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Sigh. It never rains but it pours.

… and I’m not talking about the Northwet weather.

I’m quoting granny’s old maxim up there in the headline meaning those little old troubles that have a habit of pouring down on our heads in storms instead of mild freshets. I’m talking about car transmissions going haywire followed by news that’s going to take a machete to my blog income.

Oh, Amazon. How could you?

Actually, I can’t complain about Amazon — though I’m going to, anyhow. In its early days the Associates program (those links to Amazon I’m always going on about, links that provide this blog’s only regular income outside of glorious but periodic fundraisers) was a great boon to Amazon and us little guys alike. We raised awareness for Amazon and sent new customers to it. Amazon rewarded us for our efforts.

But for a long time there’s been a too-good-to-be-trueness about Amazon Associates. It remained a godsend to little bloggers and a primary source of income for others who built entire sites around promoting Amazon products. But what was — what is — the benefit to Amazon? Heck, they’ve already got nearly half of all online commerce in the U.S. Why do they need us?

No, they have not — yet — entirely done away with Associates. But for a long time it’s been obvious they’re moving that way. Nearly every month, they announce changes to the program, and month after month, those changes reduce commissions (while always throwing in some minor, often temporary, new benefit to keep the carping to a minimum).

Yesterday afternoon they gone went and did it, though. The changes announced for March 1 are colossal and devastating and will strike hardest at people who rely on volume more than large purchases.

Used to be, the more items customers bought through your links, the higher and higher your commissions would go. I was reliably in the 7% bracket, increasingly reaching 7.5% in the last months of 2016. Serious Amazonians were at 8%, 8.25%. Or higher. That’s why I was always going on about how I didn’t care if you bought $.01 kindle books; because the number of items pushed commissions up across the board.

Then Amazon gradually began putting fixed commissions on certain categories. Nearly always, of course, lower than otherwise.

On March 1, the tiered commissions go away. This is all the warning we get.

No more incentive to sell volumes of products through Amazon links. This is absolutely going to kill the people who’ve built entire sites around getting people to Amazon. And I must say that it seems to be an extremely short-sighted move on Amazon’s part, too; discouraging their highest-volume promoters. On the other hand, most of those people are entrepreneurial types. They’ll adapt, they’ll move on. At the Associates discussion forums, just hours after the bad news, one is already talking about developing his own products and disengaging from all affiliate programs. “Making my company more resilient,” he says. And he’s right.

But it’s still a blow. Looks as if it’s calculated to be about a 50% income drop across the board for most Associates.

That Amazon falsely claims to have gotten rid of volume incentives to avoid confusing Associates with an overly complicated fee structure adds aggravation to the devastation. The fee structure was simple and never confused anybody. Amazon just prefers to draw smiley faces on dogshit.

And the dogshit gets deeper.

Now every Amazon product category has a fixed commission and they’re mostly pathetic. I’ll give you an example: gift cards, which a few years ago earned whatever tiered commission you could work up to, dropped to 6 percent a year or two ago. Then I looked a couple of months back and they were at 2%. As of March 1? Zero. No commission on gift cards. Ditto on wine purchases. Zero.

Computers used to be at 4% Recently they dropped to 2.5%. DVDs and Blu-rays, also at 2.5% now.

Books? Used to be any commission that volume dictated; in my case never less than 7% and often more. As of March 1? 4.5% Kitchen items, too, and those are big sellers for the blog.

Outdoor items and tools (among the very biggest sellers hereabouts)? 5.5% And so on and so on.

As always, Amazon throws in a few sops so they can present their changes as a favor. Groceries, formerly at 4%, are now at 5% Some home, home-improvement, and pet products are a whopping 8%, higher than I’ve ever reached. But of course they’ll take these little perks away a month or two from now. The highest commissions remain on Amazon’s own products and on a couple other categories hardly anybody buys around here (“Luxury beauty,” anyone?).

Used to be, if an item wasn’t in a special category, I’d earn that reliable 7 or 7.5. Now, if an item manages to remain outside a stated category, it’s a flat, lousy 4%.

