Is Affiliate Marketing a Scam or Legit? [All You Need to Know…]

Is Affiliate Marketing a Scam or Legit Featured Image

Let me guess…

You recently stumbled upon the sales page of one of those 47-dollar blueprints that claim to hold the “secret formula” to building a monthly passive income of $11,497 in just 3 simple steps while laying on a beach in Bali sipping mojitos.

Or maybe you just came across rumors that affiliate marketing is a scam while browsing through a forum or something.

Whatever the case, you can’t help but wonder… “Is Affiliate Marketing a Scam or Legit?”

If that’s indeed the case, you hit the jackpot!

This article is dedicated to revealing to you all the information you might need to fully understand whether affiliate marketing is a scam or a legit money-making model that’s actually worth your time and attention or not.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Is Affiliate Marketing a Scam?

No, affiliate marketing isn’t a scam. On the contrary, it’s a perfectly legit business model used by thousands of companies towards extending their reach and millions of ordinary folks towards building an income online with minimal monetary investment.

Nonetheless, truth is that affiliate marketing is regularly mistaken for a scam for the following 2 reasons:

  1. Get-Rich-Quick Scams
  2. Unrealistic Expectations

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1. Get-Rich-Quick Scams

One of the main causes of damage to affiliate marketing’s reputation is the countless get-rich-quick scams out there…

These are basically fraudulent schemes that attempt to convince unsuspecting victims to invest in them by disguising themselves as legit affiliate courses that possess some kind of ultimate “secret” blueprint to unparalleled, instant, and effortless financial success.

If you’ve been consuming info about affiliate marketing for any length of time, you’ve probably come across such scams making absurd claims that make no sense whatsoever, like:

  • Affiliate system that fills your bank account on autopilot
  • The hidden $19,247 affiliate loophole that no one talks about
  • Push-button glitch to $297/day in affiliate commissions
  • Secret copy & paste trick to instant affiliate success

Unrealistic 6-Figure Claims By 6FigZ

Unrealistic and Misleading Income Claims

As you can imagine, if someone who doesn’t know much about affiliate marketing stumbles upon a questionable scheme that leverages sleazy and confusing language towards convincing them that affiliate marketing is the best thing since sliced bread, they’ll inevitably think that the model must be a scam as a whole.

Likewise, if someone ends up signing up for a get-rich-quick scam that not only doesn’t teach them anything of real value but also doesn’t take them anywhere near their financial goals, they’ll also understandably conclude that affiliate marketing is inherently a scam.

Of course, not all affiliate courses are scams…

There are numerous high-quality affiliate marketing courses that have helped thousands of people build successful affiliate businesses from the ground up!

But unfortunately, the number of get-rich-quick scams is large enough to spoil the reputation of the entire model…

Another reason that might have contributed to affiliate marketing being labeled as a scam is people’s unrealistic expectations about it…

That’s mostly because affiliate marketing is usually presented as one of the simplest ways to building an income online but the steep learning curve, the tons of trial and error, and the massive amounts of work involved in the process of creating a successful affiliate business are rarely mentioned at all.

As a result, many aspiring affiliate marketers fail to reach their expected income within their expected timeframe and then start blaming affiliate marketing as a scam either to justify their “failure” or merely out of spite, or both.

Is Affiliate Marketing Legit?

Yes, affiliate marketing is an absolutely legit performance-oriented form of referral marketing in which an online retailer rewards independent marketers with commissions for driving paying customers to their business.

How Affiliate Marketing Works Infographic

There’s literally nothing fishy or fraudulent about affiliate marketing and the numbers right below prove it!

It's Worth Over $14 Billion

According to this roundup of affiliate marketing statistics, the global value of affiliate marketing in 2017 was estimated at 14 billion dollars.

Furthermore, the affiliate marketing industry seems to be steadily growing at an average rate of 10% per year

As such, affiliate marketing’s global value will probably have surpassed 30 billion dollars by 2025.

A scam would be practically impossible to be experiencing such enormous growth rates year after year…

It's Being Used by Most of the Largest Companies

Affiliate marketing is currently being leveraged by most of the largest companies in the world, including, but not limited to:

  • Amazon
  • Etsy
  • Walmart
  • Samsung
  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • Uber
  • Booking
  • & more

As a matter of fact, Amazon was one of the first companies to launch an online affiliate program as early as 1996. By 2013, affiliate marketing was responsible for almost 40% of the company’s total global revenue.

I think that we can safely assume that Amazon wouldn’t be the colossus it is today if it weren’t for affiliate marketing…

That being said, if affiliate marketing was indeed a scam, it wouldn’t be utilized by almost every single company that shapes today’s world.

It's Been Around for Over 30 Years

Affiliate marketing was born more than 30 years ago, back in 1989.

A scam wouldn’t have been able to remain operational for that long…

It Drove 1% Of the UK’s GDP

A study conducted by IAB UK shown that in 2017, affiliate marketing was responsible for 1% of the UK’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product), actually exceeding the performance of the country’s entire agriculture sector.

In addition, that same study revealed that the UK had a return of £16 for every £1 invested in affiliate marketing, resulting in £8.9 billion in affiliate sales.

It Generates 15% of Digital Media Revenue

An affiliate marketing report that was released in 2016 by Business Insider, revealed that affiliate marketing generated as many online sales as email marketing, contributing to at least 15% of all the revenue generated within the digital media industry.

