Affiliate Marketing VS Network Marketing (MLM) In 2023

If you are looking to make some money, whether it's to quit your job or just make some extra cash to pay the bills, you may have looked into affiliate marketing and MLM - which is short for "Multi-level-marketing" and is also known as "network marketing".

Both affiliate marketing and MLM marketing are not the same. I myself am very active in affiliate marketing and have dabbled with MLM in the past so I've got first-hand experience with both.

So in this affiliate marketing VS network marketing post, let's get into the differences and help you choose which one is best for you.

Affiliate Marketing VS MLM: The Key Differences

MLM (Multi-Level Marketing)

With Multi-level marketing, you join a company that sells a product or service and then you become part of the network by signing up to be an independent network marketer and distributor.

You are then given a commission for every sale you make, as well as also getting a commission from people who have signed up under you.

The MLM industry is sometimes confused with a pyramid scheme, but they are not the same. Pyramid schemes are illegal and function only by the recruitment of new members, whereas MLM is legal and involves the sale of products.

When you join an MLM, you are also required to make an investment when you join. Some can be in the thousand dollars, while others may be as low as a couple of hundred dollars.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, has no upfront cost to start.

Affiliate marketing is all done online, while MLM is done mostly through selling to people in person.

As an affiliate marketer, you sign up for an affiliate marketing program for a particular product either through the vendor or from an affiliate network platform. You are then provided with a unique affiliate link, and If someone makes a purchase through your link, you get a commission.

You can promote these links on a website or through blogging, email marketing, paid advertising, or social media. There is no need to sell to your friends and family which is typical with MLM.

To Sum it Up:

MLM requires you to recruit people into the business. This means that you will have to do a lot of face-to-face interaction with people you know, including co-workers, friends, and family members. This can lead to uncomfortable conversations and even strain relationships.

With affiliate marketing, you don't need to interact with friends, co-workers, or family. All your promotions are done online, either through a website, social media, or other means. Your marketing is tailored to attract those already interested in your products - not trying to convince others to join like with MLM.

Who is MLM Better Suited For?

MLM is suited for people that are extroverted and very outgoing. They need to be able to have the confidence and charisma to sell a product or service in person, as well as recruit others into the business.

If you are not an extrovert or feel uncomfortable with personal interaction, MLM may not be an ideal fit.

Who is Affiliate Marketing Better Suited For?

Affiliate marketing is a better option if you are looking to make money without having to speak to people directly. You can easily promote products and services online, and you won't ever have to speak to people to try and sell to them. Your campaigns will do the talking for you.

Affiliate Marketing VS Pyramid Scheme

Affiliate marketing and pyramid schemes are two very different things. With affiliate marketing, you are providing helpful content with the goal of making a sale through your affiliate link. 

By contrast, a pyramid scheme offers no value. There are no products involved (usually) and the only ones that benefit are at the top. Eventually the pyramid collapses and everyone below the top loses out and loses money.

9 Reasons Why Affiliate Marketing is Better Than MLM

1. Freedom to Promote

With affiliate marketing, you can promote products in almost any niche. You don't have to be tied down to one particular MLM company so you are free to choose whatever products or services you want to promote. You are in complete control.

There are hundreds of niches you can go into, and chances are there are products in a niche that you might be familiar with, so it will be a lot easier to promote.

2. No Cost to Join

Affiliate programs do not cost anything to join. In comparison to MLM which requires startup costs, there are no fees to join affiliate programs. You will however need to invest in your business in order to be successful, but you only need to spend what you can afford. With MLM, there is no negotiation on what it costs to join.

3. No Pressure to Sell

With affiliate marketing, there is no pressure to sell products or services. You can simply promote the products through your links and let the customers take it from there. You don't have any quotas to meet like with MLM, so you can take your time in building and marketing your campaigns.

4. No Need to Recruit

Unlike MLM, you don't need to recruit people into the business. Affiliate marketers focus on getting traffic to the content that contains links. You don't have to worry about convincing people that they should join your program, as there is no need to recruit. All you have to do is focus on getting the traffic and letting your campaigns do the selling for you.

5. No Need to Stock Products

With affiliate marketing, there is no need to stock products or services as everything is done virtually. With MLM, aside from recruiting, you will need to buy and stock the products that they are selling and hold the inventory until sold.

6. No Fear of Rejection

With MLM, you will face a certain amount of rejection because not everyone will be interested in joining your program or buying the product or service that you are selling. With affiliate marketing, you don't have to worry because you will never need to interact with your customers.

7. The Ability to Work Anywhere You Want

While most MLMs require you to work in certain areas or reach out to certain people, affiliate marketing is different. You can work anywhere that you have an internet connection, allowing you to be more flexible and free.

8. You Can Earn More Money With Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing has the potential to make more money than MLM. This is because you are not limited to the niche or type of product(s) offered by the MLM. With affiliate marketing, you can find a lot more products to promote. And, with MLM businesses to a certain extent, you are limited to the number of people you can recruit. As an affiliate, you have a global reach and market to people all around the world. 

9. Affiliate Marketing Makes Passive Income

Affiliate marketing is a great way to generate passive, residual income. This means that you can earn money without having to actively work for it. Once you have set up your affiliate links and campaigns, they will continue to generate income even when you are not actively working on them. With MLM, it's a constant hustle.

Affiliate Marketing VS Network Marketing (MLM): So What's Best?

Affiliate marketing is a much better business model than MLM. It's more cost-effective, involves no pressure to sell and recruit, offers freedom to promote any product you want, will give you global reach, and has the potential to earn you more money. MLM makes people at the top rich, not you.

So if you are looking for a way to make money by being your own boss and not tied down to one particular product or service with MLM, then affiliate marketing is the way to go.

Want to learn affiliate marketing? Check out these courses I rated to see which one is best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is MLM the same as affiliate marketing?

No, MLM and affiliate marketing are very different. When it comes to mlm vs affiliate marketing, as an affiliate, you do not need to recruit members and you can promote any product or niche as you wish.

Is affiliate marketing a pyramid scheme?

No, affiliate marketing is not a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal and they require you to pay money to join as well as recruit others. As an affiliate marketer, you do not have to do any of these.

What is better than affiliate marketing?

There are other business models to choose from other than affiliate marketing, but that does not mean they are better. Something better depends on the person. For example, they might be better suited for dropshipping.

Which type of affiliate marketing is best?

The best type of affiliate marketing comes down to what the product is, how much it sells for, the niche, and what the commission rates are. There is no one best type, it all depends on the niche that you are targeting.

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Drew Mann

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