How to Become an Amazon Affiliate in Colorado, California or Illinois

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.

Viglink Dashboard
A quick snapshot of the Viglink Dashboard

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:

Hello,

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.

Sincerely,

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.

Please comment and rate my post!

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How to Become an Amazon Affiliate in Colorado, California or Illinois, 4.7 out of 5 based on 121 ratings

Written by: Kyle Marvin

Husband and father of three, Kyle resides in Colorado, where he owns and operates Strike Web Marketing and helps small businesses get discovered online. Add me to your circles on Google +

90 comments

  1. Hal

    Thank you a lot for sharing this with all people you actually understand what you’re speaking about! Bookmarked.

  2. Levi Painter

    Thank you for your post. I have been looking for a solution and this seems to be it. However, there one thing related to this topic that I cannot figure out. If you are affiliated with Viglink are you still able to use amazon plugins on wordpress?

  3. Kyle Marvin

    I am not sure about specific plugins Levi, but you can use other affiliate links. It will only affiliate the links that have not been affiliated. If you are referring to a plugin that needs your affiliate ID I would assume not.

  4. Jon

    HI Kyle:
    I live in Colorado, and what a pain to try to get Colorado to reverse the House Bill passed in March 2010 taxing products on the internet, which led to Amazon banning Associate Accounts here in Colorado.

    My questions are below this: When you say to do this: 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.

    Question 1. What do you mean by Just install the plugin and add your Viglink key?

    Question 2. And where do I get the VigLink Key??
    After signing up through your Site or blog at http://www.kylemarvin.com/how-to-become-an-amazon-affiliate-in-colorado-california-or-illinois/, I did get the snippet of code from VigLink.
    Question 3. Is that the same Snippet of Code to Copy and Paste on all sites, whether they be WordPress Blogs, or Regular html Pages created in an HTML Editor, like Adobe Dreamweaver 6?

    • Kyle Marvin

      Hi there Jon. The WordPress plugin is here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/viglink/ then in the plugin settings you just input your Viglink API key (which they give you when you create your account- It’s under “Account”). If you don’t want to bother with the plugin, just install the snippet of code in the body tag. You need to get a new key for each site you might install the code on. Just email support@viglink.com and say “I would like a key for my site (site URL) under my account. You will probably get an email in a few hours – from a real person. You can paste the code in any kind of site (not just WordPress). Just make sure it’s in the body. It would make more sense to do that on the template/sitewide end rather than dinking around installing on each page individually. Any other questions like that just email their support- they’re pretty helpful and it’s a small company so you usually get the same couple people helping you out.

  5. Scott Seong

    I signed up with viglink from your affiliate link. Thanks for the info. I’ve placed a couple of orders from Amazon from viglink, but I don’t see the commission. The viglink dashboard does show # of clicks, but no commission yet.

    • Kyle Marvin

      Thanks for letting me know, Scott. I hope it goes well for you! Sometimes, the commissions can be a few days or even a week or 2 behind. But you can always contact Viglink to have them track down a specific missed commission.

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  7. Scott Seong

    Kyle,

    Thanks for checking back with me. Yes, Viglink missed my Amazon conversions and they did reconcile with me. They explained that they have a limited Amazon Affiliate Click IDs, and there are times when the Amazon conversions will be missed and they will be thrown into a bucket.

    I have a few conversions since so this is a good addition to my passive income stream. Once again, thanks for sharing good tips with me.

    Scott

  8. Nick Naggar

    Thanks Kyle, I came to your blog thru the Warrior Forum, Coolice HarwareClone offer.
    Your info about Viglink Network is much appreciated and useful for me as Amazon affiliate here in California, and other States, with similar Internet Tax Laws.
    The nice thing about VigLink, not only it solves the Amazon affiliate problem, but it also includes eBay and many other major and well known merchants. It is a time saver !
    I’ll be using its WordPress plugin to build Amazon and eBay niche sites.
    Thanks again.

    • Kyle Marvin

      You’re right Nick. It makes it easier and painless to sign up for any affiliate program you want instantly. No need to ‘be approved’. Boom, you’re in. Best luck in your future ventures!

  9. Ryan

    Thanks, Kyle!! As a Colorado native, this is great news.

