Can You Still Make Money As An Amazon Affiliate?
Amazon.com opened its virtual doors in July of 1996. Their system of rewarding people who are directly responsible for the sales of products owned by others is widely regarded as the first recognisable affiliate program on the Internet. It was and still is a great way to make money online – if you manage your expectations and know that realistically, any money you make will be an addition to your main income, not a replacement for it.
Amazon’s affiliate program is a very popular one. It does not pay out as much as some do, and the cookie it places on the computer of a potential customer does not have a lifetime as long as most others. However, Amazon is a company trusted by virtually everyone, and making a sale as an Amazon affiliate, or associate, as they prefer to term it, is one of the easiest sales you can make.
One of the most effective ways to pre-sell a potential customer on an Amazon product is to write a review of the product. Amazon itself encourages customers to review the products they buy. Their reviews appear at the bottom of the product pages. While potential customers certainly read those reviews in order to help make up their minds, they still like to read honest, well written testimonies which are completely independent of the Amazon website.
This is where you can benefit. Writing your own Amazon product reviews and setting them up on your own website is easy to do. It is also one of the best, almost guaranteed, ways of making decent money online. If your choice of product is sound, and your reviews are well structured and well written, you stand an excellent chance of being successful.
Structuring your Amazon product review is not an absolute science, of course. There are many ways to do it, but through trial and error, several ways of structuring a good review have come to the fore. So, rather than re-inventing the wheel, it is far better to stand on the shoulders of giants and emulate what they have done. This is how to become successful in your own right.
Your success is not guaranteed – it cannot be – but it is very much more likely to happen if you use a formula which is already working well for others – and put in some good old fashioned hard work. This guide will show you a way of structuring and writing Amazon product reviews which is working well at the present time, and which will continue to work for the foreseeable future.
Pre-Selling, Not Selling
As an associate, or affiliate, of Amazon, your job is to pre-sell to the customer. The Amazon site does an excellent job of selling products, so your job is to get the customer to go to the right Amazon page, in the right frame of mind, already convinced that the product they have just read about in your review is the product they should buy. You are simply pointing already hot prospects in the right direction.
The potential customer will most likely arrive on your website as a result of a search on one of the search engines, such as Google. They may type in the name of the product, either as a broad search (“cameras,” for example), or as a specific search (“Ultra Widgetised camera model X1234-B”). If your website comes up in the search results, and if the description of your site looks appealing enough, the potential customer may click on your site’s link in the search engine results.
They will then land on one of your pages where there is a review of the product the potential customer is interested in buying. This is where it gets exciting. How easy do you think it is to make a sale at this point? It is very easy, but not guaranteed. Your product review now has the job of convincing the potential customer that it is time to go for it and buy the product.
If your review does not tell them what they want to hear, they will immediately go elsewhere. However, if your review gives them the kind of information they expect and like, they may click on your affiliate link and buy the product through Amazon. You will then be credited with the sale and Amazon will pay you the agreed commission.
If you have a good number of Amazon product reviews in place, and if they all rank well in the search engines, your reviews will be found many times a day by potential customers and you will make sales accordingly. This could easily amount to a very substantial income. It is not an overnight phenomenon, but with proper planning and well written reviews pre-selling the customer, it can certainly happen.
You may not make thousands, but it is certainly possible to make hundreds of pounds/dollars a month doing this. First of all though, you have to learn how to write successful Amazon product reviews – powerful reviews that really pre-sell the product you are writing about. That’s where I come in, so let’s begin…
The Basic Structure Of A Review
The voice or style of your review should be honest and factual. You should not try to hype up the product. This is a mistake many people make, especially at first. Be more laid back in your approach, but stay positive and always try to hold the interest of the reader.
There are two schools of thought about what makes a good review. One school says that the review should stick squarely to the facts. Tell them that the camera, for example, has an ultra fast shutter speed of one ten-thousandth of a second. Tell them that it has a digital storage capacity of 1,000 very high definition photos. Tell them all the bare, hard, cold features and facts – Dragnet style.
The other school of thought says that you should feed the reader the benefits of buying camera X. For example, tell them they can store MP3 tracks on it as well as photos, to listen to their favourite music at any time. Tell them that a photo of 10,000 by 5,000 pixels means an ultra sharp and clear photo that makes the subject come alive – every time. Tell them how good camera X will make them feel and how much it will improve their lives.
