Skimlinks Scam or Great Program?

A long time ago, like a year ago, I ran across some folks in a forum who warned me that Skimlinks is a scam and that I should stay away. Over time, I’ve come to depend on that forum less and, in fact, have come to trust others who are have success in a similar manner to mine, that is, that they make money writing online by producing quality content on an ongoing basis rather than using all manner of techniques to earn money without having to write so much.

Recently, a comment reference Skimlinks and using the company to get around being kicked out of Amazon’s affiliate program by California. As it turns out, California and Amazon cut a deal and California affiliates are back in. Sadly, those of us Colorado Amazon associates are still out.

What Is Skimlinks?

Skimlinks is a company that allows web publishers and writers to generate affiliate links automatically without signing up for a bunch of different programs. Basically, the company itself goes out and signs up affiliate relationships with merchants and online shopping websites. Us publishers use the company’s relationships to send affiliate links to those retailers instead of setting up our own.

Of course, the company keeps a cut of the revenue generated. Skim links keeps 25 percent of each commission generated. The publisher earns 75 percent of the commission. According to the company, a lot of website owners will come out ahead anyway by using the company. The higher volume of traffic Skimlinks offers allows the company to negotiate a higher commission percentage from the merchant. The idea is that if they get an eight percent commission where you would get a five percent commission, then you will make more money off each sale even if they keep 25 percent.

This is all according to the company’s materials. I have no first hand knowledge yet.

How Does Skimlinks Work?

Skimlinks works like Google AdSense by inserting a piece of JavaScript code on your website. Unlike AdSense the Skimlinks code doesn’t generate an ad, rather it monitors clicks on links to stores and other online retailers. If the click can be monetized, that is if Skimlinks has an affiliate relationship with where the link goes, then they redirect that click (silently) through Skimlinks to add the necessary code and make it an affiliate click. If a commission is generated, they split it 25 / 75 with the website owner.

An example, makes it easier to understand.

Suppose you really like makeup from Sephora and recommend it on your website. Without Skimlinks, you would sign up for Sephora’s affiliate program, and then manually link to Sephora products from your website. Sephora would pay you directly and you get 100 percent of your commissions. With Skimlinks, you don’t need to sign up for Sephora’s affiliate program. You link directly to the product on Sephora’s website without any sort of affiliate code, just a regular link. When someone clicks that link, the Skimlinks JavaScript intercepts the outgoing link, adds the Skimlink company affiliate code (and presumably some sort of tracking that identifies where the link came from) before sending the user on. If a commission is generated, Skimlinks keeps 25 percent and you get the rest.

This make Skimlinks a good way to get around Amazon Associate bans in your state. For example, I live in Colorado and my legislature decided to tax Amazon, so Amazon said, “Screw you guys, I’m going home.” (They probably even used a Cartman voice.) So, all of my Amazon affiliate links are worthless and generate no money for me. However, if I use Skimlinks, it is their affiliate code and not mine that shows up on Amazon’s system and since they are not kicked out of the Amazon associates program, a commission is generated and I get 75 percent of it.

Is Skimlinks Worth It?

The webmaster who recommended Skimlinks did so with some reservations. Like me, he had heard negative things before but has had no trouble with them personally.

Apparently one of the common complaints was that Skimlinks had a high payout threshold. I don’t know what it used to be, but it’s $10 now. If you can’t generate $10 worth of commissions, the money sits in an account until it adds up to $10. If it takes you a long time to generate that much, your websites probably need to focus on building instead of monetizing. In the meantime, I wouldn’t complain too much that someone owes me $4.35, but if that sort of thing bothers you, look elsewhere.

Also, if you are willing and able to manage your own affiliate relationships directly, you’ll get more control, better reporting, and maybe higher payouts. If, like me, you spend enough time just writing websites and don’t have more time to do anything beyond using Google AdSense to make money, then Skimlinks might be a good alternative to signing up for a bunch of affiliate programs.

I went ahead and signed up for Skimlinks. It took one day for my site to be approved. I am added some others today, we’ll see how long that takes.

If you want to try Skimlinks too, use this referal link: Skimlinks

Keep an eye out, or grab the RSS Feed for further updates and reviews.

Writers Making Money With Affiliate Programs

There are hundreds of ways for a writer to make money online with their writing. The most commonly used is advertising. The most commonly used advertising network is Google Ads, called AdSense. AdSense is the easiest ad program to use.

