With the pending shutdown of Amazon’s affiliate program for the State of Missouri, I spent the morning re-affiliating the site with an out-of-state aggregate service called VigLink. In essence, the company signs up for 18,000 affiliate programs, consolidating the activity of its publishers, and then takes a 25% cut of the earnings, distributing the remaining 75% to the site owners. Often, the site owners can end up making more money this way because they immediately land in the top revenue tier of the affiliate program as their activity is being counted toward VigLink’s main, parent account.
A tiny bit of code stuck on the site results in VigLink intelligently analyzing the page and finding keywords that it can sync with an affiliate program. For example, if I wrote a post talking about iPads or coffee machines, depending on a myriad of factors, VigLink might automatically convert the terms or phrases into hyperlinks that generate cash if the person clicking on them completes a transaction or triggers another conversion event of some sort. The links will go to places like Williams-Sonoma or eBay. This will help me continue to offset the bandwidth costs.
The whole thing should be nearly imperceptible to a large percentage of the audience. I went with them to make it as non-intrusive as reasonably possible.
Of course, the net effect of this is that I can continue to earn money from Amazon, even though I now have no relationship with Amazon (VigLink does), and Amazon still gets to avoid collecting sales tax for residents in the State of Missouri as it now has no direct affiliates. In many ways, the laws the states are trying to pass are shoving more money into the venture capital groups that back these aggregate services as people switch to them to avoid shutting off their commission programs. At the very least, as a resident of Missouri, the State will still get to collect my share of my affiliate income, albeit indirectly through a partnership structured limited liability company, when I file my taxes. I also added 17,999 other affiliate programs instantly, with a few clicks.
Over the next day or two, the pages will update, converting my old Amazon affiliate links to VigLink references, and inserting new ones automatically in places I hadn’t coded in hyperlinks. These will change dynamically over time and are a form of advertisement. Please note that I do not endorse any of the products or recommend the retailer. Rather, it’s much like a billboard or radio ad that will only be seen by those interested enough to click. The links you see may be different than the links someone else sees.
If you own a blog and and signup for a free VigLink account, I also get a portion of the commissions VigLink would have taken for itself from your affiliate sales. They deposit the money into your PayPal account on a rolling 60-day basis. If you prefer, you can also request a check. Those are a bit inconvenient as I’d much rather get direct deposit, but it is a small price to pay for such an effortless service to serve as a stopgap until I can arrive at a more permanent solution. (Who knows? This may be it, judging by some of the reviews I’ve been reading.)