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Affiliate Programs: Are Affiliate Programs Dangerous and Evil?

Updated on November 19, 2010

Are Affiliate Programs Bad?

What's an affiliate Program?

An Affiliate Program is a system that pays you to sign up other people to do something.

Um, like sign up people to mow my lawn?

That would be impressive. You must have a very interesting sales approach.

OK, so no lawn mowing. What do these folks sign up to do?

You convince them that they can make money selling something and that you can help them do it.

I'd have to be an extremely nice person to do that for someone I've never met.

You get a cut of their sales.

Now this is getting interesting. I help them and they help me.

That's the general idea.

Why are Affiliate Programs evil and dangerous?

No one said they were. As a concept, the idea of helping someone become successful and profiting from their success along the way is very attractive.

What's an example of an Affiliate Program?

Amway is a good example of a program that has proven profitable for many many entrepreneurs.

Amway! Yuk! The guy who mows my lawn told me that his sister's hairdresser's pool boy got invited to an Amway meeting. They wanted him to sell soap!

Amway sells many products, including soap. That's what the affiliates are expected to do. An affiliate can sell product or sell product and recruit other affiliates.

I don't wanna sell anything.

If you don't want to sell anything, you'll have a tough time selling anything.

Are there any other affiliate programs?

There are as many affiliate programs as grains of sand on the beach.

What beach?

Sorry, that was a figure of speech. It wasn't meant to be taken literally.

Bummer. I like the beach.

You can still go to the beach. Anyway, googling "Affiliate Programs" will return about 5,330,000 hits. The results include legitimate bricks-and-mortar businesses such as Home Depot, that refer to their employees as 'affiliates'.

So Home Depot wants me to sell soap?

Please try to keep up. The definition of 'affiliate' varies somewhat. For the purposes of this discussion, we will define the term "Affiliate Program" as a system wherein entrepreneurs recruit other entrepreneurs to sell product. The recruiter then benefits financially from the sales of the recruited.

OK. So why are Affiliate Programs evil and dangerous and bad for the environment?

Sigh. No one ever said an Affiliate Program was necessarily bad for anything. On the other hand, specific programs must be studied carefully before investing in them.

Now we are getting somewhere. How should they they be studied? Do I need a lab coat and beakers?

No, you don't need special scientific equipment.

Bummer. I look good in a lab coat and safety glasses.

I'm sure you do. And you are welcome to wear such accouterments throughout your studies. You need to pay close attention to what the Affiliate Program is actually selling.

Why? Do they want me to sell soap?

Gratuitous image courtesy of Nicomp Graphic Designs (c)
Gratuitous image courtesy of Nicomp Graphic Designs (c)

Some Affiliate Programs will want you to sell soap. That's not a bad thing. You may run across some systems that are more interested in signing up large numbers of affiliates than actually moving any products.

That's a bad thing? Is that what's ruining the Ozone Layer?

No, those types of systems are not harming the environment in any way. Some programs simply rely on your ability to convince more and more entrepreneurs to buy books, tapes, books on tape, seminars, counseling sessions, and increasingly expensive levels of online support. They make their money from web hosting fees rather than actually selling products.

How can I tell what programs might be doing this?

The simplest rule takes15 seconds to apply: if you can't tell what the program is selling in the first 15 seconds, you might want to walk away. If your recruiter can't explain in very simple terms what the product is, there probably isn't enough emphasis on that product.

Duh! Anyone selling a product should be able to tell me what it is.

Exactly. Now get thee to the beach.

After I finish mowing the lawn. Would you like to help?


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    • nccra profile image


      8 years ago from Santa Rosa

      Well there great as long as you know the rules and regs and you have researched your company? otherwise if they don't have a good track record sand do not have referral the steer clear of there product! training is key!

    • Stan Fletcher profile image

      Stan Fletcher 

      8 years ago from Nashville, TN

      "If you don't want to sell anything, you'll have a tough time selling anything." That my friend, is a powerful and insightful statement. Should be the first sentence out of the profs mouth at all Marketing 101 classes in universities around the globe. Well done.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      8 years ago

      I know somebody who ought to be selling soap, or something, somewhere, somehow.

    • Alison Graham profile image

      Alison Graham 

      8 years ago from UK

      Hi Nicomp, thanks for sharing this information in a fun way.

    • lmmartin profile image


      8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      You're right -- I should go to the beach.

    • nicomp profile imageAUTHOR

      nicomp really 

      8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @drbj: today meds my take did I

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Nicomp - I understand perfectly what you are saying. Well, maybe not perfectly. Well, maybe not understanding. But whatever you are saying, I fervently agree. Well, maybe not fervently.

      Anyway, this is a remarkable hub. Did you take your meds today?

    • nicomp profile imageAUTHOR

      nicomp really 

      8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Tom Whitworth: Do you want the points too?

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 

      8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      I need a couple of bars of Ivory please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Maybe a bottle of Scope too!!!!!!!

      Oh my pits are gamey, I need deoderant also!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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