    Also, you should be glad to know that if you were to Google “amazon affiliate colorado,” your post is #2, right behind the official amazon page. You are doing it right.

  10. Rick Butts

    Kyle, this was a terrific solution to the Banned Amazon States problem. I have been really frustrated by the ban and not sure what to do. I bought a Kindle recently and got caught up in the Amazon Prime fever – and have started to use Amazon a lot personally – and wanted to use their stuff on my sites.

    I’ll sign up for the affiliate account as suggested. Glad to meet you fellow Coloradoan. I’m on my way to Ukraine again for a few months – but the blog liveth and Ill tell others.

    Also, I hit you on all the social media links from FB to LinkedIn post. Best wishes.

  11. James Stanitz

    Hello Kyle,

    My name is Jimmy and I currently reside in the western suburbs of Chicago. I’m mentioning this because I went to both high school & college in Colorado during the early to mid 80′s. High school was in the Cherry Creek District and college up in Ft Collins. I miss it quite a lot so when I see someone like yourself living out there I mention all of this so that you will eventually feel compelled to invite me out for a visit! lol

    The real reason for my commenting on your post is that I wanted you to know that I think your idea is absolutely brilliant! When all of this first happened it immediately cost me over $1500-$1800 per month! I wasn’t too thrilled about the change. My lawyer set up an LLC for me in Nevada and I have used that for all Amazon related activity since then. As you mentioned, this is a possible remedy, but it is somewhat complicated and expensive and most importantly, if you are not diligent with keeping records you could end up easily qualifying for a free visit from a friendly IRS agent. That’s always a real treat.

    Your solution on the other hand is so simple and easy to implement that it should immediately open the doors back up for everyone who wanted to sell on Amazon but thought they had been shut down forever. Great job. Keep up the good work. This is another excellent example of how truly powerful information can be. I feel blessed whenever I have an opportunity to give back and help other people to discover a much better way to live by working for themselves and creating multiple streams of income. I hope we have a chance to talk someday soon. Thanks!

    Take care & God Bless.

    James Stanitz

    • Kyle Marvin

      James, thanks for taking the time to comment! I totally get how people can easily get overwhelmed in the most expensive option. One of the things I’ve learned in my experience is to figure out what the lowest risk option is, proving concept, then if it warrants further cost, go for it. Viglink helps us put the horse before the cart as intended. I’m glad the info was helpful, and I hope you get back to Colorado someday! :)

  12. Kurt Frankenberg

    SO happy to find this! I’m here in Colorado, and growing a blog. I’ve wanted to send bizness to Amazon (and collect affiliate checks too, not gonna lie) but I thought it was bookoo unfair that I couldn’t do it as a Colorado resident. Going to vigilink right now… Thanks for posting this info. Permission to quote you and repost this info on my blog as well? Thanks Kyle.

    Keep Stepping,

    Kurt

  13. bill

    I’m new to all of this. I have a blog on blogger and have installed the viglink. I have also followed the steps of adding the url links. Am I supposed to hit publish or save after that. I did hit save but what happens now? In other words, are these links supposed to be shown on my page? Guess I’m confused as I thought a link is supposed to appear somewhere for a reader to click. Help…..

  14. bill

    Here is an update. I have some links that I placed in my blog and they are showing up. When the link is clicked the reader is taken to the website (amazon, macy’s, etc.) Here’s my main question; do i need to sign up with any of these affiliate programs or is viglink going to do it for me? Thanks for any help you can provide.

    • Kyle Marvin

      If the code is properly installed, no you won’t need to do anything. The relationship will be between you and viglink and between viglink and the merchant, not between you and the merchant. I’m not sure if it properly installs to Blogger, you’d have to check. If all else fails you can email their support and ask if it’s properly set up. You could manually affiliate links if they’re being posted on sites like Twitter or Facebook by using this page: http://www.viglink.com/products/anywhere This is new since I’ve written this post. If the code doesn’t properly install to Blogger you may need to just use this as a worst case scenario.

  15. William Frederickson

    How do I deal with the software I will be installing that needs to get to Amazon with out the three codes Amazon requires? Do I get them from Viglink?

