So, I’ll share a quick story about this. When I was 14 years old, I started out with website building. I had a 500 some odd page book which taught me HTML. I read the book cover to cover, then I started building my first website on Geocities.
You probably don’t remember GeoCities unless you’ve been building websites for 15 some odd years. Anyways, my first website was about Pokémon. I was in grade 8. I made my website popular by making my own business cards and distributing them at school. From this, I had two friends at school ask me to help them with their own projects.
The first $5 I ever made was with the Amazon affiliate program. How it works is you sign up, and every time someone buys a product, you get paid. Essentially, you post products and links on your website that go to Amazon. If a site visitor clicks one of those products or links and buys a product on Amazon, you get paid – usually around 5 or 6 percent. It’s less then what other affiliates pay, when you do your reading. However, one thing Amazon does very well – and has only gotten better at over the years – is conversion. Which means that although you only get paid 5 or 6 percent, you have a higher conversion rate. You also get paid for anything that was purchased during that click through session (with the option of cookies that will continue to track for 30 days).
So, how this worked for me was I had someone click through to Amazon from my Pokémon site. The site visitor that made me my first $5 didn’t buy a single thing related to Pokemon. But on their click through to Amazon, they purchased $100 or so worth of books and other things while on the Amazon site, therefore providing me my first $5 I ever made online.
This was back when Amazon used to sell mainly just books. They did a great job of conversion then, and do an amazing job now. If you’re not familiar with what conversion means – consider that for ever 100 people you send to Amazon, a percentage of them will buy something. This is conversion. Amazon also pays you out for whatever that visitor buys from them. So you might have someone click through on a link to buy a can of tuna from Amazon (bad example, but you get the idea) and instead of the can of tuna, the site visitor buys a $500 item for their truck. You get 5% of that – so about $25 of that revenue. Some webmasters are not happy about the low payout. Amazon does have a schedule in terms of being paid more, if you sell more. So your payout percentage will rise in a month when you’re selling more – but it will sink back down again next month, until you start driving revenue again. In this way, in many respects, the affiliate program is built for Amazon – and not necessarily for the webmaster. I can’t say much about this though – the guys at the top of the food chain always profit, that’s simply capitalism for you.
Comparison Amazon Affiliate Program to Commission Junction
So, at one point I did experiment a bit with Commission Junction. I’ll tell you, I didn’t make money on CJ, but I made thousands of dollars on Amazon’s program over the years. One of the reasons for this is “link validation” and how CJ works in comparison with Amazon. On Amazon, you don’t need to constantly sign up with additional vendors in order to promote products. You simply are an Amazon affiliate (you need some traffic for them to approve you) and you can sell anything that Amazon sells, for the most part. Keep in mind it’s not you “selling” the product though. You’re only sending traffic to Amazon. The purchase happens there, you make a commission.
Not having to deal with any of the logistical issues that can arise from selling your own product is the reason why you get 5 or 6 percent of the sale, and not the whole thing. Trust me, it’s a lot easier then dealing with the logistics headaches of selling things on Amazon Seller Central. Anyhoo, coming back to the subject matter here. On CJ, you have to get approved by all kinds of different vendors in order to “sell” their products. The problem I had in particular was the following. First, I’d have to apply for different programs. Some would approve, some would deny based on their requirements. All of the different vendors on CJ have different approval criteria (another frustrating aspect), so just because you seem to meet the requirements for one, does not mean you’ll meet the requirements for others. OK, so they approve you (may be a waiting game for a bit), then you start posting their links and products.
Sometime after that, the particular vendor or vendors you posted links for decide to “disapprove you” and you get dropped by them as a partner. This I found to be a very shady and unethical practice because at that point if I don’t go and remove all the work I did, I am now sending traffic to a competitor in essence; one that is not going to compensate me in the least bit for that now free traffic I’ve sent them.
This for me was the reason I stopped using CJ. I’m eager to hear what other people say about CJ though and what your experiences are like. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know!