Ethics in the World of Affiliate Marketing

Social Warfare is the world's fastest and most intelligent social sharing plugin, engineered to increase social shares and drive traffic. Find out more.


Some of the links on Site Sketch 101 may be affiliate links. This simply means that I may make some money if you click through and make a purchase at some of the sites that I link.

I won’t make enough to buy that BMW that I dream about owning, but I will get some money.

You can still rest assured that this doesn’t drive me to promote products that I don’t believe in. If you hang out here for very long you might actually catch me bashing some companies that actually pay a pretty strong commission on their affiliate sales.

I let you know what’s worked for me and if I can get paid to do that then it’s just that much more enjoyable.

Are You A No Good, Lying Used Car Salesman?

used-car-salesmanWe’re all tired of bogus sales pitches.  We’re sick of seeing banners plastered all over our screens that offer to make us $8,000 per month if we’ll invest $300 in a some program.  We’re tired of the lies and we want to get straight to the truth about products.

In fact, some blogs and websites have gotten so out of control that they’ve caught the attention of the U.S. Government and in response the FTC has recently published a new act that actually governs how bloggers are able to endorse certain affiliate products.

That’s pretty annoying.  It’s sad that you money-hungry mongrels have driven them to that.  Why couldn’t we just tell the truth because it’s fun and it feels good to be honest with our readers?

Credibility is Worth More Than A Quick Sale.

In the long run, you’re going to make a lot more money if you can develop credibility with your readers.

If you recommend a bogus product just because they offer a high payout and one of your readers buys into it then you’re probably never going to see that reader again.  On the flip side, if you’re honest and only recommend products because you believe that they will actually be useful to your readers then they will keep coming back for more.

Even the Bible has something to say about this, “A Good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…” From Proverbs 22:1

I like to think of myself as the ethical affiliate marketer. I don’t have a problem letting people know that I get paid for certain sales or links.  In my experiences, I’ve found that transparency and honesty will take you a lot further than deceptive sales practices.

At Site Sketch 101, I’m all about transparency.  If you ask me about an affiliate link, I’ll let you know what I like and dislike about it.  I’ll even let you know my share of the profit if you ask.  I have nothing to hide and because of this, I sleep like a baby at night.  I go to bed with a clean conscience knowing that I’m helping my readers.

So are you interested in some of the products that I get paid for?  Or maybe you’re one of those people who hates clicking on another person’s affiliate links.  Either way, here’s a list of some of the companies that I’m currently partnered with.

They’ve got some great products and some good affiliate programs so check out their products or sign up with their affiliate programs to start making some money at your site today.

But remember…be honest with your readers.

Not All Of Your Subscribers Use RSS - AWeber Email Marketing
SponsoredTweets referral badge
Site Sketch 101 proudly uses Blue Host

WooThemes - Quality Themes, Great Support


Share your Opinion

and be a part of the discussion

  1. *Name (no keywords)

    * Indicates Required Fields
    Your Comment

39 Vibrant Comments

We would love to hear yours!

  1. November 2, 2009

    Roschelle said:

    I’m partnered with several of the affiliate programs you have listed at the end of your post. And I couldn’t agree more. They’re great. Their products are high quality and definitely something that will make your online experience better. Transparency is a wonderful thing. Kudos for being so open with your readers!
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: 3 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid =-.

  2. November 2, 2009

    Greg Ellison said:

    Like someone else said use the product and then you can affectively sell the product to your reader.

    I like aweber a lot so that is a very good company to try to get signups from.

    Greg Ellison
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Blog Income Report for October 2009 =-.

    • November 3, 2009

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Greg Ellison –> I’m getting ready to start using aweber myself. I just signed up for their affiliate program and I’ve heard awesome things about them so I’ll be signing up to use them here at Site Sketch 101 myself.

  3. November 2, 2009

    izzat aziz said:

    always let people know that the link is affiliate link, or the post is sponsored post, your reader might feel much appreciated with it.

    and if wanna do review about certain product, please use it first, and review it honestly.. don’t just bla-bla.. but when people ask something about it you can’t answer, that just not right.

