Disclosure: Please note that links to merchants mentioned within this post might be using an affiliate link which means that - at zero cost to you - I might earn a commission if you buy something through that affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t personally use and find to be a valuable asset to my business.

Avoiding Affiliate Marketing Scams


  1. Mitch Bartlett says:

    It’s getting bad. Lately, I get an average of 2 emails a day with these scams. If there’s anybody the FTC should be going after, it’s these guys.

  2. I’m new to the game myself, but the general impression I get is that in the eyes of the general public affiliate marketing automatically equals scam. There’s definitely an image problem here, and all those get rich quick through affiliate-marketing spam sites don’t help.

  3. Rae,
    Love this article – It’s the kind of raw truth I wish we saw more of online…that said, I do have a question. At the end you mention “Most people who attempt it will not make a very successful and lucrative career out of affiliate marketing.”

    In your mind, is this because they are lazy and give up or because they have heard about the so-called “unlimited” income potential and find out it is a lot of work to get there?

  4. Joe,
    I used to have that impression as well but then I started reading more of what Rae was doing and I really did start to see that you could provide value while still doing “marketing” and monetizing. In my mind, it’s how you present your brand and provide value in terms of reviews, articles, information, etc. That said, Google also loves the type of Affiliates who provide value and good, quality content.

    So I don’t look at it any longer as scammy but I look at it as providing as much value as I can through a trusted brand which just happens to also make an income :)

  5. Rae Hoffman-Dolan says:

    Shane – there are definitely some “regular” reasons people fail at affiliate marketing in my eyes. Not the only, but definitely the common.

  6. Nice post.

    I also find that are some dubious products that make you purchaser it before you can become an affiliate. While not as bad a straight up paying to join, as you get something for it, it is still just an underhanded way to sell their product.

    Also these less than legitimate sellers are the one most likely to fiddle with their sales stats IMHO.


  7. Rae Hoffman-Dolan says:

    Thanks Paul – The buy before you can affiliate thing is a tough one. I don’t think I should have to buy a t-shirt to be an affiliate for it. But, in the world where the product being marketed is of most interest to the affiliate community, it’s a bit more common. The general theory is that otherwise, every affiliate would just use their own affiliate ID to purchase the product otherwise.

    But the legit times I’ve seen this done, it’s not *advertised* as such. They just don’t mention the affiliate program or have a sign up form for the affiliate program anywhere public – they let you know about it once you buy the product. I don’t see the issue with that as if you didn’t know about the affiliate program, you’d only be buying the product because you actually *wanted* it LOL.

    For me, it would depend on the way I was selling the product regarding if I was willing to be an affiliate for it without having tried it anyway. On Sugarrae, that would never occur… if I haven’t tried it, you won’t see me putting up affiliate links for it. On my more commercial sites, I’m much more likely to sell something – say from Target – I’ve never actually tried myself… but we also aren’t writing “reviews” or recommending the product like I’ve done with stuff by Raven Tools.

    Geez, affiliate can be such a case by case basis sometimes! LOL.

  8. Adam Struve says:

    The information products part made me realize just how burned out I am on that stuff. Other ebooks, I unsubscribe to anyone who mails me info products these days. There is a bit of truth in that saying “Those who can do, those who can’t teach.”

  9. Kate Saunders says:


    Thanks for this article – I will definitely retweet it and share it on FB. I was one of those people searching, buying, searching, buying – and having only limited success.

    Once I stopped the craziness, stopped the “noise” in my inbox by unsubscribing from a lot of marketers, and only following a few people I know are successful (you, ClickNewz, Peter Spaepen, and Glen Allsop of ViperChill), it started to make a tangible difference.

    Thanks for being a trusted and honest resource.
    You make a difference.


  10. Chance Hoggan says:

    Where would you recommended people go to find affiliate products to promote?

  11. Rae Hoffman-Dolan says:

    Hey Chance – did a whole post this weekend on how to find affiliate programs as a response to your question – hope it helps!

  12. I wish I had read this a year ago, but, then, you hadn’t written it, yet, and I didn’t even know what ‘affiliate marketing’ was. Kind of wish I had discovered your blog, before now, as well. Maybe NOW is the right time~ I just don’t realize it, yet.

  13. Truth Be Told says:

    It’s all just a scams. People want to avoid good old fashioned hard work.
    The dream of sitting in your underwear sipping a Mocha while watching a football game and your CASH ROLL IN, gets people all the time.

    Just get a real job and don’t get suckered.

    • LOL, way to be stuck in that employee mindset! Great way to remain poor and middle class for the rest of your life. Maybe you should read T Harv Eker’s book, “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” some time. You have a complete poor person’s mindset and have been brainwashed to believe you get job (J-O-B = Just Over Broke), work there 40 years and along the way *hopefully* you get a few raises along the way, *hopefully* you can become a manager one day, heck, *hopefully* maybe even a supervisor one day (GASP, WOW!), and *hopefully* your company had a good 401k, and *hopefully* social security isn’t bankrupt by the time you retire… sound about right? As for me, I will take the $85,000 I have ALREADY MADE so far this year… and yes, it is only July, and yes, I have made it at home, on my computer, working a few hours a day as an affiliate marketer, while you remain an employee-for-life. Enjoy! :P

  14. Russ Turner says:

    A welcome well balanced article telling just how it really is.

    Money can be made but it is hard work and my experience of being slapped hard by Google just when I was beginning to make money is a hard one to swallow.

    But just keep on trucking.

  15. Rachel Keele says:

    Great post! I agree with you that affiliate marketing is a fantastic way to make money online. I also agree that most that attempt it, will have limited success.

    The reason I say this is because I believe the reason so many people fall for the “scams” out there is because they literally think the internet is set up to push a couple of buttons, or simply build a website, and they will be instant millionaires. You know as well as I, that is simply not true. It takes a lot of work to run a successful online business, or any business for that matter.

    Once people figure that out, I think many will still fail because they don’t want to work hard to be successful (they have the employee mentality, and not an entrepreneurial spirit) , or because they have no interest in what they are actually doing. You have to work hard and love what you do in order to be successful, regardless of whether it is an online business, or a brick and mortar one.

    Unfortunately, because so many are looking for the “get rich quick”, they will continue to fall for the scams. Anything that sounds to good to be true, always is.

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