Is Affiliate Marketing Legit?

Is affiliate marketing legit or is it a pyramid scheme

Work from home! Earn money without having anything to sell! Minimal initial investment! Jason made $10.000 last weekend on affiliate marketing and so can you!  

Sounds familiar? 

The problem is that even if Jason did earn his ten grant last Saturday, and even if he personally came to your house tonight to tell you exactly how he did it and show all the tax forms that followed – you still wouldn’t believe him.

And that’s the main issue with affiliate marketing. The lack of awareness that results in a complete lack of trust to the industry as a whole. Well, it’s time to shed some light on the reality behind the “scheme”. 

We’re going to look into how partnership marketing works exactly, why confusing it for a pyramid scheme is just plain ignorant, and why it can be one of a lucky few businesses that survive the upcoming global economic recession with fewer losses. 

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Hopefully, after reading this post you will stop wondering if affiliate marketing is, indeed, legit. 

Spoiler alert: it is. And pretty soon you’ll be able to explain to all spiteful people who claim otherwise how wrong they actually are and why.  

What is affiliate marketing?

Imagine you want to open a coffee shop. You rent a place, buy the beans, hire a barista, and start working on your advertising strategy. Not necessarily in that order. 

What’s the very first promotional thing you do? Probably, if you’re anything like me, you’d start with asking all of your dear friends in the area to spread the word. It’s only natural, as word of mouth is free, fast, and surprisingly effective. 

To get more referrals, you promise your friends that for every 3 people coming to the coffee shop from their reference they’d get a cup of coffee on the house. 

Congrats! You’ve just viciously turned your buddies into affiliates. 

Did anything seem fishy to you? 


Because it isn’t.

The image problem appears because many affiliates opt in for promoting offers such as those in the beginning of the post because they seem easy to market. When, in reality, every product, service, and industry could benefit from partnering up with good affiliates. But more on this in a moment.  

How does affiliate marketing work?

We have prepared a detailed guide for beginners who want to learn the basics of the craft – here’s the gist of it. 

You need 3 things to become an affiliate: an offer, a lander, and a traffic source. 

  • An offer is the product or service you’re promoting.
  • A landing page (aka lander) is how you promote it.
  • And a traffic source is where. 

The offer doesn’t need to belong to you, a landing page is not exactly a website, and there is a gazillion of traffic sources out there, including your all-time-favorites Facebook and Google. 

It is easier to get offers from Affiliate Networks and Affiliate Programs, but you can also get your hands dirty and find them by yourself. 

That said, it’s always up to you to decide what kind of a professional to be and what kind of deals to make. So if you’re not a complete phony – who’s to doubt your professional integrity?

Affiliate Marketing is a legit business…

… Or not – it’s up to you, really. Either way, it is not different from any other form of digital advertising. 

You’re paid for promoting products. Do you like and personally use those products? Who knows. Do you have to research the mission statement and values of each brand you’re promoting? Not unless your moral compass requires you to. 

In the end of the day, affiliate marketers are just people, much like you and I here. And when there are people involved, there’s a lot of grey area. But to understand it better we’ll need to have a look at the good-vs-evil camps. 

Fair and square – the white-hat affiliates 

You can sit at home running Facebook ads on arts-and-crafts services and make good money out of it. Or you can work for a digital agency placing your offers directly to Google. You can join one of the many affiliate programs promoted by some of the well-known brands like Amazon or Clickbank. 

You can promote books, and cosmetics, and sports equipment, and even travel destinations. One of the main benefits of affiliate marketing is that you decide what kind of offers you’re most comfortable working with. After all, you’re your own boss! 


True, some verticals are more profitable than others. Yet, at the same time, a lot depends on your skill, creativity, and dedication. Basically, it all depends on you and you alone. 

Black hat affiliates

Just like any other online business, affiliate marketing is not all peaches and rainbows. After all, it grants you just enough creative freedom to promote offers that most of people would find… less legit. 

I’m talking annoying pop-ups, flashy banners, new windows opened in your unprotected browser, and more. There are more than enough people willing to grow their business on ad fraud or link cloaking. 


Okay, cloaking – per se – is not technically that bad. The process generally refers to disguising your affiliate links to make them look more clickable and attractive. No harm done as long as the offer is legit. 

Which once again brings us to the main point of this article – don’t hate the game, hate the player. It’s all up to you if you want to build a profitable and fair online business or if you choose to use affiliate marketing as a scheme for tricking people. 

The industry itself has the place for both. You just need to make the right choice. 

Is Affiliate Marketing (Still) Profitable?

You’ve probably heard of this little thing called COVID-19 which is promising to make 2008 seem like a picnic. While our industry belongs to the lucky few that were less affected by the virus, it still got hit. 

We explained all the expected effects of Coronavirus on affiliate marketing before. We even attempted to answer the burning question “Is Affiliate Marketing Dead?”. The stats is on our side, as more and more businesses choose to invest in their affiliate programs and more and more people tend to wonder if they could make a worthy affiliate of themselves.

affiliate marketing adaptation infographics


But the truth is – no one knows what will happen

And that’s okay. Because it only further proves the legitimacy of affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is not a pyramid scheme…

It’s a business.

And starting a business – especially in unstable times like these – comes with many risks and uncertainties.

Pyramid schemes, however… Well, some might say that a cat in a sack is better than nothing. But it’s definitely not the case. 

It’s truly sad how many people mistake affiliate programs for pyramid schemes. Not because of all the negative PR, but because the two have literally nothing in common.

I won’t reinvent the wheel – here’s what Wikipedia has to say on financial pyramid schemes: 

… a business model that recruits members via a promise of payments or services for enrolling others into a scheme, rather than supplying investments or sale of products. 

We all trust Wikipedia, don’t we? Perhaps, a little too much even. But it’s not the point now. 

The point is affiliate marketing is nowhere near recruiting. It’s actually better for existing affiliates to keep their ranks limited if they want to keep competition under control. On top of that, there’s no participation badge. It’s a business. And in order to succeed in a business you need to work. 

I feel like it’s a good place to remind you that by using an ad tracker such as Voluum, affiliates get significantly higher chances of making their business profitable. 

But is it a promise? Not really. Because apart from getting a tracker, you would need to use it and all the data it provides. Unfortunately, simply paying for our monthly subscription won’t get you very far. 


Long story short

As an affiliate, you aren’t expected to invest – you’re expected to sell.

Businesses working with affiliates aren’t looking for partners – they’re looking for advertisers. 

You’re not looking for partners – you’re looking for customers. 

The more is NOT the merrier. 

And you might work really hard and get rich in the end. Just like in any other industry. Or you may fail. There’s no 100%-success money-back guarantee here.

Affiliate marketing is always a bit of a gamble. You gotta know when to hold ‘em and you gotta know when to fold ‘em. 

At the same time, it’s a perfectly legitimate business. 

End of discussion.

  1. Yes. Affiliate Marketing is a Real Business. But will it work for all ? No. I tried to promote random affiliate links from Click Bank and even after few years not a single sale. So I shifted my focus on single niche which was stock market and became successful with some organic google traffic. Real business came by themselves through our website for partnership and I still have revenue share partnership with them. You can mint money in Affiliate marketing only if you become an expert or spend considerable time in a specific niche to know what works. If marketing has been easy, there will be NO NEED for affiliates. That is not easy, hence the option of having affiliates. Because real business and companies don’t mind sharing revenue instead of wasting money on unknown results.

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