Kate Swanson wrote her first novel at 15, created her first blog in 2006 and has been writing for profit and creating websites ever since.
Skimlinks vs Viglink
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 Do They Do?
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 the 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:
Read More From Toughnickel
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 its 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 a 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 lifesaver!
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.
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 nor 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 of 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 the commission.
I've opted for Skimlinks because:
- It's much easier to find merchants.
- They have more merchants in their network.
- They have the option to pay by bank transfer instead of Paypal.
- I like the transparency of Skimlinks' model, with all commission percentages disclosed upfront.
- 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 from 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.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on November 17, 2016:
Thank you so much for this informative article Marisa. I have shared it with my husband who is busy with an affiliate website in his spare time.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on November 13, 2016:
Yes Glenn, you are right - you don't have to get approval from any of the merchants, Skimlinks has the affiliate registration not you.
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on November 09, 2016:
I'm glad I came across your hub Marisa, because I lost out terribly by being a direct affiliate with Commission Junction.
I had built up a huge client base with CJ. Then when I retired I stopped adding new customers to it. They decided to change their original terms of service, stating that they will now be cancelling affiliate accounts that don't continuously bring new customers.
My affiliate account was therefore canceled and I lost a nice monthly revenue stream that I had worked hard at building up over the years.
It looks like Skimlinks and Viglink solve these problems because they will continue to bring new customers even if an affiliate doesn't, since the activity of all affiliates is combined under their own affiliate registration. Does that sound like I'm understanding it correctly?
Mazlan A from Malaysia on September 19, 2016:
Thanks for the clarification
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on September 19, 2016:
You're right, I don't think they would accept your HubPages account as a valid website. You will need to have a blog. Once you've got approval, you can then put links on HubPages but you will need to create each link manually.
Mazlan A from Malaysia on September 19, 2016:
Hi, Marisa. Found your article from my Google search and keen to join skimlinks. But when I use my hubpages (profile page) to register, it wouldn't accept. Probably because it is a subdomain. Can you explain which hubpages URL I should use? Thanks
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on April 10, 2016:
Skimlinks are very particular about who they approve. Perhaps your site does not meet their quality criteria. If you haven't created a site or any Hubs yet, they won't approve you.
Minh Giang on April 10, 2016:
Hello, I registerd skimlinks about 10 times, but all not approve. Skimlinks is hard register. Can you help me register? Thank you so much.
Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on February 06, 2016:
Marisa I only saw your question now 19 months later! (Nadine, how does http://kimabooks.com work? It looks like you are selling books direct, but is it Amazon?) We have our own website where we sell from and yes also through amazon. I have not followed up on this hub on Affiliate Links Made Easy, but happened to see it this morning again, so that might be a sign to do something about it. Thanks
linkpizza on February 04, 2016:
In Europe there are even more different affiliate networks, payment systems, languages, "physical" boarders, different (sub)- domains, so the advertisers are even more difficult to find and connect, Linkpizza.com aggregates almost all relevant european advertisers. So for bloggers focused on Europe this could be a good option to get there links monetised.
So one more player in the game of affiliate marketing aggregation ;-)
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on January 09, 2016:
Sorry BarbRad, your comment went to spam for no apparent reason!
As you say, Skimlinks won't convert links you've already created, so they may be showing up as clicks. I don't make much from Skimlinks but then, most of the affiliate links on my blogs are pre-existing eBay. The few "straight" Amazon and other links I've created, which I expect Skimlinks to convert, don't get a lot of clicks but that may be because the eBay ads are more attractive to readers.
Barbara Radisavljevic from Paso Robles, CA on December 20, 2015:
I'm not currently happy with either of them. I have pretty much switched to SkimLinks and have been trying it for a few months. In the last 30 days, my report says I had 383 clicks and I have no sales recorded on Skimlinks, though I have made sales on some of those pages. The only reason I can think of is that I usually use direct links from my own affiliate accounts at Zazzle and Amazon and that Skimlinks might be counting them as clicks, while the earning are coming directly from the Zazzle and Amazon affiliate programs. Some links are created in third party tools I use such as Easy Product Displays. I never had much luck with VigLinks.
