Understanding Affiliate Marketing – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

makingmoeyIf you’re genuinely interested in earning money online, affiliate marketing is just about the easiest way to get started. The simplicity lies in the fact that you don’t do any of the heavy lifting so to speak, such as creating a product and dealing with selling/shipping. Everything is already taken care of by the seller and you simply earn commission by recommending others’ products.

The negative connotation of affiliate marketing stems from the persistent gurus, scammers and bad practices within the field. But when done properly, it’s a proven system that works.

How is this for real?

Nearly every major company today has an affiliate program. Amazon, Ebay, Walmart, Target, Apple, Microsoft… the list goes on and on. Why would huge multi-billion dollar corporations offer affiliate programs if it didn’t work? Because it does!

Basically it’s a form of advertising for them. These companies want people to help promote their products, and are willing to pay a commission. The company gets a sale, the affiliate gets a commission, and the buyer is happy because they find what they’re looking for. Win-win-win!

Sound simple enough?

I can tell you first-hand it is a real thing that people make money with. I can also tell you there are both GOOD and BAD ways to do it.

The good side of affiliate marketing

Think about what you do when you want to buy something or find out information. You more than likely type your thoughts into a search engine like Googls (or Bing/Yahoo) …With a wealth of information available at our fingertips, who wouldn’t want to take advantage? Especially if you’re searching for a solution to a problem or considering buying a product or service.

What if you could take advantage of the keywords people were searching for, give them the information they want, and make a commission for helping them solve their problem or guide them to a product?

You encounter this online whether you realize it or not… Let’s look at some real examples of affiliate marketing

Example #1 – Puppy Training

Let’s say you just bought a new puppy. You’ve never owned a dog before and you need some advice. It’s logical to assume you may turn to the internet for answers. You may search for things like…

What’s the best food for puppies?

How to take care of a puppy?

How to train a puppy?

how to train a puppy

Let’s take a closer look at the Google search “how to train a puppy”above. Notice how the first result is a site called “Perfect Paws Puppy Training”. If you were to visit the site and take a close look, you’d realize they are using affiliate marketing. You’d also realize it’s a very in-depth site with tons of helpful content! The marketing is secondary and the content is primary.

Now, knowing that there are THOUSANDS of new puppy owners every day, what if you as a potential affiliate marketer just happen to know a ton of information on puppies? You could easily take advantage of that and start up an entire niche website on the subject of caring for puppies.

You could even get more specific and focus on caring for one particular breed… German Sheperds, Brittany Spaniels, Jack Russell Terriers, etc. After all, all dogs are different. The narrower your focus with affiliate marketing, the more engaged your audience and the easier time you’ll have gaining their trust.

There are endless companies with affiliate programs. PetSmart, Walmart even Amazon.com. You could provide information on things relating to puppies (or specific breeds of dogs) and build a niche business around the topic while promoting related products and or services.

Example #2 – Espresso Machines

Let’s take another example. What do you do when you want to buy something? You probably do a little bit of research beforehand, and a lot of times you may do such research online.

You may type something such as…

product + review (s)

product + scam

best + product

where to buy + product

Say you were in the market for an espresso machine. You’re unsure of what you want, just that you need one and don’t really know which to buy. So you do a quick Google search for espresso machine reviews.

espresso machine reviews

Notice the first result here is a site called “The Best Espresso Machines” – if you were to visit the site, you’d see tons of information and espresso machine reviews. You’d also notice they were affiliate marketing, but with lots of provided content to really help the reader make the best decision.

This is how affiliate marketing works. If you can capture people in a buyer friendly phase where they’re looking for reviews or information about something, or looking for a solution to a problem, you have a good chance of grabbing their attention and converting them as long as you are helpful and provide solid recommendations.

Why the “bad” reputation of affiliate marketing?

Spammy websites

Affiliate marketing gets a bad rep for many reasons. First off, there’s a ton of spammy affiliate marketing sites. These are sites which are what search engines refer to as bridge pages – pages set up with the sole intention of getting the visitor to the merchant’s site and providing no added value. These are deceptive sites that are set up very similar to large sale sites like Amazon, but if you actually try to buy something from within the site you’ll just be redirected to another site.

Look at this website, chickensouprecipes.org:

deceptive website

This is a deceptive bridge page… it has no purpose other than to trick people into clicking the ads. At first glance it looks like there are real listed recipes, but there is NO content on the site, it is entirely ad space. When you use the search feature you are only brought up with more advertisements. It used to be really easy to get pages like this to rank…but Google has come a LONG way in blocking spam like this.

Search engines don’t like this. If you try to build a website like this, you will not rank. If you try to build a business around deceptive tactics you will not be successful.

Scams and “gurus”

At Home Income Package Scam

There are also many people out there promoting bad or scammy programs. There are tons of “gurus” and scam artists trying get your money for “affiliate marketing training” when in reality they charge insane prices yet don’t train you in an effective way. The reality is that most of these programs will just take your money and set you up for failure. You’ll find a large number of people promoting such programs because the commissions are generally very high – at 50% – 75%. 

With all the junk floating around, it’s hard for people who are honestly searching for a way to make it online find the right program or information.

Remember that for affiliate marketing to work, you need to provide value and think of “helping” rather than “selling”

Effective online marketing comes with a complete understanding of one’s audience. When you can effectively capture the attention of your audience, give them a unique perspective, and really speak to their inner needs and desires, then you will be able to gain trust and make sales. When you focus on helping your audience rather than just trying to make a sale, that is when you will be successful.

Unfortunately there will always be those willing to exploit legitimate systems, but you just have to fight for the side of good!

Want to learn how to build a successful business with affiliate marketing? Read about my #1 ranked program for newbies.

100% free to start. No credit card. No experience required.

About the Author Wendy

Wife, Mother, Entrepreneur. I've been making money online for the past 5 years with online marketing and blogging, and I love helping others learn to do the same. You can read my full story here

Leave a Comment:

29 comments
Add Your Reply