How To Shorten Links And Earn Money With Paid Link Shorteners

Did you know that anytime you share your link or link to a piece of content…

 You are leaving money on the table if you ignore this post because you could shorten links and earn money.
Paid link shorteners are overlooked by many but I’m going to show you how I use them to make extra money with my blogs and put them all to the test once and for all.

Don’t forget to check out my 7 Day Blogging Strategy if you want to learn how to grow your blogs income.

What You Will Learn

  • What link shorteners are and why to use them
  • How paid shorteners work
  • How to shorten links and earn money
  • Which shortener is the most profitable
  • And how much money you can make

Most websites make money through things like selling ad space, affiliate products or their own digital products and so on.

Some monetization methods are more or less passive, some require ongoing work, some seem to suit a particular website well, others not so much.

Creative website owners can combine a variety of methods and use them simultaneously. You have to test a combination of strategies to see what works best for you.

But today I’m going to explain a new layer with paid link shorteners and the results of my own tests –    the shorteners that are the most profitable.

So read on if you would like to add another great weapon of choice to your website monetization arsenal!

An Introduction to Link Shorteners

A Link Shortener is a website or application that turns long links into short ones, that redirect to the long link.

Here is an example of a long URL which points to the Amazon store-


and here is its short version:


The short version just redirects you to the long version – which makes for easier sharing especially on social networks like Twitter.

Using a link shortener is very easy. Just paste in the URL you want to shorten, click go and you are done-

Bit.ly link shortener screenshot

That’s all there is to it!

Why Use A Link Shortener?

  • Save space and “beautify” links. Short links look better and are more user friendly. For some types of communications like text messages or Twitter posting it’s crucial to keep links short to leave room for a message (as you probably know a tweet is 140 characters long)
  • Tracking & statistics. Some shorteners give statistics about clicks, impressions and a range of other trackable data.
  • Hide a target URL. When you see a shortened URL, you don’t know where you will land after you click it. So, some people use this to disguise the target URL.

And finally, Ladies and Gentlemen:

  • Making money. You can earn money each time a short link is clicked! Ayeuhayueuhayueuh!

Show Me the Money – How To Shorten Links And Earn Money

Now you have general idea of how link shorteners work, let’s turn our attention on how to use them to make extra money!

Not all shorteners let you earn money.

So we will focus entirely Paid Link Shorteners that give you all the advantages of a normal shorteners but with the added ability to make money.

I’m going to put all of the best ones to the test in this article!

How Paid Shorteners Work

If you add an advertising layer to a classic shortener, you get paid link shortener. 

The layer is added between a shortened URL and destination page and this is how money comes into play.

How it works in practice:

  • Visitor clicks a shortened link (shortened URL)
  • Ad is displayed on an intermediate page – you earn money.
  • The visitor is redirected from the intermediate page to the destination page (long URL)

This method of earning money has some interesting advantages.

What I like most is that it doesn’t consume real estate space of your websites that are better put to use for improving email conversion.

How to shorten links and earn money

Secondly, you transform leaving visitors into profit and last but not least, short links can be used everywhere, e.g. on facebook pages, twitter, emails etc.

Choosing The Best Paid Link Shortener

When I discovered paid link shorteners, they appeared to be a great additional stream of revenue for two of my websites, so I decided to give them a try.

The problem was I couldn’t find any credible information about the performance of the different companies and there were many contrary opinions among users.  

Not to mention that I’ve seen a lot of new players entering the market like rock-stars (offering extremely high CPMs) and vanishing like ghosts after a month or two.

As  I trust numbers and stats more than opinions of casual users, I decided to conduct my own tests to find the highest paying URL shortener that actually pays out.

Now I’m much wiser and I’d like to share this knowledge with you.

Choosing Paid Shorteners For Testing

I started with Google and did some research to pick up brands to test.

Finally, I selected four brands:

  • Adf.ly
  • Shorte.st
  • LinkShrink – They are now out of business
  • Ouo.io (decided to add this later, in the 2nd test phase)

Adf.ly and Shorte.st seem to be the biggest players on the market: quite good reputation, decent payout rates and a long time in business.

Ouo.io (how do they even pronounce this name?!) are a relatively smaller service and new in business comparing to the others.

I included them in the test because of good payout rates and my curiosity about their performance as they fight with two strong players and want to earn themselves the biggest possible slice of this cake.

Building My Landing Page and Driving Traffic

For benchmark purposes I quickly built a landing-page with movie trailers.

When a visitor clicked a movie cover, a shortener displayed an ad and then the visitor was redirected to a desired page to see a movie trailer.

My landing-page

To setup a quick test I launched a paid campaign (PPV) with a run of the mill pop-under ad to drive traffic.

