One of the biggest challenges faced by a new affiliate is the chicken-and-egg dilemma.
Many of the bigger affiliate programs won’t accept you until you have a proven sales record.
But you can’t generate a proven sales record if you can’t join affiliate programs.
Skimlinks however allow you to tunnel right under this particular barrier.
There are no affiliate managers to negotiate with or programs to be approved for.
You simply sign up with Skimlinks, install a code snippet and you’re done.
Then if somebody clicks on an affiliate link and makes a purchase you earn a commission.
Once they take their 25% cut.
Let’s see how well this affiliate network actually performs in our Skimlinks review.
Skimlinks is a UK-based company that’s been active on the affiliate marketing scene since 2007.
But they didn’t really make an impact in the market until the Amazon sales tax debacle of 2011.
This was when Amazon cut ties with all of its affiliates in states like Connecticut because of sales tax issues.
So affiliates terminated by Amazon just signed up with Skimlinks instead.
Suddenly affiliates were introduced to a network that did all the hard work of linking out to merchants for them.
As long as you’re happy with them taking a 25% cut of your earnings.
Because that’s the cost involved in doing business with them.
What has Skimlinks got to offer you?
An almost-instant relationship with over 25,900 merchants.
And a more hands-off approach to monetization than any of the other affiliate networks.
Let’s look at how that all ties together.
So, the first step is actually creating a Skimlinks account which you can do from the navigation menu visible on every page:
Then enter your email address and create a password:
Then enter the URL of the website you want to use Skimlinks on and your company name.
And once you verify your email address you’ll bypass the Skimlinks login to be brought to the following screen:
Skimlinks has an approval process so you can be rejected.
That snippet only works though on the site you applied with though.
And that’s it – a painless application process but with a built-in delay.
It’s not quite the “minutes” that Skimlinks claims.
Tiny bit hyperbolic, guys.
Was this a once-off or are there other things to concern you?
What brands can you promote?
Wait…isn’t using Skimlinks automated?
Yes, adding Skimlinks to your site does automate your monetization.
But wouldn’t you like to know what programs you’re linking out to?
Just to make sure you’re aligning your site with merchants like Booking.com and not SuperCheapSunHolidaysOnABudget.ru.
Here are some of the brand names you’ll be able to promote through your affiliate links:
And what’s unusual about Skimlinks is that these types of merchants are the rule rather than the exception.
Yes, they’ll obviously have brands you’ve never heard of on their books.
But a quick look at the Skimlinks ‘Merchants’ hub shows you what you to expect:
It seems like they have a program to suit every niche.
But how easy is Skimlinks to use?
After all, nobody wants to end up in a UX swamp, no matter how good the programs are.
Or worse again…get stuck in payment hell.
Ease of Use
Now…I cheated a little here because I used a Skimlinks account I set up years ago and promptly forgot about.
So there’s no site currently attached to it…because I flipped it 8 years ago.
Anyways, how easy is the Skimlinks dashboard to navigate?
1. Snapshot – the overview you see above which includes revenue, top-performing pages, etc.
2. Performance – tons of reporting options
3. Merchants – where you find advertisers
4. Offers – promos currently being run by advertisers
5. Toolbox – generating deep or short links to specific pages
6. Payments – where you enter your payment details
The only other menu function is ‘Settings’ in the top right-hand corner:
Sites – where you apply to add new sites to your account
Install – get your code snippet here
Advanced settings – enable, disable, or customize ‘Skimlinks’, ‘SkimWords’, and ‘Audiences’.
Team management – add or remove users and set their roles within Skimlinks
Account details –your business information and to change your password
Notification – control what emails you receive in relation to merchant offers
Note: SkimWords appears to be Skimlink’s attempt to turn more of your outbound links into affiliate links.
The only real standout within the dashboard is the ‘Performance’ area – Skimlinks go all-in on their reporting:
Several of these new Beta reports directly address two key issues that Skimlinks affiliates have had for quite some time:
- Real-time click data
- What products their visitors bought
It’s great to see Skimlinks has been so receptive to what affiliates actually asked for.
So, what you get with Skimlinks is a bright clean interface that keeps things simple.
And that makes it easy to navigate and use for affiliates at all levels.
Finding affiliate programs
Normally at this point, we’d talk about how easy or difficult a given network makes it to find an affiliate program you want to promote.
The thing is though that with Skimlinks you don’t have to apply to an affiliate program.
The only thing you need to do is create content that contains links with commercial intent.
“Logitech wireless keyboard” = good commercial intent
“Why politics suck!” = shitty commercial intent
That’s it though – Skimlinks does all the actual linking to offers.
Why then do they have a ‘Merchants’ section on their dashboard?
So you can research the various advertisers present in certain categories and then tailor your content to that.
This is like reverse affiliate marketing because you’re using an affiliate program to dictate the type of content you create.
But this approach appears to work.
You can search Skimlinks’ merchants by:
- Rate type
- Program type – CPA, CPC, or Dynamic
But you can also filter the merchant list by column values like (1) ‘Effective EPC’ and (2) ‘Average commission rate.
