How I Made $9k in Amazon Affiliate Earnings as a Beginner

Welcome to Two Hour Blogger! I founded this website alongside my best friend Chris to share our success and provide a blueprint to those looking to make money with affiliate marketing and blogging with just two hours of your time every day.

This post will detail my Amazon Associates earnings to date as well as tell my journey of affiliate marketing. I am by no means as successful as others, but I am confident our strategies can take us all to a goal of full-time passive income.

Amazon Associates is one of the best programs out there for newbies looking to begin affiliate marketing. They have a gigantic catalog of products to promote on your website and Amazon’s brand converts rather well.

While the commission rates aren’t exactly the best (being that they’re physical products), if you can sell a lot of products every month, this side hustle may eventually turn into your full-time gig.


My lifetime earnings

Over the course of my time being a part of Amazon Associates, I have earned a grand total of $9,174.14.

Here’s a screenshot of my earnings from last year.

As I said before, I’m not a top earner by any means, but I’m fully committed and have the passion to continue growing my blog.

In 2018, I was able to generate over 38,000 clicks to Amazon and sell almost $150,000 in revenue, leading to a total affiliate income of $8,171.45.

Amazon affiliate earnings

There’s a big dip in the graph after May, which I’ll be going into more detail about later on in the post.

My story

My name is Nick. I’m a musician and have been playing and touring in a band around the United States for the past six years. For the past two, I’ve been blogging passionately.

My blog currently is getting around 12,000 pageviews a month and is growing steadily. It currently has 92 published posts with an average of 2,500 words per post.

Here’s the most recent Ahrefs overview of my site:

Ahrefs Stats 2019

Starting out

Let me preface this by saying, not all content marketers in the make money online niche are scammers. I promise you we aren’t selling you a vial of snake oil.

That being said, when I first started researching affiliate marketing, the latter was the case.


During my years in college, I was always fascinated with the idea of affiliate marketing. Back around 2011, the internet was still scam-ridden with internet gurus with Lamborghinis promising me a turn-key solution to making money online. I fell right into their traps (they’ve moved to YouTube in case you’re unaware).

Those ‘make money online’ people

We’ve all landed on one of the pages before. A generic-looking squeeze promising endless amounts of money with almost no work. I was dumb in college.

Soon I began signing up to email lists, buying email marketing software, domain names, web hosting, you name it, all before even knowing what I was doing.

These guru marketers were killing it with affiliate marketing, but most of them never provided any value. Many were selling their large email lists to solo ad providers in an attempt to cash in before their list was officially dead.

I’ll never forget one CPA scam I was apart of that still exists to this day, in a newly rebranded corporate format. It was basically a tiered pyramid scheme for email sign-ups.

After trying dozens of programs and systems, I gave affiliate marketing a break for a few years.


A niche site started out of passion

Fast forward to around November of 2016, I decided that I wanted to make another website. This time, I was going to do things a lot different.

I stumbled upon a YouTube content creator, Doug Cunnington, who runs a website called Niche Site Project. In his videos, he detailed how he was making niche websites that are almost exclusively based around the Amazon Associates program. I was intrigued.

I actually appeared on Doug’s channel last year. You can check the video out below.

After binge-watching nearly all of his videos, I decided to start my own niche website.

Being that I am a musician and had been touring a lot back then, it made sense to have a website that would generate income passively as I pursued my passion of being a musician.


Your first niche site will suck (at first)

My site was terrible at first; I had posts with 300 words, terrible writing, bad load times, orphaned pages, zero backlinks, and no SEO experience outside of what Yoast told me. I had no idea what Google Analytics or Google Search Console were either. (If all of this is new to you, don’t fret).

How was I supposed to know? I wasn’t supposed to and that’s okay. No one going into their first blog will get 100% of everything correct.

Despite your limited knowledge, if you have a passion for the topic you want to blog about, you’ll gain this knowledge over time.

My website made a total of $6 in November and $5.26 in December of 2016.

Yes, nothing impressive, but I was inspired because I knew this could work if I applied myself.


Digging in on content (2017)

Seeing an actual dollar amount inside my Amazon Associates account really kick-started my ambition to create great content and grow my blog’s traffic.

During the entirety of 2017, I only published around twenty blog posts. When you think about it, that’s not very many.

That’s just a little over one blog post per month.

However, the content I was writing in 2017 was extremely thorough.

I wanted to make sure I beat out every single website that was currently ranked in the top positions for any given keyword.

