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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Facebook Gets Demoted

Cory and Tommy took the big step of deactivating Facebook, but I’m just demoting it a bit. I removed all my personal information and turned off the majority of notifications. My wall and comments have also been disabled. I left pictures up, but will not be posting more on Facebook. I have configured my blog to post a “New blog post” teaser on my wall which people can click through if they care. I removed the Status Update feed from Google Reader and uninstalled the Facebook app off my phone.

I prefer my web presence to be somewhere I have more control of my personal data. I highly doubt I’ll miss it since I never particularly liked it to begin with. Let our blogs live on.

StableHost Web Hosting – An Honest Review

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I opted for their middle hosting plan (5GB/100GB, free domain) which drops to $5.45 if you sign up for a year at a time. With the USYEARLY coupon you get 50% off for life which makes a whole year of hosting with domain name come out to $32.72. If you offered me hosting for $2.75 a month I’d probably ask what the catch is. Turns out there is no catch, just great hosting.

After signing up and switching over this site, I noticed an immediate increase in speed. Pages in the WordPress admin area would take a couple seconds to start loading and just seemed a little sluggish on LunarPages. The exact same install on StableHost is fast, really fast. I don’t think I’ve seen WordPress run this fast before. I attribute this to nice servers that have not been oversold. The middle hosting plan only gets you 5GB of space and 100GB of transfer, but that is more realistic than a host offering unlimited space and bandwidth for 5 bucks. That just leads to overutilization and slow servers.

Performance is also helped by the use of Lightspeed instead of Apache. Lightspeed is a commercial web server that offers improved performance over Apache, but the extra cost probably keeps it from being more popular on shared hosts.

I’ve only had previous experience with GoDaddy, ResellerZoom and LunarPages, but I would choose StableHost over them and any other shared web host in a heartbeat. Throw in the free domain name and the hosting technically only costs about $23 a year. The WHTUS coupon could end at anytime so I’d jump on it if you are considering a new host or moving hosts.

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Facebook Killed The Casual Blog

I stay pretty tuned in to the activity on our little blogosphere and for the past 6 months I’ve noticed a significant downward trend in the number of posts and comments coming through Google Reader. Is this slow down a direct result in everyone’s increased use of Facebook?  My hypothesis is that people who were using blogs to casually post quick tidbits about life have migrated to Facebook and abandoned their individual blogs.

I think a big part of this migration is that the barrier to posting is very low on Facebook and the audience is quick to reach. I don’t mind seeing what people did last night or checking out some of their photos, but I don’t expect to have any deep discussions on Facebook. There’s little incentive for people to post anything too meaningful because as soon it drops off the front page of everyone’s News Feed it is essentially lost forever. Posts and comments on a blog are much more permanent and easily retrieved. I could easily find a blog post from last year, but I don’t think I’d be able to find a Status Update from last year. Why invest time in creating content that might as well be deleted after it reaches an age of one week?

Of the 18 or so blogs on my Blogroll, I’d say only 5 or 6 could be considered active. All the people who’s blogs are dead are active on Facebook. That seems like fairly good evidence that Facebook killed the casual blog. Not good or bad, it just is what it is.

Not Using Google Reader? You should and here’s how

Google posted up a video guide that goes through how to use Google Reader. I posted about using Google Reader to keep up on your friends’ blogs back in 2007, but a lot of people have joined our little blogging circle since then. If you aren’t using a feed reader and still click through to everyone’s site then give Google Reader a try.

I’m also experimenting with Facebook imports, so if you are seeing this on Facebook, come visit our blogs if you have never been before. My siblings have to fly under the radar at and