  4. November 2, 2009

    Dana @ Online Knowledge said:

    Yeah, i really agree that become honest is more benefit in long term. So, just sell in honest way. 😀
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: October Google Page Rank Update =-.

  5. November 2, 2009

    Lindsay said:

    I just have to say.. i freaking HATE sponsored tweets! Twitter would be a world better without these things and I would personally never promote something like that.

    On the other hand, I have made money on affiliate marketing.. Generally the place who used to host my website (hostmonster) has a great affiliate program and they are really a wonderful company.. I also offer some other items that are more small businesses than giant affiliates.

    It is all about using the product FIRST and then offering a review or a comment about it – but it also depends on your type of blog. If you have a personal journal blog, if you review something so far off topic, you are going to alienate your audience.. in that case its sometimes just better to put up an ad on your sidebar and make a separate page explaining that you fully support all sponsors listen on your site
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Happy (be-lated) Halloween! =-.

    • November 3, 2009

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Lindsay –> I’m putting together another article about how to make the most of Sponsored Tweets, and I’m going to quote you in it. Is the main reason that you don’t like this program the Spam that it creates? I hate spam as well and I think that a lot of people abuse their twitter stream for a few extra dollars and that degrades the quality of the whole system. I’m with you on that and I would encourage people not to spam their followers.

    • November 6, 2009

      Blake @ Props Blog Reviews said:

      I don’t see what’s so terrible about Sponsored Tweets. If someone is spamming paid tweets, they are going to lose followers and they are going to stop getting paid.

      I think what you really hate is people marketing affiliate programs via twitter. Those people don’t get paid per tweet, they get paid per sale. Those are the people that I think suck and I always unfollow.
      .-= My Latest Blog Post: Where Are Your Readers’ Eyes Going? =-.

      • November 8, 2009

        Nicholas Cardot said:

        Blake @ Props Blog Reviews –> I agree. If someone only sends out spam then I’m simply going to stop following them. But if they are only sending one sponsored tweet for every 20 or so tweets that they send out then I don’t really have a problem with it.

  6. November 2, 2009

    Web Hosting Sites said:

    Credibility comes with being honest with your reader. How you handle affiliate recommendations is greatly important.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Web Address – Non-Latin Domain Names Approved =-.

  7. November 2, 2009

    David said:

    I take my hat off to you Nicholas for being so honest with your readers. Yes we are tired of these bogus sales pitches and sick of seeing banners plastered all over our screens. The lies these guys are still throwing at people is so unbeliveable.

    Great post and keep up the great work my friend. I for one will retweet this post.

    • November 3, 2009

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      David –> Thanks for reading, commenting and retweeting. It’s greatly appreciated. Honesty is the way to go.

  8. November 2, 2009

    Dave Doolin said:

    I’m doing the same thing, and have a similar post in my Drafts queue! You beat me to it!
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Top 5 Biggest Lies About Blogging for Money =-.

  9. November 2, 2009

    Gabe | said:

    The internet is crawling with “opportunists”, some creepier than others.

    I’d like to think that I’ve focused on building credibility for all of my sites. Some people don’t care since there are so many dreamers out there. Why else would we still get spam about transferring money from third world countries? Because (sadly) they work!
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Do Unto Others’ Blogs As You Would Have Them Do Unto Yours =-.

    • November 3, 2009

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Gabe | –> That’s true. Spammers are here to stay and we’ve got to differentiate ourselves from them with a rock-solid set of ethics that governs our online habits.

  10. November 2, 2009

    David | said:

    Good post Nick. You are right: Credibility is worth more than A quick sale. We have to be honest with our readers because otherwise we could lose much more than a sale.

    I also added some affiliate banner ads, one of them is just sponsored tweets, but I don’t know if I can earn something from it because sponsored tweets still don’t have enough advertisers to make offers to the tweeters. The good news are that I think they give 20% of comission for a year.

    I’m still waiting for a offer (opportunity) but I’ve read some posts where people say the same, so we have to wait until they get more advertisers.

