Affiliate Marketing Training Online – How to Avoid Red Flags

There is no shortage of affiliate marketing training online programs as there is sand on the seashore. How does the average Joe or Susan avoid scams or be wary of red flags as they surf the web looking for legitimate ways to develop a business in affiliate marketing?

Today you have to be careful. There are many scammers and con artists out there that are more than happy to help you part ways with your money.

It is truly amazing how each day people are taken in by promises of making huge money with little effort.

Seniors, unfortunately are no exception. People who are perhaps most vulnerable are those who have lost their job – were fired, forced to retire or simply laid off.

Affiliate Marketer - Affiliate Marketing Training Online
Affiliate Marketer

How do you sieve the shaft from the wheat because there are truly some legitimate training programs out there?

This article teaches you how to spot red flags such as fake reviews, lack of transparency, and vague or irrelevant content in affiliate marketing training online to avoid scams based on personal experience.

Confusing Search Terms Encountered by a Newbie

When you begin your online search you will frequently encounter terms like affiliate program and affiliate marketing training online, affiliate training program or affiliate marketing course.

You might be tempted to think that they all refer to the same thing, but one of these terms is different.

While the latter three may be used interchangeably, the term affiliate program is distinctly different

When you join an affiliate program, you are electing to promote products or services for the company that owns that affiliate program on your website while directing the visitor to their company website where if a sale is made, you receive a commission.

Affiliate marketing training online or course is where you are taught how to build an affiliate business – so that you can join affiliate programs which will now allow you to promote products and services and receive commissions.

In Case You Did Not Know….MLM and Pyramid Schemes

Again, while starting out in your search, there are three terms that you MUST understand what differentiates one from the other.

These are Multi-level Marketing (MLM), Pyramid schemes and Affiliate Marketing. If you don’t, then you can very easily get taken by a scam or a program which will not help you develop and run a successful affiliate marketing business!

Multi-level Marketing (MLM)

This a marketing strategy to promote either a single product or products by distributors while offering multiple levels of compensation – perfectly legitimate.

The MLM model is a cheap way for the company to get advertising through its distributors without having to carry a huge advertising budget.

Pyramid schemes

Are fraudulent schemes disguised as an MLM. While a pyramid scheme appears to work very much like a multi level marketing program, the major difference is that there is no real product sold in a pyramid scheme but an opportunity.

The commissions are based only on the number of new individuals you introduce into the scheme. The folks at the top of the pyramid get richer and richer!

In the pyramid scheme the member is required to pay a fee to join. Typically, a percentage of that money will be paid back to them only at the point when they recruit a new participant in the scheme.

Grey Areas Between the Two

To further throw in a bit of confusion, some MLMs have embraced some principles of pyramid schemes in their offerings in very subtle ways. Why you wonder?

MLM is legal in Canada (and most of the US) while pyramid schemes are not.

Participating in a pyramid scheme is an offense under the Criminal Code of Canada, punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

This is why some MLMs that run some principles of pyramid schemes try to be subtle as they do not want to fall foul of the law.

Affiliate Marketing

Amazon Affiliate - Affiliate Marketing Training Online
Amazon Affiliate

Affiliate marketing is very different from an MLM or pyramid scheme.

ou are an independent Associate that can sign up to as many affiliate programs as you want to promote their products or services, typically from your own website.

When the visitor to your site sees a product they are interested in, they are directed to the affiliate program company website to make the purchase.

If they buy the product or service or anything else from the site, you receive a commission from the sale. So, there are infinite products and services that you can promote.

Now that we’ve got that all cleared up, let’s start off with some easy red flags you can quickly spot while searching for affiliate marketing training.

10 Common Red Flags Seen in Affiliate Marketing Training Online

Before highlighting some red flags, note that not everything online is a scam and not everything that looks good may actually be so. So keep your “spider senses” on the alert. Read and research further!!

Sensational Claims

1. “Earn $1000 a day”, “make $500 – $600 per day with only 10 minutes of work per day – we teach you how”.

Let me emphasize that any program that tells you that you can make money online with very little effort is being less than honest.

Note that some affiliate marketing training companies sometimes have attention grabbing headlines as well. The intention is to get you to read their content which usually provides a detailed description of their offering.

2. Ads that say “Join our program now and become a millionaire”. If your look closely at many of these ads you will find that they are only selling an opportunity = PYRAMID SCHEME. They are not actually selling anything.

The people creating a steady stream of money into this scheme are the constant stream of gullible individuals who are actually joining. There is no real income being created, just money being passed from one person to another up the pyramid.

