Build an Amazon Affiliate Product Store with WordPress

What's your motivation for building an affiliate product store?

As you're probably already aware, here at Store Coach we mainly focus on building drop-ship online stores is focused on, but if you get into e-commerce as a way of making money you should be aware of affiliate product stores and where the two store types overlap.

In certain niche markets you may need to build an affiliate product store initially as a stepping stone to create an "in" with wholesale suppliers who drop-ship (just so they can see that you have a complete "store" when they review your application).

Additionally, in some niche markets it may make sense to have a hybrid drop-ship/affiliate product store, simply because you won't be able to source certain brands via drop-shipping but should still have them listed on your store (to make you look legit).

Thirdly, you may want a 100% affiliate product store because either a) you just don't want to deal with customer service & suppliers, or b) your niche has gotten too challenging to compete in and the margins aren't worth the ongoing maintenance (affiliate stores have much lower profit ceilings but they are also zero-maintenance).

So regardless of what your motivation is for building an affiliate product store, this guide will walk you through the steps of creating one using WordPress (free open-source platform).

HINT: You don't have to use WordPress for your affiliate product store, you can use virtually any site builder out there. In fact, if we're building an affiliate product store as a "placeholder" store just to get supplier accounts for an eCom store, it usually makes sense to just build it on Shopify - since that's the platform you'll want to be on for your permanent store anyway. There are apps that allow you to turn your product pages into affiliate product pages and replace the 'ADD TO CART' buttons with 'Buy on Amazon' buttons. (Our free training course on building drop-ship stores on Shopify starts here.)

Why focus on Amazon for this affiliate store guide?

Well, there are a few good reasons we feature Amazon as the one and only merchant affiliate program in this guide...

  1. Amazon is the biggest retailer on the planet, so they have just about any product you could possibly want to list in your affiliate product store.
  2. The guide can be applied to any merchant that retails online and has an affiliate program, so if you want to work with other merchants you can still apply everything taught here.
  3. Even if you plan on mainly working with other retailers that have affiliate programs, Amazon is always a great place to be an affiliate for in order to really "fill out" your catalog.

So to be clear, the steps below focus more on getting an affiliate product store off the ground, regardless of who the merchant is that you are an affiliate for. We show the steps for an Amazon affiliate site, but you can apply the same principles for any retailer's products that can be sold via affiliate programs.

HINT: This free guide shows you how to find & sign up for affiliate programs in your chosen product niche!

Let's get started with our Amazon affiliate product store

Here's what this guide will cover...

  1. Register a domain name
  2. Set up web hosting
  3. Install WordPress
  4. Sign up for Amazon's affiliate program
  5. Install required plugins
  6. Add products to your store

Step 1. Register a Domain Name

world globe showing many domain name addressesIf you're following our free training course you already got your store's domain name in Section 2.2 of Module 2. But in a nutshell, you want a domain name that's short, memorable and somewhat "brand-able." Typically, the best way to do that is to add a short, 1-syllable "filler word" to the end of your main keyword phrase (or just 1-2 words of it). For example, if my main keyword phrase was 'dog houses', I would choose a domain name that starts with that and ends with a filler word. Some examples would be doghousesnow.com, doghousesplus.com, doghouseshop.com, doghouseshq.com, etc.

Registering a domain name only costs about $10 per year. The domain name registrar we personally use and recommend is NameCheap. They're among the cheapest online and offer solid support if you have any post-purchase issues (which is highly unlikely).

Step 2. Set Up Web Hosting

BigScoots: Superior WordPress Site HostingIf you haven't already done so, it's time to get a web hosting account. We've tried out probably a dozen different hosting companies, and BigScoots is "hands-down" our favorite (considering cost, support, reliability and everything). After clicking the link simply click on their logo in the top-left corner and scroll down to see their plans side-by-side. The 'Web Hosting' plan on the far left for under $10/month is all you need for this site. Proceed through the checkout steps to sign up for this plan.

You can host all of your sites on this single plan, and if you decide to do a personal website or a corporate site (another way to impress wholesale suppliers) later on, you can host them on this same plan as well. Note: Once you have your hosting account set up, BigScoots will send you an email with your account details. Be sure to save this email or copy those details to your Master Spreadsheet for this project.

