Fake Affiliate Marketing Companies. Beware and Be Aware
Ok, so I might go off on one here. I would like to let you know what affiliate marketing is, what it most definitely is not, and what you should be aware of when trying to ascertain whether an individual or indeed a company is attempting to mislead you about whether they are “affiliate marketing”. There are a many fake affiliate marketing companies out there and they are having an adverse impact on the entire affiliate marketing industry. This is not helpful to new people joining the industry and trying to make a success of things. For this reason, I would like to bring some clarity to what is affiliate marketing actually is.
The Biggest Copy Cat. The MLM Bait and Switch.
The fastest growing trend emerging is companies and individuals indicating they are operating an affiliate marketing agency, when in actual fact they are trying to disguise the fact that they are a MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) scheme.
I am not saying that there is an issue with some MLM companies, there are most definitely some legitimate MLM companies out there. However, any MLM that is trying to pass itself off as affiliate marketing is undoubtedly running an unethical operation, and borderline (if not) illegal one.
The FTC have already had some take downs within this space and they will have many more. I would expect that they will continue to deal with all the misleading programs appropriately. They are operating businesses built around people joining and paying money quite simply for the ability to promote that same program to others. That is the most common type of scheme that you will see, with the vast majority of people signing up to these schemes losing money (95-97%).
There are some obvious traits that to be aware of when you are thinking of signing up to any of these programs:
- Multiple Levels are NOT Affiliate Marketing. Affiliate programs are single level. If you are part of a program with 3 or more levels (including you), these are deemed multi-level marketing schemes. This is NOT affiliate marketing, in fact far from it.
- Something Where the Goal is to Promote the Same Program to Others. If you join something, or have to pay for a program simply for the opportunity to sell that same program, then you are not getting involved in affiliate marketing. These companies have the tendency to call their “participants” affiliates, when in reality they are a notch in the MLM scheme and they are in reality network/multi-level marketers.
- Anything High Ticket or pricey ($2,000+). The most common trait of “fake” affiliate marketing impersonators are those that are charging $1,000’s for information. If these companies offer $1,000’s in commissions, they are almost operating their business in a way that depends on “baiting” participants with high compensation. These companies almost always end in demise (or in the hands of the FTC) because their goal is to con a few people out of $1,000’s to earn lots of money, versus actually offering a quality service to people for a realistic, market driven cost.
- Has an Income Disclaimer or Compensation Plan. All MLM companies are required to have a compensation plan as well as an income disclaimer on their website. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page and you see either of these, the given program IS NOT an affiliate program or affiliate marketing. It is an MLM.
- There is a Cost to Join. Affiliate programs are free to join. If you have to pay to join an affiliate program, you should be sceptical. Some companies have a small, nominal fee to prove that you are real, but if you are paying $99 to join an affiliate program it is NOT an affiliate program.
What Affiliate Marketing Really Looks Like
OK, so you can now be confident that you know exactly what affiliate marketing is NOT! Let’s have a look at what is affiliate marketing actually is? In the diagram below you can clearly see side by side what is REAL and what is FAKE when it comes to affiliate marketing.
The diagram offers you a great visual representation of the differences between real affiliate marketing, and those companies that could be out to mislead you or misrepresent affiliate marketing.
Fundamentally, Affiliate marketing is the relationship between an affiliate, a company selling products and/or services online, and a customer. As the affiliate, you will have the ability to add affiliate links onto your website or social media or anywhere else of your choosing. If or when someone subsequently clicks on your link and purchases something, you receive a percentage of the gross sale. This usually ranges between 1% and 75%, and will vary from company to company.
For example, if I run a website dedicated to selling “baby products” and I link off to Amazon to their website through my affiliate links, they will pay me 6% commissions for any sales that I drive to them. This allows Amazon to in essence have 10,000’s of people, across the internet simultaneously promoting their products.
As an affiliate, I have the opportunity to potentially promote MILLIONS of products through my websites, social channels and email and earn a great deal of affiliate income in the process. It is a fantastic business model and one that is only continuing to grow online, however, there are a lot of companies abusing the word “affiliate marketing” when in actuality they are an MLM or worse, a pyramid scheme.
Affiliate programmes are not multi-level and do they require you to pay money in order to promote a product or service at a particular level. If someone is trying to get you to join something that is multi-level or that is paid, it is NOT an affiliate program.
Getting established as An Authority Marketer
As with any business, there is a correct way to establish a sustainable, long term business, and there are also many wrong ways and mistakes to make along the way. I am going to focus on the correct way to do it and this is to become an authority.
The most obvious and natural way to become an authority is to choose an area that you are truly passionate about or at least interested in and begin to build a business around this. This is by no means the only way, however, it is definitely a great place to start. In doing this you will be building a business that you really love.
Let’s say I love babies, which I do, I have had three children after all. I could create an entire business and work to become an authority website in a particular segment of the broader baby category. Let’s say, Babies on the Move.
I will then begin to build a website. I will start to create the content, whilst being able to integrate any relevant promotions into my website through affiliate programs. There is such a great variety that I could promote in a niche like this, some examples would be:
- Amazon (1,000’s of products related that pay 6% commissions)
- And 100’s more
This is just skimming the surface, as I build out my baby website and discuss many topics within this niche, I will be integrating highly relevant and useful product/service recommendations to my audience. Through time, I will potentially have 100’s or 1,000’s of pages on my website, driving 1,000’s of unique visitors to my website daily, generating far more than a typical full time income ($1,000’s per day).
In order to grow your business, it is imperative that you scale your content and traffic. This approach should be used within any and all niches, and this is definitely the most scalable and lucrative way of building a thriving, successful and sustainable affiliate marketing business. This is the case no matter what direction or niche you choose to have, whether you are interested in building a mommy blog, a cats and dogs website, a tech gadget website, a knitting site, sports related site, or a hobby car website, there are literally 100,000’s of directions that you might like to pick.
These are the practicalities of how affiliate marketing works. If you feel that this is something that you would like to consider and are interested in a thriving affiliate marketing business, then there really is only ONE place in the world that you should consider starting this journey, Wealthy Affiliate. It is a true community platform. Wealthy Affiliate offers ad “all-inclusive” environment with the training, live classes, research tools, websites, hosting, coaching and networking under one roof. Get more information here.
Hopefully I have been able to give you some clarity on the differences between REAL affiliate marketing and companies and individuals out there that are imitating affiliate marketing. Please feel free to share any stories you have had, or let me know if you have any questions about the legitimacy of any program (or affiliate marketing in general) I would be happy to help you out.