The Amazon Influencer program entices creators with a “meaningful” following on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube to promote products in exchange for a commission on each sale. Considering that the company is forecasted to make $746.2 billion in e-commerce sales in 2023, it’s easy to see why influencers large and small are hitching their wagon to Amazon.
In this article, we’ll dive into how the Amazon Influencer program works, how it compares to the Amazon Associates program, and whether it’s a worthwhile revenue stream.
What Is the Amazon Influencer Program?
The main difference between the two is that Amazon Associates provides bloggers with affiliate links to drive traffic directly to individual Amazon listings, whereas the Amazon Influencer program supplies influencers with a curated storefront, shoppable photos and videos, live streams, and other tools that are more suited to social media.
Amazon Influencer Pros & Cons
While getting accepted to the Amazon Influencer program can take some time, there are some great perks that come with it. Here are a few of the benefits of the Amazon Influencer program, as well as a few drawbacks to consider.
- You don’t need a huge social media following to get started.
- Has less restrictive qualifying criteria than other programs.
- Can join for almost any product category (not just beauty or fashion).
- Unlike Amazon Associates, it does not require a conversion within 180 days of joining.
- You get a vanity URL (one with your social media handle) so you can share your storefront verbally or in places where linking isn’t possible.
- You can curate and organize your recommended items in your storefront to make shopping easy for your audience.
- Low commission rates compared to other affiliate programs.
- Can get banned if you don’t strictly follow guidelines.
- The only social media platforms available are TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.
- Individual products may already be saturated with videos.
- You need to acquire the physical product to make a photo or video about it.
- Amazon products don’t stick around forever, and some of your videos/posts will likely be obsolete in 2-3 years.
How to Qualify and Join
While Amazon doesn’t publish how many followers you need to qualify, anecdotal evidence shows that you should have a bare minimum of 300 followers (your odds seem to go up if you have 1,000-2,000) and high engagement with your audience. Before you apply, spend some time building and engaging with your social media following.
Once you’ve crossed this threshold, you can apply to the program. Your Amazon Influencer account will be attached to an Amazon customer account; you can use your existing customer account or create a new one. You’ll give Amazon permission to access whatever social media handle you’re using.
Amazon will then review your social media account for tentative approval. If you’re tentatively approved, you’ll be permitted to create and upload your first three product videos. Amazon will review these videos. If they’re approved, you can start earning onsite commissions, and the videos will be eligible for placement in product listings.
Be sure to put some effort into your first three videos, because Amazon may withdraw your approval if your video quality is poor or if you violate any of the program’s content guidelines. In other words, think of the first three videos as a trial run.
If you get fully approved, you’re ready to curate your storefront and get going in earnest.
How Amazon Influencers Make Money
In short, all the money to be made from the Amazon Influencers program comes from commissions on the sale of Amazon items. However, there are multiple channels to drive people to your affiliate links.
The greatest thing about Amazon Influencers is the wide variety of ways to make money, and many of these channels feed each other. It’s like a self-perpetuating ecosystem. Here’s an intro on what tools you have in your arsenal as an Amazon influencer.
Amazon Influencer Tools
The Influencer program gives users unique tools specially designed for selling Amazon products on social media.
Here’s what Amazon Influencers have in their arsenal:
- Customized storefront. This is your own Amazon selling webpage with a vanity URL that matches your social media handle (i.e. amazon.com/show/yourhandle). This makes driving traffic to your links easier in instances where affiliate links don’t work (e.g., when you want to mention the URL in a video). Influencers can link to this storefront in their social media bios.
- Idea lists. Group the items you’re promoting into logical categories so your audience can browse them. Idea lists can be based on market segments (i.e., must-haves for new moms or puppy supplies), by price (budget buys), or the type of item (handbags or camping accessories).
- Shoppable videos. This is the lifeblood of most Amazon Influencers’ commission efforts. Influencers produce short videos about a specific Amazon product, unboxing it, highlighting its features, comparing it to others on the market, etc. These influencer videos can be featured directly in Amazon listings, and when a consumer views the video and ultimately buys the product, the influencer who made the video earns a commission.
- Shoppable photos. Influencers can use shoppable photos to showcase related Amazon items in a realistic setting and demonstrate their features. A great example is a photo of a living room setup that features throw pillows, picture frames, and a coat rack — all that are on a ‘home decor’ idea list in your storefront. Tag each individual item in the photo for the Amazon link to appear beneath the photo. These links only appear on listings in the Amazon app/website listings, not in social media posts.
- Live streams. These give influencers the chance to connect with their audience more authentically than in shoppable videos. Influencers queue up links to the Amazon items they plan to mention, but the live streaming format offers the opportunity to talk about the products in the context of a wider topic (i.e., talking about water bottles, a pedometer, and a meditation journal in the context of promoting good mental and physical health). These live streams occur on the Amazon website or in the app.
