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
Benny Lim says

Hi Wendi

Good day

I have read your blog and there is one question i would like to ask.

You did mention WA give 24/7 support and what is the different if we subscribe under your link ?

Thanks
Best Regards
Benny Lim

Reply
    Wendy says

    It’s essentially the same, but you would just be getting one on one support directly from me, and I would get a % of the sale. And yes they have a very good support system within the community!

    Reply
carl hjerpstedt says

Wendy

I will probably be a Premium Member after the 7 days.

Reply
    Wendy says

    Well make the most of those 7 days to really get a feel for it all. That is one of the best things about WA is that you can try it out before you buy it!

    Reply
Vamsi Krishna Nori says

Hi Wendy,

I have posted a question and emailed to your id. Kindly reply back please…

Regards,
Vamsi

Reply
    Wendy says

    I did get back to you Vamsi!

    Reply
Vamsi Krishna Nori says

Hi Wendy,

How do Welath affiliate will help us in finding the affiliate program ? How to tie up with bigger companies once we are done with the course ? Is there any fee need to be paid to tie up with companies?

Regards,
Vamsi

Reply
    Wendy says

    Hi Vamsi,

    Wealthy affiliate walks you through simple strategies for finding affiliate programs in your niche. You can do a simple google search for “your niche + affiliate program” and find some easily that way. It usually requires signing up with a larger affiliate network first, and then applying to the specific company you need. There is no fee to sign up as an affiliate

    Reply
Chad P says

Hello, I have been unemployed for several months and I am having difficulty finding work. Your site is the second one I have seen promoting the WA website and I am wanting to know if it is legitimate and can you make good money? Also, I am curious to what you meant by finding the niche in a previous comment. Do you have to post ads and things like that on there? I seen you have to create a website and they say it will not take long but I wanted to get someone else’s perspective. Anything else that you can provide, I would appreciate it very much!

Thanks!

Reply
    Wendy says

    Well yes it is legit, I wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t. 🙂 However, Wealthy Affiliate is more of a training/educational platform than a “make money online” program. It teaches you the foundation and skills you need to start a business online, not some secret way to make 1,000 by tomorrow. What they teach really does work, and works long-term. But it is entirely up to the individual to apply the training and do the work to create a successful business.

    You can have a website up and running pretty fast, but the building out the foundation and getting traffic is the hard part. I think the best thing I can tell you is to sign up for WA and see, because it really will give you a MUCH clearer picture. It is entirely free, no credit card, so you can at least learn much more about how the process works, get a site up and running and be on your way to understanding it better. If after that you decide it isn’t for you, well you didn’t have to invest any money!

    Reply
Niko Meagher says

Wendy, when I sign up for the monthly membership, who does the money go to? Does it go to Kyle and Carson? When I see the pictures of $4-5000 deposits, where does that money come from? Does it come from advertisers on your site or from some other source? This does seem like a legitimate business, I am just curious where the actual money is coming from (and going to.)
Thank you, Niko

Reply
    Wendy says

    Hi Niko,

    When you sign up for the monthly membership, the money will go to WA (so yeah, ultimately Kyle and Carson). If you sign up using a referral link (for example, a link from my website) that referral will get 50% and WA will get the rest.

    As for the 5,000 deposits, it would come from whatever affiliate program the person is using. For example, if they were promoting fitness trackers or equipment from Amazon, it would be a payment from Amazon. If they were promoting a program like WA, it would come from there. There are a lot of different affiliate programs out there so it just depends on what the affiliate is promoting. Does that make sense?

    Reply
      Niko Meagher says

      Indeed that does make sense Wendy. I thought it was something like that. One last question, Does WA help you find affiliates for your website (using “your” in a generic sense)?

      Reply
        Wendy says

        Yeah, they walk you through the process of how to find an affiliate program for whatever niche you end up choosing. 🙂

        Reply
          Royal says

          Hi Wendy. You totally convinced me to sign up for Wealthy Affiliate today. This is after MONTHS of going back and forth debating whether it will be worth it for me. My name on there is RoyalHermit. Thanks for everything 🙂

          Reply
          Wendy says

          So glad to hear that! Hope you enjoy WA.. I will look you up!

