I was thinking about a topic for this post by going back over my earlier posts and trying to branch off of them in a slightly different direction. I hit upon the idea of looking at plugins that allow you to add affiliate links, when I realized that the biggest affiliate program out there is Amazon.com. A quick check shows quite a few plugins for adding Amazon.com affiliate links, so it seemed like I found my topic. It turns out quite a few of those plugins are very old, but I have found enough to justify a short post on the topic.
Amazon MP3 Clips widge allows you to put a list of MP3s from Amazon.com on a page or post. The MP3s are the clips that Amazon.com uses as samples to entice you into buying songs from them. It uses a shortcode to create an Amazon.com widget that displays albums or mp3s from Amazon. You can add your Amazon.com affiliate number to the shortcode which allows you to get paid by Amazon.com for any purchases anyone makes through the widget. If you do not add your affiliate information, it appears that the plugin developer has his own coded into the plugin so he gets paid.
It is supposed to grab a list of the latest best-selling mp3s if you use the base shortcode, or mp3s from a particular style of music using Amazon.com browse_nodes, but I consistently got a PHP error if I did not provide ASINs for specific albums or mp3s in the shortcode. This may be a shortcoming of using an older version of PHP, or it may be a real problem with the plugin.
This brings up what I consider a major problem with this plugin. Normally, I would go to the page for the plugin and bring it up errors there with the writer, but that is impossible for this plugin. The developer has no support set up at for the plugin at all. The only instructions are what is on the WordPress plugin directory and they are not all that great.
In a lot of ways, it is easier to go get the actual widget from Associates Central. If you want to add a specific work, you still need to go to Amazon.com to get the ASIN. If it works correctly for random clips, you need to find the proper codes for browse_nodes. The only thing it does that really helps is avoiding saving your post in html rather than the visual editor when using the Amazon.com code.
Amazon Reloaded for WordPress makes it easy to add Amazon affiliate links to your posts. In the option page, you put in your affiliate ID and chose which nations program want to use. The plugin puts a window on your post and page editing page, which contains an input field to search whichever nation’s site you picked.
The search is through every area of Amazon, e.g. Books, DVDs, etc., so you can get quite a few results. But it is limited to only 3 results from each area so you will not be overwhelmed. And you need to be exact with your spelling, or nothing will show up.
The search results are presented as a picture with the name of the product below it. If you click on the link, it will place the link into the text area at your cursor’s location. You can also insert the image from Amazon, choosing between the 3 sizes that Amazon provides, which will also be linked to the product on Amazon. No need to look up the ASIN, copy & paste, or anything else. This does not remove all the hassles of adding Amazon links to your site, it doesn’t do a thing for widgets or embedded objects, but the most common way of linking is made extremely easy.
There are some limitations to the plugin. You need to be very precise about what you are looking for, or it may not show up in the search result. And if you use the image, you will need to add some styling to it if you want it to fit into the flow of your writing.
But all in all, a very nice plugin. It is not okayed for working with version 2.7.1, so you may have problems with it, but it did work fine on my set up. The author is working on a new version, with more options in it, but in the meantime it has some nice functionality as is.
Amazon Widgets Shortcodes uses shortcodes to place pretty much everything that Amazon offers for linking. You start on the configuration page by choosing the country you are using, then placing your affiliate id in the text box there. You can also choose to have documentation for using the plugin placed on your post and page editing pages. This is nice when it comes to using the plugin.
There are also layout options on the configuration page, which can be overridden on specific widgets when you add them. You can decide to show the widgets on your RSS feeds and enforce strict HTML and XHTML compliance. Finally, there are two additional options, enabling context links and product previews for Amazon hyperlinks.
The plugin is easy to use, it places a drop down menu on the Visual section of the text editor, which is how you add the widgets to your post. You do need to create the widgets at your Amazon Affiliate account in order to get the necessary information to put in the drop down menu. You can either follow the directions (a good reason to enable the documentation on the configuration page) to find what to copy and paste in the input fields, or copy the entire html that Amazon provides and place it in the second tab, which will use it to fill in the fields properly.
While there is a good selection of choices available on the menu, including placing a wishlist widget and a single product text link, but it does not include all of the options that Amazon offers. There is no search box option, and you can’t use it for digital media like MP3s or videos. But being able to use shortcodes rather than worry about messing up html by pasting it in the visual editor is worth a lot.
There are other plugins available for Amazon.com affiliates, some of which look like they have some nice options. But they either did not work on my test blog or required a version of PHP I do not have. I would probably avoid using the MP3 clips plugin, the lack of support and the errors I had are just not worth the trouble.
The other two plugins nicely complement each other. One for adding straight links to your pages, the other for handling widgets of various kinds. They work well and have good support from their authors. If you are an Amazon affiliate, you should check them out and see if they will fill your needs for your blog.
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