There is, arguably, a third school of thought, and one that I recommend: make your reviews a little of both the factual and the feel good. Keep them a little reserved and never over-hyped, but positive in nature, fascinating and interesting, to leave the reader better informed and feeling good about making the right buying choice.
You should write your Amazon product review to a consistent template. This has the effect of making all the reviews on your website have the same look and feel. This is, to a large degree, what Amazon itself does with its product pages. Certain elements of an Amazon page can change, depending on the product offered for sale, but by and large, once you get the hang of the layout, every page has certain elements in the same place, page after page.
This consistency of style is essential for a good review site. Your customers will quickly come to expect each page to have a similar look and feel. They will become comfortable with the style, and soon, in their minds, the design elements will vanish to leave just the information they need. There is no absolute way of structuring an Amazon product review, but one way that works well for a review of 500 words or so would include the following elements in place:
- Introduction to the product
- Link to the product
- First key feature sub-headline
- First key feature paragraph about the product
- Second key feature sub-headline
- Second key feature paragraph about the product
- A list in bullet points of the main product features and specifications
- A second link to the product
- Customer reviews and scores sub-headline
- A paragraph stating how many customer reviews there are in Amazon for the product, and the average score they have given it.
- A paragraph listing one or two of the negative points mentioned by customers in their reviews, but then pointing out the other side of the coin, so to speak, and ending on a very positive note.
- A third link to the product
- A conclusion, briefly summarizing the main points of your review
This style of review can be laid out as a template to look like this:
The opening paragraph. You can write in the first person, if you like, in a casual, friendly and conversational, but factual style. The introduction can be one or two paragraphs, depending on how much you want to say.First product link >>>Sub-headline for the first key feature
First key feature paragraph about the product. Pick something that stands out about the product.
Sub-headline for the second key feature
Second key feature paragraph about the product. Pick something else that stands out about the product.
Features and Specifications
- A listing in bullet points of the specifications, benefits and features.
- The easiest and best way to do this is to re-write the existing Amazon list.
Second product link >>>
Customer Reviews and Scores
A paragraph stating how many customer reviews there are in Amazon for the product, and the average score they have given it.
A paragraph listing a problem mentioned by a customer in their review, then finding something positive and ending by recommending the product.
Third product link >>>
A brief summary of the main points of your review in a short paragraph.
Analysing An Existing Amazon Product Review
Here is a fairly typical 500 word Amazon product review:
Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge Review
The Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge is a great blender, and if your household is anything like mine, then your family will love the convenience of being able to blend their own fruit smoothies whenever the mood takes them.
Our old blender was starting to make funny sounds, so I thought it time to look out for a new blender. Of all the blenders I researched, one stood out above all the rest – the Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge.I liked it so much that I decided to share my research findings with you.
Get more information and buy now on Amazon.com >>>
A Powerful 1000-Watt Motor
A blender needs a good strong motor to make perfect smoothies, and the Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge with its powerful 1000-watt motor is certainly up to the job.
This powerful motor actually creates a kind of vortex as it spins the ingredients around, faster and faster, in the generous 64-ounce jar that comes free with the blender.It’s this intense vortex action that ensures all ingredients get thoroughly mixed up and perfectly blended every time. In fact, it’s difficult to make a perfect smoothie otherwise.
Automatic Pre-Set Programs
The Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge blender features various automatic pre-set programs, and of course, one of them is for smoothies. I’m always a bit sceptical of pre-set anything as I feel it takes away your control.
However, the smoothies pre-set on the Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge works flawlessly. Being able to rely on an automatic pre-set to produce exactly what is needed every time is convenience, par excellence.
Features and Specifications
- The Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge incorporates a 1000-watt 2-speed motor housed in a strong die-cast metal base
- The pre-set programs include functions for Smoothies, Ice Crush, and Pulse
- The control panel of the Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge is uncomplicated with backlit buttons. It has a timer that can count up, and the blender can be placed in stand-by mode
- A generous 64-ounce jar with lid and easily read measuring marks is included with the Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge
- The Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge blender is approximately 8-1/2 inches by 10-1/2 inches by 14-1/2 inches in dimension
Get further details and buy now on Amazon.com >>>
Customer Reviews and Scores
The Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge is an extremely versatile blender. It can purée soup, mix protein shakes, crush ice or do any of the many things a good blender is capable of. But if you are really into smoothies, then you will really appreciate this model.
I found 23 customer reviews at the time of writing and they had awarded the Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge 4.2 stars out of a possible 5 on average.
