Is Affiliate Marketing Legit?
Yes, Affiliate Marketing is a legitimate business model that has been around for several decades now, however, there are many cases that some other shady or illegitimate business models hide themselves behind the name of affiliate marketing in order to look as legitimate opportunities of making money, which finally leads for many people thinking of the affiliate marketing model to be a scam, which is not true.
And there are many reasons and ways that can make affiliate marketing look or even become a scam.
And this is why I wrote this article, in order to help you know when affiliate marketing is a scam and when it is legitimate, and I will help you learn how to become a completely legitimate affiliate marketer as I will guide you to the same step-by-step process that I personally follow so that you protect yourself and your name from being associated with the scams everywhere.
But first of all,
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate Marketing is a marketing model where the affiliate promotes others’ products to people who might need them through a unique link (called affiliate link), and when someone purchases the promoted product through that link, the affiliate gets a commission.
Therefore, affiliate marketing is not so different from normal marketing except that you get paid only if you bring positive results to the product owner, vendor or manufacturer.
And the more positive results you bring, the more money you make.
And that makes it a completely legitimate business model when done the right way by providing people with value and helping them to solve their problems or improve their lives through the products and offers you promote.
But there comes another question,
Is Affiliate Marketing Legit?
Yes, Affiliate Marketing is a legitimate business model that allows you to make money online by helping others sell their products and services. However, there are some shady marketers that follow unethical and illegitimate practices that give the industry a bad reputation.
And in this article, I will help you protect yourself from such practices and learn how to become a legitimate affiliate marketer.
Is Affiliate Marketing a Pyramid Scheme?
No, Affiliate Marketing is not a pyramid scheme and it is not an MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) model.
With affiliate marketing, you promote real products and get paid for every sale you bring, while in pyramid schemes and some MLM businesses, you mostly have to pay money in order to join a system for the main purpose of promoting the system to others who will also do the same.
Therefore, Affiliate Marketing, when done the right way, is neither a pyramid scheme nor an MLM.
However, many companies that operate as pyramid or MLM schemes, whether fully or partially, hide themselves behind the legitimate affiliate marketing model by providing some training on how to do affiliate marketing, but mainly in order to let you eventually promote their program, like the ones I reviewed in my Super Affiliate Network review, The Profit Shortcut review and Earn Easy Commissions review and many other companies like MOBE that has been shutdown by the FTC.
Reasons Why People Think That Affiliate Marketing Is a Scam
As mentioned earlier, there are some shady marketers that are giving the affiliate marketing industry a bad reputation through their unethical and illegitimate practices, and the following are some of these techniques that I’m mentioning here in order to help you spot such people and practices and avoid becoming one of them:
1 – Fake Gurus with Misleading Lifestyle Images
Probably one of the most things I hate about affiliate marketing is the fake gurus with Lamborigini’s in their garages that they claim that it could be yours within one year if you join their program.
Or worse, showing you that all what they do now is surfing or swimming all the day and partying all night, every single day.
And in many cases, they hide themselves behind stock images and pen names as they know that using their real names won’t work on the long run after someone exposes them.
And while affiliate marketing is one of the best methods of making passive income online as I explained in this article, but still, you need to put lots of time and effort in advance before you enjoy a luxury lifestyle and start taking long vacations.
2 – Get-Rich-Quick Pitches with Fake Screenshots and Testimonials
Ever watched a video where the “guru” tells you that you can make up to $3,000 per day, starting from day 1 and working only fifteen minutes a day from your phone?
And worse, did they show you the screen shots from their ClickBank account or from their Amazon Associates account with millions of dollars in commissions in the past year only?
These all are fake!
And worse, the testimonials that are purchased from someone that is selling such a service on fiverr.com for only five bucks!
These lies are used in order to make people think that they can get rich overnight and without much of work.
They are all lies, and the screenshots are either fake, stolen from someone else or they are hiding the truth by not telling you how much time, and in some cases, money for paid ads, it took them in order to make these commissions, which means that these all are not profits.
Affiliate marketing is a real, legitimate opportunity to make money online, and it is my favorite method and that’s why I encourage you to learn it and apply it in order to generate a passive income, but I want you to start with the right mindset, as starting with the wrong mindset these people are imposing on you will just set you for failure very soon.