And if we sort by EPC we can see the top-paying programs, which are mostly CPA offers:
Basically, you can find the types of content that pay the most or convert best, and then just create content around those topics, brands, or keywords.
Then allow Skimlinks to monetize it with affiliate links.
And you can also get a more detailed breakdown of each advertiser if you want to know more about their conversion rates, average order size, etc.
So, there’s no need to set up affiliate links manually.
Or is there?
Creating affiliate links
Having your monetization automated for you by Skimlinks probably seems like the best thing ever.
But what if you need to create a deep link or maybe even affiliate links for social media?
In that case, you have two options.
The first of these is to head over to the ‘Toolbox’ section from Skimlinks’ main menu:
And simply paste in the URL of the page you want to turn into an affiliate link.
Or generate a shorter version of that same link so it works in your social media post.
The second option is to install the ‘Skimlinks Editor’ extension for Chrome.
This allows you to do the same thing, but on the fly from within the merchant’s website.
But you’ll only ever need to use either of these options if you’re intent on setting up affiliate links manually.
Now it’s time to get down to getting money in the bank.
Which is as good a time as any to mention the Skimlinks referral program.
You’ll get a 35% cut of what your sub-affiliates earn for their first 12 months on the network.
So there’s more than one revenue stream possible here.
Now let’s take a look at when and how your commissions arrive in your bank account.
You don’t get paid until Skimlinks gets paid by the merchant.
So you’ll be waiting at least 90 days for those commissions to hit your bank account.
Which is the “payment hell” I mentioned earlier.
It’s not so much hell…as just a huge pain in the ass to wait 3 months to get paid your commissions.
If you’re a US or UK-based affiliate you can choose between direct deposit and PayPal.
But affiliates from anywhere else in the world can only use PayPal to receive payment.
I could bitch about them offering more options, but what other payment methods might you need apart from maybe crypto?
You’ll need to earn at least US$65 to receive your first and subsequent payments from Skimlinks.
After you’ve waited 90 days for your attributed sales to clear.
Even relatively experienced affiliates will need a helping hand from time to time.
So it’s always good to know you can turn to support for help.
The first place you can do this with Skimlinks is using their ‘Resources’ page:
Which is also where you access their ‘Support’ page.
Their ‘Resources’ page is kind of a mixed bag of guides, blog posts, and case studies.
But you will find ‘Getting Started’ guides for Publishers and Merchants here:
The ‘Support’ section of the site is very much the same:
You get access to a series of FAQs and a chat support bot:
The thing is that the bot is obviously limited to the information it finds in the Skimlinks knowledgebase.
So that’s a bit “Meh”.
Skimlinks vs. VigLink
I just want to briefly cover this comparison because it’s an obvious one to make.
So how does using Skimlinks compare?
The key difference between the two networks is that with VigLink you do need to apply to offers whereas with Skimlinks you’re automatically approved.
But that’s pretty much it when it comes to a VigLink vs. Skimlinks comparison.
They’re remarkably similar otherwise.
So far I’ve had a lot to say about Skimlinks in as unbiased a manner as possible.
But let’s get some other opinions into the conversation.
Here’s the first review I found where the guy seems to love the simplicity that Skimlinks offers affiliate marketers.
And here’s another one from the same site – again somebody who seems to really enjoy the automation.
Although it does sound a little bit “scripted” doesn’t it?
I actually recognize this next guy from a previous review where he complained about another affiliate network being a “scam”.
So he’s obviously a frequent flyer on Air Karen.
And the rest of the negative reviews all came from the usual “They stole all my commissions but I did nothing wrong” crowd.
Several of whose names I recognized complaining they had the same problems with other affiliate marketing networks and platforms.
Almost as if…they were running some kind of cross-network scam.
But one recurring issue that Skimlinks does have is complaints about their customer support.
It would seem they take several days to respond to a query.
Year established: 2007
Number of merchants: 25,900
Offer types: CPC, CPA
Weighing it up
So how do Skimlinks compare to other affiliate networks when you break it all down to the basic pros and cons of using them to monetize your site?
- Signing up is easy
- Skimlinks can completely automate your monetization
- Access programs you’ve been declined for
- You get 25,000+ merchants to work with
- No need to ever again create affiliate links
- Excellent reporting options
- Their UX is better than many mainstream networks
- Can get preferential commission rates from some merchants
- They take a 25% cut of what you earn
- 90-day payment timeframe
- Support has a reputation for being slowwww
And that folks is a wrap on our Skimlinks review.
So, what we have here is a unique network that’s easy to use if you don’t want to go down the route of manually setting up affiliate links on your site.
You get a ton of merchants to work with, and all you have to do to make money is add some links to your pages.
Something you already do.
But then again, are you willing to lose 25% of your income to use Skimlinks to make your life easier?
Only you can answer that question.
Does Skimlinks work?
Skimlinks is a network that’s worth checking out, especially if you’ve had no luck applying for more mainstream affiliate programs.
It just might be what you need to get your start with making money online.
Or you could drop by our free training on how to set up an affiliate site.
Something we know a thing or two about.
You’ll learn tips and strategies that have taken us over a decade to put together.
Without paying us anything.
So, tell us the best email address to send your invite to – we take care of the rest.