Is Affiliate Marketing Legit? Real Explanation From A Marketer

We all know how popular the business model of affiliate marketing has been growing over the past couple of years.

Today, more and more people are getting interested in generating revenue online and creating streams of passive income.

It’s obvious to have scammers around when there is a lot of buzz around a business opportunity. Unfortunately, a lot of people have faced these online scams and they are continuously increasing as the audience is.

But, in this post, I will explain everything to you by giving real examples, sharing my personal journey, and statistics. Before we get into the article, let’s first address the main question right away and then move forward.

Is affiliate marketing legit? Affiliate marketing is a completely legitimate business model that has been in execution since 1989. It’s a business where an affiliate connects businesses and customers to earn compensation (commissions). This business model is utilized by the biggest companies such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

I personally have been in this industry for a long time now and have seen a lot of positive as well as negative sides of this business model.

So, without any further ado, let’s just get into the details and learn some great stuff to understand the concepts deeply.

What Does Affiliate Marketing Actually Mean?

Although I have explained affiliate marketing in-depth in this guide, I won’t mind explaining it once again right here.

Affiliate marketing isn’t some black magic or even a miracle. People often overcomplicate it and create a lot of confusion around the topic/concept.

It’s nothing more than a person recommending products or services to people by partnering with the merchants to earn commissions.

It’s a business model where you don’t have to worry about things like customer service, product creation, sales processes, technical stuff, shipping, servicing, etc.

But affiliate marketing is often confused with network marketing or multilevel marketing, which is a completely different business model.

Things Involved In ‘Legit’ Affiliate Marketing

So, now that you understand what affiliate marketing is, let me share with you what are the main things involved in a legitimate affiliate marketing business model:

  • A perfect product that solves a problem
  • An affiliate program where affiliates can get links to promote
  • Effective marketing strategies that don’t overpromise
  • An audience interested in a certain product/service

So, in a nutshell, there is a product or service, an affiliate (a person who promotes other people’s products to earn commissions), and customers to whom the products are recommended.

Yes, that’s all a legitimate affiliate marketing business model involves. And I don’t think that is unsafe or not legit.

There are a lot of people who promote products that underdeliver and overpromise win this industry.

This is the reason why people think affiliate marketing isn’t a real and genuine business. People take it as a ‘scheme’ rather than a business but the truth is, so-called ‘strategies’ of marketing and sales could be misleading not the whole business model.

Now, let’s learn about the two types of affiliate marketing because of which this question ‘is affiliate marketing legit?’ arises.

White Hat Affiliate Marketing – Legit

The first type of affiliate marketing is white hat affiliate marketing. This is where the merchant and the affiliate work honestly without scamming people.

If I were to give you a definition, it be something like –

White hat affiliate marketing is a type of affiliate marketing business model where the product creator or service provider and the affiliate marketer deliver people or customers what is promised in the first place.

This business doesn’t include any false claims like ‘make $10000 a day without doing any work’ or ‘buy this product to lose weight in 24 hours.

Also, the merchant/company that provides the service or creates and sells the product delivers the best solutions to the consumer along with necessary support if required.

The perfect example of this business would be a weight loss affiliate who runs Facebook ads to earn commissions but doesn’t try to excite the audience by using deceptive ad creatives and landing pages.

People think that pushing people into sales funnels will earn them the most amount of money but the reality is, consumers have gotten a lot smarter with time.

If you try to push the products that don’t have any value, they will spot easily and won’t trust you. You are going to want to come across as genuine and ‘non-salesy’ as possible.

Also, when you practice this business honestly, you should also include disclosure to let people know that you earn commissions when the links are clicked and purchases are made.

One of my favorite people when it comes to legit/genuine marketing is Pat Flynn. He’s one of the most successful affiliate marketers who earn hundreds of thousands of dollars every single month without using the useless strategies those gurus teach people on YouTube.

Have a look at how genuinely Pat Flynn recommends affiliate products:

Black Hat Affiliate Marketing – Not Legit

Black hat affiliate marketing is a totally opposite business to white hat marketing. This is where people mix everything and the whole confusion is created.

Before I explain you everything as a friend, here’s a definition for you:

Black hat affiliate marketing is a practice where an affiliate uses questionable and ambiguous promotion strategies to increase conversion rates and earn more commissions.

This often happens when an affiliate offer is hot and the merchant gets affiliates excited by offering bonuses or high payouts.

When there’s a bonus like ‘win a Ferrari’ or ‘earn $900 per sale,’ affiliates start doing what they shouldn’t do because they want to get more sales to win something or simply make more money.

But this doesn’t just happen when an offer is hot, sometimes affiliates deliberately make false claims and promote scam products just because the offer converts well and offers nice commissions.

A perfect example of this would be the ads with ‘Lamborghinis and mansions’ you see on YouTube and Facebook. Here’s an example of that:

affiliate marketing legit

This is just a photo in case the video is deleted but here’s the video for you to watch and get an idea about objectionable marketing strategies:

You see how this person and many of his affiliates use these kinds of advertisements to befool people? That’s the dark side of this business.

But hey, this dark side is there in every industry out there from eCommerce, dropshipping, and blogging to car rentals.

Just like you, more and more people want to know the real deal and are getting smarter with time. Scams are always going to be there but people will get smarter.

Affiliate Marketing Isn’t Multilevel Marketing

As I have already said, affiliate marketing is not a pyramid scheme or multilevel marketing. It’s a real, legit, sustainable, and scalable business.

Some of the greatest marketers including Gary Vaynerchuk, Neil Patel, Brian Dean, Seth Godin, and Jim Harmer believe in this business.

A pyramid scheme is a model where people are recruited by promising payments and playing with people’s trust/emotions.

On the other hand, you are actually helping people when you are an affiliate by recommending the products or services they need to make their lives better.

What Can You Promote As An Affiliate?

You can be an affiliate for anything. Whether you want to promote books, groceries, food, fitness products, online courses, laptops, or anything else that can people like to buy online.

There is no restriction on what can be promoted by an affiliate. Most of the affiliate marketers pick a niche (such as fishing, marketing, weight loss, dating, etc) and go about promoting niche-specific products while there are affiliates who promote all kinds of products.

If you ask me, I would suggest picking a niche and then promoting specific types of products as the audience will start trusting you, and hence, more sales will be generated in the long run.

Is Affiliate Marketing A Profitable Business?

There’s no way to answer this question directly. This depends on the person who is doing the required stuff.

If you start promoting products just because of the excitement of earning commissions or making money without even considering learning about the strategies, it’s surely not going to be profitable.

On the other hand, if you first gain knowledge, learn the strategies of promotion, and then follow the process of trial and error, it is going to be profitable.

But if you are looking for a statistical answer, here are some facts you have got to consider:

  • The affiliate marketing industry is already worth over 12 billion dollars and the numbers are only growing.
  • 15% of the total digital media revenue is generated from affiliate marketing (AM).
  • 48.36% of affiliates make $20000 a year and 3% earn $150000 a year. (source)

These statistics prove that there is a whole lot of potential in this industry if you do everything the right way.

In Conclusion

This post clears the myths and explains that affiliate marketing is a legit business that people can utilize for better revenue and growth. In fact, it is called the business of the 21st century.

All you need to be aware of is that it’s not about ‘pushing people’ products and services because they will not buy them anyway…it’s about creating value, building trust, and helping people.

And frankly, that’s what marketing is all about. When you stop being a machine without emotions and start to care, sales will automatically increase.

I hope you found this post helpful. If you have got any questions that you want to ask or experiences you want to share, feel free to speak your thoughts with the help of the comments section.

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