Bloggers are for the most part very protective of their reputations. When topics like affiliate marketing come up in conversation, some people get nervous. I have been challenged a few times by folks who were worried about my recent appearance at A4UExpo – had I been lost to the “dark side”?
Controversially, I don’t think the affiliate world is necessarily a hive of “scum and villainy”. The problem is not so much with affiliate marketing as a whole, but with some of the people involved in it.
It’s not just the spammers either, although they are probably the most visible culprits, some of the common practices while not illegal, are still down right shady. It’s inevitable that when there are large profits to be made some people will put morals to one side.
At the other end of the spectrum are authentic and ethical folks who are trying to make a living in a fair and honest way, without resorting to nasty tricks of any kind.
How do you know the good from the bad? Easy! How much value is being added? Are you delivering on your promises? Do these sites deserve a commission, and if so, how much?
A lot of emphasis is being put on being the last cookie to drop, even if there is no fair reason why the user should be assigned as your customer.
Take a look at the typical voucher code site. As the linked article points out, people are finding these coupon and voucher sites looking for a bargain, but they leave with the affiliates cookie and no voucher code. Not good.
Some of the instances could be down to bad maintenance. If that’s the case then an easy solution is to fully automate the coupon system with a free service – it’s as easy as copy and paste, just like adsense. I am sure though the dodgy geezers will not want to use a fully automated system like this as it will take away their “bait and switch” technique.
How to Make Ethical Profits in Affiliate Marketing
There is a lot of honest money to be made in affiliate marketing. You just need to drive buying traffic and add value.
Adding value could be
- News – I would say the higher value is when you don’t just copy and paste press releases, but even so, being first for that reader is a benefit
- Price Comparisons – We all like to get the best prices, especially when money saved in one area can be put towards another.
- Reviews – Honest reviews rather than promotional puff pieces are very valuable. This is one reason I do a lot of shopping at Amazon.
- Tutorials on using a product – Some of my best affiliate sales have been where I wrote tutorials than involved using products in a certain way, be they craft materials or certain software to achieve an objective.
For example, a gadget site announces the release of a new gizmo, you find out about it through their site, so they deserve a commission because they brought the news to you. I use price comparison sites for flights or car rentals so I can save money, it’s a useful service without making the merchant lose out so they deserve a commission.
When I recommend a product like the Genesis theme found in my sidebar, it is because I can stand by that product 100%. I would recommend it even if I didn’t make a commission, but I don’t feel any guilt in recommending it with a commission. You don’t pay any extra, and the Copyblogger folks still make a decent profit I am sure!
Pick a product you believe in, join the affiliate scheme, and give it a try.
More now than ever you need to look at all ways that you can make income, without drifting into sleaze. This is not an economic environment to be snobby about one type of monetization over another!
While you can honestly say that you are honestly adding value I would say you definitely should feel happy and proud to say you are an honest affiliate marketer.
What do you think? Still wary or do you think you would give affiliate marketing a try? Please share your thoughts in the comments …