Tag Archives: affiliate

My VigLink Review – Giving Affiliates a Second Chance

I blogged back in July about California passing its law that caused Amazon to pull the plug on all their affiliates in the state (joining Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina, and Rhode Island). Since then I’ve had a chance to implement VigLink on this blog and evaluate the service as a replacement for Amazon Associates. So far I’ve been very happy and encouraged by the clicks and revenue I’m seeing already. If you were dropped by Amazon or just want to expand the sites you can link to then I highly suggest signing up and giving VigLink a try.

Why VigLink?

The main reason you might be looking at VigLink is because Amazon has dropped you from their affiliate program. If you have a large pool of established links to Amazon then it probably isn’t practical to try and reroute those to different affiliate programs who may or may not be dropping affiliates for the same reason as Amazon. VigLink gives us a second chance to get back in the game and not worry about the future.

The other big plus is the broad coverage of affiliate programs makes it easier to link to other sites besides Amazon. VigLink covers about 12,000 sites and you can check coverage through their backend site. I know when I was in Associates I pretty much only linked to Amazon. Now I’m starting to link to other sites and present some price comparisons to give readers some additional links to explore.

How big of a cut does VigLink take?

VigLink takes 25% off the top. Might seem like a lot, but they also have the ability to reach higher affiliate tiers because they funnel referrals through a single account. On Amazon I would barely get into the 2nd or 3rd rate tier, but now I’m pretty much guaranteed to get the top rate. So the 25% commission definitely eats into our share, but it is potentially offset by higher payouts. For those of us dropped by Amazon, 75% is much better than 0%.

Implementing VigLink and How It Works

You install VigLink by dropping a bit of JavaScript into the template of your site. This code writes out a <script> tag that links to the JavaScript file on VigLink’s server. Their code is obfuscated so I can only guess that it goes through all external links on a page and adds an OnClick event to each one. When a link is clicked it transparently redirects it to their system to record the click, add on the needed affiliate info and then redirect the user to the modified link.

The plus side to this implementation is that links appear to be unaffiliated to the reader. This also makes it much easier to add links to posts without having to worry that it is properly formatted for a given affiliate program.

AdBlock Strikes Back

If users have JavaScript disabled then obviously none of this works, but that’s fairly rare as far as I’m concerned. What’s not so rare are readers who use the AdBlock browser extension. I use it to help keep popovers and banner ads under control; things that are just out right annoying. The AdBlock Plus filter subscription blocks the retrieval of VigLink’s JavaScript file which prevents links from being affiliated. I have no idea what percentage of people use filtering extensions like AdBlock, but it hurts knowing you might be leaving money on the table from those uncounted clicks.

I implemented a workaround that lets me serve the VigLink JavaScript from my own domain which avoids it being matched to a blacklist. You can read more about that on this post: Make VigLink Work with AdBlock Plus and Other Ad Blocking Software.

Take VigLink for a spin and see how it works for you

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Make VigLink Work with AdBlock Plus and Other Ad Blocking Software

Most ad blocking software like AdBlock Plus rely on blacklists to decide what to filter out. Big ad providers get blocked explicitly and others by common URL patterns. This all relies on the URL of the resources being retrieved by the browser. To get around the blocking you just have to switch the URL to something that would not normally be blocked. A lot of sites serve ads off their own domains to help avoid getting blocked and with VigLink it is just a matter of linking to a local copy of the JavaScript include.

The process goes something like this:

  1. Create PHP or any server-side script that pulls the JavaScript file from VigLink and writes the contents to a .js file
  2. Create cronjob to run that script every night in case VigLink pushes out an update
  3. Remove the part of the original VigLink snippet that writes out the <script> include, leaving the API URL and key values
  4. Add a <script> tag with the src pointing at the .js file created in step 1

Browsers with AdBlock Plus will now happily pull the JavaScript file from your server because you aren’t on the blacklist (if you are then good luck with that). I’ve left out details because there are so many variables. If you want some help implementing this on your site then send a donation my way or buy something at Amazon (you should see VigLink’s tag as a test of this workaround) and then contact me.

Amazon Closed My Associates Account, Now What? Help for Affiliates in California

Californians can use VigLink to keep participating in Amazon Associates

Gov. Brown signed the Internet Sales tax law and Amazon promptly dropped tens of thousands of Associates in a heartbeat. The state still doesn’t get their sales tax and now are missing out on the combined loss of income taxes from affiliates and their reduced spending. The state loses and so do we. We knew this was coming and I had briefly looked into creating an LLC in another state, but it would be a hassle and there was a question of California charging a $800 out of state business fee. Jumping through hoops wasn’t really my idea of fun so I looked around for another solution. My first thought was auctioning off my affiliate links to the highest bidder. I could probably get a little buzz going about that, but didn’t want to mess with that arrangement with some stranger. I did a little more research and found some discussion about VigLink.

VigLink essentially rewrites your links with JavaScript to be routed through their system. Any earnings are tracked back to your ID and then they pay you after taking a commission. For those of us in states that are now locked out of Amazon Associates this is better than nothing. I signed up the other day and will have to see how things go. The commission takes a little bit off the top, but since VigLink funnels clicks through their own accounts they get to the higher tiers which could help make up for it. If your Amazon links are producing $0 then try VigLink at least until you can get something else going.

An additional minus point is that users of AdBlock Plus will probably not have their click-throughs converted. One more plus though is that you aren’t stuck just with Amazon. If you wanted to post to other sites or do a price comparison between different sites then you can still participate in other programs easily. I think VigLink has over 12,000 sites they cover.

Google AdSense Kind Of Sucks

I’m sure there are a lot of people who have good success with Adsense, but I could never get it to work on this site. I get a lot of traffic from my WordPress plugins and some other posts. I configured my blog to show Adsense ads to incoming external visitors and ran ads for 2 years. The result? $75.

I think we’ve become blind to text ads if we haven’t already hidden them. I run Adblock Plus so never really see that many ads and even if I do I never click on them. There’s just something about allowing a third party to display content on your site that may or may not be completely relevant or trustworthy. I never click on ads so I’m not sure why I would expect other people to.

I had to close my entire AdSense account to get a pay out. The regular $100 threshold wasn’t too far away, but the way things were trending I doubt I would have ever gotten there. The last 4 or 5 months saw tens of thousands of impressions with zero earnings.

I’ve had much more success with Amazon’s affiliate links during the same time period. I think a fundamental difference is that visitors are getting to my posts because they are already interested in buying something. For example, the links in my posts about replacing the stereo in my Toyota Tacoma have a very high conversion rate. I link to all the items needed at a popular online retailer with low prices and free shipping and I get a cut of their order. I could remove the affiliate links and just put ads up, but I don’t know what’s going to show up, if people will click them and how much I’ll get (probably just a couple cents).

Maybe I just got lucky with my WordPress plugins pushing my other posts up in Google’s search results. All I know is more people bought Tacoma dash kits and wiring harnesses over clicking stupid AdSense ads.