The Best Affiliate Marketing Program for Beginners

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are 100% my own.

Update: I currently use both Skimlinks and VigLink. Some programs may be available with one and not the other. As both have URL shorteners available, I simply have one program installed on my site and run any uncovered links through the other’s URL shortener if necessary.

If you are a long-time reader, you may remember my review of VigLink, and Skimlinks falls into the same affiliate marketing category. These programs are the best affiliate marketing programs for beginners or those intimidated by monetizing their blogs, in my opinion. This is just about as “hands off” as you can get. It is also a great alternative for those living in a state with an affiliate nexus tax.

I am going to use this post to compare Skimlinks to VigLink. Even if you are new to this type of affiliate marketing, you should be able to get a clear understanding of the process and be able to make a decision as to which is right for you.

What Do These Programs Do?


Programs like Skimlinks and VigLink monetize your sites while you go about your daily business. You do not need to apply to 17,000 merchant affiliate programs. You do not need to worry about grabbing your affiliate link for every product mention. Instead, you only need to include the merchant’s URL in your post and these programs do the rest. If I include eBay in my post and someone clicks on that link, I will earn a commission on any sales that result from that click. In some cases, you do not even need to include a link at all. Let’s compare Skimlinks to VigLink.


Features Resulting in a Tie


  • Skimwords – A similar feature is available with VigLink. If you are familiar with programs like Infolinks, this may remind you of that but you will earn sales commissions rather than per click. Enabling this feature will allow the program to automatically link up brand names and products. (Ex. If you mention “digital cameras” in a post, that may be linked without your intervention. They will even include price and product comparisons, if you choose.)
  • Payment is made by PayPal, check or bank transfer with a $10 minimum. VigLink has always sent me payments regardless of how small, but this is still a minute threshold when compared to the $50 or $100 that is standard with most affiliate networks.
  • Neither program will mess with your affiliated links. This means that if you are already an affiliate for a program and insert your personal link, they will not overwrite it. They respect your existing relationships.
  • Skimlinks keeps 25% of your commissions. This is standard. The tradeoff is your time, energy and potentially a higher commission bracket than you could attain on your own.


Things to Know (Possible Cons)


  • Each Site Requires Approval with Skimlinks. This isn’t a “one and done” deal. Every site you want to include will need to go through a review process.
  • Skimlinks pays up to 12% of their commission on referrals. VigLink pays 30%. Both for the first year only.


Skimlinks Wins Over VigLink


  • Monetize links in your RSS Feed.
  • Create a custom subdomain for users to be redirected through.
  • There are merchants covered by Skimlinks that are not currently covered by VigLink. (and vice versa)
  • An easy disclosure can be enabled that is added to the bottom of posts.
  • Skimlinks gives you insight into the conversion rate for merchants and also tells you the commission rate. They also point out Preferred Partners, which are those with which they have negotiated higher rates. (update: this feature is now being rolled out with Viglink)


Big Win


  • URL Shortener – This is likely going to be the deciding factor for those that publish content offsite (ex. HugPages, Squidoo, newsletters, social media, etc.) This was a big “want” from readers when I reviewed VigLink – the ability to earn with network merchants when publishing on other sites. You can do that with Skimlinks. Simply run the merchant’s URL through their shortener and insert wherever you please. (Update: this feature is now available with VigLink also)


Final Word


I do not have any issues with this program at this point in time. It is highly recommended and used by some very popular sites (Cosmopolitan, WordPress, Ning, previously used by Pinterest). I do not rely heavily on these programs, but they are a nice addition to my sites.

If you have still not incorporated affiliate marketing into your blog for one reason or another, I strongly encourage you to try one of these programs. This is about as passive as you can get when it comes to making money blogging. Once installed, there is nothing else for you to do. You maintain control over how little or how much your site is monetized. This is “no brainer” if you want to dip your toes into affiliate marketing, you don’t have the time to mess with it, or you are simply confused or intimated by the process. Sign up for Skimlinks now. What do you have to lose?


    • says

      Learning curve – little to none. Install the code, configure it and just go about your normal blogging routine. Any time you link to a participating merchant, Skimlinks will automatically affiliate the link when it is clicked.

      Time involved – just your initial setup. There is nothing to mess with on a day-to-day basis.

      Money earned – it will depend on your blog, of course. As is always the case around here, your niche, your marketing, your audience’s readiness to buy will all make a big difference. With the little work involved however, it’s certainly worth a shot.

  1. says

    Hi Angie, thank you so much. I have subscribed to your RSS. I have been blogging for six months now, getting a little traffic, but wondered about affiliate marketing. You really broke it down to a point that I can understand. I’m certainly gonna consider this because I love blogging and will want to monetize at some point.

  2. says

    I will have to try this one, I did not have success with Viglink but have had success with Linkshare though its more work. Thanks for sharing.

  3. says

    Just a question…what do you know about SEO writing? I was approached to do some writing for a company in packages for $20 each with each package containing several short posts…seemed like a rip off to me.

    • says

      Hmmm…I would look at several things:

      How much research will you need to do?
      How many words do they want in each post?
      How fast do you think you can turn one of those single posts around?

      From what I see in some of the work at home forums, many of the girls are charging around $.04 to $.10 per word right now. That makes a 500-word post $20 to $50 each. There are certainly some that charge less than that and some that charge more, but you will need to decide what your time is worth and how quickly you can turn them around.

      Does that help?

  4. says

    I am very interested by Skimilinks.Do you think we can compare it to adsense?Do you have any real expirience with skimilinks? What is the average earnings per 100 clicks?

    • says

      Skimlinks really isn’t a good comparison to AdSense. Rather it is an easy method to affiliate marketing. Your earnings will come from purchases, not from PPC. I use it as an addition to AdSense, not a replacement.

  5. Aaron Smith says

    Angie I’ve recently ran across your website a couple of weeks ago. Very, very informative and extremely helpful. I like that you use/try what you review which makes your opinion relevant for me. I have recently taken hold of this idea of starting my own business and have already implemented Amazon Associate Astore after reading your article on their program. The Skimlinks and VigLink are next on my to-do list to review. Thank you Angie!

  6. Romeo Carles says

    Angie, Thanks from your post!!. I am interested in just affiliate links and no banners. Which one would you recommend??. So far I read this review at freakzion site which mentions 3 players: infolinks, viglink, skimlinks. Any more players?

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