I think it’s time to start talking about alternatives to monetizing a website with Amazon. For obvious reasons. Right?
If you haven’t heard very recently, Amazon basically took their affiliate commission structure and reduced it significantly across the board.
There are some categories that weren’t touched, but others where commission rates were destroyed.
The below image shows how things have changed as of April 2021:
Many online publishers are reporting that they lost 30-50% of revenue when this change happened. And that sucks, that’s brutal and in my opinion, uncalled for on behalf of Amazon to turn their backs on those trying to make money on the platform. Especially considering the last update was in the midst of the 2020 pandemic.
The most screwed-up part about this is that a lot of people who create websites actually helped grow Amazon over the years because we’ve been linking over to them as their affiliate program paid us well for doing so.
Today, I want to talk about 10 alternatives to Amazon affiliates so that you can diversify your business and protect yourself from further commission cuts which I feel are inevitable.
1) Display Ads
My number one favorite alternative to the Amazon affiliate program without a doubt is display ad revenue. Specifically, I’m talking about joining an ad platform to show ads on your site.
Which one do I recommend? Without a doubt, that would have to be Ezoic. My reasoning is pretty simple.
On every single website I have in my portfolio, Ezoic outperformed Adsense earnings every single time.
That’s because Ezoic tests ad layouts with every pageview of your website using AI and is far superior than trying to run these tests manually.
Considering I’ve made over $500,000 with display ads in my online business career, and I’ve tried nearly every ad platform out there, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Display ads are great because they’re super passive. You set them up by putting a piece of code into your website and it automatically triggers. Or, in the case of Ezoic, you integrate your site with them and they help you in setting everything up. You can read all about Ezoic in my Ezoic review I wrote.
Display ads are nice because they’re very passive and require little maintenance. Basically, you’ll be making $0.05 to $0.25 every time one of your visitors click on an ad.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “But Ron, that’s not a lot of money!”
It doesn’t have to be. Because the truth is, as long as you have website traffic, you’ll be able to get a large number of clicks each day and that can yield some seriously impressive stats. Don’t believe me?
In July 2021, Ezoic helped me earn over $10,000, and that’s not even my best month. In the past, I’ve made over $20,000 in a single month from, you guessed it, display ads.
Sure, it took a lot of clicks to get there, but the earnings can really add up!
2) Create Online Courses
The next alternative to Amazon affiliates is courses. A lot of people hear this and they’re like, “Oh, I can’t do a course.” Or they wonder how much you can make selling online courses (Hint: It can be very profitable). But you can do a course, all you need is knowledge about a topic and an online course platform to help.
Personally, I’m a big fan of Thinkific as they have a forever-free plan, but there are plenty of options.
You don’t have to do a 10-hour course. It could just be a one-hour long course. Basically kind of like an extended info product. Think of it that way.
The thing about courses is that it’s nice because you already know, with a lot of your websites, you already know where you’re ranking and what’s doing well.
So look at those pages that are doing well, your top 10 pages. Figure out how to monetize them best. And maybe you can create a course that you could start selling as an info product, $20, $30, $40 per course.
That’s a great way to make money but it depends on your niche and all the stuff you’re dealing with, but it’s definitely a possibility.
Next is the Walmart affiliate program.
Walmart. I think for the last four or five years, they have made it a mission to try to penetrate and really, really go against Amazon. And it’s not easy. We all know how big of a beast Amazon is, but I’ve used the Walmart eCommerce platform and it’s really good. I really like it.
I don’t know that they’re going to be as good as Amazon necessarily, but the thing that’s cool about Walmart is not only are you able to quickly order things and get them delivered to your house, just as quick as Amazon.
But, the more important thing is you can actually go pick them up at the store, which is a big win for Walmart. And the deal is with Amazon, one of their downfalls is there’s a lot of things that people order and they really, really need right then and there, but they can’t really get it.
Walmart on the other hand, everyone pretty much lives close to a Walmart. So you can actually order online and go pick it up right then and there. They also do delivery too, but that’s one of the nice things about Walmart is you can get it even quicker than you would with Amazon.
