I, like many folks, was removed from the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program once my state (California) enacted an affiliate sales tax law.** I needed to take a look at where I’d been using Amazon Associates affiliate links and determine what to do with them.
I told you how I’d found a solution, called Skimlinks, when I announced my new niche site, Redomestication. In that post a few people left questions in the comments about Skimlinks, so I wanted to address them as well as give you an overall Skimlinks review for everyone’s benefit.
Sandy McDonald of Melbourne asks:
If you mention your selection from one of their 17,000 merchants in a post, it will automatically turn it into an affiliate link. Is that right?
You got it Sandy! Skimlinks has over 17,000 merchants across 28 affiliate networks. By joining Skimlinks, you become eligible to earn commissions from any of those 17,000 merchants. On a WordPress blog like this one or Redomestication, you install the Skimlinks plugin (free, obviously) and then input your sites’ code to the plugin.
So I can link to http://www.amazon.com or even a crazy URL’d product page like http://www.freepeople.com/wide-stripes-pullover/_/cmCategoryID/8a61524b-907c-474c-ab37-f357c9ae11e3/?productOptionIDs=f41043ca-b93c-4663-9e51-620b10b9f1f6 and Skimlinks will turn it into an affiliate link FOR ME. I don’t do any of the work.
(And anything that = less work is dreamy, right?!)
You’re then paid by Skimlinks your commissions each month.
When you hover over the Skimlinks links, like those 2 examples aboe, they don’t even look like weird scary affiliate links either. Skimlinks makes the hover text look like regular links. For you, that means no affiliate link cloaking is needed.
While Amazon is one of the many merchants in the Skimlinks system, there are thousands of others. Skimlinks is what finally allowed me to link to Sephora and have it be an affiliate link, I program I’ve wanted in to for years (I think the affiliate managers at Sephora have their heads screwed on backwards).
(And yes, I could have affiliated with another beauty products type of store for all these years, but Sephora is what I actually use and love. I’m not comfortable telling folks to go to Beauty.com when I don’t go there myself!)
Jeff Weiss writes:
Are all of these products through Skimlinks?
And Joel Igene similarly asks:
Are all the links to external products affiliate links?
No, and I think this is a topic for the next post, but I write about what I want to on Redomestication. Many of the links end up being affiliate enabled, thanks to the massive number of merchants in Skimlinks’ system. But the content on the site is not driven by what will and will not earn a commission and there are probably more non-monetized links then monetized links.
SKIMLINKS: THE BAD
- Poor tracking – you won’t know WHAT your customers are buying, for example
- Reporting is delayed by about 2 days
- Poor tracking… it’s that bad
SKIMLINKS: THE GOOD
- Easy access to 17,000 merchants
- Entry to affiliate programs that may have denied you before (…SEPHORA!)
- One program, one sign-on, one check each month (KISS principle!)
- No building individual affiliate links – just link to the product page and Skimlinks will convert it to being affiliate enabled on the fly
- Shows you which of your outgoing links – across your whole site – are getting the most clicks (I found some traffic leaks with this)
WHO IS SKIMLINKS BEST FOR
- You’ve been outsted from the Amazon Associated program and are looking for a way to monetize all your previously placed Amazon affiliate links.
- You want in to one of the 17,000 merchants Skimlinks is associated with but have been denied via other avenues
- You run a site like Redomestication that will be linking to many merchants and would like to earn a side affiliate income from them without signing up for hundreds of separate affiliate programs and collecting dozens of different checks
- You’re a little bit lazy (like me!)
That being said, Skimlinks won’t be a match for you if you are a stats ninja. It’s really, really difficult at times for even me to be missing crucial stats, but for several of my sites, Skimlinks is still the best option. It’s also not an all-or-nothing proposition. You can utilize Skimlinks to pick up random merchant links on your sites that happen to be in their program but also use your own custom crafted, non-Skimlinks affiliate links for your bread-and-butter affiliate promotions (that way you get the stats for the non-Skimlinks, bigger chunks of your income, but monetize other merchant links that otherwise would’ve made you nothing without Skimlinks).
I will still be using Skimlinks even though Amazon has reinstated my Associates account, if only for easy, on the fly access to their 17,000 merchant database, some of whom I otherwise wouldn’t have access to, and for that reason I recommend their product. If you’re a little lazy, or you’re missing out on Amazon commissions, or you have a hard time getting approved for other merchant affiliate programs, I think you’ll like Skimlinks too.
Edited 12:39pm: Incidentally, this afternoon I got a broadcast email from Skimlinks titled, “Amazon tax law repealed – but are you better off with Skimlinks?”.
Here’s some of the main points that you should note:
Still earn more from Amazon via us, same with other merchants
This is key – Skimlinks actually gets a larger percentage of commission then you might get as an individual affiliate with Amazon (or other merchants). So even if you are currently an Amazon Associate, you might earn more with Skimlinks. Same goes for other merchants.
While I fell into Skimlinks due to the Amazon tax, the reasons to use it (namely it’s massive merchant database and ease of consolidating many programs into one, as well as the potentially higher commissions) make it a match regardless.
** In very basic terms, the law says that if you have affiliates in a state, you technically occupy it and therefore have to charge sales tax on sales mage there. For bigger online retailers, this would mean collecting sales tax from every customer and the associated headaches that go along with dealing with the government. California has repealed the law for 1 year upon further review, and Amazon claims it will reinstate California affiliates,
but they haven’t as of this writing. DURING this writing, Amazon emailed and re-instated my account).