When choosing an affiliate network or product to promote, there are many things that you should take into consideration. I have been in the affiliate marketing space for many years now and over the years one of the affiliate networks with staying power has been Clickbank. But there have been underlying problems and issues with Clickbank, therefor I am going to uncover whether Clickbank is a scam or whether or it is still a legitimate network.
I am also going to share some insightful stories and experiences I have had with Clickbank over the years to help you decide on whether this network is right for you.
My Personal Introduction to Clickbank.
I started marketing online back in 2002. Clickbank was absolutely the top digital product network then, and I would argue that it still is today.
During the next 5-7 years, information marketing products became more and more popular. The idea that someone was paying for information was typically left to our Universities and Colleges, but when the layman person like you or I realized they could package information up and sell it for a good deal of money, popularity of Clickbank truly started to explode.
You saw dieting products, software programs, and then around 2005 you saw a big surge in make money products teaching people how to make money online for sale on the Clickbank network.
A merchant, someone that owns the digital product, could amplify their sales through Clickbank’s large network of affiliates. Instead of trying to promote their information on their own, they could literally have 1,000’s of affiliates promoting.
One of the biggest successes in the make money space back then was The Rich Jerk, written by Kellly Felix.
This was an innovative product, had some really great ideas (like arbitrage) and although it didn’t cover anything I was doing at the time, I would say for many people this book within the online world and for affiliate/internet marketers had the same sort of impact that the “4 Hour Work Week” book had by Timothy Ferris.
I think Kelly was able to generate a $1,000,000 dollars or so in sales within his first week, which a big deal at the time.
I digress. Over the years I promoted MANY products and services on Clickbank. Ranging from dieting products, to people finder/lookup, to internet TV, to make money guides. I promoted them as an affiliate.
Through 2005 – 2008, I also launched 3 Clickbank products as a merchant (Beating Adwords, Inside the List, Who Loves Money). These were digital info products, helping people within three completely different categories relating to online business and they were all very well-received (and had incredibly low refund rates, which at the time was very unusual for Clickbank).
They were very successful and people still buy these products to this very day. So I come qualified with a great deal of experience with Clickbank and before I move on to some unraveling that has taken place within this particular affiliate network over recent years, I wanted to share a pretty cool success story.
A Story About Clickbank Success.
In 2008, there was a huge event. In fact, the biggest even every four years worldwide is not the Olympics, rather world cup. At the time there wasn’t an efficient way to watch TV on the internet and Facebook Live simply wasn’t a thing. But there were millions of people worldwide trying to find a way to watch the World Cup online, while they were at work.
We took advantage of this opportunity. We set-up a paid advertising campaign in Google targeting search terms like “watch world cup online” or “watch USA versus Germany online” while the games were playing (which were usually during the working hours of those in the US).
Anyways, we set up this campaign and we ended up pulling in around $60 per minute in affiliate revenue (yes, PER MINUTE) as the result of this promotion. It was definitely short-lived as the World Cup doesn’t last forever, but there was a huge demand for a product of this nature and we filled the void.
Anyways, that is just one of many success stories I could share about my last 16 years online, but this is one that is certainly the result of having access to a wide array of products like are available on Clickbank.
And One About Frustration.
OK, so not all is good with Clickbank. Yes, they have an easy to use network. You don’t have to be approved for every single affiliate program, and the commission rates are typically very high because it is a digital product network.
So what are the downfalls of Clickbank?
The first one happened a few years back. Refund rates started to spin out of control on Clickbank because they were allowing (knowingly or unknowingly I am not sure) some biggest shiesters online to churn out digital e-books and sell them on their network.
They were supporting their sales schemes by allowing them to offer all sorts of OTO (one time offers) in their sales processes, so people were buying a relatively low ticket item ($17-$47) and then getting sucked in and pressured in spending much more within the up sell process, often times $100’s. This lead to unhappy and disgruntled customers, which lead to people contacting Clickbank and demanding refunds.
Clickbank was good about refunds, almost too good. Some products ended up getting 10-30% in refunds, and for an affiliate that is potentially paying or traffic to promote a product, that is unacceptable. As a result, many affiliates ended up frustrated, losing money, and leaving Clickbank for other sources.
Clickbank started booting low performing and high refund products from their network, which was a great move, but it also alienated all the “gurus” pushing their crap and they have since moved onto other networks that have looser rules and policies about product quality like Clicksure and JVZoo.
Clickbank has definitely recovered from this and has started to obtain and maintain a higher quality on their network since, but there is one significant problem with how they are operating as a business. I will explain.
