Affiliate Marketing vs Network Marketing – Which Is Best?

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Last Updated on 6th February 2024

If you’re trying to decide between affiliate marketing vs network marketing then I’m gonna tell you everything you need to know about these two business models.

As a person who has worked with both business models myself, I am uniquely suited to give you an inside look.

Like any business model, there are pros and cons to both affiliate marketing and network marketing too.

So let’s get to it and discover which one is best.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways to start an online business. It has a huge appeal for two main reasons; the barrier to entry is very low, and the earning potential can be crazy-high for experienced affiliates.

Affiliate marketing allows companies to promote products and services through affiliates who refer potential customers to them. The company provides the product or service being sold, but the affiliate gets paid if they send someone to the company’s website who makes a purchase.

Basically, the company or product owner creates an affiliate program for their products and services.

Anyone can apply to the company to be an affiliate. Once the affiliate is accepted into the program they will be given an affiliate link that is unique to them.

The affiliate can then get to work promoting the company, usually through some kind of online content (blog posts, YouTube videos, social media posts, etc), or through paid ads.

Once someone clicks the affiliates link they will be taken to the product owner’s website. If the customer makes a purchase then the affiliate will earn a commission.

Both the product owner and affiliate can monitor how many clicks and sales are being made through the affiliate link.

If you think affiliate marketing is for you then you can learn the core skills quickly here.

Affiliate Marketing Pros and Cons

In my opinion, affiliate marketing is a great business model. Affiliate marketing also has several advantages over network marketing.

With affiliate marketing, you can get started right away, and you don’t need to recruit anyone to join your team. Once you’ve got your affiliate links out on the internet you can potentially start earning money immediately.

Another big draw to affiliate marketing over an MLM business is that you have the potential to earn a lot of money quickly, especially if you have the right training.

With the MLM business model typically it can take several years before you are earning enough to live on.

There are lots more pros to being an affiliate. However, there are also a few cons too you should be aware of too.

Here are the pros and cons of affiliate marketing:

Pros of Affiliate Marketing

  • Low barrier to entry
  • You can start affiliate marketing with no money
  • 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 a 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 affiliate marketing 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

Cons of 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
  • Some courses can be scams

How Much Money Can You Make From Affiliate Marketing?

Beginners usually make zero until they have acquired the core skills that are necessary to make affiliate marketing work.

The majority of experienced affiliates make between $1,000 – $10,000 per month.

Top affiliates can make over $100,000 per month.

It makes a huge difference in which products you choose to promote. Some programs pay you very little money, whereas others payout high ticket commissions.

If you like the idea of earning high ticket commissions, even as a beginner, then I recommend you take this 15-day training course to get started.

If you want more info on affiliate earnings and commission structures then see my article here for more on how much money you can make from affiliate marketing.

How Fast Can You Make Money With Affiliate Marketing?

For most people, it takes time before they earn good money from affiliate marketing. A lot of people quit before they start making money because they don’t have the patience.

Unfortunately, they don’t realize that once you learn the core skills of affiliate marketing it’s actually quite simple to start making money online.

Besides skill level, some methods are faster than others. For example, blogging is quite a slow method, but it has the benefit of being able to yield high profits for years to come if done correctly.

The fastest methods involve using social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok.

Super-affiliate Spencer Mecham teaches a fast method in his Affiliate Secrets 3.0 course. Spencer says this method can earn beginner students as much as $10,000 per month in their first 30 days providing they follow his method and put the work in.

I took this course and exposed the good and bad points of the course in my review of the Affiliate Secrets 3.0 training here.

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What is Network Marketing?

When you join a network marketing opportunity you are known as a ‘distributor’ for that company. You can be a distributor for more than one company, although most distributors prefer to be loyal to just one company.

In a network marketing business, you basically have two areas to focus your efforts. The first is to promote your MLM company products directly to customers. When a customer buys a product from you, you will earn a small commission.

Secondly, you need to recruit people to join your team, people who would also like to be a distributor just like you. The benefit of this is that you will then also earn a smaller referral commission from all the sales anyone in your team (known as your downline) will make.