- Bounties. In addition to commissions on physical products, Amazon offers one-time payouts called bounties when influencers sell Amazon digital services, such as Amazon Prime, Audible, or Music Unlimited. Influencers can promote these services just as they would other Amazon products.
- Analytics. Amazon gives influencers an analytics dashboard so they can track their commissions, clicks, conversion rates and other metrics.
Oddly enough, there are plenty of Amazon Influencers that don’t use social media to drive their sales. Because it’s not possible to add links directly to the caption of a TikTok video or Instagram photo, these platforms only allow links in an influencer’s bio section, limiting the traffic they get from these social media platforms.
There seem to be two types of Amazon Influencers — those that post Amazon content on social media almost exclusively, and those that rarely post any Amazon content on their social media, instead relying on their commissions from videos in Amazon product listings.
Amazon Influencers tend to be tight-lipped about how much they earn and how they earn it, but here are a few best practices and tips for newbies:
- Make quality videos. You only need a cellphone camera to get started, but if you want to compete with other influencers, you’ll have to up your game to stay in the space. Use good lighting and a good camera setup that doesn’t bounce around.
- Make your videos the “Goldilocks” length. Videos won’t provide much value if they’re too short, and no one wants to watch a 10-minute video about a filing cabinet. Good videos are usually just a couple of minutes long.
- Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. What questions are buyers asking about this product? How does it compare to others on the market? What reservations might buyers have about purchasing the product? Understanding the mentality of your customers will help you increase your sales commissions.
- Keep up-to-date on the Amazon algorithm. At first, Amazon favored horizontal videos, but with the upswing in mobile traffic, that is now changing. Successful Amazon Influencers keep abreast of these changes and tweak their strategy to optimize their listings.
- Optimize your storefront for your audience. Consider making lists around specific holidays or events (like Prime Day) that are pertinent to your group. Make it easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for.
- Focus on products that are in demand and which don’t already have a ton of videos. Many influencers say that this is the secret sauce for maximizing commissions. Check the Amazon seller rank for items you’re considering selling.
- Share on multiple platforms. You only have to qualify for the Amazon Influencer program on one platform, but you can share your links, videos, and photos on others too.
How Much Money Do Amazon Influencers Make?
This depends on a myriad of factors. How many videos do you have and in what categories? Are they of good quality? Are the products you’re selling in high demand? How many other videos are you competing with? Are you promoting your videos on social media?
Amazon made a change recently to move videos further down in the listing, which decreased commissions for nearly every Amazon Influencer. So when researching how much others have made on the platform, double-check when those sales were made.
While comparing one seller’s experience to another will never be apples to apples, here are a few anecdotes on how much Amazon Influencers are making.
- “Some days $15. Some days $150. It’s NEVER consistent. Ever.” — hrk85
- “Over a year in. Every day is different. A few months ago I was making double what I am now. Still averaging $100 days.” — Kunipshun_Fit
- Empty_Western_1999 reported a weekend of only $7 profit, but monthly sales of $828 with only 80 uploaded videos.
- “I have 100 videos up and I’m barely making $10 a day.” — blushie157
Many Amazon Influencers have noted that their sales ebb and flow due to the seasonality of the items they promote (for instance, air conditioners sell better in the summer) as well as general shopping trends that change with the annual and economic cycles. E-commerce sales are typically higher in December and lower in January through March.
Amazon Influencer Program FAQs
Many influencers start by reviewing products they have around their house. It’s easy to produce an honest review of something you already own, and there’s no cash layout. Once you start earning commissions, set aside a portion of it to buy new products to review.
Most have a mix of purchased products and free products offered by vendors. Once you gain some experience and a following, you may have Amazon sellers reach out to you and offer you free products or a payment in exchange for a review video. You can also score products to review by reaching out to sellers directly to offer this service
If you’re a normal, everyday customer, there’s nothing wrong with this. If you’re an Amazon Influencer earning commissions from these reviews, you may be violating the program’s terms of service.
Summary & Final Verdict
Becoming an Amazon Influencer has the potential to bring you some serious cash. Many influencers receive hundreds or thousands of dollars per month from the videos they upload and commissions from sellers who pay them to review products.
And as long as your audience views and buys products, the videos you make once will produce passive income for potentially years to come. Many Amazon Influencers caution against relying on this program as full-time income, however. Amazon could pull the plug on the program at any time, arbitrarily ban your account if a video violates one of their policies, or just change up the algorithm so your views and clicks go down.
While the Amazon Influencer program has the potential to bring you full-time level income, depending on a single platform is a dangerous move for any influencer. If becoming an Amazon Influencer is part of a career move for you, put a few of your proverbial eggs in other baskets, such as a YouTube channel or affiliate marketing through a blog, to protect your income in case Amazon goes in a different direction.