Easy Affiliate Links with VigLinks and Skimlinks

One of the toughest things about running an affiliate website can be keeping track of all of those links that you need to create to redirect to the merchants. Not to mention if one of the merchants programs goes offline at an affiliate network all of your links for that merchant can stop working just like that. Then there is the problem of forgetting to add a link to a merchant. You write a great post talking about how great this new product of service is and add a link straight to the merchant instead of using your affiliate link. The post becomes popular yet you don’t notice right away that you missed the link. All those possible sales gone.

One of the new trends in affiliate marketing is using services like VigLink or Skimlinks. Essentially these services take some of the headache away of managing your own affiliate accounts at all of the different affiliate networks and allow you as a publisher to focus on what you do best, publish great content.

Both services work pretty much the same you sign up for them and then you add a small snippet of javascript into your website. That javascript will take care of making sure the links that are to their affiliate partners are linked properly. The best part as a publisher is you do not have to worry about creating special links, links breaking or any of those headaches. If the merchant is covered by the service they will automatically add in the affiliate link.

While both services are similar in how they work there are some subtle differences in them. Skimlinks makes you add your website and have that website approved before you can add the Skimlinks code to your website. VigLink does not authorize websites individually so once you are approved you can pretty much add the code to any site you own. Also VigLink is also partnered with Cloudflare so you can actually install VigLink on any of your Cloudflare enabled websites and Cloudflare will take care of inserting the javascript for you.

Both services are free to join but there is a cost to having them manage all of the links and affiliate merchants for you. They both take a 25% cut of all sales you make. That might sound like a lot but if you have a site with hundreds or thousands of merchant links it can easily be worth your time to have those links managed but VigLink or Skimlinks. The services can also get some better rates so it is possible that even though you lose 25% on each commission you might actually make roughly the same since the commission is higher to begin with.

If you have been looking for a way to monetize your website but don’t want to go through all the hassle of creating managing all of the affiliate accounts you would need or simply want to monitize all of the possible links you can with as little headache as possible take a look at either VigLink or Skimlinks. They might be exactly what you are looking for. I know I have been converted a couple of my own affilaite websites over to VigLink and have been pleased with the results and the fact that I no longer have to worry about links breaking or other problems. The links just work and if they can be linked through an affiliate program VigLink takes care of it.

All that being said I am not using either service here on LGR Internet Solutions yet so I manually had to add the links.

Geolocation Click Redirection

One of the affiliate offers I participate in redirects visitors to their website to their country specific based websites which is great for the user, not so great for me because when the user is redirected the affiliate cookie is lost and I don’t get credit for the sale. Each country has their own affiliate program so it is possible to get credit for any sales that happen on those country specific sites, but the redirect has to happen before the user visits the main company website where they redirect the user.

While it is possible to create country specific landing pages for each country there is always the chance that a visitor from one of those other countries will still click on a link that would take them to the main company website. To prevent this from happening I have installed a script to check geolocation and redirect the user to the appropriate country specific website instead of them going to the main companies website and being redirected.

Eric Nagel has a PHP script you can use to do something similar, and while his method would work the thought of having to maintain the IP Geolocation database, even through a cron job, just sounds like trouble to me. Not to mention some shared web hosts don’t allow you to run cron jobs or to run a cron job that unzips a file.

The solution I came up with relies on the service Cloudflare. I wrote a post about Cloudflare earlier this year. Cloudflare has this neat little feature called Geolocation where they will add in a server variable that you can access with PHP calle $_SERVER[“HTTP_CF_IPCOUNTRY”]. Once you turn the feature on in Cloudflare all the requests to your Cloudflare enabled website will contain the country code of the user.

All you have to do then is create a PHP redirect script that checks for the Cloudflare variable and redirect the user to the correct link.

Here is a copy of what I use to redirect users.