Upsells And Difficulty Finding Information About the Company

3. Some programs have a relatively low and manageable sign-on and monthly cost BUT have many up sells running into several hundreds or thousands of dollars.

For example, $99 per month seems reasonable and this gets you into Level 1 training, but then surprise, surprise, you suddenly find that to access Level 2 training courses you need to make a one-time payment of almost $3000.

4. You have problems finding information about the company. This is a huge warning. A good affiliate training program will have been around for a while and will have a track record.

Negative Testimonials

Reg Flag Alert - Affiliate Marketing Training Online
Red Flag Alert

5. Check for testimonials to determine the companies track record. No track record at all is suspicious. Negative records should be reviewed with an open mind.

While there are certainly many honest affiliate marketing training programs in existence, there are also many companies that are fraudulent.

When deciding who to go with, always check for testimonials.

Be especially wary of new companies. If they are what they claim to be, you will still find them operating a few months down the road.

6. A few bad testimonial reviews. This should not be a complete show stopper. Compare the number of good versus bad reviews before you make a judgment call.

Ensure that there are more good than bad reviews.

Some unfavorable reviews may come from people who come into certain programs with a “get-rich-quick syndrome”. Unfortunately, affiliate marketing does require a level of discipline and hard work. It is not a “get-rich-quick” scheme.

Beware of Use of Pressure Tactics in Affiliate Marketing Training Online

7. Some companies will lure you to attend a webinar and then provide you with a time sensitive offer that expires in usually “2- hours” for example OR “today only, never again to be offered at this price”.

Resist the temptation to sign up while the offer is still hot. This can sometimes be difficult, but well worth the wait while you do your research.

If it is a good program it will still be available next week and the weeks and months after. Do not give in to pressure. Always do your further research. You might be surprised at what you dig up!

8. Focus on the use of the word “recruitment”. This means MLM or PYRAMID SCHEME

9. The website only recommends one product as the best way to make money. This is not true of affiliate marketing.

10. Use of superfluous words like “this training is going to blow your mind away!”. Proceed with caution and look for other red flags to test the company.

Good Affiliate Marketing Training Online

You are going to have to work very hard to build up your affiliate marketing business so you will want a training program that will provide you with support especially since you know nothing about it.

Certain affiliate marketing programs are best for beginners, while other programs cater to mid level and advanced marketers, so do keep this in mind when making your selection.

Let’s face it, cost is always something one needs to consider before joining any online training program. If it is too high, then there is a risk that you may not be able to make back your return on investment quickly or even make profit.

Wealthy Affiliate Program
Wealthy Affiliate Program

You certainly do not want to blow your hard-earned money or even severance package on thousand-dollar courses that over promise and under deliver. Seniors beware!

You should explore some training programs that allow you a trial sign-up for FREE for anything from 7 to 14 days.

Without paying anything, when you sign-up, you are allowed access to explore the platform and training courses. You can choose not to proceed with the paid version at the end of the trial period.

This removes the pressure of viewing the program as a scam or not being viable. This is especially comforting to seniors who are looking for what to do in retirement.

Only one company allows you to sign up WITHOUT A CREDIT CARD and provides FULL access to their platform – Wealthy Affiliate. You also get full access to interact with the community. This includes newbies like yourself and more seasoned and experienced members. Check them out BELOW.

Explore With a FREE Trial Program – Best Affiliate Marketing Training for Beginners

Why not explore a program that allows you the opportunity to “test-drive” the platform, training courses and interact with its community?

All this for a FREE 7-day Starter Trial and a paid monthly membership with NO CREDIT CARD required to do so. AND THERE ARE NO ADDITIONAL FEES or UPSELLS. Here is some information about what is included……

Affiliate Marketing Training Online
Comparison Table of Trial and Premium Programs

The Trial also comes with one free website that you can create and practice on to your heart’s content! Check it out below:

Final Thoughts On Affiliate Marketing Training Online

The world of affiliate marketing training online is a bit of a jungle. While there are some good programs, there are a bevy of questionable ones as well.

All of these are vying for your attention and sign-up. To narrow your search, apply the red flag test to each program as you navigate the maze of information.

If there are any red flags we have missed, let us know by leaving a comment in the comment box below.

Try out this FREE Starter trial to learn the skills to affiliate marketing and build your first website (included in the free trial). Give it a try. Click the link below for more details.

