how to avoid affiliate marketing scams headerAffiliate marketing has become a very popular way to make money online as it is something everyone can get started with.

When something becomes popular online, most of the times scammers also see this opportunity and try to make easy money by cheating others – that is, unfortunately, also sometimes the case when it comes to affiliate marketing.

I am myself a full-time affiliate marketer and I have seen a lot of both good and bad programs over the last few years.

In this article, I will show you how to avoid affiliate marketing scams by showing you 7 things you need to look for before joining any program.

Are all affiliate programs scams?

Before we get to the signs you need to look for to avoid the internet affiliate scams, I just first wanted to make one thing clear.

Affiliate marketing is in itself a 100% legit business model where you can earn commissions by promoting other people’s products or services.

Almost no matter what kind of product or service you want to promote, you can find many affiliate programs for it.

There are millions of affiliate programs available and even the biggest of the biggest companies use affiliate marketing.

So it has a huge potential and if you do honest affiliate marketing, it can be a really great way to create a sustainable income online and at the same time feel good about what you are doing.

So if you just steer clear of the scams, it is, in my experience, one of the best ways to start making money online.

7 ways to avoid affiliate marketing scams

Steering clear of the affiliate marketing scams is honestly more difficult than you might think.

Especially if you are new as you do not know what signs to look for.

Unfortunately, the majority of the affiliate training programs out there are scams or at the very least so poor that you will just waste your money.

This can seem discouraging, but with a bit of awareness, it is possible to steer clear of them and find the good options with real opportunities.

So let’s now go over 7 aspects you need to consider to avoid the affiliate marketing scams.

Sign #1 – Get-rich-quick

If you have looked for ways to learn affiliate marketing online, you have probably seen A LOT of programs claiming that you can start making hundreds of dollars already today or tomorrow.

fast money with affiliate marketing claim

Do NOT believe any program that claims you will become rich overnight.

At first, it might seem logical that get-rich-quick claims are never a good sign.

But if you are new to affiliate marketing, some of the sales pitches can be extremely convincing. They really know how to push your buttons and say all the right things.

But no matter how great a sales pitch or how good their arguments are you need to know that there are NO legit ways to get rich this quick through affiliate marketing (or in general for that matter unless you win the lottery).

People often think that because it is online they can make a lot of money right away – but building an online business takes time just as it takes time to build any other kind of business.

So do not fall for any get-rich-quick claims no matter how convincing they are.

Sign #2 – You will earn automatically

Another claim you will very often see regarding affiliate marketing is that you can make money on autopilot or make passive income as it is often called.

automated income scam claim

There is no such thing as completely automated money.

In one sense you can make passive income with affiliate marketing. But you need to understand what passive means.

It means that once everything is set up, you will earn even when you are not working. You will also be earning when you are sleeping, eating, on holiday, etc.

However, it does NOT mean you will never have to work. It takes hard work to get there and even when you get there, the income will quickly dry out if you do not put in continuous work.

In general, there is NO software or system that will just automatically do all the work for you so you just have to push a few buttons and then sit back and watch the money roll in. It is just NOT realistic.

Any program that claims they have a system where you do not have to do any work is lying to you.

Just think about it – if they had an automatic system that could make money without any effort, why would they then go through all the trouble to set up a very convincing sales page to sale it for maybe $49 or less?

So be very careful when you see any program claiming they offer money on complete autopilot.

Sign #3 – Low to high pricing

A very common thing in affiliate marketing is to use upsells or OTOs (one-time-offers).

This means you might get the initial product/training for just around $10. But immediately after you have paid this, you will be hit with several more expensive upsells.

Sometimes they will even make you feel very bad about yourself if you do not get these. And in many cases, you will not really get anything out of their program unless you get these upsells.

It can often end up costing hundreds of dollars – in some cases even thousands of dollars.

However, I want to make it clear that just because an affiliate marketing program uses upsells it does not mean it is a scam. I have joined several myself that had some very valuable upsells and that were definitely worth the money.

But that is not always the case. Sometimes you can end up spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on useless training.

