High ticket affiliate programs are very common to run into these days. They offer ways to make big commissions, but is there a scam underneath the opportunity?
Before, I was in the middle, even though I never recommended one of them but today, I am slowly slipping into believing that they may be and with certain events that have taken place in the last few years, namely the FTC shutting down some of the biggest ones that were at the helm of high ticket affiliate programs out there, I have strong reasons to believe that it was only the beginning and it’s entirely possible that in the near future, high ticket programs may be classified as schemes.
And also because I do make money online program reviews, in the past few years, nearly 50% or more of the programs I encounter are of the high ticket sort, and nearly every single time I’ve reviewed them, they have turned out to be extremely overpriced and thus you’ll likely never see me recommend one.
Now I know there’s many fans out there who have signed up with and made money promoting the many high ticket systems in existence who will 100% disagree with me, but my argument against these systems has nothing to do with the money being made from it. It has everything to do with the way the system is set up and I do believe there is something wrong at the core of this whole industry.
Here is how high ticket affiliate programs work (before I explain if it’s a scam):
There are 2 classifications of high ticket programs as far as I’m concerned, and it’s important that you know both so you understand how one is 100% legit while the other is likely not:
The legit kind:
You sign up with a regular affiliate program like Amazon Associates and they let you promote ANY product you want.
You can also elect to promote their most expensive programs without paying a cent to do so.
The only thing you pay for is a processing fee if you make money and they send you a check.
You can sign up for free and start promoting it for free and this is actually a key detail as access to this opportunity doesn’t cost you anything. I will mention a few places shortly.
The questionable and possibly illegitimate kind:
There exist high ticket systems, which are typically make money online opportunities (training programs on the subject of making money online) that usually allow you to see a preview of what they’ll teach you, either for free, or for a small fee.
Then once inside, what you usually get is a sales funnel into trying to get you to buy much more expensive training packages.
What may start as a free trial or even a tiny investment can steer you down into a checkout cart to buy training packages for $1,000’s and in some cases $10,000’s of dollars.
Very little if nothing is taught in the lower end areas (where you enter for free or pay little to see). You are basically told that the “real training” and “secrets” are further up in the package tiers.
Now the key selling point is that the actual affiliate opportunity with these programs only really comes IF you buy the higher tier packages. This is MANDATORY.
Furthermore, the actual thing you are buying is technically access to an opportunity whose training teaches you how to promote the very same system as an affiliate to make money from. Some would argue that this is the business model of a pyramid scheme and I have to be honest, it’s hard to argue against that point from what I’ve seen…
In addition, you will also find very high, and arguably SLEAZY sales techniques such as shaming or “reverse psychology” used to get you to feel worthless or guilty if you don’t the higher packages. I’ve seen and encountered this and while I understand that I’m essentially being tricked, most people who are unfamiliar with how high ticket programs work legitimately and illegitimately.
But it’s very important that you understand, that in this article, I’m covering the red kinds of high ticket systems, not the legit kinds and just so you know the distinguishing qualities, let me give you examples:
An example of the legitimate kind:
A person signs up with Amazon Associates and decides to promote something that costs $1,000’s of dollars. Say a luxury watch (By the way, I detail this and other high ticket niches here). Suppose a watch there costs $5,000. The affiliate would make about 5% commission of that which would be $250 a sale.
The person seeking to promote these watches need only sign up with Amazon Associates and get approved to promote their stuff to do this. No monetary investment is necessary.
Examples of where you can find this:
Your goal with these places would be to find high ticket items and promote them (Need training?) to audiences most likely to buy them (niche audiences). The reason these places are legit is because signing up to the affiliate program for those places is FREE and promoting any product within those networks is ALSO free.
An example of the potentially illegitimate kind:
A person signs up with a high ticket money making opportunity. It offers 5 training packages:
- Level 1: A free trial membership.
- Level 2: A $100 a month membership.
- Level 3: A one time $1,000 package.
- Level 4: A $5,000 package and…
- Level 5: A $10,000 package.
With the exception of the free trial membership (level 1), the commissions for the other 4 packages (levels) are 50%, so if you can:
- Level 2: Sell a $100/month membership, you’d make $50 a month.
- Level 3: Sell a $1,000 package, you’d make $500 one time.
- Level 4: Sell a $5,000 package, you’d make $2,500 one time.
- Level 5: Sell a $10,000 package, make $5,000 one time.
But you can probably already predict the “catch” and where this is going by now. If not, that’s OK, because this is where the scheme can potentially exist:
If you want to sell the level 2 packages and higher, guess what? You need to buy them.
