Whitehat vs. Greyhat vs. Blackhat Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is wonderful because there are a million different methods you can use to make money online and a million more ways you can approach those methods. Each affiliate has the freedom to promote what they want and decide exactly how they want to promote it.
The methods you use to promote your offers (and to the extent you’re willing to go to do it) will give you a hat that defines the type of marketer you are.
In this post, I’m going to break down the different types of hats that affiliate marketers might wear throughout the affiliate industry.
Whitehat marketers are the good guys; they don’t break the rules. In fact, they’ll read all the rules and do everything they can to stay compliant. Often, a whitehat marketer won’t be going for a “quick buck”, but instead trying to build solid campaigns slowly over time to reach long-term stability.
Success with whitehat can take longer to achieve (and may not happen at all), but they’re able to live life with nothing to fear (account bans, payout refusals, etc.) because they’re playing the safe game. High-quality traffic sources and affiliate networks (with ethics) love these guys and may even bend over backward to accommodate them because they can be very good long-term business partners.
Greyhat marketers fall in the middle; they are willing to break some of the rules, but maybe not the law. These guys may read the rules, but not necessarily to follow them; to find out how they can exploit them in the best way to make money.
They’ll push the rules to the absolute limit, which can oftentimes result in more policies being added to combat their aggressive tactics. Greyhat marketers might run some questionable offers using misleading claims, copyright infringement, gimmicky tricks, and even light cloaking to get conversions.
Many traffic sources and affiliate networks are welcoming of greyhats (as long as they’re not super aggressive) and may even assist them in pushing limits on rules (”allowing” rules to be broken 🤫, multi-accounts, etc.), especially if they’re doing volume.
With affiliates being masters of pushing the limits, many affiliates fall under the greyhat category.
Blackhat Affiliate Marketing
Blackhat marketers will go so deep into the darkness some people wouldn’t even consider them a marketer. They’ll break every rule and law you can think of if it means they’ll make a profit.
They know all the tricks to circumvent the systems, and they’ll continuously do it because it can make a lot of money in a very short amount of time.
Legitimate scams, phishing, spam, fraud, and high-scale cloaking are some of the common tactics they’ll use to rake in the cash. These guys go so hard that they have a hard time sleeping at night because they never know if the FBI might be crashing their doors down.
Not many people want to work with them because they can cause a lot of monetary and legal problems, but they’re able to make it work nonetheless (with the help of questionable services/companies) and keep their operations going.
Which type of affiliate are you?
As you can see, each type of hat has its own pros and cons. Whitehats may take longer to see profits, but if they succeed with their campaign(s), these profits can be stable for a long time. Greyhats have a shorter time to reach profit, but they can have issues with compliance since they’re always pushing the limit. And then there are blackhats who can see high profits almost instantly but are playing a very dangerous and risky game.