  16. Jim

    Kyle,

    I live in a state where amazon does not allow affiliates as you indicated.I recently purchased a wordpress theme that pulls products from amazon, ebay, etc. When setting up this site, it ask for an Amazon ID. Will Viglink work for me in this type scenario and if so where do I obtain the amazon ID?

    thanks,

    Jim

  17. Vea

    Thanks for providing this insight, and coupled with all the additional comments, I feel like I know exactly what to do, understand how it will work.. and I haven’t even been to the affiliate site yet.. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

  18. Ryan

    So did you get the nasty-gram from Viglink this morning? Sounds like Amazon has thrown their weight around and Viglink is no longer offering the Amazon affiliate services to those of us living in Colorado (and other states…).

    I’ve considered getting a mailbox in another state (I know there are services that offer this), but I’m unsure as to the legality of this. If you have any brilliant ideas, I’m all ears!

    • Dan

      I’d like to know the answer to the mailbox question too. I’m in North Carolina and I got Viglink’s email regarding Amazon pulling out as well.
      Would a mailbox in let’s say South Carolina work or an LLC formed in another state?
      Even though I live only a few miles from South Carolina, I don’t necessarily want to move just to get back into Amazon’s Affiliate Program.

      What’s the backup plan, Kyle?

      • Kyle Marvin

        Yeah, I did get that nasty gram. Unfortunately I’ve been gone on a fishing trip and just got back, so I still have to dig thru everything and find out what is going on. I am incredibly disappointed in Viglink if they caved so easily like this. It may be time to take a look at a competitor of Viglink. I will update this blog post and tweet when I have had time to get some thoughts together and get a handle on this. As with everything in IM, this is just another time to adjust and adapt. It separates the losers from the winners.

      • Ryan

        Thanks, Kyle. I was afraid you got the letter and ran for the hills…

        If it’s any help to you, I’ve checked with Skimlinks. They said the same as Viglink. And as far as mail goes, I’m leaning toward Virtual Post Mail. You can get a box for as low as $10 a month. As I understand it, it would require some taxes to be paid in California for commissions paid, but that’s no problem since it is after the fact.

        Anyway, I look forward to whatever you come up with.

        • Dan

          Thanks Ryan and Kyle.
          Yeah, Skimlinks would have been my back up, but since Ryan already checked, this plan fell through, too.
          I read in Pat Flynn’s article “Alternatives for Amazon Affiliates – Life After the Tax Bill” a comment, that “according to 4 different attorneys, the only way to legally get back to being affiliated with Amazon again is to move out of state.”
          This comment was from 2011, but I doubt anything has changed.

          • Kyle Marvin

            I don’t think there’s anything ‘illegal’ about selling amazon, as it’s simply an Amazon policy not a law. I’m going to look into how stringent Viglink and Skimlinks’ registration process is, it could be as simple as getting mail forwarding out of state and not registering a whole business there, then signing up for one of the services. Unfortunately I’m booked with client SEO this week and most of next but it is on my radar. I appreciate anyone else who wants to comment to contribute to the discussion.

  19. Bob

    Your information is great thanks for providing a simple solution.My question
    is if I create an ebook, will I be able to use Viglink to sell the book on Amazon.
    Thanks
    Bob

    • Dan

      Bob, with Viglink you can only sell what’s already on Amazon. It’s a tool to earn commissions off of other people’s products. You would have to get your ebook to be listed at Amazon first, before you could start referring to it through Viglink.
      Hope that helps.
      Dan

  20. Anaa

    I live in an allowed state, but I use to live in Arkansas, and therefore my business still operates in Arkansas. Is my amazon account banned now? Should I move my business to the state I reside in now?

    Thank you,

    • Kyle Marvin

      If they find out your business is in a banned state chances are it won’t be good. So if you have the means to feasibly move the business I would suggest doing so.

  21. Pat

    Thanks for this page. I eagerly wait the solution for the banned states solution! I’m just getting some websites together and am trying to add recommended reading, and wanted to monetize what I could off of it! Seems like residents of Illinois are always getting screwed out of money and that they don’t want us to make money.

  22. Shannon

    Appreciate this article. Am now following you on Twitter. People like you make my life easier and my learning curve shorter. Thanks!

  23. Ryan Smiith

    This was excellent! Thank you much.