3 – MLM or Pyramid Schemes in Disguise
Many programs pretend to be teaching you affiliate marketing, while what they actually do is teach you how to sell their programs to others after you have joined it yourself.
And although they teach you some internet marketing skills, but you cannot use these skills in order to promote other products as an affiliate as you don’t learn how to research the market, find useful products to promote, write helpful content that convert readers into customers, …etc.
And this all means that what you learn when you join such programs is tailored only towards making you promote these programs only, and they even make you pay to join them!!
That’s not how affiliate marketing works, that’s how MLM and Pyramid schemes work and I have reviewed many of the programs that work as MLM or pyramid schemes, either fully or partially, such as: The Super Affiliate Network, Earn Easy Commissions and others.
However, other platforms that teach you how to do affiliate marketing by promoting any product in any niche, and at the same time, they allow you (not force you) to promote them as an affiliate, these are legitimate affiliate marketing training programs as I explained in my article where I mentioned the reasons why Wealhty Affiliate is not a pyramid scheme.
4 – Some CPA Marketers with Shady Techniques and Scammy Offers
We all have experienced the annoying pop-ups on our desktops or smartphones that tell us that our devices are “infected” with viruses and that we have to click on that link in order to install a software that will clean and protect our devices.
This is just another unethical technique that is followed by desperate people who want to make money affiliate marketing not the right way in order to make you click on their links, install the mentioned software or app and help them make money!
5 – Spammy Promotion Methods
In addition to the pop-ups, many other methods of advertising can be used in a wrong way by unqualified affiliate marketers in order to make people click on their affiliate links and maybe, make them money.
Some of these methods are spamming your email inbox with pitches to buy get-rich-quick offers and lies, spamming Facebook feed and comments with things like: “click here and get IPhone X for free, I have just won one!”, and many other spammy methods.
They think that by doing so, they will convince people to take the action they want them to take in order to make a commission.
I really don’t understand how such people think! As if people will act like robots and click to buy or enter their credit card info without thinking. LOL!
6 – The Non-Ending Pitching to Buy Other Courses
There are some legit training programs that teach you how to do affiliate marketing, but the problem is that once you join them, they start pitching to you to buy their expensive upsells, or worse, to buy other courses from other gurus through their affiliate links so that they make more money of you by telling you that you can “supercharge your earnings by joining these other programs”!
In my opinion, that’s unethical behavior, especially when they claim that their own programs can bring you a full time income, then why would you need to purchase another program by another guru?!
7 – The Free Plus Shipping Book Funnel
There are many programs that are being promoting by first, promoting to you to buy the “completely FREE hard copy of a book”, but you only need to pay the shipping cost of $14.99!!! Seriously?!
Why would anyone give away thousands of copies of a book that costs money to print for free?!
You guessed it, it is not free at all!
Actually, the money you pay for shipping is more than what it costs to produce the book and ship it to your doorstep. It even might contain their profit and yet they pretend that it is given to you for free!!
If that was the case, then why don’t they save all the money and just allow you to download the soft copy for free?!!!
This is one of the bad lies but this is just the start! Because after you have entered your email and contact detail to purchase the “free” book, they will start pitching to you through email to purchase their extremely overpriced, buggy software for “only $97/month for the lowest plan, and their will keep pitching to you to purchase their other courses that cost upto $2,497!!!
I know that such products might have value to the users in some cases, but the problem is that many affiliate marketers are trying to push such overpriced products and programs on people even if they don’t need them just so that they get the hefty 50% commission.
If you want to do affiliate marketing ethically, then you should try to research and find the best product or solution for people’s needs at the best price and then, promote it to them. Don’t just go after promoting the most expensive programs and products just because they pay a big commission to affiliates.
These are just seven of the many reasons why affiliate marketing is sometimes being perceived as a scam by many people, although it is actually a legitimate business model.
The key into being a successful and legitimate affiliate marketer is to do it ethically after you learn it from legitimate programs such as Wealthy Affiliate program for example.
More on that in the next section below.
How to Become a Legitimate Affiliate Marketer?
