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Amazon Sales Up, Plus CFO Comments on Sales Tax Issue

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Amazon posted its financial results for the second quarter in 2011 today. The big news? Their sales reached $9.91 billion, which is a 51% increase from last year’s same period. I am sure this news makes some Californians cringe after the announcement by Amazon that they were pulling the plug on their affiliates.

The report did include a few details about the Kindle, saying that the sales were up compared to the first quarter 2011.

It was also revealed in a conference call today, that Amazon has built 15 fulfillment centers in 2011 and they plan to build a few more by the end of this year. That brings the total to 65 fulfillment centers across the globe. These centers enable the company, as well as third-party merchants to store inventory and fulfill orders.

Amazon is obviously growing and investing in their business. If only they could work out something with the affiliates they have dropped because of the Internet sales tax law. During the conference call, CFO Tom Szkutak was asked about the tax law issue.

His response was, “You know, I think in terms of the sales tax issue in total, the way you should think about it is we support a federal simplified approach as we have for more than 10 years. We think in the U.S. that the federal solution’s right way to solve this. Also keep in mind as you think about our global business, we already collect sales tax equivalent in … approximately half of our business across the world and, again, we think the right solution to the U.S. is a federal solution.”

When asked if there were any plans to cut more affiliates, he said he couldn’t really comment.

For those of you who were cut from the Amazon affiliate program in June, what steps have you taken to work towards regaining that income?

16 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Affiliate Programs

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge link of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs are great for making a little extra money with your blog, and for some people, they’re major money makers. I’ve personally used Amazon’s program with some success, and you can also consider working with individuals to promote their products (for example, I have an affiliate program for my Freelance Writing ebook). Affiliate programs are often most closely associated with Internet marketers, but they can work for all bloggers, whether you blog about making money online or parenting or gardening or sports or anything in between. Today, I’ve got some great advice for you on this topic from some truly brilliant bloggers!

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

20 Tips I Used To Make $90,336.65 With Amazon by Chris Guthrie

Who doesn’t want to make nearly six figures as an Amazon affiliate? I met Chris randomly for a few minutes at BlogWorld 2010 while making a video about the event, and afterward, I looked up his site – and was so glad I did! To call Chris brilliant is an understatement. This post about his success on Amazon is a great place to start, but don’t be afraid to explore – there’s a lot of gold on his blog. After checking out the site, make sure you follow him on Twitter @ChrisGuthrie.

Are You Practicing “Spray And Pray” Affiliate Marketing? by David Risley

Many bloggers don’t find success as affiliates because they just send out a message (spray) and hope that some people bite (pray). In this post, David talks about the problem with this approach and better ways to make money with affiliate programs than just crossing your fingers that someone will click your link and make a purchase. After you check out the post, don’t forget to follow David on Twitter @davidrisley.

8 Principles for Effective Affiliate Marketing on a Blog by Pat Flynn

I love this post from Pat Flynn because it isn’t the typical “here’s how to rank high on Google for a search term and add affiliate links” post. While that can be a great approach, it’s not going to work for every blogger. Pat’s post instead gives advice on how to be successful as an affiliate with a site full of awesome content. Check it out and then follow Pat on Twitter @patflynn.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about affiliate programs? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link!

Next Week’s Topic: Working with a Virtual Assistant

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – and if you head to the Brilliant Blogger Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Are Affiliate Programs Hurting Your Bottom Line?

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Most bloggers I know are part of at least one affiliate program. You can be an affiliate for a specific event (like BlogWorld), you can be an affiliate for a friend’s product, or you can join a large multi-product affiliate program, such as Amazon. For each product your readers buy, you’ll get a percentage of the sales, so you can make a tidy sum if you’re promoting a product that’s popular among your readers.

But if you’re selling your own products as well, could affiliate promotion be hurting your bottom line?

Competition

I’m of the opinion that competition is a good thing in the blogging world. Readers are always looking for new, interesting opinions or advice on the same topic, and just because someone visits your competition doesn’t mean that they won’t also visit your website.

When you’re talking about dollars, though, you have to be careful that your affiliate programs aren’t stealing your readers’ money from you. Say you’re selling a product called “How to Grow Tomatoes Organically.” If you’re also promoting and affiliate product called “Organic Tomatoes 101,” your readers may not have enough money to buy both. If you’re heavily promoting your affiliate products, they might not even realize that you’ve actually written one of the items that’s for sale via your website. They’ll just pick the one that sounds most relevant, and you’ll end up with a percentage of the sales instead of the entire profit from your own product.

In other words, when you’re promoting your own product, promote affiliate programs that are complementary, but that aren’t so like your own product that readers feel like they should only buy one or the other. Continue Reading

Monetization Monday: DOs and DON'Ts Affiliate Programs

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If you’re monetizing your blog, chances are that you’ve considered or attempted affiliate programs. An affiliate program allows you to link to specific products or services, and get paid if a reader clicks through and buys from that site. But (like all monetization strategies) there are DOs and DON’Ts to follow:

DOs of Implementing Affiliate Programs:

  • Keep it Relevant. Some affiliate programs pay better than others, but it doesn’t mean you should use them. Keep your recommendations relevant to your topic, or you’ll risk upsetting your readers.
  • Link Within Your Post. Instead of putting together a list of affiliate or product links in your sidebar, link right in the body of your applicable blog post. Readers are much more apt to click through as they are reading.

  • Experiment. Test one or two programs at a time to see what products and services are selling for your audience!
  • Analyze. Keep track of your sales, analyze the click-through rate, and evaluate each ad individually!
  • Write Product Reviews. When you are promoting a product or service, try writing it up as a review. This lets your reader know why they should purchase the product themselves.

DON’Ts of Implementing Affiliate Programs:

  • Go Overboard. Do not put together a list of 100 products for your users to click to buy! It’s okay to put together a gift guide, but keep it to the top 10 products.
  • Expect to Make Money Overnight. Some posts and products will make money further down the road, when that page gets indexed and gains popularity. If a product is relevant and chosen wisely, it will eventually make money!
  • Promote Everything. Always disclose your affiliations. Your readers will appreciate your honesty, and will feel better about contributing to your earnings. Just because something will make you money, if it is a bad product you probably shouldn’t promote it.

Affiliate links can be a great alternative to advertising for a blog that has a smaller amount of traffic. Because the affiliate only pays out when they get paid, it often doesn’t matter what your monthly pageviews or uniques are!

What are your affiliate program DOs and DON’Ts?

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Image Credit: SXC

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