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Blink: Effortless Affiliate Link Generation on iOS

Launching today, Blink is a new Universal iOS app from Squibner that quickly generates affiliate links for content from the App Store, Mac App Store, iTunes Store and iBooks Store. If you’re a member of the iTunes affiliate program you’ll know that you don’t want to be manually editing iTunes links with your own token and campaign tag – Blink automates that process on iOS, making it quick and effortless.

Before I continue, a quick introduction to the world of affiliate linking for those that are unaware. Essentially, anyone can register for the iTunes affiliate program and they will receive their own affiliate token (a series of letters and numbers). If they generate an iTunes URL that includes this affiliate token and share that link with others that click on it, they will receive a (small) percentage of any iTunes sales that flow from any clicks. For many small and independent sites, such affiliate programs are a valuable source of income (and yes, MacStories uses affiliate links). Apple’s website has more details if you’d like to learn more about the technical details of affiliate linking and perhaps even sign up.

Before you generate any affiliate links with Blink, you’ll want to add your affiliate token into the settings of the app – without it you’re not going to generate any money. Then, jump down and add any campaign values that you use; these will stay in the app and you can easily switch between them all at any time.

You may also want to change the geographical store that is being searched and the style of Markdown links (which I’ll explain shortly).

A really small quibble I have is that there is no syncing mechanism in Blink. So if you are going to use it on your iPad and iPhone, just remember to add your affiliate token and campaign values on both devices.

There are three different ways in which you can interact with Blink; through the app, through the extension, or through its URL scheme.

Starting with the actual app itself, you’ll use this when you know you want to link to something but need to search for it first. It’s really as simple as selecting whether the content is an App (iOS or Mac), Film & TV, Music, or a book and then entering your search query. Blink will populate a list of relevant results and clicking on one will take you to a details screen which includes the item's description.

The process of creating an affiliate link in the Blink iPhone app.

The process of creating an affiliate link in the Blink iPhone app.

The details screen is where you generate an affiliate link. Tap ‘Plain Link’ if you just want the URL or ‘Markdown’ if you want the link formatted in Markdown (this is why there’s an option in Blink's settings to change the style of Markdown links). Regardless of which one you click, Blink will open an iOS Share Sheet.

Chances are, you’ll find the Blink Extension even more useful than the app itself. That’s because if you find any appsto.re, itun.es, appstore.com or itunes.com links you can simply convert it into an affiliate link by bringing up the iOS Share Sheet where you’ll find Blink as one of the Action extensions.

Once again, you can share a plain link or a Markdown link through a Share Sheet from within Blink’s Extension. Cleverly you can also change the campaign token and Markdown link format from within the Extension itself.

Blink can also be used as an Action Extension, converting an ordinary link into an affiliate link.

Blink can also be used as an Action Extension, converting an ordinary link into an affiliate link.

Don’t forget that the App Store, iTunes Store and iBooks Store apps all support the iOS Share Sheet, so you can generate affiliate links whilst you’re browsing the latest content in those apps.

If you run into a link that you find in an app that doesn’t support extensions (ie. Mail), you can also just copy the link and paste it straight into the Blink app’s search bar which will find the app in the link.

For the more advanced users, Blink also supports the x-callback-url protocol. Unfortunately I’m not really clever enough to have explored this part of Blink, but for an app like this I thought it was important to at least flag that it supports it.

Wrapping Up

I’ve only had a few days with Blink, but that has been more than enough time to realise that this little utility is well crafted and immensely useful for me. I’ve used a similar app on the Mac, Affiliate, which monitors your clipboard for iTunes URLs and turns any such links into affiliate links instantly. That app has been a massive help for me in preparing MacStories Weekly newsletters and MacStories articles. I have no doubt that now when I’m writing on iOS, I’ll be generating affiliate links with Blink. Up until now I’ve either just left affiliate link generation as something I just do on my Mac, or precariously attempted to use one of Federico’s Editorial scripts, which despite my best wishes I still find daunting.

Blink’s singular and well executed focus on making it easier to generate affiliate links on iOS means that although it has a niche market, those who do use it will find it incredibly valuable and well worth the price of admission.

Blink is available for $4.99 on the App Store as a Universal app for the iPhone and iPad.

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