Amazon’s affiliate program, known as Amazon Associates, lets you earn a percentage of each Amazon sale you direct from your website.

Amazon smile logo

I’ve been an affiliate for a year or two. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t matter what specific product I link to — if the person who clicks through to Amazon from here or there does a little Amazon browsing, and then makes a purchase, I get a cut (roughly 5% — doesn’t affect buyer cost).

What’s more interesting is that I can see what items have been purchased through my referrals, and also how much money was passed my way.

This sale, for instance, brought in $0.77 from Amazon’s US site. This one earned me a cool £7.00. I picked-up $3.70 from whoever bought this. Thanks. I hope they sent you two.

All-in-all, roughly £50,000 worth of Amazon purchases have been made through my affiliate links, so I received a couple of grand in the process. Not exactly in the same league as Darren Rowse, but I’m not sniffing, and hey, if I can help designers look smarter along the way, brilliant (£0.23).

green bowler hat

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January 5, 2011


That’s great David. I imagine it all helps with the site upkeep, and a little extra for you too! I’ve looked into doing the same, but how do you manage where international visitors get sent? I notice people have bought through .com as well as on yours.

Took me a while to figure that for myself, Mark. I needed to sign-up to more than one Associate location. So I have login details for the US site, whereby a cheque in US dollars is sent here to the UK each month, then another for the UK site, with a monthly amount deposited directly into my bank account (there’s currently no capacity for a direct US bank wire, unfortunately).

Neil, it’s a stellar one. I agree.

David, I’ve used Amazon Associates for a while and found the whole international thing really annoying. I either have to show two links next to each item, or maybe use some server side capability to generate the right link.

I asked Amazon why they can’t simply pass on the associate id in the querystring to the international site when a user clicks (e.g. they click on the US link, but want to buy from the UK one; simply include the associate tag in the URL – more sales for Amazon, more referral fee for the associate, better usability, no extra work!

But they told me that for licensing/legal reasons (they wouldn’t elaborate) they can’t do this. This is very frustrating, hence I’ve not used it as much as I could have. Perhaps I haven’t checked it lately, but have you got it referring through no matter what associate link you use?

Thanks David. Sounds like that works for you but it’s a bit fiddly, as Josh says. Just like with iTunes, you can’t just give one link for a product which dynamically routes to their local store.

I’m a senior in college and I recently purchased Thinking with Type and Designing with Type after seeing them in your store. Your blog has been such a great resource.

Hay, glad you’re making some good money from affiliates, David. I read the post on Problogger recently about Darrens earnings, too. I bet the book sales helped you a lot :)

It’s not as easy as it could be, Josh. I think it’s getting better, though. Now I just need to click the “create link” button at the top of each product page, on the two different Amazon sites (UK and US), using the same logged-in account. Hopefully that wasn’t just a one-off, although I don’t actually create affiliate links too often, so I’m not affected much.

Andrew, sales of my book do account for a healthy percentage, you’re right.

Had an Amazon Associates ID for ages without doing a darn thing with it, other than fooling around with some dubious WordPress plugins :) (nothing that I ever unleashed I hasten to add).

Only fair that providers of great content make a few, ahem, bucks on the side through linking to decent resources. I love my local Cornwall bookshop for selling Waldo Pancake/Jim Smith merch, the odd exorbitant Orla Kiely pthotobook, but for most things designer-ish, I have to go to Amazon anyway and I’d rather do that knowing someone who has given a ton of free thoughts and advice to budding designers might get a piece of eight out of it in the process.

Something linked on a blog such as this is going to be a product the author thinks is a useful resource, so it makes me more likely to buy – trust economy and all that.

I’ve not tried any plugins, Luke. Perhaps they could help, but I try to limit the number I have installed. Thanks for the comment. I appreciate your sentiment.

I’ve bought a few books (including Logo Design Love) after seeing them on your blog… you’re welcome David!!
Thanks for all the great tips and resources.

I was aware of this type of affiliate service through Amazon, and I’m glad you’ve taken the time to provide some detail.

You’ve already discovered how entertaining it can be to investigate the amusing and very unconnected things that people buy; I wonder if you’ve seen this post written recently by Darren Rowse about some of the truly bizarre purchases his readers made in 2010?

After reading this post, I set up my own affiliate links on my bookshelf page. It’s quite easy to do with Squarespace, but I’m still playing around with what the actual page is for. I particularly enjoy seeing what people have been buying – apparently my site is frequented by a couple of inflatable globe enthusiasts …

Does not sound like much each time, but ever little helps – especially if you do not have to do anything!

It always surprises me what things people buy from Amazon. I run an extreme sports website and as not many people click on my links and buy I can usually work out who bought what. Last week a customer found my site by searching for snowboard wax, then headed to Amazon after looking at a snowboard wax kit and ultimately decided to buy a stand up dog grooming table – so utterly random it’s fabulous!

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