Would You Take Money
From a Company You Don’t Know?

/ /

"Would You Take Money From a Company You Don’t Know?

I’m curious about something…

I've just been contacted by someone whose trying to get two text links on my hair loss treatment homepage for a client: a hair transplant company. But, despite asking, they won't reveal the company name. So, my gut feeling is to turn it down.

But this leads to a couple of questions:

1. Has anyone else been contacted in this way where, bizarrely, the client name is not revealed?

2. Obviously link building is important as long as it's of value to the visitor. But, Penguin has hammered loads of sites (including mine) that have poor/unnatural links. So, are people still building links like this in return for payment? And if so…

3. I was offered $50 for 3 months for both links. So is this the sort of figure people are accepting?"

I actually have a policy of never placing any affiliate ads on my site, unless it's a company I know and have used. If I have placed the product banner/link myself (not an ad that Google randomly displays), you will also see me mentioning the company and/or it's product over the course of my regular conversation. For example, for the past 3 years my readers have seen/heard/read me saying how much I love Hootsuite. I use Hootsuite every day, many times every day. I chatter about it constantly and often mention it in articles I write. Than after 3 years of talking about how great they are, I found out they had an affiliate program and I figured, heck, I talk about their app all the time, I might as well start linking to their affiliate program and get paid for all this promotion I'm doing of them, and thus as of September 2013, not only do you still see me telling you how great Hootsuite is, you also see me displaying a banner advertising thier product. You can see this banner displayed at the bottom of EVERY SINGLE PAGE on my website, for the simple fact I think their service is great and because I've used it daily for many years now and I mention them so often in dozens, perhaps hundreds of pages on my sites, so I decided it only fair that I put their banner on every page.

On the other hand there are sites like Amazon.com. I love Amazon.com, I shop there every week and have done so since 2004. I used to get paid by them, years ago before the Nexus Law was passed. But I live in Maine, which means that as of October 6, 2013, I am no longer eligible to receive commission from their affiliate program, due to the Nexus Law, but that doesn't stop me from linking to their products even though I'm no longer getting paid to do so. Why? Because, like Hootsuite, I love their company enough to be linking to it whether I get paid or not.

As a general rule, I try to match banners/links to the page topic, for example on several of my pirate topic pages you will see I have placed banners for various pirate themed companies varying from a costume seamstress to children's birthday party plates. I have bought clothen from this seamstress and party supplies from this birthday supplier in the past and therefor feel good about telling my readers: hey, check this out. Had I not had a good experience buying from these companies in the past, I would not have added their affiliate links to my site.

Sometimes however, you might see a totally random banner which at first seems completely off topic, for example the Jelly Belly jelly bean banner you see frequently on my sites, usually on pages with nothing candy related at all. Why are they there? Well, for the simple fact that I could not find a product I use which did have an affiliate banner that was on topic, so I stuck a banner in for one of my favorite products regardless of topic as a way to not have an empty space on the page. Jelly Belly jelly beans have been a staple in my diet for close to 20 years now. Jelly Bellies are something you would expect to see me munching on, pretty much every day, any time, any place, and as I am the primary topic of my author website all about me, it therefore is perfectly on topic for pages to display banners of my favorite candy, in this case Jelly Bellies.

So, if that company contacting you, were contacting me, I'd turn them down straight away, because I don't know them, I don't use their product, and I just don't feel good about promoting a service/product/company on my site, if I don't make a habit of personally using their products myself. Perhaps others would disagree, but for me, I just would feel like I was cheating or lying to my readers, if I put a link to a product I'd never used. My readers look at the ads on my page and say "Hey, I'll try this because EelKat uses it" (I know they do because they have contacted me and said they do), I've had people link back to my blog, saying "I tried such-and-such because EelKat recommended it on her blog..." So I'd hate for someone to be saying I recommended an item, when I didn't actually recommend it! I suppose I do look at affiliate ads differently than most webmasters, because I'm a somewhat famous author and so people are coming to my website looking for information about me, and if I post an affiliate link on my page it's like I'm giving a "celebrity endorsement" to that company, so I'm very, very careful to only recommend products I use.

I suppose if they contacted me, the first thing I'd do was ask them why they thought I would be a good candidate for endorsing their product. I'd also ask them what benefit they think I can bring to their company (obviously they feel you can benefit them in some significant way, otherwise they would not have contacted you.) Me, I have really long hair, and have no need for a hair transplant, and would feel it false advertising to promote hair transplants on my site, because it would imply that my long hair is not my own, but rather that I had a transplant to get it. This would bother me. It would bother me a lot. It would bother me enough that I would turn down the offer regardless of how much it was. I'm not a person swayed by offers of money (as people have learned frequently). I have strong, high moral standards and I value them greatly, to the point that no amount of money ever has or ever will convince me to endorse or promote any product I do not use. Than again I am the founder of The Proctor and Gamble Boycott and am well known for my flagrant contempt for businesses thinking if they throw enough money at me, I'll shut up, so why would any business think throwing money at me would get me to support them?

My point is, you have to go with your gut on this one. It could be a good deal, sure, than again it could be a scam. Who knows? I don't that's for sure. All I know is, for some folks money talks and endorsing products they don't use is fine if the money if right. I'm not one of those people, so I'd turn down their offer. I can't tell you to accept or decline, you have to decide that for yourself. I can only tell you what it is I would do if it were me in your place.

You can read my FTC Disclosure Policy for more information on how I deal with these sorts of issues.

Hope that helps.

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