If you have a website or social media site of any kind, you absolutely should have an Amazon affiliate account. That means every time you recommend any product that exists on Amazon – whether it’s a book, movie, software product, or other item, you get a commission on its purchase. It is free, easy money for the things you want to share with your readers.
This includes your OWN books you’ve written. If it’s on Amazon, you get credit for recommending it.
However, there are STRICT RULES about where you are allowed to post promotions. For example, you can NOT put affiliate links in ebooks or email messages. To do so puts in jeopardy your entire Amazon account. Just don’t do it. Amazon is too powerful to get angry, and yes, they absolutely shut down accounts without compunction. Their rules matter to them. Friends of mine have had it happen. I do everything I can NOT to anger Amazon in any way.
Here are the rules.
Your post must be ON A WEBSITE YOU CONTROL.
Not only do you have to control it, but you must have specifically entered that website on the list of your websites in the Amazon affiliate program system. You must have PREREGISTERED that location as one involving your codes. This is part of their quality control system so that you and only you are using your codes.
When you log into your affiliate account at:
Click on your email in the top right, then go to Account Settings. In that screen, go to:
Edit your Website and Mobile App List
You must absolutely put into there every place you are going to post links, and they must be CONTROLLED BY YOU. This can’t be a random comment area of a CNN news report. It must be your personal website or social media feeds wholly under your control. So I can for example put in LisaShea.com. I can even put in https://www.facebook.com/lisashea.origami because that is a page I wholly control. However, I can’t just put in Facebook.com (as in the entire Facebook site) because I don’t control that. I can’t claim credit for any links put anywhere on Facebook.
Make absolutely sure you have that area up to date and you only post your links on those pages, which you control. Amazon knows exactly where incoming links are coming from. If they see links coming in from pages not on that list, they can and will shut your entire account down.
If you are the SOLE MODERATOR of a group, you can post there. But if it’s a generic group that many people have access to, then you can NOT post affiliate links there.
Here is the US Amazon page describing this:
Here’s the EU Amazon page which goes into this in more detail.
OK, now on to part 2.
You Must Disclose That You Make Money
This is not just an Amazon rule, it’s also a FTC rule. A legal government rule, to prevent fraud. In the account you are using, you must say somewhere that you make money from Amazon affiliate links. You don’t have to do it with every single post – this would be a huge burden on short-text places like Twitter. However, your account “about me” area has to indicate that information. On Twitter it’s good to add a hashtag like #paidlink so that it is crystal clear what the post URL goes to.
Take this seriously. You have to do this for legal reasons. You have to let people know that you make money from things you recommend.
And part 3.
Your Link Must Be Clearly To Amazon
This only matters if you use a link shortener. You’ve probably see those URLs – the ones that look like garbage letter piles and you have no idea where it is going. Amazon wants to be crystal clear that someone knows they are going to Amazon to buy the thing, and not being tricked into thinking they’re going somewhere else.
So if you use a link shortener, you absolutely must say that this item is on Amazon so the person knows they are being sent to Amazon.
I’ll also add a fourth caveat:
You Cannot Boost an Affiliate Link Post
You can’t in any way pay money to reach people with your affiliate link post. You can’t run that affiliate link as part of an ad campaign. You can’t “Boost” the post in Facebook. This must be a natural, organic link that you are promoting to people.
If you are Amazon to make money with affiliate sales, that is great. People earn quite a lot of money through Amazon affiliate sales. But make absolutely sure you do it within their rules. Amazon isn’t a forgiving kind of company. They are likely to simply ban you for life for breaking their rules. And considering just how powerful and widespread Amazon is, that’s an excommunication which can really hurt.