How to Make Money with The Amazon Affiliate Program
The eBay & Amazon Seller's News ~ March 2017 ~ Volume 18, Issue No. 4
Tips, Tools, News and Resources for eBay, Amazon and Independent Online Sellers
Aweber is the newsletter service I use to create and maintain my email lists and publish this newsletter. Aweber has just published an excellent FREE publication - The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing . If you want to build a mailing list, and use it to sell either physical or information, or promote affiliate products --I strongly recommend Aweber.
I have written several articles about Private Labeling and cover it in The Complete Amazon Marketing System , but my good friend, Jim Cockrum, has just come out with an excellent and complete course on the subject - Proven Private Label 2.0.
Best of all, if you use this link, Jim is offering a substantial discount on the new system.
This course has been so popular, that Jim doesn't want so many people using these techniques -that he is cancelling access to the course in only a few days - March 15th. I am sorry that is such short notice -but this is Jim's course -not mine, and I fully understand his reasoning. There are two options -just the eBook or the eBook plus mentoring. Jim is offering a discount to my readers, but it ends on March 15th
If this appeals to you -please move quickly so you don't miss this. Proven Private Label 2.0.
I have been writing about the ASD wholesale trade show in the past few issues. I was planning to attend - and hoped to meet a few of my readers there. Unfortunately, I had a minor surgery this week. Nothing serious and I am fine, but my doctor will not permit me to fly for at least 60 days.
So most sorry - but I will not be attending this year, but you will definitely see me next year. Also, I am looking at a few other shows I may attend this year - and will let you know here in this newsletter as soon as I know.
Are you looking for a past newsletter article -or an article from the last issue?
The most recent issue of this newsletter is always on this page - (The page you are reading now).
Whenever I come out with a new issue, the previous issue is moved to my archives, located here.
If you look in the archives you will see both the current issue, and all of the previous issues, for this year and the last three years.
FREE - Just for a short while you can get Cynthia Stine's excellent eBook, Suspension Prevention, for free at this link.
When it comes to getting feedback and reviews on Amazon, I have told you about Feedback Genius and Feedback Five . Well there is a new player in town -and they have statistics that show how their service compares to other services -And, their review service is 100% Amazon compliant.
Seller Labs has introduced a new product they call SCOPE . Scope is an advanced Amazon keyword research and product discovery tool.
Scope simplifies your Amazon keyword research. Discover millions of keywords from top-selling products to improve your Amazon SEO and PPC campaigns. And if keyword research wasn't enough, Scope is brilliant at finding profitable product niches.
Scope shows you the keywords that drive sales on Amazon. Discover new keywords from top-selling products to improve your Amazon SEO and PPC strategy. Scope is also brilliant at finding profitable products to sell.
Here are some of the features and things Scope does:
Keyword Search Position
Detail Page Keywords
Back End Keywords
Reduce Automatic PPC Spend
Keyword Ranking Score
Reliable Profit Estimates
FBA & Amazon Commission Fees
Historical Keyword & Sales Data
Product Review History
Historic Pricing Data
I have been playing around with Scope and really like it. I don't have enough experience yet to give you numbers -but I am already seeing see how profitable it can be.
According to The Conference Board research association, the Consumer Confidence Index, hit 113.7 in December 2016. (That's the highest it has been in 15 years). The last time consumer confidence was this high was in August 2001, when it hit 114. I suspect this will translate to online sales.
Here is another valuable freebie: Karon Thackson, of Marketing Words, is an expert in writing eBay and Amazon descriptions that sell. Karon writes and publishes a great free blog on many topics related to selling on eBay and Amazon.
Her latest post is: Determining Your Target Audience and Delivering What They Want . While you are there, just click on the link to her Blog on the Navigation Bar, to see posts on many other subjects related to improving your online sales. Another great post is Five eBay Listing Tips for Creating Compelling Bullet Points
I told you about this last month -but here are the details from Amazon's FBA fee increases that took place a couple weeks ago, on February 22 nd.
Fulfillment by Amazon U.S. Fee Changes Starting February 22, 2017
FBA fees in the U.S. in 2017 are being adjusted to reflect the changing costs of storage, fulfillment, transportation, and customer service. The new rates take effect February 22, 2017. In addition to updating storage and fulfillment fees, FBA is introducing the following changes:
For complete details about the fee changes, click here. (You must be logged into Seller Central to see this page).
