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Skimlinks Review: Is It a Good Affiliate Program?

June 4, 2021
Skimlinks Review affiliate program

Skimlinks Review: How to Make Money with Skimlinks

Affiliate marketing is a critical stream of income for bloggers looking to diversify their earnings. But, it’s not always smooth sailing. It often feels like you’re playing a game of whac a mole; affiliate programs not only have free reign to change the percentage of money that you earn from their company, but they can also close their programs at any time. That’s why it’s so important to be in a variety of affiliate programs and not just one program like Amazon, for example. And, more specifically, that’s where Skimlinks comes into play. 

What is Skimlinks?

Skimlinks is a network with tens of thousands of affiliate partners, so it has the whole diversification thing covered. The company specializes in a technology that automatically creates affiliate product links from a publisher’s content without the publisher having to add the specific affiliate link themselves. But, that’s not how I use it and not how I recommend to use it either. I’ll explain why in a bit. 

Is Skimlinks free?

Yes, Skimlinks is absolutely free to join. And the best part is that they accept newer bloggers into their network. With other affiliate networks, you not only need to be accepted into the network — which is never terribly difficult to do — but you also have to then apply to each company’s individual affiliate program. With Skimlinks, you can link to any of their tens of thousands of merchants as soon as you are accepted into the network. And that is why I respond with a resounding yes when people ask…

Is Skimlinks worth it?

YES! Not only is Skimlinks fantastic for new bloggers, but they also have merchants in various niches that only work with Skimlinks and no other networks. This is HUGE. For instance, in my niche — travel — I recommend Away luggage for anyone looking for a hardside suitcase. Away luggage isn’t a merchant on the other networks I belong to like Awin, Commission Junction, and rewardstyle. So, I am eternally grateful to Skimlinks for that reason. 

And this holds true across a variety of niches. For example, Neiman Marcus stopped their affiliate program which was a huge bummer for many bloggers and publishers across multiple niches. But, for those in the home decor/lifestyle niche signed up with Skimlinks, you can link to Horchow, a high-end home goods line owned by Neiman Marcus, that has a lot of the same products as Neimans on their website. 

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This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking the link at no extra cost to you.

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Skimlinks Review: Pros and Cons 

As with all things, there is good and bad to the program; so, let’s discuss the pros and cons of Skimlinks before you officially sign up. And to be clear, no, Skimlinks is definitely not a scam. 

Skimlinks Pros: 

  • It’s easy for newer bloggers with minimal traffic to get accepted into the Skimlinks network.
  • Skimlinks has tens of thousands of merchants on the platform for you to link to in your content. 
  • You can promote any of these thousands merchants that Skimlinks has on their site, so if you applied directly to a merchant partner and did not get accepted, you can still use an affiliate link to that merchant’s site through Skimlinks. 
  • Skimlinks has negotiated exclusive contracts with some of the merchants represented on their website, so the commissions are actually higher than you’ll find elsewhere. 

This is all sounding too good to be true…so what are the downsides? Well, there are a few. And I will go into them in great detail and with full transparency. That being said, none of the below reasons would suggest that you should not sign up for Skimlinks. The “cons” just help you better understand how to use Skimlinks to your advantage.  

Skimlinks Cons: 

  • You might make less money from the program than if you joined with the merchant directly. Skimlinks is a third party program. They act as the mediator between the publisher and the merchant and they don’t do it for free. Skimlinks receives a cut of the rate. So, for example, if a merchant paid 6% to its affiliate partners, you would get the full 6% if you signed up directly through the merchant’s program. If you use Skimlinks, they take a 25% cut of your commissions, and you receive the other 75%. Let’s put this into context with a concrete example. If a reader used your affiliate link to make a $100 purchase, you would get $6.00 if you went through the merchant directly, and $4.50 if you used a Skimlinks affiliate link. Skimlinks, acting as the middle man, would receive the other 25% or $1.50. 

If you have the opportunity to sign up with an affiliate partner directly, do it. But if the partner doesn’t have a direct program or does not allow you into their program for whatever reason, work the system and use a Skimlinks link for that partner instead. Some commission is way better than no commission! 

  • The commission information for some of the merchants is vague, to put it kindly. Sometimes you’ll see an average commission rate listed and other time it says they (Skimlinks) have not been able to receive commission rate conditions from the merchant. like…really?? Plus, the cookie length isn’t clear.
  • There are a few ways to create links as a publisher and Skimlinks encourages one of these ways that I don’t recommend: installing their script on your website. This is what differentiates Skimlinks as a company in that the script “skims” your content and automatically turns your regular links into affiliate links.

If you’re thinking to yourself…umm, that sounds awesome, why is this girl complaining about that? Here’s why. The script will most likely slow your site down because it adds a lot of redirects to your blog. And site speed is incredibly important to Google and we know that it will only continue to become more and more critical with further updates to Google’s algorithm because Google has told publishers this! 

