Are you looking to get away from Amazon Associates? It may seem like a strange question to ask. After all, many starter affiliate sites and courses will often state how great Amazon is. What if I told you there are better programs out there, some not even published through affiliate networks or online. All it takes is your initiative to get these agreements. They pay better, can be exclusive, and will give you the edge over your competitors. In this article, I’ll explain to you how to get them. Excited? Let’s get started!
Why Diversify Outside Of Amazon Associates
Amazon Associates is great when you are starting out. As an affiliate marketing program it converts really well and there is virtually no barrier to entry when starting out. It’s no wonder every starter affiliate course and newbie recommends it and believes it’s the best affiliate marketing program out there. However, there are several issues with Amazon Associates that should really have you looking for other options as your site grows
Amazon Terms Of Service
Amazon’s Operating agreement for associates is complicated and hard to follow for a beginner — even someone like me with an affiliate site that makes 5 figure a month. I struggle with compliance and have been subject to Amazon audits in the past. Sometimes, you don’t even get a second chance. It is pretty scary that you can be shut down just like that if you do not follow their terms of services. It’s one of the most restrictive in the industry.
There is a great article by gen.ius links that will give you a good overview. It’s always best to diversify your income streams because if Amazon one day decides to ban you or drop their program, you have nothing if you solely rely on them.
Amazon’s Commission Rate
Affiliates love amazon’s conversion rates. However, the rates have been getting smaller and smaller overtime. The latest commission change brought many categories down to 3%, which is pretty dismal compared to what you can get from other programs. I’ve seen commission agreement up to 25% for products and over 50% for digital products. They may convert at a lower rate, but you can more than make up for it with the higher payouts
Better Product Offerings
While Amazon has seemingly everything under the sun, they do not always sell the best products available for your niche. I tend to laugh a lot at competing affiliate sites when they only post products sold on Amazon. Some of these products are inferior from what you can get from a specialty retailer or manufacturer. Other times, the affiliate just posts some cheap Chinese made product that aren’t too great in quality — all for the sake of conversion.
Is that really what you want to do for your niche? Just offer the cheap products? Or is the goal to serve all budgets in your content? You want to recommend the premium level products.
In order to do that, often times you need to get a private affiliate deal.
If you are looking to sell a website for the most amount of money, you will want to have diversified earnings. Buyers will flag a site if it is overly reliant on Amazon Associates earnings. You can also diversify with display earnings, but a good affiliate site will often have higher affiliate earnings than display. If you have 6 or 7 different affiliate partners vs just Amazon, you will be seen as less risky for the buyer and stand out from other similarly priced sites.
More Choices = Better Conversions
You might find it odd, but in the testing that I have done, pages with more choices on where to buy convert better. Consumers like to have choices, and it’s even a sweeter deal when you have the choice to get either from Amazon Prime or buy from a specialty retailer for a lower price with slower shipping. Giving the customer choice gives them power. It also builds your creditability in that you aren’t just an Amazon shill.
Where to Find Private Affiliate Deals
Now you see the reasons why you should look outside of Amazon Associates, so how do you find these deals? Let’s look at several ways to locate these opportunities.
This is the quickest way to find them. Are you selling a brand or product like crazy from your Amazon Associates dashboard? If so, find their website or e-commerce shop. Once on their site, see if they have an affiliate page. If not, find out how to contact them. Pick up the phone and call them. Introduce yourself and tell them you are interested in getting an affiliate agreement. One of the better private deals I secured was obtained this way.
What’s the biggest selling point to the merchant? The main one is collecting customer information. When a seller sells on Amazon, they do not collect their customer information. If the customer purchases from their website, the seller gets their information. This means they can market to them in newsletters and promos. They can even retarget them. It’s also going to be cheaper. Amazon typically charges around 15%. If they pay you a 10% commission – they are actually saving money from your affiliate agreement over selling through Amazon.
Most niches will have specialty retailers that sell only produced related to your niche. These sites may or may not have an affiliate program. If they have a program, inquire and see if you can become one. Start testing out links and see if they convert. If they don’t have a program, ask if you can become an affiliate.
In my experience, some specialty retailers will have affiliate programs, but will not openly market them. They keep these agreements close knit where the owner approves them or they run through the marketing department. They often keep these programs for influencers. You will need to contact them and pitch about your site and your results. I’ve gotten a few agreements this way, and one of them isn’t even marketed on their website. This particular agreement generates $1,000 of revenue monthly.
Another trick is if you use a website like Builtwith, you can look up the apps the site is using. If you see an affiliate plugin like Affilately or goaffiliatepro, chances are they have an active affiliate program!
