I am posting this thread after seeing a thread from a beginner asking how to earn money with Amazon Associates. I just ran a report for updated numbers and have earned over $60k from Amazon Associates in the past 12 months so I thought I'd write a mini guide here for those that are struggling to earn money with Amazon's Associates program.
My earnings come from a variation of different blogs, websites, forums etc. etc. that I have hosted over a couple dedicated servers, some shared hosting accounts and a class C IP hosting account (trying out interlinking stuff for SEO these days). During my course of using Amazon Associates I've used various tracking codes to help measure what were the most effective strategies to earn money and what worked the worst.
Best Tactics to Make Money (income percentages based on 09 numbers)
1. Use in content linking as users are more likely to click links from within your blog posts or web pages (just simple HTML) than banner ads etc. I made 45% of my revenue via this method
2. Write bestseller list posts (i.e. Bestselling LaserJet Printers) - I made 15% of my revenue this way
3. Make any/all images clickable affiliate links to the Amazon product. I'm surprised how many people will get point #1 right but not make the image a clickable affiliate link. - I made 13.8% of earnings this way
4. Use buy now buttons in the content - I made 5% of my earnings this way
5. Focus heavily on shopping periods. HEAVILY. (I earned close to 9k in November and 13k in December 09). People want to be told about the best deals and if you take the time to write a great list pertaining to your niche people are grateful not annoyed by your consistent deal content during these times of the year. I also send out numerous emails via my newsletters on all the various websites during Black Friday / Cyber Monday - again people like getting this information so hit your lists hard.
Who doesn't want to know the original Power Rangers DVD combo set is available for only $5.99 on Black Friday? I know I would.
Worst Tactics to Make Money
1. Don't bother using Amazon's banner ads. They convert poorly. People rarely click them in almost every niche I've tried and you could use that space to sell direct ad space or *gasp* simply display nothing.
2. Don't bother with Amazon stores - they convert terribly. If you can even get a visitor to click a store link congrats. If you get them to actually buy something congrats again you got lucky.
3. Don't promote products that aren't related to your niche (should be obvious, but again I still see this when I'm roaming the web).
4. Don't use Amazon Associates if it doesn't fit with the type of visitor coming to your website (i.e. are they just looking for general information? If so Adsense will probably work better. Or are they looking to buy something? Amazon will work better)
These are tips I confirmed based on data gathered over the course of the year with the help of tons of tracking codes and I genuinely believe it should help you refocus your efforts into the areas that matter or to abandon Amazon Associates if it doesn't fit your visitor profile.
Important: Remember the tracking cookie lasts only 24 hours. Target potential buyers not lookers.
Feel free to post your questions or comments. No I won't post sample URL's of the websites I run for obvious reasons (many earning sites are low competition and I prefer to keep it that way) so please don't PM asking for them either. Just do keyword research, build a good website, link build and rinse repeat.
Last but not least...
Income Picture: (To dissuade people from calling me a liar. Yes these can be faked but if you still don't believe me that's your prerogative. Besides, if you read the tips above you should see how my findings are logical.)
FAQ: This thread has received a lot of questions and positive feedback (thanks) and I've started getting a couple repeat questions. Be sure to check the thread below for answers before posting a question. Thanks
Edit: if you think a more in depth training course is something you'd want to pay for let me know what you think it should be priced at here. In the interim this is still a good resource for you to start with.