Affiliate Marketing Vs MLM

Affiliate Marketing Or MLM

Business is a broad field in which many different opportunities and careers exist. You can be an employee, start your own company, or join an MLM or affiliate marketing program. Both of these options can provide you with a steady income if you know what you’re doing and manage yourself carefully. But which is better, affiliate marketing or MLM? This article will explore the pros and cons of both approaches so that you can make an informed decision when choosing your own path through life as an entrepreneur.

affiliate marketing or MLM

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

You may be wondering, “What’s the difference between affiliate marketing and MLM?” Both are ways of making money online, but they’re different in how they work.

Affiliate Marketing: You get paid when someone buys something from your recommendation. For example, if you have a blog about shoes and recommend a shoe brand on your site and someone buys from your affiliate link, you’ll get paid for getting them to buy those shoes.

My top recommendation for someone who wants to start an online business is not MLM. Affiliate marketing is the best way I’ve found to start an online business.

This is great because it puts control of your income into your hands. You set up the system, promote it yourself and then sit back as people come to buy stuff from it (that’s why it’s called passive income). However, there are some downsides too; it’s a slow process and some affiliate networks pay just a small percentage of what the buyer purchases. Other cons include not always making a commission whenever someone clicks on your affiliate link.

What Is MLM?

Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a type of business that pays commissions for recruiting other salespeople within the company. In other words, someone who signs up to sell your products earns money from their own sales as well as from selling your products to others through them. That’s where “multi-level” comes from: Each person recruits more people and brings in more commissionable revenue to the person on the higher end. MLM is also known to be a cover-up for pyramid schemes, but not every MLM company is a pyramid scheme.

The idea behind MLM is that you can make money without having to leave your house; the only thing required is to recruit more people into the company so that they can sell products too (and be paid on their sales). This is called a downline or an upline, depending on which level you’re looking at being part of a chain. You’ll start at the bottom level—say “member”—then work your way up until eventually everyone under you has recruited new members themselves and they form part of your network too.


This can sound like an appealing opportunity when presented with flashy graphics and testimonials telling tales of those who have made it big by joining such programs—but there are some serious drawbacks when comparing MLMs against affiliate marketing

affiliate marketing Vs MLM

Affiliate Marketing vs MLM

To recap:

  • Affiliate marketing

In this model, you are paid a commission when you make a sale to customers. You receive no compensation for recruiting new people or selling to them directly.

  • Multilevel Marketing (MLM)

In this model, the income is based on your sales to new people and existing members of the company’s downline. You need to convince people to join the marketing program so you can scale and therefore earn more money than your peers.

Both Pay People For Their Efforts

Both affiliate marketing and MLM pay people for their efforts. Affiliate marketers are paid commissions on sales, and MLM companies pay a commission on sales, in addition to paying a commission on recruiting new people.

In short, the difference between affiliate marketing and MLM is that with affiliate marketing you can make money by selling other peoples products or services as an individual; whereas with MLM companies you must be part of a larger group (your “downline”) where each level makes money off selling products or services to those below them.

In MLM, You Need To Recruit New People To Make Money

In both, a business can be started for little or no money. But if you want your business to grow, you will probably need some capital for advertising or promotional materials such as brochures (mostly used in MLM) and website content (used in both affiliate marketing and MLM). This can get expensive quickly if not done carefully.

In both cases there’s potential for making good money if you have the ability and drive needed for success with either one of these businesses but they do take work! Once they get going though they tend not only help themselves but also those around them by growing economically which means more jobs are created.

MLM Can Be A Scam

As we’ve mentioned, there are some companies that use the MLM business model to profit off of their customers. If a company is not transparent about its products or services, it can be a scam. Some people are drawn in by the promise of easy money and get duped into paying monthly fees for poorly-made products.

affiliate marketing Vs MLM
In addition to this risk, many people don’t make enough money from MLM opportunities because they aren’t good at selling or lack the time and energy required to run a successful business. In fact, according to one survey conducted by Consumer Reports in 2017, only 10% of people made more than $500 after joining an MLM opportunity. That same study found that over half of all participants stopped using whatever product or service they were being sold within 3 months after joining. This means that if you’re considering becoming a multi-level marketer through one such program, there’s a good chance you’ll end up losing money on it—and maybe even lose friends along the way!

