You’ve probably heard about the self proclaimed ‘gurus’ making a ton of money with this network, but is ClickBank really worth it for affiliates trying to build a legitimate online business?
Are they worthy of being your partner or are they just a platform for marketers running trashy email campaigns and hype sales pages?
Here’s my 2 cents worth…
About This Affiliate Network
ClickBank (CB) was founded in 1998 as a digital products marketplace and has since sold billions of dollars worth of product around the globe working with millions of affiliates. They sell anything from golfing improvement courses and online gaming guides to ‘systems’ teaching people how to make money online.
They’ve even partnered with a well known Internet marketer named Adam Horwitz to offer people a training program known as ‘ClickBank University’ to teach budding entrepreneurs how to capitalise on the Internet marketing opportunity. I haven’t reviewed that yet but it’s on the list, when I do I’ll come back and throw the link in here.
CB is a marketplace that serves three distinct purposes:
- Vendors can create digital products and sell them on the CB marketplace with the help of affiliates
- Affiliates can make money promoting the various products by way of a commission
- Customers can buy any of the products in the marketplace with the assurance of a 90 day money back guarantee
While all that sounds good and well… is it really worth your time, effort and money promoting the products this platform has to offer or are there better alternatives? Personally I am not the biggest fan of CB because they promote a LOT of rubbish programs, ones I’ve personally been burned by.
It’s not all bad though and they do have a good refund policy but there’s a few things you really should be aware of before jumping in the deep end with these guys.
A Lot Of The Products Being Promoted At CB Aren’t Great
One of the things about this platform is that they allow just about any old scammer through the doors to push their rubbish products. With CB, it’s not as much about quality as it is about what’s selling and as long as they are making money it’s all good.
Some of the highest performing and well sold products in the entire marketplace are either total scams or very close to it.
Here’s just 3 examples of programs I’ve reviewed (gravity just means how popular it is, the higher it is the more people are currently making money with it):
- Ewen Chia’s AutoPilot Profits- The marketing behind this is so deceptive it’s almost funny and the product is WAY outdated. Once you pay for this program there’s a ton of dodgy up sells to contend with.
- Google Sniper 3.0- This program by George Brown isn’t a total rip off for the initial price but he uses a lot of deceptive marketing tricks to get people buying more and believing they’ll push a few buttons and become rich. As part of his email campaign once you join this he also promotes one of the worst scams I’ve ever seen, called the Predator Software. This guy is so far from trustworthy it’s not funny in my opinion.
- 5 Figure Days Unleashed- This was made by Brian Winters and is no where near worth the kind of money he is asking. The training is re-hashed and will require a lot more work and money to make work than he lets on to people. It’s a very sub par product and yet extremely popular amongst the marketers in CB, because it converts well.
If you dig deep enough there are some legit products being sold don’t get me wrong, but in my opinion these are the minority on CB.
Why does this even matter to you as a marketer?
Personally I think if you are trying to build a legit business with affiliate marketing you really want to be promoting products that have a good reputation for quality. One of the best ways to make money online is to build your own brand and reputation by helping people to know, like and trust you.
It’s a lot easier to accomplish achieve that when you are promoting worthwhile programs that actually help people, makes sense right? If you get caught out promoting crappy products then people will inevitably lose trust in you and stop liking you.
You may or may not have heard about some of CB’s annoying policies about minimum sales and dormant account fees so I’ll touch on this real quick.
According to their Accounting Policy, if you are 90 days without a sale you’ll be docked $1 per ‘pay period’ which is 1-2 weeks from what I understand. This number rises to $5 per pay period after 6 months and after a year it’s $50 per pay period.
If one pay period is 1 week then that’s about $4 p/m, $20 p/m and $200 p/m in fees for a dormant account respectively.
They also have a policy in place where you need to make 5 sales from 2 different payment types before they even allow you to start earning which I find a bit harsh for newbies. This probably isn’t a big deal for affiliates that know what they are doing and are getting regular traffic and sales, but for people just starting out it could potentially become a little burdensome.
The Commission Rates
One of the good things about CB is the high commission rates that come with promoting their products. A lot of their products come with 50-75% plus commissions so if you set yourself up with a decent product the payouts can be pretty good.
Training & Support
CB certainly has the basics in place in terms of helping affiliates get set-up with their accounts and getting affiliate links etc.
They also offer some general information on affiliate marketing and getting traffic but I wouldn’t hold your breath. If you are looking to build a full time income then getting your hands on some decent training is a must in this game. CB simply don’t provide this but I wouldn’t say that’s a drawback though since it’s an affiliate network, not a training platform.
They also have reasonably good general support for affiliates by way of a knowledge base and a ticket support system. As a consumer I have always received my refunds in a timely manner and as an affiliate (years ago) had my questions answered via email in a reasonable amount of time.
Like I said though, it’s really limited to technical and account related support overall.
Some affiliate networks like CJ Affiliate by Conversant do offer a more personalised service by assigning you an account rep who offers support and even basic coaching if you really start performing. This can be worthwhile if you are looking for extra help along the way but it’s not essential.
- Easy to sign up and get started, very low entry standards
- High commission rates
- Broad range of products to promote
- Offer customers a money back guarantee for peace of mind
- There’s a lot of dodgy programs being promoted which has given CB and it’s affiliates a less than desirable reputation
- Annoying policies about getting initial customers and non active accounts
- Lot’s of rubbish ads within the platform itself aimed at affiliates to ‘train’ them to be better marketers
- Hundreds of customer complaints online including 219 on the BBB website alone
- Limited support with a ticket system and knowledge base set up
As you can see there’s some good points and some bad points about this affiliate network and whether you join is something you’ll have to weigh up based on your own goals and standards.
The biggest drawback in my mind is some of the rubbish that is associated with it, like the programs I listed above.
If you are trying to build a solid reputation and a long-term online business then my advice is to tread very carefully with what you are promoting. I think this is especially necessary if you are attempting to build a website and leverage free organic traffic in Google.
Promoting garbage and listening to the ‘gurus’ that create it will inevitably see you picking up bad marketing habits that won’t help you in the long run. Google will rank high quality content above all and it’s way easier to create quality content that delivers value when you have peoples best interests at heart and genuinely believe in whatever it is you are promoting.
Personally I think there are better options other than CB to choose from, but whatever you decide there is one fundamental concept that is more important than choosing a network.
It’s Not All About Affiliate Networks
No matter which affiliate platform you choose the most important concept to keep in mind is delivering people real and relevant value on a consistent basis. The important thing to do is set yourself and your website up for success regardless of what you are promoting.
But how do you do that?
You do this by building your brand, your traffic and your website in your niche so that no matter what network you join or what product you promote you will make money regardless. Like I said it should always be a good product but the point is vendors and networks can come and go, build your foundation and the product promotion part will happen naturally.