Would you like to know which categories and products you are approved for, and the status of pending requests? First log into seller central - then paste this link into your URL bar. Be sure and check this out - some sellers are surprised to see they are approved in categories they didn't know about (this doesn't happen that often -but it does happen).
Attention sellers - Would you like access to your cash faster? Payability is a service that can help. Just look at some of the benefits of using them.
The only requirement they have is 90 days' sales history on Amazon.com, and you are located in the US, UK, or Canada. If you use this link, your first week is free!
PriceChecker 2.0 is an Amazon profit FBA calculator software. You upload any list of wholesale products from your supplier (no limit on file size), search against the Amazon database and it identifies the fast turnover, high profit items to sell on Amazon.
Free Demo License Available Here.
Have your eBay sales been down? This may be the reason.
eBay has been having website issues affecting sales and payments. There are some minor service issues all over the country, but the worst issue is that the eBay website has been going down in high population parts of the country such as the Northeast and California, and large sections of Western Europe. The problem is sporadic -but happens often enough that eBay sellers are complaining about lost sales.
The problem has been affecting sales for several weeks including some weeks in January and February. eBay has been resolving the issues, but it always seems to take a couple days to do so.
According to Downdetector.com, the most reported problems since late January have been.
In my case, eBay sales during this period have been down about 25%.
Lets get started with this month’s articles:
To be precise, Amazon calls their affiliate program, the Amazon Associates Program (I will use both terms interchangeably in this article).
Whenever you refer a buyer to Amazon, whether they buy the product you recommend or not, -Amazon will pay you a fixed, or sliding scale commission, on anything that person buys within 24 hours of your referral.
For example, if you have a blog that reviews fishing equipment, and a reader clicks on a fishing reel that you recommend. Clicking on your link will take them to the buy box (in most cases) for that reel on Amazon. Let's say they decide not to buy the fishing reel today, but since they were on Amazon anyway, they buy some underwear and wading boots.
If they made that purchase within 24 hours of you sending them to Amazon, then you would earn a commission on the underwear and the wading boots. Or, if they add the item to their shopping cart, but don't check out right away -you will get an affiliate commission if they do checkout within the next 30 days.
In the first paragraph, I alluded to commission on a sliding scale. Please see below for the commission chart.
Amazon has two types of commissions shown on the commission chart.
As you can see, the fixed rates are on very specific categories, with a few of them higher than the variable rates, but most are lower. In my experience, most Amazon affiliates tend to recommend products in the categories that fall on the variable rate scale.
There are a couple of things you need to know about the variable rate scale.
1. Whenever you reach a new tier, the commission rate becomes retroactive for the whole month. For example, if you sold 5 items the first week of the month, and then you hit your 7th item in the second week. At that point, you would earn 6% commission on all the products you sold since the beginning of the month and 6% on the remaining items in that month until you hit 31 products, then you would earn 6.5% retroactive to the beginning of the month.
2. Since the commission rates are so low, you want to try and recommend somewhat expensive products. For example, if you sold a book for $7.99 at the 6.5% rate, your commission would be 52¢. However, if a buyer you refer purchases a baby stroller for $174.00, then your commission would be $11.31. Big difference for the same amount of work!
Does this mean you should never recommend low priced products? The answer is no. Let's face it -low priced products sell faster than high priced products on Amazon (or anywhere you shop). The advantage of having a few low-priced products is that you will generate a higher number of sales which could bump you into the next higher commission tier.
Most associates work in one of two ways (Yes, some do both).
Let's consider how to narrow the niches we mentioned above: cooking, fishing, golf or travel.
Here are some examples of niche blogs that connect to affiliate links on Amazon:
So what kind of products can you sell with these niches?
Almost any niche will have books written on the topic. For example, if your niche was Gluten Free cooking, there are plenty of books on the topic of gluten free cooking. Also, to be completely gluten free, cooks must use cookware and utensils that are not used with other foods that contain Gluten. So you could sell sets of cookware, knives and utensils that a person can use just for their gluten free recipes. (Tip - For Gluten Free cooking you want to use metal, plastic or silicon utensils as its hard to clean all gluten residue off of wood or Bamboo utensils).