$country_code = $_SERVER["HTTP_CF_IPCOUNTRY"];

if ($country_code=="UK") {
$link = 'Insert UK Link';
elseif ($country_code=="FR") {
$link = 'Insert France Link';
elseif ($country_code=="DE") {
$link = 'Insert Germany Link';
else {
$link = 'Insert Default Link';



A word of warning, for some users in the UK their country code is returned as UK and others are GB so you might want an extra check for both codes.

I was already redirecting people through this link to help manage my links, this just adds an extra level to that redirect. It has already paid off making sure that users from the countries I specified were redirected to the correct website for them. I currently have this redirect installed on a shared server with the website added to Cloudflare.

If you need to know specific country codes Wikipedia has a list that you can use.

This is a pretty simple method and Cloudflare takes care of maintaining the IP Geolocation database for you. Of course you could do more sophisticated things than this but this gets the job done for me.

AdSense vs Affiliate Marketing

Many people want to make some additional income from their websites. One of the most common ways for people to start is to use Google Adsense ads. Google Adsense ads are a very easy monetization method to start earning money from your website. Simply setup your account, copy and paste some Javascript code into your website and you can start earning money from every click that you get.

The problem with Google Adsense is the payout per click can be low and it can take a considerable amount of time to make enough for Google to pay you when you only get a few clicks per day. You also have little to no control over the types of ads that Google displays. While they do a good job of displaying ads that relate to your content you can never be sure of all the ads. There is also the possibility that Google will, at their discretion, ban your account and you will never get paid. Not to mention the constant changes that they often make to their terms of service that require you to update your website privacy and disclosure policies.

That being said the ease of setup of Google Adsense can make it a great way to earn some additional income. Here is something to consider though, last month for every dollar I earned using Adsense I earned $449.00 in affiliate commissions! That sounds great doesn’t it! Now don’t expect to simply replace your Adsense ads with affiliate ads and your will be rolling in the dough. With affiliate marketing it is certainly possible to make more income than from Adsense but it can take a while to find the right affiliate program to promote with your website. This can leave you with little to no income while you experiment with different programs and networks. If you are currently not making any money from your website then this is not a big deal.

Make no mistake about it, making money from affiliate marketing will take a lot more work but the payoff can be well worth it when you find the right program(s) to promote. It can take a lot of trial and error to find the right affiliate program to promote on your website. Having a blog on your website can help because you can write posts on a number of topics to experiment.

If you are looking to monetize your website more Adsense is an easy way to start, but seriously consider affiliate marketing. Your website could go from making coffee money every month to making more than your regular pay check.

WordPress Ninja Affiliate for Free

If you are thinking of doing affiliate marketing from your WordPress blog you might have come across a plugin from MaxBlogPress called Ninja Affiliate. A couple of high profile blogs, like Daily Blog Tips and Problogger, have made posts about it and it does look like an impressive plugin. I have not personally used the Ninja Affiliate plugin but I have read about it and it does look impressive making it easy to automatically link keywords that you specify in your blog post to your affiliate links, while at the same time displaying a friendlier URL for your readers. This is a great way to help increase your affiliate sales and at the same time make it easier to manage your affiliate links. Did you know that you can get much of the same functionality of the Ninja Affilate plugin by using a couple of free GPL WordPress plugins instead of spending $97.00?

One of the great features of Ninja Affiliate is it ability to automatically turn keywords that you specify into affiliate links. For example if I type the keyword “Mozy online backup”, (you all know I like Mozy right), the keyword Mozy online backup will automatically be turned into an affiliate link leading to the Mozy website. It saves time by automatically linking keywords to affiliate links. There are a few plugins that offer similar functionality that you can try.

I have not personally tried each of those plugins, but I have used SEO Smart Links and BlogMechanics KeywordLink on other WordPress blogs and both are good plugins. If you want to limit the number of affiliate links per keyword you might want to look at SEO Smart Links first. The BlogMechanics KeywordLink offers the ability to link the keyword once or all the time. This can make it harder to control how often the keyword is linked. SEO Smart Links offers a little more control over linking limits.

