25 Amazon Affiliate Program Alternatives to Diversify Your Affiliate Income in 2021
Just two months after I originally published this article, Amazon cut commissions in April 2020 for a ton of its categories.
Some of the cuts were pretty dramatic, such as furniture, home, lawn, pet products, and pantry going from 8% to 3%. Headphones, beauty, instruments, and business supplies were also halved from 6% to 3%.
Health and personal care was hardest hit, going from 5% to 1%.
It's no wonder that the number one most common thing that affiliate site owners and bloggers are telling me about their 2021 goals is this:
"I want to become independent from Amazon"
Even though the ubiquitous ecommerce giant dominates online shopping, bloggers are becoming increasingly concerned about how much they depend on Amazon for a significant slice of their monthly income.
In this post, you will learn:
- Why link to a website besides Amazon?
- Tips for getting conversions with non-Amazon affiliate programs
- How to measure and compare your earnings with and without Amazon
- Amazon affiliate program alternatives in popular blogging niches
Why link to a website besides Amazon?
Now, before talking about why Amazon has issues, I want to recognize that Amazon has a lot of positive things going for it as well from a purely financial perspective. Timely and predictable payouts, they sell literally everything, fast shipping and solid customer experience, and acceptable reporting (though it does take a little manual setup to make the most out of it). Plus, the fact remains that Amazon is still one of the most trusted brands by consumers in the United States, ranking #2 after the US Postal Service!
With all those positive points, why go for something instead of Amazon?
- Higher commission rates. Amazon has been known to lower their commission rates, and you just don't know when the next one is coming. Last time it happened was in Spring of 2017.
- Longer cookie duration. We all know, Amazon's cookie lasts only 24 hours! So if your reader doesn't buy in that time frame, you don't earn from the purchase. This is challenging if you're promoting products that don't qualify as "impulse buys" or are at a higher price point.
- Diversification. Amazon has been known to terminate accounts with little to no warning. If you're earning all (or most) of your affiliate income on Amazon, you could find yourself without a major income stream on short notice.
- Better international support. Even though Amazon OneLink can help you monetize traffic across a few different geographies, you might just have audiences in countries that aren't well-supported (for instance, if you have readers from US, UK, and Australia — Australia is not part of OneLink).
- You want to support other businesses. What I hear more and more is just that people would rather support other businesses, whether it's about sustainability, going more local, or just generally not liking Amazon's business practices.
Tips for getting conversions with non-Amazon affiliate programs
You might be thinking, "Look Monica, that's nice but Amazon converts! I depend on the affiliate revenue I earn from Amazon, whether I like it or not."
The amount of money you're earning is ultimately the bottom line for a lot of people who blog for a living. So how can we integrate the alternatives mentioned later in this article for optimal results?
Here are a couple of solutions to help with your conversion concerns.
- Give your readers a buying choice. — You can always link both to Amazon and to an Amazon alternative. As more consumers are becoming aware of Amazon's practices, you may find your readers are grateful to get an alternative. Try including an Amazon alternatives in critical places like your comparison table or the set of links at the end of an article.
- Encourage your readers to compare prices. — We all want our readers to get the best deal! And while Amazon would like you to think they're always the cheapest, it's simply not the case. Encourage your readers to click through several of your links and find the best price. Just make sure not to violate Amazon's rules surrounding mentioning prices.
- Personally recommend the alternative online store. — Do you have experience with the alternative store? Maybe you love their return policy, their customer service, or the company's values. Mention this when you link out to them, and give your reader a reason to choose the alternative, too.
As always, you need to test the Amazon alternatives mentioned in this article and measure how they affect your earnings. It could be that different Amazon alternatives resonate more with your audience depending on their buying habits and their geography.
Here's a quick run-through of how to do that before you start replacing links, so you have an idea of what the status quo on your blog really looks like.
How to measure and compare your Amazon earnings with alternatives
The easiest way to do this is using Affilimate. There are a two easy metrics you can use to guide yourself when deciding to make the switch:
- Commission rate — Open "Performance" and then filter your sales "By Partner: Amazon" and "Filter Columns: Commission Rate". This will quickly help you see what kind of commission you're currently earning for specific products.If you know the category of the item you want to promote, you can also check the Amazon "fee schedule" located here. The problem is that it can be difficult to predict what category a specific item belongs to with Amazon. The surest way is to get the commission rate for a product from an existing report.