In other words: OUCH. It hurt like hell last year to go from BHM monthly pay + Amazon to Amazon alone. But then we had that big fundraiser. And thanks to you, Amazon income was slowly creeping up despite Amazon’s best efforts to the contrary. I earned just a few hundred a month on your purchases, but you know, it was a needed few hundred a month, a necessary part of my monthly budget. Now … off a cliff.

And this is most likely merely the beginning of the end.

The Cabal hasn’t turned out to be a moneymaker, either, though it’s a great success as a small, mostly friendly freedomista community. So I’m not sure where everything goes from here.

I promised you last year that your fundraiser contributions would not only raise the foundation of my house but also keep the blog going for two more years. Right this minute, I’m not sure I can keep that promise.

Oh, I’m not running out on you. Nor am I making a pitch for money. Even as other things go to crap, I feel I have been more than blessed, overly blessed, by you guys. I want nothing more from you.

I’m just tired and discouraged and sick of being hit with one damn nuisance after another. I’ll take the weekend off and everything will probably look better. I might even figure out some way to make this An Opportunity. But man, even though my troubles are small ones (and I don’t have to have that damned surgery!) … I’m tired. Just feeling beat. As if I dare not try anything because it’ll just turn to garbage.


  1. Shel
    Shel February 24, 2017 4:51 am

    I’ve been thinking about buying some stuff, so I will to beat the deadline. I’ll see what I can add to it. Including the book Hard Men Humble about Vietnam vets who chose not to come home (that’s a plug) It’s a good book; I lent it out but never got it back. If I think of more stuff that might be of interest to others I’ll post it. I doubt Amazon is making a mistake from their perspective; surely they have thought this through quite thoroughly.

  2. Claire
    Claire February 24, 2017 4:59 am

    Shel — Thank you. And I think you’re right about this not being a mistake from Amazon’s perspective. I assume they’ve decided it’s time to phase out the Associates program and this is their idea of letting us all down gently. It’s just that the way they’re doing it is disingenuous and is calculated to hit their best producers hardest. Not to mention whacking thousands of bloggers.

    FYI, for you and anybody else interested, orders will have to be fulfilled — not just placed — by Tuesday to qualify for the old commission levels.

  3. Shel
    Shel February 24, 2017 6:25 am

    I’ll try to come up with a list of purchase suggestions. If anyone else does the same, I’ll read what they post here.

  4. Claire
    Claire February 24, 2017 6:52 am

    How nice of you, Shel.

    I’ll either need to make your suggestions into Living Freedom Amazon links or people will have to enter Amazon via the main link ( to use them.

    Buyers can also turn any Amazon link into one of my links by using a not-too-complicated process, which I’ll have to dig out. (Some Commentariat members seem to have that process memorized, but I don’t.)


    Here it is:

    Say you want to link to a Jayne Cobb hat.

    From Amazon’s search-results page, you find the particular one you want to link to:

    You remove everything from ref onward:

    Then you add:


    So the URL becomes:

  5. david
    david February 24, 2017 6:56 am

    Seems to me that Amazon’s got income problems. Why else start to eat your own?

    Maybe they want to fund up the drone-delivery program? (Snark!)

    I don’t normally shop there because I don’t want to deal with trying to decide between 200 or more options.

    FWIW, I recently met a doctor in a rural P.O. when I stopped in to ask for directions from a human. He sells a book about treating chronic illnesses with off the shelf drug store items, and he had about 100 of them there in white plastic shipping bags, getting the postage applied to them. I would guess that was a once a week at most or a few times a month event, with a few hours involved in making labels, applying them, and packaging the books. Then another hour or two for schlepping them and waiting for the postage to be applied and paying the bill. Could this work for you?

  6. Claire
    Claire February 24, 2017 7:01 am

    “Could this work for you?”

    No, sorry. My books are old and not much in demand.

    I’m not writing any new ones because the huge amount of time put in doesn’t result in much income.

