If you’re new to affiliate marketing or have seen other affiliate marketers promoting things online, you might be wondering whether or not affiliate marketers have to purchase the things they promote.
After all, how could an affiliate promote something if they haven’t even used it? And is it actually legal for affiliates to promote things they don’t use?
Well, if those are some of the things you’ve been wondering then we’ve got good news. We’re going to be explaining exactly that & more, right here on this page.
So let’s dive straight in, starting with the main question.
Do Affiliate Marketers Have To Purchase The Products They Promote?
In short, no, affiliate marketers don’t have to purchase the products they promote. They can actually promote anything they like, even if they’ve never bought or used it before.
And whilst at first, that may not sound fair, think about it this way… A car salesman doesn’t own every single car he sells, just like a shop assistant doesn’t own all of the items in a store.
Yet those 2 people can both help you to make an informed purchase decision by providing you with additional information based on their experience and/or research.
And that’s exactly what affiliate marketers are there to do. In a way, you could actually think of an affiliate marketer as a virtual shopping assistant, that’s paid on a commission basis.
But we know what you’re likely thinking now…
Doesn’t the fact that they’re being paid a commission influence their decision to recommend (or to not recommend) a product?
And the answer here is; sometimes.
A good & honest affiliate marketer will never let commissions influence whether or not they recommend (or don’t recommend) something.
However, not every affiliate marketer is “good”. Just like you have some shady car salesmen, there are also some shady affiliate marketers.
These affiliate marketers make false claims about products (or simply overhype them) in order to earn themselves commissions. Their marketing efforts aren’t genuine & as you can imagine, this is illegal.
So, if you want to do affiliate marketing legally, you don’t necessarily need to purchase the products that you promote but you must:
- Be honest & transparent
- Make people aware you’re affiliated with whatever you’re recommending
- Cite your sources wherever possible
- Act with integrity & don’t make false or misleading claims
One of the most surefire ways you can tell somebody is trying to trick you is when they attempt to get you to use an affiliate link without actually letting you know that it’s an affiliate link.
Affiliate marketers must use proper affiliate disclosures.
But the good news is that to help you out, we’ve put a guide together explaining how to tell if a link is an affiliate link so that you can determine whether or not somebody will be earning a commission from your purchase.
By determining that, you’ll then be able to better determine whether or not to trust their recommendation.
Next question for newbie affiliate marketers then…
How Can You Promote Products Without Buying Them?
For a lot of new affiliate marketers, the concept of promoting products can be a huge sticking point.
How on earth are you supposed to recommend a product or create content about a product if you’ve never even used it for yourself?
Or if you’re leveraging the method of SEO, how can you review products without buying them?
Thankfully, the answer is simple. Just like in the example of the car salesmen & the store assistant in the previous section, your aim is not to pretend you own the product but to simply give as much information as you can about it based on your experience, knowledge & research.
For example, if I wanted to write a review about a cordless vacuum cleaner, I could quite easily do so without ever even seeing it – simply because I know what makes a vacuum cleaner good or bad.
I could just go ahead, grab the specifications of the device & compare them against other models.
- What’s the battery life?
- What’s the suction power?
- What’s the price?
- How many attachments does it have?
- How heavy is it?
- …and so on.
With all that information at my disposal, I could quite easily create content sharing my opinions of what I thought about the product.
Does it appear to be better than others for the price, or is there a better alternative?
As an affiliate, you simply want to be sharing the specifications about something along with your opinion to help people make a more informed decision about what to buy.
And that’s exactly what a shop assistant does in a store.
A shop assistant may not be an expert in power tools, but they could certainly help you to compare the devices on the shelves to guide you towards buying the right one for your needs.
So, rather than putting too much pressure on yourself as an affiliate & worrying that you need to create some sort of “perfect” product review, just think of yourself as that online store assistant & act with the best integrity that you can.
And one last point on the topic before we wrap up…
Is It Legal To Promote Products Without Owning Them?
Naturally, many people are worried about finding themselves on the wrong side of the law when it comes to promoting products they don’t own as an affiliate.
But is it really illegal to promote things you don’t own?
The answer is no, it’s not – providing that you:
- Don’t let commissions impact your opinion/recommendation
- Act in the best interest of the consumer
- Don’t make misleading claims
- Use An Affiliate Disclosure
Stick by those guidelines & you’ll be perfectly fine. Promoting products you don’t own is neither immoral nor illegal. Done right, it’s actually very helpful to those who are finding it difficult to make a purchase decision & need extra guidance to do so.
Therefore, in short, as an affiliate, just focus on helping people out.
The Bottom Line
It’s perfectly fine for affiliate marketers to promote products they don’t own providing they’re not attempting to mislead consumers.
As an affiliate, it would typically be unreasonable to buy all the products you promote. Instead, you can simply base your recommendations on your experience, knowledge & the information that you have available to you.
Just like a shop assistant doesn’t own all the products in a store, an affiliate doesn’t need to own all of the products they promote to be able to make a helpful recommendation.
So if you were curious about this topic, then hopefully this post has helped you out but if you do happen to have any additional questions or comments, don’t hesitate to leave them below.
And if you haven’t yet got started with affiliate marketing but would like to learn how to do so, be sure to check out our free affiliate marketing training course before you leave.