This is a guest post by Matthew Allen from Dumb Passive Income. Most of you already know who Matt is. He runs one of the longest running affiliate marketing blogs online, and I’ve been learning from him long before I even started RankXL. He recently built and launched a WordPress plugin for Amazon affiliates from scratch. I asked if he would come on to tell the story about what the process of building and launching a commercial plugin was like, and to share a little bit about why building the tool was necessary. It’s a monster of a post. Hope you enjoy!
First off, why don’t I start with a quick introduction. My name is Matthew Allen and my little corner of the internet (dumbpassiveincome.com) has been around since 2012. Several years ago, when RankXL was brand new, Chris contacted me about promoting his first course on my blog. I obliged and we’ve been in contact (off and on) ever since. I’m honored that Chris is allowing me to write this post for you and that he is willing to publish it on his extraordinary RankXL blog.
If you’ve been following Chris and his journey here on RankXL, you know that his focus early on was very much centered on building sites that are monetized primarily by Adsense. More recently, he has talked a lot about blogging, building out email lists, and monetization through affiliate marketing or creating your own digital products. One thing Chris has not talked very much about on this blog is one of the more popular forms of monetization for blogs and niche sites – the Amazon Associates affiliate program.
Sure, Chris has chosen to focus on other monetization methods – which is perfectly fine. His minimal experience with Amazon is partly why he is allowing me to write this post on his blog.
Did you know that there is some serious money being made out there with sites that are monetized primarily through Amazon’s affiliate program? Well… some of the bigger sites actually have diversified income sources with Amazon as a key monetization method. We’re even talking about 7-figure websites! Let me show you…
7 Figures from an Amazon Affiliate Site?
Let me be clear. I, personally, have not sold a site for 7 figures and I don’t own a site that is worth anywhere near that much money. I’m one of these dreamers who is constantly striving to reach goals that will get me to that point. But I do follow the scene and I keep up with various blogs, podcasts, and groups centered around SEO, niche websites, affiliate marketing, and internet marketing in general.
There are lots and lots of people, worldwide, who are creating websites monetized primarily with Amazon. There are even several high-quality courses that teach people how to do so. It is not an unreachable goal to create a 7-figure site starting out by monetizing with Amazon.
One man who sold his site for 7 figures
One inspiring story that I came across last year came from a guy named Will Blears. He told his story to Spencer on the Niche Pursuits podcast about how he built up a site to over $40,000 in monthly earnings and then sold it. Although he never mentioned the sale price in that podcast episode – you can do the math with the knowledge that these types of sites typically sell for around 30x monthly earnings. Also – I have seen him mention somewhere (I think in a Facebook group) that the sale did bring in 7 figures.
Will’s site did start out as primarily an Amazon affiliate website. He then parlayed that into also monetizing through several private affiliate programs after Amazon made some changes to their commission structure that negatively affected him. It’s always smart to diversify your income sources – but I’m sharing this story because Will absolutely did use Amazon as his primary income source for the site he sold. You can see for yourself in a blog post that Will published on his blog about his goals for last year and this year.
Will’s newfound financial freedom, thanks to his 7 figure site sale, has also allowed him to accomplish some other fun goals – like purchasing a really expensive watch and also his first Porsche!
Amazon sites for sale at Empire Flippers
Okay – so it’s cool to look at one man’s story. You may be thinking… well, this guy could be the exception to the rule. Maybe he got lucky. Maybe he figured out something that the rest of us can’t do. But that’s not the case at all. Yeah – 7 figures for an affiliate site is slightly less common. But these types of deals happen all the time! I just looked at the current listings on Empire Flippers for sites listed with Amazon Associates as one of their monetization methods. As of the time this post is being published, there are 2 for sale at over $1 million and several more sites in the 6 figure range. Take a look at the screenshot I just grabbed today…
Note: These listings were accurate on the day this post was written. Please visit EmpireFlippers.com to see current listings.
