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.
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:
- 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.