Donna Cook on February 18, 2015:
Just got approved for Skimlinks and will start inserting links to HubPages. Great article!
Donna Cook on February 12, 2015:
Terrific info! I'll insert a couple of Skimlinks into my Hubs since I can't get Adsense approval or Amazon Affiliate in my state.
Margaret Schindel from Massachusetts on September 17, 2014:
Marisa, I hadn't heard of either Skimlinks or Vigilink before and you've done a superb job of explaining both the benefits and disadvantages of both these affiliate link sites. Thank you!
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on June 23, 2014:
Nadine, how does http://kimabooks.com work? It looks like you are selling books direct, but is it Amazon?
Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on June 23, 2014:
Again what a great hub. I will investigate Skimlinks for our kimabooks.com website. Many thanks
catgypsy from the South on December 12, 2013:
I use Skimlinks and really like it! I'm glad you brought these to everyones attention. Great Hub!
Ceres Schwarz on December 12, 2013:
Hi Marisa, I've been looking into Skimlinks and even Viglink more now that I've just started a blog but I have some questions though. You mentioned it was easier to find a list of merchants with Skimlinks but I've been looking at the site and can't seem to find that list at all.
Do I have to be a member of Skimlinks before I can see their list? I checked out Viglink and they have this merchant explorer though it is hard to find merchants there. I was planning to opt for Skimlinks as per your suggestion but I wanted to first be able to see if it has merchants that offer products that is relevant to my blog.
Also, I did read that it's harder to get accepted into Skimlinks. Do you think I should try signing up for it already or should I wait until my blog is a few months older? Thanks.
Grant Handford from Canada on December 11, 2013:
Great info. Man am I behind the times. I just found out about viglink a month ago. Used it minimally and have one monetized click but no revenue yet LOL. I am using Viglink on my own site I just created a few weeks ago.
Thanks for sharing.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on July 26, 2013:
Yes, definitely - you can use Viglinks to its maximum potential on Wizzley.
Ceres Schwarz on July 26, 2013:
Okay. Thanks for the clarifications on all my questions. Looks like it would be best to not use Skimlinks / Viglinks on HubPages and just use it on one's websites or blogs instead. If Wizzley has Viglinks built-in to the site, does that mean you get a lot more opportunity to earn from there?
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on July 24, 2013:
I don't think it would work to use both, as there are many merchants which they both represent so there would be a conflict.
Yes you can use Skimlinks on HubPages in a limited way. You can't install the code site-wide, but you can go to Skimlinks, generate a single link and paste it into your text like any other hyperlink. However, it's not practical because you could use a maximum of only two links per Hub, and it's a bit tedious to create the links.
By the way, Wizzley has Viglinks built-in to the site.
Both Viglinks and Skimlinks don't affect affiliate links which you've already built. However, on Skimlinks you can choose to have Skimlinks convert your existing Amazon links, if you'd rather get all your affiliate income in one place.
Ceres Schwarz on July 23, 2013:
This is a very informative and useful hub on Viglink and Skimlinks. It's also very helpful especially for those that are new to these things. It does seem like Skimlinks is the better option. But is it all right to use both on the same blog or site? Can you use either of these on HubPages? Also, what would happen if you are already a member of an affiliate program (like Amazon for example) and then you join Viglink and Skimlinks? How will you get paid? Do you get to decide if you want to use your Amazon affiliate link or the Viglink / Skimlinks link?
catgypsy from the South on April 02, 2013:
Great hub! I use Skimlinks on two of my websites and really like it!
BigBlue54 from Hull, East Yorkshire on February 20, 2013:
Just came across Skimlinks this morning so I have found your hub very useful. Not heard of Viglinks but until your hub but having read it I think I will be using Skimlinks.
Thanks for the post.
Sp Greaney from Ireland on July 26, 2012:
Never heard of Skimlinks but did hear about Viglink. Great review you've done.
I'm with amazon and as you mention commiting to one company is chancy. But if Vigilink are buying competitors out, chances are they want to elimate the competition in the future, but the pro seem to outweight the cons.
