Authenticity and Affiliate Marketing

By Jamie McSloy / May 5, 2017
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Authenticity, Affiliate Marketing And Product Creation

Do you ever feel conflicted at all the options available to you in online business? Do you wonder whether you should create your own product, try affiliate marketing or maybe some weird combination of the two?

Welcome to the club.

The confusion around what to do when you get into online business is pretty common. Most people struggle with it.

I’ve been struggling recently with certain projects; do I sell my own product? Maybe I should stick to the affiliate marketing thing? What if the options are rubbish and I have to do some actual hard work?

Here’s what I’ve come up with on the subject of affiliate marketing, product creation, business building and sleeping at night despite being a sneaky silvertongued salesman.

Affiliate Marketing

A major problem with the affiliate marketing business is that in a lot of cases you’re pushing products you don’t believe in.

Most of the time, this isn’t an issue for me. Sometimes it makes the job trickier though.  I know I’m not the only one who feels like this, because one of the most common questions I get is, “But what about products I don’t own/haven’t used/don’t believe in.”

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Now, I’m firmly of the opinion that anyone who creates a product – no matter how bad or scammy – deserves some level of respect. After all, they’ve created something that might be of value to someone, even if it’s not me.

Incidentally, this is also a major reason why I don’t engage in Twitter wars, savage products or people, or get caught up in stuff I’m not interested in. Different audiences like different things.

That said, there are going to be times when you’re writing product reviews, sales letters or whatever and you think, “I really don’t like this” or “this isn’t really good.”

Case in point; I have a website from a few years back. I haven’t updated it since January 2015, but it still gets almost as many views per month as this site does. It’s a constant fixture on my “to-do” list.

However, I don’t really want to. The products are great in terms of affiliate marketing; multiple products with high commissions and plenty of them. I could write a thousand articles on the various facets of this subject and still have plenty more to write about.

The problem I have with it is this: The site is about learning a skill. Most of the advice given is generic and the products are targeted towards hobbyists and there’s the inevitable bookshelf in your local store filled with books that are called “Learn this in 15 minutes or less.”

Now there’s nothing wrong with those products. It’s just that it’s not how I learned at all. I learned by spending hours a day doing exercises over and over again and learning from dusty academic texts until I was so sick of the whole thing I had to quit for years.

Needless to say, this approach doesn’t work well when your site is about reviewing products that do it the quick and easy way.

About Product Creation

Creating your own product is probably the best way to make money. It’s not as quick or simple as writing a sales letter and being the middle man, but it comes with a lot of benefits:

  • You can create the product to be whatever you’d like it to be
  • There are higher margins
  • Nobody can cut your money off one day
  • You get the fame, glory and girls

A problem people have with affiliate marketing is that it’s not a “real business.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I guess their point is that when you’re the middle man, everyone assumes you’re just skimming off the top while the product creator works hard and creates something of value.

There are issues with the above line of thinking, but if you want to avoid the stigma, you have to act like the Romans and build a lasting business.

Now, I bring this up in this article because you need to know one thing: If you’re intending to create products, then you need to believe in them. You need to find the value I them and build them to a high standard.

Here are the major reasons for this:

  • Product creation is long and arduous. If you hate the subject before you start, then you will hate your life for the time it takes to create it (not to mention the aftercare)
  • People can smell inauthenticity. It’s easier to hide when you’re a middleman. When you sell a product and somebody says, “How does this work?” and you don’t know or care, you’ve lost the sale and the game
  • Your product will be lower quality if you’re just making a quick buck on it

Presenting The Compromise

If your product is a $5 ebook on something stupid like the 23 Best Carrot Juice Recipes For Alpha Males… then you probably don’t need to worry about the above. On the other hand, if you’re trying to write a 50,000 word book, create a physical product or do anything which requires time and effort, you need to believe in your product.

Luckily, the two above sections lead to a great compromise. Use affiliate marketing to scope the landscape out, try out products and see what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, learn the market.

When it comes to starting a business, you’re probably not going to be the first person to have your idea. You’re also not going to be the best-funded or even the most talented person working in your field. You can be the best-researched though. There’s nothing stopping you finding all the experts in your field and reading their books. You can also find a graduate course on your chosen field and read all the text books. Spend a few hours browsing the net, read what people have to say and absorb it all.

Then build your business. Create your product and do it in a way that you believe in. It won’t be what everybody in your target market wants. You aren’t going to please everyone. But create the product and launch it and you’ll find that with a global audience, your knowledge and authenticity will hit a certain percentage of the target market.

Following the above strategy, you’ll have used affiliate marketing to learn the market and then created a “real business” from your findings.

Final Thoughts

Let’s quickly sum this up.

If you are new to a market, then by all means do the affiliate marketing thing. You’ll learn the skills and funnels needed to succeed and learn the market. If there’re awesome products that you use and believe in, it’s great that you can make money from promoting them.

(Some people would argue with me on that, but who cares?)

When you’re affiliate marketing, everything you do should also be for a higher purpose as well; find holes in the market. Find ways of doing things better. Peer into the souls of your target market and see what they want that they’re not getting.

When you do that, you’ll know when you’re ready to make the jump into product creation. You’ll also know what to do and how to do it.

This approach is the best of all worlds.