Why I don’t do affiliates, sponsorships, or MLMs
Every single week someone asks us to promote their “thing” to our audience. Whether it’s their jewelry, or their oils, or their online course … they see our organic reach, our high engagement rates, and our loyal following and they want in.
So they try to create a win-win situation by offering us their products for free or a percentage of any sales we make for them.
And as cool and amazing as that may sound, our response to an offer like this is always same:
“No, but thank you.”
Because if we did the very thing they wanted us to do (i.e. promote/market/sell their thing to our audience) then the organic reach, high engagement rates, and loyal following they want a piece of would NOT exist.
This is the biggest problem with affiliates, sponsored posts, and MLMs that nobody’s talking about.
Yes, there’s the time/energy aspect. Meaning, if you’re promoting someone else’s product/service you’re taking precious time/energy away from promoting your own product/service.
And yes, there’s the distraction aspect. Meaning, if you’re selling someone else’s product/service it’s distracting you and your audience from what you really do and what you really want to be known for.
And then there’s the percentage aspect. Meaning, if you’re repping someone else’s product/service you’re chasing after a percentage of every sale instead of selling something you created (where you’d collect 100% of every sale).
But then. Then there’s the biggest aspect of all: Broken trust.
Think about it.
When someone you follow on Instagram shares about their favorite hair products, online courses, skincare lines, or software solutions “just because” … you immediately trust their motives and are so thankful they shared about it.
But when someone shares about those same hair products, online courses, skincare lines, or software solutions because they’re now selling it to you (as an affiliate, sponsorship deal, or MLM business) … you immediately question their motives.
Question #1 becomes: What are they getting out of this?
Followed by Question #2: If they weren’t getting paid to share this with me, would they still believe in it just as much?
It’s a part of human nature. We, as modern day consumers, want to spend our hard earned money on brands we can trust and make our purchasing decisions based on unbiased opinions and social proof from people we can trust.
So when people we follow start tagging product after product, repping MLM after MLM, selling affiliate course after affiliate course, or posting sponsored post after sponsored post … it chips away at our ability to trust them and we can’t help but question whether or not they truly believe in everything they’re selling.
This is one of the many reasons why we preach that you (as an entrepreneur) should narrow down all your time/energy/resources to focus on becoming known for your ONE thing.
Because over and over again, it’s the businesses that protect their communities and build their hard-earned trust over time … that win. It’s not the brands with the biggest ad spend, or the most followers, or the most consistent posting schedule (Side Note: if I hear ONE MORE person preach that “consistency” is the answer, I’m gonna throw a marshmallow).
Which is why the brands that “win” are the brands that dare to say no.
No, I will NOT chase after quick money and low-hanging fruit.
No, I will NOT abandon my true mission and lose my focus.
No, I will NOT sacrifice my audience for someone else’s vision.
Over and over again, this is the kind of “no” that your business needs you—as its owner + leader—to say.
Does this mean you can’t ever become an affiliate, or accept a sponsorship deal, or join an MLM?
But what it does mean is that you—as the owner + leader—have to evaluate how much every affiliate, sponsorship deal, and MLM is costing you in return.
What will you be giving up in exchange for a free product or a percentage of the sale?
Your big mission?
Your future sales?
Your audience’s trust?
These are the questions I factor in every single time an “opportunity” presents itself.
Because even though I’m so thankful and honored by the fact that other businesses admire our organic reach, or our high engagement rates, or our loyal following, I’m not willing to sacrifice my time/energy, mission, and future sales.
But even more importantly, I’m not willing to sacrifice our community’s trust in me or our online branding school.
So as crazy, or close-minded, or feather-ruffling as it may sound:
Dear affiliates, sponsorship deals, and MLMs:
Thank you for thinking of us. It sounds like you’re doing some amazing things! But unless we can go “all in” on something and give it the time, love, and energy it deserves, we can’t say yes. So we won’t be able to join in or promote your product, but as always … we wish you all the best.
In other words, “No, but thank you.”
For us, it’s that simple.