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July 27, 2009

Internet Marketing – Do You Know What You’re Promoting?

We have all had something to say at one time or another about online scams; people who make money by selling things to others which they don’t need, which don’t do what they are said to do, and which can even waste people’s time or distract them from what they should be focused on – besides being a waste of money in the long run. And the fact is, that is far from the worst of it.

Do you want to earn money by promoting unethical products? Probably not. But are you always fully aware of what you are promoting?

There are a few categories of products which you should probably be aware of when you are deciding what to promote. You might want to think twice before you throw together a website to promote these types of products, or put one of their ads on an existing site.

After all, it’s not all about money. We are also human beings.

There are three types of products which I would never want to promote:

1. Products which are unnecessary, wasting people’s time and/or money

The “Make Money Online” niche is home to some of the worst culprits – including individuals, sales pages, emails, and advertisements which promise you unlimited riches as long as you invest ($47/$97/$5,000 etc.) in whatever it is they are trying to sell.

Whether it is a coaching program on how to earn money online, an amazing new software program which allows you to rake in thousands of dollars with a few minutes of work, a monthly membership, or perhaps just access to an enormous quantity of downloadable information which you don’t need right this second.

Some of these types of products have real value, and only require a reasonable investment. When they are useful, they do pay off in the long run. There are certainly legitimate products and services which help people save money, earn more money, or learn how to do so. I have invested in quite a few myself, and have been happy with a majority of the items I have purchased.

Some products have little-to-no real use or value for the consumer, but use a convincing sales pitch, and cost too much.

In between the two extremes there are various shades of gray.

But this is not what inspired me to write this post. There are other products one can promote, outside of the “Make Money Online” niche, which are just as bad, and even worse.

2. Products which are used to steal money

There are bogus “free trial” offers which latch onto a customers credit card, steal unauthorized recurring payments, and never let go, no matter how hard the customer tries to cancel.

I have seen affiliate programs for such products. In some cases, these offers would have been relevant to one of my websites. Did I choose to promote them? No!

Examples of products which are likely to be promoted in this manner include Acai berry, colon cleanse, teeth-whitening, and stop-smoking products, which often offer a “free trial” requiring a credit card number “for shipping,” and give you “automatic renewals if you don’t cancel.” A bit of research and Googling will often reveal whether there are scams or dishonest tactics involved.

Not every free trial with paid shipping is a scam, but I am definitely careful before signing up for them when I do.

3. Products which harm people

Then there are is another type of products you can promote. You would only promote these products if a) you don’t really know what you are promoting or b) you don’t care about people and money is your only motivation.

These are products which don’t simply waste people’s time and money, but actually harm people.

It takes a bit of confront to look beyond the surface appearance of modern day life and realize that not everything is what it appears to be on the surface.

The sad fact is, that just because an item has been endorsed by an official agency, an “expert,” or a learned authority, (government or otherwise) does not necessarily make that product useful or even safe.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the worst in this respect. That does not mean that every pharmaceutical medicine is harmful.

But if you were to do some real, unbiased research in the field, you would be amazed at how many well-known and widely used pharmaceutical drugs:

  • Have never undergone actual scientific testing as to their results
  • Were approved for use by the same groups, individuals, and networks, who are profiting by their sales. (Yes, approval agencies do have ties to the pharmaceutical companies, and yes, the people who approve these drugs and medications for use do make money by approving them.)
  • Have known side-effects (known even by the producers and salesmen of the drugs, but not promoted by them) which range from health problems, to death, to suicide, to murder.
  • As an added benefit there are ties to the media, which is sometimes (but not always) used to attack any group which begins to expose what is occurring. Which leads people to disbelieve organizations that do so.

If you look into it, you will find that almost every school shooter, loving-family-member-turned family-murderer, or sudden unexplained suicide, involved someone who was taking one of these drugs. Common examples are Zoloft, Paxil (Seroxat), and Prozac, to name a few.

Furthermore the same doctors who were involved in the creation of these drugs can be found openly admitting that the diseases and disorders which the drugs were designed to cure do not exist. These diseases were not found by blood tests or any other form of testing. They are invented by “majority vote”.

But they make a lot of money. Billions per year. So hey, why kill a booming business?

In a previous profession I had first-hand experience with individuals who were the victims of these drugs, sometimes as young as the age of three, and had the heart-wrenching experience of seeing the damage that was done. In some cases I was able to help undo the damage, by getting these individuals onto detoxification programs or other remedies. But, sadly, the effects of legal, approved, and even common-place pharmaceutical drugs were often more harmful, and harder to correct, than the effects of any street drug. I still remember the three year-old-girl who had been put on a drug by a doctor. With a bit of research we found out that the drug was actually Speed. We were actually relived that it was Speed instead of something worse, (and yes I helped the little girl).

Sound difficult to believe? It is. So is war, needless killing of civilians, Chinese killer-cat food, genocide, kid-napping, human-trafficking, and a host of other insanities which occur on a daily basis, inside and outside of the US.

The fact is that it is a crazy world.

In American middle-class society it is very easy to forget that there is something beyond the glossed-over existence we see in front of us, where all appears so happy and regulated.

The purpose of this article is not to depress you about the state of the Earth. The purpose of this article is to communicate to affiliate marketers and online entrepreneurs about what they can do to stem the tides of damage. Or, at least what they can not do.

Because, sadly, I often see affiliate marketers blithely promoting the same products and drugs, which harm people, children, and lives on a regular basis!

When something is too incredible to be believed, we have a tendency to disbelieve it. When we don’t believe it, we don’t do much about it. History is full of incidents which we would never have believed could have happened, but happened.

Okay. My point – just because you do some keyword research and find a niche does not mean its all hunky-dory to promote that item. I have spoken of bogus Make-Money-Online products, free trials, and pharmaceutical drugs. But that’s definitely not the only thing.

Craigslist has been prosecuted for promoting prostitution and contributing to devastating effects on women and children.

A few days ago I saw a banner ad on an Internet Marketing side. It said “Pimping has never been this easy.” I hoped it was a joke and was curious, so I clicked on it. It then went on to say how you could earn $500 per day just placing these ads … in the sidebar I saw a string of prostitution ads. They weren’t joking at all.

The upshot – think before you promote. Most people care about others and want to help people. Only a few are truly money-motivated, and even those are basically good – way, down deep.

There is nothing wrong with making money online as long as you always remember to put ethics, honesty, honor, and integrity first.

Anna Williams is a blogger, photographer, poet, and entrepreneur. For more information, resources, and advice on entrepreneurship, Internet Marketing, or earning money online, please visit Anna’s blog, Building from Nothing. For videos and links with examples of some of the things Anna has discussed in this article, please visit her original post at Do You Know What You’re Promoting?