Some of these blog posts I wrote were upwards of 8,000 words if the topic was large enough. My average was around 2,500 words.

My website made a total of $189.09 in 2017 with Amazon Associates.


Explosive growth (2018)

In 2017, I didn’t make a ton of money with Amazon Associates, but I did put the work in. This is one of the most important things to understand with starting a blog.

According to SEMRush, in January of 2018, my estimated traffic number was 126. If you’re unfamiliar with SEMRush, it’s a paid software that allows you to track your rankings of various keywords in search engines, primarily Google.

According to my Google Analytics dashboard, I had 1,822 unique page views that month with an average of 60 pageviews per day.

January 2018 Traffic

In January of 2018, my website earned $131.55 with Amazon Associates.

At this point, my blog had made me almost the same amount that it made in the entirety of a year. I was ecstatic.

I dove in head first deep into more content writing as much as I could.

Here’s a look at some earnings numbers following January:

  • February 2018 – $220.38
  • March 2018 – $343.01
  • April 2018 – $590.01

There was a steady increase in traffic and earnings. I was excited and wasn’t prepared for what would come next.

Traffic peak in May of 2018

By May of 2018, I had plenty of content on my blog. There were lots of how-to articles, best product roundups, and reviews that began to rank quite well in Google.

SEMRush estimated my traffic number to be 3,318 this month. Google Analytics, again, told a different story: 8,180 unique pageviews in May.

My traffic in 2018
My traffic from 2018 in my Google Analytics account. You can see my penalty beginning in May to October.

With traffic numbers as good as these if you guessed that I had a good month of earnings with Amazon Associates, you’d be correct.

In May of 2018, my website earned a total of $1,556.80.

By this point I was so enthralled with affiliate marketing I had figured I could take the website to double, triple, 10x the amount within a short period of time. Unfortunately, I was wrong.


The Yoast 7.0 Bug

During a time of celebration of my niche website, something lurked in the shadows that would quickly tank my rankings in Google over the next four months.

Both myself and my best friend Chris, the other half of Two Hour Blogger, were affected by this bug.

The graph below from Ahrefs details it all.

We both were bleeding keywords at a staggering rate. Within a few months, I had lost over 3,000 keywords in the top 100.

How the bug originated

The popular SEO plugin Yoast released an update in March that automatically switched a setting for indexing images.

We both, unfortunately, didn’t see that the setting had changed until months later.

The plugin triggered a Panda-like penalty. If you’re unfamiliar with Google’s penalties, Panda is basically an algorithm that penalizes websites with they consider to be thin content.

From March onward, our niche websites had tons of image posts that were now indexed by Google causing us both to receive a nice algorithmic penalty and a gigantic loss in traffic.

The founder of Yoast publicly gave an apology:

“This post serves both as a warning and an apology. …We’re so very sorry. …we messed up. I myself, am sorry. More so than normal, because I came up with and coded this change myself…”

Earnings after the Panda penalty

By September of 2018, SEMRush estimated my website at 1,687 monthly visitors.

It wasn’t until October of 2018 when we realized there was a major issue with the Yoast plugin on each of our sites. Quickly (though too late), we downloaded the SEO Search Index Plugin that fixed the problem.

I still earned a decent amount with Amazon Associates for the following months, but it wasn’t on the same trajectory I had planned for.

  • June 2018 – $727.90
  • July 2018 – $1,111.04
  • August 2018 – $677.61
  • September 2018 – $577.89
  • October 2018 – $802.00
  • November 2018 – $607.36
  • December 2018 – $877.90

Though we were a little beat up about what had happened, we decided together to never give up on our websites and continue onward!


Traffic and goals for 2019

I’m happy to say that both of our websites have rebounded quite nicely. I’ve hit multiple traffic records every month since January for total page views to my website.

My Amazon affiliate earnings are a bit slow, but I’m assuming that it’s because of a slow retail slump at the beginning of the year.

Here’s a look at my traffic numbers for 2019.

My 2019 Traffic Numbers

I have a great feeling about 2019 and the coming months!

Chris and I are focused on attracting quality backlinks, improving our content, and being diligent with adding internal links to all posts where they are appropriate.

Goals

My traffic goal for 2019 is to hit 30,000 page views a month, which I think is very doable, especially given the trajectory.

In addition, I’d like to see my Amazon earnings consistently above $1,000 a month now that my traffic is similar to what it was in May of 2018.

I’ll continue to do update posts in the future regarding my Amazon affiliate earnings. Thanks for reading. Bye for now!

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