In my last post, I gave a simple introduction to affiliate marketing for readers who have heard about it and wonder if it might be for them. This post gives some pointers on how to evaluate an affiliate marketing training program before you take the plunge.

The great majority of online money-making programs that have earned our scorn are based on affiliate marketing. Most “data entry jobs” programs, for example, are not data entry jobs at all. They are programs that show you (badly) how to create affiliate marketing ads and the sellers of such programs lie when they call it a job.

Overwhelming Options

If you’ve searched online for a training program to get you started, you know that trying to choose one is worse than choosing a cold remedy at your local Wal-Mart. Programs range from simple e-books to elaborate online membership sites; from “free” or just a few bucks to hundreds of dollars.

What NOT to Buy

If you follow these few simple rules, you will greatly narrow your options, making it easier to select an affiliate marketing training program that fits you.
Watch out for:

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  • Promises of fast money. Affiliate marketing takes time. We know of one exception to this rule. The Wealthy Affiliate program pays its members for participation, so it promises that you will make money right away.
    If you can’t spend some serious time working your business, affiliate marketing is probably not for you.
  • “Nothing more to buy, ever!” It’s true that you don’t have to buy anything to start creating affiliate links for yourself. You can go the freebie route at every step. However, that is not always the best route, and it is almost never the fastest. Chances are very good that you’ll need to or want to spend some more money to set up your affiliate business.
    If money is so tight that you will have to choose between registering a domain name ($10-$30) and putting food on the table, affiliate marketing is probably not for you.
  • The word “job.” A job is when an employer pays you a known amount of money in exchange for a known amount of your time and skill. Affiliate marketing programs that have to pretend they’re offering you a job are dishonest.
    The program should make it very clear that what you’ll be learning or doing is affiliate marketing.
  • Cheesy sales tactics. Lest we piss off Brian Clark again, let me state that some legitimate programs use cheesy tactics. Like the fake chat window that pops up when you try to leave. “Oh, please don’t go! We’ll throw in a freebie and cut the price by 10%, but only if you act now.” But in my opinion, the cheesier and pushier the tactics, the less quality you can expect from the product.
  • Terms and Conditions that are hard to find or hard to understand. What do they have to hide?

What to Look For

Ok, the list above told you what to avoid. Now here’s a similar list of what to look for.

  • A clear guarantee and refund policy. I like the words “90 days, no questions asked,” but that’s just me.
  • No (or very few) complaints about sloppy refund practices. Every program will have refund requests, now matter how good it is. What you want to look for when you Google a program is whether lots of folks are complaining about not getting their money back, as promised. Google Money Tree is the poster child for this problem. Read the comments in that post to see the full horror.
  • Instructions for how to get traffic to your site. You know how tires are the most important part of your car? Traffic, or visitors to your site, are the “tires” of affiliate marketing. It all flies or falls based on the number of visits you get to your site. If the program you’re considering offers no help in this area, find one that does.
  • Search engine optimization help. If you haven’t already, you’ll hear the term SEO often in this field. It means working your content and site structure in such a way that Google likes you enough to list your site at the top of its results instead of at the bottom. It’s an indispensable way of driving traffic to your site. If the program you’re considering offers no help in this area, find one that does.

So what are you looking at? Holler out some of the programs that you’re considering and we’ll all have a look at them.

READ NEXT: How to build a full-time income online with no experience

Join the Discussion

  • Norma Cushing
    Norma Cushing

    Do you know if Online Data Entry Institute is legit? The web site is

  • Joe

    In my opinion, you should stay away from any affiliate training program that has a multi-level market structure. You are looking for customers, not “recruits.” Customers buy what you have because you offer a good price for what they want, not because they are your friend or mother. Just ignore the emails from your upline or whoever got you in to Clickbank.

    Where do you place your hoplinks? That’s the missing ingredient from so many affiliate training programs. Some will tell you to put them on free classified ad sites—along with a million other hoplinks.

    But successful affiliate marketers own web sites that attract a lot of traffic. That’s where they place their hoplinks. Why that matters and how to do it should be key components of a good training program.

  • barb reimer
    barb reimer

    I am having trouble knowing what program is right for me! I joined GLOBAL DOMAINS INTERNATIONAL bit don’t like the idea of trying to get friends and family to watch a dvd!Also the second level upline:tissa godavitarne has been sending all kinds of things to buy!
    What is up with this company? Can you give me some insight? Also about clickbank affiliate program.
    i am confused as to where to place and how to do this to promote a product I picked placing my hoplinks where exactly, they don,t really explain it all to you ,there is always something missing that you must buy!

  • Jennifer

    I just joined GDI as well and it seems like it can be great.

    Thank you for this site!

  • Tracie

    I just wanted to let every one know that as of now (April 2009)the free Spiderweb Marketing System is a mess. I looked at it and reviews on scam sites and it didn’t seem like a bad thing and it still doesn’t really if it FUNCTIONED. The set up videos don’t work half the time, the steps/stages numbers don’t match the videos, there are steps shown in the set up videos that you are told are necessary to continue set up but are now missing from SWS like the adsense segment and setting up your blog that supposedly comes with this. The Help Forum is down and seems to have been down for god only knows how long. After much searching on the internet in blogs I found an email for them, , but it auto replied to post my Q’s to the Help Forum and any tech issues to That email auto-replies that whatever the issue is will be fixed but that no one will reply individually, although they did write me back twice. Only one of my “uplines” replies to me and he says that SWS has been a mess fo a while so he just concentrates all of his efforts working through GDI’s marketing. At least GDI has an actual phone number and reachable support. The explaination for SWS being a mess is supposedly it got too big too fast and they are trying very hard to fix it. Great for them. The irony is that as an SWS member I’m supposed to be promoting how easy this is and that anyone can do it without special skills but I can’t even complete the set up! Yeah, this’s gonna work out so well.

  • Len

    Thank you for the update on affliate marketing. I have seen it all over and wonder what is was all about. Thank you for the heads up.


    • Joe

      You’re welcome, Lenette. I’m glad you’re finding the series useful.

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