There are various ways to make money as a creator, and integrating affiliate links across one’s social media platforms is becoming a popular way to do so. Some are even earning up to $25,000 per month from commissions off affiliate sales alone.
Among the many affiliate programs out there is the Amazon Influencer Program. Influencers can make commissions by linking their purchases to an Amazon storefront, where their fanbase can see what they’re wearing or using and purchase the identical item. Creators can build custom storefronts to sell their own products, or recommend their favorite products to others. Influencers can also host livestreams and add custom content to their store to further drive engagement from their audience.
You may be wondering, is it really worth it to be an Amazon Influencer? Below, we break down the pros and cons of the program, as well as other important things to consider before using it.
Pros of the Amazon Influencer Program
It allows influencers to increase engagement
Influencers are like community managers, and they continuously want to find new ways to interact and build positive connections with their followers. Any opportunity to give your audience a glimpse into your life, or a way to be “more like you” will help you cultivate a strong online community. Amazon’s Influencer storefronts help foster this connection on another level, by providing an easy shopping experience where fans can shop products recommended by creators.
It creates an additional revenue stream
Affiliate marketing opportunities can be an additional revenue stream for creators. With Amazon’s program in particular, influencers can also receive commissions on sales for products that they haven’t recommended or have in their storefront, but are still added to the cart and paid for in the window while the affiliate cookies are still live.
A single platform means easier management
Before the Amazon Influencer Program came about, other websites tried to create the same type of platform — think ShareASale and Awin. One of the biggest problems with these websites is that each affiliate platform would have to be built out by each brand. The process of creating pages for specific products, then distributing unique codes and links to each influencer was complex. Therefore, an influencer could easily miss out on a promotional period or not get a link in time.
With the ability to put products from multiple brands in one place, Amazon Influencers can easily create affiliate links, share codes, and track sales progress all on their own. They can also view and manage results on one platform, rather than across multiple platforms. This also simplifies the payout process considerably.
Amazon is well-known
If your followers are quick to jump on trends, you likely face no problem sharing affiliate links from anywhere. However, if you have an audience that is slow to build trust, they may feel more comfortable shopping through websites that they’re familiar with.
At this point in time, Amazon is a household name that most people know about. If you’re to use a lesser known affiliate marketing brand, it’s possible that some customers will read the link and avoid clicking it, worrying that they may be taken to a spam page.
Cons of the Amazon Influencer Program
Low affiliate commissions
Compared to direct affiliate programs with brands, Amazon’s program offers relatively low commission rates. On Amazon’s platform, commissions range between 1-10%, except for Amazon Games which sits at a 20% commission rate. However, most direct-from-the-brand affiliate programs start commissions at 5% and offer promoters up to 30% in commissions, depending on the type of product and its value.
With Amazon Games being the only category with a significantly higher commission rate, non-gamer influencers may feel excluded from the platform. The product category with the second highest commission rate is luxury beauty goods, at 10%. While the luxury beauty influencer segment is large, this creates the same effect for other influencers who have a different niche. All other commission rates are 5% or less.
Not everything earns you commissions
On top of not offering the best commission rates out there, Amazon’s program is slightly limiting on what you can earn commissions on. Products such as gift cards, apps purchased in the app store, Prime subscriptions, and some digital Kindle products are excluded from the affiliate program. For a consumer, this may seem like things that are often excluded from promotions and commissions efforts. However, for an influencer that’s using Amazon’s affiliate program because of its supposed coverage across all brands and categories, this certainly feels restricting.
Short cookie window for purchase
In affiliate marketing, cookies are used to track which link a customer has come through and which influencer has provided the link. They continue to track the user to identify what they purchase, so that the influencer can be paid out the correct amount of commission.
The Amazon Influencer Program only tracks cookies for 24 hours, which is a relatively short window. This means that if a customer clicks on a link provided by an Amazon Influencer, but they wait until more than 24 hours to actually purchase the items in the link, the influencer won’t be credited for the sale and will miss out on the commission.
No PayPal option for payouts
Despite PayPal being a popular method for influencers to receive their affiliate payouts, Amazon still doesn’t offer this payment option. So even when you do bring in some earnings through your affiliate links, you’ll still need to spend time setting up another payment method, or potentially worse, paying fees to yet another payment processor.
