In short I got done wrong, in my opinion, by Amazon using their affiliate link program “Amazon Associates”. This is partly my story of what happened and partly an explanation of how to prevent it yourself. I do continue to use Amazon links in my blog and I fully believe that others should since it’s a great profit sharing tactic for advertising items you actually use and believe in.
Background – how it went right
As of this article I haven’t blogged much and I’m just getting everything on my new site up and going as well as work on my opensource project: http://www.naosproject.com/. This means I don’t have a ton of posts up here but I’m adding as they come and time permits. My first post was on standing desks here which was the same content that I routinely told people and the same pictures i routinely emailed people. It’s something I really believe in and saved my from having to be on pain killers and/or have back surgery and/or give up computer work. I wrote the post then posted it on HackerNews (this was my first blog post and my first HackerNews post). I had over 500 simultaneous visitors and over 7000 unique page visits in the day (according to Google Analytics) and stayed at the #4 spot on the front page for about an hour.
This really exciting and I even made $20 USD from purchases through Amazon (mostly the Thera Cane which I still use and have hanging on my desk as I type this). This was the greatest success story I could imagine and the fun of it all still fuels me typing posts.
Background – how it went wrong
I’m a big believer that information should be easy to get to, people that will work hard will make use of the information if available, so I want people to know the good because it’s there. I also want people to know the bad because that’s there too.
Process in General
For anyone that’s dealt with this program it is really a pretty terrible sign up experience. I messed up something in the application the first go around and got an email saying: “…Unfortunately, we arent able to review an application once its been rejected. If your website has been further developed and now contains appropriate content, youre welcome to submit another application by using the following URL:…” There is no way to fix an error, but this was early and I simply did a new application correctly and updated all my links on the site to the new ID.
Termination of Account
After the success of my post I received another email that my account had been terminated due to lack of content. This was a huge deflation, I was angry, confused, etc. I called in and received nothing but a “you can reapply when you have more content” message from multiple phone calls. After filling out two different surveys noting the terrible experience I was granting the concession that in sixty days they’ll send the balance that I was owed on an Amazon gift card. Ultimately this was good enough for me to move on, more on that in conclusion.
How you can prevent it from happening to you
The problem I found was that apparently your application isn’t really fully accepted until your first sale (regardless of any email confirmation you may receive). At that moment someone in a call center will take a look and actually check some amount of guidelines (I was told that a blog needs at least five of six posts to be considered enough content).
- If you’re a blog have at least 5 or 6 posts before you sign up for an account
- Sign up and add links
- Get a friend to buy something from your blog to force the application review process
- Sit back and watch Amazon share their profits
I’ve not met my quota so I’ve re-done all my links for a third time and if the money shows up then I’ll call this good enough and move on with my life. Mainly I want people to be aware of this issue and know how to get around it without difficulty.
I’m always reminded of my friend that worked in payments at Amazon who told me about a ticket where a father got a gift card for the value of a car on AutoTrader that they were looking at. What a cool way to give his sixteenth birthday present I thought. Then he explained that Amazon lost the transaction and the guy not only ruined the birthday but lost the money as well (he probably got it back eventually but that guy didn’t work at payments by then so I don’t really know).
For the most part my packages show up in two days, I like the music selection, and they offer almost anything at a pretty good value.
Amazon is a lot like a river; if you are in the middle of it and going with the flow you can get somewhere quickly but when you end up on the edge of the river you will likely get beaten into rocks have your boat destroyed…would you call that “Earth’s most customer–centric river”
Amazon gives customers what they want and they’re fantastic at it, but they don’t actually care about the customer…