That takes care of part of the work. Creating nice friendly URL’s for your readers to see instead of some long affilaite link can be done with a plugin that I recommned that every WordPress blog have installed. The WordPress Redirection plugin. This plugin helps you to manage 404 error redirection, changing post permalinks, and it can be setup to manage custom affiliate links.

mozyredirectThe WordPress Redirection plugin allows you to create groups so you can manage your affiliate links. You can create a custom group using the WordPress Redirection plugin called “Outgoing” or “Recommended”. You can then create redirection links using your affiliate links and add them to your “Outgoing” or “Recommend” group. This allows you to easily manage all of your affiliate links in one place. To create your reader friendly URL’s simply decide on a URL structure for your links. If you noticed my Mozy online backup keyword link links to http://lgr.ca/go/mozyonlinebackup.html, this link then redirects to my Mozy affiliate link. This is much friendlier than the Mozy affiliate link. If your affiliate link needs to be changed you now have one place to edit the link and all your keyword links that are using that URL will be redirected to the new URL. This is much faster than hunting through hundreds or thousands of posts to change your affiliate links.

It is best practise that affiliate links should be nofollowed so the search engines do not follow them. This can be done in two ways. Depending on the keyword link plugin you choose you might be able to add the nofollow attribute on the link itself using the keyword link plugin. I know that both SEO Smart Links and BlogMechanics KeywordLink allow you to do this. You can also add your custom URL’s to your robots.txt file to prevent the search engine spiders from following your affiliate links. For example I could add the following line to my robots.txt file:
Disallow: /go/

There might be other features that the Ninja Affiliate plugin can perform that I have not covered. It does appear that it has more statistics built in than is available in the Redirection plugin. The Ninja Affiliate plugin does offer all of the management in one place, while with this method you will need to go to multiple places to manage your keywords and links. Nothing a couple of opens tabs can’t do mind you. If you don’t want to spend the $97.00 to get the WordPress Ninja Affiliate plugin you might want to give this technique a try. It can help to boost your affiliate sales and provide you with an easy way to manage your affiliate links.

What do you use to manage your affiliate links on your WordPress blog?

Market Leverage

I routinely try out new affiliate networks looking for new products and services to promote for myself and for clients. Market Leverage has been around for a while but it has only been recently that they have been making a bigger splash in the affiliate marketing world. They have been sponsoring a number of affiliate marketing challenges across the web on a number of other blogs and even have some bigger name bloggers promoting them like John Chow and Shoemoney.

Market Leverage has some good points and some not so good points, like all affiliate networks. The good things I have found about Market Leverage is their people. I have personally talked with my affiliate manager over the phone and they are open to being in contact with their affiliates. I hear from my affiliate manager quite often through email, and over the phone. It is only the second affiliate network that I have ever actually heard from over the phone.

Market Leverage also has a large number of programs to promote in a large number of categories. Depending on your topic it is likely you will be able to find a program to promote. Many programs are also very open to using PPC for sending people to the offers, so you can try Market Leverage without have to place their ads on your website. Each program is clearly marked what types of promotion is allowed, Email, Web and Search. The programs also list where they are targeted so you can set up your PPC and other advertising to only send people from the United States. Most of the programs I have looked at all provided a good assortment of advertising formats. The majority of the ad formats are for email and web campaigns, so if you are thinking of doing PPC you will need to make up your own creative and keyword lists.

Market Leverage also keeps affiliates up to date with their MLTV blog. There they post some of the latest programs that are available and some of the best performers that you might want to look into promoting. This is helpful to stay on top of the new programs and changes in existing programs. Getting in on a program early can make a huge difference in the amount of profit you can make on a program. The programs that I have had work the best for me are the programs I joined soon after they launched the affiliate programs.

