The hype you feel when you’re first introduced to affiliate marketing gets you pumped to give it a whirl but fast forward a year later and it feels like you’re in the trenches because it’s far more difficult to operate than you had anticipated.

Affiliate marketing, at times, is very unforgiving in the sense that if you don’t keep up then you’re going to lose it all. People are quick to hop ship to the next authority, it’s very easy to lapse in keeping up with the changes, and it’s especially difficult to anticipate and react to the trends.

This is a series about the “worst case scenarios” you may experience in affiliate marketing.

The series isn’t meant to spook you away from giving it a try. It’s here to show the ugly side if you’re not 100% committed to the activities. Learn from these posts and anticipate the events as this is how you avoid the drop-off point that so many affiliates experience…

The Effects

Something may have happened at some point in your business which has landed in your some form of legal trouble:

  • You didn’t disclose your association to a product/service when promoting it
  • You refused to honor your guarantee and so now the person is going after you
  • You didn’t take precautions to secure private user information that’s now leaked
  • You avoided paying dues to the IRS and now sinking in back taxes

A lot can go on if you’re in a rush to get your business rolling. It happens because it’s very exciting when you start making money through affiliate marketing. You get too focused on the money-making, business-growing aspect of the work rather than making sure you’re keeping a straight line in the legal ends of things.

Some legal troubles are minor (such as a DMCA take-down notice) while others can really jeopardize your business (like security flaws). Whatever happened it already took a blow to your brand image and will quickly follow up by hitting your income.

The Options

Let’s now look at some of the options you have if you happen to be in this situation where you find yourself in some sort of legal trouble:

Option #1

Own up to the mistakes and deal with the legal repercussions whether it’s shutting down the site, paying the fees, or (hard to say) doing some time.

Those legal troubles are going to follow you regardless so it’s good if you can save face while you still have an ounce of credibility. You can then do what needs to be done, lay low for a while, and then come back swinging.

Option #2

Dispute it.

The legal troubles may not be your fault so it’s important that you dig into how and why such things happened. It’s time to lawyer up or do your due diligence to get to the bottom of the situation. Who knows? Perhaps the legal trouble came about because your site was hacked and private information was leaked – you may have done everything you could so maybe it was a fault in the services you use (it’s always a possibility).

Disputing the issues may make them go away and when you come out victorious you can then explain the entire situation to your community with clarity and transparency which might just save the brand from a tarnished reputation.

Option #3

Just… stop.

Before things get blown out of proportion or it’s further instigated. It sucks but just wrap things up so it doesn’t get worse. You can make an elegant exit from the industry if these legal troubles weren’t serious so take the opportunity while you can and close up shop.

If you decide to return to the industry then consider that you’ll have an uphill battle and it may require you to do a whole lot of reputation management. Learn from those mistakes and try to make a positive out of it. Maybe use it as an opportunity to try something you’ve had on the back-burner for a while but couldn’t get around to because you were too invested in the previous work.

These aren’t your only available option but just a cross sample. What’s best for your affiliate business is whatever you decide but, regardless, take these into consideration and you may come out of this worst case scenario like a champ.