If you have asked yourself, "Is Affiliate Marketing a Scam?" and are looking for an honest answer, this article is for you.
Today we'll answer some of the most common questions regarding affiliate marketing as a business. We'll also provide you with a start point, so you can start building your own affiliate marketing business today should you choose to do so.
When you're done reading this post, you'll know all the facts about affiliate marketing.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the act of promoting another company's product online for a commission. I like to think of it like getting paid for a referral or recommendation. When you think about it, variations of affiliate marketing exist in many industries.
For example, real-estate agents could be considered affiliate marketers, since they earn commissions on property sales. There are far too many other examples to list here.
Another way to look at it is to think about affiliate marketing as being an online agent for a company. When someone buys through your links, a commission is sent to you. It's a very simple concept.
Is Affiliate Marketing Dead?
You might have come across articles saying affiliate marketing is no longer worth getting into. The truth is affiliate marketing is no-where near being dead, although there's a little more competition nowadays. When you think about it, affiliate marketing will never die, and it's only going to increase.
As I see it, companies will always need people to market their products, and if they have to pay a small commission rate for the increase in sales, so be it.
Look at it like this, the companies who have affiliate programs don't need to lift a finger; the affiliates are making sales for them.
Think affiliate marketing is dead? Read these success stories!
Affiliate marketing success stories!
~ real people, real work
4 - 5 figures/month online!
I could go on, but the short answer is: no. Affiliate marketing is not dead. It's not going anywhere, either. It will be a valid way to make money online for a long time.
Is Affiliate Marketing Hard?
If you're completely new to the scene, the idea of affiliate marketing might seem complicated, like a vague concept. Actually, once you understand the basic idea, affiliate marketing is not hard at all. It's one of the easiest models to making money online.
But it all boils down to how and what you promote. To make money with affiliate marketing you need to not only have a solid offer, but also traffic or leads. Without those two, making money from affiliate marketing is hard.
In most cases, people will dive in with only a vague idea of what needs to be done, throw around some affiliate links, and expect to make tons of cash.
Maybe they'll get frustrated and declare all online business is a scam because they weren't able to see results. That's why it's important to follow the right, structured, training material.
Is Affiliate Marketing a Scam?
Due to the bad business practices of some people online, a lot of people assume affiliate marketing is a scam. The answer is affiliate marketing is not a scam. It's a legitimate business practice, a way for businesses to bring in more sales without doing the work.
But this begs the question...
Why do people think affiliate marketing is a scam? From what I can see, there are a couple of reasons.
- For one, most people don't really know how to make money online, and since it's unfamiliar, they assume it's a scam.
- Secondly, there are actually some scams in the affiliate marketing world.
Let's talk about that last point. Clearly, there are a lot of scams in the online business world. It's why I created this website in the first place.
I see random courses popping up all the time that claim anyone can become a millionaire promoting them, and then when some sales start coming in, they conveniently fail to pay the affiliate marketers.
This happens from time to time, and it's very frustrating!
How to Avoid Affiliate Marketing Scams:
Fortunately, most product creators are smart enough to pay their affiliates, because the affiliates are making them money.
Nevertheless, there will always be bad apples that spoil the bunch. Not to worry, with these tips you can learn how to avoid affiliate marketing scams.
1. Make Way Too Many Promises:
We have all seen those products that promise millions of dollars on your doorstep within the hour, if you only invest a small portion first.
It's usually a telltale sign a product is scam. Avoid at all costs. Don't even think about promoting them. These type of programs also fall under the category of get rich-quick schemes.
2. Keep An Eye Out for Pyramid Schemes
Pyramid schemes are crazy popular online, and people often disguise them as affiliate programs. The problem with pyramid schemes is you have to pay to join and then recruit people under you to remain active in the system.
Basically, it takes a whole lot of work, for few results. Affiliate marketing is completely free, and you should never have to pay to become an affiliate. For more information about that, read our Nettwork Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing Guide here.
3. Products Disguised as Other Products
This might sound confusing but bear with me for a second. There are plenty of products that pretend to be stand-alone, only to redirect you to some MLM company or pyramid scheme. This tactic is often called bait and switch.
One example of this is Freedom Checks, which leads you to another product called Wealth Strategist. Bait and switch sales pages are quite common online, and you should definitely avoid promoting them.
