Why Affiliate Marketing is Superior to MLM

affiliate marketing or mlmAs you may or may not know, I am personally against any form of MLM, but proponents of it often ask what other opportunity is there to make money online besides through this method?

The answer is affiliate marketing and in my honest opinion/experience, I feel this alternative is far better. It is actually identical to MLM in some ways, but in many other cases, different and most people don’t know that. So I’ll explain:

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the process of promoting someone else’s product through your website/email/social network. With affiliate marketing, you are essentially a middleman.

Here’s how this works in the most basic example:

People look for things on the internet, often products/services. They hop onto places like Google and do a search for such thing/s. If you own a website which appears to these people and they visit it, you can sell them something related to their interest.

What you sell is a product/service and you act as an affiliate, meaning if they buy it through you, then you earn a commission.

For example:

  • Someone looks for ways to stop their dog from barking, so they hop on Google. 
  • Your site appears and they decide to visit it in hopes of finding an answer to their problem.
  • Your site shows them ways to help dogs stop barking, as well as promotes a book on disciplining dogs.
  • They like the information you have to offer and decide to buy the book you are promoting. 
  • Once they buy the book from your site, you earn a commission. 
  • Now take that person and multiply it by the hundreds, thousands and many more who also look for similar things on a weekly basis, then multiply the potential to earn money from these people and you have yourself the potential of a strong online business.
  • Here’s a getting started guide on making money online (with affiliate marketing). on how to realistically make that into a business.

Here are some pros of affiliate marketing:

1) You can sell pretty much ANYTHING as an affiliate. One of the most popular ways affiliates make money online is through product reviews. Since there’s millions of different products available online, there are also millions of different opportunities to promote them.

2) Generally if you do things correctly, you don’t really have to sell much since people already know what they want. As an affiliate, you just make it easier for them to buy it, thus there’s no typical sales process necessary. 

3) You can really make a lot of money with affiliate marketing. See my Wealthy Affiliate page and see my stats on that.

Cons of affiliate marketing:

1) In 99.9% of cases, you need to have fundamental things in place before you become a successful internet marketing: 

  • A niche.
  • A website.
  • Traffic (visitors).

This takes time to amass, but once you do, the rewards and profits can come in on autopilot. 

What is multilevel marketing? 

Also known as MLM, this is a business model which in has similarities to affiliate marketing, but goes deeper and grey area territory as far as I’m concerned. MLM in general is a process of marketing in which you usually get people to sign up to a program you’re promoting.

The more people you sign up, the more you can make in commissions. In that sense, it works exactly like affiliate marketing, but one key difference is this:

If the people you refer start to refer others into the business, you can make money of those secondary referrals. Now on paper this may seem like a much more profitable opportunity than affiliate marketing, but as you’ll find out in the cons, theory and realism are 2 different things. 

The pros of multilevel marketing:

1) Considering you are either a very good salesman or have a large list of leads at your disposal, you can make a lot of money through referring people into an MLM. This is something most people lack and thus fail in the business (among other reasons).

2) You can potentially make a lot of money with an MLM vs affiliate marketing. In fact, affiliate marketing is part of the MLM process anyway because there is a promotional element going on and a middleman involved in those promotions making money, but in practice, you already know that there’s distinguishing features between both models.

The cons of multilevel marketing:

1) Generally, many MLM programs get a bad rep because often times they are accused of being pyramid schemesmlm pyramid scheme

2) It is VERY difficult to sell an MLM program/product to someone. Unlike in affiliate marketing where people come to you, with MLM programs, generally you come to them and it is VERY rare that you can sell an idea to someone.

Most of the time, people are sold on a business idea of how they can make a lot of money through an MLM, only to find out the hard way it’s just a dream.

3) Many MLM programs come and go (often because they are pyramid schemes) so it is very difficult to find stability. Even if you have a strong list of people who follow you everywhere you go, it’s difficult to keep hopping from one MLM to another and maintaining credibility within your list’s eyes, at least from my point of view. They are however people who keep doing this and make a very successful living doing so. I am personally not for that sort of business because I feel it is basically a wild goose chase for many.

