Amazon Associates Affiliate Alternatives

July 18th, 2011 Leave a comment 4 comments
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California Amazon Associates Done

For those Amazon affiliates living in California, a rather crushing blow has been dealt recently by California’s government. A new bill, ABX1 28, has forced all online retailers with a physical presence in the state of California to pay taxes in the state of California, and this bill rules that affiliates, such as the ones in Amazon’s affiliate program, count as a physical presence. In response, Amazon shuttered its affiliate program practically overnight and left some 25000+ affiliates floundering for a way to supplement their affiliate income. Like many California webmasters out there, we’ve had a few articles on our site with links to Amazon. This wasn’t an amazing income by any stretch of imagination, but it WAS an income that disappeared practically overnight.

The loss of that small income hurt many, but Amazon’s swift exit from California isn’t the end-all of affiliate marketing there. There are many alternatives available to affiliates in California, and this article will some of them that are available today. I must admit that at this point, we still haven’t chosen our own replacement. But we will, and when we do, we will use the list below as our guide.

1. Big-Box Retailer Affiliate Programs

Amazon’s niche was selling just about everything from a centralized location. This is still a huge advantage for them and for an affiliate, reducing the amount of affiliate programs you need to track and letting you centralize your links conveniently. While this option is now out the door, there are quite a few big-box retailers who are looking to fill the gap. Companies like Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Target, and others are looking to fill the gap left by Amazon, and their affiliate programs sport similar incentives and layout to Amazon’s.

Perhaps best of all to someone recently cut adrift by Amazon, these big-box retailers offer a bit of stability. Since all of them already have physical, brick-and-mortar stores in California, they won’t cut their affiliate programs at the drop of a hat due to new tax laws on online retailers. Because of their physical investment in California, it’s harder for them to overcome inertia and pull out of the state. This makes them, at least for now, a fairly stable bet when it comes to affiliate marketing. Here is a short list of some affiliate programs you could use in place of your Amazon affiliate links:

All of these big-box retailers offer affiliate programs, and together they offer a pretty comprehensive replacement of the products that Amazon offered as well.

2. Other Online Affiliate Networks

Amazon, of course, is not the only online retailer. You have other networks as well, such as ClickBank, eBay, Commission Junction, and more; they are online retailers who will probably be just as happy to fill in the gaps, considering their main competitor has now just left a power vacuum in the state of California.

The same problems with these, however, raise their heads; with the constantly changing battle between online retailers and tax laws, you can’t have any guarantee that these companies won’t pull out as well. However, for those looking to replace one online retailer for another, these affiliate programs work well and are certainly worthy of consideration!

3. Alternative Strategies for Keeping Amazon In Play

For those of you who really, really don’t want to lose your Amazon affiliate status, there are other ways of going about this as well. In the wake of this fiasco, some companies are popping up with ingenious ways for California Amazon affiliates to still get their commissions. One of these, for example, is Skimlinks. Skimlinks is a company that manages affiliate programs for you as well as takes a cut for that service. As a result, you can register with Skimlinks and continue to use Amazon’s affiliate program with a slight cut taken from Skimlinks. It’s not ideal, but it works, and it’s a legal way to continue to have the convenience of Amazon’s affiliate program at your fingertips.

There are also, of course, other ways of keeping your Amazon affiliate program alive. You could incorporate in a different state, have a PO Box in a different state, or even have a friend sign up and use their links. All of these methods are currently being tried by various Californian Amazon affiliates, but they are all legally questionable at best. Don’t do anything that you think might be shady or illegal, even if you’re desperate for the Amazon income! Research around first, and make absolutely certain what you’re doing is within the law, or the punishment may be far worse than the perceived reward.

4. Alternative Monetizing Methods

Depending on the type of website you run or operate, it may even be more profitable to sell it to someone else in a different state who can take advantage of the Amazon affiliate links. This will, of course, not work with businesses who have long-standing customers and rely on Amazon just for supplementary income. For entrepreneurs who use the service as their main money-maker on websites designed specifically for this purpose, however, it may be lucrative to sell the websites at a profit and use the proceeds to design a new internet or affiliate marketing structure that takes into account other affiliates or avenues of monetization.


The passing of this bill was a blow to Amazon’s affiliates in California, but not all hope is lost. Amazon’s affiliate program isn’t the only one out there, and there are other methods and means for all sorts of entrepreneurs to make their living, including alternative methods of access to Amazon’s affiliate program as well as other affiliate programs and monetization structures.

Hopefully this article has helped you, and good luck in your search for a way to replace the void that Amazon’s departure from California has created! If you know of any other great Amazon affiliate alternatives we failed to mention here, please submit a commment below!

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  1. Heat says:

    I’m extremely disappointed in Amazon. What they forget is that those 25,000 affiliates that they discarded at the drop of a hat were also Amazon customers. Actually, super customers. Because they had a greater familiarity with Amazon products, they bought more products.

    When it comes to customers, then, Amazon has a bad case of mission statement halitosis: “Start with the customer and work backward? Earth’s most customer-centric company?” Not for Amazon’s former California super customers…

    Note to Jeff Bezos: The simple math of why it pays to pay attention to how you treat your customers: A satisfied customer will tell 3 other persons about how good your service was. But a dissatisfied customer will tell 11 others about his or her experience. Thus, for every dissatisfied customer you lose, you have to gain four satisfied customers just to barely stay even!

    Bye, bye Jeff.

  2. Charles says: Mail Forwarding is the Answer to Amazon Affiliates OR Associates $4 a month for check forwarding.

  3. Nite says:

    You hit the nail on the head with point #2 – “Other Online Affiliate Networks” . Rather than joining each of them individually, there exists an affiliate program that allows simultaneous access to most of them. There are alternatives, but it is up to each person to explore what they are.

  4. joe says:

    My accounts been closed for different reasons, they say that I broke their TOS, that I had links that were not clearly marked as amazon… :/.. My site started making good money, from sep 2011, in Jan it made close to $2k, I believe that this is why I was put under the radar… seems to be a common tactic they use… I’ve tried to appeal but it looks like a lost cause.

    So, I’m looking at other options…

    Skimlinks take a whopping 25%! I think this is too high.

    I’m unsure if I can sell my site… is it black listed? I mean, if I transfer it to a new user, can they put their affiliate links on without any trouble…

    Can I sign up for a new account and just change my hosting? IP…

    Really not sure what my best option is?

    Any advice?