          Reply
Lori Hunt says

HI Wendy,
I am a 50 year old with no idea where to start. I have been looking for something I can do to supplement my income and hopefully pay of some bills and maybe one day retire from my present job and still have some income coming in. I have a full time job ( making less than $25k a year) and my husband is disabled so you can see why I am interested in supplementing income. I am one of those people who is sceptical ( I am from the “show me state” Missouri) so I just get bogged down with all the info and just do nothing but a lot of thinking about it. So far your site has been the most informative down to earth one I have found. So far I have not found any bad reviews on WA but again I am hesitant to sign up because the 7 day thing worries me. Am I ready to jump in ? Frankly I can’t afford the fee right now to upgrade. Can you still PM other members after the 7 days if you don’t upgrade your membership ? Thank you for all the great info and help !!!

Reply
    Wendy says

    Well thank you for taking the time to comment here, and I’m glad you find my site helpful. Unfortunately you do only have the first 7 days to communicate with other members, but you still have access to all the training and your webites past those 7 days. I wouldn’t be hesitate to jump in and start at least on the free membership, because you can still upgrade at any point down the line past those first days (your account isn’t deleted). Still though, I understand it is tough. Feel free to reach out to me through the contact form here or email whenever if you need a hand.

    Reply
Dalia says

HI Wendy,

I definitely thank you for your precious advises. I am from Egypt, so you can imagine how hard it is for me to understand, better yet, get started in an online business. Due to my lack of experience in this field, i have been tricked and ripped off so many times that i lost trust in any online schemes. However, i got by me mere chance to see a glimpse of wealthy affiliates, and the problem i have is that, because i am not a US resident, i am not allowed to try the service for free like what you were saying in a previous blog.. I must pay the membership (either monthly or annually) beforehand in order to get access to the material inside and the personal coaching.
I believe after what i read in your blogs, i will give it another try. Thank you for your honesty!

Reply
    Wendy says

    Yeah I know they have some countries excluded from their free membership for whatever reason (I’m not sure why). But I can tell you that it’s absolutely worth the investment if you are at all interested. Have you decided to give this a try yet?

    Reply
Paul Collins says

Hi Wendy,

I was a member a number of years ago and I can’t go in free now and I don’t particularly want to, but I don’t see how I can pay and get in under you.

Reply
    Wendy says

    Hey Paul,

    I replied to your email. 🙂

    Reply
Peggy Lai says

How would your income with your websites work with reporting your income to IRS and how would you go about doing that? Also how many kind of websites can you create with wealthy affiliates? Thank you…

Reply
    Wendy says

    Honestly it depends where you live. My official answer is that I would discuss it with a certified tax professional once you get to the point where you start making any type of income to worry about taxing.

    Generally speaking though, after you make a certain amount from each company in a given calender year they’ll send you 1099 forms, which is what you use for your taxes. It varies by company, some send them out once you reach $600, others, like PayPal, I beleive is $20,000/year. Even if you don’t recieve 1099 forms you can still report your income to the IRS. You’ll need to keep monthly records of income and all business expenses so you have the information for your taxes. You can do it all as a sole proprietor, using your SS number. You don’t have to create a seperate business ID if you dont want to, or at least not until you start making enough for it to make sense for tax purposes.

    You can create any type of website you want, really. The training can work with whatever your interests are and what you want to create a website about, it is up to you to apply that training to put your idea to action. If you have any particular questions about websites or any ideas you want to discuss, let me know! 🙂

    Reply
Dean Lett says

Thanks for your ideas. Will follow your course.

Reply
Chris says

Thanks for the info. I’m just starting in Affiliate Marketing. I have a web design and SEO background and was actually a bit offended by one of the Affiliate Marketing programs I found where they were trying to trick the system. As a web developer, that’s just making the internet trashy when people create scammy websites.

Reply
    Wendy says

    Yeah, I know it’s terrible but the reality is that is how most programs within the field are designed these days! Fortunately Google has done a lot to rid most of the complete trashy stuff out of search, but it still exists for sure…it’s hard to police it 100%!

    Reply
Sherry says

Hi Wendy,

Very good info about affiliate marketing. There are so many people out there asking questions and looking for answers that they can trust in so many different fields. I’m sure this will help a lot of people gain new insight about affiliate marketing and all the possibilities that are out there.

Keep up the good work!

Reply
    Wendy says

    Thanks Sherry. Yeah, billions of people looking for answers every single day. Endless possibilities! All you need is to capture the interest of a narrow segment of those people and you’ll have enough business to sustain for a lifetime.

    Reply
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