Do you live in one of the ‘banned states’ where Amazon won’t let you become their affiliate? These currently include: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It’s not your fault – you didn’t make the stupid tax law that tries to gather more sales tax revenue from online sales, but now you’re being punished. There is a ‘workaround’, if you will, that I found, and it seems to work.
What Not To Do
My first idea was to form a Nevada corporation. I would then register that entity as an Amazon affiliate, and that corporation would pay me as a shareholder. But that would not only add time, but cost several hundred dollars. Not to mention this process would add more red tape at tax season. This intimidates most affiliate marketers of the badlands to just forget about it and move on. Then I found a secret weapon to use for my sites.
What TO DO
I found Viglink. To put it in simple terms, Viglink is a very large affiliate aggregator. They’re not registered in one of the banned states, so they qualify for Amazon affiliate. Also, due to their volume, they get the top 8.5% commission rate on all Amazon items. What they do is allow you and I to monetize our sites with their affiliate account, as kind of an ‘affiliate’s affiliate’. So you’re not actually an Amazon affiliate, but you’re kinda a contractor for Viglink.
You install a snippet of code on your site and from that point on, any links you post out from your site (that can be affiliated) will automatically convert to an affiliated link. Have a WordPress site? It couldn’t be any easier. Just install the plugin and add your Viglink key. You can also set it to automatically add affiliated links to your pages. For example, the application saw that I typed ‘Amazon’ on this page, but I didn’t create the link, Viglink did. This makes affiliating your pages much simpler- and automatic.
The bonus, Viglink has thousands of merchants, not only Amazon! You don’t have to apply to dozens and dozens of affiliate programs, only to be rejected, then weed through the specific pages and products you want to link to. Simply go to the page you want to link to, copy the URL, paste it into your site, then Viglink will automatically convert that link to an affiliate link. Viglink takes 25% of whatever the affiliate program pays. The good news for someone in an Amazon ‘banned state’ is even after their 25%, due to the fact they get the 8.5% tier, you actually get 6.4%, which is still more than most Amazon affiliates make at the bottom tiers. So what are you waiting for? It’s a very simple workaround, and trust me, it will make your life easier.
Update (June 18, 2013)
On the morning of the 18th, we all got the following email from Viglink:
We are reaching out to inform you that Amazon has requested we enforce their ineligible publisher policies on our network. Amazon’s Operating Agreement explicitly forbids publishers in North Carolina, Illinois, Colorado, Rhode Island, and Arkansas from participating in their affiliate program; as such, we’ve had to cease Amazon affiliation for your account.
We have recently announced a new product that may help you continue earning revenue from your Amazon links. You may have seen our announcement last week to launch what we call the Link Optimizer. This technology will be an optional feature that recognizes product links and can rewrite the link on the page to the same product sold by a different merchant. The ultimate goal of this product is to create a competitive market where your links always point to the merchant that will pay you the highest commission; at the moment, it primarily redirects Amazon links, making it the best solution possible to their policy and an opportunity to continue earning from your Amazon links.
If you’re interested in giving this a shot, you can join the Beta waitlist here. Please let us know if you have any questions, and we’ll let you know if anything changes as far as Amazon affiliation. Thank you for your understanding.
VigLink Customer Success
So it appears the solution we’ve been using the last year is currently not going to work anymore. So I’m actually doing some research and contacting Viglink as well as competitors of Viglink, and other affiliate marketers to collaborate on getting a new solution. Please follow me on Twitter because as soon as I’ve had time to research this issue further and offer a 2.0 version of this solution, I will post a blog and tweet that post. Hang in there guys it’s not over yet.
Update (September 16, 2014)
To those still looking for a solution to the problem this post addresses – You’re not forgotten. Unfortunately the few solutions I was exploring never panned out, however I have one other lead I’m chasing down and will report back as soon as I have more info. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, feel free to do so for quicker updates.