4) Finding a Affiliate Platform
Number three is big niche affiliate platforms. So it’s hard to say exactly which one’s going to be perfect for every single website out there. But two of the examples that come to mind, first is if you have a pet website, Chewy.com.
Chewy.com is a eCommerce platform that really focuses just on pet products. And they have an affiliate platform. Right now that affiliate platform basically says, “Hey, if you refer over a new customer, then we’re going to give you a certain amount of money.” That’s really what it is, but it could change with time.
We don’t really know what Chewy plans to do. Another good example if you have a house or home and decor type of website, you could use something like Home Depot or you could use something like Wayfair.com.
There’s a lot of different platforms out there. And these big affiliate niche platforms are really, really important right now. Because, the thing that you need to understand is that a lot of them are, maybe they’re not as good as Amazon in eCommerce. The conversions and all that. They’re not there, but they’re trusted brands and they’re pretty good.
And quite frankly, a lot of them have focused a lot on conversion optimization and making it better.
5) Drop Shipping
Number four is one that not everyone talks about, but I think it’s a great idea. That is drop shipping.
So to make it pretty simple, let’s say that you have a website and you are ranking number one on Google for the “best soup mug”.
What you could do is you could say, “You know what? I’m going to find a manufacturer that has these soup mugs and I’m going to go to them directly and I’m going to create an eCommerce store of my own using Shopify.
And you create your own eCommerce store. And then what you’re going to do is you’re going to recommend the top product on the list. I’m going to recommend that product as the best product and still have all of the alternatives listed on the page.
That product that you’re recommending, guess what?
It’s part of the Shopify store that you own where you do drop shipping.
So now, if somebody clicks on there, they go to your Shopify store and then they put an order on Shopify. And then, because it’s drop shipping, the company that you’ve partnered with, they’ll send it over to them.
Now, the thing about this is that you will have to deal with customer returns and that that is going to be a hurdle. That’s something that I think people are going to kind of have to learn through this is dealing with customer’s returns and customer service.
But this is nice because when you do something like this and you do drop shipping directly, you are getting a commission rate, maybe of 30, 40%, which is much higher than Amazon.
So the margin that you actually retain on those products is significantly more than what you ever would have gotten on Amazon associates anyway.
6) Private Label FBA
Number five is to use private label FBA or just flat out private label.
FBA is fulfilled by Amazon. If you create a brand all about soup mugs, you can then get products made in other countries and then sent to you, and then you can list it on Amazon.
What you could do is, if you have a website that’s already ranking for those products, the number one position, the top recommended product, you can then point to your product listing on Amazon.
Why would you do that?
Because when you point to Amazon, you’re saying, “Hey, this product on Amazon (which is actually your own product) this is the best product that’s out there for this.”
And that’s a really big win because now you are referring them over to your listing on Amazon. And you will also be able to sell your own product. Your own product is going to have a pretty healthy margin.
That’s the whole idea of having products on there. Now you’re going to have to deal with a lot of things here. You’re going to have to deal with logistics as well as pricing. There’s a lot of headaches that come with Amazon FBA and I’ve actually done exactly what I’m saying.
I’ve created an FBA product, had a website ranking really well for it in Google, put it on Amazon, and it did sell.
It got to the point to where it was number one on Google when I searched in Google, because I had the “best blank for blank” post. And then it also got to number one on Amazon when people search for that product.
That is a beautiful thing. But it’s not super common. It’s not easy to do that, but they feed into each other really, really nicely.
So there is a lot of headaches here, but it can totally be worth it.
You can also do private label, like completely private label by yourself. But then you’re dealing with fulfillment all by yourself.
You might have to work with a third party as a warehouse to actually fulfill orders and handle customer service.
7) Other Affiliate Networks
Another alternative to the Amazon affiliate program is other networks like my personal favorite, Shareasale. And there’s plenty of other networks.
There’s Shareasale, CJ.com, ClickBank, and Impact.
And to be honest, that’s just some of them. There are literally hundreds of affiliate networks out there, sometimes niche-specific and other times very large.