I drove traffic to the paid shorteners for 4 days altogether:

  • 1st day – 13th of April – only US traffic
  • 3 following days – 21, 22 and 23 of April – mixed traffic: US + other countries

Other countries included:

  • United States (US)
  • Spain (ES)
  • Indonesia (ID)
  • Saudi Arabia (SA)
  • Poland (PL)
  • Mexico (MX)
  • Brasil (BR)

How I Collected and Analyzed Data

To analyze the performance of each shortener I collected:

  • Unique Clicks: How many unique visitor Link Clicks were generated. This was the most important information for me, as performance of my websites (and most websites which use paid link shorteners) base on unique visitors. I used Unique Clicks (visitors) to calculate eCPM.
  • Revenue: How much money I earned with each shortener during the test.

And additional data which could be useful to compare shorteners’ performance:

  • Link Clicks: How many times my landing-page was clicked.
  • Counted Views (by shortener): How many views (of the intermediate ad page) were counted by a shortener.
  • Counted Visitors (by shortener): How many unique visitors were counted.

The data comes from:

  • Link Clicks and Unique Clicks I tracked on my landing-page with Google Analytics.
  • Revenue, Counted Views and Counted Visitors is shown in Dashboard of each shortener.

Tracking Traffic with Google Analytics

I took advantage of Google Analytics event tracking best practices to track all of my traffic.

How I collect and measured data (Analytics example)

This can be broken down as

  • Event Category (traffic divided by country. E.g. shortest/MX is a link clicked by visitors from Mexico)
  • Unique Events (Unique Clicks)
  • Total Events (Link Clicks)

Data from Paid Shortener Dashboards

I created a few links and sent them traffic, one link per country. 

Knowing that, I could observe how many views were generated from each country and correlate this data with shorteners’ stats.

For example:

  • 1962 unique visitors (Unique Clicks) were sent from Saudi Arabia (SA)
  • $ 1.09 earned

Shorteners screenshot

Money and eCPM 

As I knew how many Unique Visitors I’d sent to each shortener (my Google Analytics data) and how much money I earned from this traffic I was able to calculate performance of each shortener.

Performance of each shortener is defined by eCPM.

eCPM is calculated by dividing total earnings by total number of impressions in thousands.

eCPM explained

Data Analysis: US Traffic

On the first day of testing I decided to send traffic to shorteners exclusively from the US.

In the screens below I present the number of Unique Clicks (how many unique visitors were diplayed an ad) and how much money I earned from those uniqe visitors.


Unique clicks and earnings @ Adfly


Unique clicks and earnings @ Shorte.st


Update: Linkshrink went out of business in early 2020.

Unique clicks and earnings @ Linkshrink


Results after one day of testing - eCPM

Taking all data into consideration-

  • Shorte.st is the highest paying url shortener when it comes to eCPM and earnings. For each 1000 users I earned 4.04 USD.
  • Adf.ly got the 2nd position and there is a small difference in earings comparing to number one – Shorte.st
  • LinkShrink’s earnings look like a joke :)

(Please note, that there are no stats for Ouo.io at 13th of April. I decided to try this shortener later.)

Data Analysis: Mixed Traffic

At that time, for the next three days, I sent mixed traffic from different countries (including US).

Please note that I included countries with extremely low rates so eCPM in the end is much lower than we would like to see.


Mixed traffic @ ADF.LY


Mixed traffic @ SHORTE.ST


Mixed traffic @ OUO.IO


Mixed traffic @ LINKSHRINK

Results for mixed traffic - eCPM

Again Shorte.st is the winner and Adf.ly is very close. LinkShrink again is a joke and Ouo.io looks very poor.

If you studied the data carefully, you probably noticed one thing:

My revenue from Adf.ly with US traffic was only $0.02. I wrote to Adf.ly customer service asking why they counted almost no traffic! I got an answer which pointed me to their FAQ:

For us to be able to pay you for your traffic, the following criteria must be met:

Must have JavaScript enabled
Must have Flash enabled
Must have Cookies enabled
Must view the advert for at least 5 seconds
Must not being using a proxy server (unless we have advertisers wanting this traffic)
Must not have viewed more than 5 links already that day
Must be an advertiser willing to pay for traffic from their country

Well… I checked in Google Analytics and my traffic looked good enough. Java and flash were enabled almost everywhere, other technical requirements were met.

I thought that the result was very strange because I’d sent exactly the same traffic to Adf.ly as to other shorteners.

It appears (and it’s a bit scary) that with Adf.ly you can’t earn any money even if you send good quality traffic and there is no clear reason for that.

Really confusing…

Final Thoughts

There are two leading paid link shorteners on the market: Shorte.st and Adf.ly.

