Let’s start with the definition of an affiliate program as it pertains to the Internet. The term “affiliate program” is a fancy way of saying that a company is giving someone a kick back for sending them a customer. In real life, it can be more obvious when there is a relationship like this. In normal conversation, you usually get an idea if a person is pushing you in a certain direction. You are also more likely to have placed yourself in a “sales” environment. You can expect some overt behavior. Online commerce is booming; it is a multi-billion dollar industry, and everyone wants in.
I don’t see anything wrong with an individual being rewarded for sending a company business. I have a problem when deception is involved and the consumer is affected by the misinformation. In recent years, a number of web sites have joined affiliate programs for companies and setup a web site to endorse that product, without disclosing their relationship to the company. This made people much more likely to make false endorsements for product, just because they wanted to get the commission. Most of the time these sites were setup as anonymous sites, with no name on them. However, the site would often come across as a new article or review, when in reality it was a sales pitch, but you never knew it. Recently the FTC issued new guidelines that define how these unethical sites operate and their attempts to put the brakes on them.
“So Jamie, How do I know you’re not going to scam me pitching some affiliate marketing program just to make a quick buck?” (I made up that question for this article). Great question, here is how you know:
- I’m a real person, this is a real web site, on a real domain name. You can see real photos of me, real live videos, and there is a contact form on this site to contact me directly. I am well known in literally dozens of internet forums devoted to industry. I have a good reputation, and fully intend to keep it that way. I have no interest in making a couple bucks at your expense. On top of that, while I don’t like to publicly “bash” bad companies, I rarely have much to say about them. I dislike them just as much as you do. I’ve been there, and I know how much it sucks to deal with a bad apple. I don’t want you to have that experience. If you felt like I sent you to a crummy company on purpose, I’m sure that you would not only not come back to my site, but you would tell everyone else not to come back either. I care far more about getting you to come back to my site again, than I do about making a quick buck from an unethical source.
- When someone is an affiliate for a company, they will also always have a special URL address with a code at the end of the address. An example of this would be www.example.com/affid?34753. When you see a page like this, it can often indicate that the person posting the link has a financial interest in sending you to that page. If you put your mouse over a web site address and all you see if www.example.com/ then chances are pretty good that the person sending you to that page isn’t getting anything out of it.
- Most of the time when I put links on my web site it is just to be helpful and guide you in the right direction, however, to help me cover the cost of hosting this web site, including the videos, I am including a couple affiliate links in my site. However, when I include an affiliate link or any kind of link that I or a family member could profit from, I will clearly disclose that fact right with the link. Here is an example of what you might see on my site “I like the shoes I bought at example.com, Example.com offers a special program to business partners that send them more business. I joined that program. If you use This link to Example.com, I will receive a small amount of compensation when you become a customer of example.com, Thank You”
The bottom line is I will disclose to you, up front in plain English if there is anything financial I might get out of sending you to a web page. I hope you appreciate my honest communication.
Please know that before I recommend any product or service, regardless of what I might get out of it, I make sure that it is a product or service that I am confident in. Could I ever steer you wrong, could I ever send you to a company that you have a bad interaction with? Its possible and while I am quite careful with whom I recommend, I can make mistakes, companies can change, and some transactions just don’t work out. Honestly, depending on the company, I may not be able to do very much about the problem, but I will do what I can. If you use a product or service that I recommended and it isn’t what you expected, PLEASE CONTACT ME AND LET ME KNOW! If you contact me about an issue with a company I recommended, I will get in touch with my contact at the company to help resolve the issue. Then if appropriate, I will stop recommending the company and let my readers know why,
Thanks very much;
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