“Do Affiliate Marketers Ever Feel Guilty?”
One of the dumbest questions I get asked is “Do you ever feel guilty?”
It’s the inquisition that follows my brief and ambiguous description of what I do for a living.
“You’re making money from other people’s misery and false expectations…” goes the moral line of questioning.
Yep, that’s about the size of it.
I sit at my desk wearing horns as a dual-screen flickers with fire and brimstone. Somewhere in a distant land, my digital lambs are being lined up for the slaughter. And for what? Another $5 in my pocket? Don’t I ever feel guilty about that?
I feel about as guilty as a fish for shitting in the sea.
As long as advertising guidelines are being followed, there’s no reason to feel guilty that consumers are doing what consumers have always done.
People love investing in their dreams as much as they hate waking up and realising their own naivety for believing in another ‘magic button’.
While I would never advocate products that scam and steal money, there’s a huge misconception of what constitutes a scam in this business. In the majority of cases, users scam themselves.
They buy in to bullshit because they want to. It’s easier than facing reality. Nobody wants to be sold reality. And that’s okay.
It’s the way it’s always been.
Advertising provides an endless stream of placebos to cure emptiness and unease.
Affiliate marketers – driven by arbitrage and the waft of desperation – chase the same ends with less finesse.
It’s this unfortunate lack of judgment that cops a media firestorm; the bad press and FTC booty lashings soon follow. The actions of a few cast the entire industry in a negative light.
“Oh, you little affiliate marketing urchin, I’ve heard about your kind.”
What irks me most is the idea that some affiliate marketers are ‘above’ the business of advertising.
There are a lot of hypocritical voices in this industry who will speak down on anything remotely attached to CPA, while running reviews on their own sites about products and services they haven’t touched in their lifetimes. I would feel guilty if I was that full of shit.
All affiliate marketers are created equal, but some are clearly more equal than others.
I said that I don’t feel guilty, but I do feel dirty.
So, how is it possible to have a clear yet dirty conscience?
Well, there are two forms of guilt. There is the kind that arises from scamming and ripping people off, which affiliate marketers are often mistakenly diagnosed with.
And then there is the self-inflicted guilt that our time could be spent more productively on helping individuals rather than guiding them further in to delusion.
I don’t feel guilty that I make a lot of money from affiliate marketing, because it’s a legitimate industry and I need to put dinner on the table. That much is fact.
But I do feel dirty that my own talents aren’t going to a greater use. It’s psychologically unsustainable, for me personally, to spend the rest of my career in an industry that breeds such contempt.
Just one hour lost to lucrative campaigns is one hour that could have been spent on objectives I personally believe in – those that excite me. They are projects I can discuss around a dinner table without faceplanting my gravy in shame.
Thankfully I’m in a position where I’m doing well enough to be able to work on both campaigns and my long-term objectives. Yet affiliate marketing is still my job.
I don’t feel guilty about that, and no ‘regulation-abiding’ affiliate should.
Recommended This Week
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I would recommend the song "Everybody Knows" by Leonard Cohen. Absolutely spot-on to remove any shred of self-doubt.