Is Clickbank Leveraging Its Merchants Traffic?
A great portion of Clickbank’s early success came from a certain segment of products.
The make money online and online business crowd. Whether it was a drop shipping program like SaleHoo, a keyword research platform like Long Tail Pro, or a make money book like the Rich Jerk, the Internet Marketing crowd and product categories were driving a good deal of business to Clickbank.
Also, people that wrote about affiliate marketing had the tendency to recommend Clickbank as one of the top networks out there, myself included. However, a few years back Clickbank came out with a program called Clickbank University, and although I am not a member, I know the devastating impact this can have on someone trying to co-exist in the make money world.
Why would you send your traffic to Clickbank when they have created a component product that they will then promote to the VERY people that you have referred to their network? It doesn’t make lot of sense.
Because of this, the internet marketing crowd, those running legitimate businesses in this space (such as myself and my company, Wealthy Affiliate), refrain from pushing Clickbank as a network. They simply cannot afford to give over traffic to a company that is creating a competing product. It is not the job of an affiliate network to create a paid “membership” on how to promote their very network, in my opinion.
No sane marketer would drive traffic to Clickbank, nor would ethically recommend them under this premise.
Clickbank is Legit, With a Few Complaints.
So this leads me to the pros and cons of Clickbank, as a network. I actually have a lot of nice things to say about Clickbank. I also have some things that I can efficiently summarize about what I do not like about Clickbank.
Pros of Clickbank
- They have great affiliate technology
- They pay on time (and offer many types of payment)
- Their programs tend to offer higher commissions
- They have a large network of products
- Auto-approval on products (don’t discriminate against new affiliates)
- Have both tangible (physical) and info products (digital)
Cons of Clickbank
- They try to up sell you on services like Clickbank University
- Some lower quality products
- Doesn’t allow certain countries to join
- Have to make commissions from several countries to get paid
All in all, what you promote at the end of the day depends on what is relevant to your given audience. If Clickbank has a product/service that you think would have a good fit with your given audience, then you could certainly try to promote it.
Clickbank is a LEGIT affiliate network, with some quirks.
19 thoughts on “Is Clickbank Legit? A Thorough Review.”
After one of the lessons in Wealthy Affiliate’s Certification Courses, I think the one on Monetizing my website, I did join Clickbank. I pulled away from them because of the upsell of the University. Why would I pay them for something I was getting for far less. Thanks for the review and history lesson.
It can be frustrating when you join an affiliate network, and then you are consumed by promotions from the network to pay for education services. That is activity that I certainly do not support, nor do other merchants in the industry.
This is a big reason why you do not see a lot of “affiliate marketing education” products on Clickbank any longer, because by driving traffic to Clickbank, you are basically giving your traffic away to a competitor. As an affiliate network, the role is to provide an awesome platform for merchants and affiliates to connect, coexist, and mutually create success. When there are ulterior motives within that, it can represent some issues.
It was nice to read your article and learn that, in earlier days, Clickbank had a lot going for it.
Being new to the industry, and researching it myself, I found mostly negative views described similarly to yours.
I definitely had a not so great opinion of them and still think they’ve lost a lot of credibility compared to the early days you describe.
Having read the good things you have to say, I may have another look.
Clickbank has evolved over the years, they had the tendency to be the “wild west” many years ago into terms of the products they had within their network, but this lead to a great deal of chargebacks (as they didn’t have the best handle on product quality).
They then honed in on quality, and it has vastly improved since then. The only major hiccup in my opinion is the fact they are putting a value on their affiliates and attempting to recruit them into their Clickbank University program.
Overall though, you can rely on Clickbank as a solid network to find high quality affiliate programs to promote.
Hey this was a very interesting article, I actually joined click bank just to try it out and see what it was all about. I kept seeing the upsells for the university and I never really learned how to use click bank yet. So I’m still deciding if I should give it another try and learn as much as I can? I am really wanting to branch out, really good article I will look into clock bank more.
I recommend that you choose affiliate programs and the products you promote based on what is relevant to your niche and the context of your actual content. If you have an article on your website that is targeting the “best dog training programs”, then you surely want to help people find these and your recommendations would be in line with “dog training programs” (which I believe clickbank has a few of).
But there are a lot of networks out there, and a lot of products you can promote outside of just Clickbank. So do your due diligence and research when coming up with affiliate programs.
I have a site related to health and ClickBank is a major affiliate Network for me. I bought this site. So I imagine ClickBank since it was implemented is okay. Any thoughts here?
Completely normal, and completely fine.
