How Illinois Bloggers Can Still Make Revenue From Recommending Products on Amazon

If you live in Illinois, North Carolina, or Colorado you cannot join Amazon’s affiliate program, Amazon Associates. For Illinois residents, after Governor Quinn signed the “Amazon Tax” law in March, Amazon gave Associates until April 15th before it severed all relationships with Illinois-based Amazon Associates. Now that April 15th has come and gone, Illinois residents no longer have Amazon Associates available as a source of income.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association, the lobbyist group responsible for pushing the “Main Street Fairness Act”, is pushing affiliate programs from resident Illinois companies like Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Sears, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart through the site in exchange for the lost Amazon and Overstock affiliate programs. These affiliations are poor substitutes for the convenient, infinite warehouse of Amazon that mastered online sales. I’ve heard of some leaving the state to maintain their Amazon Associate account and others recommending setting up a business checking account across the border with a PO box to get around the limits.

I haven’t historically made enough from Amazon Associates to justify the road trip or enter the shady areas. If you’re like me and don’t plan on leaving your state despite the laws making it hard to live there, I have been using another affiliate program to still make money from Amazon sales. SkimLinks is an affiliate program that anyone can sign up for which provides access to over 12,600 merchants in 27 different affiliate networks. Skimlinks is perfectly legal and doesn’t violate the new law in any way. Your affiliate agreement is with them and their affiliate agreement is with the various merchants.

Skimlinks works with all categories of Amazon and enables you to use the various tools they provide to promote products and earn a commission. Using Skimlinks is free though you’ll only receive 75% of the commission for each sale. The other 25% goes to Skimlinks to pay for their system that will automatically convert links on your site into affiliate links. Even with a reduced slice of the pie, you might actually make more money from a single sale because Skimlinks is able to get bulk rates. For example, Amazon Associates defaults with the Performance Rate at 4%. If you make so many sales, that commission will go up to 6%, 6.5%, or 8%. Skimlinks will be making most of those sales at a higher mark than if you were selling individually. You might also be able to generate more revenue through its referral program. Skimlinks pays out after a $50 threshold is reached via check, EFT, or Paypal.

How it works

The program comes in two flavors: skimlinks and skimwords. Skimlinks will convert external links to merchants into affiliate-enabled links, though it won’t convert already affiliate-enabled links. Skimwords will find merchant keywords on your site and automatically make some into affiliate-enabled links to merchant sites. All external links will be directed through Skimlinks for it to do its processing and you can choose to make this more user-friendly by using a custom subdomain of your own and the Terms and Conditions even cover the performance.

9.1 Skimlinks will use its reasonable endeavours to ensure that the Technology works on the Publisher’s websites, and that the SkimLinks Product shall meet the following service levels:

9.1.1 response time to serve the Skimlinks Code will be within 400ms (standard 250ms) to a 2Mb/s broadband connection;

9.1.2 on page processing of Skimlinks Code to take a maximum of 5ms (standard is 1ms) for each link on the page;

9.1.3 the Service will be available 99.9% of the time in any month;

9.1.4 have a redundancy and automatic failover plan in place to maintain Service uptime; and

9.1.5 links will be rewritten and redirected to the corresponding Affiliate Network within 500ms (standard is 200ms) of a Customer clicking on the link.

Skimlinks takes the form of a simple bit of Javascript you add to the footer of any pages you want to use Skimlinks with. For self-hosted sites, you can find the Skimlinks plugin for easy enabling. I use the WordPress plugin on 404 Tech Support and the line of Javascript on a phpBB forum. They also have a vBulletin plugin readily available.

Former Amazon Associates

If you’re a former Amazon Associate like myself, you can go back through your previous posts with affiliate links in them and change them to normal links so Skimlinks will convert them. You can also contact Skimlinks support to request that they convert already affiliate-enabled links into Skimlinks affiliate-enabled links.

Skimlinks has a number of other tools at your disposal to allow you to find affiliate-enabled merchandise and promote it the way you know how. It works well for the all-out sales folks or the casual product review/recommendation crowd. I need to go through all of my previous product reviews and switch their links to normal links so Skimlinks will start catching those sales. It’s not a big chunk of my revenue but every little bit helps toward the bills.

Check out Skimlinks if you:

  • Like the idea of having access to so many affiliate merchants
  • Live in a state where Amazon has terminated its Amazon Associates program
  • Want to enable another channel for revenue


Amazon has forced Skimlinks to suspend clients’ access to Amazon Associates through Skimlinks if those individuals reside in certain states. This is the email that Skimlinks recently sent out:

Dear Publisher,

We are writing to let you know that, unfortunately, Amazon Associates has decided to no longer work with publishers who reside in the following states: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, North Caroline, or Rhode Island. You are receiving this notice because your Skimlinks’ account information indicates that you reside in one of these states.

As of September 26th, Skimlinks must suspend your access to the Associates program in order to comply with Amazon’s directive. You will still, however, be able to earn commissions from the other retailers with whom we work.

To learn more about the background of Amazon’s decision, please see Wikipedia and and the Performance Marketing Association website.

The Skimlinks Team

Comments are closed.