While you might not see a lot of negatives on the blogosphere about Market Leverage, no affiliate program is perfect and Market Leverage does have a few areas where it could use improvement. The list of programs to promote is large and many offer good compensation, but there are many programs that have a spammy feel to them. Lots of programs that you have never heard of, have only a landing page, and if you do a Google search the majority of consumer reviews about the service or product that you find are negative. Not to paint the whole network with a bad brush, but I would recommend you pick and choose wisely in the programs you promote from Market Leverage. It does not help your own credibility to promote a bad product or service, so be picky.

The best program that I have found on Market Leverage is its own affiliate program for referring new publishers. This is both a positive and a negative. You can earn 5% of the earnings of every new publisher that signs up under you. The Market Leverage referral program is a good program, but it always makes me nervous when the best program in an affiliate network is to recruit more publishers. My pyramid scheme sense goes off and I am suspect. If there were some high quality programs to promote in the network it would easy my suspicion. (For the record the links on the site to Market Leverage are my affilaite links).

If you are interested in checking out another affiliate network Market Leverage might be the one you are looking for. I have been trying the occasional Market Leverage program on PPC, but have not focused a lot of energy on my efforts. Merely just testing the waters on different programs. They might be just the network you need to help pay off the credit cards after Christmas.

Pepperjam Network

It has been a little while since I wrote “A Beginners Guide to Affiliate Networks”. Things have changed a little since I wrote that. eBay has launched its own partner network, AuctionAds was sold and of course there have been some other affiliate networks that have come online. It has been awhile since the Pepperjam network actually launched, but I have only recently started using them on some of my sites.

The Pepperjam network is different than many of the other affiliate networks. The first difference you can see is the types of ads you can create. You can create the typical ads that all affiliate networks offer and place them on your website, but Pepperjam also offers text based ads that are similar to other text based ads, such as Google Adsense. It is a simple process of selecting the partners that you want to include in the ad and placing the code in your website. It is a great way to swap Pepperjam ads into your existing ad spots that you might already have other ads in already. Now adding affiliate ads is as easy as adding a contextual system like Google Adsense.

Here is a sample of a Pepperjam network ad.

You can easily save the ad and edit it later. It would be nice if you could edit the ad and have the changes happen automatically without adding the new code again, but overall it is a great system.

Finding partners to promote is also easy to do. When you first login as an affiliate you are presented with the latest programs that have join Pepperjam and the top performing programs on the network. You can also search through the Find Partners section by category and keywords. You can also narrow your search by CPA and revenue share offers. Compared to some affiliate networks, finding programs to promote on Pepperjam is one of the easier tasks to do.

Perhaps the nicest feature of the Pepperjam network is the Pepperjam Store Builder. Similar to an Amazon Astore in someways, the Pepperjam Store Builder allows you to add your partner sites products as a store right in your website. In four simple steps you can embed your partners products right in your website so your visitors can shop right from your website instead of leaving right away. The code can even be optimized for pasting into a blog to make it easy to add a store into a blog post. Here is a store I made for RatFink tshirts.

The Pepperjam network also offers its own affiliate program that you can join to help promote the network. They offer new affiliates a $10.00 signup bonus and even offer bloggers an incentive to write and promote the program (Note: this post is not a part of the Pepperjam blogger incentive program, but the post does contain affiliate links). If you are thinking of checking out a new affiliate network I would suggest you give the Pepperjam network a look. They have a lot of interesting partners to promote and some new and inventive ways for affiliates to help promote them.

March Earnings in Review

I don’t usually post my earnings online, mainly because I don’t think I should have to post how much money I earn from my online ventures to prove to people how successful I am. March, however, was a particularly good month and I just wanted to brag a little. I am always seeing these “make money online” blogs and the reality is most of them make next to nothing. Why are people reading them? Anyways, I digress. If you want to know how well I do here are the numbers for March. This is not just from this blog but from several of my online ventures.

Text Links Ads: $110.50 (from only one site)
Affiliate Sales: $1,562.20
Google AdSense: $1,954.40
Other Ads: $751.00
Direct Sales from Websites: $964.60
Grand Total: $5,342.7

That is just over a 30% increase from February. April should be even better since many of my sites are still going up in terms of users and traffic.