In short: There is no guarantee that any particular MLM opportunity will work out well for you financially; however there are many examples where network marketers have found success with their businesses.

With MLM, You Could End Up Spending More Than What You Make

If a person is not careful, they could easily spend more than they make in MLM. The reason for this is that many people do not know how to generate leads and keep them coming. This can cause them to become frustrated and quit before they see any real results from their efforts. In addition, it’s important to take into account the time commitment required by most networks in order to have success with them—and some require much more time than others!

Both Can Help You Earn From Other People’s Success

You can make money from other people’s success, you can make money from your own, and you can make money from other people’s failure.

This is true of affiliate marketing as well as MLM. So if you’re looking to get into an industry where there are lots of opportunities for growth and income generation, I would strongly suggest affiliate marketing to start today.

Both Have Pros And Cons

It’s important to understand the pros and cons of both models.

The very first thing you need to understand is that both are legitimate business models. They’re not scams, they’re not pyramid schemes, and they’re not fly-by-night get-rich-quick scams (though there are some of those out there).

Affiliate marketing or mlm

In fact, if you have a strong enough product or service with a large enough audience who wants it, then MLM can be an extremely lucrative business model for you. You just need to find your niche—the market where your target audience is most likely interested in what you’re selling—and make sure that the product itself is something people want before launching into full-on marketing mode.


You have a lot of control over your own income with either approach, but you can easily lose control and end up spending more than you make if you don’t choose wisely and manage yourself carefully.

  • With affiliate marketing, you create the content and promote it on social media sites, websites and even in person. You don’t have to deal with any customers or recruiters or anyone else; all you do is put together promotions for other people’s products that interest you, then tell people about those products! That’s it!
  • With MLM (multi-level marketing), though, your income depends entirely on how many people are below you in the company. If they’re doing well enough below them to buy products from their upline distributors rather than directly from the company itself or another affiliate marketer like yourself…then so will everyone else above them who gets their money by recruiting new members into their network under them..etc…and this continues up until there’s only one person left at the top-level making all of the money—and that person is usually some sort of celebrity figurehead and influencers who don’t actually know much about selling anything except themselves as an “inspiration” for others who want what they’ve got but aren’t willing (or able) to achieve it.


In conclusion, both affiliate marketing and MLM can be extremely overwhelming and difficult to maintain and keep track. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend MLM to anyone who is willing to make a living through online businesses. But again, that’s me personally and it all depends on how hard you work and how smartly you choose what companies to work with. In this post, we compared the two approaches from a number of angles: their similarities and differences, the pros and cons of each approach for newcomers as well as experienced users, potential pitfalls that could happen when using either system or both together at once (which many people do). We hope this information will help you make an informed decision about whether or not either approach is right for your needs.

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  1. I appreciate this information about both affiliate marketing and MLM.  Funny… whenever I hear of any MLM opportunity, I automatically assume it’s a scam. But it’s helpful to know that it can sometimes be a legitimate business model if you have the right product.  I don’t have the personality for it. I think that would be best for someone who is naturally charismatic and can recruit a lot of members.  That’s not me!  ha ha.  Yes, I agree that affiliate marketing is the way to go. You can start it with almost no money. It requires time and effort and there are no guarantees, but it’s less risky.  A website can be a great digital asset, and if you put enough into it, one day it may really pay off. However, I will say that I don’t think anyone should quit their job and stake their future on it. Affiliate marketing should be started as a side hustle. And, if you make a success out of it – FANTASTIC!  Then, maybe you can quit that 9-5. Work hard, enjoy the process and release the attachment to the outcome.  That’s my strategy FWIW!

    1. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” that’s usually my perspective on MLM as well whenever I see an opportunity from that industry. It’s sad to see that it has gotten such a terrible reputation that we automatically assume that it isn’t legit, but at the same time, most of us have had that experience where we’ve almost been scammed out of one of these companies. So glad to see more people with the same mindset that want to thrive in their business instead of working, yet, another or even worse day job – MLM shouldn’t be on our radars when focusing on online businesses and affiliate marketing.

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