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Is Affiliate Marketing Just A Big Scam?


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#1 squidjam

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:12 PM

Okay...don't laugh.  :)

 

I decided to sign up for a course by an affiliate marketing guru. I just had to see what the heck it was all about.

 

I guess I've watched these people over the 16+ years I've been online, claiming that they make tons of money just by promoting products and reaping affiliate commissions and my curiousity got the best of me.

 

This person is teaching how to research products online, assess the competition, and then set about creating mini review sites. You're supposed to then find a bunch of high quality blogs and post comments on them, including your site URL in the website link portion of the comment section, to get backlinks to your site and hence make it rank better. This sounded questionable but since the links are no follow and not in the actual comment text...maybe.

 

But then, once these back links in comments are in place, one of the next things you're supposed to do is mass directory submissions. Uh oh. BIG red flag.

 

I'm posting this in hopes that someone will just tell me, once and for all, to ignore all these freaking affiliate marketers. They may be making tons of money but it seems to me a lot of it is from selling "programs" to those who hope to emulate their supposed huge earnings. And anyway, what they are "teaching" takes a lot of time, effort, and money. It's not some simple, easy road to riches.

 

Just sick of the nonsense I guess. I consider myself a smart person, but I keep feeling like I get sucked into this promise of massive riches online. That makes me feel dumb.


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#2 Jill

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 09:02 AM

They may be making tons of money

 

Most of them are not. 



#3 torka

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 12:44 PM

The ones at the top (the ones who create the "programs") can make good money, primarily by selling the "rights" to redistribute their program to their affiliates, and through their share of the revenue when an affiliate actually generates a sale. This is why they work so hard to build up such huge mailing lists and to generate so much hype for each new product launch -- so when their latest, greatest "fool proof program" guaranteed to make money for everyone with little to no effort required hits the streets, they'll have tons of affiliates out there promoting it. It's a numbers game. Your individual affiilates don't have to perform all that well, as long as in the aggregate they manage to sell a couple of thousand of each product, and you can still be sitting pretty at the pinnacle of the pyramid.

 

The thing is, you know, I honestly can't recall a single instance of one of these gurus bragging about making money from actually following the steps in one of the programs they're selling. They just carry on about how much money they've made (and you, as their affiliate, can in theory make) by getting other suckers people to buy their "fool-proof" program. I guess attempting to actually put the program into action is for the "little people" or something?

 

So, ultimately, what they're really selling is NOT the info product, it's the ability to make a finder's fee for referring purchasers to the "info product" they produced. (Or in some cases -- and for considerably more money -- the ability to directly resell the info product itself.)

 

As Jill says, very few of the individual affiliates actually make anything from selling these "info products," and even fewer actually implement the program itself. Heck, a lot of them never even purchase or read the program they're promoting.  The whole "insider secret fool-proof program to skyrocket your income" part is almost entirely hypothetical, since the only money that generally gets made is from selling the info product that tells you how to make the money, not from actually doing the alleged money-making thing. (Does that make sense?)

 

There are some affiliates who make good money. For the most part, though, the ones that do are marketing things other than these "internet marketing guru info products." They market things that offer real value. And they go way "above and beyond" to create value-added marketing that informs, engages and entertains, rather than just reposting a "professionally written sales page" provided by the seller.

 

From what I've seen, it isn't impossible to make money as an affiliate marketer. But it's not nearly as much of a sure thing as the info guru marketers make it seem. IMO, in general it's like many things in life: one will get out of it roughly in proportion to what one puts in. :)

 

--Torka :propeller:


Edited by torka, 27 February 2013 - 12:46 PM.
edit for clarity


#4 squidjam

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 01:40 PM

Thanks Jill and Torka

 

Torka, I agree with you that from what I've seen it isn't impossible to make money, but it still takes a lot of effort and work...much more than they let on. The thing that concerned me about this whole "program" was the way they were teaching you to build back links: leaving comments on blogs. Not having a link in the comments (which is no-follow anyway) but filling out the URL in the comment section, so you're building a link to the site (it's still no-follow, though, but supposed to lend credence somehow). When they got to the directory submissions, I just knew that I couldn't listen further.

 

I've seen these people who claim you can promote affiliate products with what they call mini sites for years. I suppose some are making money, but I also look at how much time and effort it takes and the ways they try to get the sites ranking in the search engines. All that work may be for naught given Pandas, Penguins and such. They STILL try to figure out a way to trick Google into ranking their 5 page infomercial sites high. I don't see that as sustainable. And putting comments on 50 different blogs, for one site, to build back links? Sounds exhausting.

 

A lot of what I see with the affiliate marketing gurus is the same game I saw with people touting multi-level marketing opportunities. I always noticed that the people weren't making money selling the product, but selling the opportunity or products that the people signing up could buy to help their business, like marketing materials, stickers, containers, etc.

 

I'm a skeptic, I know, and I feel good about that  ;)  I just had to satisfy my curiousity about this particular program and see what was up.

 

Just sign me a long-time lurker here and reader of the newsletter and a first-time poster.

 

Thanks!



#5 copywriter

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 10:06 AM

As someone who had never done any affiliate marketing and now is bringing in tens of thousand of dollars a year with it, I can see this from the inside out. :)

 

And you are correct... many people simply create products that are sold with the strict intent of making money from their "tribe."  But there are legit people who will be honest in telling you that affiliate marketing is like any other type of marketing in the respect that it takes work.