And if you can get someone to sign up under you, in order for any level 2 and higher package to pay you a commission, they too need to buy it. So just buying a higher level membership only entitles you to the opportunity to sell it and this is a huge deal because you are making a big investment.
So in short, it is my opinion that if a high ticket affiliate program requires you to pay a huge sum to promote their products, you are likely getting involved with an illegitimate kind of affiliate program and I would strongly recommend you not join it. I’ll provide examples of these types of programs below, ones which were taken down by the FTC.
5 arguments that say this is a scheme:
1) There is no free way to promote the opportunity unless…
You too become a part of it, and pay $1,000’s to be eligible.
2) The way many of these systems are designed, they don’t really disclose everything.
Instead, they teach and market in a way that leaves the “good stuff” for more expensive training packages, which of course you need to buy to reveal. Everything in the lower tier package only seeks to hype the higher tier packages and nothing more.
So you end up being trapped into buying more, for the promise of making a lot at the end of it all.
3) Many of them are also called get rich quick schemes because…
Most of the people who own these types of programs and the affiliates who promote them only tend to focus on the potential opportunity to make money.
For example, many high ticket systems are promoted via ads and webinars and you’re bound to see a bunch of them on YouTube and being promoted on blogs.
99% of the sales pitch talks about how you can make $100’s and $1,000’s in commissions, neglecting to mention the requirements of actually buying it and also neglecting to explain just how HARD it is to sell these things.
Again, it’s not hard to see a big difference between these “opportunities” and the “opportunities” you see pitched with pyramid scheme programs. There is a VERY close resemblance between them. However, there is a difference and I argue both systems are 2 different types of pyramid schemes.
Traditional pyramid schemes are usually revolving around MLM programs that have recruitment funnels and downlines that stretch to infinity levels. Get 1 person in, they get someone else, and you get paid for all of that (it goes deeper than that).
High ticket systems are one tier type pyramid schemes in my opinion because you can only get paid per 1 referral, and from that point, if that referral gets someone else to buy the system, you don’t get anything from that. BUT the front end prices are so jacked up to join, that it compensates and even “makes sense” to promote it when you can make so much, even if it is questionable.
In any case, both systems are illegitimate in my opinion and it is why that I, as an affiliate marketer NEVER promote them. If I do review them (which happens often), I only refer people into legitimate programs like this.
4) Value of information is highly inflated.
Because most of these illegitimate high ticket programs are typically make money online systems and training on that subject, the value of that training is pretty worthless at the very bottom (the cheapest) and while it can possibly be very good at the higher levels, and the top, the truth is that the value of the information is VERY inflated.
I have yet to come across ANY expensive high ticket system that actually teaches one of a kind training on making money online. I find that my suggested program, Wealthy Affiliate, for cheap prices teaches the same/more things.
But the point here is that very often the “promise” of high commissions distracts the person who is thinking of getting involved with the high ticket program to stop thinking about if it’s actually inflated information.
They see that they can make say $5,000 a sale and immediately think 2 things:
“Oh wow, $5k commissions, this must really be good stuff that they teach, why else would they charge this much?”
“Oh I can make $5k?! Let me parrot that information to other people so they can buy it too”.
In neither one of these ways of thinking is critical thinking actually involved, it’s all masked by illusion. Think about that…
Here’s another thing to consider for point 4:
What is the true value of the program?
This is an add on to point 4, but it’s not just important to note when information has an inflated price tag on it, it’s also important to know what the price of it should really be and if the real value is too far from the inflated one, then the inflated one is a scam.
Let me give you an example with a water bottle…
- You can typically buy a single bottle of water for just $1.
- If the price tag for the same exact bottle was upped to $10, would you buy it? Probably not.
But this example perfectly illustrates how high ticket schemes operate. The truth is that most if not every single bit of info and “secret training” they pitch for the insane prices are things you can probably Google and get info on or do a YouTube search on.
Secrecy sells with these schemes…
As a person who does online business through affiliate marketing, I know just about everything there is about email marketing, paid ads, SEO, making money and so on, so when I see high ticket systems try to sell me things through “Secrecy” which is a common sleazy tactic they use (buy this expensive crap and we’ll give you the real info), I can tell it’s none sense.
But most people can’t. So let me tell you this:
High ticket systems claim to have the secrets in their upper tier packages for making money online. You can find that same info in free resources.
However, because there’s so much information, you need to know which is real, updated and works (which ones to trust basically). For that I would suggest a program like Wealthy Affiliate as it does teach great things on everything online marketing related.
The only difference between these resources and what high ticket schemes do in my experience is that they take this same information, market it as though it’s secret and unknown to the world, then make you buy it in hopes you can make the big commissions. That’s a major scheme.
