If you’re new to online marketing, one of the first things you probably do is search in Google, Yahoo and Bing to look for the best ways of making money online. You will discover the most popular methods to do this are through affiliate marketing and MLM (multi-level marketing). Is one vs the other better?
I tried both the affiliate marketing and the MLM (multi-level marketing)
I’ll explain what multi-level marketing and affiliate marketing are, their benefits and disadvantages, and my experiences with them. I’ll give you my honest opinion of which one works the best to make money on.
I got into multi-level marketing in the 90’s on health food products and in 2014 on skin care products. In December 2015, I joined an online affiliate marketing training platform. The rest you will hear as you read on.
Is multi-level marketing better than affiliate marketing? Let’s find out.
MLM (Multi-Level Marketing), The Truth
According to Wikipedia, multi-level marketing is often referred to as network marketing, a pyramid type of marketing and referral marketing.
Most people believe multi-level marketing is a scam and that it’s nothing but a pyramid scheme BUT not all of them are. I just want to get this out so you know. The way you can identify the scams are if they don’t have any legitimate products to sell to you.
Direct sales companies like Rodan and Fields (skin care products) and Mary Kay (cosmetic products) are absolutely legitimate and they have quality products. Mary Kay has been helping millions of people for over 50 years and is still going strong.
Multi-Level Marketing Behaviour
The direct sales companies depend on you to bring recruitments to purchase their products. In order to join, you must first be recruited by a consultant, usually a friend. When you sign the direct sales company agreement, you are now under the consultant who recruited you. Once you receive training from your consultant and from the company, you can now begin.
Commissions are earned when you make sales on the company’s products and/or services or bring in recruitments and from their efforts. The consultant who signed you up will also make money on your efforts.
This is how network marketing works. Everyone in your network sells the same products and services and brings in recruitments. Marketing is done pretty much by word of mouth from friends and family members and through your website online store which the direct sales company sets you up with. Your sales take place either one-on-one or usually at someone’s home where products are displayed and catalogs are distributed to the guests. There are also sampler products for guests to try.
To get started, at the very least, you will want to purchase a starter kit at a low cost or as much as $100.00.
When I signed up thru a friend of mine on, I made the investment of $99.00 to purchase my starter kit. The starter kit is just the “bare bones”. In my opinion, they never give you enough to let your customers have a good look at the quality and variety of the products. The idea is to use your products for your own consumption so you know what they do and to showcase them. You will need to make monthly purchases to meet the direct seller’s quota and sometimes, you will also need to make additional purchases to build up your showcase inventory.
Did I make money on the multi-level marketing platform? The first time I joined, I promoted health and wellness products and only sold a few and quit. The second time, I did quite well and was averaging about $700.00 on most of my PartyLite parties.
I got tired of always packing and unpacking PartyLite candles, and carrying boxes especially in the winter was a drag. Instead of holding parties at people’s homes, I made arrangements that I would do it at my home which seemed to make the hostesses happy anyway. I did this for about 2 years and quit due to my lack of motivation of trying to meet new people.
My next multi-level marketing platform is on Rodan and Fields skin care. This one is even more challenging because the products are very expensive. I found my guests enjoyed using the samplers but they didn’t want to spend a lot of money for skin care products.
My consultant friend who recruited me suggested I spend more time meeting new people and go on social media to encourage my friends there. I did that and didn’t get one bite. Anyway, now I only use the products for my personal use and get them at a good discount. I deactivate my monthly purchase commitment when I don’t need products, giving up any commissions on sales I make for that month.
What I realized was, the people who are successful in multi-level marketing are the ones who join new direct sales companies with brand new innovative products when they’re first introduced. These people know that and so they jump into it, make a ton of money and easily have lots of people under them. They are also very sociable, something I feel I lack in and my shyness and fear of even trying to sell products to people in front of me is not a comfortable situation to be in.
