Affiliate marketing is a legitimate business. Many marketers out there are making their living from affiliate marketing of products and services.
There are various legit affiliate marketing business programs and training courses in the market.
However, amidst genuine business and learning opportunities, there is a lot of grey matter that comprises of scams and bogus schemes. Such bad elements in the market often make people believe that affiliate marketing is a scam, but that’s not always true.
In this article, I will cover two main aspects of the negative side of affiliate marketing:
1. Multi level marketing or MLM programs
There are various Multi-level affiliate marketing programs that sell products or services that pay little commission. Such programs want affiliates to enrol more affiliates in the program, and that is what most of the commissions are attached to.
Such programs may seem attractive to begin with, but in the long run, they are not profitable for affiliates. The time and energy you spend on a program like this can be spent on a genuine program that will earn you affiliate revenue for a long time.
2. Affiliate marketing pyramid schemes
These are the most dubious affiliate scams. They offer no service or product. The whole model is based on getting more affiliate through existing affiliates. An affiliate program joining fee is generally charged by such programs. Your initial investment is distributed to the affiliates who helped in enrolling you. You dive in the same vicious cycle of enrolling other affiliates to earn commissions.
Affiliate marketing pyramid schemes should be avoided, period! You can use that time and money in setting up a genuine affiliate marketing business or on learning affiliate marketing methods that will earn you real money.
3. Paid affiliate programs
Like pyramid schemes, there are other affiliate programs that have paid entry. These programs have products or services to sell, but they charge a fee from affiliates to join the program. Often, such programs turn out to be scams that collect a small fee for joining, but often to not give back what is promised.
You can easily find free affiliate programs online. There are many reputed affiliate programs that are free to join and that offer transparent dashboards displaying the clicks and sales you drive for them.
4. Become rich quick affiliate scams
This is an age old trick in the book. Many affiliate programs promise that they will make you rich in a few days, weeks or months. They show shiny offers and reports, so that you are lured into subscribing to their programs, but at the end of the day, they turn out to be full of empty promises and substandard products.
You can become rich quick by genuine effort. It doesn’t always have to be hard work, but it has to be the right type of work. You will have to put in what is required to succeed at affiliate marketing. Avoid chasing fluffy programs and promises to waste your time and energy.
5. Inflated Income reports
One thing common about many fake affiliate programs and scams is that they display affiliate income reports of their affiliates, that are either inflated or fake. Sometimes such reports are true but they misrepresent the earning of an average marketer on their platform.
Always use your instinct and discretion to assess such reports. Do not be bedazzled by statistics that seem too good to be true.
6. Substandard or fake products
Always pay attention to the quality of the products you will promote through affiliate marketing. Do not fall into the trap of affiliate programs promising to pay high commissions on the sale of substandard products. Some products like AdFly and Pat Flynn are often categorised in this section, because of their unclear offering.
You can be successful at affiliate marketing only if you are selling genuine products and services. Marketing substandard products will require more time, energy and money and will not get you the desired returns in the long run.
7. Affiliate Marketing Training to Get 10,000 visitors per day
Not only affiliate marketing programs take you for a ride, but you will also find affiliate marketing training courses out there that promise to teach you the tricks to get 10,000 and more visitors on your website quickly. Some of these courses are genuine, but many of them are full of empty promises. These training programs come in the form of ebooks, podcasts, elearning programs, and more.
Always use your discretion in recognising genuine learning opportunities. Even if you can get less than 10,000 visitors a day to begin with while learning valuable affiliate marketing lessons, choose a legit place to learn.
8. Upselling of affiliate marketing courses
In the affiliate marketing training world, another trick that is popular is upselling of actual courses. Such marketing programs generally push a beginner affiliate marketing course that is priced low. They list the curriculum and all that you can achieve through what you learn. Such form of affiliate marketing lies and mislead beginners into buying programs that are not worth it.
Once you purchase the low-priced affiliate marketing course, you will, more often than not, be upsold the actual course. Your first purchase will most likely be useless without the final product that is priced high. You can stay away from such courses and try free affiliate marketing courses or courses that have good reviews online.
Now that we have listed the most common affiliate marketing scams and lies in the market, I will talk about the most basic and easy ways to identify an online affiliate marketing scam and avoid it.
1. Visit their company’s website
Always visit the company website of the affiliate marketing program to assess how genuine the the company is. Check the reviews on their website, see how old the company is, read about their existing affiliate network, read about their payment methods, etc. If a company is not clearly revealing their policies and methods, it’s most certainly hiding something. Online marketing scams often leave a lot of loopholes in the information they display. Read between the lines, if any form of essential information is missing from their website.
2. Google It
Always do a Google search about an affiliate program. When you Google a program, you will come across news, website pages, reviews, and much more about that program. Look at up to 2nd or 3rd page of the Google search engine results to learn about your affiliate program’s legitimacy.
3. Read Reviews
Try to find and read reviews about your affiliate program. If it’s a good program, you’ll know by the kind of review people have written, and if it’s a bad program or a scam, then you will most definitely find a lot of reviews about that, too. You can visit forums like Warrior Affiliate to read what people have to say about your chosen program. Reddit and Quora are also good sources to learn about programs and courses.
4. Follow your gut – Is it too good to be true?
After you have done the required online research, follow your instincts about a program and their products and services. If something seems too good to be true, then stay away from it. The internet reveals a lot about any product or service if you do the right research. Always know a program well to dive in and start marketing their products as an affiliate or to subscribe to their affiliate marketing courses.
So, if you’re wondering. ‘is affiliate marketing legitimate?’ The answer is, ‘Yes’. But you have to be careful in selecting a program that is genuine and trustworthy.
I hope this guide about identifying and avoiding affiliate marketing scams is helpful. If you have any specific questions about any particular program, then leave a comment below.
Stay tuned for more affiliate marketing-related content.
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