    .-= My Latest Blog Post: 7 HABITS THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE =-.

    • November 3, 2009

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      David | –> You’re right. They don’t have a lot of advertisers yet, but it’s growing and that’s good.

  11. November 2, 2009

    Ron Boracay said:

    Great post Nick. Actually, for me, the more honest you are to your readers and audience, the more money you will get in the near future because of the authority and integrity you build on the process.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Two Seasons Boracay =-.

    • November 3, 2009

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Ron Boracay –> That’s exactly right. People will trust you when they know that you’re willing to be honest with them.

  12. November 2, 2009

    Jacqui said:

    Your thoughts agree with a 21st Century Book Marketing seminar (on how to blog better) I attended. See if you agree. I posted a review on my blog at
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: How to Make Your Plot Even More Interesting =-.

  13. November 3, 2009

    Jay Medina said:

    This what you call adsense. But it won’t help if you are not going to SEO on your site. The more the traffic the more money you make on your adsense.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Cause a Stampede of Prospects With Three Magic Words, Part 3 =-.

  14. November 3, 2009

    Reza Winandar said:

    I don’t know much about this topic but the point is sell your products in the right way, not to cheat people.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: 100 Adsense Tips – Part 1 =-.

  15. November 3, 2009

    EarningStep said:

    affiliate program is a must try program for every one ,especially for blogger . nice blogger will combine affiliate program with their blog program and this will increase the chance to make more money.

  16. November 3, 2009

    Arisu said:

    I think all bloggers that want to make money blogging should read this – for their readers, but also to avoid getting in trouble.

    You should also try to sell what you use. People is more likely to try a product if you can tell from your own experience why is awesome.

    • November 4, 2009

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Arisu –> Thanks. I think so too. People need to learn to be honest and do the right thing.

  17. November 4, 2009

    King Sidharth said:

    Looks like you are following Copyblogger closely. Nice!
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Prove Thyself =-.

    • November 4, 2009

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      King Sidharth –> I sure do follow them. They’ve got a lot of great advice to offer.

      • November 4, 2009

        King Sidharth said:

        Yea! Ultimate advice… I’ll tell you waht Nick, you are better than many people in your niche coz you interact with all of us. That’s all we need… to be heard and feel a bit special someday.
        And people pay all the money they could to make that happen – You Rock!
        (Here I Digg this awesome Post)
        .-= My Latest Blog Post: Prove Thyself =-.

  18. November 6, 2009

    Blake @ Props Blog Reviews said:



    I love your stance and totally agree. Being honest in your reviews about a product will keep people coming back. Not only is it unethical to deceive people with bad recommendations, but it also kills trust.

    Thanks for being an honest standup guy in a world of scoundrels Nick.

    p.s. After you buy your BMW, will you by me one too? 🙂
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Where Are Your Readers’ Eyes Going? =-.

    • November 8, 2009

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Blake @ Props Blog Reviews –> Ha ha. After I buy one, I’ll teach you what you need to do so that you can buy one also. How does that sound? I promise that I won’t hold back any secrets. Anything I figure out is free for you to know how I did it.

  19. November 6, 2009

    Blake @ Props Blog Reviews said:

    I totally agree. I don’t see how you honestly recommend a product without having used it yourself.

    If someone only tells the good and never acknowledges the bad, I have a hard time trusting them.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Where Are Your Readers’ Eyes Going? =-.

  20. February 5, 2010

    gautam hans said:

    I think these affiliate companies, I would like to add Hostgator. That is the host I am using, and i believe it is very good host.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Why i Like StumbleUpon =-.

  21. September 9, 2010

    Dan Fonseca said:

    we all have the power to be great leaders and great FIRST followers!

    the internet empowers us!!

    thank you derek sivers!

  22. May 28, 2011

    Stefan said:

    Great post Nicholas. A lot of people throw in all kind of advertising but they are missing the big picture. Sure you could make a few bucks from a visitor but what if you convert him into a subscriber? Then you can regularly make money off him if you continue to deliver high quality content and don’t betray him just to make a few easy bucks.