… 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.