How to Find a Legitimate Affiliate Marketing Program:
Now that we covered the scams, I'll show you the signs of a good affiliate marketing program. One that you can promote on your website without worrying about delayed or missing payments.
1. Start With Affiliate Marketplaces:
And there are plenty out there. The big ones would be:
These are good places to look for something to promote, at least when you're getting started. Overall, the quality of offers on Click-bank seems to have dropped these past few years, so I would focus on the two other marketplaces.
2. Hosting Companies:
Hosting companies pay their affiliates quite well, sometimes upwards of $100 for one sale. The reason they can do this is users have to purchase a year upfront. Every wonder why so many bloggers push their hosting companies?
Some popular hosting companies are...
- Site-Ground (Read our Site-Ground vs Wealthy Affiliate Comparison)
Promoting a hosting company that you use for your website is easy too!
3. Amazon Associates:
As simple as it might sound, Amazon has an affiliate program called Amazon Associates.
Amazon's affiliate program is both good and bad. Good because people trust and buy from Amazon all the time. So your sales conversion rates will be higher. Plus you'll get paid not just for the product you promote, but anything they buy on Amazon.
The bad part with Amazon as an affiliate is their low commissions and their "cookie length" (which basically guards your commissions) are only 1 day long. Most affiliate's allow for a 30 day or even a 60 cookie limit so that if the user you sent comes back at a later day (within the cookie length), you still get paid a commission.
Even though Amazon's commission rates are quite low, if you have enough traffic the sales can bring in a steady stream of income.
4. Useful Marketing Tools:
Do you use an online tool to build your business? Maybe a paid plugin for your website? If you find it useful, chances are someone else will too.
Write a review, include an affiliate link, and that can bring in some nice cash. Most marketing tools have affiliate programs, so it's a matter of narrowing down the ones you like.
To learn how to rank content quickly, get our Free Targeted Traffic eBook. It's got all the steps I use to rank content quickly and in the top positions of search engines like Google.
Where Can You Learn More?
Hopefully now you know the answer to the question is affiliate marketing a scam and you have an idea of how to make money as an affiliate marketer. Where can you go from here? Where can you learn what you need to start making money?
I promised I'll provide you with a start point, and here it is.
The program recommend has been around for more than 14 years and it has helped so many people build a legitimate and lucrative online business.
The focus of the training is on affiliate marketing and how to build a website to promote affiliate offers. I could go on, but I think it's best for you to see for yourself.
Good news, there are 10 free training lessons inside. You can create an account for free and try out the free features. If you choose to upgrade, there's only one membership to worry about, no up-sells either, and that one membership includes every feature (including website hosting!).
Really, the deal can't get much better than that.
All in all, thanks for taking the time to read this article, and I hope I provided a answer to the question, "Is affiliate marketing a scam?".
If you have any more questions or feedback, feel free to leave a comment below and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Absolutely Danielle, a website is the foundation to any online business. Regardless of how big or small it is, you need to have an online presence.
Of course you can always sell products online through Amazon and use their traffic, but you still would benefit from having your own website that as another traffic source.
If you need any help getting started with e-commerce, here’s my recommended training to sell on Amazon.
Affiliate marketing sounds interesting. I’d like to start a site that promotes online courses. Is it too generic? I could promote Udemy – I love the courses there.
I want to try the training you recommended. Is it really free or is it one of these services that ask for your credit card and they charge you after a month if you don’t cancel?
You can start a niche website based on promoting anything online, including online courses. If you know of a good course that helps people do something, and it’s got a solid affiliate program, then you’ve got the mixings for a winner.
As for your question regarding Wealthy Affiliate, it’s completely free to check them out and you have access to their program, somewhat at a premium level, for 7 days. After that you can stay a free member and continue to build out to free websites. There’s 1,000’s of hours of free training that people can go through.
But if you really want to build a solid foundation do your online business, I’d pony up the $19 for the first month and get off to a good start. After that, you can continue taking the training for $49 per month or the annual membership fee comes out to $30 per day. So I did it for 4 months and then went to the annual membership and I think it’s the best internet marketing education I’ve ever found (especially for less than $1 per day).
If you do decide to join and then later want to cancel, it’s really easy to work with wealthy affiliate.
Great information here for your visitors interested in Affiliate marketing. As I see it, probably 90% of affiliate opportunities are scams. As soon as you read “make a bunch of money overnight” it’s time to leave and look elsewhere. I saw Wealthy Affiliate as the real deal because never once did they say you would get rich quick. It all hinges on putting in the work and being patient.
