Now I’m not sure anyone is going to ever read this, as I’m pretty sure there are literally millions of web pages with exactly the same title. However I thought it would be interesting to detail my very first break through online and the reason I was able to give up my ‘ordinary’ job.
It happened about 12 years ago, when I first started to investigate the making money online options. I was working as a computer consultant, which involved lots of travel and boring evenings in hotels.
The exact method, I used will unfortunately no longer work (or I’d still be doing it) , however with a slight tweak or variation there’s a great chance you can find something similar. At the very least perhaps hopefully it will give someone the inspiration to try something and find their own little goldmine. For me there’s no doubt this method completely changed my life for the better.
Making Real Money With Amazon UK Arbitrage
Now the first step in this method was to obtain something called an Amazon affiliate account. It’s basically an account which allows you to profit from every customer you send to the Amazon site. They are called Amazon associates and it gives you the ability to create customized links to products and pages on the Amazon site. You can put these links anywhere, on your website, blog, Instagram account although you should check the terms and conditions of specific platforms.
Then if they click through to Amazon then for every purchase that person makes on the site you will then receive a commission payment, the amount varies on the product type. The top level of commission is 12% but for most products it’s quite a lot less, here’s the current basic commission structure for the UK version of Amazon:
There are different accounts for each geographical version of Amazon, so you’ll need a UK associate account for UK Amazon, a US one for Amazon.com and so on. This is important because if you send a customer to the US version of Amazon via a UK Amazon associate account then you won’t get paid. If you think this is going to be an issue there are various methods for detecting the users location and sending them to the correct site. For example you can use a WordPress plug in to detect the location of the visitors IP address and then ensure they go to the right version of Amazon.
Traffic Means Money with Amazon
Now the brilliant thing about Amazon is that it sells all sorts of things and generally they’re among the cheapest options. So if you have a blog about electronics for example, you can put a link for any device or product you write about to the Amazon website. So if that person buys the device you’re earning a commission, however if they wander off and buy something completely different you’ll still make some money.
Of course, getting enough people to use your links is the main issue. However if you have enough traffic, then people will use your links – such is the power of Amazon people are always happy to visit and browse. Many of the most popular websites on the internet generate huge amounts of commission using Amazon associate accounts. Take the following example of one of the UK’s biggest HiFi review sites –
At the end of their reviews, they have a price comparison box like this – with a selection of links where you can buy the product mentioned. Each of these links will lead to the specific product and is an affiliate link which will generate commission if you purchase after using it. There will almost always be an Amazon link on any of these sites, simply because they are generally among the cheapest option.
It’s simple, send the right traffic to Amazon and you will make money. Which is the basis of the method I used, however there was a slight issue – none of my websites generated many visitors. The problem is that although Amazon pay commission, it’s not very high and you need quite a lot of visitors to make it worthwhile. If you do have those visitors especially if they’re linked to a product or type of product which is available on Amazon then it’s worth checking out the Associates scheme.
How to Generate Commissions without lots of Organic Traffic (or any website)
So I didn’t have a lot of visitors, I’d started a blog but as yet it hadn’t taken off. Coincidentally at the time I was buying a new television, and as such had become a bit of an expert (not really) in different TVs, specifications, prices etc. So I thought I’d combine two options that I knew people used to make money – Amazon affiliate scheme and paid traffic through Google.
If you want traffic quick then the easiest and most reliable way is to pay for it. Many platforms offer paid traffic schemes but the biggest by far is Adwords from Google. You can bid on keywords and send traffic to whatever URL you like, you pay for each click you receive. Obviously this can get expensive so you have to balance out the costs against the money you receive. What people generally do is to pay for traffic and then send them to a specific page on their website.
The method I used was slightly different and relied on the following –
- Bid on highly specific keywords for different TVs – e.g Panasonic TX32452RW
- Create advert with exact price and cost of the TV
- Send Visitor directly to the product page on the Amazon website
That was pretty much it, create a list of the best selling TVs on the Amazon website (from the best seller list) , then create a series of very specific keywords based on those keywords. Then bid on each one and send any visitors direct to the product page on Amazon. The idea was because the keywords were very specific, the chances are that person was keen to purchase that particular TV. At the time Amazon was 99% of the time the cheapest option to purchase online, and so there was a high chance of that person buying.