On the subject of travel there are plenty of books on traveling to specific locations, and travel goods including clothing, gadgets, luggage and so on.
Note: This article is about the Amazon affiliate program -but there is no reason you cannot add affiliate links from other venues as well. For example, a lot of travel companies offer excellent commissions on travel packages.
I always recommend specific niche blogs because they work better -but if you do offer a lot of different products that are not on Amazon -there is an affiliate aggregator, VigLink, that gives you affiliate links without having to join dozens of affiliate programs.
The same goes with Golf. Besides books, there are tons of accessories and gadgets for golfers -not to mention golf apparel and shoes.
Lastly there is fishing -plenty of books on the subject and lots of fishing equipment such as very expensive rods and reels and smaller cheaper things such as hooks, flies, lures, fishing line, sinkers and so on.
There are lots of blog builders available but the best one is WordPress. There are two kinds of WordPress Blogs. There is a free blog hosted by WordPress. I know "free" sounds great -but if you really want to earn money -this is NOT what you want.
WordPress also offers free software that you download that you can use to build a blog (or a website). Don't panic at the thought of building a blog -it's actually very easy. In fact, there are several free websites that will walk you through the process. Here is a good one, but there are many more if you search the web. If all else fails, you can hire someone on Fiverr.com or elance.com to build a WordPress site very cheaply. And there are several Facebook groups you can join where you can get help.
Once your blog is built, it is very easy to maintain it and to do posts.
Why a free blog won't work?
Search engines like Google and Yahoo do not index free blogs very well unless you are already getting tons of traffic. Secondly, security on the free blog sites is usually very poor. And, maybe most importantly - you have very little control. For example -it is not unusual for the provider of the blog to sell ad space on your blog, and if you read the terms and conditions you agreed to when you set up the blog, there is nothing you can do about it.
So download the free WordPress software, pick a URL related to your topic and find a place to host your blog (This will cost between $4 and $12 per month).
Why use WordPress?
WordPress is the most popular blogging software in the world -so there are many people experienced in it. Also there are dozens of companies that offer templates and widgets -some of which are free -and there are a few that charge. Templates are just like eBay listing templates. They are organized and add a style to your blog.
Widgets are small add-ons to your blog software that do things like adding social links (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) automatically to the end of every post so your readers can share your content, insert a YouTube gallery of videos you want to feature, setting up a contact us form and more.
There are also several Amazon Widgets available, that will add your Amazon affiliate links quickly and easily. Here are a few of those:
Amazon eStore Affiliates
Amazon eStore Affiliates is a plugin for folks trying to make money as an Amazon affiliate. eStore Affiliates includes a ton of unique features to make it different than other plugins, including a content-spinner tool.
Amazon Link is a great tool for including Amazon product links right in your own WordPress posts. All links include your Amazon affiliate ID so you can track sales.
Other tips to grow your commissions.
1. People like images -it's true that pictures sell. If you are doing a product review, be sure and add some product photos that are hyperlinked with your affiliate link to that product.
Here is an example from one of my blogs:
2. Product reviews tend to be indexed well in search results – and they have a very high conversion rate.
3. Ask for the sale – put a Buy Now button at the end of every linked product mention.
4. Create product comparison lists - There is a ton of research that people like to compare products and services before they buy. It is a given that your top one or two recommended products will convert to sales very well.
If you want more information and detail, take a look at my training manual - Make Money with The Amazon Affiliate Program .
The first thing to understand is that, it doesn't matter whether you are communicating with someone in India, China or Turkey -the folks you are calling, or emailing, speak read and write English as a second (or third) language. Therefore, if you want to be understood, it is critical that you use formal grammar like you were taught in school, and avoid colloquialisms, informal language and jargon that is likely to be misunderstood.
Here is an email text that would be a complete mystery to a person who reads English as a second language:
Think about this from Mr. Wang's point of view. He may not know the word gadget. If the item were some type of cooking or kitchen tool -then say that: Mr. Wong - I have attached an image of a kitchen tool, I am interested in. It is used for marinating meat. When you say charge for this, he is thinking of all the meanings of the word charge.