So, at the end of the day, Amazon does convert well and it is the biggest affiliate program, but it’s not the only affiliate program. In fact, there are plenty of others out there, here’s a list of 200 other affiliate networks to check out.
If you’re not sure if a brand has an affiliate program, and you’re wondering if they so, there’s a really simple fix.
Just go to Google.com type in “BRAND NAME” affiliate program.
Most of the time you’re going to be able to find an affiliate program to join. Often you’ll find that they’re in some of the networks that I mentioned above, but sometimes they’ll be totally independent.
Regardless, going through this process will help you diversify away from Amazon, and that’s the most important part.
My eighth alternative to the Amazon affiliate program is memberships. No one talks about membership websites. Those are big money.
All that you need to do is figure out some type of membership to create for your website. Figure that out.
You can make low cost. You can make it as low as 10 bucks a month. If you get a decent amount of people that can be a lot of money.
10 people paying $10 per month is a hundred bucks. And if you get to a hundred people, now you’re making a thousand bucks a month.
These memberships, obviously you have to deliver value. You have to give them longterm value. You can’t just be like, “Oh, here’s a membership to be able to read my blog.” It doesn’t make sense. It’s got to be something valuable.
But if you can do this on your website, this can actually make you a ton of money and it’s all residual income. It’s going to keep coming in month after month.
And yes, people are going to cancel. That is going to happen. But at the end of the day, even when people cancel, if you’re still bringing in more traffic from other parts of your website, you’re still going to get new members.
9) Info Products
Number nine is info products. Now I know earlier we talked a little bit about courses and those definitely have a place, but info products, this could also be something as simple as having a PDF.
You have a whole piece of blog content and then at the end of it, you say, “If you want the absolute best of this, then you can get this PDF. Download this PDF for $5”.
I know it sounds crazy, and it sounds like something that no one will ever do. But if you actually work with your funnel and you start to work on that stuff, you would be surprised. Those tactics do work.
They’ve been working for years on the internet. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to make them work. And sometimes it’s not as simple as a PDF.
You might have like a little ebook that you created, or an audiobook hosted on Audible, or something like that. But at the end of the day, if you have something of value, instead of giving it away for free on your website, look into a way to try to monetize it.
10) Sell Leads
And number 10, which is actually a big, big, big favorite of mine is to sell leads or develop partnerships with companies that need a lot of leads.
What it comes down to is you find a way to generate leads on your website for local businesses or doctors or lawyers or something like that.
When you’re able to generate leads from your website, go find partners that will buy those leads.
The easiest way to do it?
We’re going to use lawyer as an example. Let’s use bankruptcy.
You can go into Google, you type “bankruptcy lawyer”.
Every single one of those lawyers that is taking out ads on Google, they’re looking for leads. If you have a website and you can sell bankruptcy leads to those lawyers, it’s very, very simple.
You just contact them and say, “Hey, I can send you leads. Are you interested? How much will you pay per lead?” It’s really that simple. You have to figure out the logistics of it, but it’s a very, very good way to make money.
In addition to that there’s programs where you can partner with. So the nice thing about that is that you can partner with them and say, “Hey, I want to partner with you guys to give you all these leads.”
And then they say, “Okay, great. We’ll buy all your leads for 10, 15, 20 bucks and then we’ll distribute them to lawyers.”
Now you’re probably wondering, well, “how do they make money?”
They make money because they talked to the lawyers and they’re like, “Will you buy those leads for 30 bucks a pop, 40 bucks a pop?” The lawyers agree to it. So that’s how they make their money, they’re the middle men.
So there it is, you guys.
Those are my 10 alternatives to Amazon affiliate program. One thing I want to close with is that regardless of what affiliate program you decide to go with, make sure that you ALWAYS include your affiliate disclaimer. This is a statement on your site that explains that you’re an affiliate of products you recommend and you get a commission if people purchase them.
If you fail to do this, it could result in consumer complaints and, worst case, attention from the FTC. Which is something we all want to avoid.
But you can, you just need to try.
So, what do you think? Any other alternatives you think I should have included? Let me know in the comments below.