Project Wonderful, Not so Wonderful

Project Wonderful logo

If you have been surfing around some blogs lately you have probably come across some blogs that are running Project Wonderful ads. They are particularly popular with people that are using Entrecard.

Like all advertising options the only way to know if something will work well for you is to try it, so I signed up and created an ad box on one of my more popular websites. The site gets regular traffic and generates 1000’s of page views a day. Google AdSense did not perform well on the site so I thought it would be a good candidate for Project Wonderful. Was I ever wrong. I had the ads up for just over two weeks. The grand total from Project Wonderful was .90 cents! The bidding never went up past .03 cents per day. I did better with the odd click from Google AdSense.

I was not very pleased with how the ads turned out from Project Wonderful for that particular site. I thought perhaps they are more targeted at blogs, since there seem to be several blogs running the ads and it was just a bad fit for the site I tried them on. When I changed the theme here I thought I would give Project Wonderful another try, on a blog this time. So far I have been less than pleased. The bidding has not gone up past .02 cents per day and I have had to cancel several bids because they were advertising adult content. I had the ad box set to only display safe for work ads but because hardly anyone on Project Wonderful actually rates their ads I was not getting any bids at all. If both ad spots will stay at .02 cents/day that would be a total of $1.20/month. That does not even buy me a coffee at Tim Hortons.

I did try running a campaign with Project Wonderful and as an advertiser you can get a lot of cheap advertising on a lot of blogs for next to nothing. In the campaign I setup I limited the cost per day to .01 cent and I was able to place advertising on a large number of websites across the network. The disadvantage is that my click through rate was horrible. Less than .05%. I would rather spend my money on AdWords and get less impressions but traffic that is more targeted. I suppose if you limited your advertising to certain websites and blogs you might do better than I did in running the campaign.

Overall I am not sure why Project Wonderful ads are currently so popular with bloggers. As a publisher there are better and more profitable ways of making money on your blog than as a publisher with Project Wonderful. As an advertiser you will get better value for your money using other advertising systems. I will probably leave the Project Wonderful ads up here for a few more days, as I am busy with other projects, but they will be coming down in the near future most likely to be replaced with private ad sales. If you would be interested in advertising here on the LGR Webmaster Blog feel free to contact me and we can arrange something.

Adsense TOS

If you monetize your website(s) with Google Adsense you have probably been asked to agree to another long and tedieus Terms and Conditions agreement again. Of course Google does not do you any favours and give you the parts that they have changed, rather they just go and make you read all of the legal mumbo jumbo again knowing full well that the majority of people do not understand a word they say. Silly Google.

If you want to real lowdown on the new Adsense Terms and Conditions check out Jensense. I have talked about Jensense in the past, but she has done a fantastic job of making sense of the latest changes from Google. Perhaps Google should hire her to write the posts on their weblog detailing that they have changed the Terms and Conditions. Then the changes would make more sense to people.

Thanks to Jensense for making sense of Google’s new Terms and Conditions for Adsense. Go and take a look if you want to understand the latest from Google, then start to work on that Privacy policy that we all need.

BritePic – Monetize Your Images

There have been a few things on my to check out list, BritePic happened to be one of them. BritePic is a service offered by AdBrite. I just recently started running some AdBrite ads again and thought this would be a good time to look at BritePic. BritePic is basically a way of making the images on your website more interactive. You can add ads with that as well or you can leave the ads off.

The only way to really describe what BritePic does is to show you. I thought I would show off a photo from our trip to Rouleau Saskatchewan, for Corner Gas fans, otherwise known as Dog River.

Here is the elevator, without BritePic,
Dog River Elevator.jpg

and here it is using BritePic.

You can choose whether you want to include the ad or not, I thought I would because I wanted to explore as many features of BritePic as I could. I like the menu option, so people can zoom in on the photo, email to people and even embed it on other sites. Gives the photo the possibility of going viral.

I don’t know if I would use BritePic very often but it certainly is another way to monetize your website.