Skimlinks and Viglink Review - Affiliate Links Made Easy
Viglink and Skimlinks sound like an affiliate marketer's dream. Sign up (both are free) and you'll never have to code an affiliate link again! What's more, you'll never have to apply to another merchant or affiliate network and wait for approval - because you use their affiliate accounts with the big networks like Commission Junction, Linkshare, ShareASale, Amazon, eBay and more.
What's more, you'll never have to worry about complicated affiliate links - because all you do is place ordinary links on your Wordpress or Blogger blog, and Viglink or Skimlinks look after the rest.
But the major benefit is that all your affiliate network memberships are consolidated in one place, with a threshold of only $10 on Skimlinks or $25 on Viglink. So instead of having money sitting in various affiliate networks, waiting to reach payout threshold, all your commissions are pooled together and you'll get paid more frequently.
And finally, these services can help those hit by tax laws in some US States, since you're not signing up directly with the affiliate networks.
What's the Catch?
Sounds too good to be true, right? Especially as you can sign up for free, and the setup on both Wordpress and Blogger is fairly easy.
Yes, of course there's a catch - they take a 25% cut of the commission on every sale. Ouch! But read on - in practice, you don't lose as much as you think.
So Is It Worth The Cost?
First, let's get the cost in perspective. If you're using Skimlinks' Preferred Partners, there is no cost because they've negotiated a higher commission for you. If you're using their other merchants, it's costing you 25% - BUT if the merchant pays on a sliding scale based on volume, you'll get paid on the highest scale, which is probably more than you could achieve on your own. With Viglinks, it's hard to know because they keep their figures secret - but they claim you'll be better off.
Many internet entrepreneurs have a resistance to paying for anything - especially if they can do the same job themselves for free, as is the case here. However, that's because they make the mistake of undervaluing their time.
Remember, every hour you spend on admin tasks like link creating or account management is costing you money, because it's an hour you're not writing or promoting.
Not having to create coded links definitely saves time and avoids errors. Having only one account to monitor, instead of having to check stats and income on several affiliate networks, is far more efficient and convenient. Plus you'll get access to your money every month, instead of having to wait months for some networks to pay out.
So for a busy affiliate marketer making lots of links every day, Viglink and Skimlinks have to be attractive propositions. The more links you have, the more sense it makes.
Let's look at the benefits in more detail.
No Need for Coded Affiliate Links
The first benefit of Viglink/Skimlinks is that you don't need to create affiliate links. You simply create an ordinary hyperlink to your chosen product, and the program creates a valid affiliate link behind the scenes. That has several advantages:
There are good programs to automate links on the big affiliate programs, like PhpBay for eBay. Otherwise, creating affiliate links is slow going. Some affiliate networks create complete product links for you, but it can still be a tedious process. On others you have to manually combine a string of code from the network site with the URL from the merchant's site - which is fiddly and creates the potential for errors. That means more time wasted checking to make sure each link works - unless it's a Pay Per Click program, which means you can't click on the link to check it - which brings me to the next advantage:
2. Fewer broken affiliate links
If your affiliate link isn't correct, you won't get commission on the sale. There are a few possible reasons for broken affiliate links.
- You made a mistake creating it. If it's a Pay Per Sale program you can click the link to make sure it works - but you can't click on your own ads on a Pay per Click program.
- If you're using Wordpress, it has an annoying habit of stripping bits of code out of the links. If you don't check your links, you may not even know it's happening.
- The merchant or the affiliate network changes their code.
Using Viglink or Skimlinks completely avoids these problems.
3. Your affiliate links stay secret
Some affiliates worry about their affiliate ID being visible in their affiliate links, for fear of hackers who might make use of it fraudulently.
