One of the worst mistakes you can make with an Authority Internet Business is to not diversify your income. This creates a “single point of failure” where one event can destroy everything you’ve worked hard to build.
I was reminded of this rule recently while working on DevelopGoodHabits.com after a three month break.
Even though I’m starting to make a decent income with a few habit-related Kindle books, there is a legitimate risk to putting my eggs in one basket. So ultimately, I decided to focus on affiliate marketing through the Amazon Associates program as my second source of income.
In this post, I’ll talk about why I recommend the Associates program to anyone building an authority site. Plus, I’ll detail seven steps to maximize your affiliate income with this program.
Like many people, I once dismissed the Associates program as a legitimate source of income. When you can promote products for $97 at a 50% commission, it’s hard to get excited about rates that cap out at 8.5%. But what I didn’t fully realize is you get an opportunity to promote quality products you actually use.
Let me explain…
When I started this case study, I wrote a post that detailed my monetization strategy. Specifically I wanted to promote products through affiliate marketing. The problem? I’ve had serious trouble finding offers I’d want to recommend. In a cursory search of various affiliate networks, I couldn’t locate offers that provide value to a habit-specific audience. Instead, they’re filled with wishy-washy products that I don’t like:
- Law of attraction
- How to be more happy
- Secret “success formulas”
- Binaural audio and subliminal messages
No offense to creators of these products, but I don’t buy into the “pseudo-science” theories of success. The point of DevelopGoodHabits.com (DGH) is to show how you can build a better life by forming quality, day-to-day routines. So promoting any of these offers would send mixed messages to the audience I’m building.
To be honest, for awhile I felt stuck with how I’d generate my second source of income.
That is, until I looked at the income that was generated from a few Amazon Associates links in the DGH blog content. With only a small amount of traffic, I earned $127 for the month of September. Not a huge amount of money, but pretty good for a new website.
This got me thinking… Instead of trying shoehorn in recommendations of subpar information products, why don’t I focus on Associate products that I actually use? So, currently I’m structuring a small part of DGH to recommending affiliate offers through Amazon’s program.
And here’s how you can do the same in seven steps:
The biggest advantage of the Associates program is you can literally promote any product. If something is sold on Amazon, you can make money by recommending it to readers.
For instance, Amazon offers a tool where you can link to any page on their site. This gives you a lot of control over what you recommend. Since Amazon has become the shopping destination, it’s easy to find something that helps readers. Simply think of what obstacle they regularly encounter and identify an item that helps them overcome it. Specifically, you can use Amazon to promote:
Just think about what you regularly use and then grab a link to it from Amazon.
One mistake I see people make with affiliate marketing is to directly link to an offer. The smarter strategy is to create a product review and link to that instead. On this page, you’d describe why you like the offer and how it can help readers. This converts better because most readers know, like and trust you. So they want to read, in your words, why they should purchase a particular item.
Now, you don’t have to create a review for every single Amazon product. My advice is to only do it when an offer matches one (or both) of these requirements:
- It costs $50 or more
- It’s a mandatory purchase
Generally speaking, these two rules won’t apply to every affiliate recommendation. So you only do one when you really believe in a particular offer.
The most important part of a review is to describe how a product helps readers. You want to write it in a way where the reader has a sense of ownership. Really, all you have to do is use descriptive words and show how they’ll overcome a specific obstacle.
Emphasizing benefits is much different than a focus on features. Most people don’t care about product specs. Instead they want to know how it’ll help them on a personal level. Your goal is to think of your ideal reader and use the words that run through their head.
On DGH, I recently did a review of the FitBit One: DevelopGoodHabits.com/Fitbit-Review
On the FitBit Amazon page, the core features are fully detailed. So instead of rehashing what’s already written, I explained (in simple words) why I like this pedometer. I simply looked at the 5 star and 1 star reviews to see what people liked/hated about the product. And then I wrote a review that focused on these comments. Specifically I emphasized six reasons why I recommend the FitBit:
- Activity charts
- Long battery life
If you look at the review, you’d notice I didn’t use technical jargon. Instead, I explained why it’s a good pedometer and how it can help people develop the walking habit.
One of the best ways to improve affiliate conversions is to do an “open the box presentation” or OBP for short. The idea here is not simply talk about a product. Instead show how you use it.
There are two ways to do an OBP.
First, you could create a video where you demonstrate the product. This can be done with a simple desktop recorder like Jing or you can do a “talking head” recording where you demonstrate how the product works.
The second option is to take detailed screenshots using a tool like Snag It. This is a great way to show how it works. For instance, in my FitBit product review, I took screenshots of the activity charts and rewards that can be earned by walking on a daily basis. This adds credibility to the review since it clearly shows it’s something I regularly use.
Over the years, I’ve learned that when you give people too many options; they’ll often pick none. This is called paralysis by analysis. When it comes to affiliate marketing, low conversion rates are often caused by providing too many options to solve a particular problem. Instead, it’s better to pick one, maybe two, item(s) and then do a very detailed review.
Remember, people read your site because they like your angle on a specific niche topic. So it’s your job to save them time and find out what’s the best available product. Odds are, if you tell them that an offer is worth purchasing, they’ll follow your advice.
In a previous DGH post, I did a comparison of four different walking pedometers. While it helped readers determine which one was right for them, it didn’t recommend ONE particular pedometer. Instead, it gave a few pieces of information on each device.
In my opinion, I improved my website by creating a new review that focused on the FitBit One. I simply described my experiences with this device and gave reasons why they should check it out.
One way to improve an affiliate recommendation is to encourage engagement. You can do this by asking readers to:
- Reply with comments and questions about the offer.
- Send videos/images of how they use it.
- Join you on a Facebook page that’s dedicated to the product.
- Share the blog post on social media to potentially win a copy.
- Connect with you on the platform that’s used by product buyers.
I was reminded of the power of engagement while writing the FitBit One review. In addition to asking people to buy it, I also told them to add me as friend on the companion membership site. That way, readers can compete with one another and improve their daily step count. Not only does this add credibility, it also gives readers a chance to engage with one another by using the product.
A good product recommendation can generate long-term income for your authority business. The trick is getting traffic to the review page. In my opinion, you won’t get a lot of initial sales (unless you already have a large audience.) The better solution is to slowly weave in links to the review page as you develop your business.
Currently, I have a few products that I currently use for habit development. My plan is to create a product review (once a month) and link to these pages from:
- Kindle books
- Blog posts
- Resource page
- YouTube/Udemy videos
I consider each product to be the ultimate tool that solves a particular problem. So whenever I’m talking about a certain challenge, I’ll have a related blog post that readers can check out, which also generates income.
The Amazon Associates program can provide a steady source of revenue for your authority business. But it won’t work if you’re simply linking to random products. The smarter strategy is to create detailed review pages that explain why you like the offer.
You don’t have to be sleazy or aggressive with this recommendation. Simply explain why you like it and how it helps the reader overcome a particular problem. Do this for every item in your niche to build up a catalog of pages that can add up to a reliable level of income.Take Action. Get Results.