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Goodbye Amazon Affiliates, hello Viglink

I’ve been an Amazon affiliate for more than a decade, which meant that if I mentioned a product, posted a link to Amazon and someone clicked the link and bought it, I got a little bit of money. It didn’t make me rich, but in a good year, I made a couple hundred dollars, which paid for the upkeep of the site.

Well, Amazon and the state of Missouri are fighting, so Amazon is discontinuing the affiliate program for Missouri residents. The loss won’t break me, but by the same token, it’s nice to have that money coming in to pay for things like equipment upgrades. I found Viglink, and I’m going to give that a try.

Viglink works like an affiliate program but isn’t tied to a single merchant. So if I want to talk about a particular motherboard and Amazon doesn’t happen to sell it, Viglink can go and find whoever does and insert a link. If I want to talk about a product that’s only for sale at a different merchant, like Target or Costco, Viglink can help us both out.

So we’ll see how it goes.

This site is basically a hobby. Some blogs are primarily driven by revenue, and in my mind, it shows. I want to write about things because they’re worth talking about, not just because I can make a few bucks off affiliate links. If I can make a few bucks without changing what I do, that’s good.

As for Amazon and its fights with the individual states, I can sympathize with both parties. The states are annoyed that Amazon is growing and they aren’t getting much of the sales tax. I get that. But Amazon has a point too. Amazon is essentially advertising on participant web sites. When HP or Dell or IBM advertise on a site and someone buys a product or service directly from them, the state doesn’t receive sales tax. But by the same token, the state that the site owner operates in gets income tax, and the company and its employees pay income tax in the states they operate in or live in.

I don’t see how anybody wins. I changed affiliate programs, so maybe it ends in a wash for me, and for the state’s cut of what I make. How many other Missouri bloggers will just give up? I don’t know.

And I think this problem is going to solve itself anyway. Amazon is eventually going to offer local delivery in most of the country, which means it will start collecting state sales tax and creating local jobs. Based on Amazon’s track record, they won’t be the best jobs in the world, but they’ll at least be enough to help someone get back on his or her feet until something better comes along, and that’s a win-win. By annoying Amazon in the meantime, all that really does is encourage Amazon to move that state down on the list. Populous states like California or New York don’t have anything to worry about, but a middle-of-the-pack state like Missouri doesn’t necessarily have that kind of clout.

And, conveniently, Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post recently. Do I think this is his attempt to help his company get the upper hand in spats like this? Yes I do, actually.

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