Barbara Purvis Hunter from Florida on June 27, 2012:
Thank for writing such a great hub filled with information and great tips.
I will certainly look forward to reading more and learning from you.
Your Hub Friend,
topaz blue on June 09, 2012:
Very interesting hub which I will bear in mind for future ventures.
Arkadi on June 09, 2012:
Viglink seems that has not changed this couple of things still.
Apparently you had a good experience with Skimlinks this year.
I Decided: Skimlinks.
Marissa thank you very much! A great review.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on June 08, 2012:
Arkadi, I meant to say - knowing the commission is important, because you can't assume it's the merchant's normal rate of commission minus Viglinks' (or Skimlinks') cut. Both services have special deals with some merchants. But with Viglinks, there's no way to know who those are and how much you'll get.
For instance I know I can earn more commission from Amazon through Skimlinks than I can through Amazon direct, thanks to their special arrangement. Viglinks may be the same but they don't tell you.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on June 08, 2012:
Arkadi, what I find intensely annoying about Viglinks is that there's only one way to find out what merchants they offer - you have to type them, one by one, into a search box. Viglink will not give you a list. Even when you find a merchant, they won't tell you what the commission is.
That means it's still up to me to go out and research merchants to find affiliate opportunities. Whereas on Skimlinks, I can browse a complete list, with commissions. I think that's a huge benefit and is the main reason I pick Skimlinks over Viglinks.
Arkadi on June 08, 2012:
Very good article. Clear, concise, and common sense. Finally some light amid so much information.
Although I am almost decided by Skimlinks, I saw (http://www.squidoo.com/viglinkreview) where recommended Viglink. After nearly a year of this article, you still saying that Skimlinks is the best choice?
Thank you very much. I will read your blog more closely these days.
Steve Andrews from Lisbon, Portugal on June 08, 2012:
Thank you for this well-researched information, Marisa! I have tagged your hub as useful and voted up!
Cathy Nerujen from Edge of Reality and Known Space on January 15, 2012:
This is very educational. Thank you Marisa for this hub. I had never heard of these organisations.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on January 15, 2012:
Interesting that you've managed to place their links on HubPages - I'll have to look into that!
Tony from At the Gemba on January 14, 2012:
I signed up for both but found the documentation required for viglink confusing and they did not explain very well what was required for those of us applying from outside the US. Skimlinks on the other hand was easier and I have even managed to place some of their affiliate links onto my hubpages without any issue.
mark on August 29, 2011:
I just received an email from Viglink and it still works in California for Amazon. Wish they would put that on their website as it took me a long time to find out the correct information.
"Yes, VigLink is working with California affiliates. Once we see eBay traffic on your site, you will be enabled for eBay. VigLink doesn't work with cloaked links, as our technology doesn't recognize them as external links to merchant sites."
Don't cloak your links either as you will not get credit. Come to think about it, why cloak the links since you can link directly to a product!!! By linking directly to a product, the credibility of your site automatically increases.
I think the 25% take on commission is fine because we do receive more commission, it's easier to use, and 75% is better than 0% for people living in California.
I think the whole Nexus law is a scam. Sales tax is scam. The government will just keep on taking. The only way to kill a snake is to stop feeding it. Let's get these leftists out of office so America can be free again!
BenjaminB on February 14, 2011:
You've done a great job of explaining thing here Marissa.I've checked Vigilink out before and have considered starting a new blog just for the purpose of testing it in the future.Thanks for the info :)
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 15, 2011:
Very interesting but reading this feedback from the comments, I think I'll sit on the fence for now. Thanks!
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on December 08, 2010:
Marie, if you use Wordpress it's as simple as adding a plugin.
Marie on December 08, 2010:
First of all, that's an amazing review right there. You pretty much answered all my questions one after the other about VigLink !
except how do they track that the link is from you ? You have to install something on your sites ?
sam on December 01, 2010:
Thanks for sharing for very important article.I used all mentioned steps and started earning money.
Thanks once again.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on October 16, 2010:
Tonya, I understand how you feel. I think you got caught out, because Viglink's website did originally say they could get around the Amazon bans because they're in California - but shortly after that, they changed the wording to say they [i]may[/i] be able to help Amazon affiliates in those states, and you should contact them to discuss it.
