Two hugely popular ways to make money from home are through affiliate marketing and influencer marketing.
But what’s better in 2022, affiliate marketing vs influencer marketing?
You can earn a lot of money with either method. However, each has pros and cons you need to be aware of before jumping in.
Affiliate marketing has been around for a few decades now, and the industry is getting bigger each year. On the other hand, influencers have been taking off rapidly over the last few years as social channels like YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook are booming.
If you’re trying to decide which one will be best for you, then here’s what you need to know about each business model.
Let’s dive in.
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What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular methods of making money online. It involves partnering with brands to promote their products, often through blogs and websites.
However, many affiliates prefer to use platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok, instead of using a website. Having said that, it is a great affiliate strategy to use both a website and social media if you can.
As part of the partnership, you will receive a commission if someone purchases a product through the affiliate link the company provides you.
This business model gives you lots of flexibility as you choose which products you want to promote and switch to others if they’re not selling well.
You can get started as an affiliate for free. In fact, many people often start affiliate marketing with no money.
The main job of an affiliate marketer is to send targeted traffic to the products you are promoting. The company provides the product, and they will also do the selling for you.
You as the affiliate then need to send the right people to the company’s website via your affiliate link.
How Do Affiliate Marketers Make Money?
Affiliate marketers earn commissions by referring customers to merchants who offer products or services that the customer wants to buy. The merchant pays the affiliate a commission if the customer buys something after clicking their affiliate link.
Typically, the affiliate will get paid a percentage of the sale amount. For example, an affiliate is promoting a mattress and receiving a 20% commission on each one sold. The mattress sells for $1,000 apiece, the affiliate will then receive a $200 commission on every successful sale.
A program that is set up in this way is known as a pay-per-sale program. Typically, affiliates will earn between 5% – 30% per sale. However, there are also many programs out there offering affiliates 40%, 50%, and even 75 % per sale.
Typically, physical products offer a lower percentage than digital products or software, because physical product merchants have more expenses to deal with.
Some affiliate marketing programs will also pay you a commission for a lead without the customer needing to make a purchase right away.
In this case, the company will collect contact information from the potential customer such as an email address, phone number, or even their home address. This type of marketing is known as a pay per lead program.
While it is certainly easier to promote an affiliate program that doesn’t require your referral to make a purchase, typically these programs will pay you a smaller commission.
Affiliate Marketing Pros and Cons
Affiliate marketing has many advantages over influencer marketing. For one thing, it’s easier to scale than influencer marketing because affiliates don’t require any special skills or training. They simply need a website and some content.
Influencers, on the other hand, often need to invest significant amounts of time and effort into building their brand before they start making money.
Here are the main pros and cons of being an affiliate.
- You don’t need to own the product
- You don’t need to deal with customer issues
- You don’t need to worry about shipping
- You can get started for little or no money
- You can choose to promote any products you like
- There lots of great products out there to promote
- You can earn passive income
- You can work as much or as little as you like
- Some programs pay out huge commissions
- Some programs pay you a monthly, quarterly, or yearly recurring commission
- You can work from anywhere
- You are your own boss
- You call the shots in your business
- Lots of great courses available to learn affiliate marketing
- It can be difficult to find profitable products
- There is competition in many niches
- Sometimes programs change their terms
- Sometimes affiliate programs can shut down
What Do I Need To Do To Start Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a simple, but powerful business model. You can get started for free simply by signing up for an affiliate program and sharing your referral link on the internet.
However, most people fail because they do not have the correct affiliate marketing strategy to follow from the beginning. There are many pitfalls to avoid, but with the correct training, anyone can quickly learn to be successful as an affiliate.
If you’re just starting out then you may not have money to invest in a comprehensive affiliate training course. If you do then I highly recommend this training by super affiliate Spencer Mecham.
I took this training. You can read my detailed review of Affiliate Secrets 3.0 here for all the details on this course.
If you’re on a tight budget and don’t have the money to invest in your training yet, then I highly recommend you take this short 15 day training course for $7.
This short training will teach you the core blueprint of affiliate marketing so you have a step-by-step plan to follow. By the end of the 15 days, you will also be completely set up to start marketing products and making money.
What is Influencer Marketing?
When you ask, “What is influencer marketing,” you’ll get a dozen different answers.