The customer reviews on Amazon are positive overall, but there were a few niggling points raised. One customer said, “I find it very difficult to get (the) lid on … getting it in place takes quite a bit of negotiation.”
However, no one else seems to have experienced the same difficulties, so perhaps it isn’t a widespread problem. Other customers said, “I love this blender,” and, “Love it! Love it! Love it!” and, “AWESOME BLENDER! Great Purchase,” and finally, “I would highly recommend it!”
That makes it very easy for me to recommend the Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge as well.
Buy now at Amazon.com >>>
In summary, the Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge can handle most tasks you throw at it, and is a highly rated and versatile blender. Well made and easy to use, most real buyers of this product are extremely pleased with their purchase and would recommend this blender to others.
Let's go through the review above step-by-step:
1 – The headline is the first element of your Amazon product review. It is also the easiest element to write. Simply use the product name, in our example, Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge, and add the word, “Review” after it. It’s that simple. You will find the exact product name on the relevant Amazon page, but be careful to use just the product name and not the part description they tend to add. Sometimes you need to use your judgement:
If you want a more interesting headline you could add something like, “Is It Really The Best Smoothie Maker?” Adding a question like this to the end of a headline makes the reader think a bit more – and perhaps suspect the product may not be what it claims – so they are keen to read on to find out.
Another important point to note here is that you should always include a picture of the product at the top left hand side of your review under the headline, and link this picture to the product on Amazon with your affiliate link.
2 – The next element of the review is the introductory paragraph or paragraphs. In this example I have used just one paragraph, but two shorter paragraphs would have worked just as well. The first paragraph should set the scene of the review. I have focused on the blender’s ability to make smoothies, as most people love them, but you could equally focus on another aspect of the blender.
You will note that I have not actually said that I am the owner of a Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge. I have inferred it a couple of times, but I held back from actually stating it. There is a thin line here. If you don’t actually have the product to examine, your review has to rely on the description of the product on Amazon’s sales page, and perhaps also on the product manufacturer’s web site.
You have to take the features and specifications and build up a believable review of the product as if you actually had it in front of you. This is not difficult to do, and with practice it becomes very easy. Is this cheating? Not necessarily – after all, you are basing your review on real comments from real buyers (providing a review of real reviews if you like), and as long as you are honest and factual, using the information you can easily and freely gather, you can write a review that is extremely useful to any potential customer.
After this first introduction we include our first affiliate link back to the product on Amazon, worded in a similar way to the example text above.
3 – The next element are the sub-headlines which highlight an important feature of the product. Simply read through the Amazon page where the product is listed and make a note of all the important features they list. Pick two important ones, and make sure you have enough information about both of them to write at least a full paragraph for each one.
4 – The first sub-headline should simply be the main feature you have picked. In my example it is A Powerful 1000-Watt Motor. The heart of a good blender is its motor, so it is important to potential buyers that it has the power and strength to blend for a long time to come.
5 – The next element is the first key feature paragraph. In the example I simply expand on how good the 1000-watt motor is and how it works to make great smoothies.
6 – The next element is the second sub-headline. This is the second most important feature of the product from your point of view. In my example I picked the ability of the blender to pre-set programmes automatically.
7 – The next element is the second key feature paragraph where I simply expand on the reason why pre-set programmes are a good thing.
8 – The Features and Specifications element is simply a re-write of Amazon’s listings. In this example they look like this on Amazon’s page:
I have simply taken these five bullet points and re-written them so that they say essentially the same thing. It is a quick and easy process. After this list of product features it’s a good idea to put in a second affiliate link to the product page on Amazon.
9 – The penultimate element in this review is the Customer Reviews and Scores. This is also an easy part as you are using what real customers of the product have already said about it on Amazon. I have split this part into three paragraphs, but I often have only two, and you could even do it with one if you have already written a substantial amount in the preceding sections.
The first paragraph ends by saying that the product has 23 customer reviews on Amazon, at the time of writing, and that they have scored the product 4.2 stars out of 5. It is important to mention that this information is correct at the time of writing, because it is likely to change over time as more customer reviews are added. If you look at Amazon’s product page for the Cuisinart CBT-1000 PowerEdge at: http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-CBT-1000-PowerEdge-1000-Watt-Die-Cast/dp/B002LLOFKC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312297610&sr=8-1 you will notice just below the product name headline:
You may be wondering how I can tell that the customers have scored the product 4.2 out of 5 stars when all you can see is a line of five stars where the first four are a kind of golden colour and the last one is blank. It is really quite easy. Just highlight the stars and the part in brackets which states the number of customer reviews, and copy them (Ctrl + C on the keyboard).
