Is Affiliate Marketing Truly Legitimate? The Honest Answer

The answer is yes, affiliate marketing is legitimate and you can really make money at it. The problem however is that if you ask 100 different people what their idea of legitimacy is in this business, you’ll probably get a lot of different answers.

To some, doing affiliate marketing legitimately could be the following:

1) Example 1 (Bad):

Anything affiliate marketing related that makes them money means there’s legitimacy, even if it’s a questionable opportunity, scam or pyramid scheme (most notably with MLM programs and high ticket schemes).

This is actually a major fallacy a lot of people fall for and in worst cases fail at (9 out of 10 times), and at best (1 out of 10 times) become a successful promoter for shady programs that screw people over.

2) Example 2 (Good):

It could also mean creating an online business on something you truly love where you’re very passionate about the subject of the site, passionate about the promotion and more importantly, passionate about helping the people you’re selling to.

This is where in my experience, you’ll find true legitimacy in affiliate marketing and just as well, it is also where most people who follow this approach see the best results from because you simply can’t build an online business and have it reach it’s full potential without sincere passion for it.

If you know anything about how I preach and do affiliate marketing, you’ll know I strictly stick to the latter example and teach people how to do that across my sites which is why this post will strictly focus on that aspect of it. And so:

Here are 3 tips to starting and running a legitimate affiliate marketing business:

is affiliate marketing legitimate

1) Select a niche passion that you have first (think about the money second).

2) Build out your content with the intent to help, not sell.

3) Your customer’s interests come first. Your affiliate marketing interests come second.

In my experience, when you combine these 3 tips together, you put yourself in the best possible position with creating and running a very successful and truly legitimate and ethical affiliate marketing business.

And sadly, very few people ever aim to strive for this outcome and as you’ll find out very shortly, it is one of the biggest affiliate marketing mistakes they make.

1) Selecting your niche passion (why this is the first step to creating a legitimate affiliate marketing business):

find your niche passion for affiliate marketing

Everything becomes much easier when you add passion to it. Whether it business, relationships or anything you do in life.

Passion is the fuel of your ambition and success at anything, remember this.

And without it, you are trying to accomplish something that has very little feeling or substance to it, and that greatly screws with your chances of succeeding at it, including with what we’re talking about here.

Add to it that building a real affiliate marketing business requires a lot of time and hard work, and then do this:

  • If you include passion in that equation, it’ll be a lot easier.
  • If you exclude passion in that equation, it’ll be a disaster and a ton harder to succeed if not impossible.

Most people who get into affiliate marketing make money their passion and look for the “biggest opportunities” or best affiliate networks that give them the top commissions as their first choice to build their businesses on, thinking that because the commissions are there, so is the legitimacy.

For example:


All of these are examples of affiliate programs that you can technically make good money with, but some of them are extremely questionable places and get rich quick schemes or scams that I’d never recommend getting involved with. But the point here is that these particular programs offer the opportunity for people to capitalize on a “passion” which is making money.

However, this is a mirage, because of course, everyone likes to make money, but it is a cheap distraction from looking at yourself honestly and asking a very important question, which is:

“What am I truly passionate about?”

And if making money  or “nothing” is your answer, then you need to do some deep thinking on this subject to come up with a better one.

In my experience, everyone has some sort of passion or interests, regardless of whether or not they want to make money from it and all you need to do is explore ways to bring that passion or hobby to the surface to get started in this business legitimately. Here are some examples:

You will find that in the many examples those 4 posts have on niches, that none of them are repeats and this is because I know how wide the range is for this subject and I actively help people find theirs in Wealthy Affiliate if none of the ones in those articles fit your passion choice.

So really think about this question, list out your passions and if necessary, ask me below which I suggest you go with, but really be honest with yourself and don’t worry about the money. Worry about the passion and choosing that correctly because that’s where the money really is.

2) Build out your content with the intent to help (not sell):

quality content creates a legitimate affiliate marketing business

A good example:

A person who is passionate about their niche and whose intent is also to help people will inevitably create a business that does just that. With the passion for their niche, the following things will come to fruition:

  • They will create incredibly helpful content on blogs and YouTube videos.
  • Helpful content gets you ranked better on search engines.
  • Helpful content gets you more traffic.
  • Helpful content gets readers to trust you.
  • Helpful content shows your authority in helping people solve problems.
  • Helpful content gets people to talk about you and share your content.
  • And finally, helpful content gets people to buy from you, making you the successful and legitimate affiliate marketer.

This is the intent I put into this website and that’s why it gets such favorable comments all across it. People love sincerity and comment on that constantly. This is a reflection of what a good and legitimate affiliate marketing business looks like.

A bad example:

People who make making money their passion do the worst things you can imagine to sell them. For example:

  • They lie about how much money they make.
  • They spam you in numerous ways.
  • They shamelessly do anything to make the sale.
  • The content and online sales funnels they create are very low quality.
  • They lack credibility and authenticity to get that much needed trust to actually make the sale.

And these are also the best target audience for the big time scammers who like piranhas will seek you out, exploit your need to make money and scam you for it.

Now are you starting to see the trap that people set for themselves when they chase the money and make that their passion?

3) Your customer’s interests are always first. Your affiliate income is second:

in affiliate marketing your customer comes first

Very often, people flip this tip around and do the opposite (again, they focus on the money) and this will usually end up getting your the opposite results (Read tip 2 again for why this is).

Whenever I do affiliate marketing, I find that when I:

  • Create helpful content.
  • Answer people’s questions without trying to sell them something.
  • Be sincere in helping their issues.
  • Not worrying about the sale, but worrying about solving my customer’s problem.

That all of this embodies trust and gets people to appreciate me more and more importantly, to buy from me. I also find that in some cases, nothing I ever do will convince a person to buy something, but when I talk to these people publicly and answer their questions, there’s other people (potentially customers), reading this who will trust me and will take my advice and buy what I promote.

The biggest thing I promote is the Wealthy Affiliate program and I often run into people for whom this program is not ideal for (it happens) and in those cases, I make sure to let people know what to expect and what is required to succeed with this program and if it’s not for them, I will literally say it.

Yes I will risk the sale, but the honesty is super important here, because down the line if this person feels that they were manipulated into buying what I recommended to them, they will get the refund and I”ll be at $0 for that anyway, so it works like in a karmic way in the end.

So in my case and likely yours, if you want a legitimate affiliate marketing business that prospers, you have to think about solving your customers needs and then about making the sale.

  • If I can solve my customer’s needs without selling them anything, I’ll likely do it.
  • If I can solve my customer’s needs and the ideal way to do it is by recommending an affiliate product for a fair price, I’ll do that then.

These 3 tips together will produce a legitimate affiliate marketing business:

If you agree with the suggestions I gave you in this article, then the good news is that you have a very good moral compass and even better news that if you apply these tips correctly, that you will succeed in this business.

My advice from here is to start with the Wealthy Affiliate program to do this because this is where you’ll learn about creating a legitimate affiliate marketing business.

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