Go straight to the source and strike up a private deal. Some manufacturers will have their own e-commerce site where they actively sell their products. Find out who they are and give them a call. Introduce yourself and see if they are interested in giving you an affiliate agreement. I love manufacturers because I usually get promo codes from them. Promo codes make your offer more exclusive and really adds creditability as a website publisher. I believe all affiliates should have at least one manufacturer agreement for each of their websites.
This is one of the most lucrative ways to get yourself an affiliate agreement. Tradeshows are a great way to meet vendors one on one. Many of them are looking for influencers and often times will have agreements where they pay influencers through the usage of a coupon code. These function the same way as an affiliate program. Often times, they use the same affiliate plugins and aren’t even aware they are running an affiliate program!
All you got to do is meet them one on and one and talk to them. Agreements obtained at tradeshows can be exclusives – it would be very rare that a competitor lands an agreement like this as most affiliates aren’t willing to put themselves out there.
My Story – A Case Study
I was one of the affiliates that was affected by the 8% to 3% Amazon commission drop back in 2020. I went from $5K a month on a website to $2K in an instant. It was very demoralizing, but it got me on the path of searching for offers outside of Amazon.
Because of the nature of the niche I was involved with, it was very difficult to find affiliate offers that were public. Many of the “best of” posts had outdated information on where to go or old information on sites that ended their programs or went out of business years ago.
I started to use my own knowledge in the niche I was in, as I have been involved in mine since I was a child. I looked up and thought to myself, “what are the products I use?” I noticed many of these products were not listed on Amazon. It was making me look inauthentic on the internet by listing out subpar products.
In order for me to list out the premium products I like using, I had to get out of my comfort zone and start contacting manufacturers and retailers. My main niche was not on networks like Commission Junction or Impact. I had to do all the networking myself. I used to be in e-commerce and remember having to cold pitch manufacturers for drop ship or wholesale agreements. The process is very similar when asking for an affiliate agreement. It’s all about what value to you bring to the table.
I ended up getting one affiliate agreement that alone made nearly $5K a month. They were acquired and had their program terminated. When that happened, I pivoted to another competitor I had met at a tradeshow to secure an agreement with them. Learning this process keeps your website earnings more secure.
Companies purchase other companies all the time, affiliate agreements get terminated, and commission programs change. If you build this process, you can take power and negotiate with your partners or find others if you aren’t happy. Treat your affiliate site like a business and see how far that gets you.
I have seen colleagues of mine increase their earnings 2-4 times by seeking out non-amazon agreements. It’s all about the outreach. It’s no different then link building outreach except it’s more on the phone than through email.
Emailing potential partners is usually the worse thing you can do. You may get treated like a spammer. Calling direct can get you to the right person.
How do you structure an affiliate deal?
Once you have interest from a company to get an affiliate deal, it’s time to negotiate terms. Let’s talk about what to ask for.
Coupon or Promo Code
This is the #1 thing you will want when you get a private deal. Promo codes builds your credibility and allows you to offer discounts to your readers. It’s also really easy to get your codes organically shared through forums, social media, and sites like Reddit. Most promo codes are 10%, but I have seen as big as 25%
You definitely need to get a better commission rate then Amazon, but what’s the best rate? For a private deal, 10% or higher is what you should shoot for. For specialty retailers, you will usually see 5 to 8%. 5% isn’t a bad deal if you can offer products that Amazon doesn’t and it is a premium level product. You can also negotiate for more later as you build up sales.
You should have at least a 30 day cookie window on a private deal. I’ve seen as high as 90 days, and as little as 7 for specialty retailers. Compare and see what you can find.
If you can get a deal that doesn’t have a keyword restriction, you can get very creative with how you market them. You can write up articles for “manufacturer X review” or write articles about their history and rank up for their brand name. Always ask for their terms if they have any. If you are having to create an agreement, just try to leave this off. If anything, the manufacturer will bring it up.
Ability To Do PPC
One of the biggest advantages of working with a private deal is you are given the green light to do Paid Per Click (PPC) marketing. This means you can do AdWords, YouTube marketing videos, and social media paid ads to drive traffic to your site and convert. Sometimes, the manufacturer might even pay you to market via PPC so they take more than 1 AdWords spot for certain keywords.
A manufacturer or specialty retailer may be used to working with influencers. If that is the case, they are used to sending over products for reviews. Ask for the same for your site. Take pictures and use them for your review. When you are done with the product, give it away to your readers or sell it on Facebook Marketplace.
How Do You Keep Track of Affiliate Programs?
For links, I have used geni.us links to track them. There is also software like anytrack.io that can help you track amazon and non-amazon affiliate links and conversions.
Which is the Best Affiliate Program?
Private affiliate deals are the secret sauce of advanced affiliates and site flippers. Sharpen up your negotiation and pitch skills by landing new partnership agreements. You can transform your existing earnings with the right deals virtually overnight. It is the one least talked about techniques in affiliate courses.
Try it this week and see the results. You won’t regret it!