Is Affiliate Marketing Halal?
I was having a reunion dinner with two of my old business buddies at the weekend and as usual the conversation pretty quickly turned to business (as it always does!). In particular to Internet business and the growing rate of Muslims creating their own online ventures. There was a common question that we had all been asked at some point which was is Affiliate Marketing Halal or Haram?
Now none of us profess to be scholars in the Islamic context however we do all share the same business morals and work ethics. We have also all been (and still are) involved in Affiliate Marketing over the years and fully see the earning potential it offers. By all means do your own research and decide whether Affiliate Marketing fits your own individual setup and comfort zone however our thoughts may well help too.
The basic concept of this is that you promote a product or service on behalf of a third party. Each time a customer buys you get paid commission. The actual amount is pre-decided by the third party so you both know where you stand. Once a customer decides to buy, they then deal directly with the third party to complete the order; you have simply pointed them in the right direction.
Now how you go about this is entirely up to you but we have narrowed it down to three base methods.
This is how I and my colleagues have always done this. You go out and buy a product for yourself and after using it decide it is truly an amazing product, to the point where you are continuously raving about it.
The product supplier is offering an Affiliate service and you sign up to it. You then continue singing its praises whether that is on your website, in a forum or even face to face. The readers/listeners are then given a link to the supplier’s site and are left to decide on their own accord if this product is for them.
If they buy, great. You get paid and they end up with an amazing item that, hopefully, they too will be telling everyone about. This method should work for all parties involved as long as your own review is honest and accurate.
This is also something we have used in the past and is a more subtle, indirect approach.
You have a website or blog which also has a space on the site for adverts. Usually other individuals or companies will pay to place a small advert on your site linking back to them. This is straightforward upfront paid advertising.
The Affiliate method is this. You are an Affiliate for let’s say Amazon and you place a small advert yourself on your site linking to Amazon. This is not promoting any particular product but just the company itself. There is no post selling the benefits of Amazon and neither do you suggest anywhere that the reader clicks the advert. It is simply just sitting there.
If the visitor to your site decides, of their own back, to click the link they are then taken to Amazons site where they can either buy or not buy. If they do buy again you get paid, so in a way you could say you are getting paid for advertising Amazon but only when someone actually places an order.
Now this is something that we have neither used nor endorse. You are an Affiliate for maybe two or three different companies and you have several posts or articles on your site telling everyone how great their products are. You may even go round verbally telling everyone the same and giving them the relevant link to find the products.
Only problem is you have never even bought or used any of these products yourself!
So in effect you are pushing the benefits of something you have never used or tried but are still trying to convince your readers that it will benefit them just to get paid.
In our view this is morally wrong, ethically wrong and most likely Islamically wrong too.
So that’s the overview the rest is down to you. As I mentioned earlier please do you own research, ask your own questions but above all if it is something you are not completely comfortable or happy doing then don’t. There are always other options available and at least your conscious will remain clear.