Monetizing WordPress Sites with Amazon Associates
Making money with Amazon is fairly easy as long as you have a site that gets a decent amount of traffic. It also helps if that traffic consists of potential buyers – like people who are researching the internet before they make a buying decision. Basically, there are two ways to make money with a website as an Amazon affiliate…
- attract potential buyers to your site by targeting ‘buyer keywords’ and ranking high in Google for those keywords
- Ex: best [product] for X or [product] reviews
- these types of visitors already know they want to buy and they are just looking for more information first
- convince existing site traffic to purchase by offering product recommendations as solutions to problems
- Ex: best way to fix [whatever] or 5 best [products] to fix X
- these types of visitors may have had no intention of buying anything on Amazon until you show them how a certain product could make their life easier or better
Funny story… The very first niche site that I ever created was a site about how to use borax to kill ants. I threw up a few articles and inserted some Adsense ads and made some okay money after I started ranking in Google. I held on to the site (I still have it today!) and a few years later I decided to try adding Amazon affiliate links. To my surprise – lots of people actually buy ‘ant killer’ products from Amazon through my site which they initially found while researching how to kill ants with borax!
I told you that little story to illustrate that pretty much any type of site can be monetized with Amazon. You don’t even have to get very creative to figure out how and what to promote on your site that sells on Amazon. People are buying stuff on Amazon anyway – you might as well figure out how to get them to click over to Amazon from your site so you can earn commissions!
So there you have it. Almost any site on the internet has the potential to make money as an Amazon affiliate because Amazon sells (almost) literally every product imaginable on this planet. It’s as easy as getting signed up as an Amazon Associate then getting those affiliate links inserted onto your websites.
Manually inserting Amazon affiliate links
It’s not too difficult to learn how to create and insert Amazon affiliate links. Amazon has several different options right within the Amazon Associates dashboard for creating link code that you can copy over to your site. They even have a nifty tool called Site Stripe which allows you to create affiliate links from right within Amazon without having to log in to your Amazon Associates account (your Amazon shopping account and Associates account must use the same email address to use this). Take a look at the top bar on my Amazon account to see what Site Stripe looks like…
While browsing products on Amazon – you simply click one of the options on the Site Stripe bar then select a few variables and it spits out some html code. You copy that code then paste it into the html editor in WordPress.
This is considered the ‘manual’ way of inserting Amazon affiliate links. It’s a little bit time-consuming and you have very little control over the display options which are quite limited in the first place. But it can work and you can make money as an Amazon affiliate by creating links this way.
Using plugins or tools to insert Amazon affiliate links
When I first started out with blogging and internet marketing – the only way (that I knew of) to create and insert Amazon affiliate links was the manual way like I described above. Site Stripe wasn’t even available back then.
Thankfully, some opportunistic entrepreneurs saw the need and eventually, various WordPress plugins and tools appeared on the scene that allowed Amazon affiliates to more easily create and insert links. A common feature among most of these tools is that they would connect to Amazon’s Product Advertising API – which allows access to much of the product data on Amazon.
A few of these tools were great. I know they certainly made my life, as an Amazon affiliate, much easier and I was able to insert my Amazon links much faster.
A few problems that needed to be addressed
For several years, I was completely satisfied with the options I had for inserting Amazon affiliate links using various plugins and tools. But after a while, I began to realize that I was becoming less than satisfied. My needs were evolving, Amazon’s policies are ever-changing, and the tools I was using just weren’t keeping up.
- Multiple plugins needed – I could no longer achieve all of the functionality that I wanted with just one plugin. I had to use more than one plugin to get my desired results.
- Amazon compliance issues – virtually every other Amazon plugin that I’ve used had at least one option or feature that totally violated the policies that Amazon Associates have to agree to.
- Speed and ease of use – some of the tools presented great front end functionality, but they were extremely complicated to set up, understand, and implement.
Wasting Time to Get Banned by Amazon
Wasted time is the last thing any internet entrepreneur needs. Believe me – I’ve wasted plenty of time over the years and I know how much it can cost overall. Time should be spent wisely doing tasks that will actually contribute to your bottom line.
As my processes for reviewing Amazon products and inserting affiliate links evolved – I found myself wasting more and more time dealing with having to use several different plugins and tools. But wasted time isn’t the worst thing that could have happened…
If you violate Amazon’s policies – they can shut down your Amazon Associates account in a heartbeat. When that happens (and it has happened to lots of people), you lose all of your current and future earnings. You definitely don’t want that to happen to you. To avoid this costly circumstance – all you have to do is abide by Amazon’s policies.
