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Thursday, 6 September 2012

Affiliates, referrals & integrity

WARNING: this is a rant post alert, it is an opinion piece about the state of the web-based side of our industry.  You have been warned :-)

This is a personal post.  I am not 'having a pop' at anyone else, but I have been asked a few times about the products & stuff that are put up as adverts & reviews on the various VBB sites.  I have a personal view about affiliate programs, this is not 'the right' answer, it is an opinion.  I believe referrals should be earned, not bought. I do not use affiliate links, I have endorsed products that have sent affiliate links, but I try to always remove the affiliate link.  Every product mentioned on here & on the other VBB sites are actually used by me &/or VBB members, or the product is created by a vegan athlete, bodybuilder or similar so might be of interest.
All the adverts on all the sites are again not done for cash, they are products members support.  We make no cash for adverts.
To honour full disclosure there are two 'kind of' exceptions to this rule.  The first is that on occasion a company will send out a product to test for free.  We're happy to try it out, but we always state we will only give honest reviews, if we don't like it we'll not put up stuff we don't feel about a product.  The second way is we do put up adverts for companies that sponsor our events.  This sponsorship is not in cash, but in the products they make & the companies we approach are chosen because members have used their products & find them useful, all of their product goes to people entering our contests, not to people within VBB.
So, the point is every product we review on this blog & on every site we run is actually a genuine referral, in the old school way, we get nothing for putting up something about a product & they have certainly been used, read or watched before reviews are written.  We do not use affiliate links & we do not make profit from adverts.  All the stuff written about reflect our honest thoughts, as we gain literally nothing by lying!
One thing that annoys me on websites, is you read a bit that sounds interesting, you are then told "To read more click here..." & it's an affiliate link to buy a product.  Often this is not made explicit at the start of the article, blog post etc.  We will NEVER do that!  I do not believe you need to do that, it is irritating to me & I tend to think, these people do not care about the product, they are just doing the affiliate thing & making cash - so probably the product is worthless.  It is sad when you are forced to these cynical conclusions, but I have bought too many of these affiliate-type products, they often turn out being a waste of cash, they are basically a blogpost, that has been expanded with puffery into a book, or a youtube clip expanded into a video.
The thing to look for in a review is that when they reach the part with the link see if there is a bit at the end (usually with the word 'hop' in there somewhere amongst the jumble of letters & numbers), this is an affiliate link, sometimes affiliates can get over 50% of the sale cost of a book!  Think about that, an affiliate can be getting more from the sale of that book than the author, just for putting a link on their website!  How good can that book REALLY be?  I tell you that sucks!   I want to see referrals done the old-fashioned way - you looked at a product, it was good, so you recommend it.  That's how we do it here, why not elsewhere?
So, I do thank everyone who has written (even the odd one's who have written suggesting we might be cashing in putting up these reviews...sorry guys, we aren't making a penny on those reviews, all read, watched or taken & then written about for nothing).  You may not agree with our reviews & we're fine about that, we are like you; students in the art of training & nutrition.  Like you we are learning & sharing what we've learnt, so it may not apply the same to you, if so let us know in the comments section of the article you have found an issue with, that way we can all learn a bit more & grow together towards being better coaches, trainers, lifters or athletes.
Sorry about the rant...but one too many emails asking the same I can refer them here...Yes, I do endorse this post 100% I recommend you read it :-) hee hee.