Also, the script is supposed to ignore links that already have an affiliate code associated with them, but sometimes this can get a little wonky. It hasn’t happened to me, but I do know of a few bloggers who have had their Booking.com direct affiliate links converted into Skimlinks with the script. 

It’s time for a confession…

I actually have the script on my blog because I didn’t know about the potential speed issue at the time of installation! Also, I’m too afraid to remove it myself and have yet to hire a developer to do it for me because it’s such a small task to hire someone for.  

The good news is that there are two PHENOMENAL ways to create links without using the script– manually through the toolbox in Skimlinks and generating links through the Skimlinks Google Chrome extension. 

How to Use Skimlinks

Visit the Skimlinks website and create an account. You’ll have to provide your name, domain,and company name, as well as some other details. If you don’t have a formal business yet, you can use your full name in place of the company name to sign up. If you’re accepted into the Skimlinks program, you will get an email letting you know that your account has been activated.

From here, you’ll want to find partners that you can promote and more specifically, partners that you aren’t already promoting. To find these partners, click on “merchants” in the main menu, and search for the partner you are looking for. You can also browse merchants in your niche by choosing a category like fashion or travel or business and working through the list of potential partners. Who knows? Browsing through the various categories might inspire a new blog post or social media mention.

Skimlinks merchants list

Create Manual Deep Links on Skimlinks

Find the product or partner page that you wish to link to. Copy the URL. Open Skimlinks in a new tab and click on the Toolbox in the main menu. Paste the URL that you just copied into the box with the heading that reads, “Paste a URLto turn into an affiliate link.” Pretty self-explanatory. Your affiliate link will have then be created and you can choose to copy either the full link or the short link (my personal preference). Skimlinks link generator tutorial

Use the Skimlinks Google Chrome Extension

If you use Google Chrome as your default browser, the Skimlinks extension is a fantastic and easy way to create affiliate links for your website. Once the Skimlinks Google Chrome extension is installed, you can click on the extension icon to see if the merchant you are currently browsing has a relationship with Skimlinks. If so, simply click “Get Link” and you will have immediately created an affiliate link to add to your post. 

How do I add Skimlinks to WordPress?

Once you’ve created your affiliate link, go back to your blog post in WordPress and highlight the words in the post you would like to link to. Choose the link icon in the WordPress dashboard, and add your affiliate link to the highlighted text. I would recommend bolding the text link so that it stands out from the rest of the text and make sure to choose “open in a new tab” from the link options. This way, readers can continue to browse your site instead of being automatically redirected to the merchant site. The link should be nofollow to comply with certain search engine’s guidelines. 

If you do choose to install the script on your WordPress site, the Skimlinks support page has a detailed guide on how to do so. As I said prior, I would suggest giving this some consideration before making a decision on whether or not to add the script to your website. 

When Does Skimlinks Pay You?

I’m not going to sugar coat it…it takes awhile to get paid. But, most affiliate programs do. According to the Skimlinks website, “the amount of time it takes for a commission to be confirmed and paid varies per merchant, and it takes at least 92 days from the transaction date.” Plus, Skimlinks has a threshold that you have to reach before the money that you make is transferred into your bank account. For Skimlinks, that payment threshold is $65. 

Can you use one Skimlinks account on multiple websites?

You don’t need to have multiple Skimlinks accounts if you run more than one website. I know this from first hand experience. If you want to add a new website to your account, go to the gear icon (settings) and then click “sites.” From there, you’ll see the option to apply with a new site. This certainly makes things easier that other networks which might have you use the same tracking code for multiple sites, a potential tax nightmare, or make a different account for each site so you have to constantly log in and out of the network. 

Does Skimlinks have good customer support?

You’ll get an answer from the Skimlinks support staff; it just might take a really long time to get it. I reached out to inquire about adding a new site to my account because the site had been pending for much longer than the “two business days” I was told it would take. I did not receive an email response back from the support team for another 10 days. They did explain in their email that because of these difficult times, there have been delays in response time. This is an anecdotal experience, of course, but I think this support experience is more of the rule than the exception. 

Skimlinks vs. Viglink

Viglink (which has since changed its name to Sovrn Commerce) is another affiliate marketing network that tends to be equated to Skimlinks because of the similarity in the name and the fact that both offer tools to automate affiliate links with a script installed on your website. On Viglink, however, some of the merchants require you to apply for approval – just like traditional affiliate marketing networks do. That is why I prefer Skimlinks over Viglink.  

Have you used Skimlinks before? What has your experience been with the network? Let us know in the comments below! Don’t forget to check out some of my other posts on blogging and social media: 

The Absolute Best Web Hosting For Your WordPress Blog

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