Affiliate marketing has been gaining more and more popularity in recent years, in particular as a result of the proliferation of social media and the fact that so many more people are using affiliate marketing to promote products/services to their friends and family through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
The problem is that any time there is opportunity and money to be made, it attracts the vultures and unscrupulous that are in the business of “taking advantage” of people. As a result, there are many companies portraying themselves as affiliate marketing, and many affiliate marketing scams popping up.
I want you to be very careful out there. In this post, I am going to break down what an affiliate marketing scam looks like to help you avoid getting taken advantage of.
The Industry is Changing, Be Careful.
When I started out online back in 2002, affiliate marketing was just gaining popularity. You had mostly tangible products (physical) and service based companies starting to realize the potential of having a base of affiliates promoting their companies.
Instead of these companies relying on “in house” marketing team, they were able to attract 100’s if not 1,000’s of affiliate marketers to promote their services. They didn’t need to pay them unless they generated revenue for them, so it was completely performance based and they didn’t need to pay the salary of expensive employees or deploy significant ad budgets…they let the affiliates do the work for them.
Move forward to 2018, the industry has changed and in recent years we have seen a cross over of companies trying to set foot in the affiliate marketing industry, that actually are not affiliate marketing. We see companies charging WAY too much for affiliate education. We also see companies up selling the hell out of their customers, taking a low ticket product and then forcing a customer to pay several $1,000’s by the time they are done with their pitch fest.
This is unacceptable in my eyes. It is ruthless, and it is something that ethical affiliate marketers (the ones I associate with anyways) don’t stand for.
Fortunately for you though, there are obvious signs that you can look forward when trying to determine whether a program is an affiliate marketing scam.
5 of the Most Typical Affiliate Scams.
There are a few very common types of affiliate marketing scams. You can pretty much put every unethical company within this industry under one of these umbrellas.
(1) Low Ticket to High Ticket. There are many scammers out there that will try to sell you on a very low ticket item, stating the given price and everything you need to succeed is $7-$49, but in reality there are $100’s if not $1,000’s in up sells immediately after you purchase the given product. Not only that, they make you feel really guilty if you don’t spend more money (tell you things like “you are worthless”). It is horrible.
(2) Free Plus Shipping Book. You probably have seen these within your social media accounts. Companies pitching you on the idea of getting a free book, plus shipping. That sounds good in logic, but the problem is they are doing this to get your “contact details” which they are then going to used to promote all sorts of other stuff to. The “books” are usually completely promotional in terms of their intent, lacking actual value and substance.
(3) Join Program, to Promote (MLM). Often times companies that are within the MLM (multi-level-marketing) world will present themselves as being “affiliate marketing”. Anything that is MLM, is NOT affiliate marketing. The big difference, multi-levels. You have to be careful when you are joining these programs as they will get you in, often times at a very expensive price ($1,000-$50,000) and to recoup your costs, they will get you to promote the very same program to others.
Many of these programs are taken out by FTC every year for being fraud, pyramid or ponzi schemes. The problem: If you are involved in them and promote them to others, you are just as liable as a participant as you are being the owner of the company.
(4) Social Feed “I am in” for more details. You see this on Facebook or Instagram all the time, but you will also see it within Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat as well. A marketer tells you how much they are making, how you can “change your life” and then pitch you on the idea that they are going to teach you how to make money just like them.
Firstly, most of these people pushing these videos on social media are not making any money (unless you buy into their crap), and secondly, they are almost certainly about to throw you into a network marketing scheme where you need to peddle the same garbage to others.
(5) Showcase Lifestyle and Money. You can pretty much chalk up any program that sells itself solely on lifestyle, on “mindset”, on flash cars or houses a scam. These companies tend to lack product/service substance. If you are being sold on this emotion and you want to be sitting on the beach or driving the Ferrari like the person selling on you on this idea in the video/sales pitch, make sure you know what they heck you are getting into first!
If are currently research a program and it fits into any of these categories, be careful. There is a good chance that you are about to get involved in one of the affiliate marketing scams that are present within the online world (IE, the wild west) these days)>
So if These are Affiliate Scams, Why Do They Exist?
They exist because they make money. They make money, because people get sucked into them. The FTC and other government driven regulatory entities that are created to protect you from such scams are very busy. Quite often they not going to waste their time taking down a company until it reaches a minimum of $10MM+ in revenue.
Thus many of the smaller programs will survive and survive for some time (sometimes forever). You can help prevent these companies from sustaining their unethical affiliate businesses within the online world simply by understanding that they are scams and avoiding them altogether. When you get ripped off, you are giving the monster in essence money.
If you don’t feed them with your hard-earned money, they are going to have to legitimize themselves at some point or completely get out of the affiliate marketing world altogether.
Go Affiliate Marketing Legit.
There are absolutely legitimate opportunities. If you have read this and are feeling a bit discouraged by the affiliate marketing industry as a whole, please do not be. The affiliate marketing industry is VERY ethical, it is vast, and it is full of an incredible amount of opportunity.
In fact, in my 16 years within the online world I have yet to see more opportunity. Affiliate programs are popping up everywhere, all major brands/services in the world have affiliate programs, and affiliates have a subset of over 550 MILLION (yes million) products and services they can promote in exchange for a commission.
Whether you are interested in cats and dogs, make up and beauty, sports, health & fitness, technology, etc… there is an opportunity for your to carve yourself out a very successful business within the affiliate marketing space. No experience necessary.
There is a legitimate process to building a business online though. It looks a little something like this.
- Choose a direction for your business. This could be anything and there are a million and one niches out there.
- Build a website/blog to promote your business. This is very easy to do these days. Within platforms like Wealthy Affiliate you can have your very own niche website ALIVE online in less than 30 seconds. Yes, 30 seconds.
- Get Traffic to your business. There are MANY ways to do this. One of the primary methods is getting rankings in Google, Bing & Yahoo (which is free to do), but you can also pay for traffic, leverage social networks, and use email marketing just to name a few.
- Generate revenue through affiliate programs. This is where the affiliate programs come in. There are millions of products, likely within pretty much any niche, that you can promote in exchange for an affiliate commission. These commissions range from 2% to 75% depending on the company and can lead to a HUGE stream of income.
That is it. The process in a nutshell, all you need is a platform that provides you with the training and the environment to create, grow and manage your business. This platform is Wealthy Affiliate and it is completely free to try through their elite Starter Membership (no obligations whatsoever).
By lesson 4 alone within the training, you are going to have step 1 & 2 above complete. By the first course alone, which is included in your starter membership, you are going to understand the process of getting ranked in Google with your website, getting traffic, and how you can build out you business in the most appropriate manner for long term success.
I digress. I hope this article has offered you a lot of insight into the “bad” side of the affiliate marketing world, and if you have been seeking out any of the FIVE types of scams that I have suggested you avoid, I hope you do so.
If you have any bad or good experiences within the affiliate marketing world you would like to share, opinions or questions that you want to get feedback on, please leave me a comment below. I would love to hear it, I could chat about this stuff all day!