Affiliate Marketing Training Online
Affiliate Marketing Online

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22 thoughts on “Affiliate Marketing Training Online – How to Avoid Red Flags”

  1. I have searched for programs to help make a little extra money online since I retired a few years ago. Many of the opportunities that are available then and now are the same with different names.
    The MLM programs can make you an income if you are willing to spend the time sending out 1000’s of invitations for your item for each one sold. You can make your list of friends very short quickly.
    The Pyramid schemes should be avoided at all costs, sometimes they are difficult to see through.
    The Affiliate Marketing Programs that offer training can be tricky, as some are masked as MLM’s and Pyramid schemes. Each person will have to do their homework when searching the web for the proper program for them. Your list of Red Flags will be a great help for those searching.
    As you state each person should not be pressured to sign up quickly for any program that is the biggest Red Flag, if it is a good program it will have an equal offer in the future.
    Your choice of Wealthy Affiliate is a good one as they do offer multiple levels and several courses to take. Each person will be able to choose the proper path to making money with affiliate programs.
    What takes the most effort to turn a profit in your opinion in Affiliate Marketing?

    • Thanks for your comment John. I totally agree with you that sometimes Pyramid schemes can be so well masked that you don’t recognize them until you are already one foot in their doorway – at which point you need to run!
      To turn a profit in affiliate marketing requires you to be consistent in regularly creating new content rich posts. Product Review posts are also essential because many people come shopping online in search of a product and would much rather prefer reading a comparison document vs wading through Amazon and other sites and having to compare those products themselves!


  2. Hi Ceci,

    great information here, I have to say that, since the covid situation started, the amount of these “get rich overnight” programs increased from 0 to a 100.

    These people are only using the situation and vulnerable people, whose income decreased, or people who have been made redundant.

    I really like all the red flags and agree with all the points you made, perhaps, just one thing. The point, where you say to check the testimonials. I have recently watched a video about people can sell their profile picture and basic information to be used in online “real” reviews. I was disgusted and I have to say, it makes me wonder how many of the testimonials are actually real 🙁

    But just as you say, if you do enough research and don’t fall for “offer lasts for 1h only”, you should be fine. I have spent a week researching WA before I joined. I am so glad I did.

    Thanks again and Merry Christmas x

    • You are absolutely right Sylvie! I have also heard about fake testimonials. However, I still believe that it is still a good idea to check testimonials, because the number and quality of them can give you an idea of their authenticity. In true testimonials it is not uncommon to see one or two (or a couple of) negative testimonials. If you only see effusive and super positive testimonials, then you need to be wary and check some of the red flags raised in the article.

  3. Ceci,

    I can’t agree with you more on most of the companies these days. They all try to make it seem like making money online is the easiest thing you can do. Sure, if you have that one fantastic YouTube video where you’re all of a sudden a one hit wonder. I have to admit, it’s a lot of work no matter what you do online, to be successful, not as a one hit wonder, but as a long-term business. This year alone, I’ve made three websites, and two YouTube channels. Not one source has made me suddenly rich, though I’m growing followers steadily. So while everyone makes it seem like a piece of cake, it’s not. I have to work every day. And have been for 8 months now. I’m still not rich, but I’m growing and that’s what counts.

    Thanks for sharing this information! It will help a lot of people to know to stay away from schemes.


    • Wow, I’m impressed Katrina – 3 websites and 2 You Tube channels in a year! That is amazing! Yes, affiliate marketing is not a get rich quick or overnight scheme. You are proof that it is a longer term investment and that it works if you are disciplined and willing to put in the necessary work.

  4. Any program that pressures you into signing up quickly with a time-sensitive offer cannot be good. If they are confident about their product, they will always let you go away and do more research so that you can make an informed decision and then join for the right reasons.

    The low sign-on fees and then multiple expensive upsells is also a big turnoff for me….. You just never know what you’re going to be ending up with! I think to just be honest up front and give the information at a fair price is a better policy. However, not everyone out there in internet land tends to play fair!

    Thanks for sharing these tips and alerts.
    Have a great day 🙂

    • Thanks for contributing to the conversation Andrew! Anyone researching affiliate marketing training need to be on red hot alert as there are a lot folks who are out to sell you a dud!


  5. Hi Ceci,

    There are so many affiliate program scams out there it’s really scary. It’s scarier that people bought the scam and poured in their hard earned money into these ‘get rich’ schemes.

    Point number 7 was something I had personally experienced. Somehow stumbled upon a blog about MLM and how he managed to find success in affiliate marketing instead. The CTA at the end of his post was as a ‘learn more’, which was a link that went through ‘testimonials’ and a 30 minute (or was it 40?) video that explained how their method worked.