This means that affiliate marketing is the 3rd largest source of online sales, after organic search (21%), and paid search (19%).

13% of Affiliates Make Over $75,000/Year

According to an affiliate marketing benchmark report that was published by AffStat in 2016, 13% of all affiliate marketers reported earnings of over $75,000 per year.

Furthermore, a poll held on the STM Forum revealed that nearly 61% of the 117 affiliates that participated were making over $81,000 in yearly affiliate commissions.

Such high success rates don’t just prove that affiliate marketing isn’t a scam, but also that it’s among the most profitable online monetization models that currently exist.

Affiliate marketing FAQs

(Click each question to expand)

Affiliate marketing is an online business model that involves promoting products or services created and distributed by third-party online merchants in exchange for getting paid a commission for each sale you refer.

In layman’s terms, affiliate marketing is the process of being compensated for helping businesses sell to more customers.

Read more…

Here’s a bird’s eye view of how affiliate marketing works.

  1. You join a merchant’s affiliate program
  2. The merchant gives you a unique affiliate link that points to their e-shop
  3. You promote your unique affiliate link online (blog, forums, social media, paid ads, etc.)
  4. Every time someone clicks on your unique affiliate link and makes a purchase on the merchant’s e-shop, the merchant pays you a commission

The Affiliate Marketing Process Overview

Read more…

There are thousands of successful affiliate marketers all around the world. Some of the most well-known ones are:

  • Pat Flynn
  • Matt Diggity
  • Matthew Woodward
  • Doug Cunnington
  • & more

You can check out a roundup of my 17 favorite examples of affiliate success and their backstories right here.

  1. Billion-dollar industry
  2. Very low startup & operational expenses
  3. Huge income potential
  4. Flexible & versatile
  5. Passive income
  6. Simple to implement
  7. No technical background
  8. No customer support
  9. No physical setup

Read more…

Affiliate marketers can be divided into five main income groups:

  1. Total beginners: $0 – $20,000 per year
  2. Low-level affiliates: $20,000 – $50,000 per year
  3. Intermediate affiliates: $50,000 – $100,000 per year
  4. High-level affiliates: $100,000 – $500,000 per year
  5. Super affiliates: $500,000+ per year

According to PayScale, the average annual income for affiliate marketers in the US is over $54,000 per year. Statistics reveal that 13% of affiliates earn more than $75,000 per year.

Some of the factors that influence how much you earn as an affiliate marketer include:

  • seniority
  • target niche
  • available resources
  • previous experience
  • marketing efforts
  • & overall mindset

Read more…

Here’s a rough income growth timeline of a typical affiliate marketing business:

  • months (0-3): no earnings
  • months (3-6): first affiliate sale
  • months (6-12): $100-$500 monthly
  • months (12-18): $1000 monthly
  • months (18-24): $3000+ monthly

This timeline isn’t a guarantee of future performance but rather a mere approximation of the income growth of an average affiliate business. Your own timeline could be shorter or longer than projected.

Over the years, I’ve seen aspiring affiliates striking a gold vein just a few months into the industry. On the other hand, I personally know people who’ve been struggling to grow their affiliate revenue to $1000 per month for several years.

Read more…

Affiliate marketing is one of the most affordable money-making models out there.

Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to get started as an affiliate marketer along with their associated costs:

  • web hosting & domain name: $2.95/month (Bluehost)
  • keyword research tool: $49/month (Jaaxy)
  • expert guidance: $49/month (Wealthy Affiliate)
  • email autoresponder: Free for up to 1000 subs (MailerLite)

Please note that on top of expert guidance, Wealthy Affiliate also provides free access to hosting and a keyword research tool so you don’t have to purchase them separately.

Yes, you can do affiliate marketing without a website by promoting your affiliate links on other marketing channels, such as:

  • Social Media
  • Paid Ads
  • YouTube
  • Podcast
  • etc.

Read more…

The process of getting started with affiliate marketing can be broken down into the following four simple steps:

  1. Pick a niche
  2. Launch a blog
  3. Build an audience
  4. Promote affiliate products

Read more…

No, you don’t.

Affiliate marketing is very simple to get started with by virtually anyone regardless of age, education, background, available capital, tech-savviness, professional network, etc.

In fact, most 6-figure affiliate marketers were no more experienced than you currently are when they first ventured into the affiliate marketing industry.

Nonetheless, being knowledgeable in fields like marketing, sales, content production, business management, etc., could help you reach your financial goals somewhat faster.


Affiliate marketing is definitely NOT a scam but rather a perfectly legit win-win model for all the parties involved… 

On one hand, it enables online retailers to raise their brand awareness, expand their customer base, and increase conversions, sales, and customer engagement in a much more cost-effective manner than almost all other traditional marketing channels. 

At the same time, ordinary folks can utilize it to build a sizeable income online with virtually ZERO monetary investment simply by promoting already existing products through their blog, YouTube channel, and/or social media profiles.

No matter which angle you view it from, there’s literally nothing fishy or fraudulent about affiliate marketing as a whole!


Have any questions?

Leave a comment right below or contact me right here.

I’ll be more than happy to help you out!

All the best,

Harry, Founder & Editor at

Written by:

Harry is the founder and creative director of Dear Boss I Quit. His mission is to inspire and help as many people as possible escape the 9-5 grind forever by building a passive income online just like he accomplished a few years back.

You can read more about Harry’s story right here.

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