Yesterday, I received notice from Amazon that, effective immediately, my Amazon Associates account was closed. This means that the various links to products on Amazon in my posts are no longer affiliate links (and I’ll be combing through my content to remove them in the next week or so). Here is their email:
We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account will be closed and your Amazon Services LLCAssociates Program Operating Agreement will be terminated effective January 6, 2015. This is a direct result of Vermont’s state tax collection legislation (32 V.S.A. § 9701(9)(I)). As a result, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon Site after January 5, nor will we accept new applications for the Associates Program from Vermont residents.
Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to January 6, 2015, will be processed and paid in full in accordance with your regular advertising fee schedule. Based on your account closure date of January 6, 2015, any final payments will be paid by March 31, 2015.
Amazon strongly supports federal legislation creating a simplified framework to uniformly resolve interstate sales tax issues. We are working with states, retailers, and bipartisan supporters in Congress to get legislation passed that would allow us to reopen our Associates program in Vermont.
We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates Program, and hope to be able to re-open our program to Vermont residents in the future.
The Amazon Associates Team
On this humble little blog, with a spattering of links, I’ve earned a grand total of $36.68 since September 2010—hardly worth the time it takes to generate the affiliate links for the few posts I add them to. But, it was a nice bit of surprise fun money once a year or so that I could use to subsidize a book or sewing notion.
For other online marketers and content publishers—possibly even other sewing/crafting bloggers—the impact is thousands of dollars. It’s not restricted to Vermont: Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri, and Rhode Island are also barred from using the program now.
In my case, the impact is minor, but it brings up the question of how other companies will handle this legislation change. I have a few Google AdSense ads on here to help pay for hosting (~$100/year), and affiliate links for American Duchess ($13.88 in total). I’ve considered adding ones for a few product subscription services I personally use and am willing to recommend.
Some of you may not be such small potatoes when it comes to generating so-called passive income with your blog. Some of you may be considering adding affiliate links thinking it could amount to big bucks. But with this legislation in VT and other states, the landscape of internet marketing is changing, which is sure to have ripples throughout the blogging community. It certainly highlights the fact that blogging is not a guaranteed money maker, and your income is entirely at the mercy of the programs you affiliate with.
I’ve always supported bloggers using affiliate links because I am well aware of the costs of maintaining a blog, particularly if you have your own domain. I hope we can weather the storm.
Were you directly affected by this policy change? I’d love to hear what your perspective is on both it, and the idea of affiliate links in general.