Can you really make a decent income with legitimate direct sales companies? Let’s look at the benefits and disadvantages and weigh this out…
- A great way to socialize and meet new people
- No experience is necessary
- Make money off other people’s efforts
- Get great discounted prices on products and services
- Get your own website
- Work at home
- Be your own boss and set your own working hours
- No employees
- Get more training by going to conventions and seminars
- The starter kit is not adequate enough to showcase your products. This means spending more money.
- Packing and carrying your products from house to house and traveling can be tiring especially if you already have a full time day job.
- Minimum monthly product purchases are required.
- Possibility of a monthly website fee.
- Can be very costly if you are not making sales.
- As you build your network, it becomes more work because now you have to look after the people you recruited to keep them motivated into bringing more recruitments.
- Can be stressful on your family and friends if you lean on them for more leads.
- Have to carry a certain amount of inventory to be able to display a diverse amount of products.
- If you are not making sales and not reducing your inventory, your costs build up because you need to still meet your minimum monthly product purchases.
- Spend lots of time on social media.
- Can’t design the website the way you want it to be.
- When you quit, you don’t get to keep the website.
- Hard work
- Not for everyone!
Can you make money in the multi-level marketing world? In a word yes, if you do business with a legitimate direct sales company and have the characteristics of a real social go-getter. I know people personally, who have made a lot of money and received their Lamborghini BUT they were one of the first to become a consultant when the direct sales company made their world-wide announcement of their ‘exciting’ new products. Their friends who they recruited early are also doing extremely well.
Affiliate Marketing, The Online Entrepreneurs
Did you know there were 300 million users who used Amazon.com according to DMR Business Statistics (last updated February 12, 2017). Can you imagine how much you could be making if you were an affiliate marketer for Amazon?
Affiliate marketing is performance based in which you make your own marketing efforts to bring your targeted audience to the affiliate program owner’s site so they can make purchases on their products and services. It’s the most powerful and effective way to make money online.
Some brand name organizations who have affiliate programs are Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Target.
The first thing you need to have is a niche website. The way to market your website is to join an affiliate program. There are two ways to do this.
The first method is to promote the affiliate program you are a member of and once you make a referral you make a commission.
The other method is to join an affiliate program. This is a three party association in which the affiliate program owner like Rakuten LinkShare finds advertisers with brands name companies who have quality products to sell and publishers to promote these products. Rakuten LinkShare is the go-between.
What happens is, you are the publisher, the blog writer, and the advertisers are the retail businesses who have brands name products to sell. You get approved by the retail business and write quality content to promote the advertiser’s products and send your targeted audience to the advertiser’s site where they make a purchase and you get paid your commissions based on the advertiser’s terms.
You can even promote more than one product or service.
Write lots and lots of quality content and build your brand which is you and your website. To be successful in your online business, you will want to join an authoritative affiliate with a large community membership where you can learn, build your site and be an influence to other members by helping them. In addition, join forums where you can keep up to the latest SEO (search engine optimization) news and trends and engage with like-minded people so they get to know you.
Is affiliate marketing better than multi-level marketing? Let’s find out.
- No inventory
- There are multi-billion people buying products through the internet daily
- Living your passion because you have your own niche website
- Can have as many niche websites you want
- Easily build your own website in less than 60 seconds
- Make money while you sleep 24/7
- Based on your own effort
- Be your own boss
- You hold the world in your hands
- Travel anywhere you like that has internet services
- The only thing you need is your laptop and internet
- Very low costs and risks
- Do this at home
- No customer service needed
- No starter kit to purchase
- Get your free advertising banners
- No experience necessary
- Join FREE affiliate programs
- Hard work and commitment
- Can’t control the affiliate programs you join
- Writing may not be your bag
Affiliate Marketing in a Professional Way
Whether you are in a legitimate multi-level marketing or affiliate marketing, your business must be treated as a REAL business. This means HARD WORK and commitment to your business.
In fact, some of you will be turned down by large companies who have affiliate programs.
To get approved by them, there are some things that need to be done:
1. Choose your niche. The best way to be successful in your online business is to go after a specific target audience. This is based on what you are most passionate about doing. Something you can never get tired of doing or perhaps you have always had a burning desire to learn something. Once you learn how to do it, you are then an authority over.
