Affiliate Marketing: What Campaigns Can You Run Whitehat?
Affiliate marketers don’t have the best reputations out there.
We’re known for using ads and strategies that are ultra aggressive, and even borderline uncompliant. It’s hilarious when I go on Reddit and people make fun of affiliate ads with “Doctors Hate Her”, and “This 1 Weird Trick.”
I don’t think people enter this space with the intention of screwing people over. But when margins are low, bid prices are increasing, and your competition’s using dirty tactics, I can see why it becomes a dog eat dog world.
I know some of you guys want to become an affiliate marketer, but you don’t want to be associated with anything unethical (this industry does have a kinda shady rep).
I can tell you from my experience it is 100% doable to make $5k+ per day running completely whitehat. Yes, you can make money without using unauthorized pictures of some poor D-list celebrity. And in some cases, going white hat can even be an advantage.
What Does Whitehat Mean?
Let me explain the different hats that affiliates wear.
There’s a constant fight between good and bad in the world, and it’s the same online.
Here’s a simplistic overview of the different “hats”.
Black hat = SQL injections, phishing, cross-site scripting etc.
Blackhat is straight up fraud, scamming people out of their money, and is the sort of stuff the government will arrest you and/or incarcerate you for. Those emails from your rich Nigerian Uncle asking for your bank account details are an example of blackhat internet marketing.
Grey hat = borderline marketing.
An example might be overstating the claims of your product or saying it has a guarantee when it doesn’t. It’s not malicious, but it’s definitely not white hat. You’ll get kicked off networks/traffic sources for being grey hat, and you may get sued.
This can include using unauthorized images (celebrities and company logos), and aggressive scripts.
White hat = 100% legal.
No lies, no overstating anything, no worries. An example could be promoting physical products with reviews or promoting app installs. You’re being 100% honest and transparent when you are a white hat marketer.
The affiliate networks and advertisers are completely fine with what you’re doing.
It’s a gray area what goes under each “hat”, but that’s my interpretation of it.
I’m not here to play judge and tell you what you should do, I just wanna educate you.
The whole point of affiliate marketing is to get out of the 9-5 and build a great lifestyle, not to get sued and lose everything.
I know a lot of you guys are worried that affiliate marketing stuff is shady, but I want to show you verticals that are super white hat and have massive potential.
Why bother with White Hat?
There are tremendous benefits to working with the traffic source, rather than against it.
Imagine having a working relationship with the traffic source where they give you preferential prices and placements. Or they’ll work with you to help you understand their algorithms.
I don’t know about you, but it does feel kinda nice not to worry about getting sued.
You can focus on marketing rather than spend your time on accounts / cloaking, etc.
Or maybe you can work on creating a product (that becomes an asset).
Whitehat Verticals That Have $5k+ Per Day Potential
Some verticals are always going to be more shady than others, that’s a fact.
Remember a lot of campaigns are rather neutral, but it depends more on how you promote it.
I’ve compiled a list of verticals that are great for running whitehat. These are the sort of verticals you can run on Facebook, search, display etc. without worrying about violating ToS (although nothing is ever guaranteed, especially when Facebook bans accounts so easily).
They’re also the sort of verticals you could tell your mom about without blushing.
Gaming is whitehat most of the time. You’re giving someone exactly what they want – entertainment.
As an example, the Uber app has killed it in 2016.
With an app like Uber you can run 100% clean, no questions.
One of the best things about apps like this is that you can direct link to some of them because the public has already heard about it. Your only job is to convince them that they need it through your banners/ads – the consumer knows the offer is trustworthy.
E-commerce / Dropshipping
This can be pure whitehat affiliate marketing. Setting up a drop shipping store or creating your own products to sell can be a good way for newbies to get into affiliate marketing.
The only problems I see with e-commerce are the customer service, lower profit margins, and the fact it’s more of a “traditional business” than CPA marketing (i.e. you’re probably not going to have $10k+ days in a hurry).
Lead generation can be a white hat vertical as long as you’re working with a legit advertiser. Auto insurance, solar, finance, and education are all massive industries, and some of the biggest companies in the world offer affiliate programs.
There are some shady lead gen offers out there, so this is a personal judgment. If you’re not sure about the offer, Google it and read up on it. You’ll soon find out if it’s legit or not.
Creating Your Own Product
Tactical flashlights were all the rage last year.
Guess what? They were just normal flashlights that you could buy for $3 from China. Yet with the right marketing, companies were selling them for a ridiculous mark up.
You already know how to buy traffic and market. Why not go the extra mile and create your own product? Doesn’t seem that hard to import stuff from China :-)/
How Big Can You Go Being 100% White Hat?
There are a lot of possibilities for becoming a huge affiliate and being purely whitehat.
There are guys making big money promoting games, app installs etc. on mobile, native and Facebook.
But what about even bigger than that?
I’m not an SEO guy, and I’ve never run a “normal” website like the ones above, but I appreciate the work they do.
I do see a few problems here, mainly the volatility of Google and the long payoff time.
Plus it sounds riskier than paid advertising to me because you might invest a year of your time and then find out your plan sucked and you have to start from scratch.
How To Keep Your Whitehat Campaigns Clean
As marketers, we can be guilty of doing the wrong thing without even realizing it. Something that seems fine to us might not be acceptable (for whatever reason) under the ToS.
That’s the problem with white hat campaigns – sometimes you think you’re being white hat, but you’re actually breaking rules.
As tedious as it may be, reading through the TOS can help protect you from any chance of a ban.
Another point to consider is this: most companies don’t allow marketers to use their product name or trademark in any of their paid advertising (especially in keyword-based campaigns).
With keywords, you can probably get away with using a product name for a while, but why take the risk? These companies own the product, and they don’t want the bid price for any phrase using their product name to skyrocket because affiliate marketers are placing bids on the same queries.
Product manufacturers and owners often want to reserve the sole right to bid on their product name themselves.
If you’re not sure whether a certain tactic, use of a keyword or anything at all is allowed, chances are you’ll be better off just not doing it to begin with.
The idea of being a successful affiliate marketer is to be in it for the long term – and whitehat campaigns can get you there (plus sleeping easy at night is a good side benefit).
What About Advertising For Whitehat Campaigns?
My first profitable campaign was in gaming on Facebook, and my angle was comparing my game to another popular game.
There wasn’t anything shady about it.
One of the best ways to advertise for whitehat verticals is to use brainstorm new angles. Just because you’re white hat, doesn’t mean you can be boring.
Running pure whitehat means you should be spending more time on creativity.
You Can Make A Lot of Money Running White Hat
If you want continual paydays and you want to stay whitehat, the big money is there. Don’t let people tell you otherwise.
I’ve shown you some huge verticals that have made many affiliates millionaires, but don’t assume white hat = boring or white hat = low profits.
You just have to get creative, use angles, split test, and use all of the normal affiliate skillsets.
Have you smashed it with a 100% whitehat campaign? Share your story!