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I recently went to a blogger event, and I was surprised to find out that the majority of bloggers make their money on sponsored posts (and I was very disappointed to learn some bloggers remove the posts or the sponsored portions of those posts after they receive payment, but that’s rant for a different day). I was also surprised that very few bloggers used or even knew how to monetize their sites with affiliate marketing.
Considering a sponsored post is usually a one-time payment, and affiliate marketing is residual income, I believe it’s a no brainer to add affiliate links to existing content. Yes, it can be time consuming (and frustrating) to apply and keep up with all of the merchants and networks, but luckily there are easy alternatives that take care of this for you!
For example, say you are a craft blogger and have links within various posts to Michael’s, Jo-Ann, Home Depot and/or Dollar Tree. Adding a piece of code to your website can automatically turn those links into affiliate links and pay you commission on sales that you refer to them.
All of the following companies allow you to add a simple script to your site, and they take care of the rest! They all negotiate higher commissions (so they can keep a portion to make a profit as well), and I usually find that they payout a higher percentage than if I signed up directly with the merchant. Here’s the pros and cons of each (in alphabetical order to not show favoritism):
Update: Prosperent has been acquired by VigLinks since the original writing of this post. Keep scrolling for a detailed update.
- WordPress Plug-in not only converts links, but it also allows you to insert products into posts and/or even create a shop (the others do not, yet anyway). I had always wished RewardStyle or ShopStyle offered more than fashion products, well now Prosperent does just that!
- Customer support is awesome; they even implement your ideas, and no, Scott Jangro did not pay me to say that. (Scott is no longer with Prosperent)
- Not as many merchants or networks supported as the others, but they are working on adding more as fast as they can. (I don’t think any new merchants were added after Scott left)
- WordPress Plug-in is easy to use; just install and add your Skimlinks Publisher ID.
- Plug-in can modify external links in your RSS feeds as well
- Their co-founder Joe Stepniewski invited me to dinner back in 2011 to introduce the idea of Skimlinks to a select few of us. It’s amazing how much they’ve grown in the last five years!
- They take forever to approve your websites (and your website must be approved before earning commissions from it)
- I wish the plug-in had an option to exclude Skimlinks on specific posts (as some sponsored posts do not allow other links). It can be done manually by adding this line of code to the specific post:
- <script> var noskimwords = ‘true’; </script>
- They appear to have the largest amount of merchants available.
- Offers “VigLink Anywhere” where you can copy and paste the URL of any page, and they’ll create an affiliated link. They also offer a bookmarklet which makes it easy to share links via social media.
- I didn’t even know they had a WordPress plug-in until I did some research for this post. It requires an API key and it says you can click to retrieve it automatically, but I kept getting an error message even after signed in. You can find it under Manage > Account > My Campaigns.
- They have been criticized for non-disclosure (but you can disclose yourself).
I actually use all of the above companies on different sites of mine and am paid monthly by all of them via PayPal. On some I even use a combination of both if one or the other doesn’t have a specific merchant I want to promote. I suggest doing A/B testing to see which one converts the best for your site (aka makes you the most money)!
Today was payday for all three of these services: Prosperent, Viglink and Skimlinks. Can you tell which one I like best right now?
In case you can’t see the graphic above, here’s the breakdown of payments I received today:
Since VigLink bought Prosperent, I had noticed that some of my own affiliate links were being redirected by Prosperent to a VigLink product page, thus I was losing sales and commission. When I couldn’t even log into Prosperent the other day (I can today) plus many of their links on my sites were broken, I took down Prosperent from sites. I did not see an option for products through VigLinks (yet anyway), so I replaced with Ebay product links for now. We’ll see how that works out!
What is your best way to monetize your blog posts?