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Whitehat, Greyhat or Blackhat? Which One Suits You?

The hats we wear say a lot about who we are! But who do you want to be? We break down the pros and cons of White, Grey and Blackhats.

Whitehats

Whitehats don’t break the rules. They’re the good guys. Whitehats are the ones who read all of the T&Cs and comply with them. It’s a case of ‘what you see is what you get.’ They often start slow and build big rather than attacking quick payouts. This can be very profitable, but there is always the risk that a lengthy and expensive campaign won’t take off.

Greyhats

Greyhats break the rules but not the law! This can be quite a lucrative position if you’re willing to let your morals slide. Think of it as being akin to taking the towels from your hotel room. They were complimentary right? Probably not, but you never read the terms and conditions so how were you to know?

T&C’s or ToS (Terms of Service) are not that important to Greyhats. To them, they are both a blessing and an inconvenience. An inconvenience because it means that they regularly get blacklisted. A blessing because Whitehats don’t like being blacklisted, meaning that Greyhats can make a career by living on the edge.

Facebook is a popular platform for Greyhats because they regularly alter their T&Cs, making it a difficult market for whitehats to operate in. Didn’t get the memo? Well neither did the Greyhats. That’s why, when Facebook started trying to stop affiliates promoting dating services, they carried on.

Greyhats also aren’t afraid to cut a few corners when it comes to copyright. Within Greyhat adverts you can expect to find pictures lifted straight from other sites without permission, and overstated claims about the products in question.

Blackhats

Blackhats break your legs! Or at least might threaten to. Welcome to the darkside!

Blackhats are responsible for some of the world’s greatest literature, including Lost in Space; the heartwarming story detailing the plight of Major Abacha Tunde, a Nigerian astronaut who got stuck in space after the dissolution of the USSR, and needed $3,000,000 to return home.

This type of debauchery is known as phishing, whereby a blackhat will distribute bait in the hopes that some poor, unsuspecting victim will bite. Fortunately there is now a lot of awareness of these scams and so, whilst they still exist, fewer and fewer people fall for them.

Another Blackhat tactic is using spam. This verges on the lighter side of blackhat marketing but it’s one that annoys most people. Spam is essentially unwanted emails which clutter up your inbox. However, it is possible to legitimise this practice by giving the user the option to opt-in to email marketing campaigns. This means creating a opt-in/opt-out box at the bottom of your terms and conditions, to allow people the choice of whether or not to receive emails from your company. No one ever reads the terms and conditions so they often end up opting in regardless.

Let’s face it, this isn’t the hat you want to be wearing, unless prison jumpsuits become all the rage. So the option is between Greyhats and Whitehats.

Pros and Cons of Whitehats and Greyhats

Wearing a Whitehat

Pros:

  • You can develop a loyal customer base and work on building and improving long-term campaigns.
  • You can boost your SEO within Google guidelines.

Cons:

  • Playing the long game comes with its own risks, as you may find that you invest a lot of time and money into a campaign that never takes off.

Wearing a Greyhat

Pros

  • You can develop a good reputation and loyal customer base.

Cons

  • Payoffs take longer to acquire.
  • T&Cs are difficult to abide by, even when you try really hard.

See also Top Traffic Sources Every Affiliate Should Know About

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