse because . . . well, it’s weird, so people are probably going to be intrigued. Are they going to buy? No – but they will click through out of curiosity. Now, remembering how many people use Amazon and those helpful cookies, your visitor (let’s call him Roy) will be hit with all his recommendations. Roy will be reminded of the things he looked at the last time he visited Amazon – he’ll even be prompted with his wishlist. See, all this could spur Roy into buying something completely unrelated to your weird dog clothes (and you’ll still be paid the same commission rate for that too), but if it isn’t and Roy decided to just switch off and live his life – you have sixty days of your cookies sitting on his computer. It could be near Christmas and Roy could return to Amazon to buy his wife (yes, he’s married) a present next week – and you’ll be paid the same commission rate for that too. Or maybe Roy’s just been paid and has decided to come back and buy that thing on his wishlist – well, with your cookies on his computer, you’re still getting a cut.

orders direct link conversion table

As you can see here, none of the items purchased were through links I created (“direct links”), but I still received payment for them. This is called an order report, by the way, and is one of the reasons I’m going to go on to speak about later that I love Amazon Associates for.

Now We’re On The Subject Of Payment – How Does It Work? How Much Can I Earn Through Affiliate Programmes and How Do I Earn It?

Money – isn’t it great? And it’s totally why you’re here, so let me break down the process of payment for you. Sticking with the example above (and I’m going to explain why this particular orders report is so pathetic, don’t worry) let me show you you the payment report for the same timeframe.

earnings breakdown

For this particular section of the post, we only need to focus on three sections – Advertising Fee Rate, Revenue and Earnings. You may think Earnings is the only important section, but the others pull their weight too.

Advertising Fee Rate – aka. Commission %

Amazon Affiliates has a commission pyramid, I suppose you could call it. The commission rates are pretty good, starting at around 5% (a lot of other companies are a bit lower), but what is great about them is the fact that they climb. So, the more you sell the higher the commission rate gets – it starts at 5%, sell 25 products and it moves to 6.5% and so on so forth.

As you can see through this screenshot, there are some products that have a lower commission rate – this is generally due to the product category, so electronics generally have a bit of a lower commission than other products, but with the price difference it usually makes up for it. And, remember, the commission rates climb the more you sell. So if you were randomly to sell a Macbook for £2,000 and nothing else, you’d get your 3% (£60), but if you were to sell a Macbook at the end of a month you might be looking at around 7% (£140).

Revenue

Revenue is how much Amazon is making through your advertisements. This is helpful in regards to understanding exactly why they pay out to have you advertise for them – you make them a lot of money, especially considering the theory behind it is that the people that have bought items are people you sent their way; obviously, this screenshot is a pretty weak example of this, so let me show you what my earnings for last month on US Amazon were.

october earnings report

So, in theory, had I not advertised links for Amazon.com last month, they would have lost out on almost $3000 – I’m not saying this is true, but that’s the idea and that’s what leads to you being paid.

Earnings

This is obviously how much you’ve earned through each individual sale.

Anyway, so in terms of how money is made these are the three columns you’re really looking at; these are the three columns you’ll use to understand your earnings. Now, that’s just the basic structure of how you earn – through “advertising fees”, commission, blah blah. You also have bounties, (like when people use your link to buy Prime, or a free trial, or Kindle books, or music or something else) where you can get paid flat fees of, I think, £5.

How much you can earn is really up to you and how you use the data Amazon gives you and your links and your blog.

Okay, You Clearly Love Showing Us Reports. Why Are Statistics and Analytics So Important To You? Are Percentages Really Going To Help My Earnings?

How about “no fucking duh“. Let me show you something.

blog stats

These are my blog stats for the past week. Now, if you’re how I was a year ago, you see big numbers, get happy, think “yay, success!” and leave it at that. Where did that get me? Let me show you.

2014 seasonal spike

Now, when I saw this last year I was pleased – I mean, I still am pleased because £200 is a good amount of money to make through something I enjoy. However, as my leading blog posts are very much seasonal (gift guides are always going to be bigger around Christmas, it’s just logical) and these were my earnings through that key seasonal period . . . compared to my views, it wasn’t a lot of conversion.

monthly post views

289,289 views (hey, I never even noticed that before!), but only 500 buys? And we’ve already mentioned the fact that includes indirect links and just people that have clicked through and gone back. So what was I missing? Where had I gone wrong? Oh yeah – I didn’t look at my stats.

Unfortunately, I can’t get detailed country and areas statistics from last year, but I can show you the pattern through this week’s views.

blog stats

Now, this year I’ve grown my UK visitors a lot more and have posts dedicated to British viewers – but last year that United Kingdom number was maybe half. So I had a shit load of traffic that was essentially useless. Well, now, no actually – I had a post that was useless to the traffic it was attracting. This is why your statistics are important. They’re insights to what you’re doing right – and what you need to fix up on.

how to earn more blog money

So my solution to this problem that wasn’t exactly a problem was one that was long and painful – I went through the gift guides that attracted American attention and updated them with American links, while moving the British counterparts to new posts. Which meant joining the American Amazon Associates scheme (yep, they’re separate) and I only got that set up right before I went to Mexico, so about June July ish. And has it made a difference? Did looking at my stats and actually paying attention to them pay off?

UK 2014 earnings

This is what I earned from January to date last year. And here is what I’ve made January to date this year.