The goal is to build a team of salespeople who will eventually become your downline distributors. Once you reach a certain level of success, you may be able to move into management and earn even bigger commissions.

When you first join the MLM industry, your company will encourage you to promote your product to your friends, family members, work colleagues, and social media followers.

This does put a lot of people off joining an MLM because they don’t want to annoy their friends and family. However, many people are happy to do so. But once you’ve exhausted this list of people (known as your warm list), you’ll have to get creative to find more people to sell to. This is where an MLM can start to get particularly challenging.

One big difference between affiliate marketing and network marketing is that affiliates promote products online and most MLM participants work face-to-face with customers.

Network Marketing Pros and Cons

Although it has lost some popularity due to the growth of the internet, a lot of people still choose to join a network marketing or MLM company.

If you’re thinking to join a network marketing opportunity then here are the pros and cons to be aware of.

Pros of Network Marketing

The best part of network marketing is that it allows you to build a business without having to spend money upfront. It’s all about building relationships and making friends. if you’re good with people then you may do well with an MLM.

Here are the main pros of this business model:

  • You get commissions from the work of others in your team
  • You can work when you want
  • Your MLM company will give you training and marketing materials
  • You can earn passive income

Cons of Network Marketing

  • There are limited benefits
  • It takes a long time to build this business
  • You are encouraged to sell to friends and family
  • You need to have a thick skin
  • You will get rejected a lot
  • You may need to do prospecting in public
  • Has a reputation of being a pyramid scheme
  • There is usually a cost involved to join an MLM opportunity

One of the biggest drawbacks of an MLM Network is they have a reputation for being a pyramid scheme. This can then make it very difficult for you to convince others to join you in your quest.

While most MLM companies are legit, there are definitely some scam companies out there. Basically, if the company does not have a real product to sell and only makes money (or primarily makes money) from the investment people pay to join the MLM opportunity then it is a pyramid scheme. In this case, I advise you to run a mile.

On the other hand, if the company does have a genuine product, from which most of the money is earned for the company then it is more likely to be legit.

The FTC says that if you pay people to sign up others, you’re probably operating a pyramid scheme. If you’re thinking to join an MLM then the FTC advises you read this first.

How Much Money Can You Make From Network Marketing?

How much money you can earn in network marketing depends a lot on the products that are being sold, the demand for the products, and most importantly how early you got in on the action.

Unfortunately, when it comes to MLMs, it’s usually the people at the top of the pyramid, ie the people who joined the company in the early days that make all the money. These folks can make really good money if they are working for a good company. However, if you’re getting in early then you’re also taking a chance that the company will survive.

If you get in too late, ie you join a team where there are a lot of people above you before you get to the top distributor then you probably won’t end up making much.

How Fast Can You Make Money With Network Marketing?

I tried 3 different MLM businesses between 2006 to 2010. I made a bit of money with them but not enough to tell my grandma about.

I stuck with one company and worked diligently for 3 years, and my monthly recurring revenue (passive income) amounted to about $45.

If you’re still planning to join an MLM then be prepared to work hard and wait a long time before you start earning good money.

Final Thoughts: Affiliate marketing vs Network Marketing

Affiliate marketing and network marketing have the same ultimate goal of building a passive income.

However, in my opinion as someone who has worked with both of these business models, you can make a lot more money with affiliate marketing, and more quickly too.

Overall, my verdict on affiliate marketing vs network marketing is that affiliate marketing wins hands down.

Affiliate marketing is a great way to start making money online because it’s free to join, easy to set up, and most importantly, can bring you passive income.

Unfortunately, most affiliates fail because they don’t get started the right way. But it doesn’t need to be like that…

If you want to start affiliate marketing, then there are a few core skills you need to learn.

Fortunately, you can learn these core skills and get your business set up completely in just 15 days from now.

If you’d like to try affiliate marketing, get set up the right way, and start earning high ticket commissions then I recommend you take this 15-day training course now.

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