Trying to understand and keep up with Amazon’s ever-changing policies can sometimes be a challenge. They’re hard enough to digest in the first place – let alone having certain plugins or tools giving you options that blatantly violate parts of the policies. I know I’ve made mistakes and have violated Amazon’s policies in the past. Once I figured out what I was doing wrong – I had to spend a whole bunch of time fixing my mistakes.
One day, I was sending instructions to my virtual assistant for exactly how I wanted him to use a few different plugins to achieve what I wanted on my Amazon review articles.
I had an ah-ha moment that day when I came to a realization. It suddenly dawned on me that the world needed a brand new Amazon affiliate WordPress plugin. I knew that WordPress publishers deserved a simpler and more efficient way to connect to the world’s most powerful affiliate program – Amazon Associates. So I took action…
Creating a WordPress Plugin in a Seemingly Overcrowded Space
For all of the reasons discussed above, and more, I knew that I needed to create a solution to this problem. I wasn’t the only one growing increasingly frustrated with my options. I saw others with similar complaints in the various internet marketing groups that I belong to. Yeah – there were already lots of other plugins and tools. Many of them did one thing or even a few things great – but none of them did everything great.
I had an idea to create the greatest WordPress plugin for Amazon affiliates that the world has ever seen! I only had one problem. I wasn’t a coder and I didn’t have the necessary funds to pay a coder to produce something like this for me. So, I had to get creative and I ended up partnering up with an extraordinary WordPress coder. Together, he and I have worked together, tirelessly, for over a year now, to create the plugin that we both know will be a game-changer for all Amazon affiliates who publish on WordPress.
The guy I partnered up with prefers to remain anonymous and is totally fine with me being the public face of the plugin. He sticks with what he’s good at – which is coding and developing. I stick with what I’m good at – which is communicating and building relationships. But there is much more that goes into a project like this. So, we kind of share the rest of the responsibilities as best as we can.
I’m going to introduce you to the real brains behind the plugin now in a sort of Q & A section that I put together with myself and him.
Teaming up with a world-class WordPress developer
Note from Chris: This next section is extremely helpful for people like me who want to get into software. I don’t know how to code. I have a lot of cool ideas for marketing tools, but I don’t have the luxury of being able to just sit and build out prototypes. To do that, I would need to partner up with a developer. Matt, together with his developer partner, gives away a lot of great tips on how to make these partnerships work, and what to expect from them.
Introducing… Alchemy Coder – or AC (as we call him for short). It was January of 2018 when I first emailed AC with my idea and my proposal to partner up. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just knew that I wanted to find a way to launch this project. AC and I had known each other for a few years already through various internet marketing channels. But it had been a while since we had communicated with each other at all. I was thrilled when AC agreed to partner up and move forward after a few back-and-forth emails.
Matt: Do you remember your initial reaction to my proposal? And can you recall what it was like for you when it turned in to an ah-ha moment and you realized that we had to do this?
Alchemy Coder: My initial reaction was “what perfect timing!” I had just finished a project and was planning what to work on next when Matt emailed. I told him I wanted a few days to think about it because partnering with somebody is a huge deal, and I had already coded a lot of the code we would need for this plugin. Did I really need another person?
Then I remembered my burnout … and that my last software had not had a proper update in over a year due to my workload. This was my aha moment when I said to myself – this is the one. This may be the answer to solve my burnout issue. To know that your partner is handling support and posting content while you’re sick or just need a break is HUGE.
Well, Matt and I had a couple more brief discussions, we knocked out some legal documents to form our partnership (good faith is never enough in business) and got to work.
Two guys with day jobs and life happening all around
Have you ever noticed (like I have) that the vast majority of the people who are making it big online are people who are able to focus full-time on their internet marketing gigs? Well, that’s not the case with neither AC or myself. We both have full-time day jobs and we run all of our internet marketing endeavors in our spare time and on weekends. We are proud that we’ve been able to break the mold and create something really awesome in our spare time.
For me, my biggest challenge has been trying to keep a balance with my time management while always prioritizing family and day job over anything that I do online. Over the past year or so – AC and I have learned to adapt to each other’s schedules and we’ve continued to work together and communicate throughout whatever challenges are thrown our way.
Matt: I’m a truck driver for my day job. Working on my computer is totally different and fun for me. But you do WordPress development full-time for your day job. Is it hard to sit at your computer for several more hours each week to work on side projects like this? What has been your biggest challenge so far in regards to time management as it pertains to this project?
