Amazon has drastically changed their Amazon Affiliate Program payouts as of April 21, 2020. It is not good for many of us! The net worth of people reading this has been cut by millions of dollars.
A few weeks ago as the stay at home orders were setting in we had a discussion internally about what new problem existed that we were uniquely capable of solving. From that discussion, EssentialGoods.org was born.
As mentioned on several earlier posts I believe there has never been a time in our lives where the rate of problem creation has been greater and if you are able to solve a problem it is needed!
TODAY – April 28, 2020 – We are live on ProductHunt and would love your feedback. Currently, we are in the top 5 trending products for the day!
Visit Us on ProductHunt Here
To better understand EssentialGoods.org here is a video I did with Conor the developer…
What is EssentialGoods?
EssentialGoods.org provides an SMS text alert when a product you want that was out of stock comes back in stock.
- First, if you go to Amazon to purchase some essentials (education book for your kids, bread making yeast and hair dye) – then realize they are all currently out of stock
- You can enter a re-stock alert email from Amazon but it will be delayed
- Signup at EssentialGoods.org and either select from a pre-screened list of common essentials like masks and sanitzer or add your custom essential product
- Receive a text message as soon as the product comes back in stock to be able to purchase quickly
Initially, it does this for Amazon but will be adding additional online stores in the coming week(s).
Who is this for?
It is for anyone who is looking to purchase products on Amazon that are currently out of stock.
From common essentials like masks and hand sanitizer to less common dietary favorites.
We have seen people using it for trending products like airpods and nintendo switch.
We decided to make it free during COVID-19 impact for those most at risk including frontline medical professionals and a free trial for everyone else.
Who Built It & Why?
Conor the lead developer at adbank.network identified the opportunity and quickly built it. The team at ContentRefined.com helped with the research into products and the buyer guides.
The marketing coordination was handled by the adbank marketing team and specifically Catherine.
The entire team felt there was a need that if we could help address one small problem around the stress of finding out when a product was back in stock it would be a worthwhile activity.
How Does it Give Back?
It was important for us to ensure that we were giving back in a meaningful way. For that reason we are doing several things with our inventory restock alert app.
- Free for frontline medical workers
- Free for senior citizens
- Free trial for everyone
- 5% of any profits to our local hospital foundation – https://cgmhf.com/
When and How Often Does Amazon Restock Items?
The Amazon machine is constantly running unloading shipments and restocking. In addition products can be out of stock on Amazon while shipments are moving between warehouses. So products can come back into stock at any time.
If it is an essential product sign up for an alert service like essentialgoods.org or if you are prime member and it isn’t critical then Amazon has a free inventory restock alert email.
Can this Be Used for Popular Products?
When will Amamzon restock nintendo switch or Amazon airpods? As mentioned above this can happen at any time.
Yes, despite essentialgoods being built for products related to COVID-19 it is being used by people to receive alerts for popular consumer products that are out of stock and sell out quickly when they are restocked, such as Nintendo Switch.
Sometimes I believe I write a little too much about successes and don’t provide a realistic picture of all the ups/downs associated with an online business.
Today in this painful post I will shed some light on a recent failure which will ultimately cost me up to $100k!
Plus I share the process my team built to ensure this wouldn’t happen and had finished it just days getting suspended!
Also, if you have been suspended I do still have one strategy up my sleeve I can’t reveal publicly but if you have had your Amazon associate account suspended please contact me and I would be happy to share.
My Amazon Associate Account Has Been Suspended Again Losing $100k!
The irony… I had just hired a full time employee in house whose first job was to prepare a set of procedures for us to audit all of our Amazon associate sites and confirm we were 110% compliant!
I will share all of those procedures with you in this post and everything we have learned to help ensure you avoid getting your Amazon Associate Account suspended.
NOTE – IF YOU HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED PLEASE CONTACT ME – I DO HAVE ONE TRICK UP MY SLEEVE NOT REVEALED HERE PUBLICLY!
Want More Help?
Losing my Amazon Associate account sucked! We had just finished doing a TON of work to try and make sure we were bullet proof in terms of staying compliant with all of our sites in the eyes of Google. In order to help others I decided to make my entire audit process public so others can do their own audits or if you want help provide access to my in house project manager who studies all the TOC’s from Amazon and built the audit process.
- See the top 7 reasons why your sites might be out of compliance! – Click Here
- Have Me and My Team Audit Your Sites – Click Here
- My new project manager read every single document from Amazon and built the audit process. She has reviewed over a dozen sites and can review your site providing images showing exactly what she recommends you change to stay compliant.
The story of my associate account getting suspended goes back to when I sold 2/3rd of my FBA business.
