How Influencers Are Using Amazon Live to Earn Money From Commissions

How Influencers Are Using Amazon Live to Earn Money From Commissions
Written by publishing team

  • Some YouTube influencers have jumped on Amazon’s direct shopping feature, Amazon Live.
  • Amazon Live creators share products with viewers and then earn a commission from every sale.
  • But YouTube and other social platforms are working on their own direct shopping features to compete.
  • Visit Insider’s Business section for more stories.

Some YouTube creators are heading to an unlikely place to start growing and making money: Amazon.

Carla Stevini is a full-time influencer who got her start on YouTube, where she has 256,000 subscribers. But after months of poor growth on the platform, I decided to try out Amazon’s direct shopping feature, called Amazon Live.

“I saw how my YouTube channel did not have the success I had hoped for,” said Stephenie. “I decided to give Amazon Live everything I had.”

Stevenné first heard about the feature when an Amazon employee reached out to her in early 2020. The company said Amazon was actively recruiting video influencers to join Amazon Live, though it declined to say how many people are currently on the platform. Amazon is looking for creators in categories ranging from technology to beauty, home and fashion. Anyone who is a member of the Amazon Influencers Program can join by downloading the Amazon Live Creator app.

Now, Stevenné spends most of her energy on Amazon — it streams there every day of the week — and she says it makes more money than any other platform.

“I really think it helped me reach a bigger audience and new people,” said Stephenie. “I really suggest people who want to be an influencer or who have struggled on other platforms to go for Amazon Live.”

Stevenné is part of a group of influencers who started out on YouTube and are now exploring Amazon as a new platform for growth and revenue.

Similar to Stevenné, Shea Whitney (1.2 million YouTube subscribers) was recruited by Amazon in early 2020 to join the Direct Shopping feature. Whitney said her Amazon Live earnings are starting to compete with her top source of income: brand partnerships.

“It was totally worth it for me and probably one of the most rewarding things for me,” Whitney said.

While live streaming isn’t new, and more brands and creators are experimenting with the format, live shopping is still a recent feature for influencers in the US (although it’s very popular in Asia).

However, the main problem for influencers so far has been directing traffic to Amazon. Unlike YouTube, Amazon does not have a portal where users can see all the Amazon influencers they follow. It is not generally known as an influencer platform like YouTube or Instagram. Content creators often have to rely on promotion when they are about to go live on Instagram or YouTube (where they already have known followers) as a way to get their followers to watch it on Amazon.

And while Amazon may have a short role in developing direct shopping features for a US audience, other platforms are actively working on their own versions. Top video platforms like TikTok and YouTube are looking to direct shopping and engagement with top retailers to help them build e-commerce capabilities.

Shea Whitney

Shea Whitney.

Screenshot of Shea Whitney / Amazon Live

How does live streaming on amazon work?

To stream on Amazon, social media creators must be part of the Amazon Influencer Program. To join, creators apply using their YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook accounts. Amazon Live opened to all Amazon influencers in mid-July, and is part of a few other influencer-oriented Amazon programs, such as The Drop (on-demand collections designed by influencers).

Amazon’s Influencer works as an extension of the Online Associates Program, the company’s affiliate marketing program for creators, publishers, and bloggers. The commission rates on Amazon Live are the same as those of the affiliate program, and range from 1% to 10%.

For each item the influencer mentions during the live broadcast, a special link is added within a viewing circle below the video to direct viewers to the product.

“I order everything on my own and send things back if I don’t like it,” Whitney said. “Shopping now is kind of a business for me. But then I can use these products in other areas of my business.”

Some influencers have also partnered with brands for sponsored live broadcasts. Stephenie has worked with several brands on Amazon Live sponsored content, and these live streams appear on the brand’s Amazon Live page.

In a message to creators shared with Insider, Amazon shares some tips and best practices for going live:

  • “Create viewer-only direct promotions to give customers an incentive to join (exclusive product, first look, or limited-time deals).”
  • “Promotion across all marketing channels.”
  • “Show your products, don’t just talk about them.”

At a seminar on Amazon Live for creators, the team suggested streaming live at least once a week, Stepheni said. Streaming on Amazon every day of the week at 11am EST.

Stevenné and Whitney are both creators of “A-List,” which means that the live stream goes live on the Amazon homepage, and their followers receive a notification each time it goes live.

Stevenné also drives viewership by sharing when she’s about to go live on Instagram Stories, and will occasionally re-upload the live to her YouTube channel, adding affiliate links in the video description.

Shea Whitney


Shea Whitney

Can Amazon Live compete with YouTube and Tik Tok?

TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube have all pushed e-commerce, introducing new features and shoppable storefronts. And there are several emerging direct shopping companies, such as Popshop Live and NTWRK, that are attracting the attention of influencers.

TikTok is working on a new direct shopping feature, similar to QVC. And last year, the app announced a feature allowing users to purchase products in the app in partnership with Walmart and Shopify.

On Instagram, creators and brands can sell products within Instagram Live and followers can purchase these products without leaving the app. This feature works with influencers who are doing a sponsored live broadcast with the aim of directing followers to buy products from a specific brand. The feature also works with influencers looking to sell their own products. But these are not affiliate links and influencers will not receive a commission from the sale.

YouTube is also looking at direct shopping, and the company is currently beta testing a feature that simplifies the option to purchase items the creator mentions, which could be part of a new “integrated shopping experience” YouTube recently introduced later this year. This new feature can compete directly with Amazon Live and push influencers who use other direct shopping platforms to YouTube, especially if those influencers already have a steady following on the platform.

Whitney said she met with YouTube about a year ago to talk about their live shopping offering, but she hasn’t heard anything since.

She’s not sure if she’ll use YouTube’s direct shopping tool and said it depends on how the commission rates compare to Amazon.

“My only concern is, what if the affiliate committee is close to nothing?” Whitney said.

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