“Amazon Associates, I’m going to be rich.”
– Every naive blogger
The most I’ve ever earned off a single book review was $1.98. The income was just enough to cover the $0.99 cents I paid for the book itself, but not enough to cover the three hours I spent reading and reviewing it.* I learned a valuable lesson from this experience, having an Amazon Associates account won’t make you rich.
Although I actually enjoy the Associates program, there are three major factors that make it unprofitable:
1. Low referral rates
You’re commission from Amazon is entirely based on how much you sell. And you have to sell a lot before seeing any major changes in your compensation.
If your website has the traffic and readership to move over three thousand products a month, why not just start producing your own goods? Writing an eBook and distributing it through Amazon nets you 70% of the books royalties. 70% royalties on a three dollar book that sells three thousand copies a month would net you $6,300. That’s a lot more than you’d ever make through Amazon Associates.
2. Not every reader is a customer
Whether they’re disinterested in the subject matter, illiterate, or just rode in on a Google search for “dogs humping Richard Feynman;” not every person who visits the site will buy something. Being a notorious window shopper I can’t complain too much, plus I’m just happy that people like reading what I post.
3. Time is money
Reading and reviewing books is a very time consuming process. I’d rather put that energy into more lucrative ventures, like writing another book or making a new website, instead of spending it on something with little return. Interestingly, on a different site I’ve been fooling around with, I’ve noticed that the minimalistic reviews actually result in better sales. I guess it has something to do with the old “less is more” principle of marketing.
As I’ve mentioned before this site is my hobby, not my business. Because of this I’ll continue publishing book reviews.
* For those wondering, I ended up earning roughly $0.33 an hour.