Don’t forget about FTC regulations! The government agency has begun cracking down on brands that don’t enforce disclosure of an incentive-driven relationship between the advertiser and the publisher. This applies to both influencers and affiliates, and in the past it has been fairly common for neither group to disclose the proper information. However, influencers seem to be even less aware of the rules than affiliates. In these situations, the advertiser, not the influencer or affiliate, incurs the wrath of the FTC in the form of penalties, fines and bad press. One need only look at the Lord & Taylor fiasco from last year to see that this can indeed be a serious issue. The FTC charged that the brand “deceived consumers by paying for native advertisements … and Instagram pictures.”
Research individual companies in your desired niche: If possible, it’s always better to become an affiliate directly with a company (if they have an internal affiliate program), as no one else will be dipping into your commission rate. This is the preferred route for most of the prominent affiliate marketers, including Pat Flynn. Unfortunately, it’s also the most work, as you’ll have to do the research yourself to see who offers programs (they’re usually listed in the website footer).