Digging through a mountain of old papers the other day I came across a business plan written in 2003 for a New York area YWCA. Which reminded me of the simple money-maker than is Amazon Associates.

Are you a blog or a non-profit or some other small business that has a loyal following? Are you trying to find (additional) revenue streams but just do not have the bandwidth to take on any large projects or the investment dollars to sink? Are you ready to admit that selling self-branded mouse pads and t-shirts does not work? Then Amazon Associates might be for you.

Amazon.com now sells thousands of products, including groceries. I get many of my non-perishable foodstuffs from them (at good discounts). Now, if you are a small organization looking for some extra money (e.g., community church, little league, community organization) why now set up an Amazon.com associates account from which you will be paid percentage referral fees on sales sent from your website to Amazon.com. You don’t even always need to feature the exact items, any purchase made through your link counts. Though, to maximize your potential profits you should find out what you your potential supporters might want MOST and then feature those items.

The percentages are low (generally 4% to 6%) but that can add up. Take me for example. Say I spend $50 a week at Amazon.com on groceries (and occasionally other stuff). That might be $4 I produce in commissions. Now, multiply that by 200 people or so per week and you’re talking a legitimate return equaling hundreds of dollars. And all for almost no work on your organization’s part. You also don’t have to worry about forcing your supporters to buy stuff they don’t want or need.

The key to getting the most out of your Amazon Associates account is to impress two things upon your organization’s members or supporters.

1) Every time they think about buying something, ask, “Can I get this via Amazon.com just as easy?”

2) If yes to #1, then be sure to use the link to Amazon.com from your organization’s site. Ta da. They get what they need AND support you in the process.

Make sure you stress that this is a painless way they can offer their support. Also, if you still have a strong desire to make those mouse pads, then at least use them to print a reminder to shop Amazon.com via your site.