Affiliate marketing and multi-level marketing (MLM) are often thrown under the same 'make money' banner, but the two work in completely different ways. It can often be difficult to spot the differences to people that are new,
So today i'm going to talk about affiliate marketing vs MLM. I want to guide you towards the business model that is right for you. In the vast majority of cases, this will be affiliate marketing and read on to see why.
With affiliate marketing, you will be promoting a specific product or service. If your promotion efforts result in that product or service being sold, then you will gain a commission on it.
How you promote these offers will be up to you. You could do it via social media, influencers, paid advertizing etc., but the best way is to create a blog and just write about your niche and include the affiliate links. This is the best way to get engagement.
There are a lot of products and services you can act as an affiliate for. You have full control over what you promote, which means you will be able to choose the right product to sell to your target market.
Affiliate marketing is free to get into because it doesn't require any membership dues to promote these products. However you do need to do it wisely and ensure you get a good course if you want the best chance of success.
Pros of Affiliate Marketing
In our battle between affiliate marketing vs MLM, we are going to look at the pros and cons of each of them. This will allow you to weigh up which business model is right for you. Obviously, we are going to lean in a certain direction here. We will come to that soon, though.
The biggest pro of affiliate marketing is that you aren't really going to be tying yourself into one specific product to sell. It is fair game to promote whatever affiliate program you want. This means that you will easily be able to tailor your offerings to meet the needs of your target audience. It also means that you can scale the business up pretty quickly.
In addition to this, affiliate marketing can be more 'passive' in terms of your income. You are going to need to do the initial work in building up your marketing channels and writing content.
However, when people are interested in a product and land on your website, you don't really need to convince them to buy it. They already have an idea they want it. You just need to push them over the edge. Good quality content will naturally be promoted.
You may also find it a bit easier to get your hands on products which barely anybody else is promoting. This should make it a little bit easier for you to score yourself some affiliate sales. While it may be difficult to get the initial sales rolling in, since you have the freedom to pick your own niche, it should be easy to find an area which isn't quite as crowded.
Cons of Affiliate Marketing
Obviously, there is a lot of work that you will need to do when it comes to this business model. This means doing your research, choosing products, building up your content & driving traffic to your site. It isn't a quick process, and most people will drop out after just 3 months. This is a long game just like building any business. The ones that succeed are the ones that stick to it.
For greater depth into this subject, please check out my blog post on the pros & cons of affiliate marketing.
Finding Affiliate Marketing Programs
You have a lot of options when it comes to affiliate marketing. If you are interested in promoting information products, stick with networks like JVZoo and clickbank.
If physical products interest you more, Amazon Associates is a good place to start. You can also just do a Google search by entering the product name or niche + "affiliate program." This should give you all the available programs to choose from based on your niche or product.
Multi-level marketing, or MLM for short, has similarities to affiliate marketing. You will earn commissions. However, the way you do it will be slightly different.
While you can sell products with MLM, the bulk of MLM is encouraging other people to sell the same products or services as you. You will then collect commissions on whatever they sell. Basically, it is a pyramid scheme. You get people working underneath you doing the sales, and you collect commissions on it, while ever-expanding your team to earn more money.
As you may have guessed; some people will regard MLM as a 'scam', although more on that in a short while.
Pros of MLM
If you are a born-salesman, then you should do quite well with MLM. It is all about convincing somebody that they need something that you are offering. If you can do this, then you can make a whole lot of cash without really going beyond that.
Cons of MLM
Perhaps the biggest con of MLM is actively getting people to sign into the scheme. Most people, nowadays, will instantly see it as a 'pyramid scheme' and thus will avoid you trying to sell it to them. People really seem to hate their friends & family when they are pushing MLM on them.
Ever been to an MLM party hosted by a family member or friend? I have. It's annoying and uncomfortable!
Remember; you will only be 'buying' into selling one or more products too. You can't scale your business. You can't tailor offers to your viewers. Once they are bought in (or decided not to buy in) that is it. You need a constant flow of new traffic.
To cap it all off; for most MLM products, you will need to buy a membership. This means that you are out of pocket, and there is still no guarantee you will see anything. In fact, it is estimated that 99% of people who buy into an MLM will actually lose money. That's not cool.
Finding MLM Programs
Companies like doTerra, Younique, Paparazzi Accessories and Digital Altitude all fall under the MLM banner. You will often find the most popular MLM programs are those which are in the 'fitness' area, or at least health and beauty.
Affiliate marketing VRS MLM - Which One is Best?
So, which route should you go down?
If you haven't figured it out yet - it's affiliate marketing. It takes a while to build this business model to make money, but it is easy to scale up. MLM may deliver short-term gains to you, but it is not sustainable. You will never be able to get the traffic and buy in you need to turn this into a true passive way of making income.
Many MLM schemes are also very 'scam-like' in nature and it can be tough to avoid them. Mostly because everybody that bought into it is doing their best to convince you it isn't a scam! Sound familiar?
If you want to make money and make it online without annoying your friends and family, then go for affiliate marketing.
It is easy to get started, and you can genuinely promote products that you love without feeling the guilt of asking people to part with cash for something you know probably won't work for them.
If you're a complete beginner, check out my article on how to get started as a beginner with Affiliate Marketing.