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Paying to join an affiliate program

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Thursday December 18, 2008 )

A question I get asked quite often is whether you should have to pay to join an affiliate program. The short answer is no. Here’s why.

If you have to pay, it’s not a true affiliate program, but another type of partner program such as a high end reseller partner program; but it’s quite often an MLM or network marketing scheme. This is you are paid comissions on recruiting others who also pay to join the program.

In these arrangements, you are encouraged to build a downline many levels deep. The merchant actually makes money from your signup fee and unfortunately, often its one of the only ways they and their affiliates do. The real “product” is the program so to speak.

MLM and network marketing programs should always be approached with a little caution as it can be a very murky world – I go into more detail on such schemes in my article “MLM and network marketing – viable online businesses or scams?”.

Aside from MLM, I’ve seen merchants offer all sorts of excuses of why there’s a join up fee, such as it being a way to weed out affiliates who aren’t serious and to cover their costs of running the program.

In regards to the first excuse, affiliate screening really isn’t all that hard to do and by attempting to whack on an up front fee, good affiliates tend to stay clear. It really is a counter-productive strategy.

Regarding the second point – if merchant doesn’t have the money to cover the program already, then the merchant shouldn’t be running it – I’d be very nervous about how well the product converts – and whether I’d see my commissions.

Bear in mind that affiliate programs are one of the cheapest ways for a merchant to get broad coverage as they usually pay on peformance. In these instances, the merchant only pays out when you make a sale and the commission rate is calculated to incorporate any of their costs.

Pick up some more affiliate marketing tips


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