4) There are a lot of MLM programs which have their own products to sell to others. They recruit people, sell them these products and allow them to re-sell it. Usually the process of re-selling is difficult in my experience because the products being sold have other competitors on the market, often times more popular, making it even more difficult to sell.

Now affiliate marketing is itself also a competitive and often saturated field, but if you understand how to attract audiences, not only can you bypass that issue, but you can even implement that same model to promote an MLM program (not that I’d choose that route, but still).

Affiliate marketing vs MLM. And the winner is:

I have to say affiliate marketing. I have tried MLM before and did not succeed. What I can absolutely say without a doubt is this:

If you want to succeed in either industry, I suggest doing it online and if that’s the case to get proper training in places like Wealthy Affiliate on doing so. Personally I advise against getting involved with MLM’s because I feel they are more difficult to sell to people, not to mention their business model can be very questionable. 

With affiliate marketing, there is massive potential to not only make a lot of money, but also genuinely help people as well as materialize a success online business which is built upon YOUR personal passion. 

I know I am a bit biased towards MLM programs, so if you agree/disagree with my position on this, let me know in the comments section below!

4 thoughts on “Why Affiliate Marketing is Superior to MLM”

  1. I was in Wealthy Affiliate, and I understand why you guys bash network marketing because that’s what they teach you guys to do. If you think I’m lying then why is the case study site they show you how to build all about stopping scams?

    Yeah they talk about selling Amazon products and what not, but the example site is the guy basically doing the same thing you’re doing. You’re bashing mlm to sell Wealthy Affiliate.

    Honestly I LOVE affiliate marketing, but I Love network marketing more. Here’s why…

    Unlike what you’ve stated you ARE helping people in network marketing. The whole business model IS around helping people.

    On a side not Wealth Affiliate has great marketing training because you guys rank for just about every mlm keyword there is lol.

    But your model is well evil really. You don’t see network marketers bashing WA to sell their mlm do you? NO!

    But back to what I was saying…

    You said in mlm you have to go to people…

    Well if you want to. You can use the exact same techniques to sell mlm products as you do Amazon. Websites product reviews and all of that.

    You guys make it seem like MLM is impossible or something.

    No it isn’t!

    If you put forth the effort to learn marketing you can succeed in MLM, Affiliate Marketing, Ecommerce, Shopify/Dropshipping, Info Marketing (basically what WA is. It’s just a membership site, or anything.

    I’ve left this comment out of my name because I don’t have my website finished right now, and I know this comment would cause people to want to look me up. but you guys really should stop doing this.

    Why can’t affiliate marketers and network marketers see eye to eye?!

    OMG it’s basically the same thing.

    It’s just as hard to sell affiliate products and mlm products lol. If you don’t get traffic to your niche site you still won’t make money.

    You mentioned you struggled in mlm. Well I didn’t make it to the NFL but played in college. Do I bash football lol. NO!

    I get it you show people an honest way to make money online. MLM IS an HONEST way to make money online.

    With the advances in technology you don’t have to sell to friends, family, or do anything outside of the internet anymore.

    I agree most people do focus on building the “team” instead of retailing, but professional networkers always retail 1st.

    If you look up Tim Sales, Steve Swartz, Kim Klaver, Greg Gomez III.

    These are all honest, ethical, professional networkers who lead with products and not “MAKE A GAZILLION DOLLARS IN 2 WEEKS” non sense that a lot of people do now.

    I mean your site is about making money lol, so why can’t a networker make a site about making money and sell a product on there while also selling his/her mlm on the backend to their list.

    Stop telling ppl that affiliate marketing is so radically different from mlm when it’s really not.

    You’re still selling other people’s products, the only difference is with MLM you get compensated when you help other people sell those products as well.

    A 2 tier affiliate program basically is the same concept as network marketing. Just not as many levels.

    I know why you guys do that though (besides WA blatantly teaching you to do that) it’s because you don’t want the bad rap of promoting mlm because people will “talk” about you.

