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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to add Amazon Ads to your Blog


However much you might (or might not) be making already from product sales, it is always good to have a supplementary income stream, and you may be surprised at just how much you can earn from advertising. But I’m not here to debate the pros and cons of putting ads on your site, but to give you a step by step guide on how to do it. So let’s get started!
Step 1. Sign up to Amazon.
The first thing you need to do, is to sign up for an affiliate account.  In this case, we’ll be using Amazon, so go to https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/.   As you can see here, on the right hand side there is a login form, as well as a link to sign up if you haven’t already.  You’ll need to fill in various details about yourself and your site when you register, but it’s not too difficult.  Go do that now – don’t worry, I’ll wait for you.
Once you have signed up, you will receive your unique Associates ID.  This will be something likeexamplesi-20.  This is important because it links the ads to your account, but you don’t need to worry about it right now.  As long as you are logged in Amazon will automatically fill this in for you, so you don’t need to make a note of it.  After you enter your payment details, you will be taken to the main associates centre.  You’ll find here that there are a lot of different ads you can use, and it may seem a bit overwhelming, but for now we’ll just focus on two of them.  Links and banners are easy to apply – you just need to copy and paste the code that Amazon gives you.  So let’s look instead, at creating a widget for your site – something that’s actually interesting for your visitors to look at.
Click on the Widgets link at the top of the page.
Step 2. Generate the Widget
You’ll now see a selection of available widgets – at the time of writing, there are 14 listed there, although they may have released new ones by the time you read this.  We’re going to look at two of these.
First of all, the Contextual ads. This is the simplest option, which is most useful if you plan to put them on an article directory where you aren’t sure what the articles are going to be about.  ‘Contextual’ here just means that Amazon will automatically select the products in the ad for you, based on what is showing on your site. So click on the entry near the bottom of the list, calledOmakase.
The Omakase widget will automatically select the products itself, so you don’t need to do that, but you do need to change the shape and style to match your site.  Let’s say for instance that you’re using a standard wordpress blog, and you want it to go in the sidebar. First thing you need to do is change the orientation – this is the drop down labeled Banner Size. Click that drop down menu, and change it to 120×600 or 160×600, depending on how wide your sidebar is. The 160 is better as it shows product pictures as well, so sue that if you can. This gives you a narrow, tall banner that will fit neatly into your sidebar. I would suggest you also change the Border from Show to Hide (just makes it look better). You can have a fiddle with the rest of the controls, which are really not that important, but the one thing you do need to do is to change the colours.
If you already know, or can find, the hexadecimal color codes for your blog, then great; use those! If you can’t, or if you want the banner to stand out rather then blending in, you’ll need to pick colors for it somewhere else. You can just do a google search for ‘hex color picker’, and it will give you plenty of options. The one I like is the nice, simple one at www.colorpicker.com, which really does everything you need, including offering advice on complementary colors to use, which I think is just cool. So pick out some colors, and put them into the Amazon form to see what they look like. When you’re done, you’ll have the completed HTML code in the box below the preview. The HTML savvy among you will quickly spot that the settings you chose are included in this code as JavaScript variable, giving you all sorts of automation options, but that’s a more advanced topic. For now, just copy that code, and go to Step 3.
Still reading?
Well, I said I would talk about two types of widget, so here’s the second one…
Back on the Widgets page (just click that link at the top if you’re not still there), click the link through to the Carousel widget. You’ll immediately be presented with a whole bunch of options, as to which products to display. Since this ad isn’t contextual, you need to pick them yourself, which you can do either by adding the products in manually, or selecting a category and letting Amazon fill them in for you. If you want to search for products yourself, you’ll see a search box is already open and waiting for you. You can use that box to search for some products, and add them to the list – it’s all very clear; just type in a search term, click go, and you’ll see a list of matching items with an ‘add product’ button next to them.
For this example however, I’m going to let Amazon decide what to show. Underneath the Search and Add products menu are several others, including Search ListmaniaBest SellersHot New Releases, etc. Click on Best Sellers. I don’t believe Amazon has a category for examples, so let’s pick one at random here and say Automotive. You should pick whatever category is most applicable to you. The Automotive option opens out into some more, so I’m going to pick Car Care here. My example blog is called ‘Caring for your Car’, so this would be appropriate. I don’t need to narrow this down any further, and general car care seems fine with me. When you have likewise found a category you like, click the Next button to the right of the list of options.
Now, you just need to pick the layout!
As you want this to fit in the sidebar of a blog, pick the Ferris Wheel pattern, and then select size 160×600. Wow, that is a nice display – just look at all those cleaning tools! Almost doesn’t even look like an advert. Except that it’s still called ‘Best Sellers’ – so let’s change that! You’ll see the title entry box is just above the Orientation options. So, I’ll take out what’s there, and write in ‘Recommended Tools’ instead. Fits quite nicely, and looks better. So, having now chosen products, a layout, and a title, I’m ready to add it to the site. If you want to leave and come back later, by the way, you can save what you’ve done so far using the ‘Save’ button at the bottom. In this case, just click the ‘Add to my Web page’ button, and we’ll have a popup appear with the code in it. Copy this, and you’re ready to add it to your site – go on to Step 3!
Step 3. Add to your blog
Unfortunately I don’t have space here to cover every major blog, so I’m just going to describe how to add your new widget into WordPress. Which looks to be the most popular blogging software at the moment, a title that it well deserves for it’s amazing ease of use and customizability – an example of which you are about to see. So, let’s fire it up.
Go to your blog, and log in as normal to the admin dashboard. In the sidebar on your left are various menus – open the Appearance one, and click on the Widgets link. You’ll see a big box with all the available widgets in it, and on your right, are the areas the widgets can go. So, to display your Amazon ad, you first need to find the Text widget. It’s probably at the bottom of the list of available widgets. When you see it, click and drag it across to one of the areas on the right. For demo purposes, let’s put it in the Primary Widget Area.
NOTE: If your blog doesn’t have a Primary Widget Area, that means you’re using a different theme – I’m afraid you’ll need to figure out yourself which one to use. If they aren’t labelled clearly, just try them one by one until you find the right one. If you don’t see where to drop the widget, you probably need to open the sidebars widget area (wish I knew what the official term for it is). Click the downward pointing arrow in its top right corner, and it will expand down, giving you space to drag the Text widget into.  Once you let go of it, and the text widget drops into place, it will open out into a large text area you can type in. Ignore the small text box at the top for the title, as it’s really not necessary here, and paste in the widget code (that you got from Amazon) straight into the larger text area. DO NOT check the automatically add paragraphs option at the bottom – you don’t want that! Then click save, and you’re done! The widget should now have been added to your sidebar. So, go to your blogs home page, and take a look.
If you can’t see the widget, double check that you copied it correctly from Amazon, and that you put it in the right place, and of course that your theme supports widgets. Some don’t, and you may need to change themes to find one that works.
If you’ve followed all these instructions, you should now have an Amazon ad displayed proudly in your blog, just waiting for customers to click through and bring you all that affiliate commissions you just know is waiting for you.
Good luck & Happy Marketing!

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