For a lot of people the “make money online world” can be a rough place morally. A lot of people will do pretty much anything to make a buck, others aren’t willing to compromise even a little, and thus most of the time they end up not making any money. I don’t know if it’s better to be morally or financially bankrupt, but I’d rather find myself a happy balance and be profitable and moral(ish).
When we talk about ethics in regards to affiliates there is a clear dilemma. A person is selling a product which they have a direct interest in selling. So you think to yourself this is exactly what stores in the mall do but the two cases aren’t quite the same in most cases. Generally when we make affiliate sales online we are representing ourselves as a person giving an honest opinion, but rarely will you see someone who talks about how crappy a product is selling many of them. You can see the conflict here, which gives us three real choices:
- You can write about only those products and services which you use and like (or love).
- You can write about anything that you know there is a market for that you can make money from.
- You can promote pay per click affiliate programs for profit.
I do all 3 myself and see nothing wrong with it. I’m not a snake-oil salesman. I would never promote something or sell someone anything I knew could harm them. I’m not going to tell someone that a product will do something it never will. But what I will do sometimes is hawk niche products that aren’t the HIGHEST quality, or even buy myself, simply because I know there is a market for them. In my mind buyer beware on the internet, really.
There are other people, I call them bloggers (haha) who actually have a self interest in only promoting products in the first category. These people trade off their reputation as honest people. I love tech, and I would trust Leo Laporte’s opinion on laptops because he won’t screw me… it’s in his interest not to because then I would never listen to his radio show and sign up to his email lists all the time. If you are looking to buy something this is the type of guy you want to find, but it takes a lot of work to build this kind of trust where you can do this. I personally don’t have the time or energy to do this!
Anyway there is no right or wrong answer on where to draw the line, but it is a personal decision that people should be aware of when they get into the business of affiliate marketing.