You will need to know the nameservers of your hosting account so you can "point" (aka "connect") your domain name to this new hosting account (that should be shown in the welcome email they send as well). Once you have the nameserver names (aka "DNS") in hand, just log into your NameCheap account and update your domain nameservers with what BigScoots provided (here are the steps for updating nameservers at NameCheap (choose 'Custom DNS' for the nameserver options)). Once your nameservers are updated, it will take between 1-24 hours for your domain name to start pointing to your hosting account.

HINT: It can take up to 24 hours for your nameservers to propagate (a fancy word for "point correctly") so that your domain name (in a browser) pulls up your web hosting files that are hosted by BigScoots. Also note that internet routers/modems and your computer's web browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari, etc.) will store website files and DNS settings, so your browser may show that DNS hasn't updated yet even after it has. Rebooting your internet router/modem, restarting your computer, and clearing your browser's temporary files can help you see the updates pretty instantly after propagation has finished.

Step 3. Install WordPress

HINT: Before you can proceed with this step, you must wait for your nameservers to be fully propagated (don't worry, you really don't have to understand what that means!). When nameservers have fully propagated, typing your domain name into a web browser (like FireFox, Chrome or Internet Explorer) will display a blank or mainly blank page rather than showing the default NameCheap parked page (like it did right after you registered the domain). Make sure this is the case before proceeding with this step (if you don't, you could cause yourself all sorts of problems).

Installing Wordpress on your hosting account is very quick & easy (and free, of course). Just follow the steps in this guide (provided by BigScoots), and then return to this tutorial to proceed through the remaining steps.

Step 4. Join Amazon's Affiliate Program

Once you have installed your Wordpress blog and done some basic configuring, you will want to sign up for Amazon's affiliate program in preparation of the upcoming steps. Be sure to save your Amazon Associate login details because you will need to access that portal for the upcoming steps (and from time to time in the future as well).

HINT: If you intend to sign up for other retailer's affiliate programs, either in addition to Amazon's or instead of altogether, now is the time to do that!

Step 5. Install Required Plugins

Plugin #1. WooCommerce

The first plugin you'll need is called WooCommerce. You can install it from the 'Plugins' section within your WordPress admin panel (here's a guide).

Plugin #2. WooCommerce Amazon Associates

The second plugin you will need is called WooCommerce Amazon Associates, which you can purchase here (1-time $49 fee). This plugin allows you to quickly & easily pull products from Amazon and load them into your Amazon affiliate store via WordPress admin. It is extremely powerful, and a single license allows you to use it for any & all Amazon affiliate stores you ever do! There are, of course, other WordPress plugins you can and should consider installing (SEO by Yoast, a social sharing plugin, a security plugin, etc.). But the above 2 plugins are all you really need to run an (Amazon) affiliate product store.

Step 6. Build Out Your Affiliate Product Store

Adding products to your store

Once you're set up as an authorized affiliate (either for Amazon or for one or more top retailer(s) in your niche), it's time to add products to your WordPress store. This is pretty easy if you took our advice and installed the WooCommerce Amazon Associates plugin in the step above. With that add-on software you can literally pull products over from Amazon as quickly and you can search & find them.

HINT: If you want to add products via other affiliate programs (not Amazon's through the WooCommerce Amazon Associates plugin) you will have to do so 1-by-1 or by using a product feed file!

I recommend trying to make your WordPress site look as much like a standard e-commerce store as possible, simply replacing the 'Add to Cart' buttons on each product page with a 'Buy at Amazon' or 'Buy Now' button that links to that specific product on Amazon.com or the retailer's site (using your affiliate tracking code, of course).

Building the other pages in your store

You'll obviously still want a home page, category pages, store policy pages, etc. Most of the sections in Module 3 of our free training on building drop-ship online stores will still apply to an affiliate product store (and there are free templates to use for some of the pages you should have on your website!).

My Amazon affiliate store is complete, now what?

Where to go from here really depends on which route you're taking, so choose from the following scenarios...

...You built an affiliate product store in hopes of convincing a wholesale drop-ship supplier to work with you. If that's the case, you'll want to jump back into our Requirements to Work with Drop-Ship Wholesalers guide. Alternatively, you can jump back to the Sourcing Wholesale Products section of Module 2.

...You built an affiliate product instead of a drop-ship eCommerce store. If that's the case, you'll want learn how to get ranked in Google to bring in loads of targeted free traffic in Module 5.