It is tricky to know when it is a scam and when it is not.

But if you have it in the back of your head to be aware of this, and then combine it with the rest of the signs on this list, then you will be able to spot the legit affiliate marketing options from the scams.

Sign #4 – Focus is on flashing money

Some affiliate marketing options focus more or less only on flashing money, cars, women, villas, etc. when they try to convince you to join them.

flashing of affiliate marketing money

Some programs try to convince you by flashing money.

You never really know if it really is their money, cars, house, etc. as things like that can be rented.

However, even when it is actually theirs, this focus on money, etc. is a warning sign in my experience. Some people that provide good value also use these tricks because they simply think they have to, to get peoples’ attention.

But often you can spot the scammers because they entirely focus on showing you money, cars, etc., and never really talk about what it takes to make this money and they never really talk about what they can actually teach you.

If there is no substance and just flashing of material possessions, then it is a warning sign to be aware of.

Sign #5 – No real products

The next sign can be a bit difficult to spot before actually joining an affiliate program. But by doing research online before joining, you should be able to find information about this.

There are some programs that say they are working with affiliate marketing. But when you look deeper that is not really the case.

There is actually no product you will earn by promoting and the only way to earn is by promoting the program itself and getting others to join and earn commissions that way.

So it is more the idea you are selling and not actually a service or product.

This is not affiliate marketing but in many cases, it is instead a pyramid scheme.

pyramide scheme icon

Some pyramid schemes disguise themselves as affiliate programs.

Often this will also have several levels you earn from.

But most importantly, if you find out the only way to earn through an affiliate program is by promoting the program itself and it does not really teach you any other skills, then it is a warning sign to be aware of.

Sign #6 – Pay to promote

This sign is pretty straightforward.

Some affiliate programs charge you a fee before you can even start promoting it to others. This is a clear scam sign and is often also where it might have a pyramid structure and not really be an affiliate marketing option.

In many cases, it is, of course, better to actually buy or join a platform/product before you promote it so you will know it is really worth recommending.

But the legit affiliate programs will rarely have it as a demand that you pay to promote.

Sign #7 – History of the creators

Every affiliate program or product has creators behind it. It is important to look into the history of these creators to see what they have offered before and if they really know what they are talking about.

Success leaves traces online and it is good to confirm the history of the owners before you join so you know they are legit.

Sometimes you will also find suspicious behavior. In my opinion, that is, for example, the case for many of the product creators on the platform WarriorPlus.

There definitely are some good products and creators on that platform.

But you might also often find that a product creator has created one new product every month for the past year and every product claims to be a secret way to earn online with never seen before methods.

That is just NOT realistic. Creating good products takes time and people that launch new products that often are just scammers selling BS to take you money without giving any value.

And by looking at their past products, you can also see if they are still being supported. If their past programs are just abandoned after a few months it is a sign they are not worth it and the new one will likely also not be.

Also, you will find some affiliate programs where you are not even told who the owner is – this is definitely also a big scam sign.

So looking into the history of the product creators can tell a lot and help you avoid a lot of scams, in my experience.

How do you learn proper affiliate marketing?

Now you know how to spot the affiliate marketing scams.

But there are luckily also many good affiliate options that do not have any scam signs and where you can actually make good money if you are willing to put in the work it takes.

Exactly which option is best for you depends on your preferences and how you wish to work with affiliate marketing.

For me personally, the all-in-one platform Wealthy affiliate is what has taught me to create a full-time income with affiliate marketing and it is, therefore, a platform I highly recommend as I know it works.

It includes step-by-step training, hosting, research tools, 24/7 support, a very helpful community, and more, and it is thereby the option with the best value for money, in my experience.

It is definitely not the only legit option to work with affiliate marketing but it is the place where I started and that has made it possible for me to now work on my own terms from anywhere and that is why I recommend this.

No matter what affiliate marketing option you choose to go for, just make sure to go through the 7 signs above so you have the best chances of finding a legit option.


If you have any comments, questions, or know of any affiliate scams that are not on the list, I would love to hear from you in a comment below.

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