    All business has rejection. How many people do you think “reject” that banner you have on the right side over there. I bet you get about 50k – 100k pageviews a month… maybe 1,000 click the banner lol. That’s rejection all in the same.

    I actually learned that particular concept from Dave Vallieres the creator of You Can Make Your Living Online.

    Right there in the 1st module of that course he talks about how EVERY business gets rejected.

    See I’m an educated marketer. I’m not a newbie, so the stuff you’re saying literally rolls off my back lol.

    ALL and I mean ALL WA do the same thing, they bash mlm to promote WA.

    And I’ll say it again. I’m not afraid to put my name in here, but my site isn’t together right now and I know a comment like this would cause people to look me up.

    But I admire your SEO skills though. You obviously know how to market because I found you in search.

    But 4 future reference I’ve bookmarked this page and I will follow up when my site and rankings are ready with my name and all of that just to prove that I’m not worried about standing behind what I said. I promise you I will comment again with my real info once that’s done.

    But thank you for the good read though. Interesting blog you have.

    • You’re made a lot of assumptions in this long post and while I appreciate your feedback, let me clarify:

      1) WA does NOT teach anyone to bash things. The training itself shows you how to show positive points the program has over others. If there is a particular aspect of a program I find to a scam, like I do many times in MLM programs and I’ll explain why, I do critically call it out but it is my opinion.

      2) I do not “bash” programs to promote WA. If a program is good, I even promote it and if I can’t, I still recommend it. For example, see a review I did about Serious Bloggers Only.

      3) Now onto the big topic, MLM…let me clarify that I’ve done many, many reviews on these programs and if I bash anything, it’s the referral program, and rarely the product (unless for the circumstances I’ll point to below). I am all for selling the product IF it is of good quality and certainly you can equate that to affiliate marketing, but it’s when the referral program gets added in that the problems start.

      Why? Because you are basically selling nothing to get more referrals to sell more of nothing. If there is a product behind the referral program and it meets the price value of it, then it’s cool, but most of the time, MLM program’s and their referral programs are tangled webs that make no sense and it’s complications are hidden behind the hype of what people could be making behind them and it ends up fooling people into going into the referral program instead of looking into the product offered by the MLM and selling that.

      And as for the products, there is criticism there too, the main one is that in many MLM programs, you are required to buy and keep buying whatever product is sold as is your downline, making it an artificial “forceful” dare I say way to make sales.

      Making sales online to me at least is about people making an educated, free will choice on the matter, no being pushed to keep buying a product. If it good enough, it will sell in my experience.

      And another thing regarding the products I have found is that many of them suck. Take health products in MLMs, you can find a bunch similar ones in stores for less, they basically dress up their product and ask for more to try and pull you in, it’s wrong.

      There are many unethical things that go around in MLM programs. If you take my argument about the products (unless they don’t require buying it and it’s good), the push to get people into the referral program and the fact that it’s impossible for all your down lines to make money, it becomes apparent why many MLM programs fail.

      Now affiliate marketers fail too, but when they do, they haven’t invested nearly as much as they did into the MLM.

      Again my criticism isn’t to promote WA and bash everything else, it’s to make an educated decision on the matter and I’ve enough experience to understand the ethics behind it so I stand fully by my positions.

      I certainly do wish you and your endeavors well, but for now it sounds to me like you’re still new to this business and may have been lured into an MLM and it’s day I say, cult like beliefs. I hope that no matter what happens, that you always look to affiliate marketing as a side option if MLM doesn’t work for you and believe me when I say, you are most welcome in WA because I know you’ll be happier there.

  2. Any successful MLM is usually driven off their ability to sell within the offline world to people or they piggy back their existing following within the industry.

    The problem is and always will be the actual products themselves within most MLM programs. There are exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking people tend to focus far more on selling people into the scheme itself versus selling the actual product itself. The product is by nature, overpriced to reward the compensation structure and there are always better options within the market if any level of research is done.

    An excellent break down here of the pros and cons.

    • Thank you Kyle. I do agree that most people focus on getting referrals vs selling the product in most MLM programs, probably because it “potentially” rewards them more for it.


Leave a Comment