I have been using Skimlinks for several years to increase the amount of money I earn from my hobby website projects. In this post I explain why Skimlinks is a great choice for hobby bloggers and why I continue to use their service.
What is Skimlinks?
The Skimlinks service is a system that will automatically turn regular links on your site into affiliate links. So if you have a link jumping off to Amazon, iTunes or almost anywhere with an affiliate programme you no longer have to worry about setting up your own links. The clever Skimlink’s WordPress plugin will automatically intercept any clicks, add some tracking code, and ensure that you get paid for any subsequent transactions.
Sounds too good to be true!
Well there is a small catch, they do take a percentage of any sales made, well you didn’t expect them to do this for nothing did you?
Should I use Skimlinks?
But that’s OK, I still think Skimlinks is a great service for the hobby blogger, and here’s why.
When you are first starting out there are a ton of affiliate programmes to sign up to. This takes time, and it can be tedious – especially when they are based abroad. Each one of these companies has its own interface to learn and its own way to build links.
Once you are setup you then have the job of managing links from each programme and ensuring they remain valid and up to date. This all takes a whole chunk of your valuable time, time in which you can be doing something that is a whole lot more important – building your site.
The manual process is slow and tedious.
Skimlinks makes this whole process automatic!
But doesn’t it cost me money?
Yes, Skimlinks will take a percentage of your earnings, but here’s a little trick to minimise that.
Their plugin code is very polite, it won’t overwrite links that you have already affiliated. So over time you might notice that the bulk of your sales comes from one of two stores and if that’s the case then you can spend the extra time managing these links knowing that it will directly improve your earnings.
Skimlinks will still happily mop up the remaining links ensuring you don’t miss any opportunities.
What’s New in 2014?
The new reporting dashboard and user control center now seems to be fully up and running. A big improvement on the old interface.
We can also see that Skimlinks are starting to make use of the technology acquired through the purchase of “Invisible Hand” from Forward (I actually used to work for Forward.co.uk and was lucky enough to have Evgeny Shadchnev take us through the technology behind the system.).
One of the new additions is the SkimLinks editor, a browser plugin that offers some convenient new features:
- Alternative pricing options for a product (surely using the Invisible Hand technology?)
- Notification when you’re browsing a merchant site that can be monetised
- Commission rates for all merchants in their network
- Shorten and/or share URLs of product pages as you browse
I’ve only just installed this new plugin but I hope it is something they will grow during 2014. I can see the potential.
Interested? Find out more.