I had never heard of Skimlinks until just two weeks ago, but a quick read around has shown that this exciting new service for webmasters looking to support their sites with affiliate income has great potential.
In this post I take a look at what SkimLinks can do for you and why I’m hoping to get a big boost to my forum earnings.
What is SkimLinks?
Skimlinks is a young UK based company (but provides an international service) that strives to make the lives of webmasters, that’s us, a whole lot easier!
The principle is simple, any link on your site for any merchant signed up to Skimlinks (about 10,000 different stores!) is intercepted and “affilitised” behind the scenes without you knowing it. Although the service is free to install, a portion of any sales commission is retained.
As any webmaster knows, setting up and mainting affiliate links, merchant relationships etc can be very time consuming. And although many affiliate networks provide widgets and things to make our lives easier, these widgets only work across individual networks. Finding products, looking up links, tracking results all starts to take a lot of time.
Skimlinks does all this for you and from one place!
If you recognise these problems, you might also want to check out Easy Content Units
How Can SkimLinks help your Forum
Personally I think the real win here is for forum owners. I don’t really want to give up a proportion of my income if I don’t have to, and in general I am able to manage my own affiliate links fairly easily thanks to some plugins that I have coded myself. However there are a whole load of links that I am not creating.
Your forum users will regularly be posting non affiliated links to different merchants in hundreds of threads on many different subjects. There was a time when I tried to edit these links to make them affiliated, in some cases I had to sign up to a new affiliate network, get approved to the scheme and it all took a long time.
Eventually I gave up on trying to affiliatise my forum links – I just had better things to do.
So if Skimlinks can automagically come in and monitise these links for me I would be happy to give up a portion of any commission. I mean, at present they are generating no income – 75% of something is always more than 100% of nothing!
What’s more, this has no impact on the forum users, as far as they are concerned the link posted by one member just looks like any other, they won’t even notice that tracking information is being tagged on via an invisible redirect.
Note: Responsible webmasters will want to put disclosure information up on their website to let users know what’s going on. This is actually now a requirement in the US.
My Plans for SkimLinks
Initially my plans will be to install this into my vBulletin forums.
However a second possibility spings to mind. SkimLinks also provide an API containing all products from all merchants on their books. I have already created my own (currently private) WordPress plugin that creates keyword based “content units” from Amazon’s API, but if the SkimLinks interface provides access to products across the whole market place then there could be some potential to build something very cool.
We’ll see. I’ll be posting back on how I get on, be sure to sign up to our RSS feed so you don’t miss the next update.
Interested in runnning SkimLinks? Why not sign up now and give it a go – no obligation.