The purchaser also purchased another site which had been associated with a suspended account and therefore when Amazon reviewed his accounts they suspended his personal account, our partnership account and then eventually (months later) my personal account.
Amazon seems to follow a policy of “guilt by association” even if there is nothing wrong with your account or sites you can receive a message saying…
“During our research, we have determined that an account belonging to you (or a person affiliated with you) has previously been closed for violations of the Operating Agreement or one of the other Associates Programs operated by our affiliates.”
What was odd was that my personal account remained un-suspended for a much longer time!
My Strategy – Go Stealth:
With a substantial chunk of money on the table and after some unsuccessful attempts at getting any information out of Amazon I setup a plan to go very stealth in the creation of another account. My plan I thought was bullet proof! Here are the steps I took…
- New Entity
- New Address
- New Email
- New Phone Number
- New Contact Name
- 301 Redirected Website to a NEW website URL
- Logged in via a VPN I ONLY used to login to my Amazon associates account
- Used a browser, in incognito mode, I ONLY used for logging into my Amazon associated account
However, a couple months later it was shutdown with the same message… how I do not know other than they may have physically followed the URL.
To see how a very succesful Amazon Affiliate handled this problem check out Brent Hale.
- Don’t buy a site that has been associated with a banned account
- Don’t connect someone to your account unless you absolutely have to!
- Don’t connect yourself to an account unless you absolutely have to!
- Ensure your sites are 100% compliant (easier said than done!)
Why This Pisses Me Off:
Other than the financial loss which will likely close at around $100k!
For every site I am trying very hard to be compliant with Amazon TOC’s, we are not doing anything sneaky and are simply trying to play by Amazon’s rules.
Amazon’s unwillingness to work with their associates/affiliates to resolve small issues drives us to take all kinds of strange actions!
Avoid This Pain – How to Ensure Your Amazon Associate Websites are 100% Compliant!
Like I said I hired someone full time in house to help systematize my business and had her spend a week doing the very not fun task of reading every single part of the various Terms and Conditions with Amazon associates accounts and turn it into an auditable process.
The plan was to ensure that every single one of our websites was 100% in compliant and before we could roll it out my account got suspended.
5 Steps I took to create an Amazon Audit Procedure for my Amazon Affiliate sites
- Reading of the Amazon Associates Programs Operating Agreement
- Creation of the “Associate Program Requirements Form”
- Creating a Standard Operating Procedure
- Hiring a Virtual Assistant and Giving Great Instructions
- Execute our Audit Procedure Yourself
Reading the Amazon Associates Programs Operating Agreement
Reading the Amazon Associates Programs Operating Agreement was probably the most challenging part of this task. You probably are not familiar with this piece of “literature”, but the Agreement is broken into about four different sections that are only accessible via a clickable in text link on the first page of the Agreement. These sections consist of the “Participation Requirements”, the “Trademark Guidelines”, the “ Linking Requirements”, and the “License Agreement”.
- To read the Associates Program Operating Agreement click here
- To read the Associates Program Participation Requirements click here
- To read the Associates Program Linking Requirements click here
- To read the Associates Program Trademark Guidelines click here
As you can see, these guidelines are not easily accessible, but if you have the time to read through the ten (10) thousand word document of legal gibberish (took me about 7 hours to fully understand what the heck they were talking about), then your account MIGHT not get shut down.
Creating the “Associate Program Requirements Form”
To make sure that all of our sites were compliant, I decided that an “Audit” process should be performed on every Amazon Affiliate site by an outsourced Virtual Assistant (VA). After I read through the Operating Agreement and felt confident enough with the legal content, I starting building an Audit questionnaire based on these Requirements. I wanted to make sure that the questions were asked in a clear and simple way so that someone with little knowledge of Amazon Affiliate sites could understand and answer these questions accurately. The questionnaire allows you to also insert some images so that you can help guide the Virtual Assistant on where they can find certain website elements.
See example here:
I used Google Forms because I like that the form produces a Google Sheet where I can view all of the Audit Responses. I standardized the questions on the questionnaire so that if the Auditor had to answer “Yes”, it would mean that the question failed the Audit. This way, If I take a quick look at the responses, I’m able to see immediately which sites needed the most work based on how many “Yes” responses I got.
Creating a Standard Operating Procedure for the company
Since we have about 70+ sites, I knew this would be a gruelling task so I decided to create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which would allow me to outsource this work to a Virtual Assistant.