    Question: I bought my website from someone. They had the Amazon Affiliate set up, but I live in Illinois, and of course can’t use that. I set up Viglink (I have WordPress). Do I have to make sure the Amazon Affliliate is canceled from the person I bought it from or does Viglink trump the existing Amazon Affiliate so that I will be getting credit….

  24. Jeremy

    Bob, I live in Colorado and just learned of the Amazon blacklisted states. I’m not slow, just new to the affiliate marketing world. REALLY NEW!! I was so disappointed to learn I’m ineligible simply because I live in Colorado. I’m wondering, does that LLC option that you initially suggested “not to do” look a lot better now? I’m thinking of going that route but I don’t know which state would be the smartest to go with. Any recommendations?
    Thanks.

    • Kyle Marvin

      Jeremy, I’m hoping to find a more simple solution, but if you have the justifications and means to do that with little risk, by all means go for it. I still believe there is an alternate method, it’s just a matter of me making the time to get to this. To be honest, affiliate marketing is less than 10% of my business, so I haven’t had the proper time to put into this quite yet, but I will. I’m a bit behind on a couple client projects. As soon as I have some findings I will surely tweet a link to the blog post. Should be beefy.

  25. Dan

    I jumped for joy! Then I cried a little. I thought you had figured out a way for me to monetize my blog here in Colorado until I got to the “update.” : ( So sad. I will try to keep an eye on you and hope you find a new solution soon. Thanks!

  26. champ007

    I’m from the Philippines can I use Viglink to sell amazon products since our country is not yet cover by Amazon affiliate program,thanks in advance,God bless.

  27. Don

    Hello all, I am a new refugee from Missouri which has joined the list of ineligible for AA. Any advice for someone with 4 sites. D-Day is August 28, then they pull the plug.

    • Kyle Marvin

      We’re still investigating a solution. Ideally, the best solution would be for Amazon to get their undies out of a twist and stop punishing affiliates, but we’ll think of something. Follow me on Twitter to stay in the loop.

  28. jan

    So, we can sell a book we write on Amazon — and get paid a percentage of the price they collect? But we can’t act as an affiliate — even for our own book. Is that correct?

  29. Wayneious

    Thanks for the snippet of information. trying to put together little streams all the time and this with other information will make the journey far better and faster.

  30. John @ Bradshaw IT Consulting

    Kyle, thanks for the good info on Viglink. I’ve only been using them since May but I’m disappointed that VigLink no longer works for affiliates in states impacted by the tax laws. I live in one of those states (Arkansas), if you hear of any alternatives to VigLink please post it on your site or Twitter. I was just reading about SkimLinks.com today but I have not used it but read it supposed to still work for Amazon in banned states.

    • Kyle Marvin

      Yeah I knew about Skimlinks long ago. They’re the first ones I called. Unfortunately the same Amazon terms apply to them and it’s just a matter of time before they enforce it too (in fact it could already be). The guy told me they were doing the same thing as Viglink just a few weeks later. I’m looking into alternatives but it’s not a solid go quite yet.

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  32. Roderick

    I ran into this doing something else and I’m on it like stank on bad breath! Man thanks for sharing this vital information! I live in North Carolina and this has got my mind rethinking now! Thanks, will keep in touch.

  33. Kerah6

    You, sir, are a genius! I wish I had found your post before Amazon put at an end to it, but what an awesome secret weapon.

  34. Bill

    Looking at Covert Store Builder and Fresh Store Builder 4.0. Does anyone know if these get around the Amazon problems in Illinois?

  35. Matthew Allen

    Thanks for this write up and June update Kyle! Just yesterday, Michigan politicians voted to pass a similar law to the laws in the current banned states. I am very fearful that my life as an Amazon Associate is about to be ended as a result :( This really frustrates me because I’ve been working really hard for the past few weeks on a site that was intended to be monetized soley by selling Amazon products. I still have hope. It hasn’t happened yet – but it sure looks like it’s heading in that direction.

    My other hope is that as this happens in more and more states that maybe Amazon will re-think their policies and just submit to all the stupid state laws and open their affiliate program back up to everybody.

    Adding you on G+ and Twitter – hopefully I’ll see an update if you come across another workaround (if I’ll need it)

  36. an

    Hi Kyle Marvin,

    Thank for your post, may i ask you this question?
    How long you waited to see your link be affiliated with viglink tag, and what i need to do to find my viglink tag??