 Shorte.st performs slightly better when it comes to earnings and I didn’t have any surprises like with Adf.ly (when my traffic for US stopped to be monetized without any reason).

Other tested shorteners – LinkShrink and Ouo.io – are not so good.

They claim high eCPM rates, and as my test showed, this is not true.  Actually they converted really, really bad.

Final chart

Wrapping It Up

Ads served by paid shorteners are not usually of high quality and that’s the reason why they’re not for everyone.

Most website owners prefer AdSense because of ad quality and conversion.

However, not every website can be accepted by Google and some of them are even banned after a while because of their content.

As a result many choose to make money online with link shorteners.

So if you struggle with Google or your website is similar to the above ones, you may consider trying out a paid shortener and I hope that my benchmark will be useful for you.

99 Responses

  1. Simeon

    Great article, thanks matt. for your valuable information spread. Thanks bro. I appreciate.

    • Matthew Woodward
      June 21st, 2021 at 8:00 am

      No problem, Simeon!

  2. Musa seun

    Hi Matthew, I generate cold traffic, which link shortener would you recommend to me that pays well and can work for cold traffic

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 5th, 2021 at 9:50 am

      There are two leading paid link shorteners on the market: Shorte.st and Adf.ly

  3. Kev

    Hey Matthew,

    I found this article very useful and in fact used the shortest URL in my website. However, they don’t seem to do the payouts and not even responding to the support emails. Please have a look.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 2nd, 2020 at 10:00 am

      Hey Kev!
      Which paid link shorteners do you use?
      I am afraid I can’t really help on this one… if they don’t pay you, you have to see with them why.
      Don’t give up and try until you get your answer whether it is by mail, social networks, etc…

  4. Polrk

    Thank you very much for the recommendations. I have used several of them and some of them count more impressions, others pay better, in short each one has its own. Now I’m trying shrtmny.com and so far so good. It counts more visits than others like ouo and the payment rates are a little above. Anything you can ask me that I manage webs with millions of impressions and I can give you advices.

    • Matthew Woodward
      June 22nd, 2020 at 10:41 am

      Thank you for the suggestion! If I need advice, no doubt I’ll reach you!

  5. anas

    Thanks for this great article Can you guide me to exchange links, visits or groups sites that click on you and thank you very much

  6. Timothy

    Hi Matt!
    Thank you for a great job. Your analysis is very comprehensive, informative and at the same time educative. I doff my cap!
    Wouldn’t mind if you could mentor me a little on how to monetize shortened link. Thanks.

  7. Vishal Bhoir

    Incredible work Sir… Thanks a lot for detailed work on this, all of my doubt were solved!

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 31st, 2019 at 5:03 am

      Pleased to hear it Vishal

  8. Tien

    It’s great to see a service review like this, you did a great work and help alot of people who are looking for a URL shortener for making some bucks.!

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 2nd, 2019 at 4:50 am

      Thanks Tien

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  20. faRmec

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  31. Akhil

    Thank you so much. There are so many articles about “top paid link shorteners list” and every article just come up with lame points on why one should go for so and so link shortener tool. It was only your site that gave me a great insight(with test data) into why I should use a particular link shortner.

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      April 3rd, 2018 at 8:43 am

      Yep, no point beating around the bush, you are welcome Akhil

  32. Blackbook

    Good posts so far, I build something that unleashed my earning will. Shortest so far earnings me $250 USD per month follow by other’s.

    • Matthew Woodward
      January 5th, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Is that with url shorteners?

  33. Silva Fuji

    Thanks matt, LINKSHRINK is good

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    Thanks for you post, Matt

    I used paid URLs every day and have grown a second income with them. I know how hard it is to promote these links to get any kind of money, and I’ve been working non-stop to create a website that helps everyone with this issue!

    Peerhits.com is a website that gets you traffic to paid URLs, quick, easy, and free. Simply go to the website, visit 10 of your peer’s URLs, and submit your own to the website.

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  35. the secret

    Making money online is not really easy as 1, 2, 3 patience is always there. My first payout was in PTC it takes time before you earn it.

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 5th, 2016 at 11:03 am

      It’s less about patience and more about consistency

  36. George

    Hi Matthew there’s another problem with adf.ly links. These are blocked in India. So if an Indian visitor clicks on that link then all he sees is a blank page. That might lead to poor UX. A workaround for Indians is editing the url to make it https but then many don’t know that and it’s cumbersome.

