Affiliate links (or special links, as Amazon calls them) keep track of Amazon customers who click the link and make purchases and then pay a referral reward to the associate bearing the link.
You can use your own Amazon affiliate link for personal purchases, but it is a violation of the Amazon affiliate program. Doing this can cause Amazon to suspend or even revoke your Associate status. Read more about what you can and cannot do with Amazon Affiliate links.
In this reward system, there are various options for subscription items and non-physical assets. However, as long as the product is purchased through your special link, you earn money.
Hence, this is a great way to earn some extra money. Even after a recent commission cut, Amazon affiliate links remain a lucrative way to monetize a blog, website, or app.
However, this side hustle isn’t limitless, leaving a lot of questions on what can and cannot be done. New marketers often wonder if they can make purchases using their own Amazon affiliate links. A lot of questions regarding the potential consequences have also been asked by many users. In this article, you’re going to get those answers. Let’s get started…
Can you use your own Amazon affiliate link?
Since to earn a commission you just need to post your special link, have someone click on it, and make a purchase, wouldn’t it be smarter to skip the middle man and buy the products yourself through the link? Not Really.
Not only does this violate the system, and worst-case scenario, cause Amazon to revoke your associate status, but it also won’t actually make you money. Because you’re still buying something. At best, this strategy could get you a small discount.
To break it down for you, the following example will show that buying through your affiliate link produces an almost negligible result:
Let’s say you buy $1000 worth of Amazon products every month and say Amazon generates 10% of revenue (typical Amazon selling fees are around 5-15%) from sales, and say your payout is 10% (which is high). The net transaction would look like this:
0.1 x 0.1 x 1000 = 10
In other words, you would save $10 each month. Clearly, this is a small discount (usually just a fraction of a percentage), which doesn’t add much to the bigger picture.
What happens when you use your own Amazon affiliate link?
By purchasing products through your affiliate links, not only do earn nothing big, but you also risk losing your Amazon Associate status.
Amazon has developed several ways to track (and, if necessary, sanction) violations of its terms and conditions. They monitor both the physical addresses and IP addresses of their associates.
By tracing a computer’s IP address with one’s Amazon account, Amazon can know when someone using that computer makes purchases through its special link, whether you or someone else is using your computer. And when that happens, Amazon will likely suspend your account.
Amazon developers know that accidents can happen. They understand that it is possible to mistakenly click and buy products via your special link. Hence, the purchase will appear in your dashboard, but no commission will be paid for that particular purchase. There is no specific number of times Amazon tolerates such mistakes, but Amazon will put a hold on your Amazon Associate status if it happens regularly.
TIP: Because clicking on a link prompts Amazon to follow you as you browse and shop for the next 24 hours, clicking on your special Amazon links is not recommended, unless of course, you are testing its functionality. And even when you’re testing its functionality, avoid doing it too often.
Can your family members or friends use your special link to make purchases?
The simple answer is yes, they can but if Amazon finds that the primary purpose of your linked account is to get a purchase discount, they will ban you as an associate and restrict you from getting any future commissions (and that’s easy to find out).
It happened to me, I sent my associated link to my sister. She bought the product, but even though the purchases were reflected in my account, they did not reflect payments. I wrote to Amazon and they replied that their systems noticed that these purchases were made by my family member and that Amazon’s not a “Discount Club”. There were no other types of sanctions, so I had no major consequences.
According to Amazon ToC, using a business you’re associated with to earn affiliate commissions is not legitimate. Although, if you are careful (i.e. use different email addresses, different IP addresses, do not use an Amazon Gift Card that’s related to your affiliate account, etc.), it will be difficult for them to detect any violation of Terms.
However, at this point, you should probably be wondering if it’s worth the trouble. With additional business tax headaches and the ever-present possibility for Amazon to catch up with you, it might not be worth it (unless you buy dozens of thousands of products per year on Amazon).
Can you reapply if your Amazon associate status was terminated for using your affiliate link?
If you are stuck wondering how to get back to this US-based online shopping site after a termination (probably because you used your special link to purchase a product), it is better to know how things ended than to live in the complete silence of ignorance.
Amid the termination of your Affiliate status, I’m sure you received an email, as many do. Emails from Amazon with account closure notifications are often a surprise because they always come at the least expected time.
This happened to my friend, JOE. He shared with me how he was feeling the week before Amazon notified him that his associate status had been revoked.
He sold 11 Apple iPhones that week and his account was booming with profits. He had already gone over $800 in the first week of November, and almost half of what he promoted got sales.
“This is the very first month I’ve made much money. My stats showed over 24 gift cards of $4 each, 11 Apple iPhones earning $40 more each, and plenty of other items I can’t remember” – JOE shares.
Amazon said that JOE violated section 29 of their terms of service because the purchases came from Affiliate links on his site.
Also, the Operating Agreement section 7 states that “all products purchased by you, or on your behalf through a special link, including products purchased through special links for you, friends, relatives, or associates, as well as orders made on your behalf or behalf of another person or entity will be disqualified.”
JOE said that wasn’t right, because he didn’t have any relatives or friends who knew of his association with Amazon. No one knew of his website, where he shared Amazon links. He disagreed with all the statements, but unfortunately, Amazon’s words were final.
This is a BIG question that many people are asking. And frankly, it all depends on how lucky you are. So, the guides you see below are for guidance only, there is no guarantee that you will get your account back.
When I went through different suggestions online on different websites, I knew it was a showdown or a difficult task to convince Amazon to reopen a closed account. This is because in many cases, the decisions are final and irreversible. Many share the recommendation to reapply for new accounts, while others say just give up. Anyway, here are my suggestions.
Know why your account is suspended
Yes, this is very important because it will help you know where and how to start. In the case of JOE, as seen above, he said he was not involved in anything Amazon said. This means that there are grounds for appeal.
Check your status
Perhaps you did something wrong without even realizing it. Review your account and see if you did wrong somewhere. It is important to understand why you were suspended and take full responsibility for it. This will help you determine what to do next and what to tell Amazon when appealing.
When you need to compile an appeal, review it and move on to the final. Be brief and explain why you want Amazon to lift the ban on your account. Don’t tell them the hidden things about yourself like how poor you are etc., be straight to the point and wait. When you’re done proofreading, file the complaint through Amazon’s contact page. I have seen many sites that guide on strategies to write great appeal letters, you can Google “Appeal letter samples for suspended Amazon account” and see how you can get started.
Be patient in the meantime
Upon successful submission, wait for their response, which may take several days. Depending on the response you get (if they refuse), consider bringing in a third party if you can.
Although I’m not sure how they work, I have come across several online services that assist people to regain their suspended Amazon accounts.