To any new webmaster seduced by the thought of making a buck from the Amazon associate programme I would say that in my experience it is just not worth the effort on the fingers of pasting the links from them into your website.
An Amazon associate never fails to be disappointed by the disappointment that is Amazon sales and Amazon business practices. 1000s of leads sent over there result in pennies on sales in return. Since February sales which weren't great before are now, well, shit.
What do Amazon get from this programme?
At the last count they had 900,000+ affiliates. For them it is a great idea, a license to print money. They don't have to spend a cent or a penny attracting agents or employing or training salespeople to sell their stuff cos money is only generated through sales. Yeah, they spend some on the actual affiliate programme but it's small change to what a collective almost million mass can generate in sales for them.
In other words, a webmaster can spend hours & hours putting the links onto their site (sometimes on 1000s of pages) and chances are he/she will see little or nothing in the way of payment in return. He/she will think it'll turn out alright some day, all the hours of hard work will pay off, just hang in there...he/she will give Amazon the benefit of the doubt cos their a big company . Then, one day, he/she will realise that the associate programme is crap (probaly on a day when Amazon arrogantly announce another earning's cap) and it's not going to change and say something like: "If I take all the links down again it's going to take the same time as it took to put them up...What the hell am I going to do?" He/she is caught between a rock and a hard place. Conclusion: links stay as it's just not economically viable to takes them down again. Amazon wins.
I don't know any other business where the payments in return for the work done can be so low, in some cases lower than the wages found in sweat shops across Asia churning out products for the Western market. When I say 'in somes cases' I'm really talking from my own bitter experience but have spoken to others caught in the same trap. I/we are not expecting fortunes; just a fair rate for the work we all put in.
My advice on this point is an obvious one: if you still wish to be an affiliate then only place links on one or two pages so they can be removed quickly and donate a small fraction to me of the monies saved by not wasting your time on building more links to be by using the donate button to the right. This site does cost a small fortune to run so all donations are gratefully received! I certainly don't cover the costs of running the site via Amazon sales but you would have guessed that already!
What do Amazon affiliates get from this programme?
Well, I'll list what I have got and others have received or not received to be precise in the last 6 months:
Most e-mails to customer services have been ignored. Anything that they can't answer with their bog standard pre-set answer is left unanswered.
Changes without notice to the associate programme that have a direct result on your website. A few months back Amazon.co.uk suddenly realised that the recommended boxes they were sending us were not the industry's standard size so they changed them. They then told us they had changed them but the result for all of us was that all the existing boxes on the website would have to be changed as they were now wonky and just crap looking thanks to this change. When many of us complained how long this would take us to implement the changes brought about solely by the Amazon.co.uk cock up, and whether we could have the old sized boxes back for at least a short period of time until we had made the necessary changes we were met with a stony silence by Amazon. Again, this meant more time working as an underpaid Amazon associate and changing the boxes knowing we would get back very little in return on sales generated but if we left them we would have crap boxes on our sites which would also give us very little in return on sales generated. That rock and a hard place again.
- When we find products that might make us a fair rate of money for the time spent working as an Amazon associate the chances are Amazon will put an earning cap on it. For example, this month they have introduced a £7 earnings caps on the sell of electronics for, well, no good reason that I can see. This measure was introduced with little warning and with certainly no explanation to the Associate as to how he/she was going to make up the lost revenue. On the 30th June he/she would have received £25 for a sale: the next day he/she would receive £7.00.
Be warned, these caps and changes can be introduced at any time and without warning. I would hazard a guess that very few, if any, other business fields could get away with the shark-like practices that Amazon have employed over the last few months.
Any entrepeneurial idea of trying to encourage more business for yourself through your Amazon links, well, forget it. Whatever it is, Amazon will have it covered in their small print when you join. Take 30 minutes out to read it and be amazed at what it covers. Amazon basically frown on any idea that means paying out more commission to you than they absolutely have to.
I get the feeling that there has been a fundamental shift in Amazon's attitude towards their Associates in the last 6 months. They offer few incentives to sell their products, don't seem bothered by our concerns, and through their pay per click campaigns they are competing with us for the very few pennies we make from it. Perhaps the want to offload us as they've made what they want out of us. I could live with that if only they would come out and say so. But as with all things Amazon Associated related they show no inclination in telling us anything.
Whatever their stance, the problem is that e-commerce is controlled by just a few huge companies. It is a monopoly as big as anything witnessed in the history of business and such a monopoly is unhealthy in the extreme. You can't get round them, over them, under them...and they know it. They can do what they like and we have to follow as the alternatives are just not good enough.