How can you make money online? Well, the same way you can make money anywhere else: By selling stuff. You can either sell your own stuff, or get paid to sell someone else’s stuff. Today, I want to talk about one way to sell someone else’s stuff.

Low Traffic

My puzzle site draws very little traffic, and it’s not going to throw off any meaningful revenue at its current size. In particular, with only a handful of visitors a day, simple impression-based or pay-per-click advertising is not a viable strategy; I doubt the results would even be measurable. If I want to see even a penny of revenue, I’ll have to take a different approach.

The most profitable thing to do would be to sell something of my own devising; a physical book of puzzles, let’s say. While such a product could certainly be produced, I’d like to see if I can get something online today. Therefore, I’ll try selling someone else’s books.

Affiliate Marketing

I’ve decided to give Amazon’s affiliate marketing program a try. With this system, you advertise products on your site, and if your visitors click through and buy them, you get a cut. This system only pays money out when a transaction takes place, unlike a display or pay-per-click ad, but it pays out a lot more money per event; Amazon offers a 4% (jumping to 6% after 7 referrals) payout. This translates to a $0.32 – $0.48 payment on an $8.00 book sale.

I think my odds of selling a few books are a lot better than my odds of serving up tens-of-thousands of impressions, so I’m going with a (highly-targeted!) affiliate marketing campaign in preference to PPC or impression-based advertising.


It’s surprisingly easy to get set up with Amazon’s affiliate marketing program. You simply visit the website, sign up, and build your advertising widgets on their website. Because my puzzle site is so focused, I opted to build an “aStore”, now proudly displayed beneath my puzzles.

Including the aStore on my site was just a matter of finding a place to put this IFRAME (generated by Amazon; I changed only the width and id parameters) on the puzzle page:

<IFRAME id="store" src="" width="1000" height="4000" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></IFRAME>

In principle, there’s nothing simpler. In practice, I had a good deal of trouble placing the IFRAME, and am not really happy with my solution. (It’s “below the fold”, as one might say, and consequently hard to see, and I’m not sure the “support this site” banner at the top of the page will help much.) I would have preferred to use a vertical aStore banner to the right of the playfield, but Amazon’s widgets triggered Firefox’s cookie alarms, which seemed like a major strike against them. This is definitely an on-going (and fiddly) problem.

Future Work

I’ve looked into widgets a little, and mostly found that (a.) Google’s caching is really annoying and (b.) webpages can be converted to (crummy) widgets fairly easily. Anyway, to the future:

  • Continue to research widgets
  • Try to better position the aStore on the page
  • Post some messages on puzzle forums
  • Experiment with an increased ad budget; will it buy traffic?

Yesterday’s Stats

Stat 16th
Visitors 24
Visits 37
Pageviews 166
Pages/Visit 4.49
Avg. Time on Site 5:17

At least it’s better than yesterday. There’s an interesting saw-tooth pattern in the day-to-day data. I presume it must be random, but it is striking nevertheless.

Follow Along

You can subscribe to my RSS feed, if you’d like to follow along with this month’s project, in which I attempt to create and popularize a puzzle site.

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