I wrote a review about the Project Black Mask. Although I summarily denounced the basic tactics espoused by its authors, I commended the work on its keyword research and generation section.
Although most of the comments posted about my review were supportive, I got an earful from a few who took great exception to the fact that I linked to Project Black Mask with my affiliate link.
Ooops! I did it again!
Some suggested that despite my warnings, readers may have be persuaded by the sales letter to buy the product for the wrong reasons – and that I was wrong to facilitate their purchase through my link.
Another – apparently without access to Dictionary.com – accused me of ‘profiteering’ which is defined as ‘To make excessive profits on goods in short supply.’
Trust me on this – I turned far more people away from that product and saved my visitors considerably more money than I earned from that review.
THAT was my intention.
As to affiliate linking… here’s what I think about that…
- As online content publishers and affiliate marketers, our primary responsibility is to evaluate products and give our readers our honest opinions about those products.
- We don’t control our readers. It’s the their responsibility as consumers to do enough research to make informed and appropriate buying decisions.
- We’re affiliate marketers, not cops. If you provide an honest evaluation and your visitor purchases a product to use it for a purpose that you recommend against – once again, that’s their responsibility.
Here’s an analogy.
Let’s suppose that you run a garden variety grocery store.
You’re a smart person who knows that sugar in excessive quantities is an evil and addictive substance that depresses the immune system, causes chromium and copper deficiencies and contributes to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, hyperactivity in children and a long list of other ailments.
So what do you do?
Well, you could sell the grocery store and open a health food store. And if you’re that staunch in your beliefs, you better make sure that none of the products you stock contains fructose or sucrose, either. Actually, it would probably be better to get rid of all the starches entirely.
Hmm… that would leave you with not a lot to sell and a very tiny market base, so now you’re looking for a job.
OK, so, let’s stick with running the grocery store.
You could leave half your shelves bare by refusing to sell white sugar, kiddie cereals, cakes, ice cream, desserts, pop, candies and other treats. But would you really make granny drive all the way across town just to get a bag of sugar for her homemade jam? What about the person whose idea of a sweet treat is having a little bowl of Hagen Daz once a week? (That would be me.) In other words, do you deprive everyone for the sake of a few – who are going to seek and find their sugar fix whether or not you sell the product?
Or, do you take a moderate approach and trust that your customers have a brain, know the risks, and that it’s up to them to use a product wisely?
The answer seems simple enough, doesn’t it?
If you care about your customers, you could offer them alternate product selections. And if you really want to add value, you could put up a rack of health brochures near the store’s entrance to inform them about good nutritional habits and disease prevention. Better yet, you could hold a baking demonstration to show people how to use Splenda as a sugar substitute.
There are so many possibilities – but NOT selling the product is not one of them.
If you’re in business to do business, you don’t choose NOT to sell (or link to) a product that you honestly think has some value just because some people will refuse to heed your warnings – or don’t think exactly as you do.
From my perspective, the vast majority of my audience is comprised of discerning, responsible individuals who appreciate my candor about doing business on the Internet.
For the few odd souls lurking about that are looking for the quick (non-existent) fix, well, they’ll read into things as they choose and find it anywhere they can – so it might as well be here.
And maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll listen the next time around. 🙂
Comments, questions or suggestions? Please leave a comment below!