Zachary Pitcher


HackLodge Log 3

January 6, 2020

Catherine’s getting back today! I’m so excited because I haven’t seen her in person since like the 17th of December; it’s been almost a month. That’s the longest that we’ve been apart since we started dating, so it’s been pretty rough.

I’ve been second-guessing my crypto idea ever since I got to hacklodge, and I’ve changed my mind about how I want to approach it at least three times since I got here. Today, I was walking around on the 3rd floor and I saw Maas Lalani and Justin Yu testing out their project. They have a pretty cool demo of their app, which is an AR book-searching experience. Basically, if you see a book lying around or you’re at a bookstore, you can pick up a book and point you’re phone at it and some 3d elements will pop up around the book that track with it as you move it around in your hand. The 3d elements include some reviews about the book, a price-tag, some other metadata, and an Amazon affiliate link that leads you to where you can purchase the book on Amazon.

That affiliate link caught my attention, because I had seen something similar to that on Whiteboard Finance’s YouTube channel. In one of Marko’s videos, he was walking through a PDF that he made of all the deals that you can get for signing up with brokers and savings accounts on the internet. But for most of those deals, since you’d be clicking an affiliate link that he put into the PDF, he’d get a commission of some sort. Sometimes, you get a commission just from them clicking on the link, but other times they have to purchase something in order to fulfill the affiliate contract.

I was talking to that team for a while, because I thought their model was pretty cool: if they can offer a better experience finding books to read than Amazon, but they don’t sell them themselves, they can get a commission for sending traffic Amazon’s way. This is true for any product: if I could make a fun marketplace for a certain set of products, then transfer them all to Amazon, I would get passive returns for that.

But it’s even better than that: Amazon’s affiliate program pays the affiliate a commission no matter what product the user purchases, as long as it was within 24 hours of when the user clicked the affiliate link. I realized that it doesn’t really matter what product I’m sending the user to, as long as I find an excuse to send them to the site. Amazon is a popular enough site that a large percentage of those users would have purchased something on Amazon that day anyway, so if I can get them to click on any affiliate link I will get a cut of those purchases.

From that we can do some rough calculations: Let’s say I come up with a way for 100% of my visitors to my website to click an affiliate link. According to some Google searching, the average Amazon purchase is $45, and there are approximately 1.1 billion purchases on Amazon per year. That means that with 350 million people in the U.S., each person makes about 3 Amazon purchases per year, spending about $150 on Amazon per year, and about $.50 per day on average (rounding a lot here). Since Amazon affiliate commissions are about 5%, that means I could expect approximately 2 cents per visitor per day.