2. Have a niche website. Build your niche website if you haven’t done it yet. Don’t worry, I know the perfect place where you can easily build your website under 60 seconds… I’ll tell you that at the end.
3. Join an affiliate program. There are thousands and thousands of affiliate programs you can join in pretty much any industry you can think of. The best way of finding them is to enter the following in your search browser: “your niche+ affiliate”. For example “weight loss+ affiliate”. Check some of them out and see what kind of commissions they offer you.
You can even join more than one affiliate program.
4. Have a business marketing strategy. Once you have a website and products and or services, you will want to come up with business goals and your vision.
A well-thought-out business plan will lead you to success. In the plan, think of the following:
- Do you understand your competition. Who are them?
- Do you understand your targeted audience. Who are they and how can you help them?
- How will you reach out to your targeted audience?
- How will your audience find you? How can you entice them to read your blog post and not your competitors?
- Do you know your products?
Can you make money with affiliate marketing? Absolutely, this is what I do.
I have been doing affiliate marketing for over two years and have a niche website on scuba diving because diving is my passion and I know it very well. I first joined as a free stater member with an affiliate training program called Wealthy Affiliate University. They offered 10 free lessons. I joined 2 other affiliate programs, one is Amazon to promote scuba gear and accessories, and the other to promote diving from liveaboards (living and scuba diving from a huge yacht). I made my first sale 6 months later. The site is doing very well that I can actually do this full time at home or anywhere I like.
You can definitely make money on multi-level marketing and on affiliate marketing.
If you really enjoy going out and meeting lots of people then multi-level marketing is what I think you will have more fun doing and be successful at it.
In my opinion, having being involved in both types of marketing, the benefits are bigger and better with affiliate marketing because you can have an online business that can make you money 24/7 while you sleep. The website(s) is yours to keep. Your targeted audience is larger because you have people all over the world you can help with your products and or services.
I hope I gave you helpful information and if you want to see where I do all my work on my website businesses and still learn because online marketing is always changing, then come on over to Wealthy Affiliate and I’ll personally welcome you. Don’t worry, no credit cards are asked.
If you have any questions or comments, it would be awesome to hear from you. Let me know which marketing type you prefer. Is it multi-level marketing or is it affiliate marketing?
Thanks for reading,
This is a very informative site! I have a question though, after reading your article ‘Affiliate Marketing Vs MLM – Which One is The Best’ you said one of the disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing is that – Can’t control the affiliate programs you join… I’m sorry, but could you elaborate on this? I thought you could control them. Thank you in advance for your help.
Affiliate programs have rules and regulations. For example, Amazon Associates have their rules on images on how we can use their Advertisers images.
Thanks for reading!
Thank you for explaining the difference between MLM and Affiliate marketing. Especially the fact that not all MLM are scams. I’ve heard MLM is bad and that it’s best to stay clear so I’m glad you clarified this.
It seems clear that both MLM and Affiliate marketing requires an investment of time and money to succeed but I can see the affiliate marketing is a much better method to go because there is no inventory. I don’t want to deal with inventory, packing and shipping.
I’m leaning more towards affiliate marketing and just want to spend time figuring my niche.
Hi Geoff, thank you for reading my post. That’s way I chose affiliate marketing over MLM. I didn’t want to deal with inventory and the cost to do affiliate marketing is very minimal.
I also agree with you Monica,
The opportunities with affiliate marketing are much better and more rewarding than those of multi-level marketing.
I have been in the MLM industry for a while and I didn’t like their business module.
What I also discovered is that most scams succeed in ripping people off using Multi Level Marketing because of their confusing compensation plan. Have you noticed that?
Hi Dave, thank you for reading.
Actually yes sadly, I have noticed some people get scammed because they don’t quite seem to understand the MLM concept and are easily enticed into the illegal MLMs.
I think more people are becoming aware and those that find the legitimate MLMs are doing quite well when they get into it from the start. When I got into the MLMs, the legit ones, the product(s) I was marketing seemed quite saturated and neighbours were already into it. I didn’t want to turn to my family and friends…