Not just another internet marketing site

The Skeptical Affiliate

Affiliate Marketing

Can I do affiliate marketing?

Like everyone, I have seen countless ‘make money from home’ adverts on the internet. “Local woman makes $3000 from home, find out how by clicking this link”. You know what I’m talking about. I was always idly curious, but mostly they look like obvious scams, so I never bothered to follow up. I didn’t even know there was a thing called ‘affiliate marketing,’ so of course I never really asked myself ‘can I do affiliate marketing?’

 

A real person was making money

A few weeks ago I was looking at a self-build camper van group on Facebook. Someone was talking about the economic feasibility of living full time on the road in a van. A woman commented that she did it, and made a living from affiliate marketing, so she could be anywhere. This was the first time I’d actually encountered a real person who was doing this and not trying to sell it to me. She was just saying she did it, she didn’t say how or try to send links or brag about her income, it was just a job description, not a sales pitch. So that made me think that maybe it is a real thing and not a huge scam. I decided to cautiously investigate.

 

Bombarded with opportunities!

As you can see, a YouTube search reveals an endless list of millionaires. Happy smiling people* who have made a fortune on Amazon and now have a healthy passive income and a jet set lifestyle, sitting by the pool sipping daiquiris and occasionally spending half an hour on the laptop developing their ever-increasing income, which they can prove by showing me a screenshot with a big red arrow pointing at this month’s $37,557.48 total

(*I’ve blurred everyone’s face here in case someone objects to me using their image, but take my word for it, their faces are happy and smiling!)

And they’re all desperate to share this good fortune with me. Hmm. That’s very public-spirited of them, but it raises a suspicion in my mind. If they’re all doing so well, why are they so keen to sign me, and everyone else, up to do the same thing? Could it be that the real money is not in affiliate sales of Amazon goods, but in getting others to join up with a paid-for scheme? Can all these offers be for real? Is there actually pots of money being made? Is it a bubble about to burst? So many questions!

 

How do you choose?

Once I start looking at these money gurus, Facebook and Google and YouTube quickly know all about it, and start targetting ads at me – dollar signs flashing before my eyes all the time. How do I separate scams from the real deal, if indeed the real deal is actually real?

As I begin to learn just a tiny bit about this business a strange thing happens. I actually become less and less sure how to progress. Do I go for affiliate marketing or FBA? What even is FBA? Or should I be making millions from Google Maps? And it’s not just Amazon, there’s loads of companies I could be an affiliate of. A plethora of products to be linked to via Clickbank or Rakuten or countless others. This scatter gun approach to research is not working. So, I decide to target my research and look at one guru at a time. More or less randomly, I click on a video link, and find a person who comes across as relatively normal.

 

Sophie Howard

Sophie, I am told by her website blueskyamazon, is a 7-figure Amazon seller and online business coach. She appears to be as a sensible woman from the north of England (now living in New Zealand), a normal person, a mother, all good things in my book. She says all sorts of great things that sound totally do-able and genuine, and it feels quite reasonable that a person could actually make some money if they do what she suggests.

Sophie Howard
Sophie telling it like it is

I watch through a few videos where she talks about how she has done it, ordering stock from wholesalers and manufacturers in distant lands, which is shipped directly to Amazon.  Amazon then handles all the orders and shipping to customers (hence Fulfilled by Amazon, or FBA), while Sophie takes a big chunk of profit. Not a risk free plan, and one that would require some careful product research and investment of money. All of which Sophie can help with if I sign up to her course. Sounds like a lot of work, but potentially rewarding. Very convincing though, maybe I should do this? How much does it cost?

Well it’s a three figure investment to sign up with Sophie. How much exactly is hard to say – you have to have a phone consultation and an offer is made. But figures quoted by those who have done it are around $4000. A Premium Price I would call that. You get proper training from the looks of it, but right now, I can’t afford that. It’s a very big commitment for dipping my toe in the water. So I move on from Sophie.

Can I do this cheaply?

The next thing I come across is a chap name of Nathaneill, who draws me in with the headline: ‘This Is How I Built A Six-Figure Affiliate Website (Three Times!)’ at his site onemorecupof-coffee.com.  There is a photo of a smiling Nathaneill holding a puppy (which I much prefer to those pictures I’ve seen of people leaning on expensive sports cars). He writes about how he was an ESOL teacher in China when he started his first web business in 2010, and is now back in the USA and doing very nicely. He has posted up some of those pictures with the red arrows showing how much he’s made in certain months, but then winningly follows them with the line “It’s pretty easy to fake screenshots though, so those pictures don’t really matter that much.”

In an article of over 5000 words Nathaneill writes about some of the websites he’s made that make money (garden sprinklers, homebrew beer) and tells me about a program called Weathly Affiliate, which he urges me to sign up to. This appears to be a far cheaper option than Sophie Howard’s training.

Nathaneill and his puppy, Rustin
Nathaneill and his puppy, Rustin

Wealthy Affiliate

Wealthy Affiliate has been going for 14 years and has over a million members. This makes me think that at least some of these folk must be making money. It offers lessons, forums, advice, guidance and an easy set up for my very own website. I can sign up for free, in a limited form. This is good because I can try it out and see for myself what it offers. Of course, they want to me sign up for the premium membership. How much? $49 a month, with the first month discounted to $19. OK I’m thinking that’s still an investment, what am I getting for my money?

Firstly, there is one extra cost – I’m probably going to want my own domain name, and I have to buy this – it’s $13.99 p/a which is a pretty normal rate for buying a domain. But what is included is web hosting for my site (or sites – up to 50 of them), along with a number of other benefits that I’d have to pay for if I did everything myself. It also has heaps of other people doing the same, and its pretty much a requirement that help and encouragement is given and taken by all. Nathaneill, in return for my following the link from his site, will personally be available to give advice.

For a beginner like myself it starts to look tempting. After all, I can try it for free, upgrade for $19 for the first month, and if it isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, walk away with  minimal loss. At this point it seems like a way of learning all about this stuff via a program I can follow, rather trying to navigate my own path single-handedly.

Before signing up though, I feel I should do a little more research into alternatives.

 
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment below.

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