"Bloggers know their niche inside and out. They can write with authority, build a loyal following and engage their readers. But monetization-turning a blog into a business-that's a different ball game," says Oliver Roup, founder and CEO of VigLink, a startup that hooks web publishers and bloggers up with affiliate advertising programs.
"Importantly, a lot of bloggers extend their following into social media, garnering huge followership on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and elsewhere, but these places are notoriously difficult to monetize," says Roup, who has 15 years of software experience at companies including Founders Fund, BBC, Microsoft and Vulcan.
VigLink takes the pain out of monetization whether it's on a website, app or social network. It's just a matter of adding a short snippet of code or a humble hyperlink from VigLink. And yes, the hyperlink you just saw will earn me money-35 percent of VigLink's commission for a year if you click it and become a new VigLink user.
"VigLink flows naturally along with the content," Roup says about the free service. "Nowhere is this more obvious than with mobile apps, where screen real estate comes at such as premium."
Roup founded VigLink in 2009 to help publishers who were leaving money on the table or being underpaid. "In business school, I got interested in the business publishers were driving to merchants," says the Harvard MBA graduate. "There were ways for those publishers to get paid, but it all just seemed so complicated and cumbersome. If I was getting tripped up, I thought others might have the same problem."
So Roup went to work writing a crawler to look around the web counting links to Amazon. He found that less than half were monetized. VigLink products make it easy for publishers to maximize the revenue they can earn. VigLink Convert monetizes existing links without changing a single pixel on the page. VigLink Insert adds new monetized links and tends to double the revenue a publisher earns. VigLink Anywhere helps authors share monetized links around the web.
"The publishers that find the most success with VigLink are the ones that connect the dots between personal interests and commercial intent," Roup says. "If that interest is photography, then including content around the associated gear tends to lead to purchase behavior, which VigLink seamlessly monetizes. Depending on the scale of the audience, VigLink can generate anywhere from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars every month. In some cases, we're paying for the server costs. In other cases, we're paying someone's salary."
With tens of thousands of publishers, over 30,000 merchants, billions of monthly page views and more than 500 million clicks processed every month, VigLink is the largest network of its kind. "For publishers, having more merchants means more links can be monetized," he says. "For merchants, we provide a massive network of influencers poised to drive sales that would otherwise be difficult if not impossible to reach."
Publishers who choose to monetize with VigLink include some of the most popular sites in the world such as Huffington Post, Wanelo and Tom's Hardware to niche sites that are leaders in their category, be it automotive, food, fashion, photography and audio/visual.
"Publishers love the fact that VigLink is a form of monetization that doesn't sully the user experience," says Roup. "We monetize the content itself, not the white space around the content, which allows publishers to closely align monetization with their core competency-content."
Here are some VigLink customer showcases.