If you are promoting products from Clickbank on your website that is just fine, in particular if they are offering your audience value and they are obviously generating your revenue on your website. When it comes to affiliate marketing, you want to align the most relevant and useful products and services with your specific audiences. This relevance will lead to the highest level of conversions, and will further help establish you as an authority/brand in your given niche.
This is some great info. I love using ClickBank, and didn’t know the history from when they first started up. Very interesting to read some of it.
I haven’t made enought to get paid yet, but I am very relieved to hear that they pay and on time! That was something I was worried about.
Thanks for sharing!
I am very new in the industry and i have always known clickbank to be the best. Even i have a same opinion on the clickbank university. I really feel that my assumption may not be correct. I also came to know about the long tail pro from your content. And I see that its similar to jaaxy.
Very informative Kyle and knowing the history of Clickbank and how they have come along as a service.
That is definitely the case. Clickbank has certainly evolved over the years, from the fact that they moved away from the “make money” industry with all of their digital products, to moving into tangible products as well, along with many other changes that have taken place within the platform.
It is always a good sign when you see a company that consistently evolves, like Clickbank has, which means they are committed to their platform and their users (merchants/affiliates). There have just been some decisions that they have made over the years that I don’t agree with, but that goes for any company I suppose.
An excellent at furthermore well balanced review of Clickbank you have put together there. I have also joined their network recently and I couldn’t agree more on the “they try to upsell you” point. I was somewhat surprised to suddenly find myself in a somewhat “pushy” sales video right after joining their network. On the other side, they have tons of products you can promote as a marketer and at the end of the day, it is OUR responsibility to find products that we, as marketers, are PROUD to promote without harming our reputation.
Never the less: I joined, I don’t regret it. But anyone who wants to join: Be prepared for a sales event and a bunch of follow up emails 🙂
Yeah, the upsell component is frustrating as you don’t really expect that sort of thing to happen when you join an affiliate network. It can definitely tarnish the sense of credibility when you join an affiliate network, only to be promoted or “paid” info products from that same network.
But yes, they have a large subset of products that pay out very well, and Clickbank is certainly a very established and reliable affiliate network (with a few minor hitches). We definitely do recommend them if you are looking for digital products to promote and if you have a digital product that you want to, it is a good place to gain some traction as they handle all payment and affiliate management.
Hi Kyle, I’ve actually heard of Clickbank umpteen times and how it’s very controversial, some making a lot from it and some barely even making a penny. I’ve actually considered joining Clickbank a long time ago but I did not because I wanted to start with real products rather than digital products.
I have been an affiliate on clickbank as well as a merchant on clickbank. I can say that their platform is very solid and established and if you have a digital product or service, it is very easy to get your product up and running on an affiliate network (without having to worry about payment processors, creating an affiliate program, etc).
Where merchants have gotten frustrated, in particular those offering products/services in the internet and affiliate marketing space is that they are promoting their own competing product in Clickbank University. Sending affiliates to Clickbank as a merchant, only to have them sold on something that is competing doesn’t make sense and as a result you have seen many companies move away.
Overall a solid affiliate network, with a few little quirks.
Hallo there Kyle,
I have been using a few programs out there and someone recommended to me on social that I should try out Clickbank.
I have had some nasty low quality programs sold to me from Clickbank in the past and I was skeptical about it. But thanks to your review I have finally understood the program very well.
I now know how to approach it. Thanks heaps.
I think we have all had programs sold to us that were on the lower quality side that were sold from clickbank. Over the years, Clickbank has certainly gotten better with their marketplace as they have added screening and products that get too high of a refund rate are removed relatively quickly from their network.
This has definitely improved the quality and trust that you can put into promoting products from Clickbank.
Hi Kyle, thanks for a very interesting and informative review. I have a question though. You mention that you need to make commissions from several countries to get paid… why is this? Hope you can provide some clarification around this point as I am interested in exploring clickbank but would like to know as much as I can before signing on. Thanks, Karen
The reason that companies like Clickbank (and also Amazon) do this is to prevent people from joining up, buying one item through their own affiliate link, and then collecting the commission. Instead, it forces people to actually become affiliates and prevents people with the intention of simply purchasing through their links.
This is actually a good thing for affiliates. If people could “game” the system and make purchases through their own affiliate links in a one off sort of basis, then affiliates would lose out on commissions with such transactions.
I actually don’t mind that, but it can be frustrating to have a multiple country policy for commission, in combination with time sensitivity. To an affiliate marketer new to a network like Clickbank this can feel like a ticking time bomb.