    The next day they called me on my phone and told me of an amount to pay upfront, which if I could remember correctly, was more than $3,000 USD (Ridiculous if you ask me). And when I hesitated, he offered me to pay in instalments.

    I hung up on him and he never called me back at all. It was quite the experience and thankfully I stumbled into another program that was far more legitimate.

    Your article will be helpful for those who are in search. Bless you!


    • There really are many scam offering under the guise of affiliate marketing online. Most “supposed programs” with a video should cause your “spidey senses” to be on the alert, and more so if they are for 30 – 40 minutes which is TOO LONG for anyone’s time on the internet! I am soo glad that you were not taken in by their gimmicks.


  6. Hi Ceci,

    This is such an important article, especially for those who are trying out affiliate marketing for the first time. I started affiliate marketing about 5 years ago, and I started with a MLM company (who will remain nameless). I was basically scammed into paying more and more for different levels, I was virtually brainwashed by this company. I was so weak, and all I was thinking about was making money. I didn’t make a penny, and that was the plan for the company. All these MLM companies want is for you to pay them, not the other way around.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and helping others who are starting out in affiliate marketing.

    All the best,


    • Hi Tom,
      Your story is not unusual and in fact the same also happened to me. People just need to understand the differences between MLM, Pyramid scheme and affiliate marketing. They should then be able to make their choice while knowing what they are going into. Knowing the red flags should also assist their decision making.

  7. Hi, Ceci,
    I read your review is great. Especially, MLM, Pyramid, and Affiliate Marketing too. I really like that explanation, it is more clear and understandable with your explanation. And your 10 red flags explanation is also good.

    One question, How can I start the MLM review, Should I join MLM Network or something? I don’t know. How to do that?

    I appreciate your review on starting an online business on a wealthy affiliate with trust no scams as well as without credit card use. Thanks for sharing a well-detailed review.

    Have a Nice Day!

    • Hello Sam,
      Are you interested in joining an MLM? There are some good ones out there but you really have to do some research to find them.

      To review MLMs you would have to search for them online with those key words. There are numerous reviews about different ones. Some are positive, while others are negative. Look for 2-3 that interest you and that have mostly positive reviews. Then I suggest that you go to each individual website and review the content while keeping in mind all the tips you’ve learned to identify any red flags.

      Hope this helps Good luck!

  8. It’s so important to be well-informed if you’re planning to venture into affiliate marketing. This article has definitely shed a lot of light on the subject as well as valuable definitions of MLM’s and Pyramid schemes. They are different indeed!

    Thanks for the detailed info; readers will appreciate it for sure!

  9. Thanks Ceci,
    I found your article to be most helpful to clear up the confusion between all the terminology used and how to really spot the pyramid schemes and scams.

    It was enlightening to also read of your 10 red flags.
    There are so many empty promises and quick riches offered by the done for your systems out there by people spruiking their courses. Some courses/business models even rely on paid traffic/paid advertising and they don’t even tell you that in their sales page. Poor people only find out they may have to spend $100-$200 extra a month just to run these business models! e.g. Hosting, Keyword Research Tools and then Paid Ads usually is around $5-10/day minimum.

    So honestly I find it really confusing at times and have had to study a lot to learn this. Your list of 10 red flags will be useful in sorting through the good courses from the bad courses/scams – for newcomers.

    It’s generally an unregulated industry out there other than the illegal pyramid schemes so we all need to be careful.

    • John,
      It’s a jungle out there! The 10 red flags were mostly derived from personal experience. I had to wade through many of these programs to find a few good ones. Unfortunately, these tricksters are the ones that give many of the genuine affiliate marketing programs a poor image. The tendency is to want to lump them all together. Thanks for reading.

  10. Thank you so much for this incredibly insightful article, Ceci! I love how you broke down the differences between an MLM and a pyramid scheme-MLMs sell an actual product or service of value, using outside sources (i.e. us) to help drive sales (and we make commissions from those sales), whereas a pyramid scheme doesn’t sell an actual product or service of value at all; the company simply sells itself (an opportunity). I have seen the terms “MLM” and “pyramid scheme” used interchangeably, but I am so grateful for Wealthy Affiliate and the wonderful people that I have met along the way. I now understand the differences between the two, what it truly means to be an affiliate marketer, as well as how to truly make money online. Great read! God bless you!

  11. Great article Ceci. For people looking at entering affiliate marketing your article provides great information as to what to look out for and to consider before you sign up. The distinctions you provide between MLM and pyramid scheme is really helpful too. Your article can save people from being potentially scammed too. Thanks


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