Just so you know, this is part rant, part my actual affiliate policy information - scroll to the bottom if you don’t want the rant bit ;)
How many times have you read a website and wonder whether the information you’re getting is TRULY objective?
That GLOWING review you scroll through about how this software or that product is ahhh-maze-ing and the best thing since sliced cheese!
But. Is it really that good?
Or is the lure of cold hard cash clouding the opinion of the writer?
Maybe they choose to review that particular product or service over something else, they might actually like better, because it has the highest affiliate payout?
That is the information that doesn’t get disclosed in affiliate policies ;)
Every website has to disclose if they use affiliate links (because, it’s the law, so no choice). But do they actually use and love the product, software or service they are wholeheartedly recommending for you to use?
And if they do use it, do they love it as much as they say they do?
Or could there be another, better product, that maybe just doesn’t run an affiliate program to lure cash strapped bloggers into writing reviews?
I’m not saying all sites do this, but when I see the same thing getting recommended time and time again across countless sites in your industry, especially when I KNOW there are better options, it makes me wonder.
Bloggers need to make money
I get it. Bloggers work their butts off creating their websites, promoting the posts and it takes a loooooong time to see a return on the time investment, so getting money is a good thing for a blogger.
From a marketing perspective of the affiliate company, it is super clever strategy especially from SAAS companies as it is encourages bloggers to review their software. Which then gives them impressive reviews all over the Internet for the low low price of a few free subscriptions- the cost is negligible. The benefit undoubtedly magnificent
When random new to software person comes along and googles “reviews for xyz software”, up comes dozens if not hundreds of positive reviews.
Depending on how just how good the affiliate program is, the more reviews you tend to find and some of those reviews could be downright spectacular!
The better the affiliate program, the better the reviews?
I’ve noticed a bit of a trend. The more generous the affiliate offer, the more reviewers - bloggers especially - will knock themselves out to make the review sound like they’ve just discovered some miracle!
“How I increased my traffic from 100 views per day to 8 million views per day in just in just 3 months”
“How I made $958,387,487 on my blog last month”
etc etc etc (I mean maybe I’ve gone with a bit of hyperbole, but you get the idea)
It could be because sometimes the affiliate company will sometimes feature the blogger and their review in their OWN advertising. Which of course gives the blog huge exposure, so would further encourage great reviews to get the benefit of that.
Of course, the lure of tonnes of traffic to a blog will strongly encourage said blogger to write an amazing review.
All these spectacular reviews also gives the impression to Joe public that it is a must have because of how many people are raving about it.
Like I said, clever marketing.
It is VERY rare to see a negative review with an affiliate link (haven’t found one yet to be honest).
Maybe the company would kick the negative reviewer out of the affiliate program if that was the case. I then doubt the review would stay up in that situation, even if the blogger did actually think it was a fantastic life changing product.
Content for the reader? Or for the sweet sweet affiliate cash?
Sometimes bloggers will even specifically create content just to drive those affiliate sales. That is clever blogging and often recommended by the many “how to make money blogging” blogs.
I got an email a few weeks ago from a blogger actively bragging about his $40k a month payout from a BlueHost, who are notoriously famous for their generous affiliate deals.
He got that by “driving” his website visitors to his “how to start a blog” course: which he proudly set up for the purpose of getting those big fat commissions. (And seemingly so he could then brag about the big payouts he was getting, to ease his transition into the lucrative how to make money online niche).
Oh I am cynical today!
Making a profit is important
Now I know people often run blogs and websites for the explicit purpose of making money. A lot of work goes into building a blog and an audience and I totally get that the people doing that want a reward for their hard work.
Blogging is BIG business these days. It allows a lot of people all around the world to work from home and earn an income where they otherwise couldn’t, so I do very much understand why affiliate income is important.
I’m all about profitability in business.
But how about a bit of integrity to go with the profit!
Would most of those bloggers still make those exact same recommendations if there wasn’t a big payday for them?
Not even using the recommended product?!?
Another thing that shits me is when I see people recommending things they don’t even use (and it is really obvious they don’t use it!)
Like when I read information on setting up your blog using Bluehost and Wordpress published on sites that are clearly built in squarespace!
If you’re an expert in your field and don’t use the product or service yourself, why the hell would you recommend it to someone else and tell them to use it!
Obviously if a site is build on Squarespace, that is because it is BETTER to do that, than build on wordpress using a cheap host.
Making recommendations for things you don’t use seems very disingenuous to me.
Maybe those bloggers don’t recommend squarespace, the very site they are using themselves, because Squarespace doesn’t offer an affiliate program, so there’s no money to be made in that recommendation?
Or maybe its just me that finds that a bit off….
So I go for more of a no bullshit affiliate policy.
(Sorry if you had to scroll all the way past my ranting to get to the actual policy!)
This blog, Unicorn HQ, is an adjunct to my own business consulting site.
I created the blog to drive traffic to my site and that is where I make my money.
Hopefully, through reading my helpful tips + clever and interesting blog posts, you’ll be inspired to learn more about me and maybe one day become a client. (Hint hint…)
That said, I’m not a martyr and given that I do recommend products, software and services on my website from time to time, I will sometimes use affiliate links.
After all, it costs you nothing at all to use my link.
I’ll then get a few bucks here and there, maybe a free month of software every now and then from something I’d recommend for free anyway. So it’s a nice little bonus.
However my guarantee to you is:
I will only use affiliate links for software, products and services that I currently use myself in my day to day business.
I promise to tell you about and recommend tools I use day to day - even if they don’t have affiliate programs.
My recommendations will NEVER be based on how much I get paid.
Any reviews and recommendations will only be based on my opinion, formed after using the product or service myself - good, bad or ugly.
In many case I spent hours (and HOURS) pouring over reviews, tutorials, going through free trials trying out different options to figure out the best way to go.
Doing that means I can objectively make my recommendations, because I think it’s the best option, not because it’s got the best affiliate program ;)
Until next time.