Sunday 2 January 2011

Is It Better To Use Your Own Amazon Associate Account On Squidoo?

There are two different ways of earning money from Amazon sales on Squidoo - the Squidoo modules, and your own associate links. But which is better? I know I was wondering a lot before I jumped in - didn't want to expend effort and time on something that didn't convert, and diverted attention from the links I was making sales from. This post covers the various points to consider as well as some of my own conversion rates, successes/failures, and observations. I expect it to grow over time!

Squidoo Amazon modules use its own associate account. Any sales via these are attributed to Squidoo, who then splits the commission with you. You can also create your own image, text and SquidUtils links using your own Amazon Associates account. If you don't have your own account, you can also extract each lens' affiliate ID and use it on that lens in your own links and SquidUtil's banners (this is a good backup option for people who've been kicked out of the affiliate program due to the Nexus tax).

What are the differences in earnings?
With Squidoo, you get HALF of the commission, but Amazon's tiered payouts mean that Squidoo makes twice as much on commission.

Amazon pays more based on the number of items sold (with a few product-type variations). When you are just starting, you'll be struggling in the less than seven items a month tier, and Squidoo will pay you more.

If you can make it to the next tier, with seven to thirty items sold a month, then it's worth using your own links.

But consider the main points of Squidoo versus Amazon:

1. Squidoo's Amazon modules tend to sell well, and update the prices automatically.

2. Amazon pays out only via direct deposit in the US or cheque. Overseas people must earn $100 to claim the cheque. Squidoo pays out via Paypal from as low as $1.

3. Sales via Squidoo give you a lensrank boost (depending on how much you sell).

4. ANY clickouts are good, anyway.

5. Squidoo has just brought in limits on the number of Amazon modules (which has everyone quite upset and may change again - but lenses can often sell well with only a few items on offer)

6. You can use both on the same lens

7. You can use your associate account elsewhere (actually, you can use the Squidoo one elsewhere by copying the link too, and have sales count to that lens, but this is getting complicated!)

8. Every month, the Amazon tiers reset, so if your sales aren't consistent, you'll be losing out.

9. You are not allowed to buy (and earn a referral) through your own Amazon links. You CAN buy through Squidoo's and get part of the referral.

10. Some states in the US are bringing in laws to tax affiliate income - as Amazon isn't based in those states and it all gets very complicated, it may just stop offering affiliate accounts to people who live in those areas.

11. Finally, Squidoo's modules are much easier to use, while building your own Amazon links requires some knowledge of HTML (this does give more flexibility, but if you don't really know how to build text or image links, much less make it look fancy or position the image, you may want to wait a bit).

12. However... the higher payout levels (if you can reach them) mean more money. I have consistently sold more items per month on Squidoo, but earnt approximately equal or higher Amazon royalties.

My story: what kind of success I've seen with Amazon
I opened an Amazon account when I found that the fees were waived for sending cheques overseas, and after I was making consistent sales (5-10 a month) on Squidoo. I had about 100 lenses at the time, and had been on Squidoo nearly two years. I opened my Best Reviewer account at the same time as I opened the associate account and I think I sell about half from there bearing in mind that I haven't really gone back and added Amazon links on old lenses yet.

I just managed to make the 6% tier for the first two months (a great surprise! That's seven items a month and about $11 each month)... and by 'just' I mean the last orders scraped in on the last day or so - one month I thought I'd missed it!). And then it was Christmas. I won't know for a few more months if it was ALL because of Christmas, or if that's simply the month when I finally had enough links, lists and reviews out there to start making better sales, but for December 2010, I made $111 and sold 94 items. (Earnings count in the month in which they were shipped - a half-dozen of these orders where actually placed at the end of November).
(Update: I've made it to the 6% tier by January 9th, 2011 so it wasn't entirely Christmas shopping).

On Squidoo, I made $69 in sales (early under-approximation from Squidoo; more likely to be about $80 on payout in February) and sold slightly little less via the Amazon modules (maybe 60-70 items). This is three times what I made last Christmas, with about 50-60 lenses.

My conversion rate and sale numbers on Amazon:

I did surprisingly well before Christmas, right off the bat, but I'll want to wait and see if I'll continue to do so. I'm keeping a running tally of the conversion rate for each month here.

Update: By 9th Jan, I'd passed the 7 item target and made the 6% tier, so it looks like it wasn't just the lead-up to Christmas (*breathes sigh of relief*). Interestingly, I've had about the same number of orders from Squidoo, although some were eBay orders, so I'd have to check the exact details. Read my observations for early January for more details.


It is not worth using Amazon rather than Squidoo initially, but over time the more links you have out there the better, so you may want to start building early.

Amazon has better reporting and offers more control and potential for growth, but Squidoo makes it a lot easier to both sell and claim your money. While it is possible to earn big on Squidoo, most of the big earners on Squidoo use it as a base and pull in the majority of their income from other sources.

I like to use both together - such as an Amazon module with my own associate links in the text itself. I've also had some luck with using Amazon on Best Reviewer - it's a good site to whip up a simple list on, which can then be developed into a lens. I've started using this approach a bit more consistently now (make list, see if I sell anything, or just if it inspires me later, then develop it into a full and interesting lens) and had some success. So a separate Amazon account does give you more freedom, if you know enough about the web, coding and SEO to use it. I've been advising the people I'm helping set up on Squidoo not to worry about it yet.

If you are making more than four sales a month, consider it. Actively using your associate account will lead you to push the boundaries, experiment, and find other places to use it.

If you are making ten sales a month, go for it.

Check if you can actually claim the money - are you in the USA or overseas? Can you wait to earn the money, or dare you risk a posted cheque? What are your local bank's fees for foreign currency deposits?

Don't switch entirely to Amazon Associates immediately - Squidoo gives you a back-up if something goes wrong with your account, or you can't get your links to work or to make sales. Amazon can also be a little finicky about where and how you make sales and has been known to simply deny you royalties if they deem your practices shady.

Do check out the links below:

1 comment:

  1. I have always found sales through Squidoo Amazon links to be slow and sporadic, maybe it's just me not creating the right lenses.

    Sales are a bit better on my own account, both on Squidoo and occasionally on Best-Reviewer, which I have found to be good at times for generating sales.

    Most months I do now make the 6% on Amazon, and although I live in the UK, I am a dual US Citizen, so most of my online earnings do go to the USA, so I can cash out with smaller amounts.


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