 

Yes, there are plenty of people who make several hundred thousand dollars a year solely with affiliate sales.  One such person is Lynn Terry of ClickNewz.  Lynn does not have her own products.  She is what's referred to as a Super Affiliate who sells other people's products and earns commissions.

 

The group I learned the most from will tell you flat out to be prepared to implement what you learn and take action because online business and affiliate marketing do not happen without work.  We often laugh at the phrase "passive income" because (until you get all the pieces in place) it is anything BUT passive. 

 

Now, that said, once you set everything up and flip the switch, it does run on autopilot with very little maintenance.  It's the setting up of the process/system that takes time.

 

Anyway, if you have question, I'm happy to answer any that I can or to try to find out for you from legit sources.


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#6 torka

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:04 AM

Exactly - Karon was actually one of the people I was thinking of who puts in the work to legitimately market products that have some actual value. :) Rae Hoffmann (Sugarrae) was another.

 

--Torka :propeller:



#7 copywriter

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:28 AM

Thank you Miss T!


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#8 squidjam

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 01:30 PM

Hi Copywriter

I appreciate your post.

 

Here's where I'm coming from: I've been online for a long time. I've heard of Lynn Terry and also Rosalind Gardner. I've kinda followed all of this affiliate marketing stuff from way back.  But even these people I see making money from selling others their courses on how to make money. You never *really* know how much they've made from the techniques they're selling other people.

 

I've dabbled in some of it. About six years ago, I did some Adwords campaigns, marketing mostly Clickbank products with some success.

 

Right now, I have a couple sites that I guess are referred to as authority sites: websites with lots of posts and comments and decent traffic. One in particular is doing very well. I'm making money off these sites, mostly from Adsense and selling a few ads here and there.

 

I'm looking to expand and diversify my income and the managing of these money-making sites has been fun for me. So when I saw this course for creating these small affiliate marketing websites, from someone who didn't sound or look like most of the "high bs" gurus out there, I thought well maybe I'll take a chance this time. Part of the appeal is the private coaching he's providing to people (for a price, of course). But I thought maybe I should just jump in, once and for all, and see if I can make this work.

 

Copyrighter, I totally hear you about the "passive income" phrase. That makes me laugh as well, and I think this is why most people who think they're going to make money online with this sort of thing never do. It *does* take work and time and effort.

 

My skepticism is making me doubt my paying for this course and also wondering if, now that I've seen what they're touting, I couldn't do it alone. But also, the way he's showing people to create backlinks to these sites (blog comments, submissions to directories) is really what made me post here in the first place. I see these affiliate marketers touting SEO tactics to get their sites popular that Jill and others here tell us are really myths or not a good idea.

 

If I'm going to put effort into something, I want to make sure it's not going to be all for naught. I'm not against working. I just want to make sure I'm not trying to do something that's bogus, you know? What's the point of creating these types of sites if they're just going to be struck down by Google?

 

That said, in doing a little keyword research and then looking at some of the websites that are coming up in searches for some of these niches, I must say I am appalled. There are some very spammy and crappy sites out there coming up on the first page of Google for some of these products.



#9 Jill

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 03:23 PM

But also, the way he's showing people to create backlinks to these sites (blog comments, submissions to directories) is really what made me post here in the first place. I see these affiliate marketers touting SEO tactics to get their sites popular that Jill and others here tell us are really myths or not a good idea.

 

Most likely it's just pretty outdated information. That was the standard recommendation from many supposed SEO types for many years. 


So I would wonder about the rest of the info in the particular thing you bought. 


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#10 copywriter

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 03:28 PM

What Jill said. 

 

And yes, there are some sites coming up for terms that are spammy. (The sites, not the terms.)

 

I can't speak for Rosalind, but I know Lynn Terry. She's the real deal and while I don't know her total income, I do know that about 3 of her sites combined (out of the many that she has) make her in excess of $300,000 a year.

 

I also would want to know how up to date the material is. 

 

Would you be willing to say whose course you bought?  Or PM me with it?



#11 Jill

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 04:06 PM

I don't want it here publicly. 



#12 squidjam

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 04:14 PM

No, I don't want it here publicly either Jill.  :)  No worries there.

 

I'll PM you copywriter.

 

Thanks everyone. I appreciate it!



#13 jeffbman86

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 06:59 AM

Hi Folks,   Brand new here. Just wanted to add my htoughts to your post and comments.  I've been working around affiliate marketing for a couple years now. Really enjoy it to the fact I can market for some big name companies out there and just stay in the back ground plugging away making a few bucks.

 

Yes, there are way to many "Guru" type programs available and I have promoted a couple myself. What I look for in those, and I believe it was mentioned in this string of comments, is if the owners of the programs are legitimitly training on how to use there product for other parts of the online marketing mix . Not just to re-selling that program for the big bucks.  Your not gonna get away from it totally...Of course they want you to sell the program itself. That's how they make there residual money. In all fairness there are a few, if you know what to look for, that are more product oriented than passing aroud just the "kool Aid" as they say.  

 

Looks like a great forum here. Hope to learn a lot! 



#14 squidjam

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 06:00 PM

I would PM you, copywriter, but I think until I have 5 approved posts, I must not have the ability to send private message.  ;)



#15 Jill

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 06:49 PM

You've got 5 now. See if it works. 






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