Also, the sentence; Could you tell me what you will charge for this. ends with a period instead of a question mark. That may seem like a small thing to you -but it can be confusing to anyone who would expect that.
And the phrase, just an off the top of your head number will do, has him wondering what you want to do with the top of his head.
Here is another one: if the price is right. A price being "right," is a colloquialism -and would not be immediately understood by someone who speaks English as a second language.
So what would a correct email look like? If this were my email, I would say something along these lines.
When you contact a manufacturer for the first time, you have no idea how good their English is. But, once they answer, you will have a better idea. Even if their English sounds very good, I would still be very careful when writing them and avoid jargon and colloquialisms.
Having said this, I rarely contact a manufacturer directly. Instead, I have an agent I contract with (actually I have two) to source products and negotiate prices. One of my agents speaks, reads and writes fairly good English, whereas the other one is nearly fluent in English. This means I rarely have a misunderstanding when sourcing product.
Every time I mention my agents, I get a lot of email asking how to contact them. Here is their email information:
Bruce Wang - firstname.lastname@example.org Bruce is located near Hong Kong and has a staff of about 10 people.
Eric Lo - email@example.com. Eric is actually based in Calgary, Canada, but he spends about 6 or 7 months a year in Asia.
Both of these agents can source from any Asian country -but Eric Lo tends to do more of that, whereas Bruce is more China centric. If you have any questions, or would like to know what services they provide -and what their fees are - Please ask them.
Importing is one of those things that can be frightening to many people -but it is not as difficult as it seems.
The first thing you need is a source. One of the best places to look is Alibaba.com and Aliexpress.com.
Both sites are owned by Jack Ma, who owns Alibaba (and has expressed some interest in buying Yahoo). The difference in the two sites is that Alibaba is a list of manufacturers who sell in large quantities -whereas Aliexpress has vendors who sell directly to you in smaller quantities.
Since I like to test new products, before committing to a large purchase, or an investment in Private Labeling, I like to buy a few items (6 to 12) of a product I first find on AliExpress. If the product sells, then I do some further research -and ask my agent to get me a quote for a larger quantity such as 500. If I can mark the product up at least 3X or 4X, then I go ahead and place an order. Again my agent does this for me because he negotiated the price.
One of the services my agent provides is accepting and inspecting what I purchased. He makes sure that I got what I ordered, and that the quality is acceptable.
This brings me to the next step - shipping.
You can ship goods from overseas countries in one of two ways:
One thing you do not want to do is ask the company who manufactured the product to arrange shipping for you. Why is that? First of all, those companies rarely have the expertise. Secondly, they often mark up the shipping and you have no way of knowing that.
If the shipment is fairly small, I often just ask my agent to get a quote for me. But if the shipment is large, contains multiple types of items, or is in any way complex -then I call a Freight Forwarder. A Freight Forwarder is a company that specializes in getting quotes from different shippers, giving you the best quotes, and then arranging shipping. They can do this for both air or ground (sea).
The other service you are going to need when you import goods from overseas is a Custom's Broker. A Custom's Broker is someone who specializes in receiving goods and shepherding them through the US Custom's process. This includes providing paperwork to clear customs, paying any customs duty for you, and sometimes arranging the final leg of shipment to you, once your goods have cleared US customs. Custom's Brokers charge a fee that is typically in the $25 to $100 range.
If you decide to not use a custom's broker, then you will have to go to the port, pay the duties before your shipment is released, and handle all the paperwork yourself.
So how do you find these services? You can Google the terms freight forwarder and customs broker and you can get
I use a company called Universal Cargo . The reason that I use Universal Cargo are threefold.
1. They came highly recommended to me by another Amazon seller (and friend) that I trust.
2. Universal Cargo is both a Freight Forwarder and Custom's Broker under one roof. This saves me both time and money.
3. They have offices in most major ports in the US so they can be "hands-on" with your shipment instead of doing it long distance.
I have used them for several shipments over the past three years and they have always done a fine job for me.
Should you ship your goods from overseas direct to China?
I would say No for a few reasons. If you order 500 or 1000 of something, then the entire shipment will go to Amazon at once, and you are paying Amazon's high storage fees until they all sell. Also - Amazon has specific procedures you must follow and specific vendors you must use.