The SOP essentially provides a step by step guide and a clear process for all actions taken by the VA while executing the audit on our affiliate sites. The SOP also provides a clear process for how to remedy breaches of Amazon’s Terms and Conditions which, if done properly, will result in a compliant site. Check out the table below which shows the 15 steps we take to Audit and then make any necessary changes to make our sites compliant.
|Virtual Assistant||1||The VA must go to the Master List of Amazon Affiliate Sites|
|Virtual Assistant||2||The VA must select a URL and go to the site|
|Virtual Assistant||3||Once on the site, the VA must open the Associate’s Program Requirements Form and answer all questions|
|Virtual Assistant||4||If YES has been selected on the Form for any question, the VA must make corrective changes to the site for that question|
|Virtual Assistant||5||If the VA is unable to make corrective changes because the changes are Out of Scope, the VA must notify the Portfolio Manager|
|Portfolio Manager||6||The Portfolio Manager must review Out of Scope changes in conjunction with the site and create instructions for the WordPress VA|
|Portfolio Manager||7||Once the instructions are complete, the Portfolio Manager must send the instructions to the WordPress VA|
|WordPress VA||10||WordPress VA to implement all remaining Out of Scope changes and alert Portfolio Manager of changes|
|Portfolio Manager||11||Portfolio Manager to inform VA of changes and instruct a Re-Test|
|VA||12||VA to re-test the site to ensure that all questions can be answered NO in compliance with Amazon’s Terms and Conditions|
|VA||13||VA to report status and completion of audit process to Portfolio Manager|
|Portfolio Manager||14||Portfolio Manager to look over all approved sites to confirm approved status|
|Portfolio Manager||15||Portfolio Manager to collect and reporting on status of progress and completion of Audit for each Amazon Affiliate site to the CEO|
Hiring a Virtual Assistant ( VA) and Giving Great Instructions
If you read my blog regularly, you might have read my post about hiring a VA. You can find it here if you want to read in depth.
What I like to do is hire a few VA’s via Upwork, give them a test (or in this case a site to audit) and see how they do. Since I want the VA to have the ability to not only find the issues on the site, but also to fix them, I’m going to look for a VA who has experience with wordpress sites.
Two things I like to look for is speed and quality. I can generally get a fast VA who outputs good quality work within a few hires. Once you find a great VA, send them lots and lots of work and great instructions!
Giving great instructions to the VA is absolutely necessary if you want them to produce the desired outcome. I have an instructions template that is specific to the Amazon process. If is broken up into 4 sections.
- The Purpose: Here I explain WHY the job needs to get done by providing a blurb about the purpose they are serving by executing this job.
- Responsibilities: Here I explain WHO is responsible and WHAT the responsibilities are
- Procedure: Here I explain HOW to execute the procedure step by step. I have included this 15 step procedure above.
- Table: Here is where I ask the VA to fill out the table if they have answered YES to any of the questions on the form
Login credentials for the wordpress site
|Question number (#):||Question:
(Copy and paste from form)
|Why did you answer yes? (Short explanation)|
|#||Screenshot of BEFORE change:||Screenshot of AFTER change:|
Use My Audit Process & Don’t Get Your Account Suspended!
If you want to use my audit process for your own sites, click the google doc link below and make a copy of it in Google to have your own copy with your own spreadsheet:
Associates Program Requirements From for the Public:
- Google Form – https://goo.gl/forms/Y2u7f8QJbyROmxpH2
- Google Sheet (create your own copy) – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fRv1dbmk1_2GMz9AGJNqJdwXPxg33CLVySWHoBo1AUE/edit#gid=0
Don’t have time? Let us Audit your site for you: Contact me if you would like my team to Audit your Amazon Affiliate site for you.
It has been 2 months since I decided I was going into the FBA Business with my “Can’t Fail FBA Business Plan” and here is my update!
Todays post is a fun one… I share a LOT of data/graphs and details about my journey over the last 2 months to get this business moving.
If you like numbers, business plans, excel, assumptions and sensitivity analysis you probably have issues (like me) but will enjoy this post…
One of the “hottest” topics over the last year has been Amazon FBA. Until I saw a competitive edge/unique angle I was not going to participate.
Today’s post is about the unique angle I am planning to take and how it can be replicated to unleash some pretty wild numbers! The best part is if you are reading this website than you likely possess the skills to execute this strategy.
What is Private Label FBA (Fullfillment by Amazon) – Very briefly private label FBA is purchasing products from Alibaba(or similar) putting your logo on them, shipping them to Amazon, and listing them for sale on Amazon at a healthy markup. There is a lot more to it than that but that’s the basic idea. The best source of information I have found (and by coincidence a former customer of mine) is Scott Voelker TheAmazingSeller.com and a very cool tool for calculating freight costs is at Freightos. I will refer to his great 100+ podcasts and content throughout this post.
Basic FBA Idea:
So what is my unique angle? My strategy is to build/buy Amazon affiliate sites which are selling products that could be easily Private Labelled and become the seller of these products then rinse and repeat consistently.