Alchemy Coder: It is definitely hard to sit at my computer and keep working after an 8 hour work day. Coding burnout is the #1 challenge I need to face quite often. It’s all about taking breaks and treating yourself right. That said – my day job fuels my side work – and vice-versa since they are both WordPress related.
As soon as revenue from this project is at a steady and comfortable level, however – I am ready to quit the rat race once and for all. I can’t wait to work full time on this project to bring all of you the best Amazon plugin out there. Man, … the things I could do for all of you if I had 40 hours a week to code…!
Communication, debates, compromises, and solutions
AC and I both have brought different levels of experience to this project and we have had plenty of debates along the way and sometimes had to come up with compromises. We’re talking things like, plugin features, sales and marketing tactics, pricing, policies, and the list goes on. In every single instance – we’ve always come up with solutions that we are both comfortable with. More importantly – the decisions we make are always made with the end-users in mind. I think we both agree that for a massive undertaking like this – two heads are definitely better than one.
Matt: AC – You’ve developed and sold WordPress themes and plugins, by yourself, in the past. In your eyes, what are the pros and cons of working together in a partnership like this rather than going it alone as you’ve done before?
Alchemy Coder: I’ve discovered there really are no pros to going it alone for me due to the “day job.” I thought it was like, “I’ll make all of the money,” but the workload became too much. I burned out a lot, and sales suffered.
I realized that sharing the workload was going to be essential in helping Alchemy Coder go full time serving the Amazon Affiliate / WordPress community.
After we teamed up – the benefits of a partnership were obvious and tenfold. For example, I realized there were a lot of things I was wrongly assuming of my customers – because I was a “coder” – not an everyday WordPress user / Amazon affiliate. Matt brought the customers point of view to the forefront and helped me better understand exactly how they think.
Debating our issues openly, and always putting our customers first has been our secret to solving our differences. We’re actually quite different politically but we’ve proven that we can easily work together by staying true to our mantra of “the customer first.” Also – it doesn’t hurt that we both love a good beer…!
Learning to expect the unexpected
I know that I’ve already learned quite a bit about software development and sales. The biggest slap in the face for me was July of 2018 when we ‘officially’ launched the very first version of AmaLinks Pro. I was seriously expecting at least 100 sales on day one. I knew the awesomeness that we created. Apparently – I hadn’t done a good enough job yet of portraying that awesomeness to everybody in my circle. Guess how many sales we got on day one… Zero! A big fat zero. I was appalled… for about 5 minutes. But AC had already warned me that my expectations were too high.
Sales numbers aren’t the only thing though. The biggest thing that surprised me was all of the unexpected circumstances that come up in software development. Just when we think we have something figured out – a customer points out another bug that we never would have found no matter how much we tested.
Matt: You already know to expect the unexpected on the development side of things. Has anything about this entire project, overall, caught you by surprise that you weren’t expecting?
Alchemy Coder: Yeah – I’ve launched enough software to know it can be very slow in the beginning without a huge budget for marketing and weeks of planning a huge launch. It did catch me off-guard a little that after a couple of months we were still not making very many sales. But then I realized it was because we are slowly building a stable and “real” business. And we’re doing it all in our spare time – which was an immense undertaking. That, and the fact that we’re entering the market of “Amazon Affiliate Plugins,” which already has had a few big players in the game for years.
But we’re here to take it to the next level and build the #1 Amazon Affiliate Plugin out there!
Bringing it all together to benefit all Amazon affiliates
Altogether, this entire project has been a wild ride. I’m really glad to have been given this opportunity to share our story about how and why we created this WordPress plugin. But what we’re most proud of and happy about is the fact that we’ve created a tool that is revolutionizing the way Amazon Associates insert affiliate links on their WordPress sites.
AC and I both have affiliate sites of our own that promote Amazon products. The plugin was quite literally – “built for us”, but also for all Amazon affiliates who are just like us. We’ve built it for all Amazon affiliates who just wanted a simpler way to create and insert awesome Amazon affiliate links.
Transforming the Way People Build Amazon Affiliate Links
The world of website development, especially within WordPress, is ever-changing and evolving. Many of the older WordPress plugins for Amazon affiliates are struggling to keep up with the times. They simply aren’t evolving.
