Thursday, May 26, 2016

Earning through those Amazon referral links

I signed up for Amazon Associates many years ago, with the intention of posting links whenever I talked about books and other media on a blog I had that was related to an industry I was working in at the time. In five years, I had a single number of purchases made through the links, and this was a networky-type blog that had a lot more readers than this one.

I've recently discovered a better way to use them though. Keep in mind that when people click through to a book or similar, they usually aren't going to buy it right then. They're more likely to wishlist it or flip through the previews and keep it in mind for another time. However, there are other times when people's tendency to click through and buy it right away is much higher; these tend to be when there is a sale (which will presumably end soon), or when the person needs a particular item right away. I've had much better luck with the Amazon links when I've posted them here to notify people of slashed prices on items than when I've posted them just in the context of a product that's neat.

The other place I've had good luck with them is when people ask on forums where to buy something or what kind to get. Now, like any sort of money-earning venture, please don't be an asshole about this. No one likes it when people are trying to sell them stuff, spamming them, or otherwise acting slick. Besides, you'll make more money and have better karma if you just are nice, with money as a secondary gain. But wait, what site are we on? So yeah, I'm not suggesting you just don't post links that earn you money. But wait until someone online asks what to use for something, what type is good, where there are good prices, etc. Make sure it's something where you would otherwise give the advice without any financial incentive (see "don't be an asshole" above). Make a normal reply where you tell them what kind you have, what works well, whatever the case may be, and link to the product on Amazon (with your affiliate link embedded). Same for if someone asks where to get something, provided they haven't said they need it right this second or need to try it on -- in other words, a situation in which Amazon would be an appropriate reply without the monetary incentive. Even in 2016, there are a lot of people for whom online shopping doesn't occur to them for something like, say, a spice or other specialty grocery item. Once you point out that they can have Amazon deliver it in a day or two, they may well go with that instead of trekking to a specialty shop.

Another don't-be-an-asshole caveat: I would suggest that you limit this tactic to discussions on blogs and forums and things, and don't do it with friends, family, or online friends with whom you have some sort of ongoing relationship. It just seems like using people, and seems like most people's friends would trust them less if they knew there were strings attached to their recommendations. But if you can post a helpful, genuine link in a discussion somewhere, and you make a few cents off of it, this doesn't seem unethical.

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