    I installed viglink code to my wordpress site and see some words like amazon, ebay were linked by viglink, but when i click to aff link (http://www.amazon.com/dp/asin?tag=mytag-20), it didn’t change my amazon tag (mytag-20) to viglink tag (viglink-20).

    Follow this link : http://support.viglink.com/entries/20318878-How-do-I-know-if-the-VigLink-code-is-installed-properly-

    it said : ” If you think you have VigLink installed correctly but the install checker is not confirming it, you can always build a link to Amazon.com and see if a Viglink tag (e.g., “tag=vig-20″) is appended to the URL after you click through that link to Amazon.com. If it is, you are good to go!”

    Thank for your helps

    • Kyle Marvin

      It should be instant, but I have noticed sometimes the link doesn’t even appear to be affiliated (sneaky) but is. I would test it and possibly even contact their support as well.

  37. michael anthony

    OK this might be a stupid question, but how does Amazon actually know what state you’re in? And say I am in a banned state, is it not possible to set up an account through someone I know who lives in MA for instance or some other pemitted state?

  38. Nikki M.

    Hey Kyle, thanks for this awesome article!

    Too bad Amazon cracked down again..

    Did you find any new solution in 2013?

    Would so appreciate hearing back!

    Thank you :-)

  39. asad

    Hi Kyle Marvin,i am Bangladeshi,Have any opportunity to affiliate for me?Are help me,I want to get start affiliate program ,have any source for me?

  40. Angela

    Hi!
    Thanks for this article. Not sure why Amazon has blocked some of us from there affiliate program, but are there other good programs out there I should look at? Also, do you think that Viglink is still worth doing, despite the Amazon issue?
    Thanks,
    Angela

  41. Drake

    Thanks for trying on this, I have been trying to find a way for my site to be an Amazon affiliate for a while and still can’t. Hoping for a solution soon.

  42. Sally

    I’m in Colorado and used Skimlinks starting in 2012 (because of the laws – it *was* a workaround) – and then a few months ago, Skimlinks seems to have been told by Amazon to crack down on those of us in Socialist Colorado and terminate our ability to make $$.

    Just to be clear… it’s *not* Amazon causing this… it’s the &%^$#$@ Democrats that are all for people *not* making money but taxing them to death. The internet tax has been deemed unconstitutional here by a court, but until the time for appeal runs out, (and I don’t remember when that is supposed to happen), Amazon really doesn’t have a choice.

    At least California repealed their law and people could get back to work with Amazon.

    It’s long an complicated.. but here in Colorado, our &%*$ing Democrats were told (if they passed the law) that Amazon would terminate affiliate agreements. Dems have no problem with people losing jobs. Moreoever, the Republicans (too bad they were in the minority), tried to make the point the law was unconstitutional – which was affirmed in court.

    None of this stops the Dems from trying to slam more taxes which in turn hurts small business/independent people.

    I hope our host allows this post to stand on his blog.

  43. Dan

    Kyle, Amazon announced that they will start collecting sales tax from NC residents beginning Feb. 1, 2014.
    North Carolina is one of the “banned states” when it comes to affiliate commissions. Does this new announcement mean, that Amazon will start paying affiliates again in NC??

    • Macky Kyle

      Hi Dan, I am from North Carolina and just chatted with Amazon and they are still not going to reinstate NC affiliates because of existing legislation. It is maddening to be caught in this battle!

      Macky

  44. Zachary

    Great post. Too bad the work around stopped working.

    Where in CO do you live. I’m in Denver and would love connecting with a fellow internet marketer nearby.

  45. Matt

    @Dan and any one else interested, I contacted Amazon asking if they would be reinstating the affiliate program in North Carolina and got an expected answer:

    “I cant offer any specific information at this time concerning the reopening of the Program to North Carolina residents.
    We will be sure to notify you if we do decide to reopen the program to North Carolina residents”

    Let’s hope Amazon is done with this craziness and starts allowing us again as affiliates.

    • Kyle Marvin

      Corey,

      I hear you man. I have still got a few calls in to a few places that might help us solve this issue, but for now, it’s still in the alpha stage. I will certainly release as soon as I do.

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