15 Steps to Making Money Online with an Amazon Affiliate Site

If you've got a credit card with at least $20 on it, you may be well on your way to making decent extra income online through an Amazon affiliate site. Building your own site is low cost and low effort, and only takes a day to set up.

Building your Amazon affiliate site is one thing, but the challenge is attracting the right traffic that'll convert into product sales once they click through to Amazon. Because of that, it's important to choose the right niche for your site from the start. Here are 15 steps to set you on the path to success:

1. Learn Some Basic HTML
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the standard markup language for creating web pages and web applications. This step is important to keep your costs down and still get what you want. If you're not familiar with basic HTML and basic concepts about running a website, invest in the time to learn; it will be well worth the investment in the long run. Even if the site is basically laid out for you, you're going to need to know how to insert images, create hyperlinks, and do some text formatting. If you have to rely on purchased software, you won't be able to get exactly what you want, you won't know what to do when things go wrong, and you'll end up spending money you don't need.

2. Pick Your Niche
You're going to be doing product reviews and recommendations, so pick a topic that you enjoy and about which you can demonstrate some expertise. Choose a narrow enough niche to be distinctive—for example, bands from your city, left-handed guitarists, music for a certain kind of dancing, authors of a certain religion, books about business, or arts and crafts resources. If you can't stay passionate about the topic, that will show.

3. Set Up Your Web Hosting
This is where most people get burned. For an Amazon affiliate site, you do not have to pay handsomely per month for web hosting. Resources like Online Business Guide have a list of cheap web hosting services. Some are a paltry monthly fee, with unlimited domains. That means you can run several sites like this on the same hosting package.

4. Choose Your Domain Name
Make it keyword-rich, not clever. Think how people will find your site in the search engines. Here are some ideas, some of which already exist in the marketplace:

Music: BandsFromTexas.com, BandOutOfBoston.com, SouthpawGuitarists.com, ClassicPsychedelia.com, Non-Stop-Hip-Hop.com, Merengue-Music.com
Books: Mormon-Authors.com, Arts-and-Crafts-Books.com, Books-by-Stephen-King.com, ClassicBusinessBooks.com
Others: Best-Baby-Toys.com, MomsMags.com, FelliniMovies.com

5. Register Your Domain Name
If you're not technically inclined at all, register your domain wherever you set up your hosting. Otherwise, you can save a few dollars by choosing a lower-cost provider. This is not a big deal for one or two sites, but it can be for 10 or 20. GoDaddy is a good option because it offers great domain management tools and at a low cost annually. One of the least expensive and reputable in the market is 1&1. Prices start at the low end of the spectrum for the first year with increases, sometimes significant for each subsequent year, depending on what plan you choose.

6. Install Wordpress
"Blog, you say?" Yes. It will give your site all the structure you need, plus make it easy to quickly post new content. WordPress, which is free, is easy to install and use, yet powerful. Many hosts have a one-step installation process for it, or you can download it and follow their installation instructions.

7. Make It Pretty
One of the great things about WordPress is the huge variety of templates available on it. This gives you complete freedom and control in the look-and-feel of your site.

8. Set Up Categories
Most blog software allows you to create subcategories to help organize your entries. This will help visitors hone in even more specifically on their interests. For example, BandsFromTexas.com might have one group of categories for the genre—rock, country, or blues—and another for the city of origin—Austin, Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio.

9. Sign Up as an Amazon Associate (Affiliate)
It's simple and free. Simply visit Amazon and click on the Join Associates link at the bottom of the page. Your site should already have at least the basic setup done, even if you don't have any content there yet. Amazon will review the site manually before approval.

10. Create Your Blog Posting Bookmarks and Links
At the bottom of the posting page of your blog software, there should be something called "bookmarklet." Click on the link and drag it up to your Links toolbar in your browser or your Favorites menu. This will allow you to blog about a product with one mouse click.

11. Create Your Amazon Build-A-Link Bookmark and Link
This step makes it easy to build the link with your affiliate ID built in. Log in to Associates Central, look in the left navigation sidebar, go to Build-A-Link, and under Static Links, find Individual Items. Click and drag this onto your Links toolbar or Favorites menu.

12. Build Your First Link
Go to Amazon and log in with your Associates account. Find the product you want to review and use the Site Stripe, which is the gray stripe at the top of the screen that you'll see once you're logged in as an Associate to get your personalized link to the item. Amazon also offers a variety of other options for creating links and banners.

13. Blog Your Review
Now click on your blog posting link (Press This by default in WordPress). If you're using WordPress, you should now see two pieces of link code in your posting form, the first one ending with "Associates Build-A-Link >< /a >". Delete through that point. The second part is a link to the product with your Amazon Associate ID built in. Now just write your product review, choose the appropriate categories for it, and hit Publish.

14. Build Out Your Amazon Affiliate Site
Before you promote your site, you want to have some substantial content there. Write several product reviews. Have at least two to three in each category you've created. You may also want to create categories for articles, news, and commentary about your topic. The more content your site has, the better. And the great thing is that while you're writing all this, the search engines are getting notified automatically, assuming you turned on the necessary notifications.

15. Promote Your Amazon Affiliate Site
The best free way to do this is to communicate with other bloggers writing about similar topics and to participate in online communities where your topic is discussed. See the Online Business Networking category for ideas, as well as the Internet Marketing category.

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