2015 so far UK earnings

US amazon earnings

£14 to about £300 – just through paying attention to my stats. That’s more than 20x growth. Of course, the audience I was reaching was just one really obvious statistic – but there are many other ones you should be paying attention to. For example, where your traffic is coming from in terms of finding you:

referrral stats

And I know these are all things you probably think “oh, whatever, Mia” – but the fact a lot of my traffic comes from Pinterest means that my images are shared. Which means I in turn try to make better original images and select products with good images for my readers to Pin and share. I could go into SEO and all the rest of it, but then you’ll never shut me up and this post was meant to be about my tips for Amazon Associates! However, I think I’ve made my point for the validity of blog stats. Check them, think about them, your wallet will thank you.

Amazon is easily the best programme in terms of analytics; even the fact you can see the exact item someone has purchased is something my other programmes often don’t give me. Which is rude, when you think about how much I like my statistics. Also, Amazon are very good at analysing their own data; they’ll send you associate emails with leading trends, or deals your readers might like – especially during seasonal times like “Back To School” or “Black Friday” – which can really help you optimize your earnings.

Okay, So You’ve Told Me How You’ve Earned More Money Through Amazon Associates – But You Haven’t Told Me Exactly How You Earn? And How Can I Earn Money Through My Blog? Do You Have Any Tips Or Ideas?

Good point, myself. Let me make this very brief and to the point – I earn Amazon money through some of the featured gift ideas in my gift guides.

Now, how can you earn money through Amazon? First of all, I have to be honest and say that to a certain degree you’ve got to figure it out for yourself, simply because I don’t know what your usual content is or what works for you and your blog readers. If you write a lot of wishlists, then slip your links in there. What I did was just look at my blog’s statistics – my gift guides were un-monetized, but popular; and I figured that I could slip links in there without them spamming people.

There are a few things I’ve learnt over the past year, so let me share with you my Amazon Associate Earning Tips:

  • It’s easier to sell to people that want to buy. If people are searching for a “good quality camera” and you happen to have posted a review praising a camera with an Amazon link, those visitors are much more likely to purchase a camera than your internet friend who reads your blog because you’re BFFs
  • But that’s a good post idea for ways to promote products you want to sell – in the context of reviews.
  • This leads me to my next point – DO NOT BE SPAMMY. It’s annoying, boring and your readers will just stop engaging with your blog altogether, so you can forget making money. Dropping random and poor quality links is going to bring down the overall quality of your blog and nobody is going to buy what you’re selling . . . lose, lose.
  • However, in seasonal times, I’d recommend trying to get as many click-throughs as possible – just so that, if people do decide to do any Christmas shopping for people, you get cut in.
    blog post ideas for better affiliate marketing and higher blog earnings
  • Types of posts that affiliate links do well in:
    – hauls,
    – reviews,
    – wishlists,
    – comparisons (dupes vs reals),
    – curator type posts – these are posts where you effectively comb through shit to collect the good stuff; gift guides are an example of this, but more ideas are things like “100 Beauty Essentials Every Woman Needs”
    – lists
  • Try to rely more on search engine or outside traffic than your blog followers; not only will you earn more, but you blog will remain more authentic and less like a walking advertisement.
  • SEASONAL TRAFFIC IS A BAND WAGON YOU NEED TO JUMP ON. Even the tiniest blogger can have one follower to share a seasonal post and it can blow up from there.

However, finally – I’m by no means an expert, a professional or a particularly amazing associate; I can try to help and suggest things that have worked for me, and things that most definitely haven’t, but at the end of the day always do what you think is best for you and your blog – and I hope things go well for you!

Now we’ve reached the end of this post, fill out the poll and let me know what you think of it!

 

 

 

28 thoughts on “How I Used Amazon Associates To Earn My First Paycheque As A Small Blogger {Blogging 101}”

    1. thank you! you basically scroll to the bottom of the amazon home page and theres a mini menu titled ‘make money with us’ just click on associates programme and you’re on your way ^-^ there is a kind of form, but its more filling in your account details 🙂

        1. yeah its definitely worth it… can i suggest though, through looking at your blog (and love it btw 😀 ) and what you’re posting that maybe you join shopstyle collective as well? i earn more through shopstyle than amazon overall because shopstyle pays per click rather than on comission and for things like beauty and fashion blogs a lot of the time people will be curious and click through to look around, but wont actually buy 🙂 also, in terms of shops they cover a lot of high street shops and for makeup theres a LOT more variety than amazon ^-^ its just a suggestion, but for beauty products i’ve usually found shopstyle to be a better earner 🙂

          1. I have! I’ve just added a widget to my newest post…are widgets the best performing thing for you? I’m not too sure how the product links thing works :s am reading up on it now xx

            1. i wouldnt recommend the widgets personally; i feel like theyd be good for people to buy off of but their html doesnt include a “nofollow” which basically means you pass up your search engine scores to them, so your blogs passes up chances to get found 🙁 the links work best for me personally xx

              1. Ah okay! Wow you really know your stuff 🙂 thanks so much – I’ve just added links via my youtube videos and it was nice and easy to do – I’m definitely going to try the links! I’m excited now! Do you have to link your Paypal somewhere? Sorry to keep asking questions xx

                1. ohmygosh, no i love talking about this stuff its absolutely fine ask away 🙂 you link your paypal email under your account settings (left hand side, scroll down and it should be around there) xx

                  1. excellent! Thank you <3 It's given me loads of ideas for posts so hopefully I can start using it properly now. I signed up for Amazon Associates but tbh I think ShopStyle Collective will be much more fun! xxx

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