I'm sure by now that you've noticed the avalanche of bitching and moaning this past week on Reddit, FB groups and pretty much every affiliate marketing blog.
Amazon nuked their associates program.
Not entirely... but almost.
Products that have been receiving a modest amount of commission until now (4%, 6% or even 8%) have been cut down to either 1% or 3%.
Here's where it now stands:
Those who seem to be especially frustrated right now are guys and girls who invested tonnes of time and money into Home and Garden, Outdoors (e.g. camping), Baby products (mom blogs).
Imagine how these people who just recently spent 6 figures on Empire Flippers for an Amazon niche site must feel!
Amazon is actually a tiny fraction of my overall online revenue.
Most of it surprisingly comes from educational material which still (temporarily) sits at 4.5%.
I've always hated niche sites that write hundreds of review and "best of" posts for Amazon items full of "See Price On Amazon" buttons for items they've never even used.
The bane of my existence.
So in one sense, I don't care too much that these guys are being affected by this as it'll actually help clean up the Internet a bit from phony, BS review sites.
Amazon's timing in ruining their Associates program is odd
This I definitely agree with.
Various bloggers and YouTubers have already made the point - Amazon is killing it at the moment.
Their stocks are through the roof and they happen to be one of the few major companies that is actually enjoying the Covidpocalypse.
So why, while people are losing jobs and suffering, is Amazon shitting on them by annihilating their income?
Very odd timing indeed.
The challenge of finding an Amazon alternative for "hard product" niche sites
People who invested in niche sites that sell "hard products" are in trouble.
What do I mean by hard product?
Physical products - stuff that is actually manufactured and delivered. Think camping equipment, kitchen utensils, furniture and so on.
The problem is, people are so used to buying on Amazon (ultimate convenience, unbeatable pricing, easy refunds) that convincing your readers to buy the same item from an unknown or unfamiliar site is becoming next to impossible.
You really have three options:
1. Move on to digital products
I'm in a digital product space.
I sell my own digital products and I'm an affiliate for other digital products.
Commission rates range anywhere from 20 up to 75 percent in some cases.
Amazon's a joke by comparison.
If there's any possibility for converting your Amazon niche site to a digital product seller, waste no time.
2. Sell better
For unfamiliar site products that have affiliate programs, you can still do well, but you can't be a lazy affiliate marketer anymore.
Most Amazon niche sites are lazy, pitiful garbage.
They take a tonne of generic info on the product, slap a bunch of "Buy Now" buttons around the page, and then hope for clicks.
They've never used the item themselves.
Expert affiliate marketers actually use the product - they use it and they love it.
They're passionate about the item and it's their passion that sells it to other people.
So if you're selling a product on an unknown site, if your sales copy is convincing enough, people will be ready to buy and trust the site you send them to.
3. Sell direct
Similar to the previous point, but instead of just sending people to another site to score an affiliate sale, you have a unique business "relationship" set up with a company or manufacturer.
In a sense, this means you becoming an "ecommerce" point of sale yourself.
An awful lot of work but potentially high yield if you have tonnes of targeted traffic for the item.
How this has affected my own niche site project
I've been gradually expanding my collection of GatsbyJS niche sites since I first announced my project.
Several of the sites that I either built or acquired in the early stages have been trickling income for me each month.
Not huge amounts - enough to cover a few bills and invest in new content.
For some of these niche sites, I've been experimenting with Amazon in recent months because it's very difficult to find a decent digital product with high commission, and display ads were yielding peanuts.
So I managed to get some Amazon sales on fairly low-ticket items.
Problem is: with these new changes, the Amazon earnings (which were already low) are going to be so pathetic that it's not even worth the bandwidth.
I theoretically could invest crazy time and money into building the traffic and then relying on display ads, but I just don't care enough about these particular niche sites to go any further.
So I'm going to be putting them up for sale soon.
The websites themselves (mostly ReactJS) + content are high quality and would be excellent starter sites for passionate bloggers.
I'll update on this soon (comment below if you're interested).
My other niche sites are in verticals with very high yields so I'll be hanging on to them for at least another year or so before considering letting them go.
We'll see how they perform this year.