High ticket programs also do not provide much other than training in their packages. So you buy education essentially, which is inflated. They will also often compare how colleges are more expensive to push their system on you, and I would argue that both are scams and just because one is more expensive, doesn’t excuse the cheaper one from charging so much…
5) Pitches of “mentoring” and “coaching” turning out to just be hustles for more more.
Another argument and warning sign I would argue you should look for is that the high ticket scheme programs use the term “coaching” and “mentoring” to secretly push more up-sells onto customers.
Time and time again the plethora of high ticket programs in the MMO world I run into pitch some sort of mentoring or coaching promise that you get “for free” once you sign up at the lower end of the program.
What ends up happening nearly every single time is that this supposed mentor or coach is just a sales person who makes money IF you upgrade and buy the further memberships and what they do is that in the call, skype call or however they schedule a “session” with you, they will try to hype up the “opportunity” of how much you can make if you invest in the higher tier memberships.
So basically the coach and mentor is just a hustler whose trying to get you to BUY MORE and doesn’t really teach you anything.
And should you decide to not upgrade, I’ve personally seen more than once, how these same false coaches/mentors will try and make you feel guilty for not upgrading and will even be absolutely rude to you.
I’ve had this happen recently to me, when I told a supposed coach I wasn’t interested in upgrading and JUST wanted info on how what else I’d have to buy in the high ticket program I was checking out (since this was not disclosed).
The dude ended up sending a nasty email response about how I wasn’t “coachable” and that he didn’t want to waste time with me. It basically confirmed that I saved time from a sales pitch, not actual mentoring…
On that subject though, you will find good coaching from me personally if you check that out here. But as for high ticket programs, watch out people, this happens VERY often.
2 high ticket schemes shut down by the FTC. A sign of things to come?
I didn’t want to mention any existing high ticket programs I find questionable in this post (I have reviewed many!), but I did give you enough info on how they work to help you identify if they are schemes.
Either way, the following 2 programs that were shut down by the FTC are officially labeled as scams, so there’s no debate on this anymore and here they are:
Think about the package model I gave above which progressively got more expensive. Digital Altitude took this to a whole new meaning and charged up to $60,000 for all it’s packages which basically just offered more and more “opportunity” for each new financial hole you stepped into.
Naturally, most people didn’t make their money back in this scheme and eventually, enough bad rumors got the FTC involved into this program too and here’s the official report on Digital Altitude from the FTC from them on it. Either way, good riddance to this scam.
I believe this high ticket program was a pioneer in what would later become a whole industry (the high ticket affiliate program one). This system was not just expensive ($50,000+ in costs for it’s packages), but it also bullied people like myself and other bloggers who tried to call them out on what they were doing by threatening them with lawsuits.
In fact, my own recommended company for learning online business the legitimate way, Wealthy Affiliate got into with them because MOBE was also suing them, but because Wealthy Affiliate wasn’t going to be bullied around, is legitimate and had enough evidence to prove it’s points against MOBE (the type I am making in this post against high ticket systems in general), they eventually won (here is the story on Wealthy Affiliate and MOBE) a long battle against them.
And once the FTC stepped in (information here on the FTC and MOBE), that was the final conclusion to this scam.
My final thoughts:
Now I am pointing to these 2 companies because they are case studies on how the FTC is starting to look into high ticket companies that operate this way and because I have come across so many other high ticket systems over the years that do operate like MOBE and Digital Altitude, I strongly believe there will come a moment, soon in fact, in which the FTC will officially designate these companies as scams and start shutting them down in droves.
These are just the case models they used to help them in later cases they’ll likely bring onto other companies like it.
I am certain that within the next 5 or so years, the high ticket industry is going to start getting the same bad rep and stereotype that MLM companies do for being pyramid schemes and it’ll be a rightfully placed label, because these new age network marketing scams (high ticket systems) are taking people for insane amounts of money.
So overall, that concludes my thoughts on high ticket programs and which ones are schemes. I would advise those who are still looking at it from a point of view of how much it’ll make them if they get sales to consider how much they’ll have to put in and how they’ll probably have to rip others off to join them, to them have them go through the same process.
This is in my opinion not how one should succeed online and I personally find no satisfaction in recommending that people join such schemes. This is why I have always stayed away from these programs, and always will.
Update: More info on how to spot the bad high ticket schemes…
One of the people who trained me to become an affiliate marketer has a very similar and I would argue more detailed viewpoint on this subject that he talks about here.
While we share the same viewpoints on this subject, I personally have friends in this field who disagree with me and I would also ask that if you do as well, or perhaps agree with me to discuss this below.