Some online affiliate programs charge a fee for people to join. Is this still called an affiliate program, or is it instead an online form of franchising? If so, what should you expect to get for your initial down payment?
Franchises rarely operate exclusively on the Internet, although many franchises have a strong presence online. Affiliate programs are mainly used online, with a few exceptions working with off-line promotions as well. If you see a program operating solely online, yet charging you to take part of their affiliate program, you need to make sure you actually gain something by joining – and paying – them. If you gain nothing, you might as well join a traditional affiliate program.
Far too many websites claim to have an affiliate program, offering high commissions to recruit new members. This is nothing but a poorly disguised pyramid scheme; Recruit others below you, who will recruit others below them (and you), who will….You get the picture. Calling this an affiliate program is just wrong.
Paying to take part of an affiliate program should be the exception; rarely will this give you any advantage over a regular affiliate program.
Affiliate programs and franchises have much in common, but yet so different. Where a franchise offers much support with establishing and marketing your new business, joining an affiliate program leaves you all alone. This is not all bad, as you are free to market your own business as you please.
Choosing to join a franchise is an important decision as most - if not all - franchises require an initial investment. The size of this investment varies greatly, but it should cover everything you need to get started. Depending on the niche of the franchise, this can include marketing material, office rent and can be an expensive start.
If you are thinking about paying to join an affiliate program, this is what your investment should cover. If you can’t find any increased costs for the company, and you still are paying, odds are you are getting screwed over.
With traditional affiliate programs, your only initial investment is a domain and some web hosting. If you are cheap, or on a very tight budget, you can use any free blogging platform to get started.
The companies offering these programs are often very good at presenting the positive aspects of their affiliate program, at times making it hard to spot the strange logic of it all. If you always ask yourself why they are charging, and what costs the investment should cover, you will be less likely to fall for a fraudulent affiliate program.
If you are looking for a serious franchise, there are plenty of websites covering all aspects of franchising, explaining more in depth about the initial investments and what they are all about. You will notice most franchises to be far more serious than the franchise-like affiliate programs discussed here, but it's far more of a life decision than joining an affiliate program or two.