  7. Comrade X
    Comrade X February 24, 2017 8:39 am

    I’m not a fan of Jeff Bezos (the liberal anti gun person he is), and I have tried in the past to avoid using Amazon however I have used it a little with some purchases thinking I helped you.

    Times are not good and anyone who thinks that IMHO will have a sad awaking soon, just found out Gander Mountain went belly up, another one bites the dust.

    Here’s the deal young lady, when the going gets tuff the tuff get going, I know easy said, but soon there’s a new movie coming out with you in it, ok so it’s not a big Hollywood affair but I can say this for sure there’s a bunch of people that never got into any movie in any size of an affair.

    Your books might be older than you would like but they are still relevant, gave one to a friend the other night who was very very happy to get it. You have accomplished so much, really, your books, having this Blog & doing the Cabal are good things.

    What are we all but dust in the wind anyway when it is all over. We need to enjoy it while we are here, a high priority from now on should be enjoying what you do, now the hard part is to find out what that is, if there is only one thing I have learned from life it would be; what is good/worthwhile is not easy to achieve and never giving up pays off.

  8. FishOrMan
    FishOrMan February 24, 2017 9:34 am

    HUGS! Have a relaxing weekend. Do lots of scratching on top of furry heads. It always helps me so much when I need it most.

  9. UnderwaterCommunicator
    UnderwaterCommunicator February 24, 2017 1:05 pm

    First time posting but I am here quite a bit. I do hope things get better. I made a few purchases I have been putting off for awhile. It’s not much but as someone who has been through a rough few years I know every little bit helps.

  10. SKSK
    SKSK February 24, 2017 2:48 pm

    ma’am..we’re on your team and will do our best for you!

  11. Claire
    Claire February 24, 2017 5:47 pm

    Thanks, people (and FishOrMan, I happened to be petting Ava while reading your message).

    Still don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ll prep a couple of posts for this evening and the weekend, but otherwise I’m not planning to be online much this weekend. I think the gods are telling me I need to do something better with my life, but I’m not sure what that might be.

  12. Claire
    Claire February 24, 2017 5:51 pm

    “I’m not a fan of Jeff Bezos (the liberal anti gun person he is), and I have tried in the past to avoid using Amazon however I have used it a little with some purchases thinking I helped you.”

    Thanks for that, Comrade X. I must admit to not being very fond of Bezos at the moment, myself. 🙂 Amazon has every right to do this, of course. But they really handle the Associates program badly. You know, when Associates wrote to protest this, the (extremely condescending) letter they got in response actually called this decimation “our new feature”? FEATURE??? Egads. I’d hate to see what Amazon thinks a bug looks like.

  13. Shel
    Shel February 24, 2017 7:08 pm

    I hadn’t thought about Bezos’ political bent. That’s another bummer. I don’t understand the part about Gander Mountain.

  14. Desertrat
    Desertrat February 24, 2017 7:28 pm

    Gander Mountain is said to be filing for bankruptcy as soon as March. Blowout sales are a possibility.

  15. Shel
    Shel February 25, 2017 4:57 am

    Wow. Their site has sales going, but I didn’t see that coming. Storewide 20% didn’t seem to me like impending doom, but perhaps it should have.

  16. Shel
    Shel February 25, 2017 8:21 am

    And I’ll have to echo Comrade X. As Hans Rudel (in a stilted translation) put it, “[O]nly he is lost who gives himself up for lost.” I have to force myself to remember it, honestly.

  17. Claire
    Claire February 25, 2017 8:53 am

    Goodness, don’t worry about me “giving up” or feeling lost! My initial reaction was a whole lot of WTF? along with disgust over the way Amazon handled this and worry about how to move forward from here.

    Sure, I have been hit with a lot of little blows in the last year. I’m absolutely doing a lot of soul-searching. I’m back to that adolescent question of “what should I do with the rest of my life” and I have no good answers.

    But this latest merely makes me think I haven’t been paying enough attention to something those irritating gods have been trying to tell me. It’s bound to be an opportunity. For something.

    Back later with a weekend links post or two. Then I’m out for the weekend.

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