Affiliate marketing is a popular advertising model for online content creators, including bloggers, YouTubers, and influencers. It’s just one of many marketing strategies and a good way to monetise your blog. But many people still look at affiliate marketing as a suspicious or “scammy” advertising tool.
In this article, we’ll discuss whether affiliate marketing is legit, contrast it to pyramid schemes and MLMs, and look at some affiliate marketing success stories. But first, what is affiliate marketing?
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting links to products or services in return for a commission. A company seeking to promote its products or services creates an affiliate marketing program by providing links for third-party promoters to include in their content. The promoter then earns a commission each time someone clicks on the link or buys something via the link. Lots of online creators use affiliate marketing to monetise their content.
Is Affiliate Marketing Legit?
Affiliate marketing is legit, and is a fully legal advertising model and a useful way to monetise your blog. But there are several different ways to do it and some are looked at more favourably than others. Let’s take a look at the different approaches to affiliate marketing.
Types of Affiliate Marketing
1. Unattached Affiliate Marketing
The promoter has no kind of relationship with or knowledge of the product or service they’re promoting. They haven’t used the product or service themselves. This isn’t the most respectable form of affiliate marketing, for obvious reasons.
2. Related Affiliate Marketing
Related affiliate marketing involves the affiliate promoting something related to what they do, or related to their niche. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the promoter uses the product or service they’re sharing, but they still have some level of authority that generates a good amount of traffic for the company.
3. Involved Affiliate Marketing
In this case, there’s a deeper connection between the product and the promoter. The promoter usually has a good knowledge of what they’re promoting and is recommending the product or service based on personal experience. This could be thought of as the most legit form of affiliate marketing.
Is There a Right Way to Do It?
Some promoters only participate in affiliate marketing programs from companies that they use and support (involved affiliate marketing). Others include affiliate links to anything and everything (unattached affiliate marketing).
These are both legitimate marketing strategies and the choice of approach is up to you. But when deciding on how you’re going to include affiliate marketing in your content, keep your target audience in mind. They may prefer and be more responsive to an involved affiliate marketing strategy where you recommend products you’ve tried, in the niche they’re interested in. This is because they’re more likely to trust that your recommendation is genuine. This in turn can lead to higher conversion rates, and more money in your pocket.
The Right Way to Share Affiliate Links
There are also different ways to promote affiliate links for companies. The “good” way involves sharing affiliate links on social media, personal blogs, and websites. You might also work for agencies, or even join popular affiliate programs like the ones from Amazon or Clickbank. “Bad” strategies involve using annoying tools and features such as pop-ups and extravagant banners. These hinder your user experience, and are frowned upon in the world of digital marketing.
The strategy you use is up to you. Like most things when it comes to running a blog, if you prioritise user experience, you can’t go wrong. While affiliate marketing is legit, there are some other marketing strategies that can get you into trouble, such as pyramid schemes.
Is Affiliate Marketing a Pyramid Scheme?
Affiliate marketing is not a pyramid scheme. Some people still view affiliate marketing suspiciously, but it’s a legitimate marketing strategy. This is in contrast to pyramid schemes or multi-level marketing (MLM). Let’s take a look at the differences between these strategies.
Pyramid schemes only benefit those at the top of the pyramid. Participants earn their fees by recruiting people to invest in the network on the promise they’ll receive a return on their investment. However, the funds are simply funnelled to the people running the scheme and investors usually lose their investment. Pyramid schemes are illegal.
An MLM scheme recruits individuals to sell the product to their network of family and friends and earn a commission. MLMs are legal, but they have been heavily criticised for not delivering promised returns. Some MLMs are also in fact just pyramid schemes in disguise.
How Is Affiliate Marketing Different?
Affiliate marketing isn’t a pyramid scheme or MLM. It’s a legit marketing strategy. Affiliate marketing gives you the freedom to choose which companies you want to work with and which products you want to promote. You earn a commission for driving traffic to the company website, or by making sales.
You also don’t pay a sign-up fee to become an affiliate marketer, whereas you often do with a pyramid scheme or MLM. This means you only make money if you perform well. If you can’t reach an audience, you won’t make much money through affiliate marketing. But if you perform really well, you can earn a lot of money as an affiliate marketer!
Can You Make Money From Affiliate Marketing?
You can make money from affiliate marketing. However, it is a business that demands a lot of time, effort, and a steady flow of traffic to the pages where you promote your affiliate links. The upside of affiliate marketing is that, if you already have a large readership, you can earn passive income. Visitors to your website simply click on your affiliate links or buy products through them, and you make money!
The downside is that it takes time and effort to build a following and get consistent traffic to your site. You must have fresh, interesting content and promote products that are relevant to your audience. You’re not in control of the arrangement, so if the company changes the terms of the affiliate program there’s little you can do about it except leave. Oh, and the competition is fierce! There are lots of other affiliate marketers trying to do the same thing you’re doing.
But there are lots of success stories out there. Let’s take a look at a few people who decided to get into affiliate marketing and ended up making more money than they expected.
Affiliate Marketing Success Stories
Ian Fernando of IanFernando.com is an experienced affiliate marketing blogger with an authentic “rags to riches” story. From working three jobs to becoming a top-performing affiliate marketer, Ian has done it all. He started by joining an affiliate network and now he’s giving tips to his readers on how to reach $1,000 in daily income within a month through affiliate marketing.
Monica Stott of The Travel Hack began a travel blog as a means to build a portfolio as a writer. She only began thinking about monetising it a few years later and she started affiliate marketing after being a blogger for five years. Now Monica owns a very profitable blog, earning about $10,000 every month from affiliate marketing.
A tip that both of these successful affiliate marketers share is that it’s important to choose products and topics that you are passionate about. It’s also essential to write good content that keeps people coming back for more. They also emphasise the importance of networking with other bloggers. This is the best way to share your questions and struggles, and you may even find someone willing to mentor you!
Affiliate Marketing Is Legit
Now you know more about what affiliate marketing is, how it differs from pyramid schemes, and a few success stories that might inspire you. Hopefully this will help you decide if affiliate marketing is worth it for you!