Recently I've experimented with promoting a couple of affiliate offers to the Simple Programmer email list.
If you're not familiar with how these deals work, the idea is I email my subscribers and get paid a commission on any sales (usually between 20-50%).
It's a common practice for the seller to provide “copy and paste” email copy that makes it braindead easy to promote their offer.
And “braindead” is about right, as in “you'd have to be braindead to use that copy.”
The problem is, you're taking all the risk, while the seller reaps most of the reward.
It's kinda like one of those two-man knife throwing acts.
Imagine you're the one who gets strapped spread eagle to the huge wooden wheel that spins slowly around and around.
And the seller is the guy who stands 15 feet away and hurls knives into the wheel around your head, arms and groin.
Both of you hope everything goes well, but clearly one of you has more at stake than the other.
Don't get me wrong—I'm not anti-affiliate marketing. It's a great way to make a little money while you build your list. No shame in that.
But these “swipe” emails represent a mindset that I abhor.
These emails are universally devoid of interest and value—and since the “empty barrel makes the most noise,” they're also loaded with sickening levels of hype.
And when you copy-and-paste and hit send, what you're really doing is flushing the trust and goodwill you've built with your subscribers straight down the commode.
You're telling your subscribers, “You are just a set of eyeballs to me, and I value your trust and attention less than the $231 I'm going to make by sending this email.”
The mistake here is thinking that your list itself is valuable—it is not.
The real value lies in the dozens, hundreds and thousands of personal relationships you've built with your subscribers.
You'll notice that I don't promote a lot of affiliate offers here.
That's not because I don't get approached about it—I do, regularly.
I have a 2-part heuristic that I apply to all affiliate deals:
1. Do I have direct, personal experience with the product, or the person who created the product?
2. Is this product so rock-your-world awesome that it's worth devoting several hours of my time and writing multiple emails to promote it to you?
If the answer to either of those is “no,” then I pass.
I'm plenty busy building my business here.
And I'm more than happy to let others go around tipping over vending machines.