Basically, it’s a form of marketing that involves working with popular media personalities to promote brands. Some of these people have enormous reach on social media, with millions of followers.
Social media influencers have a strong following of people who like their content and trust what they say. While some people are good at getting their message across, others are just bad at it.
Of course, it’s the influencers who have great communication skills and a likable personality that end up growing a huge following.
You can find influencers anywhere, in almost any niche. They can be anyone who has spent time building a target audience and nurturing their own brand. It’s their huge social media followings that make them influential.
Here are a few examples of influencers:
- A yoga teacher who posts on Instagram
- A fitness instructor who shares fitness tips and workout routines on YouTube
- A food blogger who leverages Pinterest
- A nutrition expert who tweets on Twitter
- A marketing expert you has built a large Facebook group
Basically, it’s a person who has built a large target audience of fans who love consuming their content on a particular topic.
While some influencers grow so big that they become a celebrity in their niche. Others are not so big and just seem like regular people, but they have a highly responsive audience that follows them.
Some small influencers may even only have a following as small as 10,000 people. But if those 10,000 are die-hard fans eager to consume their content, then this person may certainly have established themselves as an expert in the niche.
At this stage, they become the person everyone listens to on a particular topic and, therefore, have a lot of influence over the group.
How Do Influencers Make Money
Influencers make money in a number of ways.
Often, they will earn money from sponsorships and brand deals. However, it takes time for an Influencer to build a solid audience first before companies are interested in this kind of partnership.
Some influencers sell their own products and courses, while others will leverage affiliate marketing.
If you’re interested to become an influencer then it’s a great digital marketing strategy to use all of the above methods of making money.
Since it will take you some time before you will attract sponsorship deals, the fastest way to make money as an influencer is with affiliate marketing. In this way, you will choose some good products that are relevant to your niche, and then recommend them to your audience by sharing your affiliate link in the content you publish.
Some influencers only make money in this way, and they do very well for themselves too. However, if you want to scale things up then the next step would be to create your own product that your audience will love. If your product also compliments the affiliate products you promote then all the better.
Then finally, once your audience is big enough, and you have sufficient credibility you can look to attract sponsorship deals to further increase your income.
Influencer Marketing Pros and Cons
Here are the influencer marketing pros and cons you should be aware of before setting out to be an influencer:
- Can leverage several monetization strategies (see above)
- You can build an audience of loyal fans
- You can become a celebrity in your niche
- Easy to sell to your audience once you have established trust and credibility
- Brands often send you free gifts to encourage you to work with them
- Takes time to build an audience
- Some people are just not very influential
- Requires a lot of dedication and continuous effort
- Your audience will expect to hear from you at regular times
- Not easy to make this a passive business model
- Not a sellable business
What Do I Need To Do To Start Influencer Marketing?
It’s easy to get started as an influencer.
First, you need to choose a niche and make a list of other influencers that are already in the space. Make notes on what they do well, and what they could do better. Then, see if you can sub-niche further within the space.
Choose one social media marketing channel to begin with. Start building your audience by posting a lot of helpful, quality content on a regular basis.
Once you’re ready to monetize, start by promoting affiliate products to your audience.
If you are serious about becoming an influencer then I recommend you learn how to combine it with affiliate marketing as Spencer Mecham teaches in his course here.
You can also get some free training with Spencer here to help get you started.
Final Thoughts: Affiliate Marketing vs Influencer Marketing – Which Should You Choose?
Both affiliate and influencer marketing is great business strategies. You can make a lot of money with either method.
If you’re more of a ‘behind the scenes type of person then I recommend you stick with affiliate marketing. If you also prefer to build passive income then the affiliate is the way to go.
On the other hand, if you’re a person who loves posting on social media platforms, engaging, and influencing people then becoming an influencer will be a great business for you. If that’s the case then I highly encourage you to combine this method with promoting affiliate offers.
Doing this can considerably increase your income, and it will be a much easier and quicker way for you to start making money.
Check out this free training with super affiliate Spencer Mecham to learn how to combine these two business models and explode your income.
Steve West is the founder of entrepreneurnut.com, and has been working online since 2013. He specializes in SEO, YouTube, and affiliate marketing. Besides running his online business, he likes hiking, keeping fit, and eating cookies (which is why he needs to keep fit!)
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