They should have contacted everyone who signed up to explain the change, but clearly they didn't.
tonyab from Oregon, U.S. on October 16, 2010:
I have been using VigLink for a couple of months now and am quite disappointed. Their website gives the impression that affiliates who have been dismissed due to tax laws have the ability to place links and get paid for commissions.
Unfortunately I found out this week that that was not actually the case at all. I am a former Amazon affiliate who was dismissed this past year for being with Colorado and found out that Viglink actually does not pay anyone in Colorado for Amazon sales.
Their site clearly gives the impression that they do, and is vague on this point at best.
I spent a good amount of time setting up a number of sites for Viglink and also a few campaigns that revolve around those sites - to Amazon links.
I felt more that a little bit burnt when that happened, and feel that they are not being 100% honest about what they are paying and to whom.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on September 30, 2010:
@kathrine, I doubt Viglink is a scam - however it could be that their algorithm isn't reliable enough yet. The other thing is that Amazon is VERY slow to pay out. I believe Viglink won't show the commission until it's eligible for payment, which with Amazon would be weeks later.
kathrine on September 30, 2010:
unfortunately viglink is a scam! they don't track some clicks (or maybe the do and just keep 100% of the revenue for themselves...) usually you wouldn't notice, but once I knew for sure that my friend ordered smth from target through my link, and guess what: nothing. so I've asked another friend of mine, who was going to order smth on amazon to do that though my link: nothing as well. other links I've got a few dollars from, but really big stuff (she's bought a HDTV) they keep for themselves. anyway, I've removed their code from both of my sites, what a waste :(
Katarina on August 29, 2010:
I don't have a blog of my own website, but I've been adding Viglink links to my articles that I publish on Ongobee website (Ongobee has Adsense and Amazon revenue sharing options + 80% of Viglink revenue share, which I found attractive, so gave it a try). Viglink feature for published content works as follows: whenever you create a link to a different site, blog, commercial product, etc inside your published content, Viglink turns that link into an affiliate link (considering that the linked site offers an affiliate program). I haven't used it for too long so far, but it's no brainer, easy to use, and it does bring me some money in addition to Adsense and Amason revenues. Worth checking it out!
hospitalera on August 24, 2010:
Great, I have to try that out then asap! SY
Cari Jean from Bismarck, ND on August 17, 2010:
I recently signed up with VigLink, I figured it wouldn't hurt anything. Thanks for this great review as I did learn some things.
WRITTENBYSHAWN from Port William, Ohio on August 16, 2010:
As a newbie I say thank you for an interesting lesson!
kazeemjames01 on August 16, 2010:
Good information. Thanks for sharing
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on August 13, 2010:
Actually Hospitalera, Viglink does exactly that! Amazon is one of their merchants. I see I forgot to mention them, sorry!
hospitalera on August 13, 2010:
Now if they only would integrate Amazon with a Paypal option, that would be great! SY
PWalker281 on August 13, 2010:
Very objective review of this service. Will bookmark it for future reference.
David Guion from North Carolina on August 13, 2010:
Thanks for the work you put into researching and writing this. I guess I'll just sit on the fence with you.
CYBERSUPE from MALVERN, PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A. on August 13, 2010:
Marisa, thank you so much for taking the time to research these different programs for us new hubbers. I am most appreciative of your interesting and informative Hubs. As a new hubber I am getting desperate for some meaningful traffic. Again Marisa, many thanks
Susannah Birch from Toowoomba, Australia on August 13, 2010:
Well I'm sure like all websites they'll either grow with the times by tightening their controls or die like so many other websites that were "great ideas" to start with. We shall see!
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on August 12, 2010:
@WryLilt, like I said, my main concern is that they'll be swamped by the spammers because it enables them to by-pass the affiliate networks' quality controls - if that happens, will merchants start dropping out?
Susannah Birch from Toowoomba, Australia on August 12, 2010:
Great hub! Will have to keep this in mind for when I start getting more serious about niche websites.