- Earnings per click (Amazon average) — Open "Partners" and then scroll down to Amazon. Set the time period for 30 or 60 days (to better account for returned items), and then look at the column for EPC.In this example you can see I'm earning $0.06 per click with Amazon. Many of the examples in this post have a much higher EPC!
IMPORTANT — EPC is sometimes calculated as earnings per 100 clicks rather than simply the earning per click. That's why EPCs on a platform like CJ Affiliate look incredible (what, people earn $100 per click?). In reality, if you see a $100 EPC on CJ, Shareasale, and many other networks, that's the same as a $1 EPC on Skimlinks. A good rule of thumb is that if the EPCs look outrageous, divide them by 100. All EPCs in this article have been normalized to mean exactly that: average earning per a single click (also called "effective earnings per click"). In all cases, we look at the 30-day EPC when available!
There are two easy metrics to calculate, which should give you a ballpark of what you're earning on Amazon today. Keep in mind, your overall Commission Rate and EPC might be different for different categories of products. The most important thing to do is to experiment!
Without further ado, here are alternative programs to Amazon Associates to test out in your content!
Amazon affiliate program alternatives in popular blogging niches
I want to mention that these programs are largely focused on blogs with a predominantly US-based audience. If your site has a large base from other countries, you can use the same techniques mentioned above to test Amazon alternatives.
Do you know of an awesome affiliate program that belongs on this list? Can you help us make this data set more complete? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about the program and as many stats as you can, and I'll be happy to add it here!
Keep reading for an in-depth look at the terms for each program, and special characteristics about these brands that may make them a good fit for your audience.
- Health and fitness
- Outdoors and travel
|Sephora||Skimlinks, Rakuten||Beauty||5%||24 hours||$0.05||1.41%||$68|
|Tula Skincare||Shareasale||Beauty||20%||90 days||$0.29||5%||$58|
|Glossybox||Awin||Beauty subscription||5%||30 days||$0.23||3.22%||?|
|Elizabeth Arden||CJ||Beauty||8%||45 days||$1.46||?||?|
In comparison, Amazon offers 10% commission on luxury beauty, and 6% commission on normal beauty.
Sephora has different programs depending on where you're located. You can join Seophora's Australia or Brazil affiliate programs through Rakuten, and/or many other local program through Skimlinks or CJ. Their Brazil market apparently offers up to 12%, whereas most other markets are lower in the offered commissions.
Tula Skincare is a nice option because their cosmetics are cruelty-free and on top of that, the 20% commission with a 90 day cookie window is very generous.
Elizabeth Arden is the single most profitable beauty affiliate program in terms of earnings per click on the CJ Affiliate network.
|B&H Photo||Direct, Skimlinks||Camera gear||2-3%||?||$0.18||2.59%||$227+|
|Adorama||Direct, Skimlinks||Camera gear||2%||30 days||$0.06||0.53%||$500+|
In comparison, Amazon doles out a 4% commission on photography gear. In reality, 4% is extremely high for camera equipment, given how low the margins can be.
By most metrics, B&H Photo performs better than Adorama on a number of fronts. One thing to consider is that Adorama tends to have more sales and discounts, which you are allowed to include in email campaigns. Keep in mind that B&H Photo has a 1% higher commission rate when you go through Skimlinks.
|Everlane||Pepperjam, Sovrn, Skimlinks||Clothing||8-14%||?||$0.28||1.48%||$139.37|
|Allbirds||Shareasale, Sovrn||Shoes||15%||15 days||?||?||?|
|Etsy||Awin||Handmade, vintage||4%||30 days||$0.07||5.06%||?|
By comparison, Amazon offers 4% on apparel, watches, jewelry, shoes, and bags.
Everlane has a 14% rate through Skimlinks, which appears to be higher than through other networks.
