Pat Flynn: What up everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 498 of AskPat. Two episodes away from 500. Crazy.
Appreciate you taking the time to listen to this, whether this is the first time you've listened to AskPat, or the 498th time I appreciate you. Today we have a great question from Gianna, but before we get to that I do want to thank today's sponsor which is Freshbooks.com. An amazing company that has served over three million small business owners, including myself, helping us manage our business finances from the income, to our expenses, and even invoicing. They make invoicing incredibly easy.
Plus tax season coming up you got to make it easy on yourself, and get something like FreshBooks to help you organize all that paperwork so you can hand it off to whoever you need to hand it off to. Whether that's somebody else or yourself to just do what you need to do to get through your taxes pain free. Go ahead and check it out. If you want to check it out for 30 days for free head on over to GetFreshBooks.com and enter AskPat in the how did you hear about us section. Again, that's GetFreshBooks.com, enter AskPat.
Here's today's question from Gianna.
Gianna: : Hi Pat, this is Gianna Kordatzky with FamilyFunTwinCities.com. I was just wondering if you see anything that would be unethical about having a membership site which creates revenue, and having affiliate links, and having paid advertising, and stuff on your sites, or if they could all work together without being conflicting with each other. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.
Pat Flynn: Hey, what's up Gianna? Thank you so much for the question today. I really appreciate it. I believe this is actually a very relevant question, because there's a lot of people out there creating membership sites now. It's interesting, because for membership sites, especially ones that people have to pay recurring income for, there might be some confusion. In terms of—if in the membership site, for example, and I'm paying X number of dollars a month, and then I see there's a resource list there and find out later that this person is making even more money “off of me” through certain clicks, and links, and things like that.
Depending on what that is I might be offended by that, and I might feel like I'm being taken advantage of, or just trying to get every dollar squeezed out of me. Now, I wouldn't feel like that if a) I knew that this person was being honest about the fact that these are affiliate links; and b) I knew what that money was potentially being used for to increase the experience that I have in the membership site, for example; c) and the most obvious one, if that product was actually useful to me.
If you can match those three things I think you have nothing to worry about. Again, just putting the ethics behind it will make it ethical. Right? It's unethical to do it without … There's some back and forth, and argument whether it's unethical to not say it's an affiliate link. Well if you're in the US you have to share it's an affiliate link. At least if it's on a public place like a blog, make sure you check with your professional accountant or lawyer to make sure you follow what you need to follow, but in terms of a membership site I feel like it's unethical to share something just to make money off of it. Even more money off of your audience when it might not be something that actually is helpful to them.
When you have a membership site you have a very powerful tool, because people who pay monthly are obviously people who want to be there, they have expressed interest in what you have to offer, and it gives you an opportunity to share anything really, and say go buy this, or I recommend this, or this is the next big, big thing. If it's something that you just put up there because you know you can make more money off of it, and not because it's actually something that's going to help them achieve what they need to achieve, then that is unethical I believe.
If you put something up there and it's a great product, and you know it's something that some of your audience might need, or some of your members might need, or it's a tool that you've used that you know is going to help those who are interested in using that tool too—if you get paid for it that's just an awesome byproduct of actually helping your audience. Again, this goes back to that saying that I always say, and I don't care if I'm a broken record with this, but that is your earnings are byproducts of how well you serve your audience. Again, your earnings are a byproduct of how well you serve your audience.
If you could serve your audience with these affiliate links, I don't see any problem in that. I would actually make sure to say that it is an affiliate link, that's you've done the research to make sure that that is a product that is going to help them. That you in a membership site even have a bigger opportunity to make more money, and do it in a very ethical way by sharing videos, and what this product is going to do.
Share how-to videos that are special for your members on what those affiliate products do, how to use them, include bonuses that are specifically available to those who are members that go along with those affiliate products. That's going to show your members that you're taking the time to do the due diligence that you need to do. There's a lot of do's in that. Do the due diligence that you need to do to make sure that you are … you're just making sure that they're being taken care of. Really that's it. I don't think there's anything unethical with that.
Now, if you were talking advertisements in the membership site well then that's a different story, and I think it depends on what niche you're in. There could be money available in terms of getting advertisers inside your membership site, and actually having ads show up, but I know that, at least from my own personal opinion, if there are ads, and ads are typically meant to draw attention away from other things. To catch people's attention, sometimes interrupt what people are doing, especially in the form of a pop-up for example. It's just going to ruin the experience that people have in the membership site.
Even if it's a product that would be helpful, it's just it's an advertisement, and it's just kind of a … You've had apps on your smartphone before I'm sure. With games that you love, or apps that you love to use, but then that ad comes. You just kind of feel disgusted by that. Right? If there was a resource page, for example, that had a list of affiliate links where you talk about a certain product within a certain lesson, that is an affiliate link. There's no problem with that, but if it's interrupting and not enhancing the user experience at all I don't feel like that should be in there. Especially if people are paying monthly for something.
That's my point of view Gianna, I'd love to hear what you think, and also everybody else out there. If you have a comment on this particular episode use the hashtag #AskPat498. Again, #AskPat498 on Twitter. We can continue this conversation on Twitter. Gianna, we're going to send you an AskPat tee shirt for having your question featured here on there show. Thank you again for the question, and you'll here from Jessica in the next couple weeks so we can get that tee shirt to you, and ship it to you wherever you're at. I appreciate you and your question, and I appreciate everybody who's listening and your questions too.
If you have a question you'd like potentially featured here on the show just head on over to AskPat.com. You can ask it right there on that page, and you might get featured here on the show, and also get a t-shirt to go along with it too. I also want to thank today's sponsor which is FreshBooks.com. They also have an award winning mobile app actually to help you keep track of your finances on the go. An award winning mobile app, which is pretty cool. That also would just make it easy for you to see what's going on in your business. I think that's probably one of the most useful things that I found with FreshBooks.
It's not just it keeping track, but me being able to make decisions based off of the track, the tracking that has been done with my finances. I use to keep track on Excel, and that was just a headache, especially come tax time, but with Fresh Books it just makes it super easy. Go ahead and check it out for free for 30 days by going to GetFreshBooks.com and by entering AskPat in the how did you hear about us section. Again, it's GetFreshBooks.com, enter AskPat.
Finally, I just want to thank you again for all the support for my upcoming book Will It Fly, which you can check out at WillItFlyBook.com. To finish off today here's a quote by, second day in a row, Sir Thomas Watson. He said in this quote, “To be successful you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.” You guys are in my heart so cheers, take care, and I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat. Thanks guys. Bye.
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