Google advertising is sold through the Google AdWords program. The ads sold there are then published on Google’s websites (like search results) and also on other websites. Getting those ads on your website is easy. Just sign up for the Google AdSense program. (Notice the similar, but different names to avoid being confused.)

Google does the rest for you. You don’t have to pick which ads to show on your web pages, Google selects ads based upon the content of the page. Theoretically, this makes it more likely that people will click on the ads, which in turn means that you will make more money from the advertisements displayed on your websites.

Google Ads, both AdWords and AdSense are some of the most talked about and studied ad programs on the planet. Take that plus the fact that Google is a big, well regarded company, that makes a ton of money already, and it is a pretty good bet that they won’t be screwing you over by not counting your clicks, or not paying you, or whatever.

The downside is that as the most studied and examined advertising program online, there are many people out there, both website owners and advertisers, who have the whole Google Ads thing down to a science. That does not mean that you won’t make money with Google Ads, but it does mean that it isn’t quite as simple as it seems. Just plugging the Google AdSense code into your HTML code isn’t good enough. You need to keep studying, reading, and analyzing to ensure maximum profit.

Grab the Make Money Writing Online RSS Feed and we’ll keep you constantly up to date on all the latest REAL, CONFIRMED, Google AdSense tips, tricks, and advice.

While Google AdSense may be the easiest advertising program for webmasters to use, there are few people who thing it is the most profitable. That makes sense. Generally, earning more money requires more skill or more effort.

Affiliate programs are the second tier of website income that you can build by writing online articles and content for your own website publishing empire. The most well-known of these is Amazon Associates.

Much like Google, Amazon is a large, well-respected online behemoth, that makes plenty of money without having to cheat a tiny little website owner like you. Again, this provides a measure of comfort and confidence with using the Amazon affiliates program.

Each month, the guys over at Amazon push a specific product or category of products by offering a higher than normal payout, and sometimes improved tools to make putting affiliate ads for those products on your sites that you make money by writing online with.

This month, the category is "Digital" for whatever that means. One of the featured tools is a MP3 Widget which provides an active, updating ad for your site. I built one by selecting "Alternative Music" to get a feel for what they look like and how they perform. You saw it earlier in this article.

If you are planning on buying some music, or anything else, from Amazon, click on that ad and go buy your stuff. It won’t cost you any more, and it will help generate some extra data for our research which means that our reports will be even more helpful and accurate. You get to help yourself, and make some money for us at the same time 🙂 We’re also running some experiments on our sites to see if things like putting a big fat widget like this in the middle of your post messes up your search engine rankings for that article.

Stick around, or grab that RSS Feed.

Increase Traffic to Your Sites Easily With Images From Ads and Affiliate Links

Ask anyone and you will find that graphics and images make your websites and blogs more appealing and easier to read. Websites that are good looking will keep readers around longer and build more web traffic. But finding suitable graphics and then getting them uploaded, re-sized, linked, and listed with the proper HTML code and ALT tags can be time consuming.  Here is a quick tip to make posting your writing with images faster and easier, whether you are building a full website from scratch, or posting to an established WordPress blog.

You can do this all of the time, but for those instances where a customized graphic or image just isn’t going to be worth the time or effort, consider using graphical ads as your images instead. Amazon’s affiliate program, Amazon Associates, offers numerous types of advertisements that you can place on your website. You earn money when people buy something at Amazon based on the ads you put up on your site.  Choose a graphical advertisement under either "Links" or "Widgets" and past the code into your post. Maybe like, oh say, this one 🙂


Use Relevant Ads to Make Your Site Better

Make sure the ad is relevant to your posting. Check out this recent post at a Dad Parenting Advice blog about how cargo shorts can help with a young child’s collection of sticks and rocks. A few minutes at the Amazon Associates site and a colorful graphic of cargo shorts is ready to go on the website.  And, since the article is about cargo shorts, the images fit perfectly; they certainly look as good as any shorts picture you would find laying around in a clip art gallery or stock photography website.

While it is by no means a certainty, it is completely possible that a Dad or Mom reading that article would think to themselves, "Hey, he’s right. Cargo shorts would be a great way to help carry around some of my baby stuff." In that case, the reader might actually appreciate the useful link to find some of those shorts.

As an added bonus, if someone does happen to be moved to buy something from that link, either because of the site’s persuasive prose, or because of the catchy ad served from Amazon’s own web servers, then the author makes money from their online writings.

Isn’t that the whole point?