Levi's has a newer range of jeans which consumes less water to create, as part of their effort to cut water usage in half in high stress areas by 2025.
|California Wine Club||Shareasale||Food||15%||90 days||$0.11||3.69%||$168|
|Butcher Box||Shareasale||Food||$5-20||30 days||$0.22||5.53%||$143|
|Grill Masters Club||Shareasale||Food||10%||90 days||$0.30||3.17%||$112.25|
By constrast, Amazon offers 5% in the "grocery" category and 4.5% in the "kitchen" category. But do keep in mind that they offer a whopping 0% on alcohol, so if you're promoting wine or spirits, choosing an Amazon alternative is a no-brainer.
One important note about California Wine Club, Butcher Box, and Grill Masters Club is that they are all subscription programs. For that reason, your best commissions will come from new customers who sign up for a subscription.
Health and fitness
|Thrive Market||CJ Affiliate||Food, Health||25%||90 days||$0.34||?||?|
|GNC||CJ Affiliate||Health||4-5%||7 days||$0.88||18%||$91|
In this category, Amazon offers 4% on grocery and 4.5% on health and personal care. Amazon Pantry comes at 8% and Amazon Fresh at 3%.
Thrive Market is a membership-based website that offers all sorts of health foods, organic, vegan, and green-living type products. The commissions are ultra generous and can range from $5-$40 depending on which membership your reader ends up choosing. Unfortunately they're only based in the United States, but worth looking into if you're writing about health and wellness with a largely US-based audience.
Manduka makes yoga mats and yoga clothing, but what you can also love about them is that they have a mat recycling program to reduce waste! They're primarily US-focused and their affiliate program appears to apply only to their US website, although they do have websites for other countries.
Outdoors and travel
|REI||AvantLink||Outdoors, travel||5%||30 days||$0.18||2.59%||$120+|
|Patagonia||AvantLink||Outdoors, travel||8%||60 days||?||4%+||$150+|
|Columbia||CJ Affiliate||Outdoors, travel||8%||21 days||?||?||$90+|
|Backcountry||Direct, Skimlinks||Outdoors, travel||4-8%||?||$0.17||1.14%||$141+|
|eBags||Impact||Luggage, bags||3%||14 days||?||?||?|
|Standard Luggage||Refersion||Luggage, bags||10%||30 days||?||?||?|
|Samsonite||Skimlinks, Rakuten||Luggage, bags||5%||30 days||$0.14||2.05%||$152|
|Lonely Planet||Awin (US) or (EMEA), CJ Affiliate (Asia)||Guidebooks||15%||30 days||$0.17||2.96%||?|
In comparison, Amazon doles out a 5.5% commission on outdoors gear. Be sure to check the exact percentage for the item you're looking to link to, as it might be primarily associated with another category (such as Apparel at 4%).
One great thing about REI is that they have a decent number of promotions through the REI outlet. So you can share those deals with your readers and make a solid commission in the meantime!
The commission rates at Backcountry are about twice as high as REI, but with half the conversion rate. As you can see, this averages out to about the same earnings per click. One thing to be aware of is that post-GDPR, Backcountry is only available in the United States. REI on the other hand does have international shipping to many countries, with the exception of Australia. You might be better of finding local alternatives closer to your audience though.
eBags is the world's biggest online retailers for bags, ranging from purses to luggage and packing cubes. Standard Luggage on the other hand is a Canadian company, which may work better if you have a large Canadian audience.
|Target||Impact, Skimlinks||Everything||1-5% (base)||7 days||$0.13||?||$227+|
You woudn't want to use Target to promote Health and Beauty, but it's a great option for Apparel and Home with commissions starting at 5% and increasing based on the number of orders you refer.
More resources for finding Amazon affiliate program alternatives
- Best makeup affiliate programs collected by Prosociate.
- Best fashion affiliate programs collected by Her Paper Route.
- Green affiliate programs which links to lots of eco-friendly and sustainablility-focused affiliate programs.
- Food affiliate programs which links to a lot of health-focused food programs.
Which Amazon alternative has the best ROI in your experience?
Join the discussion in the Affilimate Facebook Group and share your tips with the community!