4. Ease of Use for the Technophobic
Internet "gurus" sometimes forget that not everyone is comfortable with code! For instance, I recently helped Hubber Jean Bakula get started with affiliate sales on her astrology blog. She found an astrology website and two astrological jewelry suppliers who had affiliate schemes. To display all those ads, she would've had to sign up for three different affiliate networks and three different merchants, then understand how to use the HTML code to display the banners. With Skimlinks, she only had to find products she liked, add the images to her blog and link them to the sites using an ordinary URL!
No Need for Multiple Network/Merchant Memberships
To use conventional affiliate links, you must first sign up to affiliate networks (if you're not sure what that means, read my Hub on how to monetize blogger). Then you have to apply to the individual merchants on that network for permission to sell their products - and approval isn't automatic. Some merchants are very fussy about whom they accept. Others are slack and don't check their pending applications, so you'll wait weeks for a response. Some simply won't accept affiliates from outside the US, or from certain countries.
Viglink and Skimlinks get around all that, because they have the relationship with merchants, not you. As a member, you immediately have access to all 12,500 merchants on Viglink, or 17,000 on Skimlinks.
Once again, that's a time-saver. For people who live in US states affected by the new tax laws, it's a life-saver!
Better Payment System
It's not uncommon for affiliate marketers to be members of several affiliate networks and several direct merchant schemes. Each of those has its own payout threshold - until you hit that threshold, you don't get paid. Amazon, for instance, has a minimum threshold of $100.
It's frustrating to count up all my affiliate accounts and find I have a few hundred dollars sitting there, but none of the accounts has hit its threshold so I can't get at it!
Imagine if I could advertise all those products through Viglink or Skimlinks instead, so all the commission was going into one big bucket. Obviously, I'd reach my payout threshold much faster - and even better, Viglink's threshold is only $25, and Skimlinks is only $10.
Would you use Skimlinks or Viglinks on your blog?
As with any product, there are downsides.
Some internet marketers will not like the fact that they're giving Viglink or Skimlinks a complete snapshot of their business model, keywords etc.
Both services make it difficult to find merchants who fit your niche.
Join any affiliate network and you'll have access to a keyword search function, to identify merchants you can work with. Neither Skimlinks or Viglink has an equivalent.
On Skimlinks, you can at least browse by category. You can also start typing a word into their Merchant Look-Up and it will offer suggestions. Viglink is much worse - the only way to find a merchant is to type their exact website address into their search box. Which means you have to know which merchant you want in the first place, and may miss out on products you haven't thought of.
If you become an affiliate in the normal way, you get access to that merchant's banners and promotional material. There's no way to access those with Skimlinks. However, there are two ways around that:
1. Search for the merchant's name on Google Images and you'll usually find images of their banners. As you're advertising on their behalf, it's OK to use these banners. Then link the image to their site using an ordinary link.
2. Apply to become a 'real' affiliate. Then you have the choice whether to use their affiliate links or Skimlinks - which you choose will depend on their payout threshold and your strategy.
Overall, I think the time saved by these services is worth sacrificing a cut of commission.
I've opted for Skimlinks because:
(a) it's much easier to find merchants
(b) They have more merchants in their network
(c) They have the option to pay by bank transfer instead of Paypal.
(d) I like the transparency of Skimlinks' model, with all commission percentages disclosed upfront.
(e) They manually approve every application for membership and every single site you want to use their service on - whereas Viglink accepts every site with no vetting.
That last reason is important, I think. Viglink members avoid all the hurdles that might otherwise prevent them joining affiliate networks or individual merchants. But those hurdles have been created for a good reason - to reduce the number of spammy and low quality sites offering their products. If Viglink gets swamped with low-quality sites, merchants are going to rethink whether they want to be associated with it. Skimlinks, on the other hand, seems to be serious about maintaining a quality network which can only attract new vendors.
Skimlinks on HubPages
Yes, you can use Skimlinks on HubPages.
You can't install the Skimlinks script, but you can paste individual links by using the "text link" feature on Skimlinks,
You can then paste that link as a hyperlink in your text, or as the "source" in a photo capsule.