I have looked into these vendors and they are more expensive than the shippers, freight forwarders and Custom's brokers I use. Also, many Chinese suppliers will ignore all the fine details Amazon insists on, and you run the risk of your shipment being refused.
What I prefer to do is have my goods shipped to an Amazon Fulfillment company here in the US. My favorite, and the one I use, is My Fulfillment Team in Tennessee. But if you want to shop around, here is a past article from my newsletter that lists other fulfillment centers in the US (and one in the UK).
Most fulfillment centers charge storage fees that are less than Amazons' (but not all -so check). I am a 100% FBA seller, so what I do is, have my entire shipment shipped from China to My Fulfillment Team and then I direct them to ship 50 or 100 to Amazon at a time, depending on how fast the item sells.
If I want to sell on another site (or Merchant Fulfilled on Amazon) then My Fulfillment Team will drop ship to my customers individually.
A short word on Customs Duties.
A lot of sellers who would like to import worry about -and get stressed over, customs duties. Don't be! With very few exceptions, customs duties are very small. I recently imported 500 Kitchen ladles and the custom's duty was about $65 (about 13¢ a ladle).
If you are concerned about duties, tell your Customs Broker what you are buying (and what material, they are made of) and they can estimate the duty for you. I just want to stress that Customs duties are not a major worry -and don't let them stop you from Importing.
So that is pretty much it. Before you do your first shipment, contact the freight forwarder and Customs Broker you will use. Review what you plan to import, and ask for any advice they have.
I recently did an interview with Stephen Smotherman, the author of the Best Selling book A Reseller's Guide to a Year in FBA . Stephen is also a prolific blogger on topics related to selling on Amazon.
Stephen is offering a special deal just for Skip McGrath newsletter subscribers. If you enter the code SKIP10 at checkout, then you can save $10 off the cost of The Reseller's Guide to a Year in FBA! This offer is good until the end of March, 2017. Even if you miss that date - the book, A Reseller's Guide to a Year in FBA is a great value for any Amazon seller.
Here is my interview:
1. Stephen, please give my readers a short synopsis of your Amazon business.
2. Do you sell any Private Label products? If so, please give us an overview, and do you import or buy domestically?
3. What is your philosophy on inventory (Wide or deep or both)?
4. Do you use (or recommend) any 3rd party services to help run and grow your Amazon business?
5. Can you give us any tips on inventory management?
6. The Christmas selling season is over - Do you have any tips to maximize your business in the first quarter?
Hey everyone, I'm Stephen Smotherman and I blog over at Full-Time FBA, where I help online sellers turn part-time hours into a full-time income with Amazon FBA. I got my start selling on eBay in 1998 and transitioned into selling on Amazon in late 2011. About 6 months after I started selling on Amazon, I was able to make enough income to say that selling on Amazon was my full-time job.
I'm now able to support my wife and 4 boys with the income I make from Amazon. Since I only spend part-time hours selling on Amazon, I spend the rest of my work hours creating helpful content over on the Full-Time FBA blog. I'm really thankful that Skip asked me to do this newsletter interview as I have looked up to him for a long time as a reliable source of quality content for online sellers.
The Reseller's Guide to a Year in FBA is a well-organized month by month guide to a profitable Amazon business. From January to December, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know to make the most of each month of the year. The book also comes with live webinars each month of 2017. You also get exclusive bonuses of the Year in FBA Facebook group, bonus downloads, and more!
Most of you know that Amazon has two types of sellers. Some think the two types are Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA), or Merchant Fulfilled (MF). I guess you could call those "types" of sellers -but I was referring to the two types of selling plans that Amazon offers
Let's look at each one:
Individual Selling Plan
The Individual selling plan is for sellers who don't need all the inventory tools and reports for high-volume selling. Under an Individual selling plan, you do not pay a monthly subscription fee. You do pay a per-item fee of 99¢ per item, in addition to the regular commission for the category you are selling in.
There are a few exceptions (such as Kindle Accessories) but most items sold on Amazon are charged a 15% sales commission.
