Introducing @FiverFun - silly things on Amazon for under £5


It's nearly Christmas! That means Secret Santa time at work, and the need for little stocking-filler gifts. But where can you find such cheap treats? Aha! I have created a service just for you!

https://fiverfun.tumblr.com/ is my new(ish) project. It scours Amazon for the best and/or weirdest things for under a fiver!

Screenshot of the fiverfun homepage showing a wide range of presents

At the moment the site posts updates 3 times per day - and you can also follow it on Twitter.

It has been fascinating to see what people buy - as part of Amazon's affiliate scheme, I get to see what products I'm linking to are popular - here are a few of my favourites.

Bulk Items

I don't know why these fascinate me so much - but I love being able to buy loads of things at once.

Gadgets

I love electronic widgets - and it seems my visitors do too!

Silly things

Quite often I'll find a thing of no practical value which, nevertheless, visitors go crazy for.

Geeky things

Jewellery & Makeup

I didn't think there'd be much for under a fiver - but I was wrong:

How does it work?

The process for adding stuff is manual. I did try to play around with Amazon's API to get it to spit out suggestions, but I couldn't get it to work very well.

When I find something which fits the bill, I add it to a private Amazon wishlist.

There used to be an API for interacting with Wishlists, but Amazon closed it down. So I built my own.

The current workflow is...

  1. Find something interesting and add it to a wishlist
  2. Wishlist is converted to RSS
  3. IFTTT ingests the RSS and posts the images and links to Tumblr
  4. Tumblr won't auto-tweet anything which has been added to its queue
  5. A different IFTTT account posts the Tumblr entry to Twitter
  6. Users buy items and I get a small amount of affiliate revenue

Simple, eh?

Limitations

The biggest problem is with pricing. Amazon is becoming more like eBay - lots of independent sellers who are free to set their own postage prices. Should a 99p item be on the site if postage is £6?

Prices also fluctuate. Rapidly. In the few minutes between adding an item and it being posted, it can rise in price due to demand. Tumblr isn't really designed for posts to disappear in response to a 3rd party site's API.

I can't find a way for IFTTT to tag items with specific categories. It would be great to create sub-pages for toys, gadgets, make-up.

There's also no easy way to tell if a product has been withdrawn or discontinued. Sometimes people click on a product only to find it has gone. That's not a great user experience.

Not every item has a great default picture. Neither my API nor IFTTT allow for image selection. Similarly, the descriptions can be a bit esoteric - especially if the seller doesn't speak English.

Finally, postage times can be a challenge. Some of the cheapest stuff has to come on a boat from China. I've purchased a few things which take a few weeks to arrive. Sometimes it is worth paying extra for speedy delivery!

Enjoy!

Throughout the year, fiverfun.tumblr.com will be posting a wide variety of trinkets designed to be pocket-money friendly. You can also follow it on Twitter. Have fun!

Enjoyed this post? You can get me a gift from my wishlist.

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