The line of stars will not appear to be highlighted, but make sure you do highlight them. Make sure you also copy them, then all you have to do to reveal the actual score is to paste what you have copied into a text program such as Notepad:
Magic – well almost… The second paragraph of the final element is where I raise a negative point. I prefer not to list anything that suggests the product is worthless, and you do occasionally find customer reviews which are over-scathing about it.
Remember, the point of your Amazon product review is to convince the reader that the product is worth buying. However, if everything you say is all glowing and nice, the reader may be a little suspicious. If, on the other hand, you point out that certain problems were encountered by real customers, your review will come across as being much more believable and genuine. I noted that one customer had difficulty with the lid of the blender, and I used an actual quote from the customer review.
The problem this customer experienced with the lid is not a particularly big one, and no one else seemed to have the same problem, which is mainly why I chose it.
For example, this next customer review is a bit too damning to use in my opinion as it strongly advises the reader not to buy the product. The customer is quite entitled to his or her opinion on the matter, but always bear in mind that your review is trying to persuade the reader to buy the product. Using a sentence that screams, such as the one in this example: DO NOT BUY THIS BLENDER, would be marketing suicide:
The final paragraph in this section uses a number of short quotes from customer reviews that are quite glowing about the product.
Note that I personally do not say things like, “AWESOME BLENDER!” and “Love it!” I let the actual customers say it. That comes across as much more believable. I wind up this part by saying that real customers are obviously happy with the product, and that I therefore have no difficulty in recommending it too. If you are wondering where to find all the customer reviews on the Amazon page, scroll down to almost the end of the page, and on the right-hand side you will see some reviews. At the very end you will see this:
Click on the link to see all 23 customer reviews (in this example), and you will be taken to a page that has this near the top of it:
Amazon actually tells you which reviews it considers to be the most favourable and the most critical. It does not get much easier than this. Of course, I do not always find what I want in either of these two reviews, and I often choose others to use instead, but this feature can be very helpful, and it is well worth checking out first.
At this stage in the flow of your review, don’t forget to link to the product page on Amazon with your affiliate link for a third time – and this time be more bold with the call to action, telling the reader to ‘Buy Now’ and get moving off to Amazon so we get our commission.
10 – In the final section, the Conclusion, you simply sum up your review in one neat paragraph to concisely complete the whole piece. This gives the reader a great sense that you have done your homework and presented a well rounded and well researched review.
Phew! OK, that’s it! All you have to do now is actually write your own reviews. Do not begin by thinking you have to write a 500 word review, though. Think of it as a series of different elements. Break it down and it will become much easier. Also, feel free to adapt the basic template to your own needs.
There are no hard and fast rules in writing a review, but this template has consistently proved to work well for me and others. If you want to write longer reviews, and there are many who say longer reviews of up to 1,000 words or more work better than shorter 500 word reviews, then simply write more. You may have to spend a bit longer researching, but it may well be worth your while to do so – especially for certain products where the manufacturer has themselves provided more information.
While I do not concentrate on the search engine optimisation (SEO) aspect of the review, I usually make sure that the product name is mentioned in the first and last sentences. I have used the product name in the first sentence of this example review. The product name is naturally mentioned several times more in the review, and I mention it in the last sentence, and to be honest, that is really all the SEO work you need to do.
Do not waste your time tracking keyword density or using secondary keywords. Do not attempt to be over fancy by trying to add LSI, or latent semantic indexing, keywords. These will follow naturally if you write your reviews to the formula I have outlined. Just make sure you use the product name in the first sentence and in the last sentence, and the rest will fall naturally into place.
One last tip: when choosing Amazon products to review, choose products that are popular, and that are priced, if possible, above the £100 mark. The reason for this is that when you start out with Amazon they will only pay a 4% commission. On a product priced at £100, your commission on a sale will be £4, at least to begin with.
As you progress and start to make more sales, your commission rate will gradually increase and could be as high as 8%. If you review a product priced at £20, for example, your commission will be a mere 80 pence. The wonderful thing here is that it takes no more work to review a product worth £100 or £1,000 than it does to review one worth £20. Getting a sale for a high priced product is just as easy as well.
Now, go out and write your own Amazon product reviews, and above all, have fun. The more work you put into this the more you will earn. Good luck!