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The Brutally Honest Truth About Affiliate Marketing

Let's have an honest conversation about affiliate marketing, who it's for, and when/if you need to do it for your business.

The Brutally Honest Truth About Affiliate Marketing money fanned out

What’s Affiliate Marketing?

I got an unexpected check this week for $144.

Three years ago someone clicked on the link at the bottom of my appointment scheduler and signed up for Book Like a Boss (the service I use — and love).

Apparently, each year, I get a $48 commission when their subscription renews.

Because Book Like a Boss sends checks when the commission reaches $100, it took 3 years before the “sales commission” was realized. 💸 💸

This is an example of affiliate marketing.

It’s not a big part of my business. I don’t use affiliate links in my blog.

Affiliate marketing is an advertising model in which a company compensates third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products and services. The third-party publishers are affiliates, and the commission fee incentivizes them to find ways to promote the company. — Investopedia

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you come across affiliate marketing all the time.

Whenever you read a blog post and you see something like this at the top of a post:

Sample affiliate marketing disclosure
Sample affiliate marketing disclosure

It means the post contains affiliate links, meaning the author gets paid if you buy the product based on their recommendation.

Amazon started its Associates Program in 1996, and by 1998 with the advent of cookies, ClickBank and Commission Junction opened their doors (source: History of Affiliate Marketing).

When blogging became all the rage in the early 2000s, affiliate marketing and AdSense were relatively easy revenue streams for well-trafficked blogs.

There were numerous major flaws. Let me share 3 examples here.

Sample of a ClickFunnels "review" with numerous affiliate links.
Sample of a ClickFunnels "review" with numerous affiliate links.
  1. Consumers weren’t aware of affiliate marketing;
  2. Therefore didn’t know about the potential underlying biases of the writer; and
  3. There weren’t any consumer protections about how companies used information obtained via affiliates.

Basically, WILD WEST.

The FTC and SEC have since established rules aimed at protecting consumers.

Many provisions went into effect in 2021.

Amazon is slashing its affiliate rates, other companies are ending their programs, and at least one of the biggest names in affiliate marketing is now declaring it ‘dead.’

We’ve now entered the decline of affiliate marketing. Sort of.

Don’t Make Affiliate Marketing Your Entire Business

I’m not turning down that nice, delicious $144 slice of cheddar, but I’m not centering my business around affiliate marketing.

And here are a few things you should consider too:

  1. There’s conflicting information about whether too many affiliate links can hurt your position in Google search
  2. Consumers are getting wise to the whole “brutally honest ClickFunnels review” laced with affiliate links
  3. Companies offering affiliate marketing commissions can cut the rates or end their programs altogether

In short, there’s too much volatility and uncertainty to create a niche website promoting someone else’s product.


If you’re a service-based business, honestly, your primary sales pitch needs to be for your own services. TRULY.

Your time is worth more than that.

Let Jeff Bezos and Russell Brunson sell their own products. From what I can tell, they’re doing fine financially. 😉

How to Make Affiliate Marketing Work

Do you remember the ‘sort of’ I mentioned earlier? ☝️

Although it’s increasingly challenging to make a living as an affiliate marketer, that doesn’t mean you can’t use affiliate marketing as part of your business.

The basics of creating an affiliate marketing program for your business:

  1. Create a product with a high-profit margin (e.g., a digital product, like an online course or membership)
  2. Establish your overall marketing budget and how affiliate marketing fits into your plan. Bear in mind affiliate marketing is an advanced marketing tactic that takes time, money, and effort
  3. Develop an affiliate structure (what rewards are you offering to your affiliates? Cash, discounts, etc.)
  4. Use a formal affiliate marketing program like LeadDyno or Tapfiliate to help you manage your affiliate program and minimize fraud (or you can absorb the risks and manage it yourself using ThriveCart)

If you have a great product and stand behind your promises, affiliate marketing can help you bring more awareness to your brand and product, increase sales, and make both customers and affiliates happy.

Expand Your Social Media Reach

Every entrepreneur and small business owner needs a strategy for using social media efficiently to increase their visibility and credibility. On this week’s podcast, we talked about how YOU can increase your reach on social in 2022.

Live YouTube broadcast every Thursday at 10 AM Pacific — bring your questions! Or, subscribe for podcast episodes released every Friday morning.

💌 That's a wrap for this Sunday.

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See you again next week.

Have a great day,


P.S. Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you...

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