As I explained above, becoming a legitimate affiliate marketer is essential in order to succeed on the long term, and for that to happen, you need to follow some guidelines in order to stay in the safe side and protect yourself from becoming a scammer who is just after people’s hard-earned money.
And that’s why, I’m recommending to you the following steps in order to learn how to build a legitimate affiliate marketing business right from the start:
1 – Start The Right Way by Choosing a Suitable Direction or a Niche
This is probably one of the most important steps that many people skip or do wrongly, which makes them give up too soon.
Most people don’t know how to choose a niche when doing affiliate marketing, which makes them go after the wrong niche just because they heard someone saying that there’s lots of money in that niche or because they saw someone giving an example on an affiliate site in a certain niche and now they want to copy him thinking that they will be safe this way.
This is a mistake that I have done in the past and I want you to skip it and know that almost any niche can be a profitable niche in affiliate marketing if you work on it consistently.
There are thousands of niches and sub-niches out there, and if you check Amazon categories, you will find many of them.
And the key to doing so is to pick a niche that suits you, which could be something that you are passionate about such as a hobby or a skill you have, or something that you might be interested in because of a problem you have or because of a job you had/have.
And of course, you need to do your research and see if that niche has a good size of audience and products to promote as an affiliate.
You can learn more about this in my guide on how to select a niche for affiliate marketing, or by joining the recommended program in the last section of this article.
2 – Build a Brand and Treat it as a Long Term, Real Business
Not only with affiliate marketing, but with almost any method of making money online, most people start with the mindset of getting-rich-overnight doing the minimal possible amount of work.
I don’t blame them as this is a result of the get-rich-quick pitches mentioned in the previous section above, and a result of the fact that most people don’t have anything about building a real business and they come with the mindset of an employee thinking that they can start by working only two hours a day and making thousands of dollars in the first month of starting an affiliate business.
Unfortunately (and fortunately), this is not the truth. If it was that simple and fast, then everybody would’ve done it.
Of course, building an online business has its own advantages over building an offline business, such as the ridiculously low starting and running costs, lower need of labor, if any, the ability to work virtually from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection and a laptop, the ability to use tools that would help you automate big part of the work, and many other benefits.
However, it is still a business, and you need to treat it as such.
And like any real business, you need to put in the consistent work in advance before you make a return on your investment.
But luckily, with many methods, and especially affiliate marketing, there are ways where putting the time and effort in advance like I’m doing with this website here or like what others are doing with their YouTube channels can help you create a real passive income in the future that doesn’t require your permanent existence.
And before you freak out, that doesn’t require any special knowledge or technical skills or experience, as you can today start an affiliate website in thirty seconds only and without any prior experience or technical knowledge. The key is to create useful content that helps others in the niche you have chosen to solve their problems or improve their lives.
3 – Make Your Purpose Be to Help Others Through Offering Honest Recommendations and Helpful Answers That Finally Will Help You Make Money
Many people, when starting in affiliate marketing, think that their job is to sell products to people, and therefore, they come with the mindset of a salesperson and they act as if they were working on behalf of the product owner of vendor, and they start pitching products to people to buy immediately, and worse, they might try to promote more expensive products even if there were cheaper ones that bring the desired results at a lower cost and at the same level of quality or even better.
And the reason for doing so is that these marketers want to promote what brings them more money without putting the customers’ needs in advance.
And this is completely wrong!
As an affiliate marketer, your role is not to help the product owner sell what they sell to people, but rather, your job is to help people to solve their problems or improve their lives in the most efficient ways and at the lowest possible cost.
If people wanted to listen to a salesperson, then why would they come to you?
Customer, to a high extent, don’t trust salespeople. And that’s why, when they get promoted on something, they go and look for legitimate and unbiased reviews for what they consider to purchase.
And when they come on your reviews for any product they want to pay for, they expect and honest opinion and recommendation and the last thing they want to hear from you is the same sales letter they heard or read on the product owner/seller website.
If you take the role of the salesperson, then no one will trust you and no one will purchase through your link. And if it happens and they realize that you haven’t been honest, then they will never trust you again.
But if you give your honest opinion and helpful answers, then people will listen to you and trust your recommendation, which will lead into converting them into buyers eventually. And with time, they will start looking for recommendations from you in particular because they know that you are trying to help them and no just take their hard-earned money.
