Most small website owners will know about affiliate networks. Promoted as a great way to make money, because you promote products of big brand retailers and other businesses and get paid if people follow your links and complete a sale.
There are many affiliate-based websites that make a good living out of just earning commission on a mass of products that are promoted using feeds from affiliate networks like Trade Doubler, Affiliate Window or Commission Junction. Not all website owners are resourced enough, though, to capitalise on XML product feeds and Google Adwords budgets to bring in the audience. For bloggers, hobby site owners and small businesses, earning affiliate revenue is often a painstaking, time consuming affair.
Not only do you need to trawl slowly through the (sometimes) complicated interfaces of the networks (in my experience, Tradedoubler has the worst interface in terms of the time it takes to do anything), you have to apply to affiliate programmes, get accepted, then choose your code and find somewhere on your site to plug it in.
A website owner doing all this manually could spend, literally, a few days a month just trying to keep track of which programmes have been closed, which new ones are available, which promotions are going on… that’s before the time it takes to then promote the banners and buttons you are hoping users will click on. Even after you have spent that much time getting people to click, you have no idea if they will buy anything.
There is a neat solution for such webmasters in the name of Skimlinks. DotPonto has been using Skimlinks on a client site for several months, and it works very well. Instead of signing up to hundreds of affiliate programmes individually and managing these and trying to keep track on sales, Skimlinks gives you a couple of bits of code which sit at the top level of the site. This turns outbound links into redirects, so instead of having to individually link to a retailer using an affiliate code, Skimlinks tracks it all for you.
The downside is you lose a bit of the commission to Skimlinks, the upside is that you regain a massive amount of time that you were previously wasting. Skimlinks joins the affiliate programs and is effectively sharing its commission with you, the site owner, for giving it access to your audience. This is a boon to bloggers and forum owners, who might see members posting links to various shops without so much as a credit from the retailer. This way, the link is tracked and a commission can be earned.
Skimlinks has now taken a great leap forward with the launch of SkimKit – a desktop program that serves up editorial suggestions for the site owner, making the job of finding things worth promoting much easier.
Find out more at www.skimlinks.com.