The Entrepreneur Monthly: Amazon Slashes Affiliate Commissions

The Entrepreneur Monthly - April 2020

Hey there, we hope that you are all still healthy and safe in whatever your current situation is.

As you’re probably still fully immersed in the “stay at home” lifestyle, we are checking in with the latest edition of The Entrepreneur Monthly for April 2020 to keep you up-to-date with everything that’s happening in the digital business world.

In The Entrepreneur Monthly, we’ll break down all the news you need to know from the past month. We’ll cover important news about SEO, social media, WordPress, marketing, product launches, and anything else that might affect your digital business. Then, we’ll share it here on the blog and in our newsletter.

If you want to make sure you never miss an update, subscribe to the Blogging Wizard newsletter via the form at the end of this post to get The Entrepreneur Monthly delivered straight to your inbox every month.

This month, Amazon announced big cuts to its affiliate commissions for a number of popular product categories (including groceries), which is unlikely to bring happiness to Amazon Associates participants. Beyond that, Google opened up its Shopping platform for free, and YouTube is rolling out some new analytics tools for creators.

This is The Entrepreneur Monthly for April 2020.

Note: Want to get a heads up when the next issue of The Entrepreneur Monthly drops? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Amazon cuts affiliate commissions effective April 21

If you rely on Amazon Associates to monetize your website, I have bad news:

Effective April 21, Amazon has slashed its affiliate commissions across a broad range of categories. Many categories saw a drop of over 50%, with some even larger.

Here are some of the biggest cuts…

From 8% to 3%:

  • Furniture
  • Home & Home Improvement
  • Lawn & Garden
  • Pets Products
  • Pantry

From 6% to 3%:

  • Headphones
  • Beauty
  • Musical Instruments
  • Business & Industrial Supplies

Beyond that, Grocery saw a huge cut from 5% down to 1%, and Health & Personal Care went from 4.5% down to 1%.

Not all categories have been cut, though. For example, the following categories remain unchanged:

  • Luxury beauty
  • Music
  • Physical books
  • Kitchen
  • Automotive
  • Amazon devices
  • Luggage
  • Shoes
  • Handbags and accessories (including watches and jewelry)
  • Toys
  • PC & PC Components
  • Televisions

This is just a partial list of the most notable unchanged categories.

Amazon didn’t provide much guidance about the reasons for the change, so it’s hard to know whether these changes were in the works for a while or a reaction to the Covid-19 situation.

For example, the categories with the biggest cuts, like Grocery and Health & Personal Care, seem like they would be in huge demand during the pandemic.

CNBC and The Verge have more on the cuts.

Overall, this is a good reminder that you need to be careful about relying on any single income source. As much as possible, you should diversify how you monetize your website.

Note: While Amazon is a conversion-machine, other platforms like Shareasale.com & CJ.com are worth exploring as alternatives. Learn more about these and other platforms in our roundup of affiliate marketing platforms.

Google opens up Shopping service for free

To help support struggling eCommerce retailers through the Covid-19 pandemic, Google announced in April that they’re making listings in Google Shopping free (rather than the mostly paid listings that previously appeared there).

In the announcement post from Bill Ready of Google, he says that:

In light of [the economic difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic], we’re advancing our plans to make it free for merchants to sell on Google. Beginning next week, search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.

Bill Ready of Google

TechCrunch also has more on the announcement and changes.

So if you’re running an eCommerce store, how can you get your products listed on Google Shopping to benefit from the changes?

If you’re using WordPress and WooCommerce, you can check out this tutorial. And if you’re using Shopify, you can use the official Google Shopping app.

YouTube will tell you when your audience is most active

To help creators better understand their audiences, YouTube is expanding its analytics to let creators see when their audience is most likely to be online.

Presumably, this will help you engage with your audience by scheduling posts and publishing videos when your audience is most active. You can also time your comments and responses for when your audience is online. Or, you could set up live streams for those times if live streaming is part of your strategy.

It’s worth noting that YouTube doesn’t have any data that says publishing at certain times will make your videos more effective.

Another thing to note – the analytics don’t tell you when people watch your specific videos. Instead, the analytics show you when your channel’s audience is active on YouTube (even if that includes consuming content from outside your channel).

You can learn more in this article from Search Engine Journal or this sneak peek video from Creator Insider.

How Covid-19 has affected LinkedIn engagement

Beyond all the many other ways in which Covid-19 is affecting life, it’s also affecting how people use social media and what content they engage with.

For insights into just what these changes are, LinkedIn published an interesting post with data on how LinkedIn users’ behavior has changed in response to Covid-19.

For example, before March 2020, less than 1% of company posts on LinkedIn referenced working from home. Since then, that number has dramatically jumped up, peaking at 14% during the week of March 23rd.

Similarly, posts that directly reference Covid-19 have also shot up during the same time period.

Perhaps more importantly for marketers, these types of posts are also generating way above average engagement.

So if LinkedIn marketing is part of your strategy, this is definitely a time when it pays to be topical.

Chrome 81 will block mixed images

For quite some time now, Google has been on somewhat of a crusade to push the adoption of HTTPS.

If you’re not familiar, HTTPS makes the connection between your website and visitors’ browsers more secure. You can enable it with an SSL certificate.

Things are getting even more aggressive with version 81 of Chrome, which will try to auto-upgrade mixed content images to HTTPS and block mixed content images (without a fallback) if it’s unable to do so.

Mixed content is when your site uses HTTPS, but you still try to load some resources (like images) over HTTP.

Kinsta has a good guide on how to fix the mixed content warnings on WordPress, and Search Engine Journal has more on the change in Chrome 81.

If you’re unfamiliar with SSL & HTTPS, WP Superstars has a beginner’s guide worth checking out.

SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans for freelancers and contractors

As part of its response to Covid-19, the USA is pumping hundreds of billions into a loan program for small businesses to help them survive the economic fallout (and larger institutions like Shake Shake and Harvard University, apparently).

It’s called the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP for short. If you’re in the USA, you’ve probably seen it in the news, as it’s gotten off to a somewhat…rocky start.

However, what you might not know, is that this program is also available to freelancers and independent contractors who have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 economy.

What’s eligible? For self-employed individuals, you can use the PPP loans to give yourself a salary.

In total, you can borrow up to 2.5X your average payroll costs for 12 months (capped at $100,000 per employee).

If you’re a freelancer, your “payroll” will come from your 2019 tax return, so you’ll want to file that ASAP if you haven’t already (remember – the deadline is extended until July 15).

To apply for your PPP loan, you’ll need to go through one of the 1,800 approved banks and lenders. Unfortunately, most banks are only working with existing customers, so this might be difficult if you don’t already have a business relationship with a bank.

To learn more about the program and how to apply, this Merchant Maverick article is a good resource.

And that wraps up all the latest news you need to know from April 2020. Check back next month for more great news about SEO, social media, WordPress, blogging, and more.

Note: Want to get a heads up when the next issue of The Entrepreneur Monthly drops? Subscribe to our newsletter.

The Entrepreneur Monthly - April 2020