4 – Don’t Promote Get-Rich-Quick Scams, MLM’s or Pyramid Schemes
Many people find it profitable to just recommend any program or training course that promises people to teach them how to make thousands a day doing nothing or working only 10 minutes per day from their phones.
And usually, these programs are empty of real value and are just a gateway for the courses owners to keep pitching to people in order to buy other upsells and other programs, and they keep people in this non-ending loop of selling them every single shiny object or expensive training program that promises them to get rich overnight, but in reality, it doesn’t teach them anything helpful.
And many of such programs are actually Multi-Level Marketing or Pyramid schemes in disguise as mentioned earlier, and they are designed to take money from those who purchase them and not give them anything in return.
If you want to become a legitimate and successful affiliate marketer, then never promote such products as you will just help people get scammed by the unethical program owners.
Just be helpful and promote what you would purchase if you were in the shoes of your audience.
Again, you are a helpful person and not a salesperson. That’s how the really successful affiliates make money.
5 – Don’t Sell Your Subscribers Email Addresses
Have you ever found yourself receiving promotional emails from people you never heard of or you never gave them your email address?
It is probably that you signed up to some marketer’s email list, and this person is selling his subscribers list to other affiliate marketers without their permission.
This is an illegal practice. And even if it wasn’t against the law, it is still unethical for someone to sell or distribute others contact details without their written permission.
Imagine giving your phone number to some real estate agent, and the next day, you get contacted by 30 other agents!
Please, when you start your affiliate business and start building your email list, never share this list with anyone, whether it was for free or for money.
People trusted you and joined your list, don’t misuse this trust if you want to build a real and legitimate long term business.
6 – Join Legitimate Training Programs and Communities
There are lots of misinformation out there when it comes to affiliate marketing in particular and online marketing in general.
Many fake gurus, lots of spammy methods and tactics, lots of outdated content that doesn’t work anymore and many scams that are just after taking your money promising you that they will teach you the secret that will make you upto $3,356.562 per day doing almost nothing other than clicking few clicks on your laptop’s keyboard or on your smartphone screen.
And in if listen to these people, you will only set yourself up for failure and you will give up too early after losing lots of money.
But if you want to avoid that and become a successful affiliate marketer and avoid wasting time and money in the wrong direction, then you need to learn from the best in the industry, from someone who can be trusted and will only give you what you can benefit from and won’t keep promoting to you to purchase the next upsell or to buy their “guru” friend’s program, although they claim that their own program can help you make a full time income. Lol!
And the reality is that there are some legit programs, but you might get misguided by the many scammers out there who want to sell you either useless programs that don’t provide any value, or by those who sell you the “only for $997” courses and training programs that are legit, but overpriced and still require you to pay for external tools such as the web hosting, keyword research tools, …etc.
However, the program that I recommend you to join in order to learn affiliate marketing the right way, which is called Wealthy Affiliate, is a legitimate program that provides you with a detailed, step-by-step training, advanced tools and web hosting with premium support, community help and much more, and all of that for less than what most of the other programs charge for their training material only.
This is the place where I learned and I still continue to learn affiliate marketing and that’s why I recommend it to you strongly.
Conclusion – Is Affiliate Marketing a Scam?
No, Affiliate Marketing is not a scam. It is a legitimate business model that has been around for decades now. However, there are some shady and unethical techniques that are used by some marketers that to some extent, give a bad reputation to this field.
I have mentioned above the main seven reasons why people think that affiliate marketing is a scam, the main six steps that you need to follow if you want to become a successful affiliate marketer.
Finally, if you need to follow a step-by-step, detailed guide that teaches you how to do affiliate marketing ethically and build a successful, long term business in this field, then you can join my recommended platform to learn affiliate marketing and find all the necessary tools and support by paying only for the training and without unnecessary upsells, after reading my full review through the following link:
And if you still have any concerns regarding my answer to your question, is affiliate marketing legit or a scam, or if you have been scammed in the past by some affiliate or fake guru and you would like to warn others about them, then feel free to leave whatever you want to say in the comments’ section below and I will be happy to answer you asap 🙂