Affiliate marketing is a legitimate industry. There are no two ways about that. Don't let anyone tell you the whole industry is a scam!
However, there definitely are some affiliate marketing scams that we've seen people fall prey to. This often happens to newbies and leaves them with a bad taste in their mouths.
We don't want you to become disillusioned with affiliate marketing, so keep reading and stay safe.
Affiliate Marketing Scam Examples
Like any other online industry, there are plenty of scams doing the rounds in the world of affiliate marketing. Scammers (unfortunately) are always trying to find new ways to make money off innocent affiliates.
These are some of the most common affiliate marketing scams we've come across.
1. Fake Affiliate Marketing Training
Most newbie affiliates like to do a training course to get started in the industry. There will be hundreds of people trying to sell you a course, an e-book, a webinar and various other kinds of information. Do your research before you pick your training program.
Many of these training programs are often nothing more than a rip-off. You don't actually learn anything useful and you're out whatever money you spent, as well. At the most, you might get an e-book that is full of fluff and no real, actionable lessons. So make sure do your training with a well known name.
Check out AffiloBlueprint - a step-by-step system for newbies that shows you how to build an income from your website.
2. Get-Rich-Quick Offers
The reason affiliate marketing gets such a bad rap is because of the proliferation of get-rich-quick offers everywhere. They promise you will make thousands of dollars overnight, or that you can just work 2 hours a day and have $5,000 in your bank account at the end of the week.
Don't fall for it.
If anyone tries to sell you a "secret system that works," don't believe them. Legitimate affiliate marketing takes a bit of time to learn and while you will make money from it, it doesn't happen overnight. You need a strategy and you need to implement it well before you make any income.
3. No Product/Service to Sell
Affiliate marketers make their money by promoting someone else's product or services. If a company is promising you thousands of dollars in income, look closer. What is it that you're actually selling? If there is no actual product or service, it's nothing more than a scam.
These affiliate marketing "opportunities" are designed like pyramid schemes where no one is actually making any money. You make an investment to join the program and after that, money is just passed around from one person to the next. These schemes are totally illegal! You will lose your investment, and you're not going to make any affiliate income from it, either.
4. Pay-To-Join Programs
Real, legitimate affiliate programs are free to join. An authentic affiliate program should be risk-free for affiliates. You should never have to pay a fee to sign up to a program. If you are asked to pay a fee to join, steer clear. It is most likely an illegal multi-level marketing scheme.
Be sure to check out our forum post on how to tell the legitimacy of an affiliate program.
5. Domain Name Scams
This was a popular scam doing the rounds a couple of years ago. Say you owned the domain abc.com. You would receive an email (usually from China) telling you that someone is trying to register the domain name abc.cn in China. They are emailing you out of concern as they have noticed you own the .com domain. They want to make sure your trademark is protected in China.
If you fall for the blatant lie, they will tell you as the original owner of the particular business name, they will give you preference. So you have the right to register the abc.cn domain name with them, first. You will be sent a price list and they will make money off you by making you purchase a domain name that you didn't ever need.
There are a few other variations of this type of scam, so beware of any random emails concerning your domain names.
How to Avoid Internet Affiliate Marketing Scams
The rule of thumb before signing up for any affiliate program or affiliate training course is to do your due diligence. There are some well known and reputable programs and courses in the industry (including ours!) but when you're new, it's hard to tell.
Follow these tips to make sure you don't get caught up in an affiliate marketing scam.
The easiest way to find out the legitimacy of any affiliate program or training course is to Google it. If it's a well known scam, you will more than likely see reports about it online. If you can't tell just by searching for the name, try searching for variations, such as "[affiliate program name] scam" or "[affiliate program name] ripoff." You can also search for "[affiliate program name] reviews," etc.
The Company Website
If Google isn't yielding much information, head straight to the company website. Legitimate companies in the affiliate marketing industry always have professional websites. If this is not the case, it should raise a red flag for you.
Genuine Commission Percentage
As an affiliate, you will make money off commissions. If a company is offering a ridiculously high commission percentage, don't believe it straight away. It's not impossible (some programs really are quite generous), but it's better to do your research and see if they really pay out their affiliates. Also, make sure the products and services they offer are genuine and of good quality.
If It's Too Good To Be True
Image credit: Farces of Nature
The bottom line is, if something is too good to be true, you are better off being suspicious about it. Be wary of unrealistic offers, easy money schemes and any businesses (especially foreign) offering to help you with something out of the blue.
Use your common sense and you have nothing to worry about. There are hundreds of genuine and completely legitimate ways to make money as an affiliate. Be aware of the affiliate marketing scams, but don't let them keep you up at night!
Do you know of any other affiliate marketing scams that we've missed? Let us know and we'll add them to the list.