With AC’s WordPress experience and connections – we like to think that we are on the forefront of all that is happening in the wonderful world of WordPress. We are not a one-and-done plugin. We’re planning to stick with this thing and keep improving and evolving for many years to come. A perfect example happened not too long ago when WordPress released version 5.0.
WordPress and the new ‘Gutenberg’ block editor
The truth is – we knew the whole Gutenberg thing was coming and that eventually it was going to be the default WordPress editor. We were caught a little bit off guard with the timing though. When we learned about the planned release date for version 5.0 – we had to really hustle to get our plugin compatible with WordPress’s new ‘Gutenberg’ block editor.
It was a moment of pride for us when WordPress finally did release version 5.0, which featured the new Gutenberg editor, and we were ready. Even now, a few months later, we are still the only Amazon WordPress plugin (that we know of) that is fully compatible with and works seamlessly in the new ‘Gutenberg’ block editor in WordPress.
Matt: After experimenting with the Gutenberg editor quite a bit – I definitely see how it is the future of web development and WordPress. Most people I’ve talked to are planning to stick with the Classic editor for the near future – but it’s only a matter of time before the masses start to migrate over to the new block editor – which works very much like an advanced page builder plugin.
Alchemy Coder: “You can’t deny that web content is very dynamic these days, and the old (Classic) WordPress editor just isn’t. It was doomed from the start. Gutenberg gives the user the ability to build dynamic content with ease. It also gives plugin developers, like us, a new and exciting way to integrate into WordPress.”
To your success and beyond – with AmaLinks Pro!
AmaLinks Pro is the name we’ve given to this amazing plugin. Throughout the entire process of development – we’ve kept the customer top-of-mind. Every single decision we’ve made – we tried to put ourselves in the shoes of the typical end-user (which wasn’t hard since we are users ourselves). The following have been some of our top priorities that play into every aspect of the plugin…
- Simplicity and ease-of-use – AmaLinks Pro must absolutely be THE easiest to use as compared to all other Amazon affiliate plugins
- Every time you create a link – you are taken through our step-by-step ‘wizard style’ process
- Easily and quickly create affiliate links without ever leaving WordPress
- Amazon compliance – we’ve studied Amazon’s policies over and over again to make sure we are 100% compliant
- We refuse to include anything that might even remotely come close to violating terms or policies
- Continuous improvement – we are constantly listening to feedback from users and plan to keep improving the plugin indefinitely
- We have many ideas for features and improvements that we haven’t even disclosed yet to anybody
- We are open to suggestions from users and to date, we’ve already implemented several ideas that current users gave us
AmaLinks Pro is Available For Sale Now!
If you’re currently an Amazon Associate (or you’re thinking about becoming one) – I would like to invite you to take a look at what we have to offer with AmaLinks Pro. If you’re becoming less satisfied with the old plugins or tools you’ve been using (just like I was) – perhaps it’s time to take a look at something new. It can’t hurt to take a look and see what it’s all about.
Current users of AmaLinks Pro are loving the link options that we provide – but most importantly, the ease at which they can create and insert those links. The part that goes seemingly un-noticed is that AmaLinks Pro users simply don’t have to worry about violating Amazon’s terms as a result of using our plugin!
If you were to purchase AmaLinks Pro today – within moments you would have access to the plugin download files, your license key, and tutorials to help you get started. We’ve made the entire process extremely easy – right from the start!
Try AmaLinks Pro Today
If you’re using Amazon Associates to monetize your WordPress site – you really owe it to yourself to give AmaLinks Pro a chance.
Yeah, sure. It would be easier to choose the path of least resistance and just keep creating links the way you’ve been doing it. But would that really be easier? I guess you wouldn’t know unless you tried something different. I want to invite you to take a look, right now, at what AmaLinks Pro has to offer. See for yourself what we’ve created and how it will make your life SO much easier as an Amazon affiliate.
There is plenty of money to be made as an Amazon affiliate – and we want to help you do so in the easiest way possible. Consider joining us as we revolutionize this segment of the internet marketing industry!
Here’s what to do…
- Click the button below to access a special landing page for RankXL
- Read the sales page and watch the demo videos
- Click one of the buttons to access the pricing page
- Choose the plan that works best for you and then buy
- Check your email – follow instructions to activate your account
- Download, install, activate, and connect to the Amazon API
- Experience the awesomeness!