Still, I am always the skeptic and will need Wealthy Affiliate to prove they can generate income for me five or six months down the road after putting in hundreds of hours of work. Time will tell, but there are many success stories out there so one would think they are the real deal.
WA is the real deal but I think you need to change your mentality just a little bit about wealthy affiliate.
They’re not going to make you money online, they are an educational program that’s going to provide you with all the tools and skills you need in order to to make money online.
There’s no doubt that they’re training works, I’ve experienced it firsthand and I’ve witnessed hundreds of other members that I personally know that have had varying levels of success. Some are extremely successful online business owners at this point. It depends on a number of things really.
Plain and simple, WA teaches you how to create an online business based on affiliate marketing and then later they include training on email marketing, pay per click advertising, social media marketing and much more. I like to think of them as an all-inclusive internet marketing University – or something like that.
Keep putting in the hard work and keep taking their training and you will refine your skills as an internet marketer. But don’t think they’re your source to online income, it’s education and it works.
Scott Hinkle says
Thank you for this post.
LOL, I have to laugh when people say affiliate marketing is dead or isn’t worth doing any more. Frankly, that’s just the lazy people who have probably had some luck when they were the only ones in the ocean. It’s true, now adays, you do have to apply yourself as there’s more competition, but it’s far from dead.
Your red flags to watch out for are so on-point. I can’t tell you how many “opportunities” I’ve come across that use fake reviews (hello fiverr actors), are just rebranding some other solution or that make unrealistic claims of working very little yet obtaining incredible wealth. All of them were scams. The tip to watch out for pyramid schemes is a great one too.
I agree with you that the Amazon Associate program is both good and bad. I still use them today because there’s a great amount of trust they’ve built with their customers. Prime shipping, easy returns and so on make them great for my site visitors. The low commissions are a downer and I’ve probably lost some sales to the very limited cookie life but it’s hard to pull away sometimes.
Thanks again for this post.
Awesome Scott and thank you for your kind feedback on our post. It’s clear that affiliate marketing is not a scam but a viable way to make money online for anyone who’s willing to put in the effort.
I’ve often heard it said that Affiliate marketing is an open and honest playing field for anyone. And it truly is. You don’t have to have a loads of money to get started or risk buying goods overseas and hope they sell.
I often think that if you can write a book report, you can do affiliate marketing. The reality is that anyone who’s willing to learn and take action can make money online through affiliate marketing.
Great website! Great post as well. Affiliate marketing is definitely not dead. Unfortunately, there are a lot of scams out there for people to fall victim to. I know I have in the past. Like you say in your post, a big tell-tell sign of a scam is over-promising. I can’t tell you how many websites I’ve been on, and the sales page has something to the affect of “with a few clicks, you’ll be a go-zillionaire.” Lol
Again great post. Very informative. Just like anything else, affiliate marketing takes work and dedication.
Thanks for your kind feedback Brian about the post and my website. Much appreciated.
The one thing that I think a lot of people miss out on regarding affiliate marketing is that you can create a simple passive income source with it. Once you understand the basics of ranking and start to get your site developed and rank content, it works great to bring in traffic 24/7.
And as long as you got a helpful product that you can send people to and a landing page that converts, it’s easy to make sales online.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money, but it also relies on a certain amount of trust between affiliate and publisher. Because of this, it is important to know what to look out for when it comes to affiliate marketing scams, whether you’re a publisher or an affiliate.
In this comment I would like to show you some example of some marketing scams spot:
Get rich without work!! THIS IS A SCAM
Make $1000 a day starting today!! THIS AS WELL
Get rich doing surveys!!!! YOU CAN GET LEGIT MONEY BUT NO YOU REALLY CAN’T BECOME RICH, SCAM
LEARN HOW TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE: SLOW AND STEADY POSSIBLY LEGIT
Great advice Fabio and you’re right, a good affiliate relationship is very important. The partners you have reflect on your business and so you got to make sure you can count on them to deliver the quality products and services that you promote for them.
Hello Todd, I am really glad you explained in detail important things about affiliate marketing. It is true that many people don’t believe in it or think it is a scam but it is a fact that many folks “rock” with this online job and I am fully focused on building my blog today website is a must if you want to succeed online.