July 18, 2009

Skimlinks: Make money from your blog

Skimlinks: Revenue through recommendations from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaDuring the Traveling Geeks‘ visit to Seedcamp in London last week, I sat down for a short interview with Alicia Navarro, founder and CEO of Skimlinks, an affiliate marketing service aimed at publishers that want to make money from their shopping recommendations. It’s an alternative to traditional affiliate marketing from sites like Amazon, where you get paid a commission for referrals but need to jump through a number of hoops when working with multiple sites.

With Skimlinks you add one line of code to your site and it takes care of updating your site with marketing links automatically. Sites where products and services are discussed — particularly those covering fashion, technology, gadgets, parenting, autos and home and lifestyle — are the ones that stand to benefit most from Skimlinks.

Some large sites are already pulling in $10,000 per month “without having to do anything — that’s the beauty of it,” Alicia says.

Naturally, inserting commercial links in the middle of your editorial content raises all kinds of issues, so Skimlinks has developed best practices and guidelines. “We believe very passionately in the importance of maintaining editorial integry,” Alicia says. Editors can stay completely focused on creating high-quality content without having to deal with integrating affiliate marketing links into their sites. “Skimlinks monetizes it after the fact, so editors can be agnostic and completely unaware of what is monetized and what isn’t.”

If you run a site that sends people off to different shopping sites, it’s definitely worth a look — Skimlinks turns shopping links into affiliate marketing links on the fly. Individual bloggers, forums, user-generated content sites and social shopping sites and large publishers (iVillage, Hearst Digital) are now using Skimlinks to generate an additional revenue source. Users tend to like the approach, says Alicia, because you then don’t need to run so many banner ads.

As Alicia points out, the era of banner advertising is largely over, and sites will need to look to multiple revenue sources: some ads, sponsorships and a service like Skimlinks. “We’re seeing a lot of publishers looking to us as their main business model,” she says.

Watch or embed the video
on Vimeo


• Alicia Navarro discusses good.ly, a url shortener that benefits charities, in this 1-minute video

What is Affiliate Marketing? (problogger.net)

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JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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7 thoughts on “Skimlinks: Make money from your blog

  1. Slick presentation but you could challenge almost everything she says. If affiliate marketing is difficult why is the internet awash with it? She's passionate about editorial integrity, she claims, but wants editors to be paid commission for selling other people's stuff. What? How can you be agnostic when you have to sell product to get paid? What magazine editors do, apparently, is receive product from make-up brands and when they write about make-up 'they use the brands they've got there'. No. That's not what editorial is, or what editors do. She says her product is well suited to parenting sites like ivillage. Why? The FTC has a problem with mom bloggers receiving free product, why will it like payments the reader cannot see? Next time I read ivillage and it recommends foods for my baby is that the brand paying the highest commission, am I being told what I need to know for the well being of my baby or what the 'editor' needs to tell me in order to sell the product and get paid ? Naive to ignore the incentive of commission. Contextual affiliate links mean less advertising? Retailers say affiliate links are adverts, the retailer provides the code and controls the link, an editorial link is one controlled by the publisher.

  2. Thanks for your feedback, Meadowpeier.
    The internet is awash with affiliate marketing and I agree that there is a challenge to retain editorial integrity while earning commissions for products, so we run workshops for our publishers with suggestions on how to do this: there are a variety of techniques and processes, but the underlying message is that in the long term your readers will react badly if you always give products you are affiliated with a positive review, so stay true to your audience and message regardless of what retailers are paying commissions. It’s a tricky balance, I know, but it is achievable. Also, because Skimlinks create the affiliate links after the content has been written, it is possible for editors to be agnostic as to what links are monetised.
    We are aware of the FTC ruling, which is why in our T&Cs we mandate that publishers add a disclosure notice in an appropriate area on their site, and why we talk very openly and passionately about disclosure and transparency.
    I agree that when the retailer provides the code this makes it an ad, but in this case, it is the publisher that decides what links to add, and what to say about them, so they are not traditional adverts, but editorial that is rewarded if there are sales. I agree this is debatable, but it is an important distinction.
    I really appreciate your comments.
    Alicia Navarro
    CEO – Skimlinks

  3. Alicia, thanks for adding some additional texture and background to the subject. We're just at the beginning of this, yes?, and can adjust the technologies and internal policies to make it work for us. A tricky balance, to be sure, but one that can be achieved with the right standards and the right people looking after the readers' interests.

    I think Skimlinks offers an exciting new revenue potential to a wide variety of small, midsize and large online publishers. Let's keep an eye out to make sure they fulfill their commitment to serve the public's interest.

  4. Sounds like a good idea but I don't think I'd like not really knowing what affiliate products my site is linking out to.