All you had to do was ensure that the commission you made more than covered the cost of the traffic and you’d make a profit. Generally if you picked the popular TVs with the better reviews then this wouldn’t be hard to do. Using this tactic for some TVs I’d generally get a sale for every five or six visitors. So with the average commission something like £20 anything under that represented a huge profit potential.
Sometimes it would be incredibly easy, I’d sometimes see sales of hundreds of TVs from my adverts in one night. Each one would make me £20 or so, as long as I ensured my cost per sale were below that then it worked out well. The method and several similar were even sold as courses called things like Amazon arbitrage. I did this for almost a year and despite some ups and downs consistently made a lot of money. Occasionally would lose money on a model, often because Amazon would sell out half way through my campaign but mostly I made money consistently.
It generally took an hour or so each night to check my adverts using my mobile, checking returns and ensuring the product wasn’t out of stock. It was an incredible feeling though when you’d wake up to a guaranteed cheque every morning, the only question was how much. I learned that it was generally only the top sellers that it worked for, there was too much browsing on others. Also if you found a product that was hard to get hold of and advertised it whenever Amazon had stock, you’d make even more money. For example the Wii Fit was released in 2007 and was almost impossible to find, when Amazon had it in stock it was incredibly easy to sell!
So What Went Wrong ? Why Amazon Arbitrage Stopped Working
Alas, the internet is always throwing up new methods to make money online but usually they stop working. It wasn’t overnight, the initial issue as is often the case was competition. At the time Google Adwords would only allow one bid per specific domain on each page of the search results. To get your link going to Amazon you had to bid against everyone else for each keyword. The highest bidder would get their advert to appear for that keyword.
The bidding for each keyword would go up and up and so the profit margins started to fall. Often I’d check my statistics only to find that I’d paid more in advertising than I’d make in commissions. In fact losses became as common as profits. I’d pretty much given up when Amazon started blocking direct links from Adwords to their site meaning you had to go to your own website first. This potentially could work but there was a much bigger risk that the user wouldn’t click through to the Amazon site to buy. It’s still something that people try and do though, check out the sponsored links for different keyword searches and you’ll see them listed.
Also when Amazon stopped allowing direct linking to their site to do this you had to hide or cloak your links which can be risky. It’s certainly not as straight forward or as simple as redirecting straight to the Amazon site was.
Lessons Learnt – Potential Ideas
Google Adwords is a powerful tool for obtaining large amounts of laser targeted traffic. The ability to bid on very specific keywords is definitely worth considering for your traffic needs. Remember though it can be very expensive so you have to be careful and set limits. Generally it works better with your own products/services or brand – simply because the potential outlay can be too much for affiliate commissions.
Focusing on very specific keywords is a common tactic for gaining organic traffic too. Creating webpages or even sites that target long tailed keywords with little competition can be an effective method. For example instead of bidding for keywords on Google Adwords you could create pages targeting those words. So in the TV market you could build up a blog or website reviewing or reporting on electronics, then create pages specifically targeting related keywords using Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
So in the TV market, you could look up the best selling TVs – just filter from the Amazon menu. Then create pages specifically for those TVs and related searches – write up a review and then direct people to Amazon via your affiliate link. Beware though, this market is now highly competitive and even long tailed keywords for major manufacturers can be difficult to rank for. Often beginners start off less competitive areas but still link through to Amazon. There’s always new markets and products appearing, I know people who’s entire income involves buying and selling sneaker online using proxies!
Always check your competition first though, you might think that concentrating on toasters would be easier but I guarantee lots of people have already got sites up doing just the same thing.
There’s no doubt that increased competition and tightening restrictions on advertising sites has made simple options like Amazon arbitrage more difficult but it’s still possible. Remember to look out for new options and twists to these methods. You can use proxies like this to hide your location if you want to access geo-restricted advertising sites likes Craigslist. Also look at different platforms, many Amazon affiliates don’t bother with their own sites any more but use platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. All these sites can rank quite easily for specific keywords if you know what you’re doing, they also have advertising options too.