This is an issue for all influencers who leverage PayPal, but especially those residing outside of the U.S., who’d probably want to avoid payment methods that come with high international exchange fees. Fees add up quickly, and they can diminish the results of your earnings.
How to use the Amazon Influencer Program to increase your income
Qualifying for the program
To begin, you’ll first need to qualify to use the Amazon Influencer platform. Influencers need to submit an application to Amazon, where you’ll detail the number of your followers. While there isn’t complete transparency on how many followers one needs to gain access to the program, one online source suggests you can start with as little as 200-1,000 followers. However, other sources suggest you need a much higher following, with 1,000 being a very low minimum for consideration.
Building your storefront
Once you’re in the program, you’ll want to build your storefront. First, log in to your account and click “Storefront” from the main menu. From here, you can “Create Store.” You can build multiple stores for each niche that you sell to, but if you’re just beginning your affiliate marketing journey, it’s best to start with one. When you’re more established and informed on what sells well for your audience, you should consider other stores.
To further customize your storefront, you can create a vanity URL, which is essentially a shorter, catchier URL that is easier for your followers to remember and type. A simple link is more likely to be clicked than one with random numbers, letters, and symbols, which someone can mistake for a spam link and refrain from clicking.
From here, search and add products to your lists, and you’re ready to start selling.
Once your storefront is loaded with products, the first step to getting sales is promoting your storefront to your audience. If you don’t promote it, your audience won’t know it’s there. Some influencers do this by sharing a “launch” post of their whole storefront. Others share links to individual products and encourage their followers to look around the shop while they’re there.
On the platform, you can share specific links to your products that are unique to your account. This is what helps the cookies track the sale and bring the commission back to you. Note that commissions are earned after the purchase has actually shipped, not immediately after the sale happens. So your Earnings Report may see a variation between the number of sales versus your commissions earnings.
Racking up commissions through Amazon’s program is nice, but the money doesn’t actually hit your bank account until you’re paid out. Payouts are done monthly if your balance meets the minimum threshold (see your Amazon Influencer Program account for more details). You’ll also need to have a payment method and tax information added to your profile to have payments made to you.
Criticisms against the Amazon Influencer Program
Lower monthly affiliate earnings
With the Amazon Influencer Program, the monthly affiliate earnings that influencers make are lower than those generated through other platforms. This may be due to a combination of low affiliate rates, more effort needed to promote your own storefront, and shorter cookie sessions. For most Amazon Influencers, they expect to earn anywhere from a few dollars to over $1,000 a month. However, on its own, the program isn’t really a great income source for the effort required to maintain one’s store.
Younger generations are distrustful of Amazon
Some Gen Z creators are boycotting the Amazon Influencer Program as a way to speak out against Amazon’s business practices. According to the Washington Post, a TikTok campaign called #PeopleOverPrime went viral this summer to protest against alleged mistreatment of workers in Amazon’s warehouses, as well as other reported acts of malpractice of the company. As Gen Z has the fastest growing economic power compared to any other generation, this is a huge blow to Amazon.
Should you use the Amazon Influencer Program?
With varying views on Amazon as a company, and wide differences in the results pulled from its affiliate platform, there are a few key factors that can help you decide if the Amazon Influencer Program is worth your time. Analyze your own situation by asking yourself the questions below.
The size of your community: Do you have enough followers?
The purchasing power of your community: Are they likely to make purchases through affiliate links? How much can they afford to spend every month? This deeply impacts how much revenue you can expect to earn through affiliate channels.
Your understanding of your community: What products would they like to see, or not like to see?
Your time, energy, knowledge, and creative juices: Setting up an Amazon storefront can be time-consuming, and requires at least a base level of affiliate knowledge. Are you ready to commit to that?
Your available promotional channels: To get any sales dollars at all, you’ll have to be able to promote your storefront. Are you comfortable doing this? Is your audience okay with seeing that kind of content? How are you going to promote it?
The financial impact: How will the payout process work? Are there tax implications? How does this affect your other revenue streams?
Your personal views and preferences: Do you want to work with Amazon? Do you enjoy going direct to brands, or having an all-in-one platform?
The bottom line
While the Amazon Influencer Program has great potential for seamlessly connecting multiple brand experiences with your community, for many creators, it’s still missing the mark on why influencers use affiliate programs in the first place: to generate revenue. Try testing the waters with the platform, but know that it may take you some time and effort to set up, organize, and promote your storefront for optimal results.