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 7th, 2015 at 7:27 am

      Ahhh thats a good tip :)

  37. sanu dutta

    When I was new to Internet Marketing, I have also played with these PTC sites for long time. It looks good at first glance but you need a lot of traffic to earn a decent amount…and PATIENCE.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 31st, 2015 at 8:45 am

      This is meant as an extra income source rather than a primary one

  38. Jeet

    Thanks for this useful article. I think it’s not bad to start with this strategy who don’t have enough knowledge about Affiliate Marketing & enough money for paid traffic. Can you share some statistics about the ROI & the paid traffic sources.

  39. Daniele di Forenza

    Great post and tip on building a secondary source of income, but obviously you gotta test if the value you’re proposing to users through you’re website is a fit for this kind of advertising.
    Have friends who monetize videos through social media channels pretty much in the same way (different platforms) and make a decent side income (while I haven’t checked them out in a year or so, so I wouldn’t know if they’re still doing ok with it).

    My question is : how did you whip up a trailer website so quickly?
    Wonder if you could share that with us, too…

    Also, thanks for all the amazing content, your blog seems to be one of the latest no-BS blogs about internet marketing left around.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 21st, 2015 at 12:16 pm

      Just do a Google search for “movie trailer website script”

      Thanks for your feedback, I hope you keep coming back for more :)

  40. Scott McDonough

    Hi Matt.
    Another great post mate about something I have never heard of.
    This could be a good way to pick up a few extra bucks without too much effort.Do you think it might make a hundred dollars a month?
    Very interesting post though,thanks for sharing.

    All the best,Scott

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 17th, 2015 at 11:51 am

      The beauty of the internet is what people think is irrelevant, because we can test and make conclusions with data :)

  41. Zaza

    Hello Matt, what about adfoc.us ? I am using it right now and I wonder if they pay me?

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 16th, 2015 at 9:56 am

      Never heard of it sorry

  42. Iman

    EPM (earning per impression) is low, e.g: $1 for each 1000 clicks.

    So you need to generate massive traffic for earning the enough amount of money. e.g: 1 million clicks for earning $1K.

    However, you can use the paid link shortener as an extra income.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 15th, 2015 at 10:25 am

      Yes but you should never have a sole driving force of income, its important to diversify!

  43. Shahrukh

    Hello Matt,
    I see that this same content is also published on other websites by Paul Kowalski..
    So don’t you think your website will be hit for duplicate content in google.
    Please remove it to avoid any penalties.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 15th, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Interesting, thank you for pulling that up.

      • Ankit Yadav
        August 4th, 2015 at 12:44 pm

        @matt you must scared LOL, duplicate content??

        • Matthew Woodward
          August 5th, 2015 at 6:59 am

          Why would I be scared?

          • Ankit Yadav
            August 5th, 2015 at 10:36 am

            @Matt I was just being Sarcastic (but in a nice way). Individual like you Matt will never be worried about stuff like this, because you are always very diligent with what you do and what you put on your blog.


            Ankit Yadav

          • Matthew Woodward
            August 7th, 2015 at 7:23 am

            Oohhhh I see, haha thats the problem with text talk :)

    • Ankit Yadav
      August 4th, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      @Shahrukh here is the link: http://goo.gl/0aDcLP to the article you were referring to, go ahead and first read it and then compare it to the one on Matt’s blog. Duplicate content my a**.

  44. Koka

    Hi Matthew. This post is awesome.

    I use three link shorteners in a download site. The site get traffic from Spain and Latin America. I wrote a blog post (in spanish) about this. You can read the post clicking in my name.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 15th, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Awesome, how does payouts compare in latin america?

      • Koka
        July 15th, 2015 at 2:50 pm

        I don’t compare different sources. The traffic is an average of 40% Spain and 60% Latin America.

  45. GLL

    Hey Matt !

    Thank’s again for that really interesting piece of content !

    How did your bounce rate change after you added those link shorteners ?

    As a visitor, I bet I would leave as soon as an extra ad shows up and asks me to wait to see the trailer…

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 14th, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      Will publish this for Paul to answer :)

      • GLL
        July 15th, 2015 at 1:25 am

        Thank you !
        He going to answer my comment or to edit his post ?

        • Matthew Woodward
          July 15th, 2015 at 10:27 am

          Answer your comment

  46. DirtyLeopard

    The only issue with this is that Firefox is blocking all flash by default now and if you have to have flash enabled, you’ll have to use Chrome or something else.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 14th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      You just need to update your Flash plugin I believe

  47. Jose Vega

    Hi Matthew, thank you for the post. I have one question, how much did you spend on the PPC campaign for driving traffic from the US?

    It would be interesting to see if it´s possible to create a site like you did, put an ongoing PPC campaign and still generate revenue, even if it´s small we could scale it.

    • Matthew Woodward
      July 14th, 2015 at 11:59 am

      Will let Paul answer that :)

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