Therefore, if you are an individual seller, every time you sell something, you would pay 15% of the selling price (not including shipping), plus 99¢. For example, if you sell an item for 24.95, your total fee would be $3.74 + 0.99 = $4.23. You would pay the same fee rate on every sale -no matter how many sales you made.
Professional Selling Plan
In the Professional selling plan, you pay a nonrefundable monthly subscription fee (Currently $39.99 per month) regardless of whether you list, or sell, anything or not. However, you do not pay the per-item fee of 99¢ when an item sells. (All other fees are charged as applicable).
Note - Amazon used to use the term Pro Seller for the professional seller plan members. Although Amazon dropped that term, most experienced sellers still use it (and I will use it here).
So, think about that - if you sell at more than 40 items per month, it is actually cheaper to be a professional seller.
There some other reasons to become a professional seller as well.
Taken all together, those are some pretty good reasons to become a Pro Seller, even if you do not sell at least 40 items per month.
NOTE: Either type of seller can use FBA - you do not have to be a Pro Seller to use FBA.
Nevertheless, I would recommend becoming a Pro-seller, ever if you are not yet selling 40 items per month. For one thing, becoming a Professional seller will help you get to 40 items a month, and more, sooner than remaining an individual seller
Remember - Many of these websites I list here are either retail or informational websites that do not show wholesale information. If you run into one of these from my list -or just looking on the web - simply email them using the Contact Us form, and politely and professionally, ask for wholesale information. DO NOT ask if they drop ship, unless the listing or website mentions it. That is a sure sign you are an amateur, and you are unlikely to get an answer.
When I want wholesale information from an online seller, I usually send an email that looks like this:
A polite email like this will get you the information you need about 90% of the time.
OK - On to wholesale sources
Miss Anna's Books publishes some really clever and innovated books on teaching children numbers. The last time I looked, no one had these on eBay or Amazon.
Moldworks Worldwide LLC sells their own line of lingerie and intimate apparel. These items can be big sellers on eBay and/or Amazon because, like adult diapers, a lot of people prefer to buy this type of product online rather than in person.
Created Gear is a Tee Shirt and Decal supplier that features Christian, patriotic, and humorous designs, and they have a graphic designer who will work with clients to provide custom shirts featuring your own designs. Look on the very bottom right of the home page for the tab that says wholesale . Created Gear is happy to work with eBay and Amazon sellers.
Winks Eyewear sells a line of upscale reading glasses and European style sunglasses.
VHC Brands is a large wholesaler of textiles for the home including Bedding, Bath, Kitchen, Tabletop and more.
RG Riley sells irregular, returned and factory seconds tee shirts as low as $1.00 each wholesale.
DWK Corporation provides quality Home Décor accessories and a line of wholesale collectibles, figurines, miniatures and giftware.
Forever Spin offers a line of very high quality spinning tops in stainless steel and titanium for both children and adults
American Art Classics specializes in collectible commemorative dollar bills, such as the famous One Million Dollar Bill. These finely detailed non-negotiable bills are of the same size, look and feel of real currency and designed to commemorate various activities.
School Plaid Hats sells a line of reversible hats with a fabric brim created with up-cycled fabrics. Two different looks with each hat. adjustable and sized for school age to adults.
Bandanas with Benefits offers bandanas with unique and clever designs. Made and printed in the USA.
Nightingale International USA Inc. is a world leading paper manufacturer and publisher that carries a line of stationery products and another line of published titles on Eastern Art, culture and spirituality.
Jackie Gallagher Designs sells handcrafted fashion jewelry made in the USA. Jackie's jewelry is designed and handcrafted in their studio in Maryland. They are wholesale only. At the bottom of the page is a link to request wholesale login.
White Swan Records offers a growing catalog of music for the spiritual listener. Categories include the music of mantra singer Deva Premal, Music for Yoga, Global Fusion, Mantras and Chants, Meditation and Relaxation. Artists include Prem Joshua, Manish, V. Suvarna, Manosea and more. You can find their reseller request at this link.
Genmart (No website) sells a great line of Halloween products as well as other home accessories -and their Halloween (and Christmas) ordering deadline will end in a few days. I have told you why companies do this in earlier issues. Contact their sales team by email or by phone 800-350-2638. You can download their company catalog here .
That’s it for now. See you again in a couple of weeks.
P.S. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it.
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