There are a a lot of different perspectives around how people view affiliate marketing. And I just wanted to touch on one of the core reasons some look at it negatively.
People Who Ruin It For Others
Years ago, there was a skit on Saturday Night Live, a talk show called “Ruining It For Everyone”. I tried to find a video to drop in here, but no luck. I did find a transcript, though.
Hostess (Julia Sweeney): Also with us is Jerry Langley from New Jersey. Tell us your story and what you ruined.
Jerry Langley (Adam Sandler): Well, um, a few years ago, I-I needed to go to the bathroom so I-I stopped in this restaurant and I asked if I could use theirs. I was in there and I went a little crazy and, uh…I just started whizzing all over the place! I whizzed in the sink and on the mirrors. I figured, I’m not a customer, so I could just whiz away! I went back there the next night and they had a sign up: “Bathroom for customers only.”
Hostess: Well, then…now, because of you, the general public can’t use the bathroom at that restaurant.
The skit went on, with hilarious interviews of more guests who had ruined it for others (the first guy who pumped his own gas and drove off without paying, which resulted in the “pay before pumping” policy, the first person to put razor blades in their homemade fudge and give it out children on Halloween, causing some communities to ban trick or treating, and making the fire station “candy check” necessary, etc.).
The point was that what those few idiots had ruined a good thing for the rest of us.
What does this have to do with affiliates?
Back in 2012 I wrote a post about an experience I had with a client. In a nutshell, someone I thought I knew had an affiliate link to a company that did WordPress fixes. Since she advertised it on her site, I figured she trusted them.
Our client ended up having a horrible experience and when I contacted her about the fact that I had taken her recommendation, she simply said, Oh, sorry. I don’t know that much about them or use them myself. And what was even more amazing is she kept it on her site afterwards.
What brought me back to this topic was a comment on another blog. The discussion got around to hosting and one of the comments bugged me.
Finding the right hosting is like finding the right theme, not so easy 😉 especially with poison from affiliate marketing everywhere.
And now you see the reason behind this post and its title.
In a nutshell
Yes, people abuse affiliate links. They don’t really give a crap about the product or service, just that it’s popular enough for them to make a few bucks off it.
Yes, some sites are overloaded with links, especially those ads crammed into the sidebar that do nothing more than distract and confuse readers.
Yes, many people get paid to write reviews, and in those reviews they include affiliate links.
Yes, it can be a challenge for the reader to know the difference between the blogger knowing and trusting the product vs. just trying to make some quick bucks.
Yes, there are a lot of jerks out there, affiliate marketers who “ruin it for other everyone,” especially those of us who are more careful about the products and services we promote.
Yes, you will find affiliate links here and on our other sites.
They are scattered and placed strategically throughout my site. I have my disclaimer and footer note note as well.
But Do I Use Them All?
No. That’s not realistic. If you run an online store, have used every single one of the products you sell? Not likely.
I ask two questions with an affiliate:
- Is it from a source that I know can be trusted?
- Is this something that would be useful for my reader?
It will never stop. There will always be the unscrupulous ones who give legitimate affiliate marketers a bad name. That makes it a little harder for those of us who want to build trust with our readers and listeners and help them find the products and services that are right